2:00PM Water Cooler 1/30/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Businesses from car manufacturing to airlines are bracing for a growing impact from the coronavirus outbreak on their China operations. The virus’s spread has disrupted some automotive production in China…. raising the potential for a broader industrial impact as Lunar New Year seasonal shutdowns are extended to keep people from traveling” [Wall Street Journal]. “Global businesses are scaling back operations as Beijing tries to control an outbreak that has now infected more people than severe acute respiratory syndrome did nearly two decades ago. The locked-down city of Wuhan at the center of the outbreak is a major car manufacturing hub, contributing some 6% of China’s overall output, and hosts factories including joint ventures between Chinese and major foreign auto makers.”

“Coronavirus could mean more U.S. jobs. Wilbur Ross goes there.” [NBC]. “‘Well, first of all, every American’s heart has to go out to the victims of the coronavirus. So, I don’t want to talk about a victory lap over a very unfortunate, very malignant disease,’ Ross told Fox Business Network on Thursday. ‘But the fact is, it does give businesses yet another thing to consider when they go through their review of their supply chain.”


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

Here is a second counter for the Iowa Caucus, which is obviously just around the corner:

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Alert reader dk (not to be confused with DK) is in the process of developing the following interactive chart.

We have new national YouGove as of 1/28/2020, 12:00 PM EST. Biden and Sanders are the pick of the litter, trailed by Warren and, horridly, Bloomberg, who has lapped Buttigieg and Klobuchar. Of course, these are national polls, about to be massively thrown into confusion by IA, NH, SC, and NV — and then CA. I returned to the three-day average because (as you see from the numbers) the big FL sample was throwing everything off:

And the numbers:

Come on, man. And now FL:

Notice the miserably inadequate frequency. FL numbers:

Summary: The Biden juggernaut rolls on, but Sanders has pulled even. Warren is in trouble (meaning her smear of Sanders did not work). Bloomberg is buying his way in.

CAVEAT I think we have to track the polls because so much of the horse-race coverage is generated by them; and at least with these charts we’re insulating ourselves against getting excited about any one poll. That said, we should remember that the polling in 2016, as it turned out, was more about narrative than about sampling, and that this year is, if anything, even more so. In fact, one is entitled to ask, with the latest I boomlet (bubble? (bezzle?)) which came first: The narrative, or the poll? One hears of push polling, to be sure, but not of collective push polling by herding pollsters. We should also worry about state polls with very small sample sizes and big gaps in coverage. And that’s before we get to the issues with cellphones (as well as whether voters in very small, very early states game their answers). So we are indeed following a horse-race, but the horses don’t stay in their lanes, some of the horses are not in it to win but to interfere with the others, the track is very muddy, and the mud has splattered our binoculars, such that it’s very hard to see what’s going on from the stands. Also, the track owners are crooked and the stewards are on the take. Everything’s fine.

I think dk has started a really neat project, and in the near future we’ll seek your feedback (within reason) for the tool “live.”

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Biden (D)(1): “Biden Push for Labor Support Is Burdened by Obama-Era Baggage” [New York Times]. “‘[Biden] failed to fight for our priorities and stand up for the main reason we endorsed him — card check,” said Norwood Orrick, a telecom technician and member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Tampa, Fla. ‘It was discussed a lot in my immediate circles of activists.'” • Karma in this lifetime.

Biden (D)(2): “Iowa has been volatile for Biden. Can an electability argument save him at the end?” [McClatchy]. “Over the last year, Biden’s campaign in Iowa has been sluggish, even by his allies’ admission, then revived, thanks in part to a successful December bus tour, and now threatened, by a late surge in support for Bernie Sanders. But with just days to go before the lead-off caucuses, Biden and his allies are relying on a blunt message of electability — hopeful that the sizable chunk of undecided voters fixated on defeating Donald Trump will swing support to his campaign…. But Biden’s pitch could still make inroads with some key caucus-goers, most of whom have yet to definitively settle on a candidate: A CBS News poll of Iowa found only 35 percent of them say they have “definitely” made up their mind about whom to support. And many voters continue to say that electability is their most pressing concern in selecting a candidate.” • Only centrists are electable! Take John Kerry — please!

Biden (D)(3): “As Biden Makes Push in Iowa, His Ground Game May Have Some Gaps” [New York Times]. “Dan Corken, one of Mr. Biden’s most fervent volunteers, knocks on doors here, he is dubious about the candidate’s prospects just days out from Monday’s caucuses. ‘If you want to look at the Biden community in Dubuque, the average age is probably about 72,’ he said. “I’m having difficulties imagining some of the people I’m talking to door-knocking getting out on February 3 in the cold to go caucus.’ As Mr. Corken approached the first house on a list of potential Biden backers on Tuesday, a volunteer for Bernie Sanders swooped in and planted two signs in the yard before Mr. Corken reached the door. ‘We’re all Bernie,’ a man at the door told Mr. Corken…. The age of many Biden supporters could also prove detrimental: In 2016 only 28 percent of caucusgoers were over 65,”

Bloomberg (D)(1): “You Think Trump’s a Danger to Democracy? Get a Load of Bloomberg.” [Daily Beast]. “Already a modern-day Crassus, Bloomberg has both the wealth and the brains to emerge as a true Caesar, albeit a short-statured and aging one. Just as Caesar used the wealth of Gaul to finance his takeover of the Republic, Bloomberg can use his private fortune to bribe, cajole and otherwise promote his ascendancy. In his 12 years as ruler of New York, he showed his willingness to “buy” elective office, spending half a billion dollars on his three runs. To match the $174 per vote he spent to win his final term, Bloomberg—who’s has already spent $200 million on TV ads—would need to spend an unheard of $12 billion. He could afford it.”

Bloomberg (D)(2): “CBS Inks Deal For 30-Episode Bloomberg Ad” [The Onion] • I hope we’re still looking back on this and laughing a few years from now.

UPDATE Klobuchar (D)(1): “Klobuchar Called On To Suspend Campaign As Questions Swirl Around Myon Burrell Case” [CBS Minnesota]. “The Associated Press report published Tuesday, in collaboration with American Public Media, raised questions about the [Myon Burrell] convictions, saying that police relied on jailhouse informants who have since recanted their stories, adding that one man who is in prison confessed to the murder. Also noted was the lack of gun, fingerprint or DNA evidence…. Klobuchar’s campaign says if there is new evidence it should be reviewed by the Hennepin County Attorney.” • Missed this on Tuesday.

Sanders (D)(1): “Sanders Team Weighing Executive Orders to Legalize Marijuana, Stop Trump Border Wall, Declare Climate Emergency, and More” [Common Dreams].

The Washington Post‘s Jeff Stein, citing two anonymous people familiar with the campaign’s plans and an internal document, reported Thursday that Sanders aides have presented the senator with a list of possible executive orders that would allow him to unilaterally:

  • Declare a national climate emergency;
  • Ban U.S. exports of crude oil;
  • Import prescription drugs from Canada;
  • Cancel federal contracts for companies that pay their workers less than $15 an hour;
  • Direct the Department of Justice to legalize marijuana at the federal level;
  • Reverse existing rules that bar the U.S. from funding organizations that provide abortion services;
  • Immediately halt the construction of President Donald Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall;
  • Lift the cap on the number of refugees the U.S. accepts each year; and
  • Release billions in disaster aid to Puerto Rico that the Trump administration has withheld.

Picking out the White House drapes aspects aside, I think it’s important to send the signal now that Sanders will move aggressively; it raises the baseline for other candidates. That said, I’m seeing a social-justice inflected laundry list; I’m not seeing universal concrete material benefits (“more money in your pocket”), which would put the Sanders administration in the strongest possible position with working class voters (as opposed to Washington-based NGOs, however well-intentioned). How about an interest-free moratorium on student debt collection, for example? And I think importing prescription drugs from Canada is small ball.

UPDATE Sanders (D)(2): “Fact check: Is California putting Bernie Sanders at the bottom of its 2020 primary ballot?” [Sacramento Bee]. “Concerns Sanders is being deliberately placed at the bottom of California ballots, however, are unfounded and inaccurate… The facts are that the names of candidates are listed in an order determined in December through a randomized alphabet selection process conducted by the Secretary of State’s Office. Twenty Democrats qualified for the ballot, including three candidates who dropped out of the 2020 race out after a Dec. 26 withdrawal deadline and one candidate who didn’t file the necessary paperwork to take his name off the ballot. The randomized drawing rotates the 20 candidates by state Assembly district, meaning all candidates will appear both at the top and bottom of the ballot in four districts.”

UPDATE Sanders (D)(3): “Bernie Sanders Is Getting a Ton of Endorsements From Musicians” [Vice]. “[A]rtists on the fringes of success have come out in droves to endorse the 78-year-old Vermont senator; earlier this month, a 20-song compilation from bands like Strange Ranger, Frankie Cosmos, Shady Bug, and many more was uploaded to Bandcamp with the proceeds directly supporting Sanders’ campaign. Those acts are just a small slice of the indie, D.I.Y., and working-class musicians who have recently voiced their support for the 2020 presidential election. Evan Weiss, whose pop-punk band Pet Symmetry opened a recent Iowa Sanders rally, told Mother Jones, ‘He’s definitely the most punk-adjacent of the candidates. His messaging is all about community. It feels like he’s one of us. He’ll wax poetic about not being a Washington insider ’till the cows come home and that really resonates with us.'” • Punk-adjacent!

Trump (R)(1): “Trumpworld torn over running against Bernie” [Politico]. “The biggest fear about Sanders is that he could threaten the president’s monopoly on the outsider mantle in a way other Democrats in serious contention for the nomination cannot. Others express unease about Sanders’ energized following and worry that, as an unconventional, candidate he could inject an unpredictable dynamic into the contest. They, too, see potential parallels to Trump in 2016, when he attracted a wave of new voters.”

Trump (R)(2): “Explaining the triumph of Trump’s economic recklessness” [Bruegel]. “The Trump administration’s economic policy is a strange cocktail: one part populist trade protectionism and industrial interventionism; one part classic Republican tax cuts skewed to the rich and industry-friendly deregulation; and one part Keynesian fiscal and monetary stimulus. But it’s the Keynesian part that delivers the kick.” • Making Obama’s economic team look like the fools they were.

Trump (R)(3): “Life Expectancy Rises in U.S. for First Time in Four Years” [Wall Street Journal]. “U.S. life expectancy increased in 2018 for the first time in four years as deaths from drug overdoses dropped, according to government figures released Thursday. Lower mortality from cancer, accidents and unintentional injuries were the main reasons life expectancy ticked up in 2018.”

