2:00PM Water Cooler 1/6/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“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.

Today we have two YouGov polls from IA and NH, as of 1/6/2020, 12:00 PM EST. On the average, the pattern of Biden first, Sanders strong second, then Warren and Buttigeig is stable.

And the numbers:

For IA, let’s shift over to the daily polls, not averaged out, as of 1/6/2020, 12:00 PM EST:

And the numbers:

A three-way tie for first between Biden, Buttigieg, and Sanders, with Warren trailing.

And NH:

And the numbers:

Sanders pulls into a slight lead over Biden, a gap, then Warren and Buttigieg.

One might construct a narrative that Sanders is peaking at the right time. But Iowa is famously volatile. And New Hampshire is Sanders’ back yard, so it’s hard to see why he hasn’t been leading for awhile.

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 Buttigieg 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.”

* * *

Biden (D)(1): “Joe Biden dismisses Sanders’ claims he can’t energize voters: ‘I don’t respond to Bernie’s ridiculous comments'” [FOX]. • It’s not like Biden can’t fill a stadium whenever he wants.

UPDATE Biden (D)(2): Well, pandering to the antiwar vote is better than not, I suppose:

UPDATE Biden (D)(3): “Stop saying Biden is the ‘most electable’. Trump will run rings round him” [Nathan Robinson, Guardian]. “Look at the enthusiasm Trump gets at his rallies. It is real. Trump has fans, and they’re highly motivated. How motivated are Biden’s “fans”? Is Biden going to fill stadiums? Are people going to crisscross the country knocking on doors for him? Say what you want about Clinton, but there were some truly committed Clinton fans, and she had a powerful base of support. By comparison, Biden looks weak, and Trump is savagely effective at preying on and destroying establishment politicians.”

Buttigieg (D)(1): Lee Carter on Buttigeig:

“Pete Butterbar“, “Pete Butterbar”… That might have legs….

UPDATE Buttigieg (D)(2): “Buttigieg’s Bet: After Iran Strike, Military Experience Matters Even More” [New York Times]. Buttigieg: “As a military intelligence officer on the ground in Afghanistan, I was trained to ask these questions before a decision is made.” • Pete Butterbar…

UPDATE Buttigieg (D)(3): Bipartisan agreement on a coup in Venezuela:

Buttigieg (D)(4): Alert reader petal threw a campaign letter from Buttigieg over the transom. Here’s one page:

Calling Sanders a “Washington politician.” We’ll see if that sticks, I guess.

Buttigieg (D)(5): “Pete Buttigieg and the One Percent” [New York Times]. “Prominent donors in Los Angeles argue that Mr. Buttigieg is also approaching celebrity fund-raising differently than Hillary Clinton did four years ago. While her campaign publicized the appearances of Katy Perry and Lena Dunham at events, he’s kept a lid on similar associations. sThe fund-raiser that Gwyneth Paltrow held on his behalf last May? The campaign declined to publicize it.” • Keeping it all on the down-low:

Buttigieg (D)(6): “Buttigieg fails to muster delegates in all Illinois districts — unlike Biden, Sanders and Warren” [Chicago Sun-Times]. “I was surprised about Buttigieg because he has led the pack in raising money in Illinois — from small and large donors and fundraisers — and has a branch of his national headquarters in the South Loop. The campaign tried and could not get valid petitions for all its would-be delegates in all 18 districts. ‘Our campaign prioritized collecting signatures from voters in every congressional district to ensure Pete is on the ballot in the Illinois primary,’ Buttigieg spokesman Sean Savett said.” • Is that an answer?

UPDATE Chaffee (L)(1): “Lincoln Chafee files to run for president as a libertarian” [CNN]. “Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee has filed to run for President as a libertarian in what appears to be a new long-shot White House bid following his failed campaign for the Democratic nomination in 2016. Chafee filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on Sunday to form the Lincoln Chafee for President campaign committee based in Wyoming. A website linked to Chafee’s FEC filing states ‘Lincoln Leads with TRUTH” along with the phrase ‘Thirty Years, Zero Scandals.'” • Reminds me to wonder what Bill Weld is doing these days.

Klobuchar (D)(1): “A Democrat Who Can Beat Trump” [David Leonhardt, New York Times]. “where are you supposed to find a comfortably electable, qualified candidate who won’t turn 80 while in office? Senator Amy Klobuchar has become an answer to that question in the final month before voting begins. She has outlasted more than a dozen other candidates and has two big strengths: A savvy understanding of how to campaign against President Trump and a track record of winning the sorts of swing voters Democrats will likely need this year.” • Leonhardt is reaching.

Sanders (D)(1): Gunnels takedown of Buttigieg NH health care mailer. Thread:

Sanders (D)(2): “Sanders starts 2020 in strong position in Iowa and New Hampshire — CBS News Battleground Tracker” [CBS]. “Apart from recent gains in New Hampshire, Sanders’ support is still best characterized by its steadiness and strength compared to other candidates who have seen more volatility. Nearly half (47%) of his New Hampshire voters say they’ve definitely made up their minds. By comparison, just 15% of Biden’s backers in the state describe their choice that way.”

UPDATE Sanders (D)(3): “Bernie Sanders picks former Obama official as liaison to Jewish community in a nod to the establishment” [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]. “The Bernie Sanders campaign has named an insider in both the Jewish and Democratic establishments — entities that the presidential candidate has previously kept at a distance — as its liaison to the Jewish community…. [Joel Rubin, 48, a former Obama administration official with longstanding ties to an array of Jewish groups] was a co-founder of J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group, and recently served on the board of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, a group that slots into the mainstream both of the pro-Israel community and the Democratic Party.”

UPDATE Yang (D)(1): “Yang to launch write-in campaign for Ohio primary” [The Hill]. “Entrepreneur Andrew Yang will launch a write-in campaign to appear on the Ohio presidential primary ballot after an issue with his application prevented it from being approved.” • Hmm.

* * *

Iowa data point:

UPDATE “The very real scenario of a protracted, ‘bizarro world’ Democratic primary” [Politico]. “One strategist working with a presidential candidate said, ‘We’ve never had a situation where we get past Super Tuesday and there’s still five people in the field,’ predicting that possibility this year. ‘We’re in bizarro world here,’ the strategist said.” • This is the way the Democrat establishment structured the race, for pity’s sake. No doubt they thought they were geniuses when Sanders had his heart attack, and thought they’d tired him out, as per plan. No such luck.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“One Year in Washington Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reshaped her party’s agenda, resuscitated Bernie Sanders’s campaign, and hardly has a friend in town.” [New York Magazine]. “The Democratic congressional majority, she told me, is too acquiescent to the demands of its members in so-called red-to-blue districts — those moderates who flipped Republican seats and gave Pelosi the gavel. ‘For so long, when I first got in, people were like, ‘Oh, are you going to basically be a tea party of the left?’ And what people don’t realize is that there is a tea party of the left, but it’s on the right edges, the most conservative parts of the Democratic Party. So the Democratic Party has a role to play in this problem, and it’s like we’re not allowed to talk about it. We’re not allowed to talk about anything wrong the Democratic Party does,’ she said. “I think I have created more room for dissent, and we’re learning to stretch our wings a little bit on the left.'”


Who would have imagined that “lineage” was a reactionary frame?

Stats Watch

Stats: “McDonald’s new CEO says he will end the culture of late-night partying that took place under ousted boss Steve Easterbrook, who was fired for dating an employee” [Daily Mail]. “The new chief said in addition to changing company culture, he’s also keen to improve restaurant performance and has met with employees and restaurants in the US, UK, Germany, France and Switzerland in his first two months as CEO. He’s expected to share what he’s learned from that trip this month. … ‘I have to be able to look at every single one of my senior leadership team members and say, “Do I believe that they personify the values of our company?”‘ Kempczinkski said during a town hall meeting held shortly after he assumed office. ‘And if they don’t, they’re not on the senior leadership team.'” • When I read Chris Arnade’s Dignity, and the central role that McDonald’s played in so many communities, I worried that some executive would come in and blow all that away. So we’ll see what Easterbrook does.

Manufacturing: “An anchor of the U.S. industrial economy is starting 2020 on a sober note. Auto industry executives are predicting a continued slowdown this year after major car companies reported softer sales in 2019… signaling slimming supply chains from parts to final assembly plants” [Wall Street Journal]. “Analysts expect the car industry to post a decrease of 1% to 2% in U.S. sales for the year once final numbers are compiled. Sales of around 17 million vehicles defied earlier predictions of a sharper decline but suggests the multiyear boom in U.S. auto sales is running out of gas even amid growth in broader consumer spending. The slowdown is hitting supply chains as factory output slows.”

