2:00PM Water Cooler 2/14/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


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

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

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

Today we have a new national poll from Morning Consult (of the big sample size). As of 2/14/2020, 11:00 AM EST (three-day average):

The numbers:

Sanders in first (!), but Bloomberg coming up fast on the outside.

And a new poll from FL:

FL numbers:

Big sample size, but so far very infrequent. Bloomberg rising here, too.

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.

* * *

Biden (D)(1): “The Benefits of Being Joe Biden’s Brother” [ProPublica]. “It was not the first time — or the last — during his long career that Jim Biden turned to Joe’s political network for the kind of assistance that would have been almost unimaginable for someone with a different last name. Campaign donors helped him face a series of financial problems, including a series of IRS liens totaling more than $1 million that made it harder to get bank financing…. These transactions illuminate the well-synchronized tango that the Biden brothers have danced for half a century. They have pursued overlapping careers — one a presidential aspirant with an expansive network of well-heeled Democratic donors; the other an entrepreneur who helped his brother raise political money and cultivated the same network to help finance his own business deals.”

UPDATE Biden (D)(2): “Majority of voters say Hunter Biden’s job at Burisma was ‘inappropriate’: poll” [The Hill]. “A Politico/Morning Consult poll found 52 percent of participants found the fact that Hunter Biden sat on the board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma ‘inappropriate,’ compared to 18 percent of people who thought it was appropriate. A total of 57 percent of registered voters in the survey said his position amounted to a scandal, while 19 percent said it did not. Independents, an important group to watch during an election year, found Hunter Biden’s position inappropriate at 54 percent. Fifty-seven percent of independents determined the event to be a scandal, with 28 percent designating it a ‘major’ scandal and 27 percent saying it was a ‘minor scandal.’ But a plurality of all voters, 40 percent, said Hunter Biden’s position at the company won’t make a difference in whether they will vote for the former vice president to be the Democratic nominee in upcoming contests.”

Bloomberg (D)(1): Great compilation. Important thread, worth reading in full:

Bloomberg (D)(2): “Mike Bloomberg’s philanthropy pays dividends with emerging political network” [ABC]. “Mike Bloomberg may have been a late addition to the 2020 race for president, but the billionaire businessman and former New York City mayor has for years been quietly using his wealth to build what would become a national political network — with a massive scope that’s just now becoming visible. Bloomberg has pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into political donations and philanthropic urban grants that benefited progressive candidates and mayors, records reviewed by ABC News show. Through his nonprofit, Bloomberg Philanthropies, he financed a program at Harvard University to groom rising political stars that align with his vision for the country. Dozens of politicians who benefited from his early support have surfaced to endorse his campaign, and his unprecedented spending habits are changing the way political analysts and operatives view the viability of self-funded candidates.” • It is true that liberal Democrats love their self-funded candidates, of which Bloomberg is the ultimate example. Interesting to see Bloomberg call in his markers.

UPDATE Bloomberg (D)(3): “The Price of a Bloomberg Nomination Is Too Damn High” [Eric Levitz, New York Magazine]. “Mike Bloomberg has offered blue America a Faustian bargain: Forfeit all credibility on the issues of money in politics and democratic reform, and he will spend whatever it takes to make the bad man in the White House go away. The market for what Bloomberg is selling is large and growing, thanks in no small part to the $300 million he’s already spent advertising it. Many rank-and-file Democrats — like so many disillusioned voters in democracies the world over — like the idea of hiring a no-nonsense, post-political businessman to fix their broken government (just, you know, a less ostentatiously racist one than America’s current CEO). Meanwhile, many Democratic elites see Bloomberg as a (slightly unsavory) savior who can single-handedly stop the party from nominating a supposedly unelectable socialist, provide its vulnerable first-term suburban House members with an ideal standard-bearer, and liberate the party from all resource constraints and fundraising headaches as it rides a rising tide of billionaire bucks back into power.” • Bloomberg, like Tump, is a wonderfully clarifying.

Bloomberg (D)(4): “Rising in Polls, Bloomberg Will Soon Find Out If Support Is Real” [Bloomberg]. “For Bloomberg to win, he would have to convince a party filled with young people, women and minorities that their best choice is a 78-year-old former Republican with ties to Wall Street right at the moment that he is facing increased scrutiny of his past record. This week opponents found old comments by Bloomberg defending his stop-and-frisk policy as New York mayor, seeming to blame the drop in redlining — the practice of denying loans to minorities — for the 2008 financial crisis, and likening Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea to the U.S. annexation of California in 1850. A debate that reveals a prickly Bloomberg under fire from other Democrats for past comments or for ‘buying’ the election could cause him to stumble and lose momentum, said Elaine Kamarck, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who wrote a book about the presidential nominating process. There’s also no guarantee that support that falls away from other candidates naturally goes to Bloomberg, she said.” • Hmm. I thought Bloomberg wasn’t going to report on Bloomberg? Did I misunderstand the policy statement?

Bloomberg (D)(5): “Greenpeace gives Bloomberg a D-plus on climate” [The Hill]. “Environmental group Greenpeace has given former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s climate plan a D-plus grade, saying it does not have detailed targets and doesn’t set an agenda for phasing out the fossil fuel industry. Bloomberg, who became a late entrant into the Democratic presidential race in November, said at the time that combatting climate change would be one of his top priorities. Greenpeace, however, said that the candidate’s newly released climate plan has ‘too many holes.'”

Bloomberg (D)(6): “Bloomberg Once Said Taking From the Rich Was a Bigger Problem Than Income Inequality” [The Daily Beast]. “‘I think income inequality is a very big problem. But the bigger problem is, you can take money from the rich and move it over to the poor. If you do it too much then the rich stop producing and everybody loses,’ he told International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde during a Q&A at the IMF’s Spring Meeting.” • With Bloomberg, there’s always a quote!

UPDATE Bloomberg (D)(7): Always a quote:

UPDATE Bloomberg (D)(8): Speaking of liberals:

Oh, Josh. Even the American Conservative gets this. And see below–

Bloomberg (D)(9): #MyBloombergStory on stop and frisk:

UPDATE Bloomberg (D)(10): “Why Is Bloomberg’s Long History of Egregious Sexism Getting a Pass?” [GQ]. ” it takes a telling amount of gall and cluelessness to gift a book with anecdotes about your own womanizing to employees at your gun safety non-profit in the year 2015, especially for a politician with presidential ambitions who has been vigorously denying allegations of misogyny throughout his entire career—including nearly 40 sex discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuits brought against him and his organizations by 64 women over the past several decades. Bloomberg’s sexism, like that of fellow New York City billionaire Donald Trump, has been prolific and well-documented, but for some reason, the stories about him don’t seem to have taken hold.” • For some reason. I wonder what the reason could be?

UPDATE Bloomberg (D)(11):

However, Bloomberg’s money exerts a powerful gravitational pull on every Democrat grifter and con artist. For example–

UPDATE Bloomberg (D)(12): “Bloomberg hired Fyre Festival promoters to make his campaign memes” [The Verge]. • Again, why not just hire the Russians? They’re cheap, and effective!

Buttigieg (D)(1): “What Being a Mayor Taught Pete Buttigieg” [New York Times]. “On Tuesday, Mr. Buttigieg finished a strong second in the New Hampshire primary and a week earlier he made history as the first candidate to prevail in the Iowa caucuses whose highest elected position was mayor.” • Oh, come on. Oddly, the article doesn’t compare Buttigieg’s mayoralty to that of the two other former Mayors in the face: Sanders and Bloomberg.

Sanders (D)(1): “262 – I Hated Bernie Bros until I Loved & Lost One with Kate Willet” (podcast) [The Katie Halper Show]. • A surprisingly touching podcast.

