2:00PM Water Cooler 1/8/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, my connection was tooth-grindingly slow. I’ll have a bit more shortly. –lambert UPDATE All done!


“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 a small sample from YouGov, as of 1/8/2020, 12:00 PM EST. On the average, the pattern of Biden first, Sanders strong second, then Warren and Buttigeig is stable, but Bloomberg is closing on Buttigieg, which is interesting or concerning. Of course, these are national polls, about to be massively thrown into confusion by IA, NH, SC, and NV — and then CA.

And the numbers:

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.”

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UPDATE Biden (D)(1): Finally, Joe Biden’s theory of change. Worth clicking the image and reading in full:

“A tennis group, a gold club, a sewing circle, a reading group.” Odd examples. Story on the same quote here.

Biden (D)(2): “Progressives play whack-a-Joe with Biden” [Politico]. “The progressive, grassroots groups don’t have deep pockets — they rely on organizing muscle. While they have no plans to spend money on radio or television ads or mail against Biden, they’re leaning on their networks of dedicated activists to spread the word on the ground and on social media.” • Yes, let’s see how the NGOs do.

Biden (D)(3): “Top Sanders adviser on Biden: Voters don’t need ‘pathological lies about the Iraq War'” [The Hill]. “‘We’ve got a pathological liar in the White House, we don’t need pathological lies about the Iraq War from the Democrats when we’re confronting the most dangerous president in modern history,’ David Sirota, an adviser and speechwriter for Sanders’s 2020 campaign said.” • Come on, man. That loveable goof, Joe Biden, isn’t pathological.

Bloomberg (D)(1): “Democrats attack Bloomberg for running imperial campaign” [Politico]. “At a campaign stop here, the former New York mayor said he has no intention of trying to qualify for upcoming debates — even though he almost certainly could participate if he wanted to. It was his most definitive statement to date on a stance that has rankled his opponents, who chafe at his limitless war chest and feel he should have to endure the rigors of campaigning they do. Bloomberg insisted he’d like to debate if the rules allowed. But the billionaire, a latecomer to the Democratic primary, reasoned it is inappropriate for someone of his wealth to ask supporters for cash. ‘It’s up to the Democratic Party. They have a rule that you cannot participate in the debates unless you have a few hundred thousand donors,’ he told POLITICO after the campaign event Tuesday. ‘I don’t take any money from anybody else. I fund my campaign myself.'” • Interesting strategy, buying an election solely with advertising and earned media.

UPDATE Buttigieg (D)(1):

I’d say the people being “polarized” from their lives by postponing care, or going without, are more important than centrist tears, but that wouldn’t be civil.

Sanders (D)(1): “Fears of Sanders win growing among Democratic establishment” [Associated Press]. “Increasingly alarmed that Bernie Sanders could become their party’s presidential nominee, establishment-minded Democrats are warning primary voters that the self-described democratic socialist would struggle to defeat President Donald Trump and hurt the party’s chances in premier House, Senate and governors’ races. The urgent warnings come as Sanders shows new signs of strength on the ground in the first two states on the presidential primary calendar, Iowa and New Hampshire, backed by a dominant fundraising operation. The Vermont senator has largely escaped close scrutiny over the last year as his rivals doubted the quirky 78-year-old’s ability to win the nomination. But less than a month before Iowa’s kickoff caucuses, the doubters are being forced to take Sanders seriously.” • “Quirky.”

Against all odds, it looks like Bernie Sanders might be the Democratic nominee after all Indepedent. Somebody Do Something!

UPDATE Trump (R)(1): “Political prophet who correctly predicted every presidential election since 1984 says Iran is trouble for Trump” [Raw Story (dk). This is Allan Lichtman, of the famous “keys” theory. “If the Soleimani assassination indeed has an anti-Trump rebound effect that would mean that five of the 13 questions are ‘false.’ Many of the remaining variables are beyond the control of anyone besides Trump and the Republicans, but Democrats could lock in a sixth key against Trump by nominating a candidate who is charismatic and/or a national hero. It isn’t clear, of course, that they have such a candidate available — although charisma is, to some extent, in the eye of the beholder.” • As of now, Trump is ahead on the key count, but not over the top. Of course, 300 days is a long time in politics.

UPDATE Warren (D)(1): First selfie-line with Castro:

Personally, I find this grating (and “Imma” especially so); selfies give me the creeps. But perhaps that’s a generational thing.

* * *

“Did you get a text from an unknown number? It might be a presidential candidate” [Miami Herald]. “Democrats and Republicans alike are spending millions and deploying thousands of staffers and volunteers focused on texting with committed and potential supporters in the 2020 election. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, an early adopter of the tactic, has already sent nearly nine times as many text messages to voters as it did during the entire 2016 primary. Political candidates’ and groups’ use of text messaging has skyrocketed over the past several years thanks to new software and the ease and efficiency of reaching voters across the country. ‘Everyone reads their text messages,’ said Daniel Souweine, who ran Sanders’ text message program in the 2016 race and went on to create a text messaging app for campaigns. ‘It’s quickly moved from, ‘hey, what is this thing?’, to the point where you can’t run a modern political campaign without it.'” • Interesting. Readers?

Iran Crisis

This is not really Water Cooler’s beat, but events are moving so fast:

“Trump says Iran ‘appears to be standing down’ in address to nation” [The Hill]. “‘As we continue to evaluate options in response to Iranian aggression, the United States will immediately impose additional punishing economic sanctions on the Iranian regime,’ Trump said. ‘These powerful sanctions will remain until Iran changes its behavior.'”

UPDATE An actual surgical strike:

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UPDATE Sanders on “terrorists”:

UPDATE Warren on “terrorists”:

Sanders campaign:

FOX triumphant:

One might quibble with that “if”:

In Season 8 of the Forever Wars, the writers lost their touch:


“Echoes of Kavanaugh Fight as Bolton Complicates Impeachment Trial Plans” [New York Times]. “Democrats say they intend to keep the pressure on Republicans and try to pry away enough defectors to insist on calling witnesses, accusing those who refuse of enabling a cover-up ordered by the president. They have argued that any credible impeachment trial concerning Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine must include testimony from key officials like Mr. Bolton, who followed a White House edict against cooperating in the House inquiry. They also want to see internal documents on the nearly $400 million in military aid Mr. Trump is accused of withholding from Ukraine as leverage to pressure its president to investigate his political rivals.” • The House didn’t have subpoena power? Or lacks the ability to enforce subpoenas through the courts?

“Pelosi’s next move on impeachment unclear as Senate waits” [Associated Press]. “In withholding the articles, Pelosi gave Democrats an opportunity to ramp up pressure on Republicans not to go along with McConnell’s proposal. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called McConnell’s plan a ‘trap’ and a ‘cover-up.’ He vowed to force votes anyway on Bolton and the others.” • Still failing to see the strategic genius in Pelosi’s impeachment calendar (and it’s her job as speaker to manage that). What “pressure”? How “force”? Of course, the intelligence community could always help them out with more anonymously sourced stories, so there’s that. But that’s not much, at this point, since a House hearing that wasn’t calendar-driven would have, presumably, flushed out such stories anyhow.

“DNC says next debate will be rescheduled if it conflicts with impeachment trial” [Politico]. “”Democrats and our senators can walk and chew gum,” Perez told MSNBC. “Obviously, if there’s a trial on the 14th, then we’ll move the debate. If there’s not, then we’re going to have the debate. At the moment, all systems are go, and so we’re going to move forward.'” • But Pelosi is not walking and chewing gum. She’s holding a gigantic wad of gum in her cheek, and stumbling.

Stats Watch

Tech: “California’s new privacy law creates $55-billion gold rush for start-ups” [Los Angeles Times]. “Businesses operating in California are required to comply with a sweeping new privacy law, the California Consumer Privacy Act, starting this month. They’ll have a few months to figure out the specifics, because the state’s attorney general is still working out the final rules and isn’t expected to start enforcement until July. But the new requirements are already causing widespread anxiety among many businesses that handle consumer data. A wave of start-ups, law firms and consultants is looking to take advantage of that anxiety — and to capture some of the $55 billion companies are expected to spend on initial compliance with the law.”

Tech: “Rabbit out of a hat” [Reuters]. “Tech unicorns often believe in their own magic – thanks in part to private-market enablers. Non-public startups have control over valuations by only raising money when their worth is rising. Valuing businesses based on a fraction of their capital and the latest preferred-share terms are also problems…. WeWork has had a sobering effect. But there’s a lot of capital to be deployed and hot startups can still make investors compete to give them cash. There will be more valuation illusions before reality sets in.”

Tech: “PGP keys, software security, and much more threatened by new SHA1 exploit” [Ars Technica]. “Git, the world’s most widely used system for managing software development among multiple people, still relies on SHA1 to ensure data integrity.” • Oy.

The Bezzle: “Airbnb users pay more to stay with attractive hosts” [Economist]. “PRETTY PEOPLE have all the luck. Studies show that the good-looking are considered more likeable, more intelligent and more employable than the rest of us. They also earn more. A well-known paper published in 1994 found that attractive men were paid 5% more than average-looking ones; attractive women made 4% more. In peer-to-peer marketplaces such as Airbnb and Uber, where buyers and sellers interact directly with one another, first impressions are particularly important. New research confirms that such online platforms are, in part, beauty contests.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 91 Extreme Greed (previous close: 89 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 93 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 8 at 12:29pm.

The Biosphere

“Australia’s leaders unmoved on climate action after devastating bushfires” [Reuters]. “”Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his emissions reduction minister, Angus Taylor, say Australia does not need to cut carbon emissions more aggressively to limit global warming, even after a three-year drought and unprecedented bushfires. Instead they say Australia, which contributes 1.3% of the world’s carbon emissions but is the second-largest emitter per capita behind the United States, should be rewarded for beating its emissions reduction targets for 2020. ‘When it comes to reducing global emissions, Australia must and is doing its bit, but bushfires are a time when communities must unite, not divide,’ Taylor said in emailed comments to Reuters on Tuesday, while he was busy at bushfire relief centers in his constituency in New South Wales state.” • The arsonists should unite with the homeowners and the firefighters….