The Bezzle: “Opening the Door to Unicorns Invites Risk for Average Investors” [New York Times]. • I don’t think letting the rubes in is a sign of froth.

Mr. Market: “Optimism as a Default Setting” [The Reformed Broker]. “Pessimism is intellectually seductive and the arguments always sound smarter, especially when they dovetail with our own worries. You think this period is more frightening than the sixteen month recession between July 1981 and November 1982 only because you weren’t there and you haven’t studied history. Your frame of reference is here and now, not then – with a 14% unemployment rate and 15% inflation.” • Hmm.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 91 Extreme Greed (previous close: 93 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 90 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 6 at 12:30pm.

Rapture Index: Closes up one on Israel. “Trouble in the Middle East has Israel on watch” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 183. Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing. I would expect the Rapture Index to jump if evangelicals thought impeachment was likely to hurt Trump. So it looks to me like this index is delivering a verdict on impeachment as well.

Awhile back, a reader asked about the Rapture. Here’s a thread on that topic:

Comments welcome from Evangelical-adjacent readers.

The Biosphere


“Tough Plants to Fix Your Landscaping Problem Areas” [The Spruce]. “[T]ough plants, examples of which you’ll find in the list below, headed by Culver’s root. Let’s look at several different types of challenging conditions you may encounter in your landscaping efforts. In each case, we suggest a plant choice that will be up to the challenge. The suggested plants range from ground covers and perennials to shrubs and trees.” • Fodder for your garden planning!

“These animals make homes for other species” [National Geographic]. “Nothing in the wild goes to waste—not even a footprint…. Asian elephant tracks serve as important as nurseries for frog eggs and tadpoles during the dry season in Myanmar, according to a study in the journal Mammalia published in print last month… In addition to being breeding grounds, elephant-footprint pools are also refuges for adult frogs, Bickford says, and they help link fragmented frog habitats together, which is important for maintaining genetic diversity in the population. Co-author Thomas Rainwater of Clemson University also notes that the tracks are good habitat because there are few, if any, predators present.” • If “nothing in the wild goes to waste,” I would think that has implications for modeling…

“How ants walking backward find their way home” [Science]. “When walking forward, Spanish desert ants (Cataglyphis velox) use a strategy called “path integration”: They remember the feeling of the twists and turns they took and how many steps they are from the nest, which they use to compute the fastest route back home. They also rely on the angle of the Sun to get their bearings, and they look around at the passing scenery and remember certain landmarks that can help them on their return journey. But how they know where they’re going while walking backward is less clear…. The ants’ eyes have a wide angle of view—they have nearly 360° vision, whereas humans can only see about one-third of their surroundings without turning their heads. Schwarz says the insects are likely taking in information from beside and behind them as they walk away from the nest, then using it to guide them back as they are dragging food.” • 360° vision!

“Storing carbon and saving the economy? Mangroves can do both.” [Grist]. “‘When you take a look at these mangroves, they’re these really dense ecosystems that could essentially act as a wall or barrier for wind and storm surge,’ explained Alejandro Del Valle, an assistant professor of risk management and insurance at Georgia State University and one of the lead authors of the study. ‘The key part is that these ecosystems are literally in the coastlines. It’s already there, so you don’t need to spend too much money in constructing it, just conserving and protecting it.'” • See NC on mangroves here and here.

“Federal agencies are required to consult with tribes about pipelines. They often don’t.” [Grist]. “Federal agencies are required by law to work with Native American tribes that might be affected by oil and gas projects. But there hasn’t been a single public hearing on the Fort Peck Reservation yet, even though the pipeline has been a source of controversy for about a decade. There are similar stories in Virginia, New Mexico, and elsewhere across the country, according to Indian law experts tracking oil and gas projects. Tribal officials say they try to contact federal agencies and don’t hear back, or that agencies make key decisions before contacting them. Sometimes an agency sends letters asking for tribes’ input to the wrong address or never contacts them at all.” • To be fair to Warren, she has addressed this.

“Measles may have emerged when large cities rose, 1500 years earlier than thought” [Nature]. “Because measles spreads so fast and infection confers lifelong immunity, scientists estimate it needs populations of 250,000 to a half-million people to avoid burning itself out. Historians believe that the largest cities reached that size around the fourth century B.C.E…. Calvignac-Spencer’s team drew up a new phylogenetic tree using the 1912 genome as well as a new one from 1960, pieced together from a sample in another collection, and other available genomes. The resulting tree suggests the disease could have jumped to humans as early as 345 B.C.—right around the time human populations reached the critical size.”

“Recluse or Not?” [spiderbytes]. “On this page you’ll find critical information about recluse spider identification, their range in North America, bites, what to do if you you find them in your home, and links to other useful resources.” • News you can use!

Our Famously Free Press

“‘The Newsroom’ Explains Everything Terrible About This Decade’s Politics” [Vice]. “The Newsroom was the second time a network allowed Aaron Sorkin, creator of The West Wing, to do where the f*ck he wanted, and what he wanted to do at that time to confront what he saw as a rising tide of right wing extremist in the United States was to create a show about an institutional TV figure who could tell the American people the news…. The truth, yeah, be a bearer of truth and understanding. He made it about real events, but the show was always projecting three or four years back in the past…. one of the seasons here where The Newsroom gang had to address like, ‘How do we handle the story of the Occupy Wall Street protests?’ And for multiple episodes in this work of fiction about people getting the story right and thinking deeper, it was just relentless dunking on the Occupy movement and how stupid they were and how ill informed they were about the financial system about the economy. They were just dumbasses with a bunch of complaints and no understanding of the real issues and no solutions. You’re not allowed to be angry, unless you bring a concrete, preferably means tested, solution. Otherwise, shut the f*ck up.” •


“Game thought lost for 25 years randomly streamed on Twitch” [Quarter to Three]. “Here was Brewster’s long-lost game, a game he only ever sent to one person, being played live on Twitch! All its primitive preteen glorious CGA graphics and simple audio back from the past like a “lost, drunken cat” finding its way home.” • Lovely provenance episode.

Guillotine Watch


Class Warfare

“Uber Files Official Complaint Against Workers Who Led Protests in France” [Vice]. “Ben Ali’s protests, which hundreds of drivers participated in, targeted Uber Greenlight Hubs which are intended to be driver signup and service centers. The protests disrupted the company’s operations in a bid to force Uber to consider the driver’s demands. The drivers’ demands include increasing base fares and rates to livable levels, allowing drivers to review trip prices and destinations before accepting a ride, stopping the deactivation of drivers for frequently declining unprofitable trips, implementing driver verification to improve safety, capping Uber’s steadily growing fees, greater autonomy over their jobs, and stronger union representation to dispute unfair or false complaints… After revealing that it filed a formal complaint with the public prosecutor against [organizer Brahim Ben Ali], Uber ended the email saying ‘we reserve the right to exercise all legal remedies in order to put an end to the unlawful disturbance resulting from your actions and obtain full compensation for our damage.'”

“Implicit Bias Training Doesn’t Work” [Bloomberg]. “[D]espite the growing adoption of unconscious bias training, there is no convincing scientific evidence that it works. In fact, much of the academic evidence on implicit bias interventions highlights their weakness as a method for boosting diversity and inclusion. Instructions to suppress stereotypes often have the opposite effect, and prejudice reduction programs are much more effective when people are already open-minded, altruistic, and concerned about their prejudices to begin with. This is because the main problem with stereotypes is not that people are unaware of them, but that they agree with them (even when they don’t admit it to others). In other words, most people have conscious biases.” • If it doesn’t work, you can bill for it over and over again!

TF sends this photo, and writes: “This lady, Monica Echeverría, was a well-known activist and defender of human rights in Chile during the Pinochet years, just passed away at age 99. She asked to be buried with an eyepatch in homage to the 200+ Chileans who have lost an eye in the recent wave of demonstrations as cops aim for the head with buckshot and rubber bullets.”