Warren (D)(1): “What Happened to Elizabeth Warren?” [Benjamin Wallace-Wells, The New Yorker]. “ertain Presidential campaigns have the texture of money—of organization, of talent, of intentionality. It’s an obvious kind of quality: the difference between shopping at a Whole Foods and a Pathmark. For the past year, in the Democratic primary, Elizabeth Warren’s campaign has had that texture. Some of this quality was expressed in obvious ways: Warren’s landmark nighttime speech in New York’s Washington Square Park in September, set against the lit white arch before a crowd estimated at twenty thousand. The selfie line, a wonder of choreography in person, had the bespoke intricacy of a Wes Anderson scene. The Warren campaign developed a signature color, “liberty green.” The thorough policies that were unveiled each week were developed by a large, talented, connected policy staff. If rival candidates felt sidelined (and many of them did) by the relentlessly positive press Warren seemed to receive from roughly April until October of last year, then they ought to have considered how impressive the human machine behind Warren seemed. Voters fall for candidates. Reporters fall for campaigns. Warren spent on people rather than ads. Her campaign had a high burn rate, everyone warned. What made her rivals jealous were her organizers—the phalanx of young people, many of them women, who clustered along the sides of her events, looking intent, and who then spread out into the precincts to carry (and, in truth, embody) Warren’s confidence that talent, expertise, and commitment could excise corruption and remove Donald Trump from power.” • Oddly, the article doesn’t answer the question posed in the headline.

* * *

* * *


UPATE “Influential Nevada Union Declines To Endorse In Democratic Caucus” [HuffPo]. “The powerful Culinary Workers Union Local 226 announced on Thursday that it would not be endorsing a Democratic presidential candidate ahead of the Nevada caucuses on Feb. 22…. The endorsement of Culinary Union, which counts among its members 60,000 casino and hotel workers across Nevada, is highly coveted by Democratic presidential candidates. The union boasts a legendary turnout operation that helped hand the state’s caucuses to Hillary Clinton in 2016 and kept the state in the Democratic column in the general election, even as many traditional party strongholds fell to Donald Trump.”

UPDATE The rank and file had Sanders’ back:

* * *


“Documents reveal DNC was ‘intimately involved’ in development of troubled Iowa caucus app” [Yahoo News (NippersMom)]. “While the Democratic National Committee over the past 10 days has tried to distance itself from the troubled app that threw the results of the Iowa caucuses into disarray, a copy of the contract and internal correspondence provided to Yahoo News demonstrates that national party officials had extensive oversight over the development of the technology…. An unaffiliated Democratic operative in Iowa provided Yahoo News with a copy of the contract between Shadow and the Iowa Democratic Party. The contract, which was signed on Oct. 14, 2019, and refers to Shadow as the “Consultant,” specified that the company had to work with the DNC and provide the national party with access to its software for testing…. An email provided to Yahoo News also appears to show that Seema Nanda, the CEO of the DNC, and Kat Atwater, the national party’s deputy chief technology officer, were involved in drafting the contract and requested the addition of the provision that gave them access to Shadow and the app.” • Russian hackers stole the correspondence in 3, 2, 1….

“The Iowa fiasco and the Democrats’ shadowy plot to stop Bernie” [Chicago Reader (puttch)]. “The chaos of recent weeks might give Sanders supporters their most potent argument yet. The Democratic Party has become so corrupt and dysfunctional that it can’t even perform the most basic function of a democracy: counting the votes. It is time to turn to new leadership. Or we can stick with the corporate Democrats and blame the Russians again when we lose to Trump.”

Stats Watch

At reader reader request, I added some business stats back in. Please give Econintersect click-throughs; they’re a good, old-school blog. If anybody knows of other aggregators, please leave links in comments.

Industrial Production: “January 2020 Headline Industrial Production Remains In Contraction Year-over-Year” [Econintersect]. “The 3-month rolling averages declined. Industrial production remains in a downtrend.”

Inventories: “December 2019 Business Inventories Level Remain Elevated But Improved” [Econintersect]. “nventories remain elevated but they declined. Our primary monitoring tool – the 3-month rolling averages for sales – improved.”

Consumer Sentiment: “Preliminary February 2020 Michigan Consumer Sentiment Improves” [Econintersect]. • Slightly up from January, slightly down from December.

Growth: “07 February 2020 ECRI’s WLI Growth Rate Declines” [Econintersect]. “In essence, there is little growth forecast in the business cycle six months from today.”

Retail: “Headline Retail Sales Improved in January 2020 But Inflation Wipes Out Any Improvement” [Econintersect]. “There was a downward adjustment to last month’s data. The real test of strength is the rolling averages which improved. Overall, this report is considered worse than last month and inflation ate away much of the gain.”

Retail: “E-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. could ultimately benefit from the coronavirus outbreak even as travel lockdowns and quarantines complicate its delivery operations. The epidemic has dampened consumer demand for some goods and stranded workers at home… leaving factories dark and straining Alibaba’s logistics arm, which is now operating at 20% capacity” [Wall Street Journal]. “The company expects challenges in the short run, but said it is also seeing a significant increase in online purchases of groceries and basic staples as consumers avoid stores….The greater reliance on home delivery could also spur more small businesses to move more quickly to online sales, including those in smaller and poorer cities that Alibaba is already targeting for growth.”

Commodities: “Portuguese communities lock horns with lithium miners to save their land” [Reuters]. “Pires and his idyllic surrounds are on one of the frontlines of a battle pitting companies eager to exploit Portugal’s 60,000 tonnes of known lithium reserves against locals determined to preserve their rights over the land and stop the exploitation. It puts the minority government in a tight spot at home. Growing opposition to lithium exploration by local groups, which communally own and manage rural areas, could mean miners reach an impasse and seek government support to expropriate land.” • Communal ownership, eh? Something to look into.

The Bezzle: “SoftBank’s $375 Million Bet on Pizza Went Really Bad Really Fast” [Bloomberg]. “Accounts from 10 current and former Zume employees, plus four people who closely evaluated or worked with the company, suggest that Zume’s predicament, like WeWork’s, offers lessons for the U.S. startups that collected more than $136 billion in venture capital last year. Among those takeaways: A visionary founder with a fire hose of money can’t solve every problem. Often, that combo creates new ones. “I’ve never seen data to suggest that being charismatic and confident and overly brash is linked to a successful business,” says Kellie McElhaney, founding director of the Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership at the University of California at Berkeley’s business school. Instead, she says, the Vision Fund should seek leaders who combine confidence with humility.”

The Bezzle:

Guess machines can’t learn about phantom cones from Google captchas.

The Bezzle: “Tesla Must Hire About 360 People at N.Y. Plant to Avoid Fine” [Bloomberg]. “Tesla Inc. needs to hire about 360 more workers at its massive solar factory in Western New York if the company is going to meet a state employment quota and avoid paying a penalty. There are more than 1,100 workers at the plant in Buffalo, according to the city’s mayor and a member of the state Assembly who recently toured the state-subsidized complex. The company’s deal with New York includes an April deadline to hire 1,460 workers or pay a $41.2 million penalty. It’s a goal that Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown still thinks is attainable. ‘From the tour I took, it certainly looked like Tesla was in a position to honor its commitment,’ he said in a phone interview Thursday.”

Manufacturing: ” Airbus aims to pump out as many as 67 a month by 2023 from the current target of 63 a month in 2021. But the company has yet to benefit from the MAX grounding because both jets have yearslong order books. Airbus has struggled with production issues on many of its planes, with engine glitches adding to problems.”

Transportation: “The Amtrak Funding Déjà Vu—Again” [Railway Age]. “This is not Amtrak’s first rodeo with Executive Branch passenger rail budget hawks. Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush went far south of President Trump, recommending a zeroing-out of Amtrak funding, while Democratic President Bill Clinton recommended a 23% cut. In a previous budget recommendation, President Trump sought a similar 23% cut that didn’t pass congressional muster, either. Given Republican fealty to President Trump, as evidenced in this month’s Senate trial on impeachment, there is still reason to ponder whether the Republican-controlled Senate will block a Democratic-controlled House from its anticipated approval of a status-quo Amtrak appropriation—or, as Amtrak supporters would prefer, a substantial increase, given that Amtrak’s “wants” list is defensible as an inventory of “needs” rather than a catalogue of ‘wants.’ In fact, the more realistic outcome in this election year is for both Democrats and Republicans in Congress to transfer Trump’s basement-bound Amtrak budget recommendations to an up escalator.”

Mr. Market: “Biggest Family Offices Get Direct Access to Trading Desks” [Bloomberg]. “‘Family offices with assets of at least $1 billion are increasingly bypassing private bankers to deal directly with investment bank trading desks, a Citigroup Inc. executive said. “Some of them are so sophisticated and have such buying power,’ said Luigi Pigorini, Citi Private Bank’s region head for Europe, Middle East and Africa. ‘We have them trading directly with some of our desks in the markets division. There’s not that many, but there’s quite a few and that number keeps growing.’ The number of private investment firms for the rich has surged over the past decade, with more than 10,000 single-family offices now operating globally, according to accounting firm EY.” • There are not very many of the Shing.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 55 Neutral (previous close: 58 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 57 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 14 at 12:41pm.