Trump (R)(4): “One year inside Trump’s monumental Facebook campaign” [Guardian]. “Over the course of 2019, the Trump campaign spent nearly $20m on more than 218,000 different Facebook ads, a new Guardian analysis shows. Among the ads were some of the images and videos that made front-page news for their xenophobic, fear-mongering, vitriolic and outright false rhetoric. But the campaign also ran a decidedly mundane social media campaign featuring classic marketing ploys designed to harvest user data. Considering the fact that the campaign has run these ads – which are largely substance-free and appear designed to maximize engagement with simple requests – over and over again, they were probably very effective.”

Warren (D)(1): “Elizabeth Warren proposes criminal penalties for spreading voting disinformation online” [CNBC]. • With less than a week to go, this is the issue? Who does it appeal to? Clinton voters still upset about 2016?

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UPDATE IA: “What are the Iowa presidential caucuses and why are they so important to the 2020 election?” [Los Angeles Times]. “Maybe. But probably not. Among Democrats, the winner of the caucuses has won the nomination in seven out of the 10 contested races since 1972. But only two candidates — Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama — have gone on to win the White House. Among Republicans, the caucus winner has won the nomination in three of eight contested contests, but only won the White House once: George W. Bush in 2000. The caucuses definitely have had their moments, allowing candidates to prove their viability. Among the top examples is Obama in 2008. His ability to win the caucuses — beating John Edwards and Hillary Clinton in an overwhelmingly white state — helped dispel doubts that the United States could elect a black president.” • Lots of detail on how the caucus process works, plus detail on reforms made after 2016.

“1. The Democratic nomination contest” [Pew Research]. “Looking at those same voters today, 43% of Democratic voters who consistently supported Clinton for the nomination in 2016 now support Biden. None of the other Democratic candidates garner more than 13% of this group’s support for the nomination. Among those who consistently supported Sanders in 2016, 44% favor him for the nomination today, while 25% support Warren. And among the larger share of Democrats whose preferences were less consistent in late 2015 and early 2016, a third now support Biden, while 17% favor Warren and 13% back Sanders.”

To rig primary against Bernie, DNC chair Tom Perez nominates regime-change agents, Israel lobbyists, and Wall Street consultants



2016 Post Mortem

“Hillary Clinton refuses to be served Tulsi Gabbard’s defamation lawsuit” [New York Post]. “Hillary Clinton has now twice snubbed a process server attempting to deliver the defamation lawsuit filed against her by Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard, according to Gabbard’s attorney. ‘I find it rather unbelievable that Hillary Clinton is so intimidated by Tulsi Gabbard that she won’t accept service of process,” the congresswoman’s attorney, Brian Dunne, told The Post. ‘But I guess here we are.'” • Try serving Clinton at brunch.


Iowa voters react to polling?


“Opinion: It looks like John Bolton isn’t going to get his C-SPAN moment after all” [Los Angeles Times]. “In a huge win for the publishers of Bolton’s forthcoming book, Senate Republicans reportedly have lined up the votes to block Democrats from calling the former national security advisor or any other witnesses to testify at President Trump’s impeachment trial. That vote is expected to happen Friday…. So it must seem far more palatable for Republicans to explain to their constituents why Bolton’s testimony wouldn’t have fundamentally changed the contours of the case. And that has the benefit of being true: Bolton would merely shore up an assertion that House Democrats have been treating as if it were already proved.”

“The dubious impeachment proclamations of Alan Dershowitz: Jonathan Turley” [USA Today]. “I hold a different interpretation but not necessary a different ultimate conclusion from Dershowitz. I do not believe that the House managers have sufficiently rebutted the defense of the president and specifically established the necessary intent to hold the Ukrainian aid for solely political purposes (as opposed to a policy concern of corruption or sharing costs with allies). … The fact is that there is a host of non-criminal acts that could not just put lives but the nation at risk. If those acts are committed for purely personal reasons, they can be impeachable. It is the most difficult type of impeachment to prove, particularly if you are not alleging collateral criminal acts. This is not just the narrowest presidential impeachment in history but the first to allege only non-criminal conduct. If there are other reasons for a president to have acted (even unwisely or catastrophically), a case for removal cannot be made. In other words, it is not impossible (as suggested by Dershowitz) but it is highly difficult when faced with countervailing reasons for the same conduct.

Our Famously Free Press

UPDATE “MSNBC’s Owners Shower Biden With Campaign Cash” [Sludge]. “A Sludge review of Federal Election Commission records shows Biden is the preferred candidate of the station’s owners, the behemoth Comcast Corporation. Biden has received 17 large campaign contributions from executives and vice presidents at Comcast, including eight for the legal maximum of $2,800. Of all the other candidates still in the race, only South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg has received any Comcast executive contributions—Buttigieg received a single contribution from Comcast Managing Director Amy Banse. In addition, Comcast’s top lobbyist, David Cohen, co-hosted Biden’s kick-off fundraiser in April and he is listed as a bundler for the campaign, meaning that he has collected at least $25,000 in contributions from others for Biden.” • No wonder they pay “Rachel” so much.

Realignment and Legitimacy

CA: “6 Ways to Vote for Bernie in the CA Primary” [GoogleDocs].• Or anybody. It’s… complicated.

UPDATE “‘Election Meltdown Is A Real Possibility’ In 2020 Presidential Race, Author Warns” [NPR]. “The American public is going to be really sick and tired of the 2020 election by the time we get to November, and they’re going to want an instant result. And yet the people need to be prepared that it’s going to take a week or two. So that’s, I think, at the top of the list for the news media.”

“‘Scam PAC’ fundraisers reap millions in the name of heart-tugging causes” [Reuters]. “From unmarked strip-mall offices in small-town Alabama, the calls go out across the United States, meant to talk people into giving money for heart-tugging causes like helping breast cancer patients or the widows of fallen police officers. Even as they charmed millions from credulous donors, a dozen former callers for two major fundraisers told Reuters that they knew their companies would be keeping the vast majority of it. And the groups they were raising money for weren’t charities at all, but political action committees, which normally are set up to gather funds for candidates or political causes. ‘The motto was, ‘Leave your morals at the door,’ said Alexander Lefler, 21, who worked for nearly a year at a call center southeast of Birmingham, Alabama, describing what he saw as high-pressure and deceptive tactics. ‘We kind of all understood what we were doing was wrong, but I needed a place to live.'” • Precarity.

Stats Watch

Construction: “AIA Projects Slowing Growth in Nonresidential Construction in 2020 and 2021” [Architect Magazine]. “‘The broader economy is expected to continue to see slower growth this year, but the number of potential trouble spots seems to be diminishing,’ said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. ‘Revenue trends at architecture firms saw an uptick in the fourth quarter last year, which suggests construction spending will continue to see growth in the coming quarters.'”

Tech: “After meager 2019, Samsung’s modest chip recovery outlook falls flat” [Reuters]. “But in a guarded outlook, the world’s biggest memory chip and smartphone maker said on Thursday it couldn’t rule out the possibility that demand growth may be curbed amid lingering tensions on U.S.-China trade and looming fears of the economic impact of the new coronavirus outbreak in China and beyond.”

Manufacturing: “Boeing Co. packed a planeload of bleak financial news into a single earnings report but the impact on its suppliers is likely only beginning. The aircraft manufacturer posted a full-year loss of $636 million and says the costs from the 737 MAX crisis have climbed above $19 billion” [Wall Street Journal]. “The company is cutting production of its wide-body 787 Dreamliner for a second time, hitting more suppliers in a field already stung by the fallout from the MAX suspension. Boeing’s 777X jet, which flew for the first time last weekend, is behind schedule, and deliveries aren’t due to start until next year. That could force a cut in output of the existing 777 model.”

Manufacturing: “Exclusive: Do or die – Nissan takes the axe to the house Ghosn built” [Reuters]. “Nissan is planning aggressive cost cuts to deal with an unexpected slump in sales as the expansionist strategy it inherited from fugitive former Chairman Carlos Ghosn flounders…. Japan’s second biggest carmaker is set to eliminate at least 4,300 white-collar jobs and shut two manufacturing sites as part of broader plans to add at least 480 billion yen ($4.4 billion) to its bottom line by 2023, two of the people told Reuters. The moves come on top of a turnaround plan unveiled in July and are likely to include cutting Nissan’s range of cars and the array of product options and trims in each line, slashing jobs mostly at head offices in the United States and Europe, and reducing advertising and marketing budgets, they said. ‘The situation is dire. It’s do or die,’ a person close to Nissan’s senior management and the company’s board told Reuters.”

The Fed: “A Nothingburger Snoozefest From the Fed. Should We Be Worried?” [Bloomberg]. “In my experience covering FOMC meetings, I can only think of one that was duller. That was the meeting overseen by Ben Bernanke in May 2006…. However, we should never ignore the Fed completely. Back in May 2006, it seemed truly to be on autopilot. But we now know that U.S. house prices were about to peak in the next month, while credit markets were boiling up. By making life so predictable for markets, the Fed had created the conditions for complacency and excessive speculation.” • This is a grab-bag of a column, with a lot of interesting stuff. For example, Mexican border factories were winners from the U.S. v. China trade war!

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 56 Greed (previous close: 53 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 74 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 28 at 12:59pm.

The Biosphere

“US Household Carbon Footprint” (map) [Decolonial Atlas]. “While population density contributes to relatively low household carbon footprint in the central cities of large metropolitan areas, the more extensive suburbanization in these regions contributes to an overall net increase in household carbon footprint compared to smaller metropolitan areas. Suburbs alone account for 50% of total U.S. household carbon footprint.” •

“Guardian to ban advertising from fossil fuel firms” [Guardian]. “The Guardian will no longer accept advertising from oil and gas companies, becoming the first major global news organisation to institute an outright ban on taking money from companies that extract fossil fuels. The move, which follows efforts to reduce the company’s carbon footprint and increase reporting on the climate emergency, was announced on Wednesday and will be implemented with immediate effect. The ban will apply to any business primarily involved in extracting fossil fuels, including many of the world’s largest polluter.” • Good. One can only hope that our own newspapers follow suit.

“Everyone’s Favorite Climate Solution Has a Fire Problem” [Bloomberg]. “Plunging prices and intensifying efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions have touched off a battery boom. Energy companies are plugging more battery packs into the grid as a way to store renewable power and replace fossil-fuel plants. Megaprojects are becoming the norm. Last year, regulators approved a battery installation in New York City that will be big enough to power 250,000 homes for eight hours. Developers near Las Vegas plan a similarly huge system to store energy from a 690-megawatt solar plant. But the April explosion in Arizona illustrated a lingering problem that has long dogged lithium-ion batteries: fires that can be difficult to douse. In South Korea, a global leader in battery manufacturing and adoption, there have been at least 23 fires over a roughly two-year period.”