News of the Wired

“The empty promises of Marie Kondo and the craze for minimalism” [Guardian]. “The KonMari Method and minimalist self-help as a whole works because it is a simple, almost one-step procedure, as memorable as a marketing slogan. It is a shock treatment demonstrating that you do not need to depend on possessions for an identity; you still exist even when they are gone. But as Kondo conceives it, it is also a one-size-fits-all process that has a way of homogenising homes and erasing traces of personality or quirkiness, like the sprawling collection of Christmas decorations that one woman on the Netflix show was forced to decimate over the course of an episode. The overflow of nutcrackers and tinsel was a clear problem (as was her husband’s piles of baseball cards), but with their absence the home was sanitised and homogenised. Minimalist cleanliness is the state of acceptable normalcy that everyone must adhere to, no matter how boring it looks.”

Here’s hoping for 2020:

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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 (BD):

BD writes: “My banana plants.” The green and red combination is very Christmas-y!

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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. Samuel Conner

    The period in the early ’80s before Volker relaxed his stranglehold on interest rates were very tough for small business operators who relied on bank financing for working capital. IIRC, at the time my Dad was paying prime +3, and the rates were oscillating wildly, but always painfully high.

      1. jsn

        Yes, and ever since then things have been consistantly better for investors and worse for everyone else, so from “Mr Market” perspective, optimism is a good default.

        For the world of living things? Not so much.

        1. notabanktoadie

          The HOW interest rates are set is constantly overlooked. If set ethically*, low interest rates should be a blessing; if not they are a means for the so-called “credit worthy”, typically the rich, to loot others.

          *e.g. via a Citizen’s Dividend to replace all fiat creation beyond that created by deficit spending for the general welfare.

          *e.g. via negative interest on large and non-individual citizen inherently risk-free accounts at the Central Bank.

  2. Off The Street

    Researchers would probably find an Implicit Bias among consultants pitching such drivel, as the latter want to keep the grift feature going.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      An implicit bias in favor of believing everybody is implicitly biased? What a self-servingly profitable implicit bias to have.

      People who fear they might be subjected to implicit bias training might start thinking about how to stealth-troll the implicit bias trainers . . . how to poke sticks in the spokes of their wheels of thought. It would be more about cultivating the ” attack-no attack” frame of mind than self-rehearsing a laundry list of replying points.

      For instance, the attitude which hears , let us say, the question: what race were the original Jews? A troll-answer might be ” what race would you like them to be?”

      ” What!? What do you mean?”

      That gives one a chance to tell a relevant joke and circle it back to the question . . .
      The mafia was holding interviews for an accounting job. After learning each applicant’s qualifications
      and knowledge and stuff, the mafia interviewer then asked: ” Okay, what’s 2 + 2? And each
      applicant said ” 2 + 2 is 4″. And the mafia interviewer would reply, ” thanks, we’ll call you.”
      And so it went with applicant after applicant, interview after interview. ” Okay, what’s 2 + 2″?
      ” Well, 2 + 2 is 4″

      Till one fine day, when the interviewer asked an applicant ” Okay, what’s 2 + 2?” the applicant
      said ” What would you like it to be?” And the mafia interviewer said ” You’re hired!”

      So . . . what race were the first Jews? Well . . . what race would you like them to be?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I couldn’t quite get to that. Such was Castro’s destiny from the beginning, I think. It’s not like he’s a proven vote-getter. IIRC, his record on foreclosure is bad, too.

      1. JohnnyGL

        I take it as Obama-world continuing to flirt with Warren. I don’t think she’ll ever get an endorsement from Obama, unless she wins a string of early primaries. But he’s going to string her along, because he’s a passive-aggressive jerk like that.

        The endorsement would have helped her more if he’d dropped out and done it around the time when she was topping a few polls. She never really seemed to get a grip on the race and the Biden nostalgia regained control.

        1. russell1200

          That’s what I was thinking: I sort of took it as a semi-nod from Obama, but I didn’t know how Castro stood with Obama.

          1. JohnnyGL

            I suspect the legacy of Warren’s presidential bid will be that there’s just no point in trying to be a ‘reformer’ who still plays nice with the establishment. The establishment will never support you and will pull the rug out from under you as soon as the chance comes.

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          I don’t know. My sense is Castro was really trying and simply offered an endorsement to the highest bidder. Castro wasn’t ready out of the gate and didn’t do enough to separate himself from the New Democrats. He wasn’t terrible or buffoonish as O’Rourke, but he didn’t come to play.

          I mean the non-white male VP nod for Sanders is obviously Ro Khanna. There still might be a woman, but its obviously Khanna. Castro isn’t going to win state wide in Texas without a ton of work and being a cabinet secretary didn’t do much from him. So being the non-white face at a Warren rally makes sense for him.

          1. HotFlash

            I’ve been thinking about the Veep slot if Bernie is the nom. In his shoes (which I most definitely am not) I would tap Nina Turner. Ticks a lot of boxes, if anyone cares, but more to the point she has that Bernie fire in the belly, is a barnburning speaker, understands and is 100% with his agenda, knows his operation (campaign co-chair), is from the midwest where she is a proven vote-getter (termed-out Ohio state senator), *and* he wouldn’t be taking a needed ally out of Congress.

            1. John k

              She’s not in Congress. In 2014 she got 36% of the vote for Ohio sec state, not a rust belt vote getter. Better to stay in OR and rally the progressives.
              I don’t like warren, but imo she eventually will endorse Bernie if she stays in third, and will get veep… and she stabilizes much of the older dem vote, which Bernie needs.

  3. Samuel Conner

    Am I the only person who feels a Stalenhag-esque vibe in contemplation of the “underwater Tesla charging station” photo?

    1. JohnnyGL

      I’ve never seen another real picture come closer to hitting that combination of technological-disenchantment, hopelessness.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        All that picture would need is someone sitting among the charging stations in a rowboat, fishing ( with a suitably insulated fishing pole).

        The message? Some technologies are classic and always work.

        1. JohnnyGL

          That’s not Stalenhag’s style.

          He’s more likely to have someone sitting in a small rowboat while hooked up to one of the charging stations wearing a VR-helmet.

  4. Grant

    “One might construct a narrative that Sanders is peaking at the right time. But Iowa is famously volatile. And New Hampshire is Sanders’ back yard, so it’s hard to see why he hasn’t been leading for awhile.”

    Have many here not discussed the problems with these polls though? It seems that while many here, rightfully I think, were questioning whether the polls actually reflected the support these candidates have earlier in this process, we have slowly moved towards arguing that they do in fact reflect the actual support of these candidates. Do they though? Bernie is going to, more than anyone else, inspire people that don’t traditionally vote to vote. How much, we can’t say, but it is going to happen. Even if that makes a 2% difference, a conservative estimate, that could make a huge difference. So, I personally think of these polls as floors for him, and possibly Warren to a lesser extent, and a ceiling for Biden. In other words, if these polls show Bernie doing well, he is likely doing even better, and my guess is that the change in the narrative in the corporate media is because the internal data that the campaigns have paints a different picture than these polls are showing. The gap will likely vary from state to state, but I think it is very likely to be generally true that Bernie’s support is understated (sometimes drastically) in the polls. Remember Michigan last time around? I think there are likely to be more Michigan-like situations. If this is true, then logically you would have to conclude that Biden’s and Pete’s support is likely overstated, in some instances wildly so.

    And in regards to national polls, it would be good to know the regional distribution. I just don’t trust those doing the polls, they have often been used as a means to manufacture consent, and I could give many reasons why. How do I know that they aren’t over-sampling areas where someone like Biden would be likely to get more support? How do I know that they aren’t (as they often have) over-sampling older or wealthier people?

    With these polls, would it be possible to include articles that address this, the likelihood that Bernie’s support is understated? Cause there are perfectly logical grounds to think they do, and it would be good to always keep that in mind.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      One thing that’s true in the polling business is that you can get away with “narrative polling” some distance out from the actual voting, once you get close to election day, you have to quit playing games with the weighting, etc. and actually try to get your numbers close to the eventual outcome. Otherwise, your credibility as a pollster takes a hit.

      I would expect to see Sanders move up in particular primary polls as the date of that primary draws closer.

      1. Grant

        How do you factor in people that don’t traditionally vote, voting in large numbers (or at least decently above the norm)? Even if Bernie gets a 2 or 3% bump, that could be huge both nationally and in places like Iowa. You can maybe try to estimate various scenarios and how likely they are, but we can’t predict the future. Maybe they will stop playing games with weighting of the pool of people that traditionally vote and things like that, but what can they do about non-traditional voters? I don’t know, which is why I am asking. Seems that if young people in college towns turn up, because they want to maybe avoid ecological collapse, these polls will not be very helpful. Given all of the nonsense they have pulled, I don’t trust the polls. My favorite one was CNN doing a poll of 1,000 people, half of those polled being registered Republicans that don’t plan on voting in the Democratic primaries and not mentioning that when referencing the polls. Even if they adjust the data a bit, do they just stop doing nonsense like that? As far as I am concerned, many of them have already ruined their credibility. What has stopped many others realizing this is that people that post here are very glued in to this stuff and the general public isn’t.