The Biosphere

“Top-notch science reporting on Australia’s wildfires” [Yale Climate Connections]. • An aggregation “focused on some basic physical facts.”

“Carney says business must come clean quickly on climate” [Reuters]. “‘It’s not just green assets and divestment campaigns or certain things are so brown or black. Every company ultimately has to have a plan for a transition and what the opportunities are and where the risks are,’ [Jay] Carney said in an interview. ‘For [U.N.-led climate talks in] Glasgow that must be well on the path. That that is the norm. That the question doesn’t even have to be asked because companies are answering that question as part of their strategy. And the answer is, it’s the transition, stupid,’ he said, referencing a phrase coined by former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s election strategist in reference to the U.S. economy. Carney was speaking to Reuters a month before he leaves his nearly seven-year posting at the helm of Britain’s central bank to take a new role as the United Nations’ envoy for climate.” • The world of finance seems to be finally paying attention to climate change. That will almost certainly turn out to be an extremely mixed blessing.

“A Slime Mold Called Le Blob” [Medium]. “‘Le blob’ is what French researcher Dr. Audrey Dussutour calls the creatures she grows in her lab. She drew inspiration from “The Blob,” a 1958 American horror movie starring Steven McQueen about a giant alien from space that eats people and grows uncontrollably. It reminded her of her slime molds, minus the eating people part. Oh, and being an alien. Well, some folks have thought slime molds were aliens, but I’m getting ahead of myself. After Dr. Dussutour started using the name ‘le blob’ for her slime molds, it caught on so much that now (almost) everyone calls them ‘le blob’ or ‘the blob.’ Naturally, there are always naysayers — some folks thought these slime molds should be addressed by their scientific name, Physarum polycephalum. But Dr. Dussutour says, ‘No one remembers that name. Everyone remembers the blob!'” • “Blob,” as a term, really seems to be coming up on the charts.

Our Famously Free Press

“McClatchy files for bankruptcy, likely ending 163 years of family control and setting up more consolidation in local news” [Nieman Labs (TH)]. “Let’s assume the bankruptcy, despite its non-complete pre-packedness, goes through according to plan and with relative speed. The New McClatchy would be controlled by Chatham Asset Management, a hedge fund that is currently the company’s largest shareholder and lender. Chatham hasn’t been as prominent a player in the American newspaper industry as Alden Global Capital, Fortress, or Apollo…. Chatham, though, has some other connections to the news business that sound a bit less high-minded. It is controlling owner of American Media, Inc., the company best known as the owner of the tabloid National Enquirer — not long ago seen engaging in a hush-money scheme with Donald Trump and some sort of…questionable relationship with the Saudis and the hacking of Jeff Bezos’ phone. The National Enquirer is currently a Chatham-controlled company.” • Savory!

The Carceral State

“Brief Exposure To Solitary Confinement May Increase Mortality After Prison” [ShadowProof]. n=13,776. “Those who experience even short stints in solitary confinement died at higher rates in the five years following their release from prison than those who did not, according to a new study. The study, which was published in The Lancet: Public Health and focused on former prisoners in Denmark, found the causes of death were consistent with high mortality among former prisoners in the United States and Europe. Professors Christopher Wildeman and Lars Andersen were careful to note more research is needed and that a possible causal effect could not be calculated. They also acknowledged it was ‘unclear how these results translated to other countries.’ However, the finding of a statistically significant increase in mortality suggests there might be a relationship between punitive isolation and death after release.”

Class Warfare

“Use Amazon, Uber or Walmart.com? You’ve probably signed away your right to sue them” [CNN]. “Tucked into the sign-up process for many popular e-commerce sites and apps are dense terms-of-service agreements that legal experts say are changing the nature of consumer transactions, creating a veil of secrecy around how these companies function. The small print in these documents requires all signatories to agree to binding arbitration and to clauses that ban class actions. Just by signing up for these services, consumers give up their rights to sue companies like Amazon (AMZN), Uber (UBER) and Walmart (WMT) before a jury of their peers, agreeing instead to undertake a private process overseen by a paid arbitrator. Binding arbitration clauses have been common for decades, whether buying a car or joining a membership club like Costco (COST), but the proliferation of apps and e-commerce means that such clauses now cover millions of everyday commercial transactions, from buying groceries to getting to the airport. In 2019, the US Supreme Court issued the latest in a series of rulings upholding companies’ rights to enforce binding arbitration agreements and banning class action cases.” • Because of course they did.

News of the Wired

“Science can cure heartbreak in voles, but what about in humans?” [WHYY]. “Voles have something like love, and it’s very cute. ‘Within a day after they mate, they then prefer to spend their time just sitting next to each other, touching each other — what we call ‘huddling,” he said. ‘So just sitting next to each other, facing in the same direction, and perfectly still.’ Their version of heartbreak is also kind of cute, but also desperately sad. ‘A vole that has been with a partner and then you take the partner away, if you put them in a beaker of water for a few minutes, they tend to just float,’ he said. ‘If you hold them up by their tail, they just hang there. They show the signs of despair.’ They just give up on life — basically, it’s not worth it without her. But for voles at least, there is a cure for a broken heart: oxytocin. It’s a naturally occurring hormone. ‘If at the moment that the partner goes away, we infuse a little bit of oxytocin into the brain, it’s as if they’ve never lost their partner at all,’ Young said.” • I smell business model!

“Texting didn’t kill romance. Having more ways to tell someone you love them is a good thing” [NBC News]. “Of course, in-person affection and face-to-face contact are important parts of romantic relationships. But technology can make it possible to use the interstices of our day — those small pieces of time we ‘waste’ while waiting for a train or standing in line for lunch — to experience more moments of interpersonal communication with our partners. And research shows that texting and messaging throughout the day can help romantic partners feel a greater sense of presence in each other’s daily lives. Having a partner share moments of their day with you as they happen or send a cheerful GIF can help you feel connected throughout the day.”

“Dating in a politically polarized world” [Axios]. “Romance seekers see a heightened value in knowing their potential suitors’ political affiliations. Major dating platforms including OkCupid, Hinge and Bumble have introduced filters to sift out matches with ‘incompatible’ politics…. OkCupid saw a 187% increase in political mentions on profiles between 2017 and 2018. The company says the trend continued in 2019…. Anti-Trump mentions on OkCupid profiles have spiked by more than 52% since 2017, while mentions of ‘conservative terms’ fell by 78% in 2019.” • Hmm.

“They met on a dating app. Then he robbed a bank on their first date and forced her to be the getaway driver” [CNN]. “The two had never met in person before that fateful day in 2016, she told police. So why would she think anything was wrong when he told her to pull over as they approached a bank? He got out of her car and left her there alone for a few minutes. Then, suddenly, he came running back, sweating with sunglasses, a hat, a gun and $1,000 cash in hand, the woman said. ‘F**king go,’ he told her. She ‘panicked,’ she told police, so she did as she was told.” • Crime makes you stupid. Look at our elites!

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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 (IME):

IME writes: “My smartphone makes bad quality pictures. Today I found a colourful fungus in an oak forest near Madrid. I think this could be Tremella (Basidiomycota) with gelatinous consistence in a fallen oak branch already covered with various types of lichens. The foot gives perspective of the size.” The photo is a bit small, but that is certainly an amazing fungus! (Also, reader who are not in the United States should feel free to send plants.)

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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. Off The Street

    Getaway driver, soon to be obsoleted by autonomous vehicles.

    (English usage issues, reflective of the troubling age)

    1. D. Fuller

      Don’t know how true this is, Just a Pair of These $11 Radio Gadgets Can Steal a Car

      From Wired magazine.

      The future where Remote Keyless Hacks becomes Uber combined with Tesla, for bank robbers.

      No driver needed.

      Now for robotic bank robbers replacing real bank robbers. I need VC funding! /sarcasm

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Perhaps one could still insist on saying ‘obsolesced’ and keep holding that line, even if no others.

