2:00PM Water Cooler 1/9/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, I got wrapped around the axle trying to translate the New Left Review, so the politics section is a little thin. More shortly, as the press recalibrates from the war scare back to 2020. –lambert UPDATE All done

Trade

“Ship brokers expect tankers to resume normal operations in the Middle East before disruptions upend energy markets. Two major tanker operators suspended crossings in the Strait of Hormuz and oil giant Saudi Aramco was considering diverting its vessels, the WSJ’s Benoit Faucon… as the economic impact of the U.S.-Iran confrontation ripples across the region” [Wall Street Journal]. “Carriers will remain cautious but several brokers say they expect usual shipping patterns to resume before the end of the week.”

Politics

“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:

* * *

2020

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

We do not have new polls today, so yesterday’s YouGov poill is the most recent, 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:

Since we have nothing new, here’s the postage stamps view of the race:

The trendlines are pretty clear. I can’t imagine the political class is happy about them (though between the two candidates with obvious and continuous upward sloping numbers, Sanders and Bloomberg, they would doubtless brought to support the latter without much coaxing).

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.”

* * *

UPDATE Biden (D)(1): “Joe Biden’s free ride is over” [The Week]. One example: “Incidentally, of late Biden has taken to claiming that he opposed the Iraq War from ‘the moment it started,’ but as a July 2003 speech he gave at the Brookings Institution shows (‘I voted with my colleagues to give the president of the United States of America the authority to use force, and I would vote that way again today. It was the right vote then and it would be a correct vote today’), that is a straight-up lie.” • It will be interesting to see who, if anyone, brings this up in debate.

UPDATE Biden (D)(1): “Fact check: Biden again dishonestly suggests he opposed the Iraq War from the beginning” [CNN]. • This is not the kind of headline your campaign manager likes to see. From CNN, of all places!

UPDATE Biden (D)(3): “‘Past Due’: Court Declares Hunter Biden The Father Of Child In Arkansas” [Jonathan Turley]. “In the order, [Arkansas Circuit Judge Holly Meyer] ordered the Arkansas Department of Health to issue a birth certificate listing Biden as the father. Biden has children by at least three different women. [Former GW student, 29-year-old Lunden Alexis Roberts] filed papers that portrayed him as a deadbeat father, stating that Biden ‘had no involvement in the child’s life since the child’s birth, never interacted with the child, never parented the child,’ and ‘could not identify the child out of a photo lineup.’ The next hearing is set for January 29th on child support. That could create some fireworks as Biden has resisted disclosures of his wealth — information that could reveal how much he received from dubious Ukrainian and Chinese contracts.” • Pass the popcorn. Of course, if this were Trump’s son, the cries of kompromat would be deafening, as would the Op-Eds by the woke.

Bloomberg (D)(1): “Katy Perry Talked Politics with Mike Bloomberg During Beverly Hills Dinner: Source” [People]. “Perry, who campaigned for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016, ate with Bloomberg at Wolfgang Puck’s CUT in the Beverly Wilshire hotel in Beverly Hills, California, a source tells PEOPLE…. Bloomberg has already notched one celebrity endorsement this week after Judge Judy — real name Judy Sheindlin — endorsed the billionaire businessman.” • Celebrity endorsements get the political class excited. I don’t think they move the polls.

UPDATE Bloomberg (D)(2): “Bloomberg won’t release women who sued him from secrecy agreements” [Bloomberg]. “Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg told ABC News this week he will not take any steps to release women who have signed confidentiality agreements with his company to speak publicly about past allegations that the former New York City mayor fostered a hostile work environment for some female employees. ‘You can’t just walk away from it,; Bloomberg said. ‘They’re legal agreements, and for all I know the other side wouldn’t want to get out of it.’… ABC News has spoken with several women who expressed interest in telling their stories who were subject to confidentiality agreements, but said they feared the prospect of facing retribution from the company for speaking out.” • It will be interesting to see if liberal Democrats are willing to work themselves into contortions to avoid the #MeToo implications (and no wonder Bloomberg doens’t want to face a debate stage).

UPDATE Bloomberg (D)(3): “Maybe Nominating Bloomberg for President Isn’t a Crazy Idea” [Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine]. “Bloomberg would be a seriously flawed candidate. But the campaign seems to be exposing all the candidates as seriously flawed, while frequently generating new flaws as they and their supporters tear each other to shreds. Whoever survives the primary, which still has months to go, will face a well-funded incumbent president benefitting from a mature economic expansion he inherited. Winning the presidential election is starting to look hard. How about buying it instead?” • Breathtakingly pragmatic!

Buttigieg (D)(1): “Mayor Pete’s Invisible Black Police” [The Root]. “Buttigieg repeatedly says he demoted [Black Police Chief Darryl] Boykins because Boykins was the ‘subject’ or ‘target’ of an FBI investigation—but the U.S. attorney has never confirmed that Boykins was the ‘subject’ or ‘target’ of their investigation. Pete’s chief of staff confirmed that the U.S. attorney never said it in a deposition. He also insists that Boykins’ demotion had nothing to do with race and he has yet to comment publicly on the fact that DePaepe’s secret legal documents quote police as saying he agreed to get rid of Boykins before he even became mayor. No one knows why Buttigieg pressured Boykins to resign and subsequently demoted him. The only thing we know is Buttigieg’s explanation that Boykins was the target of a federal investigation is not true. It was never true. Still, Buttigieg—or proxies from his campaign—continue to repeat it.” • For this to stick, it needs to be written on a postcard to avoid seeming like a Benghazi-level hairball. But the details are very, very ugly for Buttigieg. More on the same theme–

UPDATE (D)(2): Thread:

Nobody from Newark seems to like former Mayor Cory Booker very much. But they aren’t coming after him seeking vengeance justice, either.

Sanders (D)(1): “Bernie emerges as growing threat to Biden” [Politico]. “The Biden campaign has specifically courted the endorsement of community leaders in Iowa who backed Sanders in 2016. They’ve sought to combat Sanders’ recent habit of rolling out star surrogates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with their own A-list surrogates. And last week, Biden’s five-day Iowa bus tour heavily concentrated on the eastern part of the state — the biggest regional battleground between the two candidates because of its concentration of working-class voters…. Biden snagged several endorsements that went to Sanders in 2016, including Waterloo pastor and African American leader Frantz Whitfield, former AARP Iowa director Bruce Koeppl, Sioux City state Rep. Tim Kacena and Linn County Supervisor Brent Oleson.” • Biden is Biden. But his campaign’s not dumb, as the numbers show.

Sanders (D)(2): Huge:

UPDATE Sanders (D)(3):

UPDATE Sanders (D)(4): “We will create a government that represents the working class, not billionaires” [Bernie Sanders, Des Moines Register]. First and second paragraphs: “As the Feb. 3 caucus approaches, Iowans face a choice: Are we going to settle for a status quo that is leaving so many behind? Or are we going to come together to finally transform our country so that our government works for all of us? Our grassroots campaign clearly represents the latter — which is why polls consistently show us defeating Donald Trump, who is the most dangerous and corrupt president in modern history.” • That is an extremely elegant pivot to electability. Also, it’s nice to see “working class” in the headline, and not much like “working families” or “everyday Americans” or other focus-grouped mush.

UPDATE Sanders (D)(5): “Shadow group provides Sanders super PAC support he scorns” [Associated Press]. ” Bernie Sanders says he doesn’t want a super PAC. Instead, he has Our Revolution, a nonprofit political organization he founded that functions much the same as one. Like a super PAC, which is shorthand for super political action committee, Our Revolution can raise unlimited sums from wealthy patrons that dwarf the limits faced by candidates and conventional PACs. Unlike a super PAC, however, the group doesn’t have to disclose its donors — a stream of revenue commonly referred to as ‘dark money.'” • There was controversy that OR was a 501(c)(4) at the time of its founding. More: “Our Revolution has taken in nearly $1 million from donors who gave more than the limits and whose identities it hasn’t fully disclosed, according to tax filings for 2016, 2017 and 2018. Much of it came from those who contributed six-figure sums.” • A million dollars over three years? Really? Still, the Sanders campaign needs to clean this up, pronto. (NOTE: I first saw this on the Twitter from Buttigieg volunteer — possibly quote unquote volunteer — accounts on 538’s feed. Either AP was watching, or they managed to place it. If so, good job by the Buttigieg campaign.)

UPDATE Trump (R)(1): “A popular theory for Trump’s popularity among Republicans appears to be wrong” [Philp Bump, WaPo]. “To Democrats, the level of support for Trump within his party seems occasionally baffling. How could someone they hate so much be viewed so positively by the other party? Over the course of Trump’s presidency, a theory emerged: He’s so popular among Republicans because Trump-skeptical Republicans have simply given up on the party. Wring all the skeptics out of the party, and you’re left with a more unanimous, if smaller, core.” • However, party identification numbers pre- and post-Trump are more or less the same.

Warren (D)(1): “Elizabeth Warren’s ex-husband founded DNA testing company” [Washington Examiner]. “Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s ex-husband co-founded a DNA testing company and wrote one of the first computer codes for making genetic comparisons…. One of the two other co-founders of his testing company, FamilyTreeDNA, has worked with Carlos Bustamante, the Stanford University geneticist who administered a DNA test at Elizabeth Warren’s request. Bustamante, a Stanford University geneticist, conducted the test… Rather than using a commercial service to conduct her DNA test, Warren hired Bustamante, 43, who appears in the video explaining the test and in a scene in which the Massachusetts senator telephones his office and asks to speak with him.” • Gad. I suppose I should have put this together, but the initial fact set was so bad anyhow. What possible justification can there be for using a family friend to run the test? (What would Warren say about the same set of relationships between a bank and its auditors, say?) Put in its very best light, the episode shows what we know, that Warren’s political judgment is terrible.

* * *

Liberal Democrat ballot-gaming in California looks like it’s working:

This is important to the Sanders campaign, which wants to expand the electorate, which surely includes getting Independents to vote in the Democrat primary.

“I am a Republican, and I hope the Democrats pick a candidate I can vote for” [Shield Bair, WaPo]. • If you’re “the former chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and [have] held senior appointments in four Republican and Democratic administrations” you can say that. If you’re some working class schlub in a swing district, you can’t.

Our Famously Free Press

Before the Iowa caucus, ffs:

Smells of desperation.

