2:00PM Water Cooler 2/10/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I have as usual accumulated far too much political material over the weekend (and handled some administrivia for NC this morning as well). I will have more soon, especially the upcoming Nevada caucus debacle. –lambert UPDATE All done.


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

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

Here is a second counter for the New Hampshire Primary, which is obviously just around the corner:

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

We have no new national polls, but we have NH polls:

NH numbers:

Note, again, the small sample sizes. If they are accurate, Sanders is holding onto his lead, and Klobuchar (!) has passed both Biden and Warren. Who knows, perhaps this time the pundits are right, and Klobuchar had a great debate that really meant something.

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

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Bloomberg (D)(1):

“Desperate to beat Trump” has the same level of principle and strategery as (if you are a New Englander) “desperate to beat the hated Yankess” (see Bitecofer).

Bloomberg (D)(2): “Mike Bloomberg Is Paying ‘Influencers’ to Make Him Seem Cool” [Daily Beast]. “The Bloomberg campaign has quietly begun a campaign on Tribe, a “branded content marketplace” that connects social-media influencers with the brands that want to advertise to their followers, to pitch influencers on creating content highlighting why they love the former New York City mayor—for a price. For a fixed $150 fee, the Bloomberg campaign is pitching micro-influencers—someone who has from 1,000 to 100,000 followers, in industry parlance—to create original content ‘that tells us why Mike Bloomberg is the electable candidate who can rise above the fray, work across the aisle so ALL Americans feel heard & respected.’ …. ‘Are you sick of the chaos & infighting overshadowing the issues that matter most to us? Please express your thoughts verbally or for still image posts please overlay text about why you support Mike,’ the campaign copy tells would-be Bloomberg stans under the heading ‘Content We’d Love From You,’ asking influencers to ‘Show+Tell why Mike is the candidate who can change our country for the better, state why YOU think he’s a great candidate.'” • So that’s the pitch, eh?

Bloomberg (D)(3): “A Republican Plutocrat Tries To Buy The Democratic Nomination” [Current Affairs]. “Why are dozens of liberal elected officials suddenly stumping for a Republican billionaire? In the case of some elected officials, the answer seems to be simple bribery…. But, beyond people he outright bribes, Bloomberg has another potential source of support: Democratic elites who desperately want to stop Bernie Sanders from being the party’s nominee… But the biggest boost to Bloomberg is his giant pile of money, which he has vowed to use to obtain the nomination for himself.” • Missing from the piece is that Bloomberg has also purchased the loyalty of the vast network of NGOs in which the Democrat Party is embedded. Sure is curious we’re not hearing “He’s not even a Democrat!” about Bloomberg. (It’s also odd that we have sex abusers at the top of both party heirachies: We have Trump’s comparatively mild transgressions; we have respected party elder Bill Clinton’s workplace abuse and rape; and we have Bloomberg’s own workplace harrassment. It certainly is odd that #MeToo isn’t out in force on that.) At any rate, Bloomberg’s run, like Trump’s, should be wonderfully clarifying.

Buttigieg (D)(1): “Pete Buttigieg Funded by Russian-Linked Oligarch Who Supports Trump and McConnell” [Law and Crime]. “Democratic presidential candidate and former South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg is facing questions after recent revelations that his 2020 effort has taken campaign contributions from an infamous Republican Party billionaire with direct links to the Russian oligarchy. That’s according Federal Election Commission (FEC) data reviewed by Law&Crime. Previously described in the press as “The Giver,” Leonard “Len” Blavatnik is a well-known GOP donor with a New York address who previously took it upon himself to fund President Donald Trump‘s lavish — and allegedly criminal — inauguration festivities in 2017 to the tune of some $1 million. Now, Blavatnik and his wife are apparently shifting allegiances. As of this writing, they have donated thousands of dollars to Pete for America, Inc., Buttigieg’s official campaign organization.” • That’s nice.

Buttigieg (D)(2): Booker never had problems like this with Newark:

Buttigieg (D)(3): “Buttigieg’s Antitrust Adviser is a Wells Fargo Attorney” [ReadSludge]. “A compliance attorney with miscreant bank Wells Fargo is part of a small group advising the Pete Buttigieg campaign on antitrust policy, the Prospect has learned…. Campaigns routinely seek advice from unpaid volunteer experts, who come from think tanks, academia, and the private sector. But any Democratic campaign using someone still employed by Wells Fargo for such a purpose is playing with fire, given the bank’s well-earned reputation for swindling customers.”

UPDATE Buttigieg (D)(4): On-brand indeed:

Sanders (D)(1): “Laundromat Caucus” [Sixth Perfections]. “This is not a pro- or anti-Bernie rant. This is just an observation while folding clothes in a Brooklyn laundromat on a Friday night with mostly brown and black people. The NH Primary Debate was on tv. I caught a few minutes. Most of the candidates seemed really nice and considerate. They came across just fine. But there was something when Bernie Sanders came on…that popped. Ppl stopped or looked up from their clothes or got a little quieter. It was eery…like an audio fog was clearing up over the washers and dryers. When you have some who speaks with clarity -regardless of the political leanings- they pop. When you have someone who speaks with passionate clarity, they pop. Now yes, detractors will say ‘but Aurin, didn’t Trump pop in 2016?’ Why, yes he absolutely did. He popped b/c he spoke from a very clear stream of fear/isolationism. There was no nuance, it was straight from his guts. People feel that…even if your guts are filled with poison and ignorance.”

Sanders (D)(2): Oy:

Sanders (D)(3): “Sanders says Democrats should do the “same thing” as right-wing Federalist Society in nominating federal judges” [CBS]. “Sanders on Saturday said Democrats have to start ‘taking a look at good young legal minds all over this country and cultivating them to the courts.’ ‘We can learn some lessons from what the right wing is doing in this country,’ he said. ‘Republicans have been effective in politicizing the judiciary in a way Democrats have not.’ Sanders also elaborated on concepts he’s spoken about before regarding the highest court in the country. He said he’s against packing the Supreme Court, and supports the idea of having a rotation of judges.”

Sanders (D)(4): Will nobody think of the billionaires:

Sanders (D)(5):

UPDATE Warren (D)(1): “Warren dismisses need to win New Hampshire: ‘It’s going to be a long campaign'” [The Hill]. “Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) dismissed the need to place in the top two in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primaries after trailing in third coming out of last week’s Iowa caucuses. ‘The way I see this is it’s going to be a long campaign,’ Warren said Sunday on ABC’s ‘This Week.'” • Brokered convention, here we come! Not if the money dries up, though.

UPDATE Warren (D)(2): “‘Where’s Joe?’: Kennedy goes MIA for Warren” [Politico]. “The next-in-line Kennedy scion and fellow Massachusetts lawmaker — a former student of Warren’s at Harvard Law School who introduced her when she formally announced for president — has made only two campaign appearances for Warren since then. Kennedy popped over twice to New Hampshire; he did not set foot in Iowa ahead of its caucuses. Kennedy’s absence has frustrated some Warren allies who feel he could be an eloquent and forceful presence on the trail in the final stretch, when she needs all the help she can get. ‘Where’s Joe?,’ fumed one who is up in New Hampshire this weekend helping Warren. ‘Everybody should be here.'”

UPDATE Weld (R)(1): “Bill Weld Hunts For Elusive Pre-Trump Republicans In New Hampshire Sprint” [HuffPo]. “He pointed to Trump’s frequent line at his rallies: ‘You have no choice. You have to vote for me,’ and everyone laughs, because they know, of course, they do have a choice, and that’s what elections are all about. But Mr. Trump is absolutely serious when he says, ‘You have no choice.’ And all of us, if we vote to reelect Mr. Trump, we better get used to hearing those words, because we’re going to be hearing them a lot more.'”

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“EXCLUSIVE: NeverTrump-Funded Phone Calls Push GOP-Leaning Independents to Vote in NH Dems Primary” [Inside Sources]. “GOP-leaning independent voters in New Hampshire are receiving phone calls and texts from anti-Trump Republicans urging them to cross the aisle and vote in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, NHJournal has learned. The message is for these unaffiliated voters, who can vote in either party’s primary, to vote for a ‘responsible and electable’ Democratic alternative to Donald Trump. National #NeverTrump leader Bill Kristol, founder of the conservative Weekly Standard magazine, confirmed to NHJournal that he is part of the effort, which involves tens of thousands of New Hampshire voter contacts and a six-figure budget.” • Bringing the genre of helpful advice from concerned Republicans to Democrats to a whole new level.


“Nevada Democrats debut to volunteers new iPad-based ‘tool’ to calculate math on Caucus Day in the wake of Iowa fiasco” [Nevada Independent]. “Nevada Democrats are planning to use a new caucus tool that will be preloaded onto iPads and distributed to precinct chairs to help facilitate the Caucus Day process, according to multiple volunteers and a video recording of a volunteer training session on Saturday. The new tool will help precinct chairs fold in the results from people in their precinct who chose to caucus early with the preferences of in-person attendees on Caucus Day by calculating the viability threshold and carrying out the two alignments in the caucus process, according to the volunteers and the video recording. Details about the tool come two days after Nevada Democrats said that they would not use any apps for their Feb. 22 caucus after a coding error in a similar program used by Iowa Democrats delayed the release of results from that state’s nominating contest earlier this week. In the video, a party staffer tells volunteers that the new mechanism “is not an app” but should be thought of as “a tool.'” • Oh.

Holy moley, a must-listen:

So, the app-that-is-really-a-tool is still being developed, eh? That’s a confidence builder. Naturally, everybody knows as much about this app as they did about the Iowa app. Now they’re just trolling us.

“Culinary Union suggests Sanders, Warren asking union members to trade health plans for ‘promises'” [Nevada Independent]. “The politically powerful Culinary Union hasn’t yet endorsed in the Democratic presidential primary, but it is making clear which candidates it won’t be supporting. A one-pager from the union, the kind of document usually distributed in employee dining rooms and break areas, obtained by The Nevada Independent obliquely accuses Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren of wanting to take away union members’ hard-fought and much beloved health plans and warns that electing either candidate will lead to four more years of a Donald Trump presidency. The union, which provides health insurance to 130,000 workers and their family members through a special trust fund, strongly opposes the Medicare-for-all plans the two candidates support, which would eliminate the union’s health plan by design.” • A trust fund, eh? NOTE The Nevada Independent is Jon Ralston’s paper: He of the fake chair-throwing story at the Nevada Caucus in 2016. He will also be moderating the pre-Nevada debate.

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UPDATE CA: “They’re Going to Try to Steal California From Sanders (Again)” [TruthDig]. • Excellent, must-read post on the deliberate complexities and obfuscations of the CA ballot (too complex to summarize; really!). Again, whatever sort of beast a political party may be, the key feature is control of the ballot. This story exempifies that (and I have not seen nearly enough work on this by the Sanders campaign, and now it’s too late. Perhaps they think they can cure this with early voting. CA reader comments welcome).