  2. grayslady

    “If anybody knows of other aggregators, please leave links in comments.”

    For all things maritime, I suggest gCaptain.

  3. Lambert Strether Post author

    Finally able to empty my Bucket o’ Bloomberg. Please refresh your browsers. (I didn’t get to Bloomberg being almost Bernie’s age, and having had stents inserted, again like Bernie. Oddly, there’s no hysteria about it.)

    1. Ford Prefect

      “Bloomberg is a defender of intrusive state power and massive concentrated wealth”

      The hand-wringing from The American Conservative is pretty galling as they have almost nothing on their website after 2012 regarding Citizens United v. FEC https://www.theamericanconservative.com/?s=citizens+united

      The entire point of Citizens United, much beloved by many conservatives, is to allow for massive concentrated wealth to have a major influence on politics. They are lined up at the trough for funding by the Koch Brothers but object to Bloomberg spending his own money on his own campaign? This is the pot calling the kettle black.

      1. inode_buddha

        Like everything else in our morally bankrupt socio-political structure, it is completely without shame.

        “But it’s OK when we do it!!”

        Goethe was a prophet; you cannot shame someone who has no soul.

      2. D. Fuller

        IIRC, the lawyers who successfully won their case, Citizens United? Want to make it legal for anyone in the world to contribute to politicians here in The US.

        We already have foreign money in politics in The US. A well-connected Kremlin oligarch from Ukraine obtained his US citizenship and now regularly donates to US politicians. Mostly to Republicans, with some to Democrats.

        Brazilian brothers who own hog farms in N. Carolina? Exclusively donate to Republicans. Even as they are (or were) under investigation from DoJ for corruption.

        The FEC has ruled that foreign subsidiaries may donate to American politicians as long as only American managers make that decision. Completely insane.

        Turns out, then when Alito mouthed “not true” during Obama’s SOTU? It is EXACTLY true. Alito should be removed from The Supreme Court as well as the other three Justices who are in error. Congress won’t do it simply for the fact that both parties benefit.

        1. BlakeFelix

          Honestly, that doesn’t sound like terrible policy if you taxed it and used some of the taxes to subsidize opposition candidates. Tax it at 50%, do something useful with 25 % and then spend 25% on opposing ads and everyone wins as I see it.

    2. WheresOurTeddy

      Bloomberg also has an irregular heartbeat as of 2018.

      I’m sure Jennifer Rubin will be asking about it every other day like she does for Bernie.

    3. chuck roast

      Bloomberg (D) (1)-(12): Skipped right over them. Let me know when he has finished his purchase of the Democratic National Corporation.

    4. Dr. John Carpenter

      Well, there’s deafning silence on the fact that Bloomberg is literally not a Democrat too.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Our family dogs would have made a beeline to that peanut butter. Seriously.

      These dogs were so oblivious to the “bad for you” message that they would chow down on chocolate. They absolutely loved it.

      And nothing ever happened to them.

      1. Daryl

        Most likely, because most chocolate around contains very little actual chocolate. I find eating a couple squares of 90% chocolate can have a noticeable effect on my heart rate and mood.

        1. Old Jake

          Xylitol is seriously bad for dogs. Even 1 gram for a 20 pound dog will cause hypoglycemia due to excess insulin release. It is also damaging to the liver.

          Here’s a URL for some important information. I’ll let you copy and paste the quoted text into a browser address bar, I don’t like to put embedded links into NC comments: “vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/xylitol-toxicity-in-dogs”

          1. Yves Smith

            When my cat was dying and I was visiting the vet regularly to give him palliatives and appetite stimulants, one of my appointments was preempted by a dog that had eaten 75 sticks of gum. Owner hysterical.

            They were able to save him. He was sick enough that he stayed overnight at least one night.

        2. Oregoncharles

          yeah, that’s why Iput 100% baker’s chocolate (comes in thin wafers, easier to melt) in my morning oatmeal, along with about a teaspoon of molasses, because I like molasses, too.

          quick chocolate pudding, first thing in the morning. hard to tell how much effect it has, because I wash it down with strong tea. (Pure chocolate is quite nutritious, mostly protein and a healthy fat).

          At the vet’s office, years ago, saw a poster warning against chocolate for pets. Thelisted symptoms sounded just like the reason we drink coffee or tea, up to unconsciousness and death. But do you want a hyperactive dog?

          Asked the same vet about letting our cat lick the chocolate ice cream bowl; he said he’d never been asked that, didn’t think it would hurt the cat (mostly milk, after all.)

  4. Lost in OR

    Sanders in first (!), but Bloomberg coming up fast on the outside.
    Sanders in first (!), but Bloomberg coming up fast with an inside track.

    1. curlydan

      Do union members typically have premiums deducted from their paychecks for these plans? Or are premiums completely covered by the employer?

      I hear the complaints about losing these plans, but for me, wouldn’t M4A make union negotiations much easier? Instead of pulling your hair out over healthcare negotiations, under M4A wouldn’t the negotiations be much more laser focused on wages, retirement, etc. ? In other words, you’re removing the most opaque part of the negotiation process.

      1. Phenix

        Obamacare hurt union plans. My dad was a union president and he negotiated for the members (most unions outsource to lawyers). The biggest hang up was always who pays what and what %. M4A would solve a lot of problems and lower the cost for union employers and companies that match union plans.

        Gate keepers hate M4A. 1,000s of people will lose power not just jobs.

    2. Arizona Slim

      Key passage from the Medium story:

      “If I had Medicare For All, I would probably be able to afford Christmas gifts for my kids this year instead of being the gift. If I had Medicare For All, I wouldn’t have to travel to seek medical treatment or start a GoFundMe to expedite my treatment to avoid losing my job because I can’t hold onto it much longer in this condition. If I had Medicare For All, I wouldn’t be on the chopping block at my job because they think Im faking it or don’t care either way. If had Medicare For All, bias, delayed diagnosis or refusal of treatment would not be tolerated. We have to acknowledge the reality that for-profit insurance asserts that if you don’t work you deserve what you get: up to and including death. Also, sick people don’t deserve jobs.”

    3. Daryl

      I hope they won’t let the cowards in the union leadership get away with a non-endorsement. No doubt they planned to endorse some hack like Buttigieg and then backed away due to the heat.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        I’m betting most union suits self-identify more as PMC than labor, so Bernie would tend to make their skin crawl.

        1. inode_buddha

          I guarantee that is the case. The Steamfitters local boss is going around in a BMW X-7, and is too physically corpulent to do the work that the rank-and-file do.

        2. Katniss Everdeen

          I would imagine it would be a whole lot “easier” to go on strike for better wages if you and your family didn’t lose your “healthcare” in the process.

          While it doesn’t get mentioned too much anymore, “healthcare benefits” are strong chains that bind employees to shitty, underpaid employment situations. This crummy system of employer-provided medical insurance started, after all, as a way to attract and retain employees without raising pay.

          Seems like it would be a pretty big problem if employers lost the leverage of “healthcare” and were reduced to competing for employees based on wages alone. Could be a problem for the union bosses as well, since the difference between $11 / hour and $15 / hour is pretty clear in any language, and if the boss can’t get it done, the rank and file might look elsewhere for representation.

          1. inode_buddha

            Most if not all nonunion jobs are shitty and underpaid regardless of any benefits such as medical or 401k. It really doesn’t matter how much you try to jump to a higher-paying one, you won’t keep up with their greed.

            BTW this is what gets me about MMT: The government cannot print $$$ fast enough to keep up with the demands of guys like Bezos, Gates, Dimon and Blankfein. It doesn’t matter hwo fast they run the printing presses, it will never be enough for them. But maybe my understanding of MMT is flawed.

  5. e Hu

    Re: “Shing”
    Nice reference there to U.K. Le Guin’s _City of Illusions_ — one of my faves, highly recommend to any connoisseur of short stories/sci-fi w/ philosoph. depth.

  6. ptb

    Bloomie is a standard Manhattan Republican in all but name, except he is at the very highest top level of that category. That’s the long and short of it.

    It is safe to say he will buy the support of the DNC, national Dem. media, and most state D. parties too.

    His game plan does not require actually winning a majority of DNC delegates either – if he gets smth like 10% delegates (i.e. 15% in some but not all states), combined with the 15% PLEO’s via control of the party (and backup from the media) then he will personally get to pick the Dem nominee in the event of a contested convention.