Impeachment

“Trump Says He Doesn’t Plan to Block Bolton: Impeachment Update” [Bloomberg]. “Trump said he doesn’t plan to block his former top national security aide, John Bolton, from testifying at a Senate impeachment trial, but that he would need to protect his executive privilege. He told reporters on Thursday that it’s up to the Senate to determine whether he should testify. ‘I don’t stop it,’ Trump said. But he said he needs to ‘protect presidential privilege’ for himself and future presidents. He said he’d have to consult with lawyers about whether Bolton’s testimony would present a problem. ‘When we start allowing national security advisers to just go up and say whatever they want to say, we can’t do that,’ Trump said.” • True, at least going by past precedent.

The Debates

“Des Moines Register, CNN moderators announced for Tuesday’s Democratic Presidential Debate” [Des Moines Register]. “CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, CNN political correspondent Abby Phillip and Des Moines Register chief politics reporter Brianne Pfannenstiel will moderate Tuesday night’s Democratic Presidential Debate in Des Moines. It will be the final debate before the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3, when the first votes are cast in the presidential nominating race. Five candidates have qualified for the debate so far: former Vice President Joe Biden; former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; and U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Other candidates have until the end of the day Friday to meet the donor and polling threshold requirements to qualify.” • Only five? (Then again, if you look at the charts above, the debates don’t seem to giving any candidate much of a pop.)

Realignment and Legitimacy

Democrat hearing on the ballot and Ballot Marking Devices unsurprisingly turning into a debacle:

Hard to imagine why the Democrat establishment would want to enable election theft on a national scale by funding insecure Ballot Marking Devices. Not.

“Trump is a Criminal, But the Democrats Belong to the Same Mafia” [Black Agenda Report (NippersMom)]. “The Democrats, like their corporate and banking masters, are determined to preserve the neoliberal economic order – the global Race to the Bottom in which U.S. workers compete with super-exploited workers in the developing world. The only difference is that the Democrats would ‘integrate’ the management of this dwindling wage economy through a policy of racial and ethnic ‘diversity.’ Same downward destination, but with multi-colored overseers.”

“AOC Is Right: She and Joe Biden Should Not Be in the Same Party” [Jacobin (Nippersmom)]. “In any other country, the diehard far-right Trump team, the self-proclaimed “respectable” but austerity-crazed Republicans like Paul Ryan, the Biden-Buttigieg-Clinton-Obama sphere of big-business-friendly social liberals, and democratic socialists like AOC and Sanders would sort themselves into four different parties. These four parties would then run competitively in general elections, presenting four different visions for the country’s future to voters. In the seventy or so congressional races on average, for example, that are won by less than a ten-percentage-point margin, the main fight might come down to a race between Ryans and Bidens. In the remaining 365 seats, elections in today’s solidly red districts might come down to fights between the Ryans and Trumps, while in today’s solidly blue districts, Bidens would face off against AOCs. The end result might be similar to the makeup of Congress today, with no party having a clear majority. Coalitions could then be entertained, via formal negotiations with clear pacts arranged between parties. But the critical advantage in this arrangement would be that general elections would test the popularity of four very different political programs before a critical mass of voters. Instead, in the United States today these vital battles between very different visions happen in low-turnout primaries in which few voters weigh in. Worse still, the political loyalties of candidates are usually unclear, and kept purposefully so by many candidates afraid of alienating voters. As a result, most people in the ballot booth have an understandably difficult time sussing out which political faction within the existing parties a candidate might belong to.”

Stats Watch

Shipping: “AAR: 2020 Picks Up Where 2019 Left Off” [Railway Age]. “The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ended Jan. 4, 2020, and, for this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 414,014 carloads and intermodal units, down 5.1% compared with the same week last year.” • Handy chart:

Retail: “Walmart Inc. is turning to robots to help break a logjam caused by the combination of physical and online commerce… joining a growing field of grocers deploying automation behind the scenes to improve efficiency in finding, picking and packing goods for delivery” [Wall Street Journal]. “The systems are part of the expanding use of robotics to solve operations puzzles that arise as retailers blend stores with digital sales efforts. Goals include cutting labor costs and filling orders faster. Alert Innovation says the average store worker can collect around 80 products from store shelves an hour, while the Alphabot system of tall stacks and wheeled robots can handle 10 times that figure.” • Hmm. Amazon has not, apparently, hired Alert.

The Bezzle: “The SEC proposes to “modernize” auditor independence rules” [Francine McKenna, The Dig]. “Barbara Roper told me: ‘Instead of acknowledging ongoing violations as a sign that the audit firms are willfully ignoring the law, in the absence of strong deterrent-level sanctions and individual punishments, and stepping up enforcement to provide that deterrent, the SEC and PCAOB propose to weaken the auditor independence rules.’ ‘If audit firms aren’t willing to maintain their independence, and regulators aren’t willing to hold them accountable, at a certain point investors are going to start asking whether it is really worth paying for the not-so-independent audit.'” • Yikes! Important piece (and only part one).

The Bezzle: “Grubhub has built up distribution and software capabilities but its revenue has been declining. Now, the company is tapping financial advisers to help with a review that could include a sale or acquisition, if it makes any moves at all” [Wall Street Journal]. • What a shame. No IPO.

Tech: “Amazon Doubles Down on Ring Partnerships With Law Enforcement” [The Register]. “In an interview at the annual CES conference in Las Vegas this week, Amazon’s top hardware executive said he’s proud of the program, believes the partnerships with police departments are good for neighborhoods, and hinted at a future in which Ring cameras could use Amazon’s facial recognition technology—a scenario that some of Ring’s critics have already expressed concerns about. Dave Limp, chief of Amazon devices and services, says Ring has partnered with well over 400 police and fire departments around the US and that he’s a ‘big fan’ of the devices’ ability to boost community policing efforts. ‘I’m proud of that program, and I think we’ll continue to do it. If anything we’re putting more resources on it,’ Limp said.” • Only in America would we privatize the Stasi.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 93 Extreme Greed (previous close: 92 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 97 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 9 at 12:21pm.

The Biosphere

“Seaweed ‘forests’ can help fight climate change” [National Geographic]. “[A] new study that for the first time quantifies the global capacity of large-scale seaweed farming to offset terrestrial carbon emissions and maps areas of the ocean suitable for macroalgae cultivation…. Farming seaweed in just 3.8 percent of the federal waters off the California coast—that’s 0.065 percent of the global ocean suitable for growing macroalgae—could neutralize emissions from the state’s $50 billion agriculture industry, according to the paper published Thursday in the journal Current Biology.” • Holy moley!

“A year’s diary of reckoning with climate anxiety, conversation by conversation.” [New York Magazine]. “Some scientists say the best way to combat climate change is to talk about it among friends and family — to make private anxieties public concerns. For 2019, my New Year’s resolution was to do just that, as often as possible… [As] it turned out, people wanted to talk about it. Nobody was silent. I listened to their answers. I noticed the echoes. I wrote them all down.” • This is very good, although definitely through a PMC lens.

“Like sending bees to war’: the deadly truth behind your almond-milk obsession’ [Guardian]. “Like most commercial beekeepers in the US, at least half of Arp’s revenue now comes from pollinating almonds. Selling honey is far less lucrative than renting out his colonies to mega-farms in California’s fertile Central Valley, home to 80% of the world’s almond supply. But as winter approached, with Arp just months away from taking his hives to California, his bees started getting sick. By October, 150 of Arp’s hives had been wiped out by mites, 12% of his inventory in just a few months. ‘My yard is currently filled with stacks of empty bee boxes that used to contain healthy hives,’ he says. This shouldn’t be happening to someone like Arp, a beekeeper with decades of experience. But his story is not unique. Commercial beekeepers who send their hives to the almond farms are seeing their bees die in record numbers, and nothing they do seems to stop the decline.” • Monoculture, yay!

“Struggling to breathe in 48217, Michigan’s most toxic ZIP code” [Detroit Metro Times]. “Garrison is among more than 7,000 people who live in 48217 — the most polluted ZIP code in Michigan. The community is inundated with a toxic stew of chemicals wafting from steel mills, coal-fired power plants, gas flares, billowing smokestacks, towering piles of coal and petroleum coke, a salt mine, wastewater treatment plant, and one of the nation’s largest oil refineries — all looming over schools, neighborhoods, parks, senior centers, and a recreation center. A nauseating stench of rotten eggs, burnt plastic, and gasoline permeates the air.” • But sadly: “It wasn’t always like this. In the mid-20th century, the Tri-Cities was a working-class community teeming with Black-owned grocery stores, restaurants, hotels, banks, pharmacies, flower shops, car dealers, and even a hospital. Unlike many areas of Detroit, large sections of the Tri-Cities didn’t have racially restrictive covenants that banned all but white people from homes and apartments. Drawn to the Motor City by the booming auto industry, tens of thousands of Black people fled the Jim Crow South and moved into the area’s modest bungalows in the 1950s and ’60, becoming first-time homeowners. For many of them, a century after slavery and still in the midst of segregated schools and neighborhoods, the American Dream was finally within grasp.”

“Double Environmental Injustice — Climate Change, Hurricane Dorian, and the Bahamas” [New England Journal of Medicine]. “Climate-change–driven hurricanes tend to inflict two types of environmental injustice. One is that socioeconomically disadvantaged and racial or ethnic minority populations experience disproportionate harm, loss, and life changes. The increased severity of climate-change–related storms portends a worsening impact on marginalized people that can exacerbate preexisting health gaps and social inequities. As Dorian moved over the northwest Bahamas, for instance, the most severe destruction affected thousands dwelling in shantytowns on Great Abaco Island. Many of those affected were undocumented migrants…. [A]fter Hurricane Maria, many rural, disadvantaged Puerto Rican municipalities struggled without electricity for as long as a year. The death toll rose steadily into the thousands, as frail, elderly, and chronically ill people died preventable deaths. Disparities in health, as measured by multiple indicators, were magnified. At a more fundamental level of environmental injustice, the contribution of island-based populations to global carbon emissions is negligible.” • Everything’s going according to plan!

Now is the time to think about trees!

And soil! I could have put this under Groves of Academe, too. Thread:

Health Care

“US Healthcare Industry Creating an Endless Shitstorm of Money-Grubbing Bureaucracy and Paperwork, Study Finds” [Vice]. “Capitalist though [(?)] it may be, the U.S. healthcare industry is a bureaucratic, inefficient and unnecessarily complicated mess, which has created a highly lucrative paper-pushing industry that is unnecessarily costing already-broke Americans hundreds of billions of dollars a year, according to a new study published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The healthcare industry’s bureaucratic administrative costs set Americans back $812 billion in 2017, or just under $2,500 per person. Another way to think about those numbers: 34 percent of all U.S. costs related to ‘doctor visits, hospitals, long-term care and health insurance’ essentially came from paperwork, according to the analysis, which was performed by researchers at Harvard Medical School, the City University of New York at Hunter College, and the University of Ottawa.” • Hey, careful! That paperwork is somebody’s rent!