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“Sanders to seek partial recanvass of Iowa caucus results” [Associated Press]. “Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign plans to ask for a “partial recanvass” of the results of last week’s Iowa caucuses. A campaign aide confirmed the plans Sunday night, ahead of a Monday deadline for candidates to ask the Iowa Democratic Party to recanvass the results. A recanvass is not a recount, but a check of the vote count against paper records to ensure the counts were reported accurately.” • See the tweets below. Also: “‘I think what we’re going to do at the end of this cycle … is have a further conversation about whether or not state parties should be running elections,’ [DNC Chair Tom Perez] said.” To an insider, that’s much more important than a mere election. Rice bowls could get smashed! The campaign comments:

Election fraud? Thread:

IANAL, and neither is the poster. Still.

This is what the Times should have done with “Iowa Caucus Results Riddled With Errors and Inconsistencies.” Instead of simply writing a story about irregularities, and then sending the list of the irregularities to the IDP only, they should have published a spreadsheet like this one:

I can’t vouch for the project, but I see only reponses with disputes or corrections on detail.

“How the Iowa Caucuses Became an Epic Fiasco for Democrats” [New York Times]. • Weak. Fails to mention the presence of Buttigieg and Warren operatives on staff at Shadow.

Nooners is shit-stirring, but there is shit to be stirred. Thread:

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“Sanders Surged in Iowa on a Wave of New Voters” [The Nation]. “But one thing was clear across Iowa: Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders benefited tremendously from an effort to mobilize new and diverse groups of voters in the first-in-the-nation caucus state.” • That’s the Sanders theory of change. But it only allowed him to eke out a victory. Will it scale?

“Listen to S7: Episode 5 – Nomiki Konst” [Unauthorized Disclosure]. • Well worth a listen for details of the DNC’s operations, if operations is the word I want, as opposed to “machinations,” or “intrigues.” (Naturally, it’s all about the benjamins; third boats, steak dinner; “Everything is like CalPERS”™.) Incidentally, the Iowa app was approved by the DNC (whose financing is, let us remember, entirely opaque).

“Iowa conspiracy theories show US democracy has bigger problems than foreign interference” [CNN]. “Almost a year before the Iowa caucuses, a top US cybersecurity official said fears about foreign meddling in the 2020 election were the one thing that kept him up at night. But if this week’s debacle in the first vote of the Democratic presidential primaries is anything to go by, another formidable threat to American democracy lies much closer to home.” • Not “another.” “The most important.” Still, I’m amazed to see even this weak tea at CNN.

The Debates

“Debate shows desperation of everyone but Bernie” [Politico]. “There is only one candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, who by every indication is staying put. His lines were familiar, his performance as spirited as ever. But the jabs and jostling of debate nights — this was the eighth since June, and the direct confrontations were fairly muted — don’t matter so much for him….. Sanders is going nowhere anytime soon from his position at or near the top of this contest. Every other candidate is going somewhere very soon. For all but one, or at most two, of those candidates, that somewhere is down. In a sense, the encounter at St. Anselm College in Manchester, aired nationally by ABC News, had only one question: This is a race between Sanders and BLANK.” • Except they aren’t BLANK. They have all introduced themselves to the voters, for good or ill, and all of them have serious flaws.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“What’s It All About Then” [Eschaton]. “Too much is explained by the fact that too many people need a third boat.”

Alert reader RU: “re: the debate thread, this slide is from econofact.org”:

Let’s keep it this way!

Stats Watch

The Bezzle: “Will Spotify Ruin Podcasting?” [Matt Stoller, BIG]. “Podcasting is a three tiered system, with production, distribution, and advertising in vertically separated lawyers. There are corporations who produce, distribute, and sell podcast ads, but the markets in all three lawyers are open. As a result, there’s relative ease of entry. It’s hard to build an audience, but if you do, you can get access to a financing channel. And the net result is a lot of diverse voices and entrepreneurship. This dynamic is changing somewhat, as branded podcast corporations increasingly build formulas to launch new shows, but relative to near all other media ecosystems, with the exception of the mid-2000s open internet, it’s open.” • Sounds like the blogosphere, which was then slaughtered by Facebook and Twitter…

Tech: “Food delivery apps are changing the way we eat, and raking in billions” [CBS]. “For the first time, U.S. restaurants are projected to make more money from food consumed outside their doors than inside. The food delivery industry has swelled to a $10 billion per year industry, thanks in no small part to ordering apps such as DoorDash, GrubHub, Uber Eats and many more. It took over two decades for the seemingly overnight success to take off, and has changed the way most Americans get their food.” • More social distancing. It’s not clear to me, however, that the restaurant industry as a whole is making more money, or whether Silicon Valley is just moving money around and taking a cut.

Tech: Here is an Apple Dark Pattern on the iPad:

I always put off updates as long as possible, because there will be bugs. Apple wants me to update immediately, because they want to train me that they own my machine. So Apple reminds me to update, which is fine. What is not fine is the dark pattern they use: If I postpone the update at 1) by tapping “Later”, and then tap again at the same place 2) — as would be reasonable to do in the Mac OS, which wasn’t designed by manipulative sociopaths — I may accidentally tap “Install Tonight,” when the closest approximation to my intent is “Remind Me Later” (because I don’t want to be reminded at all). I hate an OS that’s full of little traps like this.

Manufacturing: “China’s Dangerous Chokehold On Our Medicines” [The American Conservative]. “The U.S. doesn’t depend on China for 80 percent of the oil needed to fuel our economy. That would be economic suicide. But we do depend on China for 80 percent of the core components to make our generic medicines. How dependent are we? If the Chinese government turned off the spigot, pharmacy shelves would be empty within months. Hospitals would cease to function. Doctors couldn’t perform surgery, treat cancers with recommended medicines, or provide dialysis treatment for people with kidney failure. Infectious diseases such as pneumonia and STDs would go untreated. Members of Congress, the White House, the military, veterans, seniors—everyone would be affected. Generic drugs are 90 percent of the medicines Americans take. Thousands of them, sold at corner drug stores, grocery store pharmacies, and big box stores, contain ingredients made in China. As a country, we recognize the geopolitical leverage China would wield if global oil supply and refineries were concentrated in a single country. But we have had a blind spot as to China’s chokehold on our medicines.” • So, even if for mere public relations purposes, do everything possible to help China with a pressing medical problem that it has?

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 57 Greed (previous close: 57 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 46 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 10 at 12:28pm.

Rapture Index: Closes down one on Interest Rates. “The Coronavirus virus is putting downward pressure on rates” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 183. Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing. Finally, the Corona Virus shows up, but under Interest Rates, not Plagues. What is this, cognitive regulatory capture?

The Biosphere

“British Airways 747 Sets New Transatlantic Speed & Time Record” [One Mile at a Time]. “Flight times can already be highly variable based on the time of year one is traveling, but winds across the Atlantic last night were on a whole different level. BA112 from New York JFK to London Heathrow set a new flight time record last night. A British Airways 747 operated the flight in just 4hr56min. That flight is blocked at 7hr5min (which includes taxi time and a buffer), meaning that the plane arrived at 4:47AM, a full 1hr38min ahead of the 6:25AM scheduled arrival. WOW.” • Hmm. Effects on the airframe?

UPDATE “Catastrophic Fires Released Billions of Tons of CO2 in 2019” [Bloomberg]. “What made 2019 extraordinary wasn’t the overall number of fires, or total fire emissions, but where they happened and how intense they were. Scientists were baffled to record fires burning in some parts of Siberia and Alaska for longer than they’d ever seen.”

Health Care

“Coronavirus: Turn off air-conditioners and open windows to reduce risk of being infected, say experts” [Straits Times]. “On top of washing their hands and disinfecting surfaces, people need to switch off the air-conditioner, turn on the fan and get fresh air to reduce the chances of getting infected by the novel coronavirus. The reason is that while many unknowns remain about the virus, earlier studies have shown that viruses thrive better in cool, dry climates. That would make tropical Singapore, with its hot and tropical weather, less conducive for the virus to thrive. This ‘good news’ for Singapore was delivered on Monday (Feb 10) by the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) chief health scientist, Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, at a press conference. ‘The likelihood of viral persistence outdoors is lower,’ he said, as he noted the prevalent use of air-conditioning in Singapore.” • Probably not greatly relevant to New England, but the temperature at LAX at 10:00AM PST is already 67°F. So.

“Coronavirus Forces World’s Largest Work-From-Home Experiment” [Bloomberg]. “The cohorts working from home are about to grow into armies. At the moment, most people in China are still on vacation for the Lunar New Year. But as Chinese companies begin to restart operations, it’s likely to usher in the world’s largest work-from-home experiment. That means a lot more people trying to organize client meetings and group discussions via videochat apps, or discussing plans on productivity software platforms like WeChat Work or Bytedance’s Slack-like Lark.” • Go long social distancing tech!

“Changing the Game of Prior Authorization” [JAMA Network]. “Securing approval for reimbursement of care in a medical care system affected by overuse and ineffective care seems logical and arguably protective of patients’ interests. However, the prior authorization process has now become a significant burden on clinicians, patients, and health care organizations. Even though some organizations are actively advocating to reduce the financial implications and time requirements caused by this process, the full effects and consequences of prior authorization on patients and their families (particularly reversals of authorization after the fact) remain enormous. Along with whatever protections against unnecessary care that it offers, prior authorization has created a minefield of financial risks for patients and their families. It should be a simple matter for patients and those who care for patients to ask insurers in advance if they will pay for the proposed care and to get a firm answer: approval or denial. Yet even when clinicians or hospitals inform patients that “insurance has given an all clear,” sometimes insurers subsequently refuse to pay, and patients receive unexpected and expensive bills.:” • One of the many reasons people love their insurance.

“Utah sends employees to Mexico for lower prescription prices” [ABC]. “Lovell is one of about 10 state workers participating in a year-old program to lower prescription drug costs by having public employees buy their medication in Mexico at a steep discount compared to U.S. prices. The program appears to be the first of its kind, and is a dramatic example of steps states are taking to alleviate the high cost of prescription drugs. In one long, exhausting day, Lovell flies from Salt Lake City to San Diego. There, an escort picks her up and takes her across the border to a Tijuana hospital, where she gets a refill on her prescription. After that, she’s shuttled back to the airport and heads home. Lovell had been paying $450 in co-pays every few months for her medication, though she said it would have increased to some $2,400 if she had not started traveling to Mexico.” • Wait until the pricing for flying starts to change, as it must.

Guillotine Watch

“Even If You Weren’t Born Into Nobility, You Can Buy Your Way In” [Bloomberg]. “The value of a title lies in part in its scarcity. About 0.1% of Germans are of noble descent, roughly 80,000 out of a population of almost 84 million. In the U.K. the number is closer to 0.01%. There are clear rules about who’s in the club: Typically you were born or married into gentility, and only men can legitimately pass their title on to spouses and offspring. But there’s a loophole: adoption. Usually by a noble who can’t afford the upkeep on his or her crumbling country estate or the staff to polish the family silver. Acquiring a title this way is a simple transaction between a noble seller and a social-climbing buyer, often involving a go-between such as [Horst Walter Count von Hessen-Homburg’. He says each year he brokers about a dozen deals, for prices ranging from around €80,000 ($88,000) to more than €1 million, depending on the dynastic relevance of the name and auxiliaries such as an elaborate coat of arms or storied family tree.”