“World’s largest solar telescope takes its first shot” [Science]. “This new close-up of the turbulent boiling plasma of the solar surface is the debut image of the largest telescope ever built for staring at the Sun. Sporting a 4-meter-wide mirror—twice the size of any existing solar scope—and a vantage point 3000 meters up on the summit of Haleakala on the Hawaiian island of Maui—the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) will reveal unprecedented detail of processes that channel energy from the Sun’s interior into its atmosphere, the corona. Researchers hope that by zooming in on cell-like structures like those shown above—each about the size of Texas—they can learn what causes the Sun to launch powerful flares out into space.” • Pass the popcorn:

“The hunt for a healthy microbiome” [Nature]. “What does a healthy forest look like? A seemingly thriving, verdant wilderness can conceal signs of pollution, disease or invasive species. Only an ecologist can spot problems that could jeopardize the long-term well-being of the entire ecosystem. Microbiome researchers grapple with the same problem. Disruptions to the community of microbes living in the human gut can contribute to the risk and severity of a host of medical conditions. Accordingly, many scientists have become accomplished bacterial naturalists, labouring to catalogue the startling diversity of these commensal communities. Some 500–1,000 bacterial species reside in each person’s intestinal tract, alongside an undetermined number of viruses, fungi and other microbes.”

Health Care

News you can use:

And here is the National Geographic article from which the chart was taken.

“Social ties and susceptibility to the common cold.” [JAMA]. n = 276 . From 1997, still germane: “[T]hose with more types of social ties were less susceptible to common colds, produced less mucus, were more effective in ciliary clearance of their nasal passages, and shed less virus. These relationships were unaltered by statistical controls for prechallenge virus-specific antibody, virus type, age, sex, season, body mass index, education, and race. Susceptibility to colds decreased in a dose-response manner with increased diversity of the social network. There was an adjusted relative risk of 4.2 comparing persons with fewest (1 to 3) to those with most (6 or more) types of social ties. Although smoking, poor sleep quality, alcohol abstinence, low dietary intake of vitamin C, elevated catecholamine levels, and being introverted were all associated with greater susceptibility to colds, they could only partially account for the relation between social network diversity and incidence of colds. More diverse social networks were associated with greater resistance to upper respiratory illness.” • Rhino viruses, not corona viruses; perhaps that makes a difference. That said, some ironies: First, the recommendation to fight #2019-nCoV by increasing social distance (whether person-to-person, or nation-to-nation) would seem to decrease our resistance to the next outbreak, no matter what it may be. Second, it seems not to have been predicted that globalization, as a function of neoliberalism, would end up atomizing people even more than they already are. Short mass tourism, amusement parks, malls; go long VR, AR, digital entertainment, and so forth. What a nauseating prospect for a fundamentally social species.

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“‘Block grants’ no more: Trump’s Medicaid overhaul has new name, same goals” [Politico]. “The Trump administration will rebrand its Medicaid block grant program and look to safeguard the policy against an expected wave of legal challenges from patient advocates, according to two officials with knowledge of the plan set for release Thursday. The forthcoming block grant program comes with a new name — “Healthy Adult Opportunity” — but retains the original mission long sought by conservatives: allowing states to cap a portion of their spending on Medicaid, a radical change in how the safety net health program is financed. The block grant plan, which invites states to request capped funding for poor adults covered by Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, also would let states limit health benefits and drugs available to some patients. Medicaid advocates already have vowed to make the block grant an issue in this year’s election, particularly after President Donald Trump repeatedly pledged to protect Medicaid during his 2016 campaign. Democrats have also long warned the Trump administration that they would vigorously oppose any effort to cap Medicaid spending after Congress rejected the idea during the failed effort to replace Obamacare.” • I’m a-skeered!

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“The Emancipatory Past and Future of Black Politics” [Jacobin (NippersMom)]. “A multidimensional assessment of both historical and contemporary black political developments is needed for our current moment. A social democratic current is roaring back onto the political scene. A “political revolution” of the type Bernie Sanders envisions would necessarily involve rebuilding a viable working-class political project among millions of black people. It is with this task in mind that we should review the triumphs and limitations of the past.”

Guillotine Watch

“Yusaku Maezawa: Japanese billionaire cancels search for moon trip ‘life partner'” [BBC (NippersMom)]. “Fashion mogul Yusaku Maezawa invited single women over the age of 20 to apply for a ‘match-making event.’ Almost 28,000 applied, but on Thursday he said he was experiencing “mixed feelings” and pulled out of the search.” Maezawa: ‘To think that 27,722 women with earnest intentions and courage had used their precious time to apply makes me feel extremely remorseful to conclude and inform everyone [of] this selfish decision of mine.'” What an odd statement from a billionaire. Perhaps I should stay the guillotine blade’s descent?

Class Warfare

“The New Majority Behind Sex Work Decriminalization” [The New Republic]. • A good summary of current social justice thinking, which, oddly, or not, seems not to consider economic aspects at all.

“Minimum wage would be $33 today if it grew like Wall Street bonuses have” [CBS]. “Wall Street employees saw their typical annual bonus slip by 17 percent last year to $153,700, according to new data from the New York State Comptroller. But don’t feel sorry for the banking set just yet — even including down years like 2018, bankers’ bonuses have jumped by 1,000 percent since 1985. By comparison, the federal minimum wage has increased about 116 percent during the same period, according to an analysis from the Institute for Policy Studies, a left-leaning research center that used the comptroller’s latest data. If the minimum wage had grown at the same pace as Wall Street bonuses, fast-food workers and other low-wage workers would earn a baseline wage of $33.51 an hour, the group said.”

“Membership Levels and Fees” [Unicode Consortium]. • The spectrum of emotions that can be expressed on the Internet through emojis is determined by players who pay big bucks to do so.

News of the Wired

“Emotional expressions in human and non-human great apes” [Science Direct]. “Humans and great apes are highly social species, and encounter conspecifics throughout their daily lives. During social interactions, they exchange information about their emotional states via expressions through different modalities including the face, body and voice. In this regard, their capacity to express emotions, intentionally or unintentionally, is crucial for them to successfully navigate their social worlds and to bond with group members… [W]hile showing deep evolutionary homologies across closely related species, emotional expressions show relevant species variation.” • “If a lion could speak, we could not understand him.” –Wittgenstein.

“Long-term follow-up of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy for psychiatric and existential distress in patients with life-threatening cancer” [Journal of Psychopharmacology]. n=16. From the abstract: “A recently published randomized controlled trial compared single-dose psilocybin with single-dose niacin in conjunction with psychotherapy in participants with cancer-related psychiatric distress…. Reductions in anxiety, depression, hopelessness, demoralization, and death anxiety were sustained at the first and second follow-ups. Within-group effect sizes were large. At the second (4.5 year) follow-up approximately 60–80% of participants met criteria for clinically significant antidepressant or anxiolytic responses. Participants overwhelmingly (71–100%) attributed positive life changes to the psilocybin-assisted therapy experience and rated it among the most personally meaningful and spiritually significant experiences of their lives.” • That’s why it’s illegal.

“Today I Learned That Not Everyone Has An Internal Monologue And It Has Ruined My Day.” [Inside My Mind]. “My day was completely ruined yesterday when I stumbled upon a fun fact that absolutely obliterated my mind. I saw this tweet yesterday that said that not everyone has an internal monologue in their head. All my life, I could hear my voice in my head and speak in full sentences as if I was talking out loud. I thought everyone experienced this, so I did not believe that it could be true at that time.” I don’t. Readers?

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (BR):

BR writes: “A photo of Truckee River with fall colors.” Readers may remember that, as a New Englander, I had thought, wrongly, that fall colors shared the same palette throughout the country.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. dcblogger

    I went to the Poor People Campaign march last night and met an old friend from Virginia. He told me that the Bernie campaign is repeating the mistakes of 2016, putting all their funds in the early states and not opening any offices in Super Tuesday states except California. Warren, by contrast, has offices in all Super Tuesday states, Therefore it is feasible that if she can come in second in Iowa and NH she can become the stop Bernie candidate and use her superior ground campaign to win. My friend was part of a group for Progressive Democrats of America who asked Bernie, in early 2014, to run for President. So he is one of the original Bernie People and I wish Bernie listened to him or people like him.

    1. Grant

      I think that the logic is that if Bernie wins the first two that momentum could carry him forward. Hard to imagine Warren not winning will help her in any way. If Bernie loses the first two, the media onslaught will be intense and they are gunning for him as is. I don’t know what else he could do, since his calculus is radically different than anyone else. Besides, does Warren also not have the largest paid staff in Iowa, and didn’t she already see a dip in funding before she started to slide further downward? Remember that when her campaign began, she transferred a ton of money from previous campaigns and focused more than anyone else on Iowa. So, in addition to what I said above, if she still loses and finishes in anything other than second, that is a lot of money and resources for nothing. Biden too has not been great on grassroots fundraising and if he loses the first two states, he will likely be entirely kept afloat by right wing PACS and dark money. To me, the person that could emerge as the biggest beneficiary after Bernie if he wins Iowa and NH is Bloomberg, since he has tons of his own money, lots of media support and he could benefit a bit as Biden potentially goes down. I think Warren’s path forward is already bleak. If she doesn’t win the first two, and she already burnt a bridge with many on the left, she has litttle chance in the general election, and she wasn’t a great candidate to begin with. Maybe she thinks she can have some way to get the nomination, I don’t see it. But, even if she does, her candidacy in the general election is highly problematic for many reasons. The woman with a plan has basically devolved into 2016 Clinton and there is a lot about her past she will have a tough time defending.

      1. Jeff W

        Hard to imagine Warren not winning will help her in any way.

        Agreed. And there’s “not winning” and “not winning.”

        The RealClearPolitics moving average of Iowa polls as of Thursday showed Elizabeth Warren at 14.6%. If Warren fails to meet the 15% viability threshold within individual precincts—which, given her hovering right around that percentage,could happen—that definitely does not help her moving forward.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Maybe it’s all just a show until we all collapse in a heap and admit the reality that a billionaire can simply *purchase* the highest office in our democratic republic

        RIP America we hardly knew ye

        (I’m still in favor of raging raging against the dying of the light)

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        >To me, the person that could emerge as the biggest beneficiary after Bernie if he wins Iowa and NH is Bloomberg, since he has tons of his own money, lots of media support and he could benefit a bit as Biden potentially goes down.

        Bloomberg does need to win an election. Florida?

    2. Knifecatcher

      They just opened an office in Denver. On the other hand Sirota is based here so that might not be representative of the other Super Tuesday states.

      1. Tvc15

        I was a regular listener to Sirota’s Denver radio show he had approximately 10 years ago. The same am station on Fridays carried Thom Hartman’s “Brunch with Bernie” where he answered callers questions and used to talk about exactly the same policies he campaigns on today plus cutting the military budget! Wonder how the corporate dems would feel about that ;)

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      From the story:

      Agent Carlos Pitones of the Customs and Border Protection sector in El Centro, California, told CNN that the wall was newly installed and had been set in concrete that had not yet hardened.

      Regardless, that would seem to be the sort of thing a competent contractor would avoid.