Groves of Academe

“A scandal in Oxford: the curious case of the stolen gospel” [Guardian]. As indeed the article points out, this could be an Inspector Morse mystery. Here is the opportunity part: “There is a rough, handwritten catalogue of the entire collection, on 12cm by 7cm index cards, as well as photographs, which gives a rough indication of what each fragment contains. Editors have not usually been forthcoming about the details of the unpublished material, fearing an onslaught of interested academics. For scholars outside the charmed circle, who wonder what gems lie in wait, that can be frustrating. For a criminal, it might create an opportunity. The fewer people who know what is in the collection, the easier it might be to pilfer from it.” • The motive would have been money….

Class Warfare

“Empire, Twenty Years On” [New Left Review]. Long and extremely dense, as is NLR’s once. This, IMNSHO, is the key paragraph:

[T]he concept of class can be used to grasp the effects of subjection created by relations of domination, not only with respect to capital but also with respect to white supremacy and patriarchy, in the interests of not only the working class but also the racial class, the sex class and others. Second, it is important to stress that the concept of class is employed here not only as a descriptive claim but as a political call to those subjected to patriarchal or racial hierarchies to struggle together, as a class. Finally, and this is the point most difficult to confront: to recognize a plurality of classes dominated and struggling in parallel fashion is a step forward, but is not enough. The notion of ‘multitudinous class’ or ‘intersectional class’ that we seek requires a further step: an internal articulation of these different subjectivities—working class, racial class, sex class—in struggle. Intersectional analyses commonly address the need for articulation between the subordinated subjectivities in terms of solidarity and coalition. Often this repeats an additive strategy: working-class plus feminist plus antiracist plus lgbtq struggle, plus . . . In other words, even when intersectional analysis refuses additive notions of identity, an additive logic can still govern activist imaginaries. One weakness of this approach is that the bonds of solidarity are external. What is needed are internal bonds of solidarity—that is, a different mode of articulation, going beyond standard conceptions of coalition.

Let us illustrate this key condition—the internal relations of solidarity in this multitudinous class—with three theoretical examples.

Integrating “classic” notions of class with intersectionality seems necessary — when not polluted with aspirational “voices” pushing “diversity” — but frankly, the portion I underlined above, seemingly meant to displace with notion of “allies” (rightly) doesn’t mean much to me, and the examples following don’t help (since they are not examples of where the concept, whatever it may be, actually worked). I think the Sanders campaign has the right of it in their catchphrase “the multiracial working class,” and it may be that practice is outrunning theory. Perhaps a reader who speaks leftish better than I do can give an interpretation.

* * *

USA! USA!

“Afternoon of the Pawnbrokers” [The Baffler]. “The phrase “redemption ratio” rang through my head on the bus ride home. It seemed to me that I had unwittingly exited the realm of New York leftism where Marx ruled as an absent godhead, poised forever to vengefully return. Here in the land of Weber, like a good American Protestant, I would suck at the scum of petty usury, unredeemed yet restored to my unfortunate roots. I had entered the pawnshop that day a broke and desperate person; when I left, I was a subprime lender.”

“Mike Davis on the Crimes of Socialism and Capitalism” [Jacobin]. For example, India: “Due to the famines in the 1870s and the 1890s, population growth [in India] slowed so much in some regions that it didn’t recover until Independence in 1948, after World War II. India’s always depicted as a teeming country, but these were very large-scale disasters. Regionally they were equivalent in terms of population loss and destruction of productive resources to the era of the Black Death in Medieval Europe, or even to the Mongol invasions. But they occurred on the watch and through the deliberate policies of the most powerful industrial nation in modernity. Modernization, which Indians paid for with their own taxes, did little or nothing for ordinary Indians. In fact it had the perverse effect of abetting a speculative market in grain, converting an environmental event into a famine that caused mass death.” • Well worth a read.

“Mobility: Real and Perceived” [City Journal]. “Americans, by and large, view the market economy as fair: if one works hard, poverty can be left behind; and wealth is generally deserved by those who have accumulated it. In other words, Americans believe in and endorse the American dream. Even after several decades of widening income inequality in the U.S., Americans don’t show much of a taste for greater redistribution, as shown in a study that one of us conducted in 2015, possibly because they don’t think that government can do it well and fairly….. According to the World Value Survey, a respected international study of socioeconomic views, 70 percent of Americans believe that the poor can escape poverty if they try hard enough; only half of Europeans share this view. Even low-income U.S. respondents (especially whites) generally share these American views and don’t tend to favor redistribution, compared with the European poor.” • Hmm. From “a leading free-market think tank…..”

“Think Debtors Prisons Are a Thing of the Past? Not in Mississippi.” [The Marshall Project]. “ississippi appears to be the only state where judges lock people up for an indefinite time while they work to earn money to pay off court-ordered debts. While there is no comprehensive data, legal experts who study fines, fees and restitution say Mississippi is unusual at the very least.” • Sounds like an opportunity for a new start-up to bring this model to the rest of the country!

“Union Library Workers Call on Executives to Meet ‘As Soon as Possible, as Long as Necessary’ to Prevent Strike” [Cleveland Scene]. “More than 400 union library workers voted yesterday to authorize their bargaining team to strike. If Cleveland Public Library leadership fails to demonstrate meaningful commitments to staffing and safety in ongoing negotiations, the workers may issue a 10-day notice of an intent to strike at any time.”

News of the Wired

So Neera Tanden won’t have to have an intern manage her list of the blocked?

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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 (IM):

IM writes: “The neighbourhood amanita muscaria is back! This year it was joined by its obnoxious and deadly poisonous cousin amanita Phalloides, which continues its colonization of the west coast. Mushroom hunters, beware…”

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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.

159 comments

  1. a different chris

    Hey Ms Blair (waves!!): Guess what, I’m a nobody and my vote counts exactly* as much as yours! In other words, I don’t have any reason to give a s(family blog)t about your opinion!

    You’re welcome.

    *Well, assuming you don’t live in somewhere like Wyoming…

    Reply
    1. neo-realist

      I suspect that Bair, in spite of her desire for structural change in the financial sector and for reduction of the impact of big money in politics, is a lost cause as far as Sanders goes. I believe her Republican and Free Market ideology doesn’t jive with Sanders’ New Deal/Great Society type program leanings and initiatives. She couldn’t be bothered to say a word about him even though I’m sure she very aware of him and wants big change as well.

      Don’t waste a lot of energy on her and find more winnable targets.

      Reply
    2. Carey

      Intereresting that it’s the Democrats™ who’re always supposed to reach around the aisle to our warm, humble, and generous
      Rupublican servants for a bipartisan™ solution to whatever ails
      the plutocracy… they’re still able to sell this tripe?

      Democrat™ Party’s convention in July’s gonna be great.

      Hoping, after Sanders is unpersoned, for a Democrat GE turnout
      of under 20%.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        I’m sure that you meant to say ‘reach across the aisles’ but when I think about it, reach around would indeed be more accurate.

        Reply
  2. kimyo

    (reuters)

    Citing an extensive review of satellite data, one official said the U.S. government had concluded with a high degree of certainty that Iranian anti-aircraft missiles brought down the plane.

    there is a full-court press on to blame iran for the downing of the ukrainian 737-800. what i’d like to know before leaping to any conclusions: did prior maintenance include examination of the pickle forks?

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      My question was whether the sanctions had affected Iran’s ability to maintain planes successfully. Especially if this one had a bad record, as apparently it did.

      As for whatever the intelligence community has to say, especially if the evidence is digital, that, and a dime, will buy you a cup of (bad) coffee.

      Reply
          1. David

            Not really. The conflict in Ukraine is far to the East, hundreds of kilometres from Kyiv which is the MOB of the airline. The airline itself has a good safety record, and this flight was itself a codeshare so western airlines presumably think it’s OK.

            Reply
      1. Titus

        Lambert, might as well get with the neolib program I’ve learned so much about here (and believe) and say $5.00 without the tip will get you a bad cup of java.

        Reply
    2. Louis Fyne

      Here is actual footage (alleged, unverified, yada-yada, etc) cell phone video of the actual missile strike. your mileage/credulity may vary

      https://t.me/PS752

      amazing what gets captured when HD cameras are ubiquitous.

      Reply
    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It went down near Tehran.

      Either an accident technically to do with the plane itself, or it was shot down (could be accidental as well, or intentional)

      If the latter, likely the missile or missiles came from a short distance away; else, a longer flight would likely have been detected (shown up somewhere) for the duration en route (and warning given) on some missile approach warning system, I would assume.

      Reply
    4. The Historian

      My computer crashed just as I was posting, so forgive me if this is a double post.

      Our MSM is going all out on trying to imply that Iran did it way before they have any real information, aren’t they? Anything to convince us of how evil Iran is, I guess. I read somewhere that when the press repeats a story often enough, that people will believe that story over facts.

      One of the details that you will not find in any of those current MSM stories is a time line – you will have to go back to the very first stories to find when things happened in Iran. For instance, earlier stories said that the Ukrainian jet crashed at 2:46 Iranian time, and that the missiles were fired from Iran between 1:45 and 2:15 AM Iranian time. Sooooo – did one of their missiles just float around for half an hour looking for a target? That hardly seems reasonable.

      Details, details! But compared to a good conspiracy theory, what do the details matter?

      Reply
    5. TroyIA

      Three possibilities that I can think of are

      1. The airplane experienced a catastrophic failure that led to an explosion and instantaneous communication loss (possible but extremely unlikely)

      2. A bomb was smuggled on board and brought the plane down (possible but I have no clue as to Iranian airport security)

      3. The airplane was intentionally shot down. If someone has a better understanding of the anti-aircraft defenses please speak up as I am just repeating what I’ve read. The 737-800 sends out a signal that identifies its flight number and that it is a civilian airliner. This signal is picked up by radar and the identity of the airliner is displayed on the radar operators screen.

      Also the anti-aircraft battery was allegedly a few miles away from the airport. So the radar operator had to see the airliner take off on his screen as well as pick up the airliner’s indentifer signal. IF all this is true then there is no way this was an accident. It was intentional.

      So why shoot down a plane and why does the US insist it was an accident? We can’t discount that there are different factions in Iran. One side is pushing for war and one side wants to deescalate. By removing Soleimani the US might have just unleashed an internal power struggle in Iran.

      Reply
      1. rowlf

        Also the anti-aircraft battery was allegedly a few miles away from the airport.

        I have some stupid questions. If an anti-aircraft battery is near a commercial airport wouldn’t the control section of the AA crew also be listening to the airport’s air traffic control radio transmissions? Ya know, because most of anything they see on their systems since forever is either arriving or departing? Wouldn’t they also be familiar with the approach/departure paths? Wouldn’t they also kinda keep an eye on the airport’s scheduled departures even if delayed?