“Former Pimco CEO sentenced to 9 months in college admissions scandal” [CBS]. “A federal judge in Boston on Friday handed down the toughest sentence yet against a parent charged in the college admissions scandal. Of all the parents swept up in it, prosecutors said Douglas Hodge was especially prolific. For nearly a decade, they said he paid Rick Singer, mastermind of the fraud $850,000 to get four of his children into Georgetown and USC as phony athletic recruits. He was wiretapped allegedly trying to get a fifth child into school. The retired chief executive of investment giant, Pimco, begged the judge for leniency, admitting he ‘illegally, tipped the scales in favor of my children over others,’ and expressed his ‘deepest and sincerest regret.’… In Hodge’s case, the defense pointed out that he donated more than $30 million to philanthropic causes.” • See below.

Class Warfare

“Against Charity” [Jacobin]. “Effective Altruists calculate where expendable income is best spent and encourage the relatively affluent to channel their capital accordingly. Among their most highly favored causes are the Against Malaria Foundation (which distributes insecticide-treated bed nets), the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (which works to establish school-based deworming programs), and GiveDirectly (which gives unconditional cash transfers to people in extreme poverty)…. Effective Altruists treat charities as black boxes — money goes in, good consequences come out. The desire to achieve salutary results becomes an imperative to give money to charities. The only aspect of charity worthy of analysis is how much bang donators can expect to get for their buck — cost per life saved or quality-adjusted life-years. In the process Effective Altruists gloss over important social relations, obscuring the morality (and efficacy) of giving to charity, or commanding others to do so, in the first place.” • Euthanize the NGOs!

“Theory Discussion: A Working Definition of Neofeudalism” [Nina Illingworth]. “I think I’m finally ready to establish a working definition of the socioeconomic gestalt that is not only transforming life in the ‘western world’ but increasingly restoring the hoary desiccated corpse of colonialism, albeit a newly financialized and corporatized variation, to fashion throughout the rest of a dying world. Here goes: ‘Neofuedalism is the application of extractivism (a particularly destructive form of anti-environmental capitalism typically personified by the fossil fuel, mining and deforestation industries) to individual human beings, en masse and increasingly globally.‘” • Illingworth is always worth reading. I’d quarrel with “feudalism” as a name but she’s on to something with extractivsm (as it turns out, not only production, but reproduction can be exploited).

News of the Wired

“Americans went to the library more often than they went to the movies, poll finds” [CNN]. “US adults reported taking 10.5 trips to the library on average in 2019, the poll found — about twice as many times as they went to the movies. They went to live music or theatrical events and national or historic parks roughly four times last year, and visited museums and casinos about 2.5 times. Trips to amusement parks and zoos were the least common activities on the list… ‘Despite the proliferation of digital-based activities over the past two decades — including digital books, podcasts, streaming entertainment services and advanced gaming — libraries have endured as a place Americans visit nearly monthly on average,’ according to the Gallup report. ‘Whether because they offer services like free Wi-Fi, movie rentals, or activities for children, libraries are most utilized by young adults, women and residents of low-income households.'”

“How To Build A Skyline At Human Scale” [The American Conservative]. “The horizontal roof was one of the innovations of which the modernists were most proud. Le Corbusier saw the flat roof of the Villa Savoye as a proof of the new aesthetic, and the fact that it leaked, and that the whole house beneath it was soon to become uninhabitable and an object of litigation, was a matter of indifference to him. The house, he told us, is a ‘machine for living in.’ He meant that it was to be lived in by machines, not by those petulant and comfort-hungry creatures known as humans. The skyline of the old city was not created by spires, domes and minarets only. It was created most of all by the rows of pitched roofs on which these decorative additions cast their endearing shadows.” • TAC is pretty cranky about architecture, but in this case, I agree. And not only because of snow. Rain, too!

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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 (TH):

TH writes: “Perennial Eryngium.”Sapphire Blue” AKA “Sea Holly”. Roger’s Gardens in Newport Beach, CA. (Loved it so much had to buy it!)” These look like thistles, to me. I grew thistles once, or they grew in my front garden area, and it was a bad mistake. They are too invasive even for me!

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Bill Carson

    Regarding the prospect of a Bloomberg presidency, when 53% of new wealth goes to the top 1%, it is only a matter of time before we officially become an oligarchy.

    1. flora

      Just what the country needs: another president from the looting-class, er, billionaires’ club.

      From HuffPo
      The Golden Age of While Collar Crime.

      “OVER THE LAST TWO YEARS, nearly every institution of American life has taken on the unmistakable stench of moral rot. Corporate behemoths like Boeing and Wells Fargo have traded blue-chip credibility for white-collar callousness. Elite universities are selling admission spots to the highest Hollywood bidder. Silicon Valley unicorns have revealed themselves as long cons (Theranos), venture-capital cremation devices (Uber, WeWork) or straightforward comic book supervillains (Facebook). Every week unearths a cabinet-level political scandal that would have defined any other presidency. From the blackouts in California to the bloated bonuses on Wall Street to the entire biography of Jeffrey Epstein, it is impossible to look around the country and not get the feeling that elites are slowly looting it.


      1. inode_buddha

        Replying to HuffPo: Two years? How about two or three DECADES. Just from the working class’ point of view.

        1. JBird4049

          Four decades for the poor, three for the working class, two for middle, and one for Credentialed Class or the 10% including the intelligentsia of which HuffPo is a part of.

          This last class, the American class of apparatchiks, could delude itself clinging to the Neoliberal Cult of Meritocracy. Reminds me of the Prosperity Gospel used by charlatans claiming to be preachers or servants of God.

          The preachers of neoliberalism have gotten to the copper plumbing and wiring, and are starting with the axes and picks to remove the beams and bricks; Now the marks can hear the creaking of the roof and cracking of walls as the whole house known as the United States starts collapsing.

          Perhaps we are still waiting for our own political Chernobyl.

            1. JBird4049

              It might not be tinfoillish to think of a Disunited States of America and just 160 years later than some planned.

      2. shinola

        Here in the “heartland” the most common reaction to Bloomberg’s candidacy is something to the effect of (a sarcastic): “Yeah, just what we need – another New York billionaire”

          1. Pat

            In 2009 he did what he is doing today. He spent over $102 million (that was the early estimate before bonuses) at a cost of about $174 a vote in order to beat his Democratic opponent Bill Thompson. In a low turn out election he won 50.7% of the vote versus 46.3%. He lost Brooklyn and the Bronx. He carried Staten Island, Manhattan and Queens.

            I could be wrong, but I think he will still do well in Manhattan and really well in Staten Island (there are likely voters changing registration this week just to vote for him), but will lose Queens and not gain Brooklyn and the Bronx. Outside of the city he will do okay to well in Westchester and probably both Nassau and Suffolk, But as he gets farther from the city he hasn’t got a chance upstate, except perhaps a few urban centers and depending who else is still on the ballot, those aren’t even that sure.

            I’m also betting the cost per vote will be much more than in 2009. (And that number will look like a pittance to the cost per vote in most of the rest of the country.)

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              These endorsers of Bloomberg haven’t realized there will be a political cost to embracing a rabid Republican in blue districts. As bad as local Democratic committee people can be, a Republican is a bridge too far, and Bloomberg is a rabid Republican.

              1. Titus

                If Bloomberg is a rabid Republican – then what is trump? What rabid things has Bloomberg done, never mind what he has said. 12 years mayor of New York, a city I hate, being from Boston, but then Bloomberg is from Boston, not Berlin. I’ve never voted for a Republican, but here in Michigan other than Sanders no one speaks – no one is making any sense. We need: to stop worrying about money. Trumps gotta go. Climate – zero carbon. All three. Nothing else. Not now. Everything else is noise.

                1. NotTimothyGeithner

                  Oh good, if you care about climate change then you would recognize the “trade” and foreign policy views of Michael Bloomberg put him in the same category as Trump.

                  He might slap some green paint on a coal train, but that is all Bloomberg is going to do.

                2. Darthbobber

                  1. Opined that we need to reinterpret the constitution and change our expectations of privacy. Because terrorism.
                  2. Swung Bloomberg coverage of China towards puffery in order to protect his large and growing stake there.

                  3. Gave a speech endorsing Bush for reelection at the 04 Republican convention

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        It’s seems to me, that if one considers the over-all state of the country, that Bloomberg’s charities have been effective at being ineffective. So perhaps purchasing the loyalty of a vast swatch of the PMC, especially opinion leaders, was the point, and the only point.

        1. flora

          Bloomberg has been effective in parking his charities’ funds’ hundreds of millions in off-shore tax havens, where it rests, untaxed, waiting to be used. Almost $300 million at the end of 2008.

          When he says he’ll raise taxes on the rich, take that with a large grain of salt – take it with a whole salt shaker of salt.

          1. notabanktoadie

            US dollars exist in only two forms, physical dollars, FRN Notes and coins, AND more importantly, as account balances at the Federal Reserve.

            Hence the beauty of negative interest as an anti-tax-avoidance measure.

            Hence the need for individual citizen debit/checking accounts at the Federal Reserve itself where they can be shielded from negative interest up to a reasonable account balance.

            Hence the need to be cautious about the use of physical dollars as a tax avoidance tactic.

        2. notabanktoadie

          Reminds me of the Churchill quip: “… Now we are haggling about the price.”

          But hey, people need incomes and it would best if they didn’t have to sell their bodies or their souls to obtain one. (Nor waste their time.)

          1. JTMcPhee

            i think it was George Bernard Shaw who first made that observation, not that murderous old fraud Churchill.

        3. Titus

          C’mon. He’s agaisnt guns. Hard nut to crack there. The PMC is only 10% of the population and according to the chart posted above way less in the vote. So he buys them, then what? PMC types in Michigan don’t care much that class, which is why we keep putting ballot initiatives up and getting them passed and the sort that can’t be screwed around with unlike those of Florida and California. Lambert what gives are you interested in being happy or right? Being cynical about politics is redundant. Nothing going on now hasn’t been going since John Adams tried to get re-elected. I say all with love.

          1. flora

            In John Adams day, every town of any size had at least two newpapers, some had more than 2. The towns’ newspapers were often on opposite sides on many issues. A paper’s reporting was slanted to the editors preferred outcome, and the editorials were vituperative. Spread over the states and the country, many voices and opinions were heard, both pro and con and indifferent, on many issues.

            Today? The MSM is owned by 6 – count ’em, 6 – entities. Near monopoly conglomerates.
            The 10% are also known as the ‘influencers’. Many work for the MSM or local governements. So it’s not like the 10% are no more influential than you or me. heh.

            1. flora

              adding, per the HuffPo article: consistent punishment of white collar crime will do more to change attitudes toward white collar crime than anything else.

