2:00PM Water Cooler 2/7/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

I got a late start. More soon! –lambert UPDATE Unfortunately, I couldn’t include everything I wanted to, because I have to prepare a post on tonight’s debate.


“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 a new national poll from Morning Consult (with a big fat sample size), as of 2/7/2020, 12:00 PM EST. This is the three-day average (otherwise Biden’s drop would be more dramatic):

The numbers:

Sanders and Biden tied, though in Iowa, Biden proved to be a paper tiger, so who knows. And look at Bloomberg’s money is buying him!

NH (daily):

NH numbers:

Buttigieg claiming Biden and Warren votes? But note the small sample sizes!

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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Biden (D)(1): “His campaign on the line, Joe Biden goes missing in New Hampshire” [WaPo]. “[O]n Thursday, just five days before the crucial primary here, the candidate was nowhere to be found. Biden spent Thursday gathered with his top advisers at his home in Wilmington, Del., seeking a reset and perhaps a last-ditch effort to save his candidacy, beginning with a debate Friday night. He held no public events. Following dismal results in the Iowa caucuses that have rattled many in his orbit, his campaign is now simultaneously trying to lower expectations here — with some suggesting they would consider a finish as low as third place a victory — while also bracing for a second straight difficult Election Day. In one troublesome sign for the financially strapped campaign, it canceled nearly $150,000 in television ads in South Carolina, which votes Feb. 29, and moved the spending to Nevada, whose Feb. 22 contest follows New Hampshire’s. The move seemed to acknowledge that Biden’s campaign cannot sustain a continued run of bad news.” • The debate should be interesting…

Biden (D)(2): “How Biden Blew It” [Edward-Isaac Dovere, The Atlantic]. “It’s now an open question whether Biden will have the cash to pay for his charter plane to fly him around the 14 Super Tuesday states that vote on March 3. After a disastrous summer of fundraising, plans from the team in Iowa and other states would linger with national headquarters for weeks, then come back without approval for the spending being requested. Other candidates were quickly hiring staff—particularly Buttigieg, who in June had all of four staffers in the state but went into the caucuses with 170—while Biden’s team was under an almost complete hiring freeze. The campaign yanked its TV ads, leaving Biden dark for weeks and exponentially outspent in online advertising by Warren and Buttigieg, who soon had the rising poll numbers to show for it. At one point, aides realized, Biden was on track to spend less on TV in Iowa in this race than in his 2008 run, when he finished as an asterisk, with 1 percent of the vote. Biden aides who were being honest with themselves knew for months that they were in trouble. Some didn’t want to believe it; some couldn’t. Others felt like they’d gotten into a taxi with a driver who was swerving all over the road, and they were just holding on and hoping they made it to the end.” • A Potemkin campaign.

Bloomberg (D)(1): “Mike Bloomberg: Fixing Inequality Is My Priority” [Michael Bloomberg, New York Times]. “Every Democrat running for president agrees that income inequality is one of the great problems of our time. And we all agree that the wealthy should pay more in taxes. But only one of us has actually raised taxes on the wealthy by persuading a Republican legislature to vote for them: Me…. Some of them prefer to shake their fists and point fingers, particularly when it comes to taxing the wealthy. I agree with the goal of making the system fairer and more progressive, including by increasing taxes on wealthy people like me. But I have a different approach, informed by my experience in both government and business… Unlike President Trump, I didn’t inherit my wealth, and I genuinely support causes I am passionate about: gun safety, climate change, women’s rights, universal health care, education and yes, electing Democrats — including those in 2018 who helped create a majority in the House of Representatives, which laid the groundwork for holding this president accountable.” • Clearly, only the good billionaires can solve the country’s problems, now that they’re finally paying attention!

Bloomberg (D)(2): “Bloomberg Plagiarized Parts Of At Least Eight Of His Plans” [Bloomberg]. “The Intercept found that exact passages from at least eight Bloomberg plans or accompanying fact sheets were direct copies of material from media outlets including CNN, Time, and CBS, a research center at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the American Medical Association, Everytown for Gun Safety, Building America’s Future Educational Fund, and other organizations.”

UPDATE Buttigieg (D)(1): I can’t understand why this hasn’t been done before:

Spot the difference:

UPDATE Buttigieg (D)(2): “Fact Check: Does Mayor Pete have more military experience than George W. Bush” [ABC57]. From April 2019. This seems to be the only original reporting on Buttigieg’s service in Afghanistan, from which all the other stories derive. I’d be interested to know what our readers with military experience think of it. This caught my eye: “While the mayor says he was a Navy Intelligence Officer, the area on his DD-214 that describes his job is blank. And, despite only a portion of intelligence schools taking at least 13 weeks, his total active duty service prior to his time in Afghanistan is just shy of two months. Questions about his training were not answered by Buttigieg’s campaign.” • Readers?

UPDATE Buttigieg (D)(3): “The spooks’ choice: Coup plotters and CIA agents fill Pete Buttigieg’s list of national security endorsers” [The Grayzone]. “The publication of a list of 218 endorsements from ‘foreign policy and national security professionals’ by Buttigieg’s campaign deepened the mystery of the mayor’s rise. Some observers have raised questions about Pete Buttigieg’s intimate relationship with the national security state, after it was revealed that his campaign had paid nearly $600,000 for “security” to a Blackwater-style military contractor. Buttigieg’s new roster of endorsements from former high-ranking CIA officials, regime-change architects, and global financiers should raise more questions about the real forces propelling his campaign.”

Clinton (D)(1): “Hillary Clinton on being asked to be vice president: ‘Never say never'” [The Hill]. “Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Ellen DeGeneres in a Thursday interview that you ;never say never’ to a request to be a vice presidential candidate.” • Oh, great.