    1. Wukchumni

      It’s a bit chilly out on the wing, i’d advise getting a full body fur outfit and while you’re out there, fool around with the engines a bit, that’ll give a passenger or 2 on board quite the consternation, and take their mind off of being infected en route.

      1. ambrit

        And the inflight movie will be “Gremlins From the Kremlin.” (Starring Bugs Bunny.) Shatner has agreed to do an Esperanto version.

        1. Chris Smith

          An “Incubus” reference. It was the most exciting movie ever featuring people running back and forth from the barn.

  2. WobblyTelomeres

    Re: internal monologues

    Man, I would love to ask Coltrane. Bill Evans? Not so much (listening to “Conversations with Myself” at the moment so I kinda know the answer already).

    1. Harold

      I have music going. Doesn’t everyone?

      ‘Heard melodies are sweet but those unheard are sweeter therefore ye soft pipes play on …”

      Also poetry, also conversations.

      1. Tom Bradford

        As a would-be playwright I can have many voices in my head representing my characters. I can often ‘give them their heads’ in the situations I put them in, when they can respond with responses, ideas and lines of dialogue that surprise me and which I feel ‘I’ could never have come up with on their behalf.

        I’m no believer in divine anything let alone inspiration, yet Mahler wrote his entire immense 8th Symphony in less than three months, and reported, “It was like a sudden vision. The whole thing was immediately before my eyes and I only had to write it down as if were being dictated to me.”

      2. Mark Alexander

        I have a musical soundtrack going pretty much all of my waking hours, and often when I’m dreaming. It usually consists of the last thing I was listening to or playing on the piano, and it’s repeated over and over until I hear or play something different. The repetition is OK; it usually focuses on a particularly nice clip from the piece. Yesterday it was Debussy’s “Hommage à Rameau” (1905); today it’s “Visions of Angels” by Genesis (1970).

        I often joke that I don’t need to carry a music player because of this feature of my brain.

      3. Yves Smith

        Never music. But I don’t listen to music during my day either. I have to confess to being mystified by what most people do, which is do things with earbuds and presumable music or podcasts going. I find it keeps me from concentrating on pretty much anything, including driving.

      4. Amfortas the hippie

        in great detail.
        and from myriad genres and eras…often from some unknowable source—ie: nothing in my current day to day explains why i woke up yesterday with this playing in my head:
        (thanks, boys!)
        or this, today:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vf42IP__ipw

        the latter is problematic, because i can’t whistle a duet(i am quite a virtuoso whistler, having learned somehow before i could talk, but not that good)…and whistling is how i get it out of my head if i cannot play it out loud somehow.
        sometimes, it’s annoying…either because of the selection(narwhales? really?) or the “volume” in my head…most of the time, i think it’s cool, and marvel at what sometimes bubbles up from somewhere deep in my mind, which i then hafta go search for on youtube in order to push the mental “next” button.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          continued reading comments…and wow.
          it offers some consolation that it ain’t just me.
          the mental conversations i have are for the most part intentional(unlike the music, which i can’t control)…usually involving various contemporary and historical personae having imagined discourse with the little vulcan in my head that is the essential Me.
          everyone from Kay Baily Hutchinson to my paternal great great grandfather to Zizek to Charlemagne.
          of course, i’ve spent most of my life among the less educated lower classes(can’t really talk about most of the things that interest me without it quickly becoming a college lecture…usually unwanted,lol), and never really watched that much tv until my disability(12 years ago)…so this sort of exercise began as entertainment…like my own PBS.
          I’ve described all this to the boys, and encouraged them to try it, and we have had some pretty neat conversations about metacognition while taking dirt roads to the dump, etc

          1. Late Introvert

            It ain’t just you. I’ve always talked to myself, out loud and internally, and I have music (my own and others) playing in the background the whole time. I’m listening to Tool very loud right now in order to get some peace of mind.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I cannot imagine how there could be people who somehow do not have a running internal conversation. Only some form of exercise stops the flow in my head. Music — I sometimes ‘hear’ that too but it does not replace the flow of internal conversation.

      [I do not wish to stop the flow — but it would be very nice if there were more Wisdom I might glean from it.]

      1. Laughingsong

        Most of the time I have just music with occasional monologue. The music is kind of like a radio, songs come and go depending on whatever called it to mind like a phrase or a series of sounds. Sometimes I got music and voices that are so intense I call it the cocktail party. I can almost hear the ice in tumblers.

      2. kareninca

        A running internal conversation would be hell for me.

        For the most part, I only have thoughts when I decide to have thoughts.

  3. Tim

    Regarding the Solar Telescope, it is profound to me that in this modern age of all of our understanding of physics, that the singular thing that gives us all life is the sun, and we still don’t fully understand how it actually works.

    There must be some cognitive bias at work, ignoring something that always works. I guess that will change with the next Carrington Event. It’ll be the ultimate black swan and a true test of our dependency on technology.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I looked at the image of the sun and wondered whether there may be secrets we might understand to enable fusion reactor technology.

  4. Toshiro_Mifune

    Today I Learned That Not Everyone Has An Internal Monologue And It Has Ruined My Day

    Wait…. there are people who don’t?

    I don’t. Readers?

    I am nonplussed.

    I should add its not just a voice but sounds, smells, colors as well. Mainly a voice but the others too.

    1. funemployed

      Usually it’s a monologue, but frequently, it’s more like a dialogue – with a first person voice, and another that addresses that voice in the second person, which I call my homunculus.

      I identify a bit more strongly with the first person voice, but the homunculus is definitely the wiser and more reflective. When wrestling with a difficult intellectual or moral puzzle, the two will sometimes engage in long-running and vigorous argumentation (sometimes with pauses of days or longer at a time between responses). In these discussions, the homunculus tends toward the role of Socratic instructor, while the first person is more assertive and creative, although neither is fully restricted to those roles, and there’s no hierarchical aspect to the relationship.

      I figured out as a kid that, while I found these conversations easier to have out loud, doing so in public was frowned upon. Honestly though, I always assumed everyone thought this way, but just had an easier time doing it silently.

      Now that I think about it, this might be why, even though I’m a bear of little brain in most regards, there are certain types of problem solving processes I’ve always found intuitive. So intuitive, in fact, that I feel like a deer in headlights when asked to teach others how to do them. Probably the best example being that I am an exceptional teacher, particularly using Socratic and inquiry based methods…until you ask me to teach others to use those methods. Then I’m like “uhhh, so, ummm, you just, kinda, do it?”

      1. funemployed

        This also might partly explain why when I first learned the word “homunculus,” then got all excited and ran around telling anyone who would listen “Dude, there’s a word for the little dude inside of you that talks to you!”, I got a lot of funny looks.

        1. Toshiro_Mifune

          Usually it’s a monologue, but frequently, it’s more like a dialogue
          Yes. For me it can be a dialogue with myself, an old friend/colleague/historical figure/occasional cat.
          I first learned about the homunculus in the 1st edition Monster Manual circa `80.

          1. ambrit

            I learned about homunculi while studying alchemy.
            I always thought that the title, “Majestic 12” referred to the four fold nature of Hermes Tresmegisthus.
            “As above, so below.”

          2. Oregoncharles

            I was still having mental arguments with my father for years after he died. A bit eerie. Not so much anymore, 15 years later.

    2. a different chris

      When we were mid-teenagers my best friend and I were sitting outside on the front steps. The neighborhood “mentally retarded” kid, which is what we called them then and we did not mean it in a disparaging way at all* went by, discussing with himself whatever it was that was on his very different but very interesting mind.

      My friend laughed quietly, and said “the only difference between him and me is that I don’t do that out-loud”. I cracked up and confirmed the same.

      *in fact we plain and simply liked him, although you really couldn’t converse with him much, but when you did make the effort you would discover that he also had what we now call “autistic” abilities. For instance he could tell you pretty much every car made by the Big Three back then, listing them without hesitation or even slight pauses. Stuff like that.

    3. DJG

      mifune-san: I don’t. I had to head over to read the article after Lambert Strether admitted not having an internal monologue either.

      I am nearing the end of Iain McGilchrist’s book, The Master and His Emissary. In it, McGilchrist posits that the right-brained person synthesizes more, looks more at the whole. I am very much left-eyed, which means right-brained.

      The left brain is more verbal and analytical–concerned with processes.

      I wonder if we are talking about those who are left-brained (wow, all that talking going on in there–how do you peeps stand it?) and those of us who are right-brained, serenely trying to draw the cosmos inward.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Would you perhaps inform one of the brain researchers of you condition? It would be very interesting to find such a pronounced and profound difference between those who are right-handed and those who are left-handed.

        Chomsky has even argued that this internal conversation is characteristic of Humankind and a strong argument for the primacy of language as a tool of thought rather than communication.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > mifune-san: I don’t. I had to head over to read the article after Lambert Strether admitted not having an internal monologue either.

        It wasn’t an “admission.” I just don’t. The whole thing reminds me of prayer. I have no ability in that regard either. Makes no sense to me. And that apparently I’m an outlier… Good heavens, how did I not know this? (It’s like James Joyce’ Ulysses is not a work of fiction. I always regarded the internal monologue as a literary device, not a personal characteristic that most people have.

        It’s odd that there aren’t courses (as with lucid dreaming) in how to use this extraordinarily pervasive computation resource.

    4. katenka

      I experience thoughts in a number of different ways, but probably the most common is similar to what you describe — a bit of words with a lot of associations attached to them (I don’t do sounds/smells/colors as much as you seem to, and maybe I am a bit lighter on the words, but at any rate the general idea is I think the same!). But I definitely have no-words modes and, occasionally, almost-all-words modes as well.

    5. Jokerstein

      This is a fascinating aspect of “Darkness at Noon” by Arthur Koestler (which everyone should read, BTW).

      He asserts that there is no internal monologue, but that it is a dialogue, with an invisible and silent partner.

      From: https://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-and-culture/books/258118/arthur-koestler-darkness-at-noon

      In isolation Rubashov mediates on the conversations that we have with ourselves, realizing that these lonely monologues are not in fact monologues, but are actually dialogues that we have with some other silent version of ourselves. We address this other half using the first person singular I instead of you to “creep into his confidence and to fathom his intentions.” It is as if the act of a mind unwinding itself and letting down its guard is actually a form of self-betrayal. We are never less alone and never more in danger than when we are with ourselves.

      1. zagonostra

        Koestler is one of my favorite authors especially especially some of his non-fiction books like Janus and The Act of Creation.

        But here I think the under-appreciated American social psychologist George Herbert Mead comes closest to explaining, as opposed to describing, the conversation we have with our “self’s” when he analyze the “I” and the “Me” in his book (put together from his student’s lecture notes) Mind,Self, and Society.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I too was fascinated — though challenged — by what I read of Kostler. I read Ghost in the Machine but now you and Jokerstein motivates me to dust off my copy of Janus and seek out a copy of The Act of Creation, and Darkness at Noon. Thank you! I need all the motivation I can get to make the best use of my years of retirement.