          2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL


            The best that the *Democratic* Party, with it’s long (recently-forgotten) history of being for Labor (with the Republicans of course for Capital), can muster as the *Democratic* candidate is the *Republican* financial multi-billionaire who gave the *keynote* at the 2004 *Republican* convention, supported every and all *Republican* policy including the Iraq War, then ruled New York for 12 years as the *Republican* mayor?

            All because he is filthy rich?


          3. Yves Smith

            He has also spent money on climate change studies. Think that has done any good? Had Bloomberg stuck his neck on the line and been a rich guy breaking china at Davos and on CNBC and his own network, it would have had a ton more impact. But he owns private jets and helicopters, so he can’t be much of a spokesperson. Climate change belt tightening is for little people.


            Also supports Emily’s List, another ineffective bunch.

          4. Lambert Strether Post author

            > The PMC is only 10% of the population and according to the chart posted above way less in the vote. So he buys them, then what?

            Er, he owns the political class, the press, and every gatekeeper worthy of the name?

            Adding, I said “effective at being ineffective.” You write: “He’s against guns.” So we’re agreed, then?

    1. Tim

      I said “Really?!” when in the NH debate Sanders pointed at Buttigieg and shamed him for having so many billionaire donors and Buttigieg’s response was first “we gott beat Trump somehow, followed by a long eloquent talk about being inclusive (meaning inclusive of billionaires).

      I would think most Americans watching that would be fine if FOR ONCE we weren’t inclusive of billionaires. I know I’d be okay with that.

  2. Grant

    “That’s the Sanders theory of change. But it only allowed him to eke out a victory. Will it scale?”

    That is the question for the left, not just Bernie, as no changes coming from the left will happen without it. I think it can scale, and I think Bernie did in fact have people come out that wouldn’t otherwise have. As I said many times here, Biden’s polling is inflated, because to the extent that new people do come out to vote that otherwise wouldn’t, he certainly wouldn’t be a beneficiary in the net of that. The holds true almost everywhere. What I think is the case though is that it will vary, sometimes greatly. In some states, it may be small but significant enough for him to win. In other states, it may be significant. The question for me has always been the party he has to run in. I am even more concerned than before Iowa, because they seem willing to burn the entire thing down, to lose all legitimacy in the eyes of most people and to prop up candidates that are far more likely to lose. What I also find shocking is that most Democrats watch Perez and the corrupt group of consultant losers ruin their party and they say next to nothing. I would be appalled if they did this for anyone I support. The rank and file watching and doing nothing is why their party is a dumpster fire. And in talking with most of these zombies, many of them think that people shouldn’t critique their party, as if Trump won’t point these things out.

    If you have a friend, and they are doing something that harms themselves, are you a good friend if you make excuses for them, shield them from critique and justify their behavior? No, you are a good friend if you confront your friend and try to get them to stop. Most Democrats enable the worst elements in their party, and if they don’t wake up and think a bit about what is happening, their party is going to be irreversibly damaged.

    1. Chris

      We had a lot of conversations in the family about this very subject this past weekend. I think the general consensus was that Bernie’s theory is the only working theory we’ve got left if we want to fix things. But there is a small chance of success. There is some hope though.

      We’ll see what happens tomorrow in NH.

      1. Grant

        Maybe the chance isn’t great, but it is far greater than the chance of the neoliberals having any solutions to society’s largest problems. On the environment alone, they really aren’t serious at all. I would also add that while it will be a fight, there isn’t anyone running with much of a chance against Trump, for a number of reasons and Bernie is now leading in some polls nationally. I think, if he can get out of that corrupt party’s primary, he has a shot. Now, can he realize the policies he wants while in office? Yes, but I would argue that that is less certain than him winning an election. Can this corrupt and broken system be fixed and start to work for working people and the poor? I don’t know. It is so corrupt and authoritarian that I don’t know anymore. But I also know that Bernie has to go to war with the capitalist media oligopolies if he gets power.

        1. a different chris

          It would make a wonderful story it all the damage the Right has done to the “capitalist media oligopolies” allowed Sanders to finish them off.

          Stranger things have happened.

        2. russell1200

          I am a pretty conservative Democrat – I am in North Carolina after all. But I am likely to vote for Bernie.

          In my case, I am voting for someone who is not of the establishment. Exact policies are not as important.

        3. Jeremy Grimm

          Neoliberals have no solutions to society’s largest problems. Neoliberals created many of society’s largest problems and work hard to make the problems worse.

      2. Geo

        Agreed. That’s been my basic pitch and some buy it while others still think it’s too extreme. They tend to be the “anything to defeat trump” crowd that is going by all in on Bloomberg so talking reason seems to be of negligible hope. Then there’s my YangGang pals that are just politically aware enough to know things are out of whack an be enticed by his “new” approach but not politically aware enough to express their reasoning beyond “he sounds legit”. Pretty sure they’ll switch to Sanders as time goes on.

        But, with the exception of the Kamala-to-Biden-to-Bloomberg friends/family it seems everyone is aware that something is rotten in DC and the best hope is a new movement. Whether the movement will be able to drag enough of us from our defeatist malaise (one I even find myself in more than I’d like) will be what makes or breaks it.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I think the general consensus was that Bernie’s theory is the only working theory we’ve got left if we want to fix things

        There is a theory in the game of bridge that when you count the cards, and the cards have to fall a certain way for you to win, you play as if that’s the way the cards fell.

    2. Titus

      Grant –
      Part of the racket in party politics is reducing us “the people”, from ‘citizens’ to voters. From something active to something passive. Like anyone one of us would let our banker screw around with our bank account without pushback. Or as simple as not getting our mail. We would not put up with it. This democracy thing we have is certainly generational as in good for. The only life it has is what we give it. We need to act no one is going to give up power willingly. Sure trumps gotta go, but so does that republican senate, and all the freeloading red states, who in their minority have thwarted the majority for it seems forever now. It’s got to stop. Now.

      1. Geo

        “Like anyone one of us would let our banker screw around with our bank account without pushback.“

        Bankers mess with our bank accounts all the time. Monthly fees, atm fees, minimum balance fees, minimum transaction fees, overdraft fees… Seems we’re pretty good at getting pushed around without pushing back.

        Otherwise, I totally agree with you. :)

    3. Oregoncharles

      Both “major” parties are well below 30% of the electorate. (This is “affiliation,” basically the percentage of people who will admit to a pollster that they belong to one party or the other.) Everybody else is thus over 40%, a very solid plurality.

      So the Dems, like the Repubs, are down to a complacent core.

  3. Judith

    Nathan Robinson eviscerates Bloomberg, with lots of scary details, many of which I did not know:


    “Racist, sexist, transphobic, anti-union, pro-War on Drugs, hawkish, authoritarian, plutocratic, and in favor of taxing the poor: Michael Bloomberg offends every single “Democratic” value. I am sure he is attempting a rapid pivot at this very moment, hoping his hundreds of millions can bury his record and “rebrand” him as a moderate progressive. But there is no reason to believe a thing he says—or a thing he pays people to say.

    Bloomberg has shown a far more terrifying form of clientelism even than Donald Trump. If someone opposes him, he simply uses his money to overpower them. Because Bloomberg’s wealth is virtually infinite (even the billion dollars he will spend this year will not diminish his net worth at all, since it’s just the money his money makes), if a newspaper reporter tries to expose him, he can just buy the newspaper and shut them down. If a nonprofit group complains about him, he can just give them a pile of money to shut them up. The reason this is a kind of dictatorship is that people need money, so it’s very hard to turn it down when it’s offered. How can a struggling city turn down Michael Bloomberg’s checks? Yet if they take them, they have to do what he says. The Michael Bloomberg pitch is that because of his money, he is not beholden to anyone. But leaders should be beholden—only a dictator is beholden to no one. When Bloomberg says that nobody owns him, it’s because he owns you.”

    1. inode_buddha

      Wait till he dies, then he’ll find out who owns him. At least that’s my theory, of how to deal with those types.

    2. JohnnyGL

      I love how Nathan Robinson has taken it upon himself to do the herculean task of creating a one-stop shopping location for massive oppo dumbs on Bernie’s opponents! :)

      “Why is it that competitor x against Bernie is complete garbage?”

      “Let me send you think current affairs link”

    3. Samuel Conner

      Is there anything to prevent MB from purchasing the DNC from its current owner (which I believe is the Clinton Foundation) and simply changing the rules for the National Convention? Perhaps quadruple the number of superdelegates and allow them to vote in the first round?

      Given that the Party is a private entity, it seems to me possible that MB could simply acquire it and nominate himself for the top location on the ballot.

      1. Dr. John Carpenter

        Who says he’s not trying? He’s already footed them $300k and I’m sure there’s more to come.

    4. Geo

      Bloomberg is the worst kind of “bipartisan” candidate. He embodies everything despicable about the Dems and everything deplorable about the GOP. A fusion of a nanny-state liberal and a puritanical conservative. Like if Newt Gingrich and Tipper Gore had a love child and raised him on Martha’s Vineyard.

      1. ambrit

        Good heavens man! That ‘coupling’ is already in evidence. My example? The Perez DNC.
        When “Bad Old Tricky Dicky” is now fondly remembered as a crypto-socialist, it’s a sign that we aren’t in Kansas anymore.

  4. chuckster

    Can someone please explain to me how Amy Klobuchar is still considered viable? Is her “pathway forward” those voters who find Joe Biden too extreme?

    In the real world her “skills and talents” would enable her to be the Assistant COO of my local Habitat for Humanity chapter.

    1. JohnnyGL

      She’s not. You’re just watching the real time angst and flailing of the flaky, white upper-middle-class dem voters searching for alternatives to Sanders. Biden’s awful and they’re realizing Pete’s awful, too. Warren’s been given a try and she didn’t close the sale.

      They’ve had it beaten into their heads for years that going left is bad. Some will eventually make their peace with Bernie, others will run to Bloomberg.

      If I’m Bernie, I’m hoping to hit 35%, or even 40% tomorrow. The faster Bernie gets there, the faster he reaches a tipping point where voters ratify the decision and he starts winning landslide victories. We saw it happen with Trump in 2016. He was winning lots of states with 30-something%, maybe 40-something. Then, we reached a tipping point and he ran away with the nomination.

      It’ll happen on the dem side after Super Tuesday. Possibly soon after.

      1. Biph

        Best out come for tomorrow Bernie wins with 30%+ of the vote and no one else reaches viability i.e. Mayor Pete, Warrren, Klobachar and Biden all end up with between 10-14% of the vote each and Yang, Tulsi, Steyer, Patrick and Bloomberg garner 10-14% of the total together.

        1. Carey

          Which part of “the process” in NH and NV not be #rigged?
          Looks like at least NV is providing an early, nose-thumbing answer to us proles.