        To me, the biggest challenge for Bernie has always been the party he has to run in. I don’t buy that the media is that effective against him.

        1. Late Introvert

          “To me, the biggest challenge for Bernie has always been the party he has to run in.”

          The one time I caucused here in IA, for Edwards, it was chaotic and there didn’t seem to be any attempt by the Dem Party Minions to be fair or accurate. My point is that Bernie’s advantage in non-voters showing up for the 1st time is they probably won’t be pushy enough to get counted. I’m going to be VERY pushy this year.

      2. HotFlash

        Preliminary polls are subject to manipulation for the same motives that elections can be rigged but with much better methods and opportunity. Bonus: not a crime! I don’t even trust exit polls, the increasingly rare times they are done. Search on “exit polls adjusted to match reported election results”. So yeah, I expect the polls to be off.

      3. Carey

        > actually try to get your numbers close to the eventual outcome

        As determined by whom? The Official™ Numbers; or, the
        likely-missing-again Exit Polls?

        The organizing’s the thing- likely, the only lasting thing.

    2. Phacops

      “Bernie is going to, more than anyone else, inspire people that don’t traditionally vote to vote.”

      Since 2012 I have worked as an election judge and on the receiving board in my precinct and am now the election chair. In 2016 during the Michigan primary I saw young voters that I hadn’t seen vote previously. Sanders won by twice the votes than those cast for Hillary + Trump. In the general, those voters did not show up.

      I recall a meme from KOS that demographics will move in favor of Democrats. What was left out is that will only happen if there is somebody who can speak to ethical values rather than the corporate Dem message of “we’ll hurt you less.”

      1. Geo

        “demographics will move in favor of Democrats“

        Been hearing that for decades now. That impending permanent Democratic majority through demographic shift is only slightly slower than expecting continental drift to bring in new voters. Surely gotv would be more effective but that requires caring about what voters want. :)

        1. Grant

          Well, the poster did follow that with, “What was left out is that will only happen if there is somebody who can speak to ethical values rather than the corporate Dem message of “we’ll hurt you less.”

          That hasn’t happened. If Biden was the nominee, absolutely mind blowing, I don’t see him winning. In fact, I don’t even know if the right would bother with election rigging, which they will do if Bernie is the nominee. It could cause them problems and why do that when it likely wouldn’t be needed? I mean, Biden supporters can stick their heads in the sand about his horrible record, his corruption and those in his family all benefiting from his access to power, his personal conduct or his clear mental decline, but people will see two horrible options, maybe even worse than the options in 2016, and there will be no motivation to show up. I don’t even think Biden would be better in the end than Trump on policy, as I think him backing far right policies and corporate interests (which is basically all he has done since he entered office) will nullify some of the opposition in his own party. Bush couldn’t pass NAFTA, Clinton could. The Democrats are far more effective at passing destructive right wing policies for this reason. If team Democrat does it, many will go along with it. So, if you are a poor person, a working person, a person of color, a young person, what in the world would he offer you? And then there is someone like Harris being his VP. When our society has this many massive issues, we are going to potentially lock ourselves in over the next 12 years with Biden and Harris? Could there be a scenario that is worse than that? Maybe changing the constitution to allow foreign born people to become president, Boris Johnson moves here, enters the Democratic field and wins? That might be a worse scenario.

        2. Pat

          Spent time listening to two young Latino men on the subway the other day. Misguided on a couple of things for instance they don’t apparently know that they have a greater tax liability than the rich do and that the it is the current system that penalizes hard work, they were quite adamant about how people should not tell them how to vote based on their race, their job, their gender, their religion or their age. Not likely to vote for any Democrat.

          I came away thinking identity politics is backfiring in multiple ways. That it wasn’t just not wanting to pay for others that was alienating them. Providing no education on how they can and have benefitted from the public good AND no other reasons than identity had driven them away.

          (They had clearly missed how taxes provided for their education and part of their transportation.)

          1. kiwi

            How can id-pol not backfire?

            Sooner or later, all these id-pol slices are going to be fighting against each other for what they believe is the highest priority: themselves. Actually, they are already warring here and there, not to mention their own isms against those not themselves.

            Did you see the tweet above by a politician who thinks her lineage is more authentically Mexican than Lopez or Garcia surnames? That is where id-pol ends up.

    3. Carey

      Good thing we’ll have- as with last time- solid exit polling for all the imp’t states..

      oh wait

  5. Alternate Delegate

    Of course “lineage” is a reactionary frame.

    It’s not whether you identify with an ethnic group at the top of the tribal league standings, or at the bottom, it’s that you’re playing a tribal supremacy game at all. Once you start thinking that way, you’ve already lost.

  6. a different chris

    Robinson’s column is as usual great, and as usual I have to complain about a part of it:

    >Look at the enthusiasm Trump gets at his rallies. It is real. Trump has fans, and they’re highly motivated.

    That does not matter. How many more votes do you get for being a “highly motivated” voter? 1, 2? Would I get a third if I wore a MAGA hat everywhere?

    Oh right, the answer is “none”. The thing is if there was really spillover enthusiasm from the core our election results, across the board, would look a lot different. So Trump’s 35 percent are excited. So what. They show up and listen to his incoherent babbling. They maybe need to get a life. And just spitballing here, but their enthusiasm might annoy a close acquaintance or two enough to get them to vote for the other guy. It happens. In additional spitballing, I am now starting to believe that most voting in American is “against”, not for. If I am right that is not good for Trump. At all.

    1. Carey

      >So Trump’s 35 percent are excited. So what. They show up and listen to his incoherent babbling.

      Mmm, I don’t see it similarly, at all. Also, and maybe more importantly: Team Dem are fine with losing™ to
      Trump!, by and large; if fits right into their paybook (that’s a typo
      I let stand, because it’s a better fit than my previous thought.)

      Consider this quote or paraphrase from the estimable Timothy
      Kaine, after the Big Tax Cut: “I guess we’ll just have to live with it.” As LS might say, them’s Fighting Words.

      Dog, I loathe Our Dems (and they’re *just fine* with that..)

  7. Samuel Conner

    Nathan Robinson seems unduly pessimistic about Biden’s chances against DJT. I’m sure that JB will kick DJT’s a** at pushups.

  8. Eureka Springs

    Just called my local apple dealer of some 25 years to inquire about purchasing a new phone outright as I did last time. They said, we don’t sell iphone anymore, try calling this fellow in the next town on his cell, he basically wheels and deals them out of his car. I kid you not.


    If owned apple stock I would be selling it like a hot rotten potato.

    1. Craig H.

      The last time I bought an apple product it was a refurbrished macbook pro from an online dealer for 450$ and it has the charger thingy that Lambert is always bemoaning is gone from his. If I need a new iphone I am going to buy an old one from an online dealer no doubt about it. My linux box came new from the manufacturer but I would no more buy a new apple phone than buy a new car at this point.

      1. JBird4049

        I second the online buying of an iPhone. Even if I had the money, a thousand dollars for a cellphone no matter how fabulous is a bit much. Rather insulting actually. iPhones usually hold their price well, but you can easily save a few hundred dollars.

        1. Late Introvert

          All Android phones are a privacy nightmare that you can’t do anything about (easily or cheaply). All iPhones are a slightly smaller privacy nightmare that you can make smaller by careful attention to settings and usage

          Used iPhones at Consumer Cellular are cheap-ish. The 5-7 models are still perfectly fine. I myself have a flip phone, but the 14-year old daughter is not a proud Luddite, yet.

  9. clarky90

    Re The Rapture; Jesus The Messiah said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”, as he was being tortured to death. Eastern Orthodox Christianity does not believe in the Rapture.

    If we go back in time by 2000 years (AD 20), Yashua (Jesus) would be about 20-24 years old. The Passion of Christ would still be 10 to 14 years in His future. We are, right now, in the midst of a slow motion (33 years) Stations of the Cross.

    1000 years ago, there was widespread panic, fear, prayer, repentance, rending of clothes, looking for signs in the environment, scapegoating…… in anticipation of The Second Coming…..