“The Latest Victims of Australia’s Record Drought: 10,000 Feral Camels” [Gizmodo]. “But while Australians race to save the country’s native wildlife in the face of massive bushfires and crushing drought, the non-native camels face a different fate. Officials are planning to kill 10,000 camels over the next five days. Aboriginal leaders in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara territories in South Australia have sanctioned culling the animals, which have been using dwindling water resources that communities need as they face severe drought.”

“Evolution on the vine: A history of tomato domestication in Latin America” [Phys.org]. “The ultimate origin traces the lineage of the modern tomato to South America. …. In addition to estimating the timing of the emergence of different tomato groups, the genomic survey also identified many known or novel plausible candidate genes responsible for changes in tomato physical traits.” • Tomatoes are all about the novel and the plausible. They’re vines!

“Abandoned farms could be transformed into millions of hectares of conservation reserves” [Anthropocene]. “Researchers on a new Nature Sustainability paper make the case that converting millions of hectares of unproductive agricultural land globally could be an ingenious way to help us meet our conservation goals, and bring down global emissions. Currently, conservationists tend to focus their attention on lands that also happen to be highly sought-after for other purposes – like farming, development, or resource extraction. This focus is understandable, because most often, these lands occur in regions that are hugely biodiverse and ecologically important. But acquiring these plots to safeguard for conservation can be hugely costly and time-consuming, precisely because they’re valued by so many different parties. And inevitably, that slows down crucial conservation efforts. Recognising this conundrum, the team of international researchers chose to highlight the overlooked conservation potential of what they call ‘uncontested’ lands: millions of hectares of fallow farmland that is no longer valuable or particularly attractive to anyone else.”

“What fossils will modern-day civilization leave behind?” (interview) [Nature]. “Q: You write that when humans and present-day animals die, they leave a distinctive ‘Anthropocene corpse signal.’ What does that look like? K.K.: The human population took off in the mid–20th century, thanks to modern medicine and antibiotics. And that means a lot more people being buried in an orderly fashion in graveyards. It’s not a mess of bones like we see with dinosaurs. These ordered graves are essentially worldwide, so you’ll be finding people’s remains the same way all over the place. I don’t know if “creepy” is quite the right word, but imagine you’re an alien from another species and you find this world just covered in these bodies all laid out in a specific way all over its surface; just imagine what that would look like.” • Hmm. Sorry for the Debbie Downer subject matter, but this is an interesting idea.


“White House Announces Trump Would Likely Veto Bill Regulating ‘Forever Chemicals’ in Drinking Water” [Newsweek]. • The United States of Flint.

Health Care

“Woman Finds A Genius Way To Reduce ER Bills By Itemizing Them And People Are Saying That It Works” [Bored Panda (David Carl Grimes)]. “While those who have insurance are not always made to pay full price, the uninsured people suffer the most. This prompts people to look for a way to reduce their bills. After TikTok user shaunnaburns3 told people to ask hospitals for itemized bills once they are faced with a hefty charge for a trip to the ER, people decided to put that to the test. Luckily, for some people, this tip actually worked and helped save them hundreds of dollars.” • I wonder if any readers have tried the tips in this article? (None of which should be needed; they’re all about gaming a system that shouldn’t even exist in the first place.)

“US cancer death rate sees largest-ever single-year drop, report says” [CNN]. “The rate of people dying from cancer in the United States continued to decline for the 26th year in a row, according to a new American Cancer Society report. From 2016 to 2017, the United States saw its largest-ever single-year drop in overall cancer deaths, a 2.2% plunge spurred in part by a sharp decline in lung cancer deaths.” • Nice to have some good news.

“The Americans dying because they can’t afford medical care” [Guardian]. “Millions of Americans – as many as 25% of the population – are delaying getting medical help because of skyrocketing costs…. Her insurance requires a $5,000 deductible. Having met it in 2019, she scrambled to have her surgery scheduled before 2020, when it would reset. All while her partner is looking to file for bankruptcy because he currently has around $40,000 in medical debt.” • That makes sense. Resetting deductibles on January 1. Thanks, Obama!

“Congress’ health agenda barrels toward 2020 buzz saw” [Politico]. “Doctor Patient Unity — a dark money group largely funded by two private equity-backed physician staffing companies — was the most prominent of the outside groups to spend heavily to influence the surprise billing debate, dropping more than $53 million on ads over the last half of 2019 to attack a leading surprise billing fix, according to Advertising Analytics.”

Our Famously Free Press

From CNN:

It’s all here: War as an immersive experience, cartoonish colors, dumbed down maps (no borders! No Straits of Hormuz! Kuwait, but not Saudi Arabia), the yammering pundit, plus a drone!

Class Warfare

“‘We didn’t ask for a meditation app, we want to be able to pay our rent’: Starbucks is offering new mental health benefits, but employees are demanding different kinds of support” [Business Insider]. “[One] Starbucks employee from Washington State said that he felt the Headspace benefit was simply an attempt by Starbucks to combat bad press related to understaffing and increased demands for productivity. According to the employee, his store often feels like it needs one or two more people working during peak hours, creating significant stress for workers. He would prefer Starbucks focus on fixing what he calls a “toxic” environment by focusing on these staffing issues, as well as paying workers more.”

“The Mid-Century Misfire That Was ‘Slum Clearance’ Tore Down Much More Than Tenements” [New York Magazine]. “The goal, in America, was a mix of righteousness and prejudice: to uplift the poor, eliminate the unsanitary, stimulate commerce, and bring order to the messiness of urban life. In the period’s ideological framework, this required radical strokes rather than patience, sensitivity, and grassroots labor. If that meant that immigrants and people of color would absorb most of the shock, well, the bureaucrats could live with that. In Germany, the same U.S. government that had ordered the obliteration also helped pay for the reconstruction. In this country, the market was supposed to take care of rebuilding; often, it never showed up. Today, when a few American cities are getting loved to death and converted into luxury enclaves, many more still struggle with emptiness. Blocks that were once crammed with brick houses and that thrummed with bakeries, taverns, tailors, butchers, and general stores now contain a drive-through ATM and a parking lot. The constellation of good intentions and bad ideas that dominated mid-century urbanism went by the names of ‘slum clearance’ and, more blithely, ‘urban renewal.'”

Just ask any squillionaire:

News of the Wired

Theory of mind:

Playful sociopaths:

And besides this cruelty, and Vietnam, LBJ also did his part in Congress to get the civil rights acts passed, and passed Medicare. So go figure.

“Robert Johnson’s Grave” [Atlas Obscura]. “Back in 1965, a blues journalist and researcher named Gayle Dean Wardlow launched a search for Johnson’s missing death certificate. He recovered it from the state of Mississippi in 1968—30 years after Johnson died in 1938—only to find there were still quite a few holes in the story of Johnson’s young death. One of the biggest unanswered questions pertained to the bluesman’s gravesite: The death certificate named ‘Zion Church’ in Leflore County—rather unhelpfully, considering that the county had at least three churches with names including the word ‘Zion.'” •

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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 (WB):

WB writes: “Red and yellow dogwood can add nice color to bleak winter landscapes, especially in MN.”

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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. petal

    A while ago I received a text message from the Sanders campaign. I have an old dumb phone and have kept the same plan(to keep costs down). Text messages cost me money. I told them using not so nice words to get stuffed, that I don’t have money to waste on them. I use my phone only for emergencies, so to get what is essentially junk mail and have to pay for it(!) gets me angry. Bad move.

    1. curlydan

      I was getting deluged briefly by the Sanders campaign with texts. It was annoying and seemed robotic. Just say “STOP”. now, more peace. I am still getting craploads of email from them.

      1. jrs

        Basically those individual contributions to the Sanders campaign, although they are massive (largest haul as we know), were pushed really hard for, in all such ways: texts, emails and phone calls (by constant contact).

        1. jrs

          I mean the question is how much passionate interest in the candidates is there and how much is people being driven completely batty all the time by constant please to: “give more money”, “give more money” etc. etc.. Although clearly no small donor is going to give to a candidate they don’t somewhat like. Large corporations donate to all possible sides, not nobodies.

          1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

            I know that I donated for the first time in a couple months after my cousin said Bernies 100K Donations to 5 Million Total.

            The texts suck, and I hate the focus on money instead of organizing, but f it. If this is how Bernies campaign rolls, then DEAL ME IN.

            1. barefoot charley

              I get two Berniebot text categories daily, one for money, another for phone-banking. Sometimes up to 4, sometimes just the usual two–very often in the name of a staffer or volunteer I won’t recognize. Dude’s Obammin’!

              All because I send him money.

              1. John

                I have Bernie on a monthly contribution of $6.00 per month thru Act Blue. They email a lot, but spam catcher takes care of that. I never get texts and don’t look at the email stuff. I also follow him on Twitter but rarely look. Doesn’t bother me at all. It’s the world we live in. Like hiking on a wilderness trail, it’s easy and wise to avoid the puddles and stones in the path. I’m ancient and not particularly tech savvy.

              2. ChiGal in Carolina

                exactly. Periodically I get annoyed but sometimes I want to participate in an event so it’s useful to get them since I’m not on social media.

                As for the emails, I periodically unsubscribe but the next time I donate they start up again.

              3. ChiGal in Carolina

                exactly. Periodically I get annoyed but sometimes I want to participate in an event so it’s useful to get them since I’m not on social media.

                As for the emails, I periodically unsubscribe but the next time I donate they start up again.

            2. MoB.

              There is tons of organizing going on. Many texts ask if you can join a canvas or phone bank. I’m in California, so maybe those texts asking for you to volunteer haven’t hit your state yet

        2. False Solace

          I get a text from the Sanders campaign once a day (I checked and before the FEC deadline it was like clockwork and continues daily since) asking for money. I also get “polls” from the campaign asking about issue prioritization, usually before debates, which end with a low key ask. Finally, I get texts asking for phone banking or door knocking or to call in to volunteer training. Since I live next to IA they’re doing a “Bernie Journey” this weekend to go knock on doors in Des Moines.