    2. petal

      Tomorrow should be fun. If Amy for America does well, the LMIAL house will probably go bananas and set off fireworks or something, or maybe put a giant house-sized Amy cardboard standup in the front yard.
      I agree with JohnnyGL. I reckon it’s a last minute reshuffling as people realise Biden’s toast and Warren’s toast, and for whatever reason, Pete the Cheat isn’t doing it for them. Sanders just isn’t one of their options, so they’re filtering to AK. Stay tuned, kids!

    3. Monty

      – 2 X chromosomes
      – A folksy accent
      – A lot of health insurance money behind her
      – Willing to parrot establishment talking points on TV

    4. Carla

      “Can someone please explain to me how Amy Klobuchar is still considered viable? Is her “pathway forward” those voters who find Joe Biden too extreme?”

      No, it’s for those who find Joe Biden too senile. If it’s Amy vs. Bernie, I think Bernie can handle that.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        i’m still kind of out of sorts wondering what a “lying dog-faced pony soldier” is.

        1. Tim

          It’s a John Wayne quote is all it is apparently. But of all the ones to steal…the only one I ever use is the caring “I’ll fix your little wagon.” when my wife or daughter need help doing something they can’t do.

          1. JustAnotherVolunteer

            I’m fond of “never apologize – it’s a sign of weakness” used in a least three John Ford films. Along with “blanket head” which I have never understood but it conjures up quite an image.

  5. some other guy

    While I don’t wish prison on anyone, the Pimco CEO is going to a federal prison, where he will probably find a new tax accountant and/or drug dealer.

      1. ambrit

        A good friend of ours did time in a Club Fed in North Florida. He had an ag degree, so he was transferred from Raiford to the sylvan stalag to be the groundskeeper. He wouldn’t “roll” on his co-conspirators, so he did the entire sentence there; in a private cell with TV, stereo, mini-fridge, the works. His place did indeed have golf privileges at an adjacent course. Back in the 1970s.

        1. Titus

          Ever, been to prison? I have, (refusing to follow lawful orders), some nice, some not, it is, what it does to your mind that gets to you. Then there is the endless joys of being a felon – the US doesn’t let in felons from other countries so alas nor do most other countries let you in. In some ways it’s endless what you can’t do. There is no forgive or forgot.

          1. ambrit

            Today, there is no forgive or forget for a lot of ‘items.’ Items such as student loan debt, and non-participation in the debt complex, (ever try to rent a car with no Credit Score?) and, (happened to a co-worker, not once but thrice in one week,) driving while black, etc. etc.
            Our felonious friend made some connections while inside and set up a legit business after he exited the carceral state, utilizing those same connections. He retired well off.
            There are crooks and there are CROOKS!

          2. Yves Smith

            Don’t kid yourself re Club Fed. No risk of fights or being expected to be a sex servant to an alpha, but nice it ain’t. Food is horrible. You are locked up, get up and have food at set hours, are in a cell with a crap mattress and a cell mate or two, the food is horrible and access to the library, exercise, and anyone outside is limited and supervised. Martha Stewart said years later how awful it was. Club Fed grads probably glorify their stays to trivialize their status as felons.

  6. Hoppy

    Prior Authorization – I noticed this creeping everywhere into my policy. The latest criminal act of criminal industry.

    It didn’t used to be this way, but alas, grifters gonna grift.

  7. Kurt Sperry

    “British Airways 747 Sets New Transatlantic Speed & Time Record”
    • Hmm. Effects on the airframe?

    None out of the ordinary. The airspeed was in the normal range the whole flight so to the airframe, not knowing it’s unusually high groundspeed, it would be just another flight.

    1. RMO

      Not surprised it was a 747 too as they are faster than they look – economy cruise speed is higher than max cruise on many other airliners. With the extra few knots of cruise speed multiplied over a long flight like this added to a good tailwind it can really add up.

        1. RMO

          Glen: And yet it was almost completely free of Dutch roll tendencies which sweepback usually aggravates. Boeing really could make some good designs at one time.

        2. PlutoniumKun

          Most of the latest Boeings and Airbus’s are actually significantly slower than the 1960’s jets. Its mostly due to modern engine designs being optimised for fuel efficiency.

    2. a different chris

      >not knowing it’s unusually high groundspeed, it would be just another flight.

      Oh no it most certainly wouldn’t, having experienced *exactly* what was describe. I think we made it across the Atlantic in something like 5:20. There wasn’t even anybody totally ready to check us into the airport, they all basically came running in.

      The plane bounces around like you are under ack-ack fire. Seatbelts the whole way.

    3. Oh

      FWIW, Lufthansa charts its flight altitude and course based on prevailing winds and is able to routinely beat their ETA even after leaving late.

  8. Carolinian

    US adults reported taking 10.5 trips to the library on average in 2019

    From a glass half empty perspective that’s not very many–particular when you consider that many library trips are in fact to get dvd or bluray movies and that a trip to the library is free and a trip to the movies will cost you ten bucks.

    And here’s a longish AP story on Biden’s possibly altered chances here in the Palmetto state.


    I’ve seen some Steyer billboards around town and a couple of Mayo P yard signs. Biden….nada. Post No Bills on the firewall?

    1. Geo

      I met someone a few months ago who gets all his movies from the library because he has a minimum wage job in Los Angeles. Found out he’d seen my movie. I had no idea it was available in libraries but love that it is. Granted, I make no income from anyone who watches it from library checkouts but the fact that those with low/no incomes can watch it filled me with joy. Especially since it’s a movie that goes deep into the psychological impacts of poverty and the systemic hardships that keep people from escaping it, yet also tries to give them a sense of pride through understanding and letting the viewer know they’re not alone and it’s not their fault. I mean, what other movie has a major plot thread around paycheck cashing at the local grocery store and showing a main character who is “underemployed” while homeless and having to decide between eating or paying his phone bill so he can continue looking for work?

      So, maybe it’s purely for self interest, but if poor people are getting their movies from libraries that makes me happy. Especially since, it seems, librarians are choosing movies that will speak to that audience.

  9. BobW

    Effects on the airframe? I would think none, it’s being carried along in the stream of air and making as much forward progress relative to it as it would in calm air.

    1. a different chris

      No. See my response above. Seatbelts the whole way. Mother Nature doesn’t care about exactly what direction you would like to be going in any particular moment.

      1. Yves Smith

        Don’t agree. I’ve been in small planes with strong tail winds (over 100 MPH, 2 hour 15 min flight getting in 40 mins early) often, there are regular very strong tail winds on one regional jet route I fly. A teeny jet would be very vulnerable to turbulence and it’s hardly an issue on these high tailwind flights.

        He is saying that if the tail wind is pretty consistent, the resistance on the plane should not be that different that on a still air or low headwind/tailwind flight.

  10. Krystyn Walentka

    Re: “Americans went to the library more often than they went to the movies, poll finds”

    Socialist me: “That’s Awseome!”

    Neoliberal me: “How can I privatize that?”

    Soup Nazi Me: “No more libraries for you!”

    Being homeless I can tell you that libraries are a quite, cheap, warm respite from the van and the coffee shops.

    1. BobW

      Yes, when I was homeless the worst days were holidays, when the library was closed all day, and Sundays, when the library didn’t open until 1 PM. Very little to do or places to go, unless you had a little money. Coffee shops were out for me most of the time. Nursing a senior coffee (55 cents then) at Burger King was one option.

      1. ambrit

        Our local library doesn’t open on Sundays. It’s a remnant of an old Blue Law I was told by an older librarian. It closes at 4PM on Fridays and Saturdays.

  11. Kurt Sperry

    Even If You Weren’t Born Into Nobility, You Can Buy Your Way In” [Bloomberg]

    My heiress great-great aunt Hélène-Elisabeth Sperry married Polish Prince André Poniatowski and thus became a princess. He, I’m told, married her for both her money and her looks, but likely mostly for the money. They ended up having a long and by all accounts happy marriage.

  12. SKG

    There’s no extra strain on the airframe for riding in high (ground) speed winds.

    The same way that there’s no strain on your skeleton riding in a high speed train.

    The airplane is basically floating in a body of air, and if the body of air moves together at a high rate of speed, the aircraft is moved with it. Within and relative to the body of air, the aircraft will be traveling at the usual cruise speed of the aircraft. To determine the ground speed, you add the two speeds together. (Which may result in the aircraft moving more quickly, more slowly, or even diagonally relative to the direction of the nose.)

    1. a different chris

      For the third time this is wrong. This is not a wind tunnel, this is Mother Nature. I am speaking from the voice of experience. Seatbelt sign on all the way, the airplane skipping around like a rock across the water.

      1. titus

        Ok dChris, looking at your flying log how many times have you experienced this? In my 65 years having done this 200+ times, I’d say you had an unfortunate experience not a typical experience, which is an inductive logic flaw. I say most kindly. Most tail winds are smooth.

        1. RMO

          I’ll back that with the experiences of a half dozen 10,000 hour plus airline pilots I know who can tell you that, yes turbulence that is uncomfortable to fly in is rare and isn’t correlated with high tail winds. Turbulence that is capable of damage to a commercial airliner (which is a level of turbulence far beyond what requires the seatbelt on sign to be lit) is extraordinarily rare and mostly connected with either mountain waves or very powerful towering cumulus systems producing severe thunderstorms.

          1. fajensen

            My former landlord was a test pilot for the UK Air Force for the larger planes. He explained that “severe turbulence” is when the pilot’s pens leaves their left-side shirt pockets during the flight! The cockpit is spray-painted with coffee well before that happens, they just call that “turbulence”.

      1. Oregoncharles

        And when it’s all done, Bernie may well have captured the party’s nomination – but will it be an asset or a liability?

  13. FreeMarketApologist

    In one long, exhausting day, Lovell flies from Salt Lake City to San Diego. There, an escort picks her up and takes her across the border to a Tijuana hospital, where she gets a refill on her prescription. After that, she’s shuttled back to the airport and heads home.

    Location arbitrage for pricing is only going to work for a limited population of the sick – and is not a viable long-term strategy, for the very reason that Lambert mentions, among others.

    1. RMO

      It does provide a striking example of just how warped the “free market” for health care has become in the US though.

      1. Glen

        I just heard about someone traveling to some place like India for dental care.

        But learning that the US would only have a couple of months of drug supplies if China quits exporting is even more crazy.

        Clearly government policy promoting this level of “free trade” is insane.

        1. a different chris

          Isn’t it jaw-dropping that we have managed to both protect high medical prices *and* offshore the manufacturing to China.

          I mean WTF.

        2. Oregoncharles

          Yves talked about this problem a couple of years ago, esp. in the context of a collapse, and I decided to do something about it.

          Fortunately, we aren’t dependent on any drugs (and my wife is downright phobic), but there are some herbs we use, so I decided to make sure I can grow them. We already had valerian growing – it’s a gorgeous flower with a strong scent of vanilla (the medicine, from the roots, smells nasty). But I ordered seed of echinacea and plants of saw palmetto. Also pyrethrum, an insecticidal daisy used to kill insects and, in the past, intestinal worms. We’ll see how hardy the palmetto is – sources disagreed, but I’m giving it a try and covering it in the winter.