    1. clarky90

      Humans often judge others, curse others. We self-curse/self-judge (put curses on ourselves). However, this ability is above our pay-grade. Like pissing into a gale……

    2. Goyo Marquez

      i seem to recall the previous millenniums anticipation of the second coming revolving around the year 1030-1040 or so, that is not 1000 years from his birth but 1000 years from his resurrection.

  10. flora

    one definition of ‘electable centrist’: approved by the billionaires and the intel agencies.

    AOC: I’m waiting to see if the Dem estab re-districts her the way they did Dennis Kucinich. (census count and all that.)

    1. Pat

      It will be very difficult to do that. Her district is deeply urban and has probably seen its population either grow or remain stable.
      I don’t think they can thread that needle when upstate NY is hemorrhaging.

      1. JBird4049

        But they certainly can try to redistrict her seat or primary her. I wish I was joking, or being a tin-foiled, paranoiac goofball, but I have gotten so cynical that I would not be surprised if NYPD or FBI say that a “tip” enabled them to “discover” child porn on a personal laptop, that’s she’s a Soviet Russian agent, or for the alt-right that she is a narcotraficante for their racist frisson.

  11. petal

    Re Klobuchar: The LMIAL house has a new sign up. It’s home made/handwritten, and it says “GET OUT OF THE WAY Joe and Bernie and Billionaires!”. The “get out of the way” is the top line, “Joe and Bernie” is the middle line, and “billionaires” is the 3rd/bottom line-so you can imagine it. Still have up all of their Amy for America signs. This new one, combined with their A4A ones, makes my head explode.

    I still have that Pete letter. I think it needs to be burnt. Cheers, y’all.

    1. super extra

      I love the updates on the LMIAL house but this person’s worldview as expressed via the signs is baffling!!

      1. petal

        I’d love to interview them.
        I saw it on my drive to work this morning. Not a promising way to start off the first Monday back haha. Definitely a what-the-familyblog moment as it didn’t make any sense. By the time I drove by again on my way home, we had gotten enough snow that the sign was covered in fluff and unreadable. I can’t wait for their next addition!

    2. Late Introvert

      Iowa City Sign Report

      Bernie has the most now, lots of new ones.
      Several yards with both Bernie and Warren sig(h)ns.
      No new Pete signs after the initial wave last month.
      Yang signs here and there.
      Suddenly a few Amy signs popping up this last week, and local press for her too.

  12. Bill Carson

    I thought M4A was projected to save $15Tr over 10 years, and not the (paltry?*) $2Tr to $5Tr that Gunnels asserts.

    Am I wrong?

    * A 4% to 10% savings over ten years could be characterized as a rounding error, and hardly seems worth the effort of all of the initial disruption that M4A would cause.

    1. Tom Doak

      Disruption of whom? Do you work in the health care industry?

      For we who do not, “disruption” is the case every time one has to deal with the health care industry: re-upping for a plan, paying deductibles, trying to sort out billing problems, trying to avoid billing scams, ad infinitum.

      For me, the initial disruption of doing away with all of that would be TOTALLY worth it even if it doesn’t save a penny — it would be worth it for all the TIME it saved, and for an end to the UNCERTAINTY and ANXIETY built into the present system.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Speaking of “disruption,” I got my car insurance bill the other day. A full 45% of the 6-month premium is for “medical payments,” a really complicated issue in Florida which has “no fault” auto insurance. I’ve recently lowered the limits in an attempt to save a little cash. I’ve never had an accident where I had to use it, and the price keeps increasing anyway.

        That should go away with M4A doncha think? Not to mention the chunk that goes into the pockets of the ambulance chasers when they “represent” the injured party.

        When you think about it, a whole lot of expensive insurance and legal profiteering is justified by unknown future medical bills, which would be unknown no more with M4A.

        Just sayin’.

      2. Carey

        >the UNCERTAINTY and ANXIETY built into the present system.

        That’s the goddam best part, foole! /s

        Keep those proles scared and hoppin’

        or turn the tide..

    2. Grant

      It would collectively save the country trillions, most individuals thousands, would save up to 45,000 lives a year, half a million bankruptcies, would remove job lock, and would empower workers relative to capital. How is that little more than a “rounding error”? We would leapfrog having the worst systems in the developed world to one of the best. I am a cancer survivor, my life matters, and this system itself could kill me. You either haven’t looked into all of the collective benefits, or simply can’t be move to care. Maybe your paycheck requires you to be indifferent.

      Do you think the 45,000 that die every year, the hundreds of thousands of bankruptcies, the job lock, the rent seeking in drug manufactures (who get tons of state support) disrupts the lives of anyone in this system?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Do you think the 45,000 that die every year, the hundreds of thousands of bankruptcies, the job lock, the rent seeking in drug manufactures (who get tons of state support) disrupts the lives of anyone in this system?

        That’s just business as usual which, by definition, cannot be disruptive.

  13. prodigalson

    My only additions to the rapture tweets as a Christian is that the most obvious divergence point within Christianity are those that take Jesus teachings seriously about turning the other cheek and doing unto others as you would have done to you and those who don’t.

    The former group seem to be a very small minority, and historically were as well. The latter group veer off into dominionism, calvinism, the prosperity gospel, the inquisition, the crusades, etc pretty much exactly what the various tweets say in that thread.

    The former group produce people like Martin Luther King Jr. the latter group produce Pompeo and Pence.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Here’s a little background on the theological history of the Rapture.

      Christian denominations hold one of three positions on the meaning of the 1,000 years reference in the 20th chapter of Revelations:

      1) Amillennialism–

      This is the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church as well as most mainline Protestant denominations like Lutherans. Following Augustine’s interpretation of that passage, they interpret the 1,000 years figuratively: the time of the “reign” of the Church on Earth, a time in which we are now. The specific number 1,000 is understood to denote the complete or perfect number of years.

      2) Postmillennialism–

      This interpretation foresaw a 1,000 year reign of Christ on Earth that would begin once the Church has succeeded in reaching the world with the Gospel and otherwise prepared the way for Christ’s coming. This view was popular among social reformers in the 19th and 20th centuries who used the doctrine as motivation.

      3) Premillennialism–

      This view in its modern form was promulgated by John Darby, a 19th century member of the Plymouth Brethren, and popularized by the Scofield Bible whose notes pushed the Darby thesis. It is in this form of Dispensational Millennarianism that culminates in a Rapture. A Rapture is otherwise unknown in Christian doctrine since the “caught up in the clouds” language of Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians is interpreted to refer only to those present on Earth when Christ returns. Through the never-ending efforts of “Christian” bookstores and TV preachers, this doctrine has spread throughout the U. S. and influences many whose denominations reject the doctrine.

      Beginning in the 70s with Hal Lindsey, it became popular among these Darby-ites to speculate about whether world events pointed toward the End Times in the near term. Lindsey’s predictions all turned out to be wrong, but that didn’t bring a halt to the speculations on his or any other Rapture enthusiast’s part. There are several television shows on Christian TV where panels discuss current political issues in this context.

  14. Tim

    “Evangelical-adjacent readers”
    I think I qualify…The rapture timing is somewhat disputed relative to some pretty nasty predictions in Revelations. Could happen before the mess, could happen after significant horrible things happen to Christians too.

    So yes getting this world over with is something “looked forward” to, but with significant reservations about how bad it get’s before the final end game.

    Key things to note about all the symbolism in the Book of Revelations is that “the great Babylon” sure sounds like the US these days, and the symbolism on the status of the earth as not being habitable any more.

    So evangelicals can be persuaded that our government is no longer something good, and climate change is easily seen as an inevitable step towards fulfillment of the prophesies. A laymen’s interpretation would be we were told to “subdue the earth and multiply”, until its all used up, then we check out.

    So don’t be super surprised that Evangelicals aren’t real hot on doing anything about climate change, even if they do believe it is real. They think it is all according to plan, so what is the point in fighting it’s inevitability?

    My personal take? There is a lot of room for interpretation of the book of Revelations, so much so, that everybody could theoretically be wrong about just about everything, even if the prophecies do ultimately come to pass.

    Hope this helps.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      How many evangelicals think that man made global warming is a good thing in itself? I know that some do. I remember either seeing or reading about Pat Robertson telling his supporters that global warming means the coming of the End Times, and that any one who is trying to combat or prevent global warming is in point of actual fact doing Satan’s work and serving Satan, because delaying or reversing global warming means delaying or reversing the End Times, and only Satan would want that.