          To which I say BRING IT.

          If you don’t like getting texted just tell them to remove you. It’s a shame petal’s phone plan is so crappy – the overwhelming majority of people receive them free, either unlimited or several hundred a month. The primaries are almost here. It will all be over in a couple months and we’ll go back to sitting around on our butts and blecching about how awful the candidates are.

    2. Felix_47

      Hey petal, I know it is annoying but his model might work and if elected he might get big money out of politics. Why don’t you get a Google Voice number and it then gets transcribed to your email. If you are as short as you say getting Sanders elected might be quite helpful for you.

      1. petal

        I want to be less connected, not more. And I don’t like Google anyway. The last thing I’m going to do is partake of their “products”.

    3. Goyo Marquez

      Yeah, the texts are irritating, but Trump and the neoliberal enabling republicans and democrats are more irritating.

      If Bernie’s campaign irritating me till i give an extra $50 a month for the next 11 months or so is what it takes to have a chance at medicare for all/college for all/jobs for all, then i’m good with it.

    4. smoker

      I just received my first text from the Sanders campaign today, and was sorely offended by it, as I was waiting for a very important hospital call. Campaign Chair Ro Khanna needs to inform Bernie that many of Khanna’s SIlicon Valley constituents are facing homelessness, as are their loved ones, and don’t own Androids and iPhones.

      Highly offensive, just for one, I can’t text on my only affordable shabby cell phone; worse, when I dialed back the number the text came from, to both speak to someone, and have them take me off of the text list, this bot message played:

      The subscriber you have dialed is not in service, if you feel you have received this message in error, please hang up and try again

      It’s never a good feeling, when someone can repeatedly ‘contact you, yet you have no means of contacting them, really bad message to put out. I long ago made a rule that if a candidate’s campaign office can’t be reached via a telephone conversation, I would never vote for them, and if I was repeatedly harassed by unsolicited bot messages (text or otherwise), I would never vote for them.

  2. Trent

    “According to the employee, his store often feels like it needs one or two more people working during peak hours, creating significant stress for workers. He would prefer Starbucks focus on fixing what he calls a “toxic” environment by focusing on these staffing issues, as well as paying workers more.”

    That’s a feature not a bug. BNYMellon acted the same way. Underpaid, understaffed, high turnover, its like they wanted you to quit so they didn’t have to pay unemployment………..

    1. JohnnyGL

      When I was at State Street, they also did the same thing.

      Walmart was chaotic a few years back, but I was in there recently and they seem to have gotten much more well managed these days. Fear of Amazon?

      1. JBird4049

        Often the “savings” gained by paying and treating people as garbage costs money. It at least does not save as much money as it appears. Even the simplest register with the least amount of stock takes time to learn. Each new hire costs money and time and while many people will not remember their good experiences, they will remember the bad and tell their friends, but too often the management insists on treating their workers as particularly slow monkeys.

        1. JTMcPhee

          I worked at West Marine, a large national retail chain (now big inti e-commerce) for ten years, 1997 through 2007, as a sales and stock person and eventually assistant store manager. Lots of stories to tell, as what was a pretty good retailer whose management manual was “ Zapp! The Lightning of Empowerment: How to Improve Quality, Productivity, and Employee Satisfaction,” https://www.amazon.com/Zapp-Lightning-Empowerment-Productivity-Satisfaction/dp/0449002829/ref=sr_1_3?crid=39Z1HY06R3279&keywords=zapped+book&qid=1578518410&sprefix=Zapped%2Caps%2C177&sr=8-3.

          The founder got older and tired of running the company, eventually had a big sailboat built for himself and sailed off to the South Pacific. His minions pretty quickly adopted the New Globalist Business Model — “more and more work for fewer and fewer people for less and less money under more and more oppressive micromanagement to ever-increasing metric-ization.” The pain was imposed from above. I was offered a store manager position but the regional manager (his principal enthusiasm-building catch phrase was “BE THE BALL”) who offered it was offended and angered when I said no thanks, with the observation that being a Wet Marine store manager was just trying to live in the space between the face of the hammer and the head of the nail, and that the BALL he wanted us all to BE is an object that gets kicked, pounded, tossed, battered, blasted, clobbered…

          The company was “taken public” with an IPO, but has never done all that well, except for a couple of brief periods when executives and managers with stock options were able to pump a couple of analysts with artificially high “fulfillment” statistics (for a brief period, over-rewarded by Wall Street.)

          The stores used to be well staffed with mostly boaters who knew the products and cold talk intelligently with customers. Now it’s mostly high school kids whose knowledge Comes from “features and benefits” flash cards — high turnover, low morale, and in quite a few stores in the “quiet hours” late in the day (open until 9 or 10 pm and Sundays, only a single employee to stock, shelve, serve customers and run the register. “Shrinkage” was a significant problem, both “patrons” grabbing high-value and little stuff and running, and employees pilfering due to opportunity and the minimum wage paid.

          West Marine is now owned by a private equity outfit, and is closing stores. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Marine

          I’d note that I worked in ten different stores, and that every one of them has since been closed in favor of a few “super stores” and on-line operations.

          It’s everywhere.

          1. sierra7

            Really sad to hear about West Marine. Having had a sailboat on the west coast for more than 15 years and sailed in SF Bay for many more West Marine was the place to go for marine supplies. “Crappification” of retail (and other things) continues.

            1. Whoamolly

              Same here. Owned several sailboats on the SF Bay in 80s and 90s and could always find knowledgeable help at West Marine.

            2. Carey

              West was a pretty good outfit when I dealt with them
              in the early 90s as buyer for a CA boatyard. They tightened some things up (positively, I thought at the time) in the business.. even then, there were signs of what JTM mentions, though, and I’m not surprised to hear of the long-term outcome.

            3. Phacops

              No sailbot here, but West Marine had some great materials; epoxy, fiberglass cloth, varnish, hardware, used to build two cedar-strip canoes and one sea kayak. It will be missed. Ahh, well, welcome to a mediocre future, compliments of PE.

              1. JBird4049

                Listen, you all sound like we live in some Third World wasteland.

                I mean we are still the greatest nation on Earth! Can’t find a decent bookstore, stationary, butcher’s, clothing, shoes, sports, watch/jewelry, electronics, repair shop, white goods, hobby or gamers. furniture, auto supply, or much of anything else unless I have money to shop at Nordstrom’s or have some coffee at one of the upteen nearby coffee shops. And I happen to live in the San Francisco Bay Area. The rest of the country must have ample supplies of coffee.

                We’re a great nation, a wonderful nation! At least, I’ve been told that anyways…

                Here ends the despairing wail.

          2. RMO

            JTMcPhee: Would this be the boat the founder had built?:


            If so, by the look of it I would guess he was a sailor who was really interested in boats and being on the water. When someone who is really into the field in which their business operates it’s not surprising that it would go rapidly downhill when it ended up run by MBA types who believe that knowing anything about their own products is irrelevant or even harmful to the job of running the company. Add to that the goal of those sorts being to suck as much money out of the company as fast as possible no matter the harm and I can see how things could get that bad, that fast.

            And then private equity stepped in.

          3. HotFlash

            everywhere indeed. So sorry for West Marine. And Cabella’s. And Gibson Guitars. And Republic Windows and Doors and so many more. PE eats everything. I remember reading about the privateers ‘way back when I was a teen, and thinking “how could such a thing happen?”. I think understand that better now..

          4. makedonamend

            Yep, the words you write about retail in North America resounds 100% with what I hear from my spouse – who works in retail a continent away from your experiences – right down to the denouement of private equity firms.

            Management needs to denigrate and demote product knowledge, sales skills, and skilled personal interaction in order to justify (mostly to management themselves) the continuing cuts in sales staff wages so that the money flows ever upwards to management and investor pockets.

            Stories such as your help us to better understand the intricate dynamics that shape our economies and the lives of working folk. Thanks.

  3. T

    Two things.
    Asking for itemized bills, questioning bills, sending questions certified paper mail to the invoicers and your insurance co, if you are so lucky, often reduces invoice. The caveat is you effectively take on a part-time job. Who has the time?

    I rhought this was well known and something most state AGs have a web page on?

    Various Dems and groups text me at least daily. Except the Warren people. After a few months of responding to every text with a reasonable, detailed question and a saying I was very likely to vote for her in the general if she was the Dem nom, they seem to have given up.

    A very lefty state candidate left me a message with their personal cell number. I can’t imagine how that’s managed.

    1. a different chris

      >A very lefty state candidate left me a message with their personal cell number. I can’t imagine how that’s managed.

      Well the media doesn’t want to acknowledge let alone talk to them so I would guess they have a lot of free time… You should call and say hi.

      1. Spring Texan

        Because I was surprised she called me (she wasn’t in my state! but I assume I had given her money in one of those 10-bundled-progressives-I-like thing or something), I did phone back a candidate – Rachel Ventura (https://www.rachelfventura.com ) – who had called my home phone and left a message. I did reach her – she answered like a regular person would just hello and I asked if that was her – it was her personal cell phone, she was in her car! We chatted briefly and she was pleasant and sound on the issues so though I told her it was a one-time thing I sent her $100. It’s different when there is a real callback number. Sure surprised me. But wasn’t apparently “managed.”

  4. lakecabs

    Bloomberg ran a very good ad on Healthcare. I am not endorsing Bloomberg but the ad was effective. Makes you wonder who runs the other candidates campaigns.

    Maybe if more Dems focused on issues and real life. They might find some energy. In the debates they should not allow questions on Trump’s impeachment.

    1. Fiery Hunt

      Bloomberg’s a Republican-lite, neoliberal billionaire who founded a business news organization.
      He will lie, obfuscate and dismiss.

      He cares nothing for real people.
      Money is his North Star.


      1. jrs

        Republican-lite? Please. The guy has run as an actual Republican, nothing lite about it.

        Maybe that’s what they meant when they asked Biden if he would pick a Republican running mate … Bloomberg’s not even a Democrat and obviously not because he’s a Sander’s style independent.

      1. Watt4Bob

        And just how much did the Mayor of NYC have to do with the passage and implementation of the ACA?