          The echinacea surprised me: every single seed came up, a new one on me. So then I was looking for space for about 50 echinacea plants, a challenge. I’ll send pictures when they bloom. At this point, there are a lot of the pyrethrum, too; purple and white are going to be garden themes. I was already growing tea, but I’m trying to propagate it. Seed hasn’t been too successful, so far. Hopefully that’s a learning curve.

          At least we’re self-sufficient on those that we can grow. Can’t do much fo rmy wife’s coffee, though.

        3. Bugs Bunny

          When I’m in India I get my teeth cleaned. 10 bucks. It’s covered in France but I get to meet some nice people.

  14. Jason Boxman

    But when it comes to Internet connected devices, each of which can become part of a DDoS swarm, to what extent do you have the right to do whatever you want with your device, including not installing updates that patch vulnerabilities? Look no further than the Internet of S**t to see the result. So this can be a tragedy of the commons.

    But then can you trust your hardware provider not to accidentally or intentionally destroy your device?

    This is another example of where the erosion of trust is a problem, because a safe Internet needs cooperation from everyone.

    (And for what it’s worth, I put off installing OS X updates forever, mostly because rebooting is a hassle.)

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      ive avoided updates since my first machine, running windows 98se(which i still pine for on cloudy days…kept it for as long as i could, until it wouldnt interface with the internet anymore).
      they want me to be a beta tester, they can start sending cash.
      but win10 won’t let you turn them off…so i blocked everything that sounded like “call the mothership” in the zone alarm firewall, and foiled mr gates, again.

  15. Off The Street

    Extractivism is another way to describe sucking the life out of people through mining of their consumer surplus. Next we’ll see some life estate applications where one signs away vestiges of humanity while acquiescing to be monitored by a chip. The Matrix has transitioned from entertainment to IPO Appendix.

  16. Phillip Allen

    Eryngium is in the enormous Apiaceae family (dill, parsley, carrot, celery). Thistle genera are mostly in Asteraceae. The prickly structures are remarkably similar between the genera. In my experience I struggled to grow Sea Holly well. Invasiveness was never a problem. I’d give it a go again if I had a garden.

    1. polecat

      Cirsium works well in our space .. small purplish red blooms – doesn’t freely seed, and the bumble bees Love it like there’s no tomorrow !

  17. antidlc

    Is there a problem trying to post links from wall street on parade?

    I have tried several times today to post a link from wall street on parade in the comments section and the post never shows up.

    1. HotFlash

      I tried to post the link address w/o actually linking, that one disappeared, too. Try searching on “Pete Buttigieg, a 38-year old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana” with the site:thingummyroadonmarchabout.com (well, get it actually right, I am trying to dodge algos here). Will monitor and report back

  18. pretzelattack

    well, get ready for nevada to try to screw sanders. i could naively ask why they need a new app to count the votes.

    1. Angie Neer

      Rest easy. According to the video clip Lambert posted, it’s not an app! It’s a “software.”

      1. Samuel Conner

        I wonder if we need a new term for applications that are developed not to perform a function but to raise money and make connections for further business opportunities for the developers.

        has anyone come up with “griftware” yet?

        1. hunkerdown

          Why not name them after their authors? In which case “tools” is perfect.

          Seriously, though, web developers get their work largely through portfolios. It’s the same “exposure” scam into which media hacks have forced musicians and other artists.

          Now, opaque black boxes to simulate the “correct” outcome of a business process… that’s another matter. (Business… business… so if the parties’ communications are just business records, they could be monitored and subpoenaed by Federal law enforcement… oh is that why they want to #StopSanders…)

      2. Woodchuck

        This is so funny and pathetic. As if the fact that it’s an “app” is the issue here. It could also just be a specific website that isn’t installed on the iPads (web-app).

        The fact is they’re using a software to do it. Who cares ultimately what form it has. As if it changed anything if it was an “app” or not.

  19. christofay

    Riding the train from New York to Boston Friday the water along the sound was moving with strength. I can understand how the 747 made a travel record The train (Acela) runs just on the beach in parts of Conn. and Rhode Island and watching the water is a high light of the trip. I’ve been taking the bus from Cape Cod to Boston then the train as travel time is dependable compared to busing it the whole route. From Falmouth there are bus changes at Bourne and Providence with stops in Bourne, New Bedford, Fall River and two in Providence. Actual travel time is one or two hours greater than scheduled travel time.

  20. Steve

    As for Food Delivery all the people whom I know about who use food delivery services as a “go to” instead of cooking share a common trait. They can’t afford it. I think we are at Peak Food Delivery ?

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Peak Food Delivery meet nCoV. In a pandemic, there is no way I’m trusting food cooked anywhere other than my kitchen.

      FWIW, my local Harbor Freight has a slew of nitrile gloves in various sizes (3, 5, 7 mil) on sale, fairly close to an assortment of N95 masks.

      1. Titus

        Mm, and where you buy raw food are they all gloved and masked? Was it delivered by people so equipped? The wholesalers? Growers? Other processors in the supply chain? Virus are quite small. One falls on your skin and straight through to your blood supply – at least corona type. Most kitchens have to past health inspections. Something to be said for that. I’d avoid cruise ships.

        1. chuckster

          Most kitchens have to past health inspections.

          How about a 1997 Nissan Sentra driven by a gig worker food delivery driver who just picked up his sixth Uber fare of the day? Who inspects them?

  21. TalkingCargo

    Re: Apple

    The only Apple products I own are an ancient Ipod and the Itunes software which I haven’t upgraded in several years. Before I retired I had an IMac at work for the last couple of years, but before that I had used PCs. For what I was doing, it didn’t make much difference. I did come across a couple of videos about Apple products that some might find entertaining/enlightening.

    This one is a musician’s rant about the crapification of Apple:

    This one is by the same musician and gives some basic instruction about how to build a Hackintosh:

    As far as I know they haven’t been linked to before on this site, but if they have, my apologies.

    1. Titus

      Turning off automatic updates in iOS will avoid the need to make any decisions. Turning off notifications of updates keeps even the notion of updating from one’s mind, thus breaking all behavioral feedback loops. I find it works well. Excepting the day one security exploits. Ah, to live is to choose.

  22. clarky90

    re “Stats”

    CFR is “Case Fatality Rate”

    “….Let’s take, for example, the data at the end of February 8, 2020: 813 deaths (cumulative total) and 37,552 cases (cumulative total) worldwide.

    If we use the formula (deaths / cases) we get:

    813 / 37,552 = 2.2% CFR (flawed formula).

    With a conservative estimate of T = 7 days as the average period from case confirmation to death, we would correct the above formula by using February 1 cumulative cases, which were 14,381, in the denominator:

    Feb. 8 deaths / Feb. 1 cases = 813 / 14,381 = 5.7% CFR (correct formula, and estimating T=7).

    T could be estimated by simply looking at the value of (current total deaths + current recovered) and pair it with a case total in the past that has the same value….”


  23. Monty

    It’s not an app, it’s a tool!

    I immediately thought of the two people from the dead parrot sketch getting to the bottom of what it was.

    Blue checks on Twitter, “Everyone knows that apps only come from the app store. This was pre-loaded tool and isn’t even available at the app store. QED.”


  24. Synoia

    British Airways 747 Sets New Transatlantic Speed & Time Record

    Record Tail Wind. Effects on air frame negligible because it is air speed which determines stress and strain, not ground speed.

    Ground speed affects arrival times.

    There is no way on the planet that the 747 was flying at supersonic air speeds.

    1. a different chris

      Can’t we all do this in a single thread.

      Deep breath (again): I actually was on a really fast flight to London. Mother Nature is not a wind tunnel. The plane bounced around like it was a skipping rock. Seatbelts the whole way. Effects on the air frame, well we were all praying even us atheists.

      1. Anthony G Stegman

        Give it up. Other people have had a difference experience flying with strong tailwinds. Leave it at that.

        1. a different chris

          I am certainly going to “give it up”. I’m embarrassed for all of you. One last parting shot though:

          *I* did not say “all tailwinds” do this. I said they certainly can and I have experienced it.

          Everybody else seems to be saying “tailwinds have no noticeable effect”. WTF? That’s just wrong.

          As I pointed out to somebody else above, when you are faced with a mathematical proof you can either prove it thru some elegant math, or you can disprove it with one specific example. Somehow people here seem to have a “proof” and therefore what happened to me therefore can’t be real.

          Um, ok. I realize I’m not surrounded by engineers and mathematicians here, for sure.

  25. JTMcPhee

    Re prior authorization: why do people persist in calling it INsurance, when it’s clear that at best it’s UNsurance?

    1. John

      I remember the OPA. I also remember the black market and selling live poultry in the middle of the night. I was a kid. What did I know, but selling for the OPA price was like cutting your own throat economically. One of the dealers my dad did business with drove from New York to Delaware for chickens. On the return trip he was stopped by, I am going to say MPs because I don’t remember differently, … he was stopped and given some sort of paperwork that directed him to a processing plant where he was paid the OPA price, which represented a considerable loss. He did as he was told and drove directly back to Delaware, loaded up again, and this time made it to the market in New York City. He may not have made much profit but he covered his loss on the first load. Ah, memories of childhood. Children today have no idea.

      1. Eureka Springs

        First day I ever drank a beer, smoked green, drove on my own in that ’64 Mustang convertible to Keo Arkansas, Chicken George the bootleggers house for the ‘adults’ back home. It’s was a dry county on a Sunday ta boot. I chopped cotton, the last year cotton was grown on the farm, with Chicken George’s kin that summer from sun up till noon for 11.00. And read a book a day, including every Henry Miller book I could get my hands on. Must have been 10 or 11 years old.

        Kids these days indeed.

        1. ambrit

          Live large! I remember going on Saturday mornings to the loading dock of the last local brewery in our south Florida town to swap out dads cases of empties for fresh cases of suds. Just got my learners permit. Loading the cases of beer into the trunk of the Fury 3. Didn’t think anything of it. Today’s kids are living in a prison environment compared to what we had to deal with.
          I have often wondered if there is some threshold of social complexity past which a societal collapse is guaranteed.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I think it would take another conventional world war. I vaguely recall some price stabilization measures, primarily efforts to clamp down on labor back in the days of stagflation.

      1. ambrit

        The example of gas rationing in WW2 is my defining example. The actual shortage was in rubber for tyres. To cut way down on civilian driving, to conserve rubber for military use tyres, gas, which was in plentiful supply, was rationed to force a cutback in civilian driving. A young Richard Nixon was a lawyer for the Office of Price Administration during WW2.

  26. Tim

    CA independent voter here. Thankfully I didn’t throw away the mailer that told me (in print at the bottom) I needed to respond with a choice to participate in the Democratic primary, and did just that. If my ballot arrives and it doesn’t have the primary on it I’ll be more than a little upset.

    The reason I jumped all over it was I’m white collar and know those kind of things matter so I was triggered to act. If I was blue collar or ESL, not sure I would have paid attention well enough to do anything about it.

    1. Michael

      This Independent in San Diego also opted to request a Dem ballot.
      Just received my “I can vote for Bernie” mail ballot yesterday.