      1. HotFlash

        Well, some do and some don’t. Climatologist Katherine Hayhoe is an evangelical Christian, her husband is a pastor, and apparently they have managed to make fighting climate change and their faith compatible. The Evangelical Climate Initiative, 300+ pastors and other Christian leaders, says that understanding and countering climate change is a Christian duty as part of the stewardship of the earth.

          1. JBird4049

            Some Christians, evangelicals especially, use their state of being a Christian as an excuse for not being responsible, a get out of jail card, or for not doing the hard work of thinking about what might be, what is, and what should they do about it. Stewardship of God’s Creation ain’t on their minds.

            I think that what too many believers, regardless of what faith, use that belief as an opt-out and look at how blessed, or even superior for being a believer, when really the founders of any of those faiths or religions more often mentioned what obligations that the truly faithful were accepted, not on the personal benefits of being merely a believer.

            1. Procopius

              Don’t know how to look it up, but I recall reading an excerpt from a conversation between Billy Graham and some gombeen. Graham was expounding that since he was “saved” it was no longer possible for him to sin. No matter what he did, it could not be sin, because he was “born again in Jesus,” or something like that. I didn’t pay much attention, because he never had anything interesting to say, but it seems like the Calvinist doctrine of The Elect. They’re the ones going to Heaven and God decided on that before he created the world and nothing will change his mind because he’s all-powerful and nothing happens that he did not intend. Kind of like Islam, now that I think of it. Anyway, I consider it a horrible doctrine and it’s much abused by the Puritans.

              1. JBird4049

                I understand why some people think predestination is a thing, but really the whole idea of the Elect seems to be a gigantic excuse. Why read, or have at all, the Sermon on the Mount or the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, or any other of such scripture? Is it there merely for entertainment?

                I have no problem believing or not, both are defensible, but I do have a problem with some people how fabulous they are because of their faith without doing the concurrent requirements. That is blatant, self-serving hypocrisy.

                1. Procopius

                  The further problem I have with that is that it doesn’t matter whether you believe or not, it doesn’t matter whether you act or not, if you’re elect you’re in, if you’re not you’re not and nothing you can do will change that. There is no free will involved. I don’t know why it bothers me so much, I’m not a Christian anyway, and if other people want to believe it’s fine with me. The Buddha only taught the end of suffering and did not concern himself with these other questions.

    2. Wukchumni

      …the Central Valley Bible Belt reigns huge

      There’s a fair schwag of MAGA-Mini-Mega churches, this one manages to sound like a bank, and gets thousands of like-minded people who do as they’re told, such as ALL of them voting for Devin Nunes.

      The idea that heaven could be here on this good earth, is not in the cards, these are people that long for the equivalent of getting 28% apr interest on their earthly gains in the afterlife, they’ll believe anything.


  15. Doncoyote

    Between the desert ants and the hamster, the spatial cognition part of my brain got activated. So…

    In 1943, a science fiction story, Mimsy Were the Borogroves was published. It’s a very good story, definitely one that stuck with me over the years (and I read a lot of them in my teens). There was even a movie made from the story (“The Last Mimzy”), although I have not seen it.

    In any case, in graduate school one of my professors was talking about an experiment he and a friend had done to try to raise rats in a “non-Euclidean” environment (which they operationalized as opaque, no right angles, lots of curvy loopy tubes), with plans to test the rats’ spatial cognition later (rats are no desert ants, but their spatial abilities are still pretty good). However, like the hamster, the rats had their own plan, and chewed their way out of their environment into the Euclidean room, and so the experiment was terminated.

    Another graduate student and I decided to try to operationalize it a little differently, with a plan to build tubes in which the tubes curved “imperceptibly”, so that a rat’s attempt to integrate their movement in the environment would not produce a Euclidean outcome. Alas, we never actually constructed the “non-Euclidean” environment, although we did run some adult rats through the Morris water navigation task to establish a baseline. Later, yet another graduate student and I did some human research on spatial cognition. Still lacking the future non-Euclidean toys, we were trying to test whether human spatial memory was more categorical (i.e. prepositional categories like “above” or “next to”) or more dependent on absolute (grid) position. The (very) short answer is that both systems seem to be involved in human spatial memory, although there were definitely some individual trends where some people seemed more category driven and some more absolute-position driven.

    btw, none of this was my main area of research, although it definitely was part of the answer for “why did you spend so long in graduate school?” And none of it would probably have happened except for that story.

    1. T

      Also slightly off-topic, I have never seen a horse drag food walking backwards more than a few steps, but their field of vision is roughly 350. Like most non-hunters and Pugs, their eyes are the sides of their heads.

      They do have some blind spots and many many horses are either nearsighted or farsighted.

      This is just to say the human way of seeing, with forward facing eyes and excellent close vision are the minority, even in mammals.

      1. Synoia

        They do have some blind spots

        The herd does not. Horses grazing in a herd do not face the same way. Nor do they all put the heads down at the same time.

      2. Procopius

        I have read somewhere that prey animals have their eyes on the side of their heads, while predators have theirs on the front of their heads.

  16. antidlc

    Re: Gunnels takedown of Buttigieg NH health care mailer.

    I think Bernie’s campaign needs to do a better job explaining what Medicare For All will do for seniors currently on Medicare.

    The campaign needs to emphasize that part B, supplemental plans, and Medicare Advantage ALL GO AWAY.

    The campaign needs to emphasize how easy it is today to sign up for part A — takes about 10 minutes online. That’s how easy it should be to sign up for Medicare for All. NO choices, no research required investigating various supplemental/Medicare Advantage plans, no checking for in network/out of network, no underwriting for switching plans. All of the part B/supplemental/Medicare Advantage nonsense goes away. Roll in part D — ONE TIER, one formulary with negotiated prices. One formulary that you don’t have to check every year and it doesn’t change year to year. Currently, part D plans can change the tiers and you have to watch each year what tiers your drugs are in.

    Seniors currently on Medicare need to know how much better Medicare for All would be.

    Could help the campaign with the senior vote.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Hoisted from above: The campaign needs to emphasize that part B, supplemental plans, and Medicare Advantage ALL GO AWAY.

      +1000 from a Sanders donor and volunteer. And I’m hoping that your sentiment floats up from your keyboard to the campaign headquarters.

        1. Arizona Slim

          I’m on the campaign volunteer Slack. There are a lot of campaign staffers on the Slack with us.

          With your permission, I’ll post your comment (without your NC handle).

              1. John k

                I contribute, and am inundated with multiple requests daily for more, which I ignore.
                Suggested on NC is for Bernie to send out a weekly status report, with next weeks plans etc… that would get me to look forward to the message and maybe donate again.

                1. Late Introvert

                  Bernie should visit Senior Centers too. He was slated to visit the one I work at before his heart attack.

      1. Carey

        As an anecdote, the Sanders campaign sure has more of
        an insular, top-down vibe this time; along with shakedowns for *moar munny* virtually day..

        No, I don’t expect perfection; these are one old dude’s impressions, over time.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > As an anecdote, the Sanders campaign sure has more of an insular, top-down vibe this time

          Online, at least, it’s precisely the reverse; lots of sharing. I’m curious what the RL difference is.

          1. Carey

            >Online, at least, it’s precisely the reverse; lots of sharing.

            That’s good to hear! I’ll be ordering some of the newly-minted
            ‘President Bernie Sanders’ (nice!) stickers soon, for more give-aways.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Maybe the Sanders campaign should show how the ” Straight Up Medicare for All” would be Platinum quality rather than Bronze quality.

      A lot of people have heard of those metals by now. It is part of how Obama carefully poisoned the well of health-coverage discussion.

      Should the word “platinum” be included into the phrase ” Medicare for All”? As in ” Platinum Medicare for All” ? Otherwise, people who are currently on something better than a bronze plan . . . maybe on a Gold or Silver plan, or at least a Zinc or Iron plan . . . don’t fear that they are being offered a bait-and-switch into ” Obama-Bronze Medicare for All”.

      1. polecat

        I want my Adamantium health plan …. and I want it Now ! … Not incrementally later, with the mutations and whatnot, running amok !!

    3. Eureka Springs

      Why have registration at all? That implies someone is or could be denied. Everyone in. If for some reason someone wants to be denied care, let them have a de-registration process perhaps… over by the mental health clinic.