    1. JohnnyGL

      I sort of wonder if those DNC members might be signing their own death warrants with Bloomberg. Once he gets control of things, he may decide to push out Perez and a lot of the old time hacks and consultants and put his own people in place.

      Once he gets the keys to the castle, I don’t think he’s giving them back!

      1. polecat

        That’s when the Siege begins. Ya know … when disebodied heads, dripping in hot oil, fat popping .. as they sail over the $treet Wall… where they roll around the ramparts of his ‘keep’ …. while Napoleon mike quivers in fear as the long bolts fly ??

        I’d buy a cable view minute of THAT for a quatloo ..

      2. Dr. John Carpenter

        It’s fascinating to me how incredibly short sighted people are being about Bloomberg. The DNC, the establishment Dems, the vote blue no matter who and the anti-Trumpers who are ok with Bloomberg (“well, he’s not my ideal candidate but…”) really really really have not thought this one through.

      1. ptb

        no not pretty at all.

        I don’t see Bloomberg ever getting more than like 20% of the primary vote, unless everyone but him and Sanders dropped out, which they won’t, altho you gotta expect that it will narrow down to a ~3 way race after super Tuesday.

        I do see him getting 10%, albeit at the expense of other so-called moderates. I imagine a Klobuchar-Warren ticket is the end goal, per NYT recommendation.

        Hopefully primary voters realize that would be way more of an uphill battle in the GE than Sanders on his most “socialist” day … and nothing to do with gender. Working class and minority Dem voters would again be demoralized leading to bad turnout, though with a $billion to spend I’m sure the campaign would have a grand ol’ time and would be completely shocked by a loss just like 2016.

        The only thing to do, really, is to ignore this crap and campaign for Sanders, and if successful, repopulate the national party from scratch and ban big $.

        1. lordkoos

          I think a VP will not be picked from among the slate of candidates. You would think that it should be someone at least a little younger.

    2. Matthew

      I find this distressingly plausible. It checks the two main DNC boxes: 1. what they think of as plausible deniability, and 2. preemptively surrendering to something that they then pretend is necessity.

    3. John k

      What worries me is he might buy off the others in the race, maybe offer Pete a book deal plus veep for support.

  7. David Carl Grimes

    If Bloomberg is a Republican running as a Democrat and is currently supporting other Republicans, can he switch back to being a Republican once he is elected President? He could, after all, unite both parties. I don’t think the GOP will object to the switch.

    1. jsn

      “The United States is also a one-party state but, with typical American extravagance, they have two of them.”Julius Nyerere of Tanzania

      We can no longer afford such extravagance! Two Party System make thyself One!

      Reading the Xu Zhangrun piece the other day, I was pretty sure it was about the US, just a few years early.

      1. AbateMagicThinking But Not Money

        re The Xu Zhang piece.

        As I read it I had a similar impression; spooky!

        What is even spookier is that I had not heard the Nyerere quote, but have recently come to the same conclusion myself.

        I am currently reading ‘The Rise and Fall of the British Nation’ by David Edgerton (2018) – I have skin in that particular gain. There are parallels.


    2. lordkoos

      The fact that Trump was not-so-long-ago a Democrat, and Bloomberg was even more recently a Republican, that they both switched parties and are now running for president, should convince anyone with a brain that there really is only one party in this country.

  8. dk

    Phantom cones!

    One can see that the colors and shapes of the taillight reflections do indeed resemble traffic cones. This is the sort of thing one can encounter during regular (delf) driving under similar conditions. However, most* of us can detect the difference between traffic cone object and reflections on wet pavement because we have binocular vision, and resolve two images into a three dimensional render that we assess (with our cerebellum as well as our cerebral cortex).

    Tesla does not have stereo cameras. Implementing stereo machine vision would significantly increase equipment costs for comparable response rate, although after those costs, top-end performance would be greater.

    Mentioned here in an analysis of a 2019 crash involving Tesla driving assistance:
    NTSB Report On Tesla Autopilot Accident Shows What’s Inside And It’s Not Pretty For FSD

    Note also that the image data sets used to rapidly bulk-train the image recognition neural algorithms are in 2D.

    *I say most because I have friends/family who have lost function in one or another eye, and they report significant difficulties in comparable scenarios.

      1. a different chris

        >because we have binocular vision, and resolve two images into a three dimensional render that we assess

        Ugh Yves is so right. People, generally intelligent people, scare me with this type of crap. It’s like you think about something so deeply that you completely lose the handle on it. Everything dk says is correct and well thought out, but has nothing to do with the actual issue.

        People know it isn’t a traffic cone because there is unlikely to be one there. For “reasons”. So they quickly recheck and say “ah reflection”. And probably there are a half a dozen other primary world models that exclude it, plus probably a few secondary reasons too.

        This works the opposite way, too. Some wavy colors, ah “reeds in the wind”. Then “OMG Tiger!!!!!!” and that’s it for that particular Ocular Recognition System.

        But “finished AI” isn’t allowed to make mistakes. And that little issue hamstrings the whole field to uselessness, even if they had an even rough idea of how the brain physically works. Because the answer is that the brain works “not 100% of the time”.

        We all need to ride in trains.

        1. dk

          Thanks, works for me.

          AI as it’s being implemented is a basis for ducking or displacing responsibility and liability. Touting it as better than humans is part of the spiel.

  9. FreeMarketApologist

    Re Tesla hiring requirements: “It’s a goal that Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown still thinks is attainable. ‘From the tour I took, it certainly looked like Tesla was in a position to honor its commitment,’ he said in a phone interview Thursday.”

    I wish he had said “I took a tour, and while it looked positive, we will be holding them to the terms of their agreement.”

    So much of this soft waffling is how we got to where we are (and not in a good way). What do you think the likelihood is that the agreement will be renegotiated?

    1. D. Fuller

      Given that private industry has led to shortages in material and medication for combatting outbreaks?

      Time to nationalize since private industry is simply too inadequate in meeting demand for the unexpected.

      Private industry simply can not be trusted to deal with such situations. Lack of supply actually is to the benefit of their bottom line, incentivizing private industry to create shortages. The better to gouge the public.

      1. inode_buddha

        A little voice in back of my head is shouting, “For decades we were told that kind of shortage only happens under Communism!”

      2. lordkoos

        From the behavior of the government as well as the pharmaceutical and health care industry, the meta-message to us proles seems to be “just die already”, and I’m not referring only to the coronavirus. What other conclusion can you draw at this point?

  10. Wukchumni

    McClatchy files for bankruptcy…

    In happier news, hack reporters for the hapless Fresno Bee will likely be set free from their sentence.

  11. Carolinian

    If you do it too much then the rich stop producing and everybody loses,’

    Sounds very Atlas Shrugged. We should call their bluff.

    Was Bloomberg even popular in NYC? Didn’t he have to spend a fortune to get re-elected?

    1. Dan

      IIRC, he was at least somewhat popular initially. Following Rudy, not hard to do.

      He’s still quite popular among the oligarchy.

      1. Pat

        The UES retirees still love him. They remember fondly when they had better city services than anywhere else in the city.

        I admit to giving the generally inept DeBlasio far more leeway just because he has been so much better on affordable housing, tenant rights and protecting the schools (although Cuomo did such an end run around him it wasn’t as much as he tried to do). Cuomo has managed to scare the shit out of him, so unfortunately that is too often SOP. Still an improvement.

    2. urblintz

      I was there. He bought all 3 terms, literally, with cash on the street and is an obvious sleazeball for anyone not mesmerized by his money. Scum of the earth and if the Democrats let him in there will be confrontation. Imagine that… bringing down Trump is not a good enough reason to legitimize Bloomberg. That’s how awful Bloomberg is.

    3. Yves Smith

      Lack of decent opponents helped a great deal.’

      I hate to say it but one thing that I strongly suspect aided him was that his administration started trucking snow out and dumping it. One thing that makes the city very hard to navigate after one big or a couple of mid-sized snows is huge piles of snow at certain corners, makes it very hard, even dangerous, for pedestrians. He continued the tradition of Queens getting very poor snow plowing.

      Also 311. People like that.

      But he also had the light sequencing changed on most avenues to make the traffic move less well. Not making that up. Bloomberg hated cabs.