        I’d be willing to bet that the basis of Bloomberg’s healthcare ad is the fact that he ‘supported’ Obama care.

        What a hero.

        And now he joins the fight to deny Bernie Sanders the nomination.

        What a zero.

        1. Pat

          Not even that honest. He assumes credit for a large reduction in the uninsured without mentioning it was the result of the one largely effective part of ACA, the Medicaid expansion. At least I assume that is the reduction he references because there was no city only insurance expansion during his term. And he would have needed state approval if there were. This assumption was reinforced by “testimony” from a nurse about how much better things were when Bloomberg was in charge and how he gets things done.

          Not one mention of ACA, Obama or even Cuomo because well that might lead people to start figuring out that all this went on as he was leaving office and had nothing to do with him. But he did get calorie counts posted.

          His plan, a public option that would supposedly have premiums 8 to 9 per cent lower and some BS about capping charges sure sounds like “he gets it done”. Because we know private equity is going to allow those rate caps, I mean surprise billing got outlawed.Not.

    2. Big River Bandido

      A teevee-only strategy is unlikely to get one very far in this day and age.

      I agree that the candidates shouldn’t be asked questions on impeachment. Who chose those stupid sponsors with their stupid questions and those stupid moderators, anyway? Oh, right. Not the candidates. Not the voters.

      1. Darius

        He’s preparing the ground for a third party run. Of course Judy Woodruff is never going to demand that the most likely third party candidate endorse the Democratic nominee, like she did over and over last night with Sanders.

  5. psv

    Lovely colors in today’s plant! Especially with the blue and white sky behind. Thanks WB and Lambert.

  6. nippersmom

    It’s become a running joke in the nipper household that whenever I get a text notification, one of us will say,
    “there’s Bernie’s campaign”– and it almost always is. I, too, have a dumb phone, but I have unlimited texts ($5/month) so it isn’t a cost factor. It is annoying when I get multiple requests for a donation on the same day, but lately they have been better about sending more informational texts and fewer that are just dunning.

      1. smoker

        I didn’t give my number, I believe California’s Santa Clara County Registrars Office may have, as activists are allowed to ask for voter names, address, email, and phone number.

        You can ask them to remove the phone number (I never gave an email number), but I guess I did it too late. or something.

      1. nippersmom

        Some of the texts do contain links that are designed to be interactive, but since it’s a dumb phone, I don’t do the links.

        Lately they’ve sent more texts (and emails- I get both) about events, calls, etc., or updates on the campaign. I think they’ve been hearing some of the complaints about too many strictly fundraising texts.

        1. Carey

          I donated to the Sanders campaign again last week, and opted™ for ‘fewer’ emails at that time. After that I received
          at least ten in four or five days; then fully unsubscribed again.
          Love to know what’s going on, and how I can help, but when
          they’re 90%+ just asking for moar munny (one day after I donated!), I gotta pass, for now.

          1. JTMcPhee

            I worry that Bernie may have made a bad pick in his campaign finance person, Faiz Shakir. One might go all foily and think that maybe he is a Dem plant who is trying to annoy Bernie supporters so badly that they tune out. His pitches got a little better toward the end of last year, but now are as obnoxious as those for Biden and a lot of others.

            I get hits from what I guess are maybe “progressive” candidates in state and federal races in all parts of the country. Who knows how I got on the list for judicial candidates in Wisconsin and Michigan and Arizona?

            One gripe is that they can’t even keep their record keeping straight — part of their pitch strategy is to sort of thank us for what we have contributed, with not so subtle messaging that we could have given more and that others are more open-handed. I have made a pretty big number of contributions, all small amounts I think I can afford on my fixed income, with the hope of helping Bernie in the numbers game. But they “Officially” credit me for about half of them, both frequency and amount donated. The campaign does seem to be building a strong ground game (we can hope.) I do not see much in the way of registration efforts, though.

            1. Carey

              Interesting comment, esp the Finance Person. Something to me feels quite wrong with the
              campaign’s email/fundraising vibe, quite different
              from 2016..

              My pick for likely Dem plant in the campaign,
              the man who’s *certainly going places*, regardless
              of the outcome of Sanders ’20, is Ro™ Khanna.
              Mark those words..

              1. smoker

                Yep. Khanna was mentored by Obama and Pelosi. I never undterstood that choice, big mistake, where was the vetting.

                1. smoker

                  Seriously vetting his two very active twitter accounts alone, would probably have sufficed. E.g. as RussiaGate promoter:

                  Mueller is a true patriot. He served as a Marine & won the Bronze Star & Purple Heart. He served Bush & Obama. He has more credibility on law enforcement than anyone in Congress. The country needs to hear more from him. 10 min for a 2 yr $35 million investigation is not enough.

                  Not a peep about Obamba, DC Revolving Doors and elections, and Zuckerberg/Facebook.

                  (This got snagged up in an internet black hole yesterday afternoon, and I believe it really is important.)

          2. chuck roast

            I have checks with just my name on them. I can fill in the address. So, I make a check out to Bernie for $75 and write a bogus address under my name. I put the check in an envelope with the same bogus return address and send it off to Vermont.
            No text messages.
            No campaign mail.
            No phone calls.
            I will see in a couple of weeks if he cashed the check.

            1. Spring Texan

              Neat! I haven’t found that the campaign sends too much snail mail. They send occasionally but often with a sticker and it’s not real frequent. But they do send far too much email and I unsubscribe after EVERY donation.

              Love your plan. I’ve certainly snail mailed them donations and I’m sure they’ll cash the check.

    1. Arizona Slim

      In my house, I say, “Bernie wants money!” Nine times out of 10, that’s exactly who’s texting me.

      1. JCC

        I’m getting more texts from the DNC and their cohorts than I am from Sanders and I donated to Sanders more than once. The simple trick is, as others here have mentioned, never fill in your phone number.

        Unfortunately I made the mistake of switching my registration from Independent (for 40+ years) to Dem in order to get a vote (Sanders) counted in the last primary here in CA.

        Ever since then various Democrat Organizations spam me daily asking me to participate in their “polls” with questions like “How strong do you feel about impeaching Trump?” 1) A whole lot? 2) An awful lot? 3) An incredibly amount of lot?

        As soon as this election season is over I am switching back to Independent.

        At least the Sanders questions make sense, and I ignore most of that stuff anyway.

        On the other hand, those occasional phone texts, particularly the Dem Party texts, do bother me. I often reply to them telling them to back the f*** off, in no uncertain terms. So far they have. We’ll see what the future brings.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      i get occasional texts from the bernie for texas people….from an actual person, it turns out. I know this because i replied to the first one with a description of my Field Work/New Deal Evangelism in the feed store, etc…along with an explanation that I’m frelling Broke…so such field work would hafta do.
      dude got right back to me, asking how the campaign could do things out here.
      texted back and forth over a few days, after every one of those initial texts from them.
      they no longer ask me for money,lol.

      and…i told them that sending big city younguns way out here to go door to door is prolly counterproductive. folks around here are skittish/hostile with strangers at the door….and outside of the one town, the rifle is likely to be close at hand, too.
      I’m probably their best bet, using my own slow, patient methods.
      especially since, out here, the Demparty effectively abandoned us, 20+ years ago…is wholly associated with the Clintonists/neoliberalism,, and the local demparty are all rich folks who don’t like their neighbors, let alone all the poors.(and rather rabid TDS sufferers, to boot!)
      so, too much work for too little reward in the time allotted.
      I am interested to see the primary returns, though…to see if my efforts have had any measurable effect.(6 people, last time around)

      1. Fiery Hunt

        Keep on keeping on, Amfortas.
        It’s the same here in the SF Bay Area…keep talking to ’em, keep pointing out how screwed up things are, keep suggesting that maybe, just maybe there’s a different way, keep whispering that that Bernie guy might be right….

    3. nippersmom

      Just opened this email from the Sanders campaign:
      Are you a massive Bernie supporter who wants to do everything you can do to take us to the White House?

      If that’s you, we have the perfect opportunity for you to take part in contacting voters — without ever dialing a number OR knocking on a door.

      With less than 4 weeks left until the first caucus, can you join the Bernie 2020 text team?

      Being a texting volunteer is one of the most fun and flexible ways you can be involved. You can fit texting around other activities from anywhere, and you’ll join an online community of hundreds of other volunteers.

      The first step is to join a webinar to learn more. The details of the webinars are below. Can you attend one to get started on our texting team?

      Thursday 01/09
      8 p.m. ET

      Friday 01/10
      3 p.m. ET

      Sunday 01/12
      10:30 p.m. ET

      Monday 01/13
      8 p.m. ET

      Friday 01/17
      9 p.m. ET

      Peer to peer messaging is one of the most effective ways we recruit people to turn out for Bernie, delivering thousands of people out to events to create a sea of Bernie supporters. And if you enjoy this role, you can take the next step and chat with voters too!

      With less than 4 weeks left until the first caucus, hundreds of new events hitting the map, and thousands of voters left to talk to — there’s no time to waste.

      Thanks for being a part of it.

      In solidarity,

      Team Bernie

      P.S. ¿Hablas español? Tenemos un programa de texto en español. ¡Únete a un entrenamiento en línea para obtener más información ahora!

      1. Democrita

        I have been moderately active in the campaign and can say a couple of things.

        1. Those texts are sent by volunteers–real humans, all– but through a system that provides canned text for slight modification. The ‘ask’ is determined by the campaign.
        Instead of getting huffy, if you just reply honestly that you’re a supporter but with limited ability to give and please remove you from fundraising texts, they will try to respect your wishes. If you can and care, offer to volunteer instead.

        2. They will ask you to do whatever they think you might be willing and able to do. I hosted one of those kickoff parties. I responded to a volunteer call for the texting and went through the training. Have not done any texting yet, but was most recently texted about volunteering to phonebank. Went to a local barnstorm, too. If you just seND money, the think that all you want to/can do.

        3. They still ask me for money. A lot. But I don’t mind. I dont always do it, but i dont mind that they ask. Maybe they’ve figured out I am a passionate supporter who has more money than time. Or maybe they just have to keep asking because that’s what keeps the money coming. I’ve been giving steadily almost since 2016, and by the time it’s over I might be getting close to the legal limit.