      1. Procopius

        You’ll have a hard time selling that to the Centrists. They love them some means testing. If they could they’d means test so anybody making more than, say, $80,000 a year couldn’t send their kids to public school.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Today would have been my mother’s 94th birthday. She would have been so happy to hear this.

      Mom, I will be raising a toast to you and the Reuters news flash!

    2. Geo

      Definitely news to be cautiously optimistic about. Would love to see our decades-long war(s) there come to an end.

      Curious what the “repositioning” in “pulling out of Iraq and would be repositioning forces over the next few days and weeks” means though. Where are they being positioned now and what position are they taking? Hopefully it’s a reclining position for a much needed break from war and not an offensive position for some new invasion. Maybe just position them around more oil wells to protect what is most valuable to US?

    3. Anthony G Stegman

      Does anyone REALLY believe that the US is leaving Iraq (and its oil)? I certainly don’t.

        1. jeremyharrison

          Gen. Seely, who issued the letter to Iraq saying we were leaving, might have some ‘splainin’ to do to Sec of Def Esper.

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      Hopefully this will include all contractors as well. And hopefully all free-lance do-gooders will also take this opportunity to ” Get the Fork out of Dodge”.

    5. Eureka Springs

      Something is amiss.

      Alyssa Farah
      ‏Verified account @PentagonPresSec
      2h2 hours ago

      There has been no change in US policy with regard to our force presence in Iraq. We continue to consult with the Iraqi government regarding the defeat-ISIS mission and efforts to support the Iraqi Security Forces.

    6. cm

      Fake News. So, will someone take accountability for this, and resign? /s

      Obviously, “journalists” are not held responsible for the garbage they produce.

      1. Yves Smith

        No, it could have been a real communique, a feeler, that got out into the wild. So the error would be taking it as a firm US offer as opposed to a conversational gambit.

    1. jeremyharrison

      Given the famous use of butter for anal sex by Marlon Brando in Last Tango in Paris, this moniker might get some pushback as being homophobic, though.

      1. John A

        `it may have been anal sex in Last Tango, but it was heterosexual between Brando and Schneider.

    1. jeremyharrison

      Reuters link from my post above: http://news.trust.org/item/20200106193750-gbx3f

      Maybe they’re on the same page. Trump did “promise” to get the US out of “endless wars” in the ME. Maybe this is his clever pretext to do just that – “You asked, so okay”.

      Now, do the same in Syria and Afghanistan, and he might just be the Anti-War Candidate. It’d be fun to see the Dems try to criticize THAT.

      1. The Historian

        I hadn’t refreshed my browser so I hadn’t seen your post! You did indeed beat me to it! My apologies for reposting what you had already posted.

      2. The Historian

        Your theory doesn’t hold water. We know Trump just sent morel troops to Iraq and we know he threatened sanctions if Iraq insisted that our military leave. And besides, why wouldn’t he have announced this instead of letting a General do it if this was part of some overall plan of his?

        1. Romancing The Loan

          While not walking back the letter’s authenticity DoD is now saying we’re not going anywhere: BREAKING: @EsperDoD says memo on withdrawal is not accurate “there’s been no decision whatsoever to leave Iraq.”

          The letter is unsigned. Someone leaking a draft in an attempt to influence policy, maybe? A Wapo guy claims (unsourced, of course) that “other” US officials have confirmed the letter was actually received by the Iraqis: SECDEF Esper just addressed reporters at Pentagon (speaking for first time since Soleimani’s death). Per @PaulSonne in the room, he said, “That letter is inconsistent with where we are right now.” But other officials confirm it was authentic, sent and received by the Iraqis.

          1. Carey

            I cannot possibly be the only one who notices
            the SOP “yes we are/no we’re not; yes we did/no we didn’t” Ruling Class mis/disinfo, here..

  17. PhilK

    From APF News and Reuters:

    #BREAKING US army tells Iraq it is preparing to “move out”: official letter

  18. drumlin woodchuckles

    When that interviewer asked AOC if she and other sympathetic Democrats were going to be the ” new Tea Party” or “Tea Party on the Left” . . . I think she missed the symbolic point and a symbolic opportunity. The symbolic point being that to the interviewer, “Tea Party” meant a somewhat radical insurgent group trying to push its chosen party its way. NOT meaning ” a bunch of Propertarian Conservatives trying to further Propertarianize” the Democratic Party.

    Perhaps the term “Tea Party” is itself toxic due to the people who used it first. Perhaps such an insurgent group on the left edge of the DemParty should call itself the Pot Party. But it should call itself SOMEthing to get that symbolic point launched and landed.

    1. JohninMN

      There were several great quotes from AOC in the NY mag article. This was one:

      I asked her what she thought her role would be as a member of Congress during, for instance, a Joe Biden presidency. “Oh God,” she said with a groan. “In any other country, Joe Biden and I would not be in the same party, but in America, we are.”

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Yup. That’s part of the problem right there, in one dirty little nutshell.

        But as that great political analyst Ronald Dumsfeld once said . . .
        ” You go to politics with the party you have, not the party you want or wish to have at a later time.”

        If it would take more work to create a new political party of DemParty size, strength and membership than it would take to conquer the DemParty and burn out all the Hillarrhoids and Clintonomas and Yersiniobama pestis germs, then trying to conquer and remediate the DemParty might be a more time-lucrative choice than trying to build-grow a whole new party with the DemParty still squatting on the space where a new party would try to live.

        1. Oregoncharles

          You underestimate the party’s immune system. They’ve seen people like you before, and you’re a big threat to their bottom line.

      2. Geo

        This was a good one too:

        “This whole primary is going to be about the soul of the Democratic Party… People who live in a lot of privilege, who think of public programs as charity, they often think there was nothing wrong before Trump.”

    2. BlakeFelix

      Although in defense of the original Tea Party, they got astroturfed over by the Tea Party Express, and the media just rolled with it.

  19. bob

    Mayo Pete is the Dem version of Marco Rubio. He’ll sell your spleen if you don’t keep an eye on it.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Buttigieg is just the young conservative type they use to trot out at the RNC to repeat Ayn Rand talking points all grown up and in Team Blue because he can’t go far in the GOP.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        CIA/FBI are now a fourth branch of government, perfectly OK that they want their own candidate in the race: Mayo Pete

    2. nippersdad

      My thoughts exactly.

      If I had any computer skills, whatsoever, I would make up the sign that I haven’t been able to get out of my head since the last debate. A picture of Buttigieg as a Ferenghi (replete with pointy teeth) with the words “He’s got the lobes.”

      That guy really gives me the creeps.

    3. Massinissa

      I usually think comparing him to Macron is more apt, myself. Both are basically Neoliberalism with a nice young fresh face plastered on.

    1. Late Introvert

      People, everything after the ? has to be deleted. How does “source=facebook” not bother you?

  20. Toshiro_Mifune

    Minimalist cleanliness is the state of acceptable normalcy that everyone must adhere to, no matter how boring it looks
    IDK – I would never insist that minimalism is for everyone but I really really like it. Esp. now that I have kids, 4 cats and more clutter than I will ever be able to get rid of.

    1. Carey

      It mostly makes me feel better, when I remember to do it,
      so I mostly do it. I have an already-fragmented mind, though.

      “There is a certain solace to be found in the doing of simple things.” -maybe Voltaire.

  21. drumlin woodchuckles

    Another thing about mangroves . . . bees pollinate the flowers and the flowers feed bees. Years ago in American Honey Plants by Frank Pellett, I read that in central Coastal Florida, black mangrove had used to form locally extensive forests and was a major honey plant for beekeepers of the region. Then a super kill-freeze killed so many black mangroves that the survivors never recovered to honey production significance ( as of the writing of that book).

    So, mangroves for honey as well as for everything else.

    And here’s a bunch of mangrove honey images for anyone who might want to do some image wormhole searching for interesting URLs.


  22. anonymous

    We got the same “Medicare Briefing Report” from Buttigieg in eastern Iowa. I worry that voters here are going to be frightened by his claim that Warren and Sanders will jeopardize rural hospitals (bottom box of chart).

  23. Mark Gisleson

    re: Pete getting signatures in Illinois

    In 2016 I walked myself lame one Memorial Day weekend just for a couple hundred signatures towards getting a candidate on the ballot in Wisconsin. Traditionally you hit “parade” events heavily because it’s the easiest way to get signatures. It’s insanely hard to do at the last second (especially as there aren’t many winter parades) so if Pete’s org was crowding a deadline for submitting signatures I can see how out-of-state talent might overlook the extra hurdle of preparing delegate slates.