      1. Pat

        They added pedestrian plazas on three points on Broadway. It massively slowed traffic. The first bike lanes were done on other routes to slow north south traffic. (The one on Ninth was obviously not because of need as it was very near the lovely one along the river that had few stop lights. A better case could have been made for Fifth.)

        He really really wanted that congestion pricing and a toll booth on 96th.

          1. jsn

            Yes, there aren’t many things I’ll say about Mayor Mike that are positive, but he did make the city bike-able for non psychopaths.

            When I moved to NY in 86 from Austin, I had a pretty nice bike that between the minuscule apartment and man (bike messengers) and metal road hazards, I left it on the sidewalk after a couple of months. I had had Natalie de Blois, a fixture in New York architecture and urban planning from the late 40s to early 60s as a professor at UT and she talked fondly of biking to City Planning meetings from SOMs Park Avenue offices down to City Hall, so I had some seriously misaligned expectations when I got here.

            In about 2014 I started commuting from Brooklyn to Midtown by bike and continue to this day: it is a profoundly changed world.

  12. Stephanie

    Scary and obnoxious: I clicked on the Blake Zeff Twitter thread while on my phone and am now getting text messages from someone called Derek asking me to support Mike Bloomberg. Because “Americans deserve a candidate who can beat Trump”.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Okay, NC-ers, it’s game time! Let’s help Stephanie out here.

      Snarky responses to Derek! Here’s mine:

      Ummmm, we’ve been down this road before. And it didn’t work out too well in 2016, now did it?

      1. jrs

        The thing is “Derek” is probably a bot. I mean if Derek was there at my door I’d be willing to talk to him, but “talking” to text spam bots: nah …

        1. turtle

          There’s probably some way to make the Biden Insult Bot from the other day carry on a conversation with Derek the bot.

      2. ian

        This is how I responded to this text (my first from the Bloomberg camp) : “Hi, I’m Bill from Mike Bloomberg’s Campaign. With so much at stake, Americans deserve a Democratic candidate who can defeat Donald Trump. Will you support Mike? Me: “F(amily blog) No. A republican billionaire running for the Democratic nomination. He should pound sand. Hope you enjoy spending his money though” I just couldn’t be witty nor polite. So it goes.

      1. lordkoos

        Very possible, but Bloomberg also is paying a large amount of people and “influencers” to go online and talk him up, so not necessarily.

  13. Pelham

    Re McClatchy — and the entire newspaper industry: What’s the attraction for all these vultures feeding off a dying industry? Is it JUST the fact that newspapers are dying? Exactly how does this generate megabucks for these guys?

    More broadly speaking, would we all be better off if we rounded up all the private equity and hedge fund people as well as the investment bankers and herded them into a box canyon?

    1. Milton

      Not too long ago paper news had assets just waiting to be plundered: multi-storied buildings usually on land owned by them as well, large well-funded pensions, brand name that can give the PE squid some cache should they continue on in the news-gathering business. This was true for large retailers and grocery chains as well. I think most asset-rich industries have been harvested for the most part, though.

      And yes, we would all be better off if we culled PE activity to nil.

  14. Jack White

    Mr Bloomberg may be able to buy the D nomination, but he won’t carry Flyover in the general election because of his position on guns.

    1. Pat

      He will also lose in Texas, Arizona and Florida for the same reason. His previous lukewarm support of abortion will lose him much of the South. As I said yesterday, my back of the envelope count has Trump winning in a blow out.

      Of course there is one idea I didn’t think about.
      Mind you in the great destruction of the Democratic Party mode, rich Republican billionaire buys the Democratic nomination. Sends coded message throughout the campaign that he will be governing as a traditional less scary Republican to those moderate Republicans Hillary and Chuck keep courting that disappoint them. They believe him and offset the deplorable Democratic voters who might reject the gun control loving nasty NY mayor to give him the win. I’m not sure if he would really change parties back, but I can see him giving the McConnell/Ryan types as much if not more time and consideration as he does Nancy and Chuck. Setting up his cabinet with a whole lot of the Republican favorites. AND making sure the National party does not even pretend to tolerate the progressive upstarts while taking it even further into oligarch/police state service.

      Yeah, I think Bloomberg is a disaster many times greater than Trump ever was. And Trump is pretty damn bad. (Just letting him run is the most clarifying we need about our leadership.

      1. inode_buddha

        He won’t be winning anyone in the Rust Belt, or precariat either. The man thinks there shouldn’t be a minimum wage. He said so in a speech to the IMF. My opinion? people who advocate against a minimum wage should not have employees.

        1. lordkoos

          Some of my liberal boomer friends are now all-in on Mike, they have been convinced he’s the only one who can beat Trump. They are sadly mistaken and will be in for a surprise if he gets nominated.

          1. Plenue

            The last few years really have been clarifying. There really is at least some fraction of liberals who are as dumb as the most backward, stereotypical MAGA hat wearing Trump moron.

        2. BlakeFelix

          I think that is right though, with a decent safety net a minimum wage does as much harm as good. Not that we have a decent safety net, obviously.

      2. Plenue

        Trump would eat Bloomberg alive. The jokes practically write themselves. Trump would get great mileage out of Big Gulp ban in particular.

        1. Typing Chimp


          I wrote this on yesterday’s thread, but I do not believe things are quite as straightforward because I don’t think that a Trump Vs Bloomberg match-up results in Trump controlling the narrative (or at least not dominating it).

          Trump might be able to get a couple of lines in, and they may even be memorable, but I don’t think he can drive the day-to-day headlines the way he did in the last election) or even during his presidency).

          Of course, I also don’t believe that Bloomberg particularly wants the presidency to begin with

    2. Dr. John Carpenter

      All Trump would need to do to beat Bloomberg is to say “this guy wants to take your guns and your Coke-a-Cola”. It would be over right there.

    3. Elizabeth

      Bloomberg is running lots of ads in Iowa – the ads show him and Obummer getting things done – education, finding good jobs for teens, and gun control. The ad ends with “Vote Mike – he’ll get it done.” I ask what is “it” that’s going to get done?

      1. Yves Smith

        The problem is vague slogans like that can work….consider Boris Johnson’s promise that he’d get Brexit done.

        But yes, the lack of any idea of what “it” is means it’s Bloomberg’s private “it,” to be revealed only after he wins.

        1. Titus

          I don’t think Boris has defined “it” yet. And if you think about why should he? Where’s the benefit?

      2. John Anthony La Pietra

        “He’ll get it done.” Does that mean the rumors of courting HR(H)Clinton as a running mate are wrong and his real VP choice is Larry the Cable Guy?

  15. shinola

    Wow! That Blake Zeff twitter thread is an eye opener. I don’t know if twitter is actually representative of the general population, but if it is, Trump Derangement Syndrome is more wide spread than I thought.

  16. Jerry B

    What Happened to Elizabeth Warren?

    IMO what happened is that as Warren’s campaign was at its high point in Oct/Nov, Warren was deemed unelectable by the establishment due to her liberal views, and was not far left enough for the progressives. So in response to Lambert the article does answer the question. As the article states: “overestimating the enthusiasm for transformative economic policy among her base of professionals”. And the article seems to imply that Warren’s base has moved on to Klobuchar.


    Yes Sanders is too far left for the establishment as well but his more visionary, charismatic, revolutionary stance has galvanized his base and does care what the establishment thinks. If and when he wins the Democratic nomination then all of the MSM/establishment’s focus will be on Sander’s “electability”. As the current front-runner and as the establishment sees Sanders as more of a threat and not a fringe candidate then he will be under the microscope more and already is. Thankfully Sanders base will not buy what the establishment MSM are selling.

    As to Warren’s relationship with the far left/progressives, she was under attack by many on the left for not being progressive enough and trying to straddle the fence between the center and the left. Unfortunately there can be only one far left candidate and Sanders for reasons mentioned above is it.

    While by no stretch a progressive Megan McArdle had a good article on the difference between Warren and Sanders.



    Lastly, as I have mention in previous comments on NC, Warren is not cut out to be President. She lacks the charisma and vision of Sanders and does not have the smooth rhetorical skills of Obama.

    I will vote for Sanders but in fairness I believe Warren has not be given enough positive press by the Left/Progressives.