          1. Roland

            His autobiography, The Invisible Writing, is also very interesting. It covers his career in the Comintern, travels in the USSR, visits to Horthy’s Hungary, imprisonment in Spain, and exile in England, besides the usual Bohemian craziness of struggling artists.

    6. Jane

      I am totally jealous! How I would love to turn off my inner dialogue. My inner voice is never quiet: dialogues, monologues, running commentary, sensations, sounds, smells, visuals. I have often wondered if I’m borderline schizo. There are people who never experience this? Lucky #$*&$%’s.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I treasure my internal dialogues, monologues, running commentary, sensations, sounds, smells, visuals. They don’t help me sleep but when I can sleep while they run I have found answers waiting for me in my morning dream-sleep.

    7. Ranger Rick

      This was the origin of the “NPC” meme, by the way — the initial gut reaction of the people with internal monologues was that people without them were unthinking, uncritical robots.

      I think that the monologue is still happening (current models of human consciousness presuppose an executive function in the brain), just not in an audible form. Clearly, people without the internal monologue are not mentally impaired in any way, and can formulate and express ideas, plans and concepts without an internal conversation.

    8. Ruminator

      I’m curious to know if those without internal monologues sleep better. My thoughts literally keep me up some nights. Also, just mental health in general. Like, I have some pretty intense anxiety and if I wasn’t calculating all the bad things and then ruminating over all that could happen would my anxiety be better? I’m so curious about this now.

      1. turtle

        I’ve heard that meditation is supposed to help reduce the “chatter” in our minds and consequently reduce anxiety, improve focus, etc. Perhaps give it a try?

        1. Whoamolly

          Regular meditation —same place same time each day—will reduce the chatter. Eventually as the chatter dies down you lose your sense of time. 5 minutes meditation feels subjectively about 30 seconds.

          The same thing happens all the time in everyday life. Reading a good book, becoming engrossed in a hobby and time disappears and chatter stops.

          I believe it’s a function of concentration.

        2. CanCyn

          Meditation doesn’t reduce or stop our internal dialogue, it allows us not to notice it so much. The focus and concentration of meditation is about just noticing that dialogue and our thoughts without judgement or emotional reaction. The idea is to live in the here and now and not worry or think so much about past or future – which is often what our minds are doing.
          I think those people who say they don’t have an internal dialogue are just better at being in the moment.

    9. faensen

      I see pictures, the whole situation in one image. Then it gets very frustrating serialising and compacting them down to words using the 14 bit/s bandwidth or something that is available for speech / writing.

      1. kareninca

        Check out the search Monty posted below.

        Which leads to the following link: https://www.reddit.com/r/autism/comments/67jt8n/what_is_your_internal_monologue_like/

        From it (a post from someone with autism):

        “Their explanation was basically that most neurotypical people have more word-based internal monologues, where thoughts tend to be expressed in a more verbal and linear way. So like for me, most of my internal thoughts take place in a sort of conceptual/imagery-laden haze, where I have to actively decide to pick something out of it and make it clearer if I want to think about it more. And if I want it to be in words, I pretty much always have to think about it in the context of explaining it to someone or writing it down. My therapist says that for neurotypical people, thinking in words comes naturally.
        I think the biggest thing it’s helped me understand is why I have so much trouble with the question “what are you thinking?” Because I always have to stop thinking, process the question, try to remember what I was thinking about, and then interpret those thoughts into words. And I guess NT people tend to already have the words.”

        That matches my experience. I have no idea if it really is characteristic of autism.

  5. WheresOurTeddy

    Love Me I’m a Liberal with updated lyrics from Ron Placone

    Highlight @ 2:25:

    Now I vote for the Democratic Party
    Cuz they have the Better Deal
    And I have lots of love for the Clintons
    Always have and I always will

    And we need to believe all women
    Unless it’s about Biden or Bill…

  6. Carey

    Re Internal monologue: oh hell yes! Someone give me an off switch for it, thanks.

    Re Boeing: all bad news, yet the stock’s still at $320.

    great country or what

    1. notabanktoadie

      Someone give me an off switch for it, thanks. Carey

      This works for me:

      The Lord knows the thoughts of man – that they are vain Psalm 94:11

      Another is:

      In all labor there is profit but mere talk leads to poverty Proverbs 14:23.

      Anyway, you asked and you’re welcome. :)

      1. Tom Bradford

        There are a great many unfortunate people who believe their inner conversations are ‘with’ God. Unfortunate because you can’t argue with God, can you.

          1. hoki haya

            “I hold a beast, an angel, and a madman in me, and my enquiry is as to their working, and my problem is their subjugation and victory, downthrow and upheaval, and my effort is their self-expression.’
            — dylan thomas

            “try’n-a-be normal is drivin me crazy/try’n-a-be crazy is drivin me normal”
            –anonymous streetpreacher

            “there is no ‘crazy’, man, only degrees of uncomfortability with yourself”
            –(somewhere me, or my homonculi)

            (for some reason, it also occurs to me that one of the greatest aspects of attaining deep love/true friendship with another (whether it lasts or not, nor what lengths of silences are endured) is in sharing all the dimensions of oneanother’s inner worlds: the humor, the fear, the unforeseen profundities inside mundanities, etc…intimacy. yep, lifelong romantic realist out here/in there…greetings from the birds of this ararat dawn to all your inner everywhere songs)

        1. richard

          I am of the Phillip Pullman mindset
          god=institutional negligent evil
          in that context arguing with her/him/it is as good a plan as any

        2. Amfortas the hippie

          sure you can. in fact, that’s the whole basis of Judaism, as i understand it: “Israel” literally means “wrestling/arguing with God”.
          the one Rabbi i know confirms this, and i think it’s cool as all get-out.

  7. Mark Gisleson

    I don’t have ‘voices’ in my head, but I do have thoughts that run independently of what I’m focusing on.

    A friend tricked me into taking niacin once. The independent thoughts went away and my brain grew much more calm. I then learned this meant I had some form of schizophrenia.

    I stopped taking niacin. I like all those extra thoughts cuz they’re all coming from me and some parts of my brain are definitely smarter than others.

    1. Dan

      I don’t have ‘voices’ in my head, but I do have thoughts that run independently of what I’m focusing on.

      This perfectly describes how I am much of the time, though I’ve never been able to describe it as succinctly as this. Just curious, how much niacin were you taking? Prescription or over-the-counter?

  8. Carey

    Got the Thomas Paine Reader a few days ago, just now starting into Agrarian Justice.
    Given the way the political situation’s shaping™ up, he’s going to be timely reading.
    If anyone has a suggestion for a better entry point, though, I’m all ears (never read him, gack).

  9. urblintz

    This comment is not meant to suggest support on my part for Donald Trump. I strongly believe there are any number of principled reasons to impeach and remove, none of which are contained in the articles sent to the Senate.

    But… John Bolton? What’s the big deal? Hasn’t he been utterly discredited any number of times during his sordid career. Why would anyone believe him? Does putting his version of events into a book make that version factual? And do the Democrats actually believe that faith in John Bolton is anything but ridiculous?

    1. Off The Street

      Bolton is the latest placeholder for Any stick to beat a politician.

      His testimony represents a way to try to preserve the Congressional Grift. Those little Bidens, Pelosis, Kerrys and Romneys ain’t gonna find sinecures all by themselves now, are they! Okay, maybe the Kerry spawn as they have some serious FU money backing them. The others can only look on with envy and try to catch up.

      1. Oregoncharles

        romney comes from great wealth, too. And I gather the Bidens and Pelosis have done quite well, thank you.

    2. ewmayer

      And about that “In a huge win for the publishers of Bolton’s forthcoming book” bit:

      White House tells Bolton his manuscript contains classified material, cannot be published – Reuters

      Given that the “victim of censorship” here is unindicted war criminal and neocon megacreep Bolton, all I can say is ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

        1. JBird4049

          Don’t worry about John “I love the smell of napalm in the morning” Bolton. I don’t think his book was about making money or correcting any records. It is about getting his fix of morning napalm. It’s gonna get accidentally leaked somehow just like how good old Jeff E. suicided himself.

    3. Tom Doak

      The line about World War Six was the biggest laugh I have had in a month. Thank you to Lambert for sifting through all of Trump twitter for a diamond.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Like all good jokes it contains truth.

        Truth that Oprah/Whoopi/Joy/Ellen/Rachel and Schiff/Pelosi/Schumer should be forced to confront before assuring us that Bolton is a hero truth-teller, oh he’s such a hero

    4. neighbor7

      One shouldn’t consider anything worth
      preserving, just because it’s written down.

      Theodor Adorno

    5. chuck roast

      It’ll take a silver bullet or a stake through the heart to ki*l some of these clowns. Elliot Abrams was the worst. After Iran/Contra over 100 Reps. demanded his resignation. They even put him under oath for a Congressional hearing – something rarely done. Being the shameless twit that he is, he gladly took the oath. Joe Kennedy walked out anyway an said something to effect “He was moving his lips. He must have been lying.”

    6. hoki haya

      hey, c’mon, he&SamPower took a photo together at Fenway Park, & she’s a bona fide Democrat, ain’t she? John’s been stumbling across the aisle for years…

  10. ewmayer

    U.S. evacuees from China placed on 72-hour ‘hold’ at California military base for medical evaluation – Reuters

    3 days seems grossly inadequate given the asymptomatic-carriers aspect of the epidemic, but I noted this snip in the article:

    “The U.S. evacuees, who underwent another round of screening on arrival in California, will be given further medical evaluations, including a blood test for exposure to the virus, over the next three days, the officials said.”

    That would seem to imply that there is a reasonably reliable blood test for exposure. has anyone else heard more about this?

    1. Lee

      According to the Johns Hopkins website with map, there have been 171 reported deaths and 143 recoveries out of 8,235 known cases. With so many unresolved cases and a death rate of nearly 50% of those that have resolved, I don’t find the numbers at all reassuring.

      When I posted the above elsewhere this was one of the responses.

      Very hard to read to much into that. Given the speed at which this is spreading, there are going to be massively more known cases than recoveries for a long time. Depending on what they consider “recovered” and how long the disease takes to run its course, there could easily be a couple of weeks lag between “known” and “recovered”. You wouldn’t really expect more than a couple hundred recovered — even if the vast majority of those sick will recover.

      I guess it makes some sense. But even so…..

    2. katiebird

      A local hospital (Lawrence, Ks) has a possible patient in a special room. They had a press conference on Tuesday saying they had sent samples to the CDC and expected results back on Friday.That tests didn’t take that long but there is a backlog already. So that seems to fit.