        Reply
        1. TroyIA

          All valid points so if the airliner was actually brought down by a missile I just can’t see it being an accident. The best idea that I can come up with is someone in Iran wanted more than a face saving gesture and attempted a false flag attack in order to blame the US and unleash a wider conflict.

          Reply
            1. TroyIA

              What I was thinking was at that time everyone was on high alert. Someone in Iran shoots down an airliner and blames the US. During the confusion it would be decided by Iran to quickly launch a counter attack however whoever is in charge in Iran didn’t take the bait and told everyone to stand down. Like I said before there may be different factions in Iran who are trying to achieve different goals.

              Reply
      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        4. The plane was accidentally shot down, a theory the US seems to be pushing, adding to the surrealism.

        But the plane was heading North, was it not? Out of the country? Hardly seems like an attack pattern….

        Reply
      3. fajensen

        Well, one can always have morons tasked with manning AA-defence systems a lot smarter than the crews are – Ukraine has shot down between 2 and 3 civilian airliners (the last one being disputed).

        If they were planning to launch missiles, the AA-defence orders would have been to leave the search/targeting RADAR On and the ‘Missile Launch’ Off. To not to fire at their own missiles.

        It is possible that someone left the switch in the wrong position or that someone got a bit paranoid, expecting an imminent American return strike, and ordered the AA-defences ‘live’.

        The US will by now have processed and filtered all the satellite-, RADAR-, RF- and ‘Intelligence’, data that they have collected. This is a war-zone, “we” have people there, there is just no way that every sensor array that “we” possess is not ‘Live and Collecting’. The data analysts will have seen the AA-missile signatures and they will know where they were launched from, probably what kinds of missile it was too.

        If the official US opinion is that is was an accident, it could be because they also got the swearing of the Iranian AA-commanders over the radio or because it is convenient for everyone to close down the matter here. Only some ‘little people’ died, no biggie, happens all the time, tough world and all.


        Why civilian airliners chose to fly inside of an active war-zone … maybe their management takes out life insurance on the PAX’s and hope for the best!?

        Reply
    1. Phemfrog

      the part i don’t understand about this narrative is that 82 of the passengers were IRANIAN. That is the largest cohort, followed by Canadians. No Americans at all. Also, why shoot it down so close to home (where the wreckage can do so much damage)?

      so IF this was a missile, then it must have been an accident. what else makes any sense?

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        People with MANPADs which are so well distributed by the International Arms Bazaar — there’s all kinds of scenarios, like “cells” injected/built in Iran by one Skulldugger “Agency” or another.

        It’s not easy to fire a MANPAD “by accident:” Here’s a quick video tutorial for the US War Machine’s “Stinger,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0nuhI05QyA

        There’s like tens of thousands of these things floating around, thanks to the profit generation of Raytheon, the manufacturer, and its licensees in places like Turkey and several others, and other countries produce their own flavors. Check the Wiki article on the “Stinger,” dozens of national forces have them, including the “three I’s,” Iran, Iraq, Israel, and Pakistan, and even UNITA which was a CIA-sponsored terrorist group. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIM-92_Stinger All thanks to the MIC’s State Department-“overlookedseen” Foreign Military Sales Program.

        You can bet that the CIA and CENTCOM have distributed them to their fave “freedom fighters,” as was done with the predecessor “Redeye,” to help the Hajjis kick the Russians out of Notagainistan. And the US MANPADs are only one among a dozen or more weapons of the same sort produced by other weapons makers/countries.

        If it turns out that a missile brought the plane down, one hopes that the forensic team will be above reproach and get to the site before the generators of “Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt” have a chance to jigger the “evidence.” See “MH-17.” Several parts of the missile would survive the explosion, then it’s a matter of tracing provenance (assuming no one has made these things “black ops” fashion, outside the normal supply chain (like the “ghost guns” that are starting to plague what passes for “society” these days, and the rest of the play toys of the Secret Squirrel ba$tards who play their rotten games for who knows what kinds of obscene and vicious reasons.)

        CIA view of “the news:” “We’ll know we have succeeded when nothing that the public believes is true.” And they are not the only players in that game.

        Stupid effing humans.

        Reply
        1. Carey

          If one wanted to “change the narrative” on a dime, what would be the easiest way to do that?

          everybody say “MH17”

          Reply
          1. Yves Smith

            FYI I now happen to regularly hear NBC Nightly News. Tonight. The lead story was that the US is saying Iran shot down the 737 by accident. They then go through a long list of historical incidents of passenger planes going into contested/war zones and being shot down by accident.

            MH17 was included as an example. I nearly fell out of my chair.

            Reply
            1. Acacia

              a long list of historical incidents …

              To quote Ian Fleming: “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.”

              Reply
      2. Misty Flip

        From photos of the debris on the ground, I could see the port side wing had elongated puncture marks from the top moving downward and inward toward the fuselage. The port bow area of the fuselage behind the cockpit also had these marks in a 45-degree pattern from upper bow to lower stern. This damage band is not, not consistent with the disc-like annular blast fragmentation of a continuous-rod warhead found in S-300, Sayyad-2, Ra’d, or similar systems firing from the ground. — Engine fragmentation would strike the fuselage at the midline and below.

        If one were to throw a bunch of rocks up into airspace filled with objects, rocks guided by the fuzzy logic of a PID controller, and the people who threw the rocks lack deconfliction training because their rather faith-based leadership views recklessness as a deterrent, then somebody’s going to get bonked.

        Reply
        1. PlutoniumKun

          According to Wikipedia, the Tor missile uses a 15kg HE fragmentation blast warhead – this is presumably because it was originally designed to strike small targets such as drones and missiles, continuous rod warheads aren’t so good at this.

          The first photo I saw showed some fuselage with quite distinctive puncture marks, a fragmentation explosion outside the fuselage was my first thought. I’ve no idea if this could be caused by an engine fragmentation, but from what I’ve read in the past, blade failures usually involve quite large discreet chunks of blade flying out from the engine.

          But only time will tell.

          Reply
      3. wilroncanada

        63 of the passengers were Canadian citizens. But 128 of the passengers were bound for Canada. Many, both of the Canadians (many of Iranian origin), and the Iranians, were students, or visiting family in Iran. Some of those Iranian and Canadian citizens, were part of the opposition to the Mullahs now ruling. Some go back to the Shah’s rule pre-1980. It is a lot more complex than just nationality.

        Reply
    2. chuck roast

      This will all be very confusing with he-said, she-saids and everybody accusing everybody else. I’m sure that we can all agree that we need an impartial investigative body on the scene. An organization with impeccable credentials. A body that is beyond reproach. A group as pure as the driven snow and for which no criticism of it is even possible.

      You are correct.

      That organization would be the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

      Reply
      1. Carey

        Time to read Stewart Ewen (pretty boring, good ideas) and Marshall Berman again.

        subsumed by digitalia

        they’re laughing..

        Reply
  3. EMtz

    “US Healthcare Industry Creating an Endless Shitstorm of Money-Grubbing Bureaucracy and Paperwork, Study Finds”

    This was exactly the case here in México, plus rampant corruption. So the center left President terminated the patchwork public program and replaced it with something Federally coordinated and breathtakingly simple. Any resident, including non-citizens, who does not have private health insurance or is not covered by social security can walk into a public clinic or hospital with their Federal ID number and a photo ID and receive care on demand. For *free*. No sign-up. No qualifying. Nada. And the care here is amazingly good! Nearly half of Méxicanos live below the poverty line and this government’s consistent policy has been to implement policies to lift the poor. If a country practically on its knees economically can do this, any country can. It just takes political will.

    Reply
      1. EMtz

        The change was implemented on January 1, 2020. The former system, Seguro Popular, was Federalized kinda but the States had a lot of say in how care was delivered. In some cases even municipalities within a State had different rules. Not any more. It’s fully coordinated at the Federal level. This includes purchases of medications which is where a lot of graft took place. They also have eliminated the annual fee that many people were charged which varied widely across the Republic.

        https://m.arenapublica.com/politicas-publicas/el-insabi-mas-que-remplazo-del-seguro-popular-una-reforma-de-ensueno-con-serias-dudas-de-fondo?fbclid=IwAR3E3D5SNlTKxpJrs1J8INRUwReJaLENojpgwasN7F5ifM5vhGbzb7Pj5NU

        Sorry the link is in Spanish but cutting and pasting into Google Translate works.

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the hippie

          I wonder if they take Texans, perhaps with a modest premium?

          ….which is the most painful sort of irony…
          I’ll be certain to include your narrative in the feedstore symposia: “well…Mexico managed to do it….”

          Reply
          1. EMtz

            I am sure some people who’ve been skirting the law and living here with a succession of tourist visas are going to suck it up and apply for a resident visa.

            I do have a concern about this, and it’s the financing. But AMLO has cut so many sources of corruption and excess spending in the government that I bet he can pull it off. He has some excellent people advising him. And of course México is not supporting a giant military-industrial complex with tax dollars.

            Before I was eligible for Medicare when I lived in the US, I went without health insurance because I could not afford the premiums – even tho’ my one “incident” in 8 years was a sprained wrist. “Your age”, they said. To live in a relaxed country with such a joyful point of view about life and a government now that actually sees itself as serving the people is lengthening my own life – with or without health care coverage.

            fwiw. Best wishes.

            Reply
            1. lanikai

              I was wondering how many here on NC live in mexico…I have just moved here and would love to connect…maybe a mexico meet-up.

              Reply
              1. EMtz

                It’s a big country with pockets of expats living all over. One meet-up wouldn’t really cover it.

                Speaking personally, I’m eligible to become a Méxican citizen in 20 months. Once that happens, I may renounce my US citizenship. Still deciding about that. Already, my interest in US politics has waned considerably. México is my home now.

                Reply
    1. Carolinian

      I’ve been told by our Water Cooler host you aren’t supposed to talk about Biden’s (or Strom’s I guess) hair plugs. That was some time back

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I do think that focusing on a candidates personal appearance is, in general, a rat-hole, demeaning for the poster, and worse, not effective politically (hence there are opportunity costs for real empowerment). It’s easy and lazy. I know, I did it for years!

        That said, when I read the comment, I thought it meant Biden “looks like” Thurmond politically. There’s a case to be made for that, given the other Senators Biden is nostalgic about working with.

        Reply
        1. Carolinian

          I’d say it speaks to the same trait in both men–vanity–and therefore at least a little bit worth talking about if not all that interesting. But I try to stick to house rules and was never a big fan of the John Simon school of criticism in any case.