    A voice of reason that, while indicating he will vote for Sanders, has given Warren her due is Matt Stoller. He is as frustrated with Warren as many progressive are, but still gives he credit for some things especially in terms of policy.




    Here is Stoller taking issue with the Left’s overly harsh treatment of Warren.





    1. chuckster

      Warren is not cut out to be President. She lacks the charisma …. of Sanders

      LOL. That really is a low bar, kind of like the “humility of Mike Bloomberg” or the empathy of Pete Buttigieg.”

      1. mistah charley, ph.d.

        The charisma of Sanders is not the glibness and easy smile of a Bill Clinton or a Barack Obama that help them win friends and influence people – rather it is the confidence one can have that he is sincere in his convictions and his determination to promote the good of the people in general. As they say, what really matters in life is sincerity – once you can fake that you’ve got it made. Bernie doesn’t fake it, and in that way is attractive in an anti-charismatic way. We’ll see what happens.

        1. Plenue

          Sanders doesn’t have any kind of slick, traditional charisma, but he also isn’t horribly grating. His manner isn’t really a boon to him, but it isn’t much of a negative either. And once you support him because of his ideas, his manners become rather charming.

          He’s certainly become a goldmine of reaction gifs and memes. He does things like shakes his head and clearly mouths ‘no’ during debates for example, while everyone else on the stage is a statue.

          It takes a lot to hate Sanders on a personal level, but by god, liberals do try!

          1. Dan


            He can be witty at times too. Remember his response to Clinton’s “Nobody likes him” was “Look, on a good day my wife likes me.” That’s simple, funny, and immediately diffuses the situation. And people can relate to it.

            I watched some of the rally in TX tonight and at one point he said (paraphrasing) “I do have a big ego, it’s sort of a requirement to be a senator.”

            He’s not the only politician to poke fun at himself, but it’s rare among that class, and people like it.

            1. BlakeFelix

              Ha, and his wife liking him might have rewards, since as far as I know the Sanders don’t outsource their blowjobs to unpaid interns.

      1. hunkerdown

        Speaking as a working-class coffee table who is tired of being a footrest, how is that supposed to not be charismatic?

        1. ObjectiveFunction

          I liked that comeback myself!

          Bonus Borscht Belt points for answering a question with a question!

          Oy, does it look like a shoeshine I’m running here?

      2. Jerry B

        Ok, can we please get past the word charisma??? LOL. Maybe not the best word to use to describe Sanders but you get my point. One thing that fascinates me about humans is their need take every word in its literal meaning and hold a person to the literal meaning. Sometimes words are just symbols and meant to symbolize something.

        In this case I was trying convey that the reason his base is so fervently behind him is not just his policies but also lies in his passion for what he believes in and the force of his personality.

        ===Sanders has the charisma of your cranky Jewish uncle telling you to take your feet off the coffee table===

        Yes, but Yves you have said you are for Sanders, right? And pray tell how will that “cranky Jewish uncle” play in his dealings with Congress?

        BTW just for fun, since Warren has been in Congress who has the more liberal voting record, Sanders or Warren?? The answer is in the Chicago Tribune link in my comment above.

        1. Yves Smith

          I care a great deal about the accurate use of words. One of the most effective propaganda techniques is to debase language. Look at the incoherent term “free market” as a classic example.

          Here is the Cambridge Dictionary’s definition of charisma:

          a special power that some people have naturally that makes them able to influence other people and attract their attention and admiration:
          On screen Garbo had this great charisma so that you couldn’t take your eyes off her.

          If Sanders had charisma, it would have been remarked upon decades ago. AOC has more charisma than anyone I’ve seen in politics and than many movie stars. Obama has charisma.

          Sanders is sincere. Actors say that being able to fake sincerity is the key to success in acting. That plus he stands for policies that strike many Americans as desperately overdue.

    2. flora

      Warren does have great economic policy understanding, and is on the right side for Main Street, and needs to be given her due. However, her experience in the rough-and-tumble national stage experience is too short and muted to prepare her for the top spot at this time. She got rolled by by the Clinton machine trying to take out Sanders. (Even people in fly over country could see the play.) More experience fighting at the top level would have cautioned her against being used as a stalking horse for other campaigns’ agendas. (Her relatively short time and experience fighting in the higher arena has made a big difference in her effectiveness on the big stage.) All my opinions, of course. If Sanders is both the nominee and wins the general, Warren would make a great, and I say again, a *great* SEC chair, or Fed chair, or similar.

    3. Titus

      All of that may be true, but the data I’ve got shows that after the moment of – ‘a women can’t be president’ (I know, not the actual argument but what people heard.) And how Sanders responded – very well, that was it for Warren even in Massachusetts- too many issues with the truth. Look I don’t make the news I just report it. At the UofMichigan we have the Institute for social research, it is very good a teasing out such things.

  17. Kilgore Trout

    Regarding Bloomberg’s #6: I like JK Galbraith’s quip, in reference to conservative thinking on social spending and higher taxes on the rich, which went something like: “The rich won’t work because they don’t have enough money; the poor don’t work because they have too much.”

  18. flora

    Great links today. And about the heading:

    “UPDATE Bloomberg (D)(8): Speaking of liberals:”

    Dry, very dry. ;)

  19. cuibono

    Wait: 375 million investment in pizza trucks that sometimes can make so-so pizza?

    Can we start an End of Empire section here in links?

    1. Arizona Slim

      And here I am, with recently purchased cookbook in the living room. In that cookbook is a recipe for …

      … Pizza Crust.

      Guess who wants to try that one.

    1. The Rev Kev

      That judge was so corrupt that I am surprised that he did not have the jury charged with contempt of court for failing to find a guilt verdict.

    2. Carolinian


      What made the trial particularly Kafkaesque is that the four were not allowed to defend themselves by arguing Maduro is indeed the legitimate leader of the country, Judge Beryl Howell having asserted that President Trump’s word on Venezuela is literally law.

      Of course the USG may make it even more Kafkaesque by asking for a retrial. According to the article the judge thought they should.

    3. Oregoncharles

      Minor correction: Margaret Flowers is not just a Green but a co-chair of the national Steering Committee. Kevin Zeese is a well-known journalist, and also a Green.

  20. drumlin woodchuckles

    I wonder how popular Bloomberg would end up being among the anti-Sanders Clinton-nostalgiasts. I remember a time when Lambert Strether and Riverdaughter of The Confluence both marched in person in the Occupy Wall Street Marches of the Zucotti Park period. I feel confident I could find Riverdaughter’s blogposts about that.

    Now Riverdaughter makes a point of calling on Sanders to withdraw from the primaries ” for the good of the nation”.

    And now Riverdaughter tries supportively trial-ballooning her idea of a dream-ticket, namely

    It is possible that Lambert Strether finds it too painful to even think about what has led Riverdaughter and all her cultist followers over to the Sewage Side. But if he can stand the pain for just a little while, would he have an estimate for how many Jonestown Clinton Riverdaughters there are out there, and how they will affect the primaries?

    1. katiebird

      Thank you for bringing this up. I stopped by there a couple of weeks ago (the day she posted the Drop Out post) and was kind of stunned.

      I don’t know how many cultish followers are hanging out at The Confluence. Over the years many, many regular commenters and bloggers left. I drifted away around 2016. So I missed their move (I hate to say Sewage Side, but what?) away from my interests.

      I am pretty sad about this.

    2. polecat

      Betcha a handful of space seeds there’s a spent pod to be found in HER closet ….

      It’s like some weird reversal of the short story, where instead, people loose all logic, and become obsessed, and let emotion totally take over.

      1. pretzelattack

        wow like this one
        Hmm, a Bloomberg/Clinton ticket has me fantasizing. At least she would be the first woman VP and who knows, maybe Bloomberg would step down his last two years to “spend more time with his family”….. I think you are right about a Bloomberg/trump debate, William. trump knows Bloomberg is the better man, richer, smarter, respected, accepted by his peers, more accomplished, not a reality show cartoon. Would like to see Hillary debate Pence, of course it would be painfully one sided….. I cannot vote for Biden or Sanders. I would have to fly the white flag, leave the top of the ticket blank, vote for every down ticket Dem and leave it to others more optimistic than I to remove trump from office.

        which follows one some posts above it saying “Bernie is not a democrat”. but a bloomberg clinton ticket has them fantasizing. i can’t process this. the whole point of the election is apparently to get clinton in the oval office.