    3. Duke of Prunes

      This has been troubling me since I heard about this “US evacuee” flight: What about all the other commercial flights that are/were still operating between the Wuhan and the rest of the world? That is, the “news” is making a big deal about this one flight and it’s ~200 people. Yet, many other flights are still operating as normal commercial flights (at least earlier in the week… it seems like they’re tapering off now). Is our attention being focused toward this “safe” flight, so we will miss all of the other ones?

      1. MLTPB

        Wuhan is locked down, I believe and no flights out of there, except those approved by Beijing???

        On the other hand, we have our annual Spring Break coming up…lot of travellers.

      2. VietnamVet

        Donald Trump appears to have lost his reelection.

        It is guaranteed that any Wuhan Coronavirus carriers who are not quarantined for two weeks or tested to see if free of the virus and released into the American population after being held only 72 hours is risking the infection of others. By not shutting down all flights from China, the American Pandemic is now on him and his pathological advisors who just see more jobs for Americans. There is money to be made with a Wuhan Coronavirus vaccine.

        The government’s primary job is to save as many lives as possible by quarantines, distribution of disease prevention supplies, telecommuting and medical care until an effective medical treatment is available.

        On the top of the pandemic, Donald Trump turned the other cheek twice already in the Middle East. Jimmy Carter lost his reelection in the desert of Iran. George H.W. Bush lost his reelection on Kuwait’s Highway of Death. Both stopped and turned back. But, by not leaving Syria and Iraq and building two new bases on Iran’s borders, Donald Trump risks a nuclear holocaust in a time of pestilence.

        1. MLTPB

          Per Timeline of the coronavirus at Wikipedia, Papua New guinea bans all travellers from Asisn countries, and shuts down border with Indonesia. That’s one example.

          Do we ban flights not just from China, but from all countries with confirmed or even suspected cases?

          Do we shut down the Canadian border?

          1. Oregoncharles

            When it’s already here – see “first US transmission” just above.

            OTOH, this means that Trump has definitely lost the favor of Heaven – as has Xi, in China. We shall see.

          2. VietnamVet

            Until there is a cure, or the virus mutates to be innocuous to the host, the only defense is avoidance of exposure to the Wuhan Coronavirus. Yes, flights from cities where an epidemic is underway must be cancelled. Screening at the borders is needed. If the virus spreads from infected with no fever or symptoms to others, the quarantine may be futile but it could delay the epidemic until a vaccine is available. Cabin fever and apprehension if your protective gear is working will be the new normal. Today I got to experience what the future will be like as the grocery clerk coughed in her elbow as I checked out. Will it catch it?

        2. fajensen

          Donald Trump appears to have lost his reelection.

          Donald Trump’s unique skill is his inhuman ability to flip *everything* to his advantage.

          The people “running things” today are selected to peak fitness levels above everyone else through some kind of Evil-Darwinian process for their ability to turn every situation, every disaster and every screwup, even their own screwups, into a gain for themselves and a loss for everyone else!

          I think Donald Trump would be quite content to be president even if there never was an election for his second, and permanent, term.

          We should not forget that there would be “votes” in rounding up all the homeless and “illegals” into FEMA camps under some “state of imminent emergency legislation” and it could be argued by some that, “splitting and weakening the nation during a historic crisis by having elections,” would be almost treason. I’d guess that a good deal more than the 7-10% of the population that Erich Fromm argued was needed to “invert” a country would be quite enthusiastic about all this!

  11. Gary

    I have considered “internal monologue” before. For example, I have observed that dogs dream and make decisions, but don’t have words. What is that like and how does that work?
    What of someone like Hellen Keller? She has not voices or words to model her thoughts, yet she was a very thoughtful person. I wonder how it worked for her?
    Anyone care to weigh in on this?

    1. MLTPB

      I think SARS lasted a few months. From Nov 2002 and by June 2003, HK was removed from WHO’s of Affected Areas, per Wiki timeline.

      Will this last longer? Will it affected delegates gathering at the conventions?

      Super Bowl – will people be asked where they have been recently?

      1. Wukchumni

        I’ve heard the NFL is so concerned with the possibility of it spreading @ this year’s Super Bowl, that a player carrying the ball will be considered down when an opponent rips the flag away from either side of his waist.

        p.s. I like the Niners, and take the points even though you won’t need them.

        1. MLTPB

          Steam bath and sauna – popular in many places, including Finland, Russia, Iran, Syria.

          Is it as risky? Does the virus survive in there?

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          Why doesn’t the NFL just do what I do when my favorite team doesn’t make it to the last game and accept they simply canceled the season?

    2. polecat

      I just bought eye goggles to match the masks-‘no fog’ ones to boot ! Goggles are red. The masks are yellow. I’m thinking of taking a red sharpie, and doodling biohazard symbols on the masks … then do a test walk through the local Safeway.

    1. flora

      adding from the story, tips to avoid getting scammed”

      How to protect yourself against “scam PACs”

      Some telemarketers who claim to be raising money for causes like homeless veterans and cancer victims work for political action committees (PACs), not charities, and keep much of the money they raise. Some tips for consumers:

      • Listen carefully for the name of the organization. Legitimate charities can be checked on websites such as http://www.guidestar.org.
      • Ask if the donation is tax-deductible. Gifts to actual charities are; donations to PACs, which sometimes sound like charities, are not.
      • Never disclose personal information.
      • Or follow the simplest rule: “Never give to anyone over the phone,” said Margot Saunders, senior counsel for the National Consumer Law Center.”

      1. David J.

        This is serendipitous timing. Got a call one hour ago from a sketchy outfit called Veteran’s Aid PAC. I did as I always do with phone solicitor’s–just hang up. Then I looked them up. Cheesy 1990’s website; incorporated in Delaware last March. And of course, no identifying info to speak of.

        Don’t know how I got on this particular list; I am a veteran, but have also gotten calls like this from other shady non-veteran related entities.

        It’s a crapified world in which we have to be annoyed by the frequency of spam calls. I shouldn’t have to craft a strategy in which I screen calls or just let them go to voice mail. (I know, first world problems.)

      2. Oh

        Scams like thesse having been going on for ages. I remember phone calls puporting to be collecting for the “policemen’s ball” or “policemen’s association” about 30 years ago. I usually hung up. DOn’t the policemen get a good salary and benefits?

        1. David J.

          Agreed. The novel aspect here is that the outfit identified itself as a political action committee and not as a 501(c)(3).

        2. Amfortas the hippie

          the calls i get are usually regarding “your car’s warranty”….i’ve never had a warranty on a car in my life,lol….or braces for arthritis.
          and now the come from my area code and exchange(first 3 numbers)…which is limited to this county, and it’s 4500 folks.
          so i sometimes do reverse lookup on these, and go drive by the address listed, and it’s always an empty lot in town….and out here, i would have known if there were an ankle brace manufacturing facility here.
          surely there’s something the phone companies could do about all this.

      3. Yves Smith

        This is not hard. The last dot point is the answer.

        Tell them you don’t give on the phone, please send their written materials and you’ll consider it.

        Police charities on the phone are always scams and they are great at finding guys who sound like TV cops.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I decided to tell these PACS to send their stuff when they call. If it has postage paid envelopes I’ll send them two pennies taped reverse side up and otherwise add their mailing to my recycle.

  12. Seth Miller

    Re: universal concrete material benefits

    Day 1: cap ATM fees at a dime ($0.10). The Fed has the power to do this.

  13. PKMKII

    Was talking with a co-worker about the internal monologue thing (both of us have one). The interesting observation out of it was one non-monologue person in an article saying that instead of a monologue, they think about things as concept maps; instead of hearing an internal voice saying “I need to go to the store and buy some strawberry jam,” their brain sees store, jam, strawberries, purchasing, and needs as interconnected topics. Which makes me think that this isn’t just a personality quirk, but rather points at a larger psychological difference in information processing. Non-monologue thinkers seem to be working things out at a more abstract, platonic level, while the monologue thinkers are processing at the base level of communication, spoken language. For example, the former groups read and processes the words as the symbols themselves, while the later “translates” it into spoken word.

    1. Eduardo

      I think this wiki article touches on some related concepts: Linguistic relativity

      The hypothesis of linguistic relativity, part of relativism, also known as the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis, or Whorfianism is a principle claiming that the structure of a language affects its speakers’ world view or cognition, and thus people’s perceptions are relative to their spoken language.

      The principle is often defined in one of two versions: the strong hypothesis, which was held by some of the early linguists before World War II,[1] and the weak hypothesis, mostly held by some of the modern linguists.

      I definitely have an internal monologue and think in words. At times.

      But sometimes my thoughts are more …. uh … abstract (?) and I might struggle to reduce them to words. I also think this is normal and would be true of most people but maybe I am wrong?

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Interesting concept, but what if someone is multilingual?

        My internal thoughts have always been English, but I did spend a summer in Greece and tried to learn the language by speaking to people and making up little songs as a mnemonic device. Eventually my internal monologue was at least partially in Greek, although very simplistic since I was far from fluent. I found that pretty weird. Once I came back to the US the Greek thoughts faded.

        I wonder what the internal monologue is like for someone who is multilingual from a young age?

        1. Wukchumni

          Imagine you had these rather mad skills from a bilingual standpoint?

          President James Garfield could write in Latin with one hand and Greek in the other hand, simultaneously.

          1. MLTPB

            I saw in a movie a lady who wrote with one hand the start of a phrase, and with the other hand, the end, simultaneously.

            Like digging a tunnel or building a continental railway, they met eventually in the middle.

        2. a different chris

          This actually came up in some conversation with an Indian friend! Sample size of one but he thinks in whatever language is dominant around him. Takes a day or so before he notices (if he even notices at all) that he’s switched.

      2. Oregoncharles

        The Whorf hypothesis was tested and discarded decades ago, despite being such an intriguing concept.

      3. Amfortas the hippie

        i do math that way…especially things like geometry and trig….like when i built this house. i’d “see” it, and then make the cut, or whatever, and the house grew up out of the ground that way. never did actual math…except to check on how accurate this “method” was, on occasion(answer: pretty darned accurate—and i’ve always hated math)

  14. Anon

    Re: Internal Monologue

    Speaking for myself, I do. As to what the ramifications are in my own life, I have no idea, but as I write this, wasn’t this the thrust of the NPC meme that permeated Twitter a while back?

  15. ex-PFC Chuck

    Re the Kevin Gosztola piece “To rig primary against Bernie, DNC chair Tom Perez nominates regime-change agents, Israel lobbyists, and Wall Street consultants:”
    Has there ever been a more illustrative instance of the Iron Law of Institutions playing out before our eyes in real time?

  16. russell1200

    All the numbers that would point to a longer term economic shift are flat.

    We finally got through enough of the disastrous lending bubble to have something more like a normal business cycle. Trump’s policies will likely have an add on effect, but down the road.

    We have elevated levels of consumer debt. Whether it is within the bounds of a normal business cycle is debatable. But I don’t see Trump policies being particularly unique there.