          Reply
      2. Carey

        My comment on Biden was initially a visceral one, though I’d
        forgotten about that particular issue (really). The connection I made
        shortly after seeing that photo in the Politico piece was between those two
        persons’ physical appearance in their later years, and the, yes, *policies they carried out* over time, for very select groups.
        ‘Callous gentility’ is not a great descriptor, but that’s what initially comes to mind, and I think it’s both significant, and fair game for political conversation. In Biden’s case, Student Debt and Bankruptcy Reform™ *should be* millstones..

        This is not well-written, but the thoughts are accurate enough, for discussion’s sake.

        Reply
      3. Big River Bandido

        I assumed the comment was a reference to the apparent decline in Biden’s mental acuity, which people also noted about Storm Thurmond.

        Reply
        1. Carey

          That was part of it, and my take is that the compartmentalizing
          (whew!) necessary to take those actions requires a lot of psychic energy that one doesn’t necessarily have in the later years. “Splitting” might be the term? Biden *is* suffering*, and I don’t wish that on anyone; just wish he’d get off our collective throats, so we can be compassionate.

          *hence his insane doubling-down: “I am the most pwogwessive, least racist, never supported Iraq War,
          yadda-yadda..” He’s feelin’ it.

          Reply
  4. KLG

    Amanita muscaria

    Amanita phalloides

    Genus capitalized, species lower case, italics. Sorry. Biology nerdship sometimes escapes, and I just can’t think of our political economy today.

    And while I’m at it, for Wendy Brown and others, that would be Homo economicus. Not homo economicus.

    Peace!

    Reply
  5. Louis Fyne

    Grubhub is public already (sorry to nitpick).

    And surprise, charging restaurants 15% – 20% of the total tab to process carry out orders isn’t a viable business strategy when in the pre-smartphone days it took 45 seconds to order Chinese food and have it delivered in 25 min. as long as you had to suffer with the horrors of talking to a live person, and paying cash.

    Reply
    1. JohnnySacks

      And mail order food doesn’t travel all that well, but if that’s your thing, fine. I worked for a service Grubhub consumed and even in the small-ish market it served, it required a lot of close customer support to manage drivers, pickups, and destinations to hit that 30-45 minute delivery time.

      Reply
      1. Carey

        ..imagine if all this overlord-facilitating energy went instead in other, quite focused directions (there could be more than one at a time, I think)..

        heh

        Reply
        1. wilroncanada

          I would rather go to a restaurant far less frequently, but go into the restaurant, order food there, and consume it there. since so many are ordering takeout to pick up themselves or have some peasant third party provider deliver it for a surcharge, there is lots of seating space in the establishments. I can take my pick of seating. Had a good conversation with a server yesterday, comparing her restaurant’s offerings with the two fast-food places nearby, and the coffee-shop/snackery next door. The prices at the snack bar and fast food joints are about two dollars cheaper for ostensibly the same food items (about $20. including tip), but only hers are real food made from scratch on the premises. Where are peoples’ heads?

          Reply
  6. L

    Why You Need to Know Our North Star of Religious Freedom Ethics Daily (CL).

    While it is not mentioned in the article it is worth noting that Jefferson was so proud of this accomplishment that he wanted it listed on his tombstone. The book “The Godless Constitution” by Kramnick and Moore notes that and shows how it set the bar for the later bill of rights.

    Reply
  7. Sol

    “Amazon Doubles Down on Ring Partnerships With Law Enforcement”

    Wasn’t 2019 already just a little on the nose there, Lex Luthor? Calm down, we get it.

    Reply
  8. David

    If the extract from the NLR article is any guide the Left ™ is in an even worse state than I thought. It seems to be an attempt to twist the traditional concept of class as groups with an objective relationship to the means of production (employer/employee or shareholder /worker) and invent completely artificial classes of people who all feel subjectively oppressed. Trouble is that most of these sub-groups feel oppressed by each other, but we’re working on that and we’ll get back to you. After all political action can only change the world : the role of theory is to explain why that’s not possible.

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      aye. I read that when it came out(which seems a long time ago,lol).
      I like those guys, although i never got around to reading their books…and i think(!-the density!) i agree with them on a lot of things(like the utter lack of a global governing/taxing/regulatory/union/democratic structure to counter the supranational engines of capital(wto,BIS, et alia are wholly owned puppet shows, meant to fend off any such movement to true cosmopolitanism)
      it takes a certain…mood…to read that kind of thing…the jargon is impenetrable without the mood…and a quiet house.
      but the issue of “who are we?” is an important one.
      from a less dense link this morning:https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/oureconomy/what-does-class-mean-21st-century-britain/
      ” Many constituencies were initially made up of small working towns composed of neatly raked lines of Victorian terraced houses orbited far away by tiny picturesque villages and farmlands. Come the ’70s, the lure of open spaces brought the reproduction of cul-de-sacs in sporadic waves, each bringing with them residents who sought property ownership and presumably held it as a priority if not a virtue. Enabled by the complete ubiquity of cars, these housing estates service nearby cities as much as the towns themselves and have often continued to expand until they butt up against the next town. What once appeared as a constellation of towns and villages now seems like a tangled net of housing, motorways and supermarkets. Even the town planning, no doubt designed to increase the amount of space per household, effectively optimises atomisation.”

      could be talking about houston, dallas, san antonio, austin, and even beaumont/orange. Atomisation isn’t conducive to solidarity…especially with the operant conditioning/imperative of hyperindividuality, and the incessant buttonpushing of post-post-modern IdPol.

      add in twitter, faceborg and such, with it’s surreality and pretensions of representation,and the siloing of all and sundry into disparate reality tunnels, and we’re well and truly screwed….unless enough of us take the trouble and make the time to actually talk to our fellow humans…..which, as my fieldwork clearly shows, can be done…but it ain’t easy.
      …and it would have had to have begun in earnest as soon as these other mindwarps came online.

      Reply
      1. Henry Moon Pie

        Once upon a time, urban neighborhoods were established with residential and industrial blocks in close proximity. My neighborhood, built toward the end of the 19th century, is like that. It’s a very sensible setup because many workers could just walk to work.

        The problem was that when cops were sent to bust up a picket line and a strike, they had to travel through those working class neighborhoods to get to the struck factory. The spouses of the striking workers would throw things from their upstairs apartments down on the cops and scabs. The Most Dangerous Man in Detroit, a biography of Walter Reuther, describes these battles in the 30s during the very successful organizing drives of the UAW, and the union organizers used this tactic intentionally. The whole community was involved in warding off The Man, and the effects on solidarity are obvious.

        Now those “industrial parks” are located far away from any workers. Even better for the bosses, we have entire cities that are so expensive that workers must commute dozens of miles to get to work.

        Reply
    2. YPG

      While I agree about the left being in trouble, I don’t think it’s such a big deal to call these other groups classes. Women have a shared interest in any system that seeks to elide or soften penalty for sexual violence, whether that’s in the form of socail/political institutions (i.e. courts, law enforcement) or informal devices (i.e. ‘bro-codes’, boys club mentality) that protect male power. This can pretty easily be extended to other groups with legitimate grievances.

      The truth that I’ve gleaned from modest reading on the subject is that socialist movements- in the roughly Marxist framing David used above- often didn’t take these concerns to heart. This may have been because of plain ol’ racism and misogyny at times, while I think that other times the socialists working in Marxist traditions just didn’t have a theoretical foothold to incorporate these criticisms- in other words, a failure of imagination. Left discourse, when earnest, over the past four decades or so has been trying to ameliorate this issue. And it seems to not be getting far, judging by the NLR article.

      I read the rest of that section that the excerpted paragraph was taken from and all it seemed to say is that we need to understand these individual class structures internally, by their own criteria and then somehow (?) form a broader ‘multitudinous’ class conception. Then we can, like, take over the world or something. The fact that the writing is often so overwrought just makes the whole thing more frustrating.

      Reply
        1. YPG

          I think the progression of history has lead to a certain amount of power congealing in men’s favor. I think this initially takes the form of loose networks that form in societies that over time turn into institutions as societies grows in size and complexity. Examples of these could be tribal councils, guilds, professions, public institutions, etc. I also think that this congealed power can become encoded into things like laws, protocols, organizational structures. When this occurs the outcomes of the actions of these institutions can be biased towards a certain societal groups- and I think this is really important- without most or any of the members of the institution being themselves bigots. The process itself, the organizing principles, is where much of the power lies.

          I do think this has been the case for men, in general, but that doesn’t mean that each man wields a significant amount of power over any given women. Power is the aggregate effect and I do believe that men have more power even now than women do and so, in aggregate, this means that women have a shared interest. In the US, there is a real concerted effort to control women’s reproductive systems, for example. Many write off the right-wing politicians trying to do this as merely being cynical actors trying to get political leverage with conservative Christians but the evidence doesn’t bear this out much. Many states have successfully made abortion functionally unobtainable. Congressional republicans are urging the supreme court to reconsider Roe v. Wade. The motivation to actually control women is there and it is to fair degree successful. That is unquestionably a sphere of male power, at least in the US. Maybe you don’t live in the US, though.

          With regard to my first paragraph a short, engaging read that shows a historical process like what I’m describing is “The Origin of Family, Private Property, and State” by Friedrich Engels, though much of it is dated by now, I’m sure. But it provides a lucid picture that can get the imagination working. A second, definitely not dated book that touches on both the previous paragraphs is the excellent ‘Caliban and Witch’ by Sylvia Frederici. I think you can easily find both as free PDFs, if you look around.

          Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > somehow (?)

        Exactly. One does have to meet people where they are, hence intersectionality (in a real-er sense, not in the PMC “how can I run my diverse globalist corporate meeting sense).

        But when I’d fought through the article, I didn’t see the “somehow.” Clearly [X] _____ allies as a construct is fabulously destructive, treating as it does identity siloes as if they were sovereign, but what’s the alternative? What actions to take?

        Reply
        1. YPG

          I don’t think it’s there. I don’t think they know what it is and I find this section (I didn’t read the whole essay) a little sad because the authors must think they’re clearing the brush and giving the people focused on the actual shoe-leather organizing something to transform into action. But any shoe-leather organizer is already aware of this seemingly immense challenge.

          But I wouldn’t tell the authors that because they’d say I clearly don’t understand their work and then say I need to read Althusser or Lukacs or something like that. It’s very frustrating business dealing with this ‘theory’ crowd. The fact that their language is hard to parse has been built into Continental Leftist writing for decades, some might even argue centuries. That’s how they can play the ‘clearly you don’t understand game.’ Sorry, I think I’m just griping now.