  21. Anthony K Wikrent

    “Majority of voters say Hunter Biden’s job at Burisma was ‘inappropriate’”

    I think the real issue for most people is the $50,000 a month. Half the citizens don’t even make that in a full year. I have not seen it framed this way yet.

  22. anon in so cal

    Wondering if this is an accurate paraphrase of AOC:

    “AOC on likelihood of M4A getting passed: “The worst-case scenario? We compromise deeply and we end up getting a public option. Is that a nightmare? I don’t think so,” she said.”


    AOC: “FYI, I speak for myself as a member of Congress- if I were speaking on behalf of a campaign, I’d say so! 2nd I think there’s a legitimate convo btwn starting with what you want & starting w/ compromise. I believe a public option is worse than M4A, so we should fight for M4A 1st.”

    1. Carey

      That is a *good* twitter thread from RoseAnn DeMoro. So disappointed in AOC folding
      (even rhetorically) when the battle is just starting. Why is she talking about worst-case scenarios? Gaah!

      I trust Bernie Sanders, full stop.

      1. Chris

        Well, they’re correct, right? With Bernie we get a shoot for the moon and hit the stars scenario. With another radical incrementalist we get nothing. I really hope that Bernie is successful. I hope whoever is elected is successful in helping the citizens of this country. But given there will still be some Republicans in congress and the Senate there’s no guarantee we won’t have to deal with some compromises along the way. And that’s assuming we don’t also have Team Blue fighting against progressive legislation too. So if Bernie and his supporters fought as hard as possible and managed to make things better, but still not get us M4A, would that be so bad?

        1. Samuel Conner

          Making things better, but still on a long-term downward slope, is not IMO a cheerful prospect.

          M4A, if implemented, would be incredibly difficult to undo due to its enormous constituency. It’s worth striving for.

          I can imagine that Sanders might be reluctant to invest political effort into a compromise solution that allowed Congress to say, “see, we tried and things are a bit better; now lay off us”

          I think he would rather, as President, energetically campaign against incumbents who stand in the way of his policy goals. And as the goals are widely shared, I think this would put a lot of pressure on Congress.

          It’s sort of Sanders’ version of the (what I consider likely) Bloomberg ability to credibly threaten to financially support primary opponents to legislators who don’t fall into line.

          In that NYT interview with Sanders, the editors were not thrilled with the idea of Sanders continuing the campaign after the election. Perhaps they perceive that this is an important part of Sanders’ vision of “political revolution”. They didn’t frame it that way, resorting instead to a silly comparison with Trump’s campaign style. Presumably they understand that Sanders’ policy goals differ from Trumps’, but don’t want to draw attention to that.

          1. Titus

            M4A is going to require a Dem senate aligned to Sanders thinking. Not. Gonna. Happen. “deal with some compromises’, no Republicans are dedicated to all out war with the Democrats. Most Dems are neolib, don’t get MMT so there is no way now, under present circumstances to get from A → B. Circumstances will change are changing not just that fast. AOC had it exactly right. But what applies to Sanders applies to anyone, including Bloomberg. Why oh why is it that I feel most of you don’t understand why trump was elected. Re-read Frankenstein, who was the monster?

            1. The Rev Kev

              What would happen if, saying that Sanders got the Presidency, that his supporters went after the members in Congress and House at their offices, protesting for M4A daily like the yellow vests, keeping up the pressure and making clear to all those elected officials that if they try to vote it down, that politically they will be in for the fight of their lives.

              That instead of going away, that they ramped up the pressure and showed what an M4A would be like for all those in doubt. Take the fight to them for a change. Stage get out the votes campaigns in key areas. Get people registered. Start launching investigations of political financing. Showing up is half the battle in winning after all.

              1. inode_buddha

                What would happen if Sanders loses, and people still do this? Particularly if he hands off control of the movement to someone like AOC?

                Frankly I have been advocating for a national strike like the French, for a few years now. Its more difficult in the US though because there is no social structure to support it —

  23. Carey

    ‘Who Corrupted the Auto Union? Criminal Employers Did’:

    “Officials in the Auto Workers (UAW) have been working arm in arm with the Big Three automakers since the 1980s to increase productivity. So perhaps it was inevitable that union officials’ hands would find their way into the employers’ deep pockets.

    Now some UAW officials and corporate executives are behind bars. A federal investigation has revealed that Fiat-Chrysler (FCA) funneled millions of dollars into the UAW.

    Chrysler paid the salaries and benefits of union staffers during lean times. It also paid off individual union leaders—financing parties, golf trips, liquor, luxury shoes, and even a union vice president’s home mortgage..”


  24. Chris

    Wow. That Blake Zeff thread is amazing. And painful. There are far more people on there advocating for Lil’Mike – because of some mecha-Godzilla vs. Godzilla fetish I guess – than resisting a hostile takeover of the Democrats by an oligarch. I really think we’re doomed.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      I’ll bet you $150 that most of those advocating for no-like-Mike are being paid by him to do so.

  25. Basil Pesto

    Further to the discussion of maps yesterday, I posted this but it came at the end of the comment cycle. Readers may be i terested:

    “ I have a splendid book called ‘Map’, put out by Phaidon press, which is basically a survey of cartography in ‘coffee table book’ form.

    The first map is “A New Yorker’s Idea of the USA”, a satirical map drawn during the Great Depression.

    Others that may be of interest to NC readership:

    ‘City of anarchy’, a SCMP liftout, which idometrically maps Kowloon Walled City, a squatter camp in Hong Kong that housed 50,000 residents by the 1980s and was demolished in 1993.

    an Industrial Map of Portland, Oregon from 1945

    A ‘Whale Chart’ map of the world for whalers from 1851 – the world is mapped in a grid and known whale populations shaded according to colour in the corresponding grid squares

    ‘Figurative Map of Public Education in France’ from 1826

    ‘Deaths from Cholera in Soho’ by John Snow in 1855 alongside ‘Human Mobility and the spread of Ebola in West Africa’ from 2014 (maps are paired on double pages based on how they complement each other either thematically, technically etc) (cf these with the Johns Hopkins nCoV-2019 map)

    the book is not cheap, alas, but it is pretty great”

    oh there’s another interesting map: a chart of the coast around Bombay from 1680, made by a chartmaker who produced such charts for commercial activities overseas – this one may have been used by the Dutch East India company

      1. Samuel Conner

        Glad to hear it. I hope that it also diminishes Mayor Pete. Two mayors of a city 100 times the size of his have expressed their views of who should be president. Maybe MP has a future in the Indiana state legislature.

  26. Titus

    “A Slime Mold Called Le Blob” [Medium]. “‘Le blob’ is what French researcher Dr. Audrey Dussutour calls the creatures she grows in her lab. She drew inspiration from “The Blob,” a 1958 American horror movie starring Steven McQueen about a giant alien from space that eats people and grows uncontrollably.” More importantly I think as the idea of the Blob™ cones from the screenplay written by my mom – Kate Phillips.

  27. Dan

    More Bloomberg Sociopathy:

    Bloomberg defied a flight ban to show support for Israel, defended the country shelling a school and killing sleeping children

    In a Face the Nation appearance that August, Bloomberg was asked specifically about Israel shelling a United Nations school. The act was regarded as so callous that even the Obama administration put out a statement calling it “totally indefensible.” When asked if Israel had gone too far by host Norah O’Donnell, Bloomberg was clear in his response:

    “Israel cannot have a proportional response…” he said.


  28. JBird4049

    On reading about people like Mike Bloomberg (or Biden or Weinstein or…) who sexually harass others, I always wonder wtf is wrong with them. Wealthy, respected, successful individuals who feel it’s okay to demean themselves by degrading others.

      1. JBird4049

        Having such a gigantic hole in their soul that even having more money than God or perhaps more power than some countries cannot fill it up? That is really sad.

  29. notabanktoadie

    re The Bezzle: “Tesla Must Hire About 360 People at N.Y. Plant to Avoid Fine” [Bloomberg]. “Tesla Inc. needs to hire about 360 more workers at its massive solar factory in Western New York if the company is going to meet a state employment quota and avoid paying a penalty. :


  30. Grachguy

    I’m a bit late to the party, but this is why we love you Lambert:
    “For some reason. I wonder what the reason could be?”

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