      1. Carey

        >Just received my “I can vote for Bernie” mail ballot yesterday.

        Mine finally arrived today, after a few tries, from my friendly local Clerk-Recorder’s office (as in ’16). Odd that the “mistakes” all fall toward Power..
        Trying to figure out how best to get it accurately counted, now.

        1. Carey

          Adding: in small faint print at the top of my CA Primary Ballot:
          “Copyright 2020 Dominion Voting, Inc.”

          I’m reassured

  27. Plenue


    Syrian army is now about 3km from meeting up with Syria forces in Aleppo city, and completely securing the entire M5 highway. They’re also continuing to advance west of the highway in certain areas. Moon of Alabama thinks the goal is to reopen the highways, if so the advance will stop soon.

    Meanwhile the Turkish army set up shop in an abandoned Syrian air base and started hitting Syrian troops with artillery. The Syrians bombarded them in return, killing at least six Turkish soldiers and injuring five more. Erdogan had a hissy fit and made grandiose claims about how the Turkish military responded to this ‘provocation’ (that Turkey actually started) and bombed hundreds of Syrian targets.

    No evidence has yet emerged of this righteous Turkish vengeance.

  28. Tim

    “Hmm. Effects on the airframe?”

    None, other than turbulence that may have been present. An example is a person riding in a balloon, where it’s so peaceful like you are hardly moving at all, but when you look at the ground you can see you are indeed moving, maybe faster than you could run. When in a jet stream your static unpowered velocity is that of the jet stream 0 airframe stress. Once you go max cruise it is added on top of the unpowered velocity, the airframe only experiences max cruise loads.

  29. Reify99

    Prior Authorization Land is Hell on Earth. But it gets worse.

    I have a client who has benefitted greatly from a long-acting anti-psychotic injection that lasts 12weeks. They are now working, doing their art, collaborating, socializing. Before this medication they were not able to do any of these things. They were avoidant, disorganized. Some paranoia.

    They are tolerating the medication. No weight gain, no metabolic changes,or tremors. It’s working.

    We help them get a $15/hour job at 30hrs/week. They like it, start saving money, getting an apartment, etc. Thinking about getting a car. Within 6weeks, their Medicaid (which we helped them get) is cut off because they are making too much money.

    By the way the retail cost for the 12 week injection is $3755. The 4 week is about $1055.

    Fortunately they can get on parents’ insurance, except when I call Ins company they say not covered. The problem is a typo in the address which takes two (polite) prods to fix.

    Then I call the pharmacy benefit manager (a giant company the likes of which NC has covered) who informs me that the injection, in either 12 week or 4 week formulations, is not covered by the pharmacy benefit. Period. No prior authorization can be done. It IS covered by the medical benefit. So I call those people. It’s what’s called a “Buy and Bill”.

    This means that the pharmacy needs to buy it, but won’t until
    they know that the client (or parents) are willing to pay the deductible plus the Maximum Out of Pocket, aka, the MOOP,-
    in this case $1500. So I call the parents. Fortunately this cost can be stretched out so we switch to the 4 week formulation.
    (Did you catch that? We’re rationing Care now.)
    They can afford to pay a prorated amount.

    In the middle of all this client needs another injection and we manage to scarf one. A “sample”.

    Finally the arrangements are made, our billing dept calls pharmacy tells them to buy the med. Pharmacy bills our organization and we bill client/parents.

    Client is unaware of how close they came to being thrown under the bus. They have continued in their progress.

    That’s to get one medication for ONE client. Who has some resources.

    1. JBird4049

      “Making too much money.” The joys of mooching living on disability. The very lap of luxury.

      The problem of disability is that one of the criteria for not being disabled is making the enormous sum of (roughly) $1200 in a single month or (again roughly) over $900 nine times in a rolling sixty month period. As many forms of disability has variable levels of disability, having the medical and financial support by itself often greatly reduces whatever the disability is, add the various benefits with the different types of requirements, different periods of recertifications for them, as well as the multiple levels of people and that each state has its own modifications, and you could be forgiven for thinking that “they” are out to screw with you.

      Oh, and the income limits are the average of all wages, not of inflation, across the entire country from ultra expensive Bay Area to some low cost place in the South. At least for the lower end the increases are within shouting range of inflation, but anywhere else it’s a steady squeeze.

      1. inode_buddha

        To put a straight across comparison on it, $15/hr full-time job works out to $2400/month for a single no dependents, can’t claim or itemize anything. So that $1200/month is equal to $7.50/hr…. suspiciously similar to the Federal minimum wage.

        BTW Welfare payments are figured in the same way, at least up here in NY. The send a statement that shows how much you are pulling from TANF, rental assistance, SNAP, HEAP, etc. and it is figured to an equal dollar amount – $1200/mo.

    2. Senator-Elect

      What a story! What a waste of time and effort!

      Another great benefit of Canada’s system is the lack of paperwork for the end user.

      Frankly, with your health care system, it’s amazing how few Americans go postal.

  30. PKMKII

    The “Dark Pattern” push with iOS updates typically ends up backfiring in my experience, as most nights the update fails overnight and it just asks me the next morning if I want to try again next night.

  31. JohnnyGL

    Quinnipiac: Sanders 25, Biden 17, Bloomberg 15, Warren 14, Buttigieg 10

    Previous poll was late Jan (pre-Iowa), Biden-9, Sanders+4, Bloomberg+7, Warren-1, Pete+4

    Wow, this might really be happening. Anyone else got that feeling like at the start of those massive battles in the Lord of the Rings movies?

    1. Samuel Conner

      The news out of China gives me a feeling that reminds me of the vast fume that came out of Mount Doom and blotted out the heavens before the onslaught of the armies of Mordor. Or maybe the gloom that JRRT evokes in his description of Frodo, Sam and Gollum reaching the center of the Dead Marshes.

  32. Alfred

    No, Roger Scruton (in The American Conservative): Le Corbusier in characterizing a house as a ‘machne for living in’ did not mean ‘that it was to be lived in by machines.” He meant that, like the mechanical automobiles, ocean liners, and airplanes of the 1920s did, a house functionally designed and effectively equipped (with such creature comforts as indoor plumbing) could enhance the quality of life enjoyed by its (yes, indeed, human) inhabitants. Although the Villa Savoye did include on its ground floor a garage in which cars could be parked, neither the architect nor his client seriously considered that the cars ‘lived’ there. Le Corbusier was a genuine humanist – which probably is enough to explain why his theories and designs are anathema to today’s conservatives like Scruton. But rather than being distracted by his driveling on flat roofs (which, when properly designed, built, and maintained do not leak nor collapse under snow loads, as countless examples throughout the world prove), readers should scrutinize the skylines he recommends. That of Ghent, as pictured, is to a large extent the product of the 19th century when the old Flemish city already famous for its weaving became industrialized; that used to represent Chicago is from only slightly later, and cropped to exclude all of the most highly regarded of the skyscrapers for whose modern design Chicago is justly famous. The skylines proposed by the New Urbanism are those of the Coolidge years. So what Scruton is really advocating are contemporary cities designed to celebrate the worst excesses of laissez-faire capitalism.

    1. Basil Pesto

      just to add: some years ago I stayed in the Unité d’habitation in Marseille (one floor is set aside as a fairly affordable hotel). A most beguiling and charming building, (sort of) flat roof and all.

      As I recall (correct me if I’m wrong) Le Corbusier’s intentioned for the various Unités was to provide a template for good, affordable housing for the masses, but they’re now somewhat tony addresses.

    2. William Beyer

      Roger Scruton (in The American Conservative): As a retired architect with 50 years of education and experience in the field, I assure you that Scruton’s piece is vacuous twaddle from someone who clearly does not have the first clue about architecture or architects.

  33. Bugs Bunny

    This rabbit wants to see Mike Bloomberg right in the middle of that debate stage in Nevada like a mildewy bar rag from the Sahara back bar. Absolutely no way he’ll convince anyone of anything outside his awful marketing.

      1. ForFawkesSakes

        Krystal Ball or Nomiki Konst had someone on their show saying that Bloomberg was pretty good in his previous debates. That scans, but I don’t know the quality of the opposition he previously faced. Has he faced a dogged candidate like Sanders? Or for that matter, any lingering desperate establishment candidates willing to get bloody and muddy to come at The Good King Stop ‘N’ Frisk?

        It’s going to be the most entertaining debate thus far.

    1. chuckster

      His commercials are clichés. He makes a yet-to-be-named rat-faced CIA agent look deep. There is nothing for anyone to fear here. Let him onstage to demonstrate how shallow he is. It will confirm Bernie’s theory that “Every billionaire is a policy mistake.”

  34. Grant

    Maybe the chance isn’t great, but it is far greater than the chance of the neoliberals having any solutions to society’s largest problems. On the environment alone, they really aren’t serious at all. I would also add that while it will be a fight, there isn’t anyone running with much of a chance against Trump, for a number of reasons and Bernie is now leading in some polls nationally. I think, if he can get out of that corrupt party’s primary, he has a shot. Now, can he realize the policies he wants while in office? Yes, but I would argue that that is less certain than him winning an election. Can this corrupt and broken system be fixed and start to work for working people and the poor? I don’t know. It is so corrupt and authoritarian that I don’t know anymore. But I also know that Bernie has to go to war with the capitalist media oligopolies if he gets power.

  35. chuck roast

    Thanks for the “Laundromat Caucus”. I was at the laundromat this morning with my local caucus. It was raining…like New England…it’s been raining for three months already! I think my local caucus goers would get it. More wicked awesomeness from NC!

  36. cuibono

    “Obviously transatlantic flight speeds can never compete with the Concorde days”
    AS a teen i once flew Concorde DC to Heathrow…the return flight more than made up for the speed on the outbound flight however as a strike at heathrow meant we needed to stop at Paris for some refueilling or maintenance and thenan engine went out just shy halfway accross the atlantic and we wwent back to paris.
    total travel ime on that one was 26 hours.

  37. Mark K

    Re: Tech: “Food delivery apps are changing the way we eat, and raking in billions”

    Without any data to support my conjecture, I would be willing to guess that the real losers in the rise of the food delivery business are the wait staff. (Move fast and break people’s livelihoods.) What I am imagining is that the delivery companies take their cut, the restaurants don’t raise prices enough to compensate for this new cost, but given that so much more of the food being prepared is going out the door, the restaurateurs are saving money on payroll for wait staff. The latter see their hours cut, which is compounded by the foregone tips.

    I’d love to be proven wrong on this.

    1. Yves Smith

      I never did delivery in NYC (which is set up for delivery) except when really sick or injured. But I would occasionally do takeout. Always tipped 10%. Not as much work for staff as a sitdown meal but they deserve something.