        I would not have said I can afford to do so, but in truth, I am better able than most. And I think this is truly our last shot at staving off unmitigatable disaster.

        What’s democracy and a livable planet worth?

        1. Spring Texan

          Thanks for the insight on how it’s all done. I give money mostly but also wrote postcards to be mailed in Iowa right before the caucus. Snail mail is more my speed!

          They did text my only-for-emergencies cell phone which I found annoying till I learned you just text back STOP and it did stop it, but I only happened on that info by chance and I’m sure most ppl don’t know that.

          I hate the “Bernie beg” emails and unsubscribe every time as soon as I donate.

  7. Jos Oskam

    “…US cancer death rate sees largest-ever single-year drop, report says…”.

    Right. People probably committed suicide, died from opioids or perished because they couldn’t afford treatment before the cancer could get them.

    1. Louis Fyne

      You’re not wrong—–but cancer therapy has advanced by leaps and bounds over the past 10 years too.

      An anecdote…I have a non-smoking, non-drinking aunt who got diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer (guessing from air pollution and/or cleaning aerosols?).

      Thought it was a death sentence at diagnosis. But her cancer is gone/in remission thanks to the latest immunotherapy drugs (Tarceva + traditional chemo).

      Incredibly expensive—Tarceva treatment has a retail price of thousands per month, paid by a Medicare and a supplemental policy.

      moral of the story: pay attention to the prescription drug formularies, try to get diagnosed early.

      1. polecat

        Oh .. right ! And if you can’t afford the tests, let alone surgery predicated on that ‘dieagnosis’ .. your f#cked !

        Yeah. ‘Leaps and Bounds’ … for some !

        1. ambrit

          YMMV is the caveat with cancer treatments. There is no monolithic “cause” for cancers, nor, alas, for particular cancers. Phyl tried immunotherapy, and it hit her harder than the cancer. Now, with the cancerous lower leg removed, there is some degree of hope. Still and all, cancer therapies always present outcomes in years of survival after treatment.
          As for “Tarceva treatment has a retail price of thousands per month,” well Pardner, the Immunonab Phyl tried was priced at roughly fifteen thousand dollars per treatment, done once every two weeks. So, thirty thousand dollars a month. Now, this was the price that Medicare agreed to, so who knows what the truly uninsured were faced with. The ‘individualized’ immunity treatment was formulated in a department of the hospital across the street from the clinic she used.
          As for “try to get diagnosed early,” hah! Access to basic medical is not the paradigm today. that’s why I’m supporting Sanders and M4A. It’s the first step to National Health. Accept nothing less.
          Anecdotally, I was talking to my middle sister on the telephone last week. The subject of Bernie came up. She is an Ozark Republican. So, the usual ‘Socialism bad’ talking points came up. I shut her down with the question; “Have you ever been denied treatment? I have.”

    2. PlutoniumKun

      There is no question but that cancer treatments are getting better – not necessarily better drugs, they are just getting better at using them. But figures on cancer recovery rates in the US need to be treated with caution, because the other side of the equation is diagnostic rates. There is a huge financial incentive in the US system (in contrast to other countries) to identify tumours and then diagnose those tumours as malign. Many ‘cancers’ may well never develop if left on their own. Most international authorities consider that in the US there is very significant levels of over diagnosis of cancer.

    3. chuck roast

      The Clean Air Act and taking lead out of gasoline.
      Amazing what good market regulation can do.

  8. Carey

    That CNN image of WarLand was one of the more depressing things
    I’ve seen recently. They really do have utter contempt for their subjects,
    don’t they? (I didn’t click; no way.)

      1. Tom Doak

        Exactly what I was thinking. Maybe seeing a televised demonstration of “pink mist” would change some hearts and minds.

    1. Roy G

      CNN has exploited this approach since the ‘Scud Stud,’ (remember him?) and it is truly deplorable.

      1. Carey

        I didn’t enlarge the image to be sure, but was that again the Kornacki-dude; the wildly-gesticulating, lying, moron from the mcDebates?

      2. JBird4049

        I remember Baghdad Bob and was thinking yesterday, while leaving a comment on Lambert unhappiness with the stenography passing as news, that the mainstream press is acting like Baghdad Bob. “We will drive them back to the sea! They are falling back before our army. We will crush them and wade in their blood!” (See video showing American troops taking over Baghdad Airport during speech)

    2. rowlf

      That screenshot of CNN WarLand would make a great GIF if it had a Mike Pompeo image doing a Gene Gene The Dancing Machine dance under the goofy looking drone image.

      Who decided that all the administrative cabinet choices had to have the foresight and competence of Toonces The Driving Cat? I’m surprised Sergeys Lavrov and Shoygu don’t have permanent facepalm marks.

    3. JCC

      I clicked it, I couldn’t help it. Like watching a car accident.

      It was classic, a poorly done blue screen worse than any local channel’s weather report that I have ever seen, an absolutely and totally unprofessional video job. They even screwed up the drone.

  9. Plenue

    >Biden: Mitch McConnell Will Become ‘Mildly Cooperative’ With Democrats Post-Trump: The former vice president has also said Republicans will have an “epiphany” once Donald Trump leaves office.

    Oh god, this nonsense again. Has this ever, ever been true? This is pure West Wing thinking: we just have to find common ground with the Reasonable Republicans®, and work together for the good of the nation as a whole.

    These rational Republicans don’t exist. And the currently insane Republicans, which is all of them, aren’t going to suddenly become less crazy. The only ‘cooperation’ that will happen ‘across the aisle’ is when Democrats give Republicans all, or at least 99%, of what they want (which is actually what the Democrats really wanted anyway).

    The GOP laughs at this shit. I bet they watched The West Wing too: to mock it.

    1. JBird4049

      In fairness to Biden’s childhood, the Republican Party was more rational, centrist, and inclusive. Fifty years ago.

      1. a different chris

        Although I agree with *almost* every word above, there is nothing actually irrational about the Republican party. They would be a lot easier to defeat if there was.

        1. Carey

          >nothing actually irrational about the Republican party. They would be a lot easier to defeat if there was.

          Having an oppositional ‘Opposition’ party would make a much
          bigger difference, I think.

          Helping the Few understand that their fates are well-tied up
          with ours; making that clearer every day; seems most imp’t.

        2. jrs

          It helps when you see them as all about Power and Money, not principles of any sort and I don’t mean just the party but the Rep VOTERS. They don’t care if Trump cheats on his wives, it never really was about family values. They don’t care if Trump does things the military takes issue with, it never really was about respect for the military. It’s not about “conservative values”.

          The thing is although the Dem party may be that cynical in many ways (and actually they sometimes it seems they don’t even care about power just money), the Dem base is not entirely quite so cynical. So it’s an imbalance. And I have no idea what to do about it really.

          1. jrs

            I think we can confuse Rep “partisanship” with Dem “partisanship” which excuses a lot in the name of “rah rah Dem party! Vote blue! See no blue evil!” But I suspect Reps are far less brainwashed and far more calculating than the Dem equivalent. They want power period and get it (and tax cuts, and abortion restrictions, and a far right judiciary etc.), and Dems only sorta approach this with their lesser evilism and attempts to grab power when their power plays don’t even represent their base.

            1. inode_buddha

              I am sad to inform you, as a former Rep, that they are just as brainwashed and uncalculating as the Dems. That is why the daily antidote on these pages is so important.

            2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              Krystal Ball says AOC makes a very important point: People say “Nothing gets done in DC because we have DC gridlock”. But this is a myth.

              Nothing gets done in DC because they *do not want to do anything in DC*. That’s why they are all paid to be there: to defend the status quo. To make sure nothing changes. The country is absolute billionaire Nirvana today so they purchase the government they need to be sure it stays that way.

              Biden’s quote absolutely confirms this.

        1. JBird4049

          Both parties had plenty of racists. It was just many people were more polite about it. The political parties of ***today*** are not really parties; they are corporations masquerading as political parties and as such their grassroots is more cheap AstroTurf instead of the deeply rooted, broadly based political organizations of even forty years ago. Certainly not fifty years ago. The political parties of anytime before the 1970s would treat the modern parties like drunks to be rolled. The one serious difficulty would social media, but really advertising is just getting your message out and both parties, especially the Democratic, sometimes had organizing down to individuals blocks and buildings. Political machines like Tammany Hall in New York City or the father and son Mayors Daley’s political kingdom of Chicago.

          The reason why Bernie Sanders is such a strong contender is that he has what the mainstream parties do not; he has a motivated, fairly broad-based, political organization albeit one with a concentration of people in their 20s and not middle aged guys like me. Still more rooted and more of a political organization than the regular Democratic Corporatized Party.

          And the reason why the Republican Party is still a functioning, under a limited value of functional, political party is because President Trump, the Orange Duce of Mar-a-Largo has a base actively committed to him and therefore indirectly to the Republican Party. Joe Biden reminds me of Jeb! Bush, the heir presumptive of the Republican Party in 2016.

          Dear God, hasn’t either party learned anything? If Biden somehow wins the nomination, probably by massive corruption, you can kiss the Democratic Party bye bye because anyone who has an uncored brain is going to see what happened. Even if you think that Biden is the bee’s knees, corruption on such a scale would not be acceptable, I think.

          Anyways, Biden would be a light snack for Trump. The increasingly confused zombie against the lying Svengali. If the election results are not absolutely clear to be against Trump, he just might find some way to hang on. He has the Republican Party by its tender bits and it must do as Trump wants especially as I do not see anything like Sanders or the DSA on the Right. Unless you want to include something like the magazine The American Conservative?

          I think that there must be something, but like the Democratic Party has coopted or buried most of the left, so has the Republican Party done to the right and the other flavors of conservatism besides Evangelical Corporatism

            1. Carey

              Seconded. And yes, Team Dem, anyone but Sanders will be your corporate party’s death knell;
              and in that sense, maybe befuddled Biden *is* best.

    2. Tom Doak

      What he says is entirely true.