    1. ChrisAtRU


      Props to Hollow Comet’s “You” as well … ;-) Unleashing the dark, quasi-industrial synths on behalf of the working class!

  17. XXYY

    “Elizabeth Warren proposes criminal penalties for spreading voting disinformation online”

    One of the interesting things about having Sanders in the race is how his extremely bold and far-reaching proposals (health care for all, free college, $15 minimum wage, green new deal) make other candidates’ ideas seem like really small ball.

    Warren’s proposal here sounds by comparison like something somebody thought up on the elevator ride up to campaign headquarters. Leaving aside the practical issues, it’s amazing someone thought this tinkering-around-the-edges idea was even worth publicizing.

    1. Wukchumni

      I could just imagine being in the slammer and meeting my new cellmate who asks what i’m in for, and i’d have to lie and tell him I reused a canceled stamp on a letter. (a federal offense)

      1. temporal

        When I was younger I thought that no one should vote for Reagan.
        When Warren was younger she thought that Reagan would make a great President.

        Which one of these is voter disinformation?

        What is religious disinformation?
        What is ethical disinformation?
        What is political disinformation?

        In this poorly thought out scheme if “the voter disinformation squad” believes what you think is incorrect you better keep it to yourself and know the rules ahead of time.

    2. Jeff W

      It’s a bad look for Elizabeth Warren—a last-minute “tinkering-around-the-edges idea” reinforces the idea that not only does she lean heavily towards technocratic policy wonkery but also that, as we’ve said all along, her political instincts are just lousy. It’s not only that that the proposal doesn’t address an issue voters are concerned about—it’s like “Why the heck is she talking about that now?”

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > it’s like “Why the heck is she talking about that now?”

        All those plans, and there was never a plan for this, so roll it out — and devote candidate time to it — four days before the Iowa caucus? I’m baffled. As I said, the only people I can imagine this panders to are 2016 Clinton voters who blame (Russian) disinformation for their candidate’s loss in 2016. Seems a little late to be going for them, and in such an odd way.

    3. The Rev Kev

      I saw a RT article on Warren’s proposal but it contained a hilarious tweet that said-

      “Under your plan, what’s the penalty for spreading disinformation about someone’s ethnicity? Asking for a friend.”

  18. neo-realist

    Re Internal monologue: I was an only kid so internal speaking could not be helped since there was nobody else to talk to, that you wanted to talk to, for the most part. Additionally, if you were angry with a parent, internal monologues were much safer than speaking them to the parent:).

  19. Darius

    Speaking of microbiome, I have a bucket compost system that after a few years of development appears to preserve food scraps in their in-decomposed state. They then practically melt away when I apply them to the ground. It’s like some kind of antibiotic at work.

  20. Rick

    Re Internal monologue – I can turn it on or off. I went to a lecture by a Zen practitioner/author/expert who said nobody can actually still their internal voice during meditation. Since I can fairly easily do that, I didn’t have a lot of respect for this particular authority.

    I find both states useful.

    1. Lee

      The instruction I received from a similar quarter was simply to observe one’s internal process without intention. It is an interesting practice that without much effort provides a restful, salutary distance from and recognition of certain tediously repetitious habits of mind. Sum ergo cogito. Descartes got it backwards.

    2. MLTPB

      Stilling the mind.

      I’ve come to believe it’s about accepting yourself, still or not.

      Acceptance…not discriminating.

    3. hunkerdown

      In early elementary school, they said negative numbers didn’t exist. Maybe that expert wasn’t talking to you when making their claim, but to students who were trying too hard to still their internal voice by listening for it. Misdirection is a teaching tool that has its uses, however rare the ethical ones may be.

  21. Carolinian

    modern day Crassus

    Love it. Should Bloomberg improbably be elected then true lefties who are Kubrick fans can stand up and declare, “I am Spartacus.”

    1. MLTPB

      If we want to be more like other countries, nordic for example, we ask if they have primary elections and the caucus type elections like the one in Iowa.

      Searching around, no luck so far. Are there countries that have caucuses (not the other meaning – congressional caucuses for example) to elect candidates?

    2. The Rev Kev

      I remember what happened to Crassus. His greed did him in when he went after Parthia for its wealth and lost it all in the disastrous Battle of Carrhae. After his death, the Parthians poured molten gold into his mouth as a symbol of his thirst for wealth. This was probably the inspiration for the grisly death of Viserys Targaryen in the first episode of “Game of Thrones”

    3. Darius

      Politicians for sale. DC Mayor Muriel Bowser endorsed Bloomberg today. The black misleadership class.

    1. rowlf

      The US Marine Corps personnel stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina also had high rates of male breast cancer.

  22. Wukchumni

    “Coronavirus could mean more U.S. jobs. Wilbur Ross goes there.” [NBC]. “‘Well, first of all, every American’s heart has to go out to the victims of the coronavirus. So, I don’t want to talk about a victory lap over a very unfortunate, very malignant disease,’ Ross told Fox Business Network on Thursday. ‘But the fact is, it does give businesses yet another thing to consider when they go through their review of their supply chain.”
    I’m afraid Wilbur has come down with the lack plague, er that would be the U.S. supply chain.

  23. allan

    Barr names new U.S. attorney in DC [AP]

    Attorney General William Barr on Thursday named Timothy Shea, one of his closest advisers, to be the next top prosecutor in the nation’s capital.

    Shea will lead the largest U.S. attorney’s office in the country, which has been historically responsible for some of the most significant and politically sensitive cases the Justice Department brings in the U.S.

    He is a senior counselor to the attorney general and was Barr’s right-hand man …

    As the U.S. attorney in the District of Columbia, Shea would oversee some of the lingering cases from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, along with a number of politically charged investigations. The office is also generally responsible for handling potential prosecutions if Congress finds a witness in contempt. …

    Well, that’s convenient.

  24. Kevin P Chapple

    Dear Lambert, I am not currently eligible to vote in any primary or similar within USA but am a citizen. In any event, I would be interested in your views with your style or perspective with respect to other candidates perhaps especially Yang regardless of the odds of any one of them prevailing. I saw somewhere an interview with Yang and found some of his views helpful. The content of that interview reminded me of some of the views you and Yves share.
    Thank you profoundly for the link to Nat Geo’s carbon footprint map. This is exactly what we use to assist in stewardship of this great home of ours. It is not a blame game. Rather, this type of analytics helps us focus on the stewardship responsibility we have with respect to this whole home of ours planet Earth. Among other matters, this helps us focus the real changes we need to make personally and professionally to make a positive difference. So, I still represent clients in that very geographic zone and, yes, they have made changes in their behavior to be better stewards.
    Thank you.

    1. hunkerdown

      I don’t speak in any capacity as a representative of anyone but myself as an occasional member of the commentariat and an avid reader, but this blog’s editorial position is very obviously, firmly, and consistently in opposition to neoliberalism and Chicago School sophistry, and UBI, an irredeemably neoliberal and Chicago-born concept, has been consistently and thoroughly savaged here since 2017 and likely before. See, for example:


      1. Kevin P Chapple

        I am well aware of this.
        It is difficult, I think, sometimes with these various “labels”, if you will. For example, I often feel robbed of the ability to have a discussion for this very reason. It is painful.
        Personally, my work in economics sources in Drake School of Business, the Isenberg School (U Mass Amherst), Iowa State University Ames and Unversidad de Heidelberg. Quite a collection over the years. My time at Ames lead to Jungian theory.
        Indeed, economics is a social science unlike physics. The same is true of law and accountancy. The issue is human behavior. I was delighted, for example, in recent days to see the use of the word “philosophy” properly enter into the discussion on this blog. Philosophy is the discussion of human behavior with, I hope, much of the post modern “connotation”, for good or ill, removed. This allows, I hope, for a far better discussion of solutions without so much “emotional noise”, for lack of a better way of expressing this.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Yang

      Stylistically he’s interesting and has grown on the trail. Refreshingly, Yang doesn’t seem to be a corrupt monster. I don’t buy UBI (in fact, oppose it) and I don’t buy his protestations on #MedicareForAll, which is a litmus test for me.

  25. Craig H.

    My internal monologue is shouting that it wants to know more about these Nissan layoffs. Are there Japanese guys in Japan who have devoted 20 years to the Nissan corporation going to get axed? I thought that did not happen there.

  26. allan

    In contrast with Trump legal team, Justice Department lawyer says House can impeach over defied subpoenas [CNN]

    A Justice Department lawyer said Thursday in federal court that the House can impeach a president over ignored subpoenas, a noted contrast to what lawyers for President Donald Trump are arguing at his Senate impeachment trial this week.
    Asked by a federal judge what the House can do to enforce its subpoenas, Justice Department lawyer James Burnham said without hesitation that the House can use its impeachment powers, among other options, like withholding appropriations. …

    The topic came up in a hearing about the 2020 census. The House Oversight Committee sued the Justice Department and Commerce Department in November, asking a judge to enforce its subpoenas for documents. The case revolves around the controversial and ultimately unsuccessful attempt by the Trump administration to add a citizenship question to the census. …

    [Judge] Moss repeatedly pressed Burnham to explain what the House can do if a subpoena is ignored — and if they don’t have many options, the subpoenas are more like voluntary requests. The Justice Department has argued that the House can’t ask the courts to enforce subpoenas. …

    Barr is now just trolling the House. And the judiciary. A little bit of humor before the fall of night.

    1. Yves Smith

      This isn’t Barr. There are career DoJ staffers who hate Trump. And this was in response to a question, this wan’t part of a filing, as in an argument the government had papered up with supporting citations. Legally this is a nothingburger.

    2. voteforno6

      Ultimately, the only institution that has a say in what is and what is not impeachable is the House of Representatives. Everything else is just someone’s opinion.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > A Justice Department lawyer said Thursday in federal court that the House can impeach a president over ignored subpoenas,

      Great. Let’s just keep impeaching Trump until we get it right.

  27. Wukchumni

    “Hillary Clinton refuses to be served Tulsi Gabbard’s defamation lawsuit”
    Can’t say I really blame Hillary, Tulsi took a page from Devin Nunes in putting forth an over the top lawsuit for moon ($50 million) money, that had really no merit.

    1. Yves Smith

      Putting this in Links (someone already sent this). This is ridiculous. Hillary can be served through her attorneys or even via Twitter. This is just a really bad look.

        1. Kfish

          Absolutely. I used to have a job filing claims in court to recover child support from men who were … less than enthusiastic about paying it. In Australia you try to serve them personally, then you apply to the court for an order of substituted service. It used to be via classified notices in the paper, these days it’s mostly Facebook. A lot of these guys had pictures of the kid they were refusing to support on their Facebook page, so it was pretty easy to prove you had the right deadbeat.