  38. ewmayer

    “Coronavirus: Turn off air-conditioners and open windows to reduce risk of being infected, say experts” [Straits Times]. “…earlier studies have shown that viruses thrive better in cool, dry climates. That would make tropical Singapore, with its hot and tropical weather, less conducive for the virus to thrive.“ — So we should be good in California, where in my neck of the woods, North SF Bay, it’s close to 80F as I type this. Our normal winter rains stopped mid-January, been bone-dry ever since. I really hope this doesn’t mark the start of another multi-year drought here. The aridity has been playing hell with my ski and sinuses … bought a humidifier yesterday, used it overnight – to give you an idea how dry things are, I put it on the high settings, and it vaporized an entire 1 gal tankful of water during the night without the slightest fogging of my BR window, and it was chilly (40s) outside during the night.

      1. polecat

        Yes. Whenever the woodstove is going .. which is most of winter here, we always have a brass ladle filled with water to humidfy the indoor air. We often open windows for fresh air, when temps are above freezing. I really hate dry forced-air heat, which admittedly, we do use in a pinch, like when we’ve been gone all day, where the stove is cold, and thus would take time to heat the living space, but otherwise .. wood heat + humidity, is it !

  39. Henry Moon Pie

    So I have a question. Let’s say Bernie does nicely in NH and gets a good bump in the national polls despite all the networks’ best efforts to minimize and squelch it. Then let’s say that Bernie gets to have fun with Bloomie in the room at the Nevada debate, and Bernie’s national numbers head to 35% while Bloomie’s level off and maybe drop a little at around 15% after spending all that money.

    Then what does the ABB crowd do?

    1. chuckster

      They have a nuclear option sitting in Chappaqua NY. The goal is not to win but to make sure the other one loses.

      1. chuck roast

        Brother chuckster, do you really think that herself, with an ego as big as the great outdoors (and a reasonably well functioning brain) will willingly subject herself to a second epic humiliation?

        1. ambrit

          That spawn of Chicago, (where H— Mouth sightings are as plentiful as fungi on a foggy morning,) is a classic walking Greek Tragedy. She will forge ahead to her doom, inexorable as Nemesis pursuing Hubris. We have all met people who’s ambition blinded them to reality.
          It’s Her Turn!

          1. John Anthony La Pietra

            Sorry about the consecutive posts. I only typed up the second one after the first one didn’t show up. Moderators, please feel free to delete the first one (and this reply).

        2. John Anthony La Pietra

          Ah, but this time will be different! . . . and even if it isn’t, she has the excuses lined up in advance!

    2. Acacia

      DNC operatives invite Bernie to a meeting and spike his coffee. Not enough to kill him, but he lands in the hospital for a couple of weeks and the media considers him all but dead. “That heart attack was a wake up call” blah blah blah.

  40. John k

    …But it only allowed him to eke out a victory.
    Iowa is a conservative red state that trump won by 10%, meaning Bernie’s stump speech does not appeal like in dem or swing states. Certainly not fertile ground for a socialist.
    Bernie did fine there, would have done a little better if everything had been done correctly.
    He will do better in N.H. and NV, and might even win SCif biden crashes out by then, as seems likely.
    Should be very well positioned for super tue.

    1. Big River Bandido

      You’re not quite right on your assessment of the state’s politics, but I agree with your overall conclusion. Iowa is both a “swing” state and a “bellwether” state, with a long tradition of both left and right activism, as well as a socialist tradition bequeathed by Swedish immigrants in the north and Hamburg refugees in the east, whose descendants are still politically engaged today. Socialists have never dominated politics in Iowa except in some cities at the local level in the early 20th century. But their influence has underpinned the entire state’s political identity and traditions for nearly two centuries. That Hillary Clinton did so badly in Iowa in 2016, when it’s such a critical state for any Democrat running for president, is an indictment of her campaign and indicative of the weakness of her candidacy and the incompetence of the entire establishment faction of the party.

      There *are* challenges for Sanders’ model in Iowa, and in any other small or sparsely-populated state: it’s harder to get to the people. Even Iowa’s cities are not densely populated with apartment buildings — it’s more single- and multi-family dwellings, often well-spaced from each other. And in rural areas it’s only practical to drive. Canvassing precincts like this entails a lot more travel between doors to knock on than it would in a place like the Bronx. And, as everyone has pointed out, Iowa is more white and less POC than other states. All these are disadvantages toward building a working-class movement in small, sparsely-populated states. In other words, not even Sanders’ strongest constituency.

      And yet, even with all these disadvantages, he got a clear plurality among Iowa Democrats as manifest by the preference cards. Also highly significant that according to exit polls is that 60% of Iowa Democrats favor Medicare For All in some form. Further significant is the 5 point jump in youth turnout. All these are signs that Sanders theory of change is likely to do even *better* in the big states, where the motherlode of working class votes lies and where there’s more proximity and infrastructure for reaching out to voters and getting them to vote.

  41. chuck roast

    Re: Nina Illingworth’s “Working Definition of Neo-feudalism”

    It’s my understanding that Feudalism was a political economy wherein a local landowning lord exercised complete control over his tenants. It was indeed an entirely extractive enterprise. A serf was basically a slave. However, the the lord had certain responsibilities including the provision for food and housing. Otherwise the serfs lived at the whim of the lords.

    Let’s compare the Medieval Warm Period (950-1250 AD) with the Great Financial Crisis (2008-21?? AD). In the case of the Warm Period it would have been in the interest of the Lord (and Lords) to lend assistance to his serfs inasmuch as they were in a very small leaky boat that could have sent them all to the bottom. It was not in the economic interest of the Lords to turn their serfs out of their dwellings if there was very little food to harvest. It was in the Lords self-interest to lend as much assistance as necessary to their cash cows.

    OTOH during the hyper-capitalist post-GFC period our economic Lords had no interest in assisting those workers or home-owners crushed by the economic recession. The workers were fired and the home-owners (and renters) were turned out of their dwellings without a thought. The modern Lords have no responsibility to the modern serfs.

    Neo-feudalism? Keep thinking Nina.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      ‘Feudalism’ is so contentious to define in itself, that it struck me as a poor term to start with. Feudalism is one of those ‘I know it when I see it concepts’. Regional, never total, ranging over a thousand years, it’s a baggy idea that generates loads of academic papers trying to pin it down.

      I also dislike the whiggish history that treats feudalism as a blanket bad time for everyone below a knight. Hollywood’s gotta Hollywood, but all those fights for territory were fundamentally about gaining control of the tithes and taxes from those grubby little peasants. You’re going to treat them at least as nicely as you would a cow. And the letters of foremen complaining about the peasants idea of a full working day when it’s for the manor indicate that at least in some areas they didn’t feel themselves under the jackboot.

      What’s wrong with ‘kleptocracy’?

  42. Beyond the rubicoN

    “They’re Going to Try to Steal California From Sanders (Again)”

    Long time lurker second time poster,
    Introduction: union land surveyor living in SF California

    So yea I have gotten several texts from the Sanders campaign urging me to change my status from independent to Democrat, even providing a link to do so. I guess they are trying to work around the convoluted rules. Had to renew my DL so I changed parties ( I nearly threw up) but hey at least I can complain if it doesn’t work out.

    1. Jeff W

      A bit tangentially: the day that I received my mail-in ballot in California, I received a text message from the Sanders campaign asking if I was “all in for Bernie”—I got the point of the message and replied immediately that I had received my ballot and would mail it in the next day (which I did). (And, like you, I switched my party registration when I renewed my driver’s license.)

      My takeaway: the Sanders campaign, with their myriad of volunteers, is on this, at least somewhat. I’m not sure they can reach the close-to-440,000 voters registered with the American Independent Party, thinking, erroneously, that they’re registered as No-Party Preference voters (my estimate—it’s not “millions” as Lee Camp claims) but, if some of those have some connection with the Sanders campaign (e.g., through a donation), the campaign will probably reach at least those voters.

    1. Acacia

      So, unless you relish the thought of that, or the thought of watching a humiliated Bernie obsequiously shuffle around the country campaigning for Buttigieg, like he did for Clinton, please do what you can to get him nominated, so we can enjoy a Pol Pot vs. Hitler election.

      Rootin’ for Pol Pot this time ;)

  43. Oregoncharles

    Eryngium is not a thistle, though doubtless related. Mine died, so not invasive (maybe somewhere). The worst thistle is Canada thistle (sorry, Canadians; not fair, I know), which spreads aggressively in the ground and grows and blooms quite tall – about 4 feet. It’s the favored larval food of Painted Lady butterflies. Scotch thistle is also tall, but it’s a biennial and spreads only from seed – not aggressively, in my experience. Quite handsome, but not friendly. Not sure it’s the same plant I saw growing in Scotland; those seemed much larger. There are some other, more demure native thistles.

    Artichokes are also large and very thistle-like, though not as prickly. Huge, gorgeous purple flowers, if you don’t eat the buds. A whole field of them looks like a masochist’s daydream; sort of menacing. Tasty, though. Semi-tender – probably not practical in Maine!

  44. David in Santa Cruz

    Oh, bullsh*t about judges, Bernie. The Clintonites have had a “bench” of neoliberal Wall Street-friendly judges for literally decades. If people actually read theIr decisions, they’d realize that RBG and the Wise Latina Woman are nothing but shills for the Wall Street Wing… Take a read of Watters v. Wachovia Bank, and you will see the origins of the Holder Doctrine and Too Big to Jail… There wouldn’t have been a GFC if Ginsburg hadn’t taken away the ability of the states to regulate nationally-chartered banks… I’ve personally known some of the careerist Wall Street shills in the Clintonite judge-in-waiting corps, and their decisions after being “elevated” are hardly friendly to the people who they always saw as “deplorables.”

    1. Yves Smith

      Sanders can’t openly attack party bad faith until he wins the nomination. Cut him some slack.

      And he is setting down markers to pretend that bench does not exist and round up his own.

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      This is what I come to NC for, original analysis that is well-founded and that challenges the consensus views…including my own

  45. Ranger Rick

    Neofeudalism sure is popping up in interesting places. The last time I saw it was in the book Modern Mercenary where it is used to describe the political structure of a hypothetical world in which the monopoly of violence by state actors no longer exists.

    1. Adam Eran

      I’d suggest the mafia is a feudal organization. Then, of course, there’s “Don” Obama, who authorized drone strikes without the benefit of evidentiary hearings… So the feudal lord gets to decide who lives and dies, not those messy jury trials.

  46. ALM

    I don’t know whether the Sanders campaign has improved its outreach to California’s No Party Preference voters but it was non-existent as recently as late October. Because I was a No Party Preference voter, I was concerned that I would be foreclosed from voting in the California Democratic primary. So I reached out to the Bernie campaign at its website and to a local group purporting to support Bernie. Neither group responded to my query which surprised me because I was chasing them to give Bernie my vote. I conducted my own internet search and found a document that had just been posted by a California state agency that answered my question. Because I wanted to ensure that my vote for Bernie would be counted, in late January I changed my voter affiliation to Democrat. State and local government agencies responded immediately, and I received written notice of my change of voter affiliation in less than 2 weeks. Last week I received my mail ballot which listed Bernie’s name in the middle of the pack. I checked the Bernie box and mailed it in.

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