      If Joe got elected, Republicans would gladly lend their bipartisan support to the initiatives they’ve been hoping to pass for years, dressed up as “Democratic” programs. The Grand Bargain, above all.

      1. roadrider

        Well they wouldn’t take “yes” for an answer when Obama proposed the Grand Bargain (cut SS and Medicare) – probably because they knew they’d get toasted by seniors. They’d much rather have a Democrat pass it without their support. If Biden or any of the other centrist goons is elected and the Dems take over the Senate during his term they may get their wish.

    3. Wukchumni

      Oh, there’s cooperation politically, one of the last things Duncan Hunter did before resigning and going to jail, was co-sponsor the renaming of a post office on behalf of somebody he’s politically & ideologically 180 degrees away from…

      To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 21701 Stevens Creek Boulevard in Cupertino, California, as the “Petty Officer 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew G. Axelson Post Office Building”.

      Sponsor: Rep. Khanna, Ro [D-CA-17] (Introduced 10/15/2019) Cosponsors: (52)

  10. Lorenzo Raymond

    FYI the NY Magazine “Slum clearance” link sends you to Business Insider instead.

    The African-American riots of the 60s are usually blamed for the sordid state of the cities in the 80s, but “Slum clearance/ urban renewal” had far more to do with it.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Same in Chicago. Put all the blacks in “projects” where the Daley machine could enforce their voting preferences for them, keep them out of the white folks’ areas.

        Cabrini-Green was one of the high-rise slums created by “urban renewal.” It’s been razed (more “urban renewal”) and largely “gentrified.” The Brittanica entry, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Cabrini-Green is hugely better than the little sanitized squib in Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabrini–Green,_Chicago.

        1. Plenue

          You may find this interesting:


          Cabrini-Green was basically failed on an institutional level before it was even built. The city was never truly committed to the project (to the extent that they weren’t even willing to put the numbers on the buildings with anything other than prison block paint, even though it would have actually been cheaper to do so, lest it upset the rich people down the street to see poor black people in nice apartments) and when it started to encounter problems their only solution was to (expensively) bring the police hammer down.

          Other approaches would have cost less money, but the city government was convinced it couldn’t be seen to be handling the ‘poor trash’ with anything other than an iron gauntlet.

          1. JBird4049

            The city stinted on the maintenance as well and blamed, I think, the residents for all the problems that any unmaintained building gets.

  11. Craig H.

    I could definitely get into a thread on the antics of Lyndon Johnson. It would be as meaningful as anything else up there and far more interesting.

    1. he bragged about the large size of his penis. (As far as I know he did not do this in mixed company.)
    2. he used to impress upon his staff how valuable his time was by forcing them to receive orders while he was defecating.
    3. he was neighbors and displayed lifelong friendship to J. Edgar Hoover.
    4. he appointed Dulles to the Warren Commission and told everybody a whitewash of Kennedy’s assassination was required because of the hundreds of nuclear armed missiles we and the Russians had armed and ready to go.
    5. before he became president in a campaign for congress he had his workers spread a rumor that his opponent was partial to beastiality.
    6. his most profound political philosophy was that he would prefer to have another guy “inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in”.

    A great American. High time his statue is prominently put up on the national mall. Are there any good placements available adjacent to the Vietnam War Memorial?

    1. JBird4049

      LBJ was a flawed man, but on #4 the establishment was really scared that Lee Harvey Oswald was another Gavrilo Princip, that Dallas was going to become Sarajevo, and the Cold War was going to be World War III. Princip’s band of assassins had connections to the Serbian Intelligence and Oswald had tried work for the Soviets.

      One of the reasons for LBJ leaving was probably the strain of the Vietnam War as apparently the casualties ate at him. I do not think I see any guilt in the current or past two presidents over the war.

      1. Tom Doak

        There are a lot fewer casualties now. Not sure if even W could have stomached the relentless numbers in Vietnam. [He had his chance to be one of them, and declined.]

        1. carycat

          all the brown skinned people (yes, they are human beings) that were turned to pink mist would beg to disagree

          1. Tom Doak

            My apologies. I did not mean to dismiss the citizens of the nations where we have intervened. Unfortunately, most of our Presidents do, because so many of the voting public do, too.

      2. roadrider

        The information linking Oswald with the Cubans or Russians was almost immediately proven to be disinformation spread by intelligence assets run by David Atlee Phillips a senior CIA officer and propaganda specialist. In fact, Hoover himself discredited these reports and later warned his people to beware of CIA deceptions similar to the ones they had perpetrated about Oswald in Mexico City.

        Records of phone calls between Johnson and Hoover in the days immediately following the assassination reveal that 1) Oswald had been impersonated in Mexico City and 2) the Dallas police had little or no evidence linking Oswald to the assassination (of course after their physical evidence was transported to Washington and returned to Dallas hundreds of new items mysteriously appeared).

        My guess is that both Hoover and Johnson (who were not stupid men irrespective of their ugly character) knew that a domestic conspiracy was at work and used the red herring of a potential nuclear war to cover it up. Johnson also used this gambit to strong-arm Earl Warren (who later expressed enormous regret over his role) and Richard Russell into serving on his Commission after usurping jurisdiction over what was not a federal crime (assassinating the president became a federal crime in the mid to late sixties but in 1963 jurisdiction for President Kennedy’s murder resided in Texas).

        Oh, yes – Johnson also ensured that no real investigation would take place by rushing the presidential limousine (a crime scene) back to the Ford plant in Michigan where it was cleaned up and the windshield, in which a number of witnesses reported to see evidence of bullet damage from the front, was replaced and destroyed. Thus LBJ engaged in a far more serious obstruction of justice than Trump is accused of (not that I hold any brief for Trump).

        And I haven’t even gotten to the Bobby Baker scandal which would have likely ended Johnson’s political career and sent him to prison. But the Senate investigation of this scandal was delayed in the aftermath of the assassination and investigation of LBJ was eventually dropped. Conicidence? Maybe. But it does raise some questions.

    2. LifelongLib

      IIRC #6 was a reference to J. Edgar Hoover. Don’t know about #3 but I suspect LBJ knew very well what Hoover could do to people Hoover didn’t like.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Didn’t LBJ also have a scar on his backside which he would show at the most inappropriate of times? You want to know the funny thing? When you stack him up against people like Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren you suddenly realized that he was a giant among them. He knew the system inside out, dazzled people in using it – and he actually got stuff done!

      1. ambrit

        Johnson also did things that he knew he would be excoriated for later; things like Civil Rights and Medicare, the Great Society and the Voting Rights Act.
        Today’s Democrat politicians don’t even come close to Johnson.

    4. ObjectiveFunction

      What, not one Teddy Kennedy wisecrack here re the car in the lake?!

      OK Boomers©, we’re really slipping here (rimshot).

      EDIT: The Twitterverse was all over it.

    1. Tom Doak

      You made me curious so I looked it up: in 1987, the Federal government decreed that all state and local taxes on jet fuel must be used to maintain and improve local airport facilities where sold. So they were very far-sighted, in heading off climate change activism.

  12. a different chris

    >UPDATE An actual surgical strike:

    OK, so the Iranians can pick off buildings more accurately than the US Postal Service can deliver mail, and our Great Military can’t manage to not continually blow up wedding parties.

    I’m not sure the tech gap is what we think it is.

    1. fdr-fan

      Yup. We should remember that Persians were building mechanical computers and robots in 1200 AD while we were in thatched huts. Persians have always been engineers.

    1. RMO

      Facebook’s COO posted on her own Facebook page “Great Teen Vogue article about five incredible women protecting elections on Facebook” “Incredible”… yeah, I would agree that they probably are lacking in credibility and are hard to believe given the job they are ostensibly doing and who they are doing it for. Seems odd that Facebook itself would agree though. Facebook is terrific!

  13. Carey

    January 7, 2020
    More Monsanto Roundup Cancer Trials Expected to be Postponed
    7, 2020 by Carey Gillam [note final paragraph]

    (UPDATE Jan. 8, 2020- On Wednesday, St. Louis County Court spokeswoman Christine Bertelson confirmed that one trial set to start Jan. 27 has been officially postponed with no new trial date yet set. That trial was to pit a woman named Sharlean Gordon against Monsanto. )

    Discussions are underway to postpone one or more highly anticipated Roundup cancer trials set to start in January, including trials scheduled for St. Louis, the former hometown of Roundup herbicide maker Monsanto Co., according to sources close to the litigation.

    Court dockets still show trials scheduled for later this month in St. Louis and in California courts, and court officials say they are still planning for the trials to take place on the designated dates. But multiple legal sources said the opposing sides were nearing agreements that would put off the trials by several months, if not longer. Attorneys for Monsanto and for the plaintiffs in the upcoming January trials declined to comment.

    The talk of trial delays is not unexpected. Bayer AG, the German company that bought Monsanto in June 2018, successfully negotiated the postponement of several trials that had been set for the fall of 2019 after losing each of the three trials held to date. Each involved plaintiffs who claimed their cancers were caused by exposure to Roundup and other Monsanto glyphosate-based herbicides.

    The juries found not just that the company’s herbicides can cause cancer, but that Monsanto knew about the risks and hid the information from consumers. Bayer has estimated more than 42,700 people have filed claims in the United States against Monsanto, which is now a wholly owned unit of Bayer.


    1. Wukchumni

      From 1858, Fort Tejon was the western terminus of the experimental U.S. Camel Corps, which used imported camels in an effort to carry supplies across arid regions in the Southwest. The soldiers found the camels hardy, but temperamental, and they spooked the horses used by the cavalry.


      Its easy to drive by Fort Tejon just right off the 5 freeway, but very worthy of a visit if you’re leaving Los Angeles or arriving via auto. Lots of interesting history to be found there.

  14. Bill Carson

    I am so relieved and happy that we avoided another endless war in Iran. Ten thousand soldiers’, sailors’, and airmen’s deaths were avoided because POTUS backed down.

    But I wonder what Trump’s base thinks? He looked #Weak and #NoEnergy at the press conference. #Sad.