          (Before the MRAs come for me, please note that the amounts involved were $30 – $100 / month, a lot less than half the cost of keeping the kid alive.)

        2. Yves Smith

          Yes, we would have served PropOrNot on Twitter but we still needed to find where at least one member of that unincorporated association lived or worked so we could establish jurisdiction and venue for a filing (this is critical, you need to tell a judge why you are legitimately in his courtroom). But we couldn’t get past that, so no suit.

      1. Lee

        In olden times, well before twitter, when I served process, I merely had to step up to the person being served and say “you are served.” If they refused to take the proffered document, it was required to merely drop it at their feet and I would then file the requisite proof of service with the court clerk. A properly presented service could be physically avoided by hiding out but not “refused” at a time and point of a proper presentation.

        1. mle detroit

          In even older times, I remember watching Howard Cosell running Figure 8s around secretaries’ desks at ABC Sports in Manhattan, trying to evade some process server.

        2. Run Forrest Run

          So when Bill Browder is running away avoiding being that is just theatre and he could be in jail if people really wanted it?

      2. polecat

        Can’t they just lock her up … right along with HER-> SS wafflin Detail ..and throw the subpoena throught the Barrs ?

        How hardtime is that ?

    2. The Rev Kev

      This is funny this. If, as Yves says, Hillary can be served through her attorneys or even via Twitter then that would be the logical way to go. But by doing it physically and having the US Secret Service stop these papers being served on her, then this just makes her look moronic. Well, mission accomplished.

      1. ambrit

        This has the smell of political theatre. Who convinced Gabbard to grand stand in this way? There are better ways to “get the message out.” Maybe the ‘adviser’ who convinced Gabbard to follow this path is really a Clinton operative.
        It also falls into the category of press exposure for Clinton. As the old saying in Hollywood goes; “There is no such thing as bad publicity.”

    3. Daniel

      Would be interested to know why you think the case is frivolous. I don’t practice defamation/1A law myself, but from a quick scan it definitely seems solid enough to get past a motion to dismiss, and probably to make it to trial. The defense that “Russian asset” doesn’t mean what it sounds like it means isn’t very compelling, legally (judges and juries aren’t robots, so this kind of hairsplitting doesn’t actually work in real cases). Actual malice is always hard to prove but Tulsi’s got some material to work with on that front, too.

      1. Yves Smith

        Defamation cases are just about impossible to win in the US, and even when you do win, you just about never get any monetary awards (don’t ask me why that Gawker case was such an exception). For instance, Harry Shearer won a defamation suit and was awarded $1.

        So the only point is to get into their underwear and embarrass them in discovery. but judges don’t like that at all as the motive for a case.

        Plus I believe Tulsi filed the case in NY. I’m not up on how friendly NY is to anti-SLAPP suits, but if that’s an option for Hillary, she can force Tulsi into what amounts to trying her case 2x, and delaying by years when the original suit gets heard. The general rule of litigation is delay is deadly to plaintiffs: memories fade and evidence disappears.

        With Tulsi a public figure who gets abused in the press all the time, it’s not as if what Hillary said was all that much worse than the smears she’s been getting as a candidate. You run for office, you are asking to be a punching bag. Tell me how she was harmed, exactly? There’s no evidence anyone took Hillary’s bullshit seriously outside her bots, who were already against Tulsi. Hillary I am sure could make a case she believe that Tulsi is an agent (Hillary sees Putin stooges under every bed), which vitiates the “actual malice” claim.

  28. urblintz

    This one left me speechless: https://www.truthdig.com/articles/paul-krugman-america-is-at-risk-of-becoming-a-one-party-autocracy/

    “The real secret of the current economy, as I see it, is deficit spending. The 2019 federal deficit was $300 billion higher than CBO [Congressional Budget Office] projected in 2017, before the Trump tax cuts. That’s a lot of stimulus, after years of austerity imposed by the GOP on Obama. It’s badly designed stimulus, but it’s still a lot of money.”

    1. eg

      What do you mean, “becoming”?

      Don’t you have this already with your Hobson’s choice between Team Pepsi and Team Coke?

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > austerity imposed by the GOP on Obama

      Yeah, you know, when Larry Summers doubled Christina Romer’s stim pack number before sending it on to Obama. Oh, wait….

      And then there was Obama’s inaugural speech:

      Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. …

      What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition on the part of every American that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world

      And yet at this moment, a moment that will define a generation, it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all. For as much as government can do, and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies.

      The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account, to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day, because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

      America: In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come.

      It’s been awhile since I read that speech. Obama was a real piece of work. I know when I heard it, I heard “austerity.” And I wasn’t the only one.

  29. anonymous

    The LAT article on caucuses misses the most important change in the IA democratic caucuses, that for the first time there will be a paper trail, with voters filling out presidential preference cards that will be retained in case a recount is needed. The count might also be more accurate, as the campaign representatives and the caucus chair will be able to take their time verifying the paper count before submission; when crowds get restless, as soon as people start breaking away to go home, there is no further checking of a head count. The paper cards also ensure that the voters were checked in, that they didn’t enter through the exit doors.

    Anyone who is seriously interested in the IA caucuses and who will be watching for election fraud should read the rules on the Iowa Democratic Party website. Under “2020 Caucuses” is a link to the DSP (delegate selection plan) that gives the rules and formulas. Under “Action Center”, go to “Get Information About the Caucuses” , or just thecaucuses dot org, where you will find “How to Caucus” and “2020 Caucus Changes”. If you are a casual observer, the LAT is good enough, but if you are watching the numbers, you need to know that the 15% viability threshold only applies to precincts with at least 4 delegates (divide attendees by 6 for viability for precincts with 3 delgates, and viability is 25% if there are only 2 delegates); that viability numbers are rounded up, whereas normal rounding applies for calculation of delegate equivalents; that no viable group can get less than one delegate; that the number of state delegate equivalents for a precinct is determined in advance by the democratic turnout in the last presidential and gubernatorial elections, not the turnout on caucus night; etc. WIth so much attention on the IA caucuses, yet without much reporting on the nitty gritty of the rules, I would not be surprised if we see some initial accusations of fraud made on social media by people who don’t know more than that there is a 15% viability threshold.

    There can be no more muddying of the results than exists with the popular vote and electoral college count in presidential elections. The rules are clear going in, and the delegates will be awarded by those rules. Different candidates will be able to spin the results to their advantage (like HRC and the popular vote), but the more transparency, the better. The release of the raw counts will allow anyone who knows the rules to double check the math, and recount or re-calculation can be done if any irregularities are found. Does anyone claiming to be concerned about interpretation of the IA caucus results with the new raw vote count release think that we should only get the electoral college result, not the popular vote, in presidential elections?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > or the first time there will be a paper trail, with voters filling out presidential preference cards that will be retained in case a recount is needed

      Good news, for once!

  30. MLTPB

    In this regard, their capacity to express emotions, intentionally or unintentionally, is crucial for them to successfully navigate their social worlds and to bond with group members


    From Science Direct above.

    I know of people who idolize Mr Spock and being emotionless and totally logical is the aim.

    1. Kevin P Chapple

      I am a huge SciFi fan including, if not especially, Star Trek. Dr. Isaac Asimov of Boston University and his Foundation Trilogy or iRobot series is another bit of outstanding work in these areas, in my view.
      If I may, I believe they miss the whole purpose of Mr. Spock. If I recall correctly, Mr. Spock’s struggle is dealing with his emotions or, dare I say, philosophy? Spock’s problem is he was half Vulcan and half human… . The human half via emotion/philosophy was always interfering with the Vulcan half which insisted on “pure mathematical logic” or “binary” thinking.
      Truly great SciFi is literature and film counts. Great literature is replete with “cautionary tales” for all of us. Helping us better understand our reality, our total reality.

    2. Yves Smith

      If you watch Star Trek, Spock is not not emotional. He regularly takes offense, has a well-honed sense of irony, and makes jibes, usually at McCoy. He’s just super reserved and sometimes has to work at that, which is the appeal of his character.

      1. polecat

        Well, thank the Gods that he didn’t graduate from Starfleet Academy as a babydoc …

        ‘shudders to contemplate the ramifications of such distant upbringing’

  31. chuck roast

    I cruise through Boston’s South Station every month or two on a train/bus connection. The bus station is typically very crowded and there is a lot of Hub-bub. I went through there at mid-day today and…where was everybody? Must have been home counting the hankies and kleenex.

  32. Wukchumni

    Direct the Department of Justice to legalize marijuana at the federal level;
    When I frequent the local pot shoppe, i’m always amazed at the age spread of the clientele, it ranges from barely legal to octogenarians and everything in between.

    Funny how we’ve gone from where everybody smoked cigarettes, and 420 could land you in jail, to almost the other way around, in fact about a decade ago I was at the Playboy Jazz Festival @ the Hollywood Bowl and watched somebody get arrested for lighting up a Camel in their seat, about 6 seats away from me.

    1. Yves Smith


      We’ve said before this 11% fatality rate figure is misrepresented.

      11% of those seriously infected, which is estimated at 20% of total cases. 11% x 20% = 2.2%.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      To be fair, Krugman is talking about “professional Republicans” — almost wrote “Democrats,” there, oopsie — and not garden-variety voters.

      Still, there seems to be no way for liberal Democrats to pull out of their spiral..

    1. HotFlash

      Hmm. Dogs for Bloomberg? Judging by the canine lip-smacking, it looks to me like Dogs for (probably any) Treat-giving-person. Which is my experience with all dogs.

    2. Yves Smith

      I don’t like this at all. Says the only beings that buy Mike are ones that get treats and can’t talk back and are smaller than him too. Comes off as condescending.

      I am wondering if this dog stuff is to pre-condition people before they get to see how bad he is with babies.

  33. Synoia

    Social ties and susceptibility to the common cold….

    I read this as “Go to your not so crowded local Pub.”

    Pity the US with its dearth of Pubs, and an inability to walk to one’s local. Perhaps the incident starting in 1776 was not so brilliant.

    1. ObjectiveFunction

      Staying with the Crown worked out pretty well for (Anglophone) Canadians.

      Heavily outnumbered by the (smallpox resistant and militarily effective) Cree, Algonquin and Huron nations, and with sullen lately subjugated French sitting astride the Saint Lawrence (the sole route to Europe), Anglophone settlers in Upper and Lower Canada got damned good value from those taxes and redcoats!

      But it really paid off in 1812 once the loudmouthed and land hungry Republic came up from the south.

  34. m sam

    I too never realized others had no internal monologue (or dialogue). I can’t say it has ruined my day or anything, but it sure does give me something interesting to talk to myself about.

  35. Lil’D

    Inner monologue…
    Sometimes I need to call the rowdy committee to order… the voices don’t follow Robert’s rules

    1. Oregoncharles

      I mostly just tell myself fantasy stories; sometimes over and over, in order to get it right. Had trouble doing this silently, when I was little.

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