          I don’t think intersectionality as its often constructed offers us any good way forward. Kimberle Crenshaw, who developed the concept, meant it to intially be applied within a legal framework- at least, that’s my understanding. This has not caught on in the American legal system- though its legal applicability seems like one area in which it might be germane. However, the legal system is a bourgeois (or PMC, if you prefer) institution as it is constructed under capitalism so I don’t see how a method meant to be applied to such an institution would mean much in a broader class struggle. The fact Crenshaw has spent her entire adult life in Elite institutions leads me to suspect that she has a hard time seeing through an upper-middle-class framing of these issues as being fundamentally about political rights rather than economic power. To some degree, she’s a reprasentative of the class strata that Reed is talking about in the other article you linked to.

          I think essentially good-ol-Marxism and working class politics is needed to smash through the neoliberal order. Adolph Reed Jr. has influenced my thinking on this greatly.

          Reply
    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > If the extract from the NLR article is any guide the Left ™ is in an even worse state than I thought. It seems to be an attempt to twist the traditional concept of class as groups with an objective relationship to the means of production (employer/employee or shareholder /worker) and invent completely artificial classes of people who all feel subjectively oppressed. Trouble is that most of these sub-groups feel oppressed by each other, but we’re working on that and we’ll get back to you. After all political action can only change the world : the role of theory is to explain why that’s not possible.

      Thanks for the translation. Though I think “subjectively oppressed” is doing some work, there.

      Reply
  9. Hepativore

    So, two questions. Since Sanders is gaining momentum against Joe Biden, will Obama step in, and what can he conceivably do to try and prevent Sanders from winning? His comments on preventing Sanders from becoming the nominee were well-publicized and so any interference on his part might hurt his “legacy” that Obama is so worried about. Plus, I am not sure Obama could do anything that would even hamper Sanders at this point. (In public, anyway.) Obama could wag his finger in admonishment as much as he likes, and all it would do is make him look even more out of touch.

    Reply
    1. Carey

      Obama’s there to put a public face on what will be done privately,
      through “our” voting machines.

      I’ll write a little more about my recent experiences with Our Electoral
      System here in California soon, I think. So fun!

      Reply
    2. Jeff W

      Here’s Krystal Ball of The Hill, “Obamaworld moves on Bernie,” referring to a piece in the Daily Beast “Obamaworld Hates Bernie—and Has No Idea How to Stop Him”—or maybe has no idea how to stop him without appearing like the anti-democratic, out-of-touch, neoliberal, corporate/lobbyist élites that they are.

      Sure, it makes President Obama look more even out-of-touch, as he seeks to preserve what might be considered to be, on so many different levels, a disastrous legacy, but, really, more so, it confirms Bernie Sanders’s message—these people can’t appear to be stopping Sanders without validating the well-founded idea that, well, they’re out to stop him.

      Reply
        1. Acacia

          Obama knows the DNC will cheat Sanders, so he can say he’ll support Bernie and sound all magnanimous. It’s no threat to Brand O.

          Reply
        2. Jeff W

          Thanks, Rev!

          I’ll interpret that to mean that President Obama or his surrogates (or both) will do whatever they can to derail a Sanders nomination but, if all else fails, he’ll support (or, at least pay lip service to supporting) Sanders should Sanders become the nominee. Obama, quite honestly, almost doesn’t have a choice about the latter—failing to support whoever the Democratic nominee is would be construed as both a betrayal of the party and a tacit endorsement of a second Trump term.

          Of course, it’s still mind-boggling, horrifying—and completely unsurprising—that the party élite is in an utter panic over the one nominee who has broken records in terms of campaign donations, effortlessly fills stadiums with enthusiastic crowds, beats the Republic opponent consistently in head-to-head polling match-ups, has the highest favorability ratings of any national candidate, and pursues a agenda that is both genuinely popular and is firmly within the New Deal tradition. That’s far more telling than President Obama supporting him in the end.

          Reply
        3. Amfortas the hippie

          suddenly, i’m required to train ai to recognise fire hydrants.
          new policy at youtube?

          and this:”Of course, it’s still mind-boggling, horrifying—and completely unsurprising—that the party élite is in an utter panic…”

          yes indeedy.
          down to brass tacks, now, and the human suits start to fray and sag.
          perhaps they can fix that in editing..

          Reply
    1. Bugs Bunny

      It would be pretty easy for me to vote in November if it’s Mayo Pete.

      Meaning I won’t.

      Abstention is a clear signal. I wish the streets would start sending one as well.

      Reply
      1. Carey

        I’ve been thinking since around 2018 that abstention’s the way to go,
        too (I’m a slow learner). Through the Dem Convocation in July, though (and *maybe* after) I’ll work for Sanders.

        Reply
  10. Gil Schaeffer

    Speaking leftish, Marx in the Communist Manifesto said that the development of the working class leads it to form a political party. The Sanders movement is that proto-party. It’s not that the Sanders movement is practice moving ahead of theory, but that intersectional theory is the wrong theory. The old political theory of Marx and Engels, that the working class movement is ” the self-conscious movement of the immense majority, in the interest of the immense majority” that must “win the battle for democracy,” is as true now as it was then. Democracy is the internal bond of solidarity that unites this movement.Democracy is not additive but integrative.

    Reply
    1. Carey

      My surmise is that five and seven-syllable words (everybody say “intersectionality”, rah-rah!) are part of the problem, part of Why We Lose;
      and not part of any potential solution for the Many.

      Maybe there’s a real good reason- one above my pay grade- for why
      the Right doesn’t need these complex formulations, but the Left does..
      someone fill me in.

      I think that article would get Henry Giroux’s well-fed approval, though,
      so there’s that.

      Reply
      1. Acacia

        Agree. This piece is so laden with academic jargon — e.g., “multitudinous” (Hardt and Negri), “articulation” (Althusser), etc., —, that even reading one paragraph makes me feel that’s the goal: to promote new forms of jargon. In this case, it’s “a different mode of articulation”, combining the perceived merits of “intersectional analysis” with additive goodness.

        This emphasis on jargon for its own sake (“hey, I need to get tenure, too”) goes a long way to explain the current predicament of academic liberals.

        Reply
        1. Carey

          Thank for this comment. My reading is that the goal is not
          new jargon (though that’s a happy side-effect, for some; worthy of new, ever-deeper, better-funded™ Analysis)) but
          Stasis itself. I didn’t read the whole thing, though, ’cause I didn’t want to get too much of that spattery stuff on me..

          well-graduated, well-fed losers- they’re fine with that.

          not for Us

          Reply
          1. Amfortas the hippie

            i can generally slog through such stuff, but yeah…may as well be speaking Akkadian in the feedstore.
            I’ve worked for years to translate all that…as well as ordinary Lefty, and Liberal, language… into simple redneck english. both for clarity, as well as to avoid all the triggerwords these folks have been programmed to respond to(social, collective, collaborate, etc).
            as i’ve said before, Social Gospel/Jesus Speak works pretty well…avoid Paul, go straight to “Least of these” and the epistle of James.
            luckily, i’m more familiar with KJV, which the majority out here respond to(Catholics are two whole different animals: poor/hispanic, and rich white/mean)
            FDR-isms play pretty well, too…especially among people with farm/ranch backgrounds of any depth.
            and anything with jimmy stewart or henry fonda generally has language that one can use.
            is anyone else in non-neoliberal-land working along similar lines?

            Reply
            1. Carey

              Thanks for this comment. WRT your least sentence, I’ve had some recent small, surprising successes in that way, which’ve been heartening
              enough for me to keep trying, in my way.
              My take is that *everyone knows* what we have
              is not working; even those benefitting directly
              from it. Phase change *is* coming, whether it’s two
              months or two years from now. As my hardscrabble Cajun friend used to say: “better get right, My Man..”

              Reply
            2. Sol

              Yes. Since you mention Jesus Speak, I’ll say society has all gone very Tower of Babel.

              Which is an interesting tale. It reminds me of the boy who cried wolf. That’s the story most people seem to think of as the tale of “don’t fib for funsies ‘coz you’ll get eaten *finger wag*”, and I think of as that story about grownups losing their sheep and a village child while washing their hands of responsibility and even feeling morally superior about the result of their inaction.

              I don’t think people “get” the Tower of Babel. (I could be wrong. These things happen.) It’s either the origin story of diverse human languages, and thus an oral myth handed down for thousands of years to answer a question no one asked, or it’s a morality tale about getting too big for our britches. That latter’s a neat and popular moral for morality tales, but it doesn’t really explain what languages has got to do with anything.

              I think the story describes how and why civilizations fall. They lose the ability to talk with one another. Human language is almost individualized. Words don’t mean the same to everyone, they’re based on context. As you say, certain words trigger certain reactions/definitions in people’s minds. Heck, ‘trigger’ is a perfectly serviceable word that I find must be avoided in select company, lest that word alone get me labeled “left-sympathetic”.

              The construction workers at the top of the tower start having language that diverges from the engineers in the middle of the tower, the teachers and scholars and priests from the lower levels of the tower, who in turn diverge from the housewives, farmers and herdsmen outside the tower. People lead fractured lives, and their language fractures accordingly.

              Which, going back to the boy who cried wolf, is really rather interesting. If a strange dog is scared or angry, if my cat is sick, I can understand these animals. Humans are social and allelomimetic, we have a knack for figuring out communication with proper motivation. So how is it that I can understand my cat is asking for a drink of water, but my neighbor – who speaks the same native English as I do – can’t understand what I say unless I carefully lay a base of social etiquette to lubricate the process, and then phrase it exactly so?

              I figured out what you’ve referred to, that people must be addressed in their own language, so to speak. Jesus Speak for some, Reagan and Twain and Einstein quotes for others, and in very special circumstances I get to really open the throttle on my vocabulary. The really weird part is that there’s still a great big enormous voluntary element that cannot be gotten past. Humans understand exactly what they decide to. No more.

              I suppose it wouldn’t be fun if it weren’t a challenge.

              Reply
              1. Titus

                Sol, well the Babel story can mean just about what you want it – within reason, and that is good, that is a good way to read the Bible in general. For what it is worth clearly the story/fable is a warning. I read it as a disconnect with each other and the world and what happens. The ‘jackpot’ would be another example. As to the poetry of Amfortas, blessed as always to hear his thoughts, here in Michigan I use a lot of what Abe Lincoln said, like we are citizens not voters and such, and the teachings of Jesus, who said in the end to give up on the Bible and follow only the way – love each other even if should cause your death. Saying ‘love’ out loud has an amazing affect if not effect.