    1. Acacia

      We’re not out of the woods yet on Iran, but I too feel a sense of relief that Trump chose to stand down.

      As for Trump’s base, my impression has been that many Trump voters supported him in part because, unlike HRC, he seemed to represent the possibility of peace. He made repeated noises about *gasp* negotiating with Russia and the DPRK. Of course, he went on the rain cruise missiles on Syria, green light the assassination of Soleimani, but he hasn’t yet overthrown any governments (as Obama did with Libya in 2011, and Ukraine in 2014). Trump did the sword dance with the Saudis, supports the war against Yemen, and has sucked up to Israel, but these actions seem more a continuity of standard US foreign policy.

      Then again, perhaps it is a minority of Trump supporters who really want peace? Are there any stats on this?

      1. False Solace

        > he hasn’t yet overthrown any governments

        This is a dubious statement. Trump has been actively trying to overthrow the Venezuelan government, he just hasn’t succeeded. And it would be naive to think there was no US involvement in the coup in Bolivia last year. Hillary routinely gets credit for helping to overthrow the government in Honduras, it’s not like it would be outlandish to give Trump similar credit given the multiple left wing governments that have been toppled on his watch, especially considering his employment of Elliott Abrams, the skull-faced ghoul who literally helped set up right wing death squads in Nicaragua and lied to Congress.

    2. JTMcPhee

      I’d say we should all not heave a final sigh of relief just yet. Lots more ways things could go pear-shaped. Gulf of Tonkin, and all that. And the Pentagram is such a big place, with so many parts and preferences, and who knows what belief structures regarding the almost infinite varieties of conflict exist there, how well the Iranian capabilities are actually understood and the weaknesses and real true actual strengths of those trillions of dollars of “capability” that the full faith and credit of this great nation have paid for…

    3. False Solace

      Avoided? Too soon to tell.

      If Trump doesn’t like the poll results he’ll just drone another foreign general.

    4. MK

      His base actually has a significant number that want the same thing – avoidance of meaningless loss of life in the ME. Something that most outside his base can’t grasp – since his base are legion – deplorable and all.

      1. jrs

        Odd since Trump signaled his policy of being confrontational to Iran in his campaign itself. Oh well, a voter hears what they want to hear and disregards the rest … and so on

  15. Appleseed

    re: “The Mid-Century Misfire That Was ‘Slum Clearance’ Tore Down Much More Than Tenements” The posted link took me to Business Insider Starbucks story. Correct NY Mag link

    1. flora

      From a 1961 book by Jane Jacobs: The Death and Life of Great American Cites.

      “There is a quality even meaner than outright ugliness or disorder, and this meaner quality is the dishonest mask of pretended order, achieved by ignoring or suppressing the real order that is struggling to exist and to be served.”

  16. Geo

    “the overlooked conservation potential of what they call ‘uncontested’ lands: millions of hectares of fallow farmland that is no longer valuable or particularly attractive to anyone else.”

    We’re reduced to using the thrift store model for our land protection now?

    1. Carey

      I hear you.

      “Always be spinning”, goes the refrain, as the planet dies.

      everybody say innovation

  17. Henry Moon Pie

    A data point that surprised me:

    On my son’s invitation, I joined him in attending a congressional delegate selection caucus held in our urban Rust Belt city. There were several hundred people there, including a lot of local and Democratic Party officialdom. The announced procedure was for the presider to announce candidates’ names in succession at which point their delegate candidates and other supporters would leave the auditorium to go to another room to caucus.

    The first candidate to be announced was Klobuchar. I swear that a third of the room got up and left. Next was Pete who garnered about a sixth of the room. Bernie was next with about the same number as Pete. What was left? About a third of the room which comprised the Warren and Biden supporters combined.

    So were many of those who got up after Klobuchar’s announcement just old hands and Biden supporters who knew where their caucus was located? Is a Klo-mentum building rapidly? People who were talking about it in the Bernie caucus were a little baffled.

  18. none

    Transcript of that Biden quote, partly from here via web search:


    Think about what you’re willing to do personally. You’re in a group,
    whether it is a tennis group, a golf club, a sewing circle, a reading
    group, wherever it is, and you got nine people in the group. And five
    of them have a view on where, in fact, we’re on, on a position. And
    four on the other side. And one of the five thinks that, well, maybe
    the four are correct. But unless they’re pretty damn sure that if they
    go with that other group, they’re gonna win, it’s not worth dying on a
    small cross. So what do you do? You stay away.

    I predicted once we found that we took back the House, you would find
    members of the House of Representatives who thought that some of the
    policies being proposed by the administration were wrong would start
    to step up. No sense in stepping up when you’re going to lose anyway,
    because then you’re in real trouble with your own outfit. But it
    becomes worth it if you step up and it actually changes policy. That’s
    what you [are] beginning to see in the House. And that’s [what] you
    begin to see in the Senate.

    “I’m not suggesting all of a sudden everyone’s going to project a new
    sense of courage and political courage. What I’m suggesting [is] that
    the dynamic changes when the right vote, as opposed to the vote you
    don’t agree with, becomes a possibility if you vote for it. But when
    it’s not a possibility if you vote for it. There’s no sense in doing
    it because all you’re doing is going to be ostracized by your outfit.
    And nothing’s going to change. That’s just the way human nature
    works, think about ityour own lives. That’s how politics works. And
    so that’s why I think you’re going to see even Mitch McConnell
    changing some ideas or being more — how can I say — mildly

    Mr. Biden paused before the words mildly cooperative. The crowd laughed.

    The guy is senile.

    1. jrs

      Well theorizing without regard to empirical reality at any rate, castles in the air .. the castles getting pretty darn elaborate, but nonetheless they are completely baseless, there is no evidence current Republicans can be worked with period.

      He may or may not believe any of his elaborations, he is paid to have some rationalization for right center policy afterall.

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      If only he would take his own advice:

      “No sense stepping up if you’re going to lose anyway”

  19. VietnamVet

    I’ve been in rocket attacks but it was random. I remember three. The closest destroyed the mess hall while I was sleeping. They were not 700 kilogram warhead ballistic missiles. The Iranian attacks are completely different. The September attack on Aramco oil facilities and yesterday’s attack were precise. There is no indication that any missile was intercepted. The targets were destroyed. Iran and Shiite militias have thousands of these missiles. Staying put is impossible. The only response for the USA is to withdraw out of Syria and Iraq or start WWIII. Donald Trump’s re-election depends on the withdrawal to Jordon and Kuwait going smoothly. Iran standing down. No further destruction of oil facilities and no sharp increase in gasoline prices. The assassination of the Shiite militia Generals was so stupid, it sure looks like Donald Trump will be a one term President just like George H. W. Bush. But if the Democrats nominate Joe Biden or another corporate candidate, they’ll keep losing.

    1. The Rev Kev

      From what I have read, a lot of US troops are spread all over in small packets. I think the Vietnam war had an equivalent with Forward Operating Bases which depend on air-power to make sure that they are not over-run. And like the ARVN back then, the present day troops are never quite sure about the loyalties of the Iraqis. I heard that in ‘Nam, helicopter gunners trained their machine-guns on off-loading ARVN to make sure none turned around to shoot up the helicopter and its crew.

      I do wonder what would happen if a lot of Anti Tank Guided Missiles, drones and Man-pads made their way from Syria to Iraq. Life in those US bases could become very problematical indeed. And those heavy missiles that you mentioned would be very useful as the US has conveniently put so many bases right next to Iran’s borders. Oh, I thought that the following might interest you. How many of these guys once said ‘365 days and a wake-up’-


      1. VietnamVet

        Over thirty years ago I attended the 173rd Airborne Brigade’s 20th Anniversary of being the first Army unit deployed to Vietnam. General William Westmoreland was the main speaker. I remember that he still didn’t get why the USA lost the war. In his list of accomplishments, he boasted that every square foot of South Vietnam was covered by artillery fire from the Landing Zones built throughout the country.

        The establishment never got that the USA was seen as a foreign invader there to reestablish the French colony. As long as there are Vietnamese, the people will resist occupation. It is no different today in Afghanistan or Iraq. The 40 year spat with Iran is over their failure to kowtow to the Empire and let western corporations extract its resources and Wall Street its finances. To answer Tulsi Gabbard’s question “What the family-blog is going on”, it is a never ending war for corporate profit.

  20. Wukchumni

    “A tennis group, a golf club, a sewing circle, a reading group.” Odd examples

    Take our over-the-hill ski club of blue bloods (not that kind of blue) ranging from 58 to 69 that i’m a member in good standing (with an occasional fall, like today going through some *&^%U& icy moguls, a ski came off and 3 women skiers were there to assist me, I had to ask one of them politely, if she wasn’t actually a dream) and as far as political matters go, one voted for Trump (which allows for maximum ribbing all in good fun) the rest for Hillary, and I cast my Presidential vote for Wink Martindale, absolving myself from the consequences, in theory.

    When you’re in a condo with 5 to 8 other people for 4 nights a month for 4 months, you really figure out where they’re coming from, last night most wanted to watch Rachel Maddow or MSNBC. They’re all really connected to the news as far as the mainstream goes, but none of them really look at the underbelly, the glass-bottom boat ride of passage.

  21. Wukchumni

    “What fossils will modern-day civilization leave behind?” (interview) [Nature]
    Ancient Roman sarcophagi were often so artistically over the top, like an objet d’art. When they find our coffins, they’ll be much utilitarian looking, with an important thing missing, in that in ancient times people were often buried with their wealth, about the best you can hope for aside from a pile of early 21st century bones in 7020 is a wedding band on a bony digit.


    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      I think there are quite a few of us buried in Cadillacs, etc. Probably won’t leave a nice artifact like gold or silver though.

    2. The Rev Kev

      For my own amusement, I once wrote a story about a future archaeological team excavating a site from the time of the big jackpot. They were able to date the graves that they found by the remains of mobile phones buried with them. My idea was that as things fell apart, people would take to their graves something that would represent to them a link with their former comfortable lives. Something that spoke about their identity as a person. These days that would be their mobiles.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Your story reminds me of an old Twilight Zone show. A phone line fell across a graveyard and crossed directly over the grave of an old woman’s fiance, killed many decades earlier in an automobile accident. The woman had caused the automobile accident that killed him. She had demanded he allow her to drive his car even though she didn’t know how to drive. Using the downed phone line he called her trying to talk to her from his grave

        1. The Rev Kev

          Yeah, I remember that one. It was called “Night Call”. Haven’t seen it since I was a kid but I remember it well.