    All mistakes easily made if you don’t have serious people in each state who are from that state. Not a game for imported talent.

    Ironically, almost all the insults I got from Republicans while gathering signatures for a Democrat came from Illinois businessmen bikers who’d leather up and hit small town parades in Wisconsin. Based on that small sample size (and visits to Chicago), I’m guessing that getting signatures in Illinois might be a teensy bit harder than in other places.

    1. grayslady

      Actually, getting signatures in Illinois couldn’t be easier: you stand on the “L” platform or one of the train platforms with your clipboard and ask people to help your candidate get on the ballot. You are not allowed to solicit on the trains themselves, but the platforms are fair game. It was also a great place for candidate outreach; in my commuting years, I met lots of candidates during rush hour introducing themselves to locals. If Pete’s campaign was too stupid not to know this, it just shows he’s surrounded by lightweights and has no grassroots support. Using the train platforms for politics has been common for at least the past 50 years, that I know of, and maybe longer.

    2. Stillfeelinthebern

      Collected over 50 signatures in 2 hrs on New Years Day in Wisconsin. Walked the neighborhood and knocked on doors. Granted, we have a remarkable “door open” rate in my community, but it’s also evenly divided politically, so you will have a significant number of declines. Still, it’s not hard to get signatures.

    3. cm

      No one ever talks about the voter turnout (< 30% in the US) vs the polling audience. Such a small number of people actually turn out to vote in the national (US) election, yet so much press (sadly, including this site) are fixated on polls of people that ultimately, will not turn out to vote.

    1. cm

      Can you imagine if either the Democrats or Republicans realized that the Authorization for Use of Military Force was too open-ended and repealed it? Its not like either party had 10+ years to come to this decision.

      Almost as if there was no difference between R&D, and those who maintain otherwise are idiots?

  24. anEnt

    Minimalism and austerely empty homes are a wealth signal and status symbol. The rest of us have tools and sewing equipment and warehouse store gigantic packs of paper towels to save money. Once you tunnel through the middle class to the poor, once again people are buying small quantities out of necessity, but have clutter due to not knowing when something might be needed. Minimalism is like Romans vomiting in order to continue feasting. And that’s before you get to the fake “chicken(familyblog)” minimalism practiced by web and software devs.


      1. Wukchumni

        About the only thing I bring that (hopefully) doesn’t get used when on a backpack trip is the first-aid kit, everything else will be utilized. Depending on how long i’m out, my backpack will weight between 25 & 45 pounds.

        There is no such thing as a hoarder on the trail, you’d never see somebody with a 125 pound backpack, for you can’t take it all with you.

        1. anon in so cal

          Totally agree! The last time we went backpacking was to Kearsarge (sp) and hauling that pack up the mountain trail was grueling.

      2. anEnt

        I’ve seen that before. It just shows that rational outlooks can be short circuited to the benefit of consumerism. Part of the draw is the illusion of “maybe I’ll get around to making that quilt or repairing that piece of (familyblog) electronics”. Also, marketers sell us on “time saving” single use devices, but when accounting for space and ability to locate the right special purpose tool, they’re a net loss of productivity. A good mental defense is to default reject any single application tool in favor of a general purpose tool or at worst a modular tool. E.g. a stand mixer that accepts attachments.

    1. Carey

      Mostly agree, and those of us who are left thirty years from now
      will be living on cluttered farm-like places, I think, with a very few exceptions.

      learn to code “here’s a shovel, kid.”


  25. The Rev Kev

    I find Buttigieg’s “Medicare for All Who Want It” plan interesting. Jimmy Dore calls it Booty-Care which I find apt. I would imagine that you would have a choice of plans if you want it. In the same way that you would have a choice of international flight destinations – if you want it. Or a choice on where you you want your second and third house to be – if you want them. Or which private island you want to buy – if you wnat it.
    See? Lots of choices to be had under Pete’s plan.

  26. Oregoncharles

    From the “tough plants” article: “Bee Balm Tolerates Clay”

    Not in my garden. Granted, the clay where I planted it (twice – a bit slow on the uptake) is much-amended, but that should only help. Well watered, too. No go – didn’t come back up after our very mild winter. Beats me.

    The hosta didn’t do too well in my dry shade, either. Or at all. Couldn’t tell you why, but other things have grown over the area – the tree peonies have done very well.

    Among the plants that shrug off black walnut poisoning are blackberries, a major (if edible) weed here. Also boxwoods. And grass – walnuts stimulate grass.

    Junipers are generally tough, if unpleasant to work around, but around here (upper Willamette Valley) they all died of a plague a decade ago. Here, kinnickinick (creeping manzanita) is a better option, and friendlier. Has flowers and berries, too.

    Interesting article, despite my caveats. Thanks. The lesson: “tough” depends on your local conditions.

  27. Carolinian

    The Newsroom–awful show. Sorkin is a menace.

    The show did play into current journalism’s self image. They see themselves as sage and experienced Lou Grants when in reality they are bumbling Ted Baxters who can’t seem to get the facts right. And it’s no wonder the show would bash Occupy given Sorkin’s apparent admiration for Larry Summers as shown in The Social Network.

    1. Carey

      Never seen it, or that ‘West Wing’ thingie.

      The comments have been great for imaginating, though.

  28. allan

    Homeland Security will share citizenship data with Census [AP]

    The Department of Homeland Security is agreeing to share citizenship information with the U.S. Census Bureau as part of President Donald Trump’s order to collect data on who is a citizen following the Supreme Court’s rejection of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census form.

    Trump’s order is being challenged in federal court, but meanwhile the Department of Homeland Security two weeks ago announced the agreement in a report. It said the agency would share administrative records to help the Census Bureau determine the number of citizens and non-citizens in the U.S., as well as the number of immigrants in the U.S. illegally. …

    The Homeland Security document acknowledges risks that the Census Bureau will assign an inaccurate immigration status to someone, that people won’t be able to correct mistakes about themselves and that Homeland Security information will be linked inaccurately to data from other sources used by the Census Bureau.

    Surely Wilbur Ross will wake from his nap and put an end to this end run around the SCOTUS decision.

  29. allan

    Trump touted a new antidepressant as a solution for veterans. Only 15 have been treated. [STAT]

    Move fast and break things, pharmaceutical edition.


    “Its results are incredible,” Trump said at a veterans convention in Kentucky. “I’ve instructed the top officials to go out and get as much of it as you can.”


    “This was supposed to be a big game-changer,” said Dr. Erick Turner, a psychiatrist at Oregon Health and Science University. But the data on the drug was “nothing to write home about,” he added. … “[The studies] are not robust. They’re not strong results. You pull one thread and the whole thing unravels,” said Turner.

  30. Wukchumni

    You think this period is more frightening than the sixteen month recession between July 1981 and November 1982 only because you weren’t there and you haven’t studied history. Your frame of reference is here and now, not then – with a 14% unemployment rate and 15% inflation.”

    A used home in L.A. was around $100k when inflation was 15% in the early 80’s, curiously now when there isn’t much inflation, the same home is worth $777k, Jackpot!

    1. RMO

      I suspect you, like me were there between July 1981 and November 1982 and have studied history – so we both know this clown is talking bollocks.

      As for Buttigieg: “As a military intelligence officer on the ground in Afghanistan, I was trained to ask these questions before a decision is made” Yeah, Pete? Most people knew to ask questions before making decisions early in elementary school at the latest. It doesn’t surprise me that you, on the other hand apparently needed military-grade training before being able to do the same thing.

  31. anon in so cal

    Maybe it’s just me (I), but this AMENDMENT TO RULES COMM. PRINT 116–19, filed by Ro Khanna, against the use of US military force against Iran, seems to start off like a NeoCon regime change advertisement:


    “The Government of Iran is a leading state
    10 sponsor of terrorism, continues to materially support
    11 the regime of Bashar al-Assad, and is responsible
    12 for ongoing gross violations of the human rights of
    13 the people of Iran. ”


    What am I missing?

  32. richard

    Hey everyone, here is spike lee’s new bernie sanders ad
    very well done, though on the issue of ads I’m still upset with sanders over how his campaign treated matt orfula.

  33. AdamCoppola

    Thanks for the note on the Rapture Index, Lambert. I was wondering how to make meaning of it.
    I read Left Behind (all 13 (?)) back in middle school and got a kick out of them. These days it’s more zombie dystopia.

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