                Reply
                1. tegnost

                  Thank you Sol and Lambert.
                  I am so using this word with the tds crowd, completely unconcerned that they will know what I’m saying…

                  Reply
            3. diptherio

              I am, and I do. I tend to focus on bread-and-butter economic issues like the cost of healthcare and housing. I don’t lean too much on the Jesus stuff, although I’ll definitely pull it out if that’s obviously someone’s frame of reference, but here in the Pacific Northwest, folks aren’t nearly as pious as I hear they are down South.

              Reply
      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > why the Right doesn’t need these complex formulations, but the Left does..
        someone fill me in

        I think part of it boils down to funding. Neoliberals control entire academic departments and think tanks. So they have the money and time to hone their talking points.

        Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Speaking leftish, Marx in the Communist Manifesto said that the development of the working class leads it to form a political party. The Sanders movement is that proto-party. It’s not that the Sanders movement is practice moving ahead of theory, but that intersectional theory is the wrong theory.

      Presumably some of those knocking on doors have said “working class” and “multiracial working class.” So we should have some data at some point (especially if the canvassers are DSA).

      Reply
    3. @pe

      I don’t see how the immense majority can be self-conscious. The immense majority is busy working and have a locally limited view-point, while elite minorities have the time and money to get a broad overview and act in a self-conscious collective manner. The majority can be locally conscious, which is why you’d get globally self-destructive but locally advantageous behaviors like racism, sexism, etc, since those will give you a local advantage against other sub-groups in the same economic class, even if at the global level that is self-destructive.

      I’d guess that if you formed enough collective social structures like the left had back in the first half of the 20th century — educational forums, self-insurance, health care assistance, etc — then it may be conceivable that those structures would create some form of collective consciousness, like many religious groups have done through the centuries. But even that is iffy, since that’s part of the locus where these issues kept on popping up last century.

      I’d honestly and sadly suggest that history has indicated that the Marxist theory of a self-conscious movement has failed, which is part of why attempted socialist societies have historically failed to keep from becoming (fairly quickly) an elite dominated bureaucracy.

      Of course, intersectionality doesn’t solve this problem either, and may even exacerbate it by creating a serious of conflicting social support groups that never capture the majority and thus interfere with the creation of such institutions.

      And of course the theory of an avant-guarde is shown to not work — as soon as you build that, they become a separate class with their own interests in conflict with the majority.

      But I’m a pessimist, I guess.

      Reply
    4. Bugs Bunny

      In French, there is the expression “convergence des luttes” meaning approximately that all the oppressed factions – unions, students, retirees, the poor, minorities – come together in the streets to overthrow the regime. In comparison, intersectionality seems like a bunch of academic journal articles coming together to confuse and not get anything accomplished.

      Reply
  11. jrs

    Ha twitter thread wonders why CA voters don’t just reregister Dem and if they are just being prideful. But how naive can you be if you just assume simple stuff like that really works smoothly in CA of all places, just because you follow all the rules, and meet all the deadlines? My, my, the astounding naivete.

    I mean yes ideally it’s the best thing to do *maybe*, but I already did it, WEEKS AGO. My registration seems there in L.A. county but as for the state data it’s lost baby lost, I used to be a registered voter and since re registering I am there no more, no evidence to be found I ever was a registered voter for any or no party.

    Reply
        1. Carey

          I plan to, once it’s beyond the hunches/feelings realm.
          Guessing you’ve seen ‘Uncounted’, but if not, it’ll
          take the viewer right to the vibe.. nothing’s changed,
          IMO.

          “it’s all so confusing!”

          Mmm..

          Reply
  12. The Rev Kev

    “Maybe Nominating Bloomberg for President Isn’t a Crazy Idea”

    They may be right. Nobody really likes the idea of a billionaire buying the Presidency. That is what smoke-filled back rooms are for. But if it does not work out with the Democrats, why he could slip seamlessly back into the Republican party and offer himself as an alternative to Trump should he be seen as too toxic for 2020. Maybe the Vice presidency if that does not work out.

    Reply
  13. JTMcPhee

    I started a hare yesterday with my bit on my experiences at West Marine. I just have to add to it. The young company started selling other companies’ boating products at a discount with lots of stock on hand. As time passed, West started selling lots of items under its own brand. At the beginning, these were pretty good products, like Pelican flashlights with the West Marine label applied. Crapification sets in, inexorably. So that the MBAs and marketers who ran the place down started first having knockoffs made in China that violated intellectual property laws left and right, but at least sort of worked. Then came the “loss leader” scams. For example, rechargeable “waterproof” hand searchlights, with sealed lead-acid batteries. These sold for half or a quarter of similar QUALITY products, and did bring traffic into the stores from the advertising. But less than half the batteries would take or hold a charge, the “waterproof” was a lie, and the switch mechanisms were thin bits of stamped steel that corroded and broke. Labeled as “West Marine” though, and people still believed in the brand, so a lot got sold. Made a lot of customers pissed off, of course, and there was a little training for sales people on how to defuse customer anger and cross-sell them to a higher priced product. Some longstanding customers just stopped shopping at West.

    Some sales and marketing execs came to the store I worked in. I challenged them on the decision to stock and push this crap. “Doesn’t it hurt the company to do this, to send out a product that you know will fail and result in a return and an angry customer?” The reply: “You don;t understand — we’ll have the use of their money from the time they buy the thing until the return clears, and some people won;t bother to even return it for a refund.” Lose a little on each deal, make it up on volume.

    Another was fishing gear. The MBA types did their market research and decided that there is a YUUUGE market of fisher people out there that West wasn’t sufficiently tapping. So they bought a bunch of cheap-a## Chinese rods and reels, again “West Marine” branded, and convinced themselves they could make a huge markup on something that sold at Walmart and lesser stores (same item) for a tenth of what they revved themselves up to price it for.

    In the fishing area, another stupidity: the people who decided what the hundreds of stores should stock (having bupkis idea of what the local market was like) loaded up every store with fresh-water fishing gear. Store managers over time were pretty much stripped of any power to decide, based on their customer knowledge, what to stock, but were obliged to sell this crap, or take a hit to their bottom line and risk getting fired for not meeting sales targets.

    I saw the direction things were taking and went to nursing school…

    Reply
    1. Carey

      Thanks for this, JTM. I got rightSized from my buyer-gig, and for a few
      curiously decent years, was engaged in making real things.. not essentials,
      but worse work’s been done. That latter felt pretty good.

      Reply
      1. makedonamend

        Hiya JTMcPhee

        Excellent. Thanks. Keep it coming…my spouse’s most noticable reaction when I read out loud a few snippets from what you wrote was to this…

        “Store managers over time were pretty much stripped of any power to decide, based on their customer knowledge, what to stock, but were obliged to sell this crap, or take a hit to their bottom line and risk getting fired for not meeting sales targets.”

        Last year I ear-whigged an economic hitman on the train to Edinburgh going over the strategy they would use to neuter a manager who had the temerity to defend her employees and the integrity of what they did on the local level. (I gathered this from his rather long conversation which he carried out in a loud voice on the train.) I couldn’t help just staring at him, such was his brazen disregard for the people employed coupled with his distain for them. He looked so pleased with himself after he got off the phone just before his stop. I wondered if he hadn’t spoken so loud because he had an audience and was really proud of his ‘techniques’.

        To this day, from time to time, I wonder how many lives he’s disrupted – and disrupted might be too weak a word to convey how those lives were affected.

        Reply
    2. Titus

      JTM, good to have you testify on how yet again neolib think is always about the money, even when they say it isn’t. Sad, would be a time you could have set up a nice local operation supplied by local outfits and called it ‘good’, like god did. Someday we’ll get back to that but it won’t be easy.

      Reply
    3. The Rev Kev

      JTMcPhee, your testimony could be put together into quite an eloquent article. Call it ‘How an all-American company was destroyed – by our very own MBAs”. From what you write, it was a shame that happening to that company as they seem to have had a very good reputation. But I suppose to an MBA, a ‘good reputation’ is a disposable asset.

      Reply
      1. inode_buddha

        My last employer was a large privately held chemical company in the powdered metals field. The founder/chairman still makes the rounds daily although he is well into his 70’s. He is a Stanford MBA. On my first day there, the plant foreman told me: “Everything in this place is for sale”. Little did I know how literally true this was.

        Reply
  14. Fern

    Buttigieg’s police scandals:

    Buttigieg’s mismanagement of race relations and the South Bend police force is so staggering and so multifaceted that it defies summary. This fact has gotten Buttigieg the hook so far, but it should be clear to anyone who understands local politics that he was a singularly bad mayor.

    There’s massive documentation of the fact that he dealt with the most sensitive issues involving fairness and race relations in a high handed, arrogant and authoritarian manner and that he wasn’t truthful. He summarily fired two employees — one because she tried to bring the police racism problems to light and one because she failed to act aggressively enough to squelch an investigation of the police department problems. He didn’t work cooperatively with his own town council and he fought all attempts to achieve transparency tooth and nail, hiding behind questionable legalistic rationales. He ignored a huge number of complaints about racism within his police department. Under his leadership, bad preexisting problems with racism within the police department deteriorated further. And finally, there is good reason to suspect that much of this mismanaged was due to his desire to please his biggest campaign campaign donor.

    You can’t do much worse than that as a small town mayor.

    Reply
  15. Carey

    Way OT- I know there are a number of NC/WCers who live in or are
    familiar with the Boston area, and I’m looking for books on that
    Region, or movies, or what have you.. Never spent any real time
    there and wish it’d been possible. I liked the portrayals in ‘Good
    Will Hunting’ (hackneyed or not), and earlier in ‘Friends of Eddie Coyle’; and any suggestions at all would be welcome.
    Coffee-table books are fine, too..

    Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Alfred

      In case your interests embrace architecture — I very much enjoyed, and recommend, Built in Boston: City and Suburb, 1800-2000, by Douglass Shand-Tucci. Another book, which adds more detail on the relatively recent developments, I recommend even more strongly. It is, Heroic: Concrete Architecture and the New Boston, by Mark Paslik, Chris Grimley, and Michael Kubo. Shand-Tucci also wrote engaging (albeit opinionated and therefore not universally appreciated) biographies of two of the more eccentric yet culturally central Boston personalities, Isabella Stewart Gardner and Ralph Adams Cram, and their local ‘worlds’. Please don’t neglect the children’s classic, Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey, which preserves a vivid image of central Boston in the mid-20th century.

      Reply
    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CM5nGLaS8-Y

      Basically, everyone in Boston is one of these two guys, and Barry Bonds was right about Boston.