  22. Whoamolly

    I would like to propose a “Crapification” category.

    Was Prompted to suggest this when my new-ish Levi’s came apart at seams after a few washes. I Discovered holes in my newish jeans the day after reading the ‘crapified mattress’ thread on NC.

    Turns out my Levi’s were made in Lesotho. A quick question to Mr Google found hundreds of similar complaints about crapified Levi’s.

    I would also like to propose an annual “Golden Turd” award to the year’s most crapified company.

    1. Wukchumni

      Mom would buy us a new pair of 501’s to last us all year and she had us put them on and take a warm bath in order to ‘shrink-fit’ them to our body. The material was so thick you could almost stand em’ up by themselves, and when eventually said pantaloons wore out, they’d turn into a pair of cut-off shorts.

      1. Whoamolly

        My experience too, long ago. My 505s made it through 3 washes before belt loops fell off and denim ripped at the corners of the pockets.

        Have ordered a new pair of jeans from a place in Ohio called All American Clothing company. For my money the only thing I trust Levi Strauss to do is tell great stories about their iconic place in American myth. They are damn good at story telling, at least.

        1. marym

          I’ve gotten jeans from All American Clothing, though they’ve discontinued the style I want, and haven’t added its replacement yet. I just wear them for everyday, not hard work, or sport, etc. They’re sturdy enough for that kind of use, though not what I remember of the good old days of Levi’s and Lee’s. that lasted forever.

          American Giant just has one men’s style. If they add a women’s style I’ll try it, as their hoodies and tee shirts are good quality.

          Here’s a list. Just found it on a search, don’t know any more about the brands.


        2. Whoamolly

          My nominees for Golden Turd of Crapification for 2019:

          Boeing for 737max

          Levi Strauss for Levi’s Jeans

          West Marine for customer service

          New York Times for Russiagate coverage

      2. ambrit

        My folks would buy me two pair of Farah slacks for school. Two pair of white, long sleeve shirts, three or four pairs of socks and a pair of black leather lace up shoes. That was Christmas for me one year. I still enjoyed the experience of going with Dad to the gentleman’s clothing store to try the shirts and slacks on. The things that children find ‘fun!’

    2. polecat

      Perhaps those jeans where mis-cataloged, being that holey/ripped jeans are mainly popular amongst the female teen crowd. I mean, who hasn’t witnessed some young thing, donning pants that appear to be in an unseemingly tawdry state of, how shall we say … ‘severe decomposition’.

      1. Whoamolly

        Nope. Standard old guy jeans i first wore decades ago. Past versions were high quality, lasted forever.

        The new versions (mine anyway) were made in Lesotho. After a few washes they are literally falling apart.

        But Levi sure has a beautiful web site. And the stirring story of iconic Levi jeans is printed in large print on the inside of the left pocket. Halfway around the waistband is a small label with smaller print: Made in Lesotho.

        My fear is that this crappy product might be a true icon of todays America.

        1. ambrit

          It indeed is a “True Ikon.” However, the pristine America you, and me really, pine for was sold off to overseas cheap labour manufacturers.
          That’s one of the “surprise” themes arising out of the Trump phenomenon; the re-rise of Nationalism. Americans, and, probably, any other “First World Country” denizens now see Globalism as the scam it is.

  23. Tim

    Absolutely the bill should be itemized. Once you do that you will quickly see with a calculator that the numbers don’t add up. Show up in person at the hospital billing office and complain bitterly about it, and they will make some equally arithmetically challenged deduction to your bill to get you to go away.

    I have no sympathy for Hospitals.

  24. The Rev Kev

    “Trump says Iran ‘appears to be standing down’ in address to nation”

    They are not standing down. If this was chess, then the Iranians just moved their pawn to Queen’s four.

    1. a different chris

      And the other Trumpeted crap — “they missed!!” “we knew hours ahead!!!”

      Does anybody believe that family blog? Of course no pushback that I heard from our stupid MSM, even though their very photos showed some damn accurate marksmanship. Not near the base, not in the base, but basically dead center on a freaking hangar. If they had a picture of one that missed I’m sure the DOD would have supplied it, instead.

      And hours ahead? Unless they have spies, and maybe they do, how were they supposed to know hours in advance where multiple missiles all of which have flighttime measured in minutes were targeted? Even with spies, I doubt the Iranian launch sites themselves knew more than a moment before launch what they were supposed to program into the GPS.

      1. ObjectiveFunction

        You know, Kabuki theater is pretty standard issue in wars, from the ceremonial posturings and ritual single combats of indigenous peoples to the contactless maneuvers carried out by Renaissance mercenary companies (by mutual agreement, to stay whole and keep collecting their pay). It is all more akin to gangland turf wars than to the vernichtungsslacht that has become standard for warfare since the Industrial / Napoleonic era. Quite violent locally, but strictly bounded, by unspoken agreement.

        And this style may come naturally to the Donald. The best piece I’ve read yet on Trump (What is Trump?) notes that his instinctive style is not fascist, but feudal and patrimonial, which is to say, personal:

        [Trump’s] struggles with the civil service are largely personal—matters of autocratic management—and have nothing in common with the cadre radicalization that helped shape the interwar fascist regimes, for Trump has no cadre organization at his command….

        He has operated less as a modern-bureaucratic party leader than as a patrimonial household head. Government run as a household, with little if any distinction between the public and private interests of the ruler, whose favours secure the allegiance of dependents and followers—was a form of rule designed for pre-modern, pre-capitalist societies. For him, the relationship of the staff to the leader is not an impersonal commitment to the office of state but ‘a servant’s loyalty, based on a strictly personal relationship’.

        This, not some TDS kompromat theory, would seem to explain accounts his natural affinity for charismatic strongmen like Putin, Li’l Kim, bin Salman, Modi and probably Netanyahu, and his disdain for party stalwarts and careerists like Merkel or Lopez-Obrador.

        But in Iran how does he cut Deals Bigly with a largely unknown claque of mullahs, paramilitary commanders/capos and bureaucrats? The few nameable personages: Khamenei, Soleimani, Rouhani (I had to Google him) take care to represent themselves as humble obedient servants of the Revolution (whatever that is….).

        With Ahmedinijad or Rafsanjani, Trump would probably have called a high profile summit, but it seems the Iranian elite has moved away from an imperial presidency.

        So with no Deal to make and nobody In Authority to make it with, his fallback is bombast, and largely symbolic acts of arms length violence, tit for tat. The Blob doesn’t really know what to do either: they only know how to wage total war, so they keep pushing for that. But body bags coming home to Youngstown and Kalamazoo doesn’t serve Trump’s interests either, and he knows it.

        Anyway, my scattered thoughts for what they’re worth.

          1. ObjectiveFunction

            You are too kind, and I have received many great insights from you, so glad I could oblige.

  25. richard

    Man, looking at that nauseating clip of Warren on The View, and Sanders mike drop on PBS, the difference could not now be more stark. Is anybody still trying to sell them as being “interchangeable”? Would make a cat laugh.

    1. The Rev Kev

      We could always send you Scotty from Marketing to help spice things up. He would be great as one of those lite-Republicans that the Democrats like to stand up for election these days.

    1. JBird4049

      Here’s to hoping that they bring back the House’s jail cells. Much of Congress’ increasing impotence is its refusal to do an ever greater amount of its responsibilities under its authority and using less and less of its power. People get mad at the various presidents for all the crimes they commit and the wars they are fighting, but 218 members of the House of Representatives and 51 Senators could block any new funding for wars, and if there were 67 Senators agreeing to it, along with the 51 Representatives, they stop the all the wars the United States is fighting next week.

      The President could be impeached probably within a few weeks, if they were serious, certainly with in a few months from the beginning to the ending subpoenaing all the witnesses, asking all the experts, debating, and taking the necessary votes in both Houses.

      But then all the Congressional support staff, the researchers, the advisory agencies created to help Congress is mostly gone. Perhaps, like with all the things Americans used to make and all the specialized stores that used to sell the stuff to the very Americans that had made it, Congress no longer has the institutional knowledge, the staff needed to help the legislators write up the legislation, or on hand advisory staffs needed to explain things to individual legislators and their staff.

      We are a Potemkin Country, yes we are.

  26. meeps

    The 13 Keys to the White House

    Some of the keys are hard to judge as true or false. My 2 cents:

    1. False.
    2. True
    3. True, *contingent on impeachment and removal. Big if.
    4. Sanders isn’t technically a third-party candidate or an independent campaign but what he’s trying to do is significantly different from the challenging party. I think a Sanders nomination would warrant ‘False’ for this key.
    5. Short term economy not in recession during the campaign. Whose economy? “Ours” is bifurcated.
    6. I’ve no citation for the long-term growth of the economy. Might the timing of this insane war-provocation be an effort to game keys 5 and/or 6?
    7. True; eliminating the ACA mandate. This key is limited to national policy change.
    8. False; protest over immigration cruelties has been quite visible. Russiagate in its original and transmogrified form is elite infighting, but it’s become a cause celebre, so there’s that.
    9. True, owing to 3, 7 & 8.
    10. False. If the incumbent administration suffers no major failure in foreign or military affairs after the events of the last week alone, words will have lost all meaning and there’ll be no use for talk of keys. Except for those you’d smoke.
    11. Military success. Again, by what metric? I rate the possibility of a “win” as low since the US military has not had one in the context of my lifetime. False.
    12. Incumbent charisma; a dangerously relative term as applied to this guy.
    13. No challenger charisma. To Be Determined, same peril as above. Sanders could falsify this one.

    Much of the six-key threshold depends on a Sanders nomination. The Democrats appear to have stalled on impeachment to remove him from his campaign at a critical juncture. Their treachery is unbounded.

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