      On a more serious note (the Bonds part is serious), its been around for a fair bit of time and in a way has operated as a proper city-state over New England. There is a book not too old about the city under occupation (the other 3 major Revolution era cities were really occupied in the same manner). The Globe reporting on the priest scandal is out there. Its been turned into a movie. There is a book about the molasses flood, but my dad knew people who remembered it pretty well. David Hackett Fischer’s “Paul Revere’s Ride” is out there and definitely is perception altering. Anything half way decent about the JFK Senate election is going to be good from the perception of Catholic outsiders and Boston Brahmin, and what it means in a post World War II environment. Growing wealth inequality and homogenization have certainly changed the place on a larger scale. My mom’s brother in law’s marine was a cool place. Its my cousin’s marina these days. He didn’t make the changes, but this neat little marina (it wasn’t that little; it wasn’t outrageous) hosts yachts with their own crews.

      And as far as movies, I have two words: “Fever Pitch.” Don’t watch it. The guy who wrote for Projo and Stephen King’s book about the Red Sox is good. “Faithful” I think. There are other sports book, but this one was more fan oriented than others.

      My parents met at a Saturday hypnotism course at Bunker Hill Community College, so my perception of Boston has always included “this happened here.” If I’m going by more recent events, I would REMEMBER the college population, look at the 1952 Senate election (that’s JFK), bussing, the priest abuse scandal, the mob, , and then the rest is just like anywhere else.

      http://www.fenwayparkwriters.org/?page_id=343

      Reply
      1. Carey

        Thanks very much for these comments and recommendations, Alfred and NTG- I have saved and really do appreciate them.
        I will probably start with the “children’s” book..

        I’m sure you know about him, but Jonathan Richman and ‘Twilight in Boston’ are good things..

        Reply
      2. Carey

        >Anything half way decent about the JFK Senate election is going to be good from the perception of Catholic outsiders and Boston Brahmin, and what it means in a post World War II environment. Growing wealth inequality and homogenization have certainly changed the place on a larger scale. My mom’s brother in law’s marine was a cool place. Its my cousin’s marina these days. He didn’t make the changes, but this neat little marina (it wasn’t that little; it wasn’t outrageous) hosts yachts with their own crews.

        *Very nifty* stuff, and right up my alley. Woulda liked to have done some NE sailing, but it did not happen.. Thanks again.

        Reply
      3. Titus

        Not sure what your point is really. I was born in Worcester and raised in Boston (Somerville as well. When it was a hell-hole) educated in Cambridge and my parents left me their 1750 colonial & 650 acres of New Hampshire mountain-side. I keep it in the family with 5 sisters, someone always needs a place to stay. I’d say I know as much about Boston as there is to know. It didn’t hurt my grandfather was an elected sheriff of Middlesex county. I hate the place and all metro Boston. It is pretentious, provincial, and should be nothing more than a fishing village. It is by many criterion the worst place to live in the Unites States. While not as corrupt as NYC at 25% markup to do anything, it is right up there. Boston was not occupied during the Revolution. After the ‘Tea Party’, Lord North decided to have troops boarded in Boston. On March 10, 1776, General Howe was finished and forced to leave. As to why citizens of NYC decided not to raise up and throw the British out – I don’t know. It wasn’t virtue. Similar issue in the civil war. I digress.

        Reply
    3. christofay

      Anthony Bourdain in one Boston episode rhapsodized about Friends of Eddie Coyle. One of his last shows was a homage to his teen-age years on Cape Cod particularly Provincetown. I’d check his show when they shot in Boston. I wonder if he ever made it up to Maine?

      Reply
      1. Carey

        Now that is a cool factoid… I’ll see what I can track down.
        Too bad my hearing was not adequate to Mitchum’s beautiful
        mumbling (diner scene) in that film. Worth a look.

        Reply
      2. Titus

        Anthony Bourdain – in his book he certainly DID not ‘rhapsodized’, he said it was hard work with mean cheap bosses and crummy customers. He got that right. Whole Cape is like that. Nothing has changed. Except there are many more sharks.

        Reply
    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I know there are a number of NC/WCers who live in or are familiar with the Boston area, and I’m looking for books on tha Region, or movies, or what have you.

      1) Ira Gershkoff, The Boston Driver’s Handbook: Wild in the Streets–The Almost Post Big Dig Edition

      Also, 2) Little Women is set in Concord, MA pre-Civil War Abolitionist-adjacent. It’s also a genuinely great novel!

      Reply
    5. Henry Moon Pie

      An oldie and a weirdie movie:

      “Dealing: Or the Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues”

      Written by Michael Crichton and his brother, but there are no dinosaurs in it.

      Maybe the first movie in which John Lithgow appeared.

      A stunningly beautiful Barbara Hershey.

      A long scene centered around the Mattapan trolley line.

      Some Harvard scenes were actually shot at Harvard. That’s also true for another movie from around the same time: “Love Story.” A third movie from that time, “Paper Chase” about first-year Harvard Law School students, has genuine exterior shots, but the interiors were not.

      Full Movie

      Reply
  16. Martin Oline

    I am a native Iowan and have been through the caucus process many times. In 1972 my father, a life-long Republican, told us that the local precinct chair gave out free drink chits to party members if they would go to the caucuses, register as Democrat for the night, and vote McGovern. I have no idea how widespread this was, but many were surprised at McGovern’s strong showing that night. For those under 50, he went on to win the nomination and be crushed in the general election.
    I do not know if same-night registration is still allowed, but I will be going to an Iowa caucus on the night of February 3rd and will ask if you can. I will not participate as I am a Florida resident. I am going to accompany my son.
    I share this information because I cannot understand the Mayo Pete support and suspect that it may reflect the Republican party’s preferred opponent this fall. Nixon got the opponent he wanted in 1972.

    Reply
    1. Carey

      Thanks for this comment, MO. Can you just imagine a Booty-Trump debate?

      “Here, kid- shine my shoes, will ya? Buff that side a little more..”

      #demsPaidto lose #rigged

      Reply
  17. Amfortas the hippie

    re: the jacobin thing about aoc and biden in same party.

    he mentions the insane and needlessly chaotic ballot access problem. this is a big, big problem for anyone outside the duopoly.
    and even write ins have been essentially criminalised….in Texas, it takes a whole lot of money or a whole lot of signatures…the latter of which are routinely(and arbitrarily) tossed.
    the dems and gop agree on many things…and one of the biggest points of agreement is that the electoral machinery should remain safely in their two hands.

    indeed, the proof that the dems aren’t interested in electoral reform is that they haven’t picked that low hanging fruit yet, after being handed golden opportunities repeatedly, by shameless repubs, since billary.(it should be an easy case to make, after all…on live tv, ask the gop why they can’t win without shenanigans. …there’s no good answer to that, aside from easily rebutted nonsense about mexicans and ghosts. it’s a target rich environment)

    Reply
    1. Angie Neer

      Agreed, 100%. Our blessed “two party system” is a powerfully anti-democratic institution. It is locked in by a positive feedback loop (power begets power) that I fear can be fixed only by changing the constitution. And I shudder to contemplate the ways in which an attempt to improve the constitution could detonate in our hands.

      Reply
      1. JBird4049

        Any system created by people is open to some kind of corrupt or abuse. Any changes that are made will be side step by the elites. While I am sure that there are many good ideas to improve the Constitution, I would first hasten this slow collapse of legitimacy and authority of the two parties. Both are creaking. Once we have sent the leadership of the cabal to Club Fed, The Hague, or a shack in the woods, then we can debate on possible changes.

        Reply
  18. Synoia

    Seaweed ‘forests’ can help fight climate change…

    Cross seaweed with Marijuana and we have an instant winner…

    Reply
    1. Titus

      You would think one would say ‘complex’ as those are problems with solutions, but maybe not, another feature not a bug. I read ‘Hillbilly Elegy’, and liked it as far as it goes. Here is it’s fatal flaw, it’s one thing for an 18 to find god and act responsible for his life. But what about a 1yr old? Have we the people decided we no longer care about each other – explicitly? If not, can we all agree that 1yr old needs food, decent housing, access to medical care and perhaps the parents too? Or is that a bridge too far? Are we that messed up?

      Reply
      1. jrs

        What about a middle age person? I mean 18 is like the ideal age right. And sure an older person may have made mistakes. But I’m tired of living in the land of no second chances, that punishes people forever and a day, to the point of withholding basic needs, for some error made once upon a time and sometimes not even an error.

        Reply
      1. JBird4049

        Ouch. That is not a bad description. Use words ostensibly to tell a story or describe a problem, but really to grift for cash or votes. Like many pitches for campaign donations and for venture capital.

        Reply
  19. anon in so cal

    Something incredibly disgusting is occurring.

    The GOP MSM Dems are trying to link the Ukraine airliner disaster to Russia by stating that Iran shot it down with Russian missiles. This is a new level of reprehensible propaganda.

    From Dmitry Polyanskiy, First Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia”

    “That’s exactly how “Russia did it” myths are being born. Even the unsubstantiated allegations that Iran fired this missile is omitted!”

    https://twitter.com/Dpol_un/status/1215388625451528193?s=20

    Reply
  20. JCC

    Regarding the conversation on the Sanders Campaign’s constant emails asking for money (I get at least two a day) I thought I would reply to the latest Ask. And to give their campaign workers credit, I had an actual reply from the info-at-berniesanders.com

    This surprised me a little due to the fact that all these other DNC/DLCC/etc emails are always received from a do-not-reply type of address.

    My email:

    You guys need to slack off the money begging.

    I’m all for Sanders and have donated what I can afford so far and will probably donate more (as well as remind my friends of how bad the rest of the candidate pack is) but 2 to 3 dunning emails per DAY is just a tad over the top, don’t you think?

    Within a couple hours I received this:

    Dear J,

    Thank you for your note, and for all of your generous support. We know that supporters like you have often given many times over the years, and are not always able to give more. Apologies for any frustration our emails have caused.

    As you know, Bernie doesn’t accept donations from corporate lobbyists and billionaires with unlimited sums of money. Our campaign is built entirely from the ground up by supporters like you, with an average donation amount of just $19. We send emails asking for contributions even to people who have made multiple donations to keep you informed about our campaign, and in case Bernie’s message inspires you to donate again.

    However, we appreciate that many of our supporters are already giving as much as they can. If you would prefer to receive only the most essential updates from our campaign moving forward, you may sign up to receive fewer emails using this link.

    Whether you are able to donate again or not, you’ve already made a huge difference for our movement. Thanks for standing with Bernie! We are grateful to have you in this movement with us.

    In solidarity,

    Taylor
    Team Bernie

    I have to give them credit. What are the odds that the DNC’s various groups and other candidates would even send a response, let alone a response similar to this?

    Needless to say I clicked the supplied link (available on their web page). We will see how it works out. I still like Sanders.

    Reply

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