Gabbard (D)(1): “Tulsi Gabbard in New Hampshire” [The Nation]. “But in my travels across the state (I have covered her here daily for over a month), many of these libertarians told me that they are drawn to Gabbard because they agree with her as a matter of emphasis—that she has made fundamentally transforming US foreign policy her central campaign theme—and whatever philosophical disagreements they might have on domestic issues are of lesser importance. Some have even come around to the notion of a government-administered universal health care program on the grounds that if the United States is going to be making such massive expenditures anyway, instead of wasting money on endless overseas conflict, why not redirect those resources toward something that is actually socially beneficial?”

UPDATE Sanders (D)(1): “Sanders goes after Buttigieg for billionaire backers as the two vie for early-state dominance” [WaPo]. “‘How do we feel when we have candidates in the Democratic Party right now — I’m reading some headlines from newspapers about Pete Buttigieg,’ [Sanders] said. One described how Buttigieg ‘has most exclusive billionaire donors of any Democrat.’ Another characterized the former mayor and management consultant as the party’s ‘big business candidate.’ The Washington Post reported this week that the candidate, who began the race with next to no national name recognition, is ‘getting an even closer look from big-money donors following what some described as a surprising performance in the Iowa caucuses.'” • Should be an interesting debate.

UPDATE Sanders (D)(2): “Iowa Caucus: Who Different Groups Supported” [New York Times].

Class matters. (I know income is an inadequate proxy for class, but this is the best we have.)

UPDATE Trump (R)(1): Trump, as Trump does, senses weakness and zeroes in:

The liberal Democrats market themselves as being technically competent; that’s how they sold Acronym to its squillionaire backers. But they’re not; the Shadow app shows that. More important, the ObamaCare marketplace rollout showed it, too. Trump is, however, wrong to say that the Democrats want to “run U.S. HealthCare.” For one thing, the Democrat Establishment vehemently opposes #MedicareForAll. For another, Democrats don’t want to govern.

UPDATE Trump (R)(2): “Blue collar boom? College grads, baby boomers big winners in Trump’s economy” [Reuters]. “U.S. President Donald Trump rolled out an eye-catching statistic in his State of the Union address Tuesday: the wealth held by the poorest half of American households increased three times as fast as the wealth held by the “1%” since he became president. That’s true, according to Federal Reserve data. On average, Americans have seen a 17% jump in household wealth since Trump’s election, while wealth at the bottom half has increased 54%. ‘This is a blue collar boom,’ Trump also said Tuesday. That’s less apparent. The biggest winners on a dollar basis were a familiar group – whites, college graduates, and people born during the ‘baby boom’ between 1946 and 1964.”

Warren (D)(1): “Women of color bolt Warren’s Nevada campaign in frustration” [Politico]. “A half-dozen women of color have departed Elizabeth Warren’s Nevada campaign in the run-up to the state’s caucuses with complaints of a toxic work environment in which minorities felt tokenized and senior leadership was at loggerheads. The six staffers have left the roughly 70-person Nevada team since November, during a critical stretch of the race. Three of them said they felt marginalized by the campaign, a situation they said didn’t change or worsened after they took their concerns to their superiors or to human resources staff….. The women said the issues within the campaign hurt the larger effort to marshal votes, particularly in the state’s large Latino communities. Spanish-language literature didn’t arrive until late in the fall despite repeated requests from many staffers. There were too few Spanish-speaking organizers, the former staffers said, despite asking the campaign to hire more. They felt it was a constant battle to set up events in Spanish.”

Warren (D)(1): “To Win New Hampshire, Warren Has to Go Through Sanders” [RealClearPolitics]. “Two areas in which Warren has drawn a contrast with Sanders are in noting that she’s hired many former staffers from candidates who left the race and in saying she can beat Trump as a woman. She had pointed out that female candidates have done better in recent cycles than their male counterparts, especially in 2018, when they helped Democrats retake the House. ‘In 2020,’ Warren says, ‘we can and we should have a woman president.'” • So that’s Warren’s lane, finally?

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UPDATE Iowa debacle:

A Democrat regular asks the obvious question:

“Shadow Inc.: How a company with 120 Facebook likes ended up at the center of the Iowa caucus firestorm” [Fortune]. “[W]hy would Shadow—untested, unknown, unstable—be green-lighted by the DNC to bear such a grave responsibility? The answer may lie in Acronym executives’ extensive ties to high-profile and influential Democrats…. Acronym’s COO, Kim Peyser, is a former Obama administration official; its training manager, Andrea Ramos, is also the digital organizing director for Elizabeth Warren’s campaign; and the company’s founder and CEO, Tara McCowan, was deemed ‘the Democrats’ most dangerous digital strategist’ by OZY for bringing disparate parts of progressive campaigning, like door knocking, social media campaigning, and TV and online content, together under one corporate umbrella. As far as Shadow, the company’s CEO, Gerard Niemira, states on his LinkedIn page that he ‘[led a] small but mighty team’ for Hillary Clinton’s ‘Hillary for America’ campaign in 2016. And Shadow’s COO, James Hickey, an Oberlin College graduate in 2007, also worked for the Clinton campaign as an engineering manager.” • Note the Warren involvement; that seems not to have been previously reported.

“After Bernie’s Win in Iowa, the Democratic Party Is Shitting Its Pants” [Jacobin]. “Perez and the “Stop Bernie!” clown car that is the Democratic Party are only the first line of defense for the American ruling class. We’ve got a long road ahead of us and we’re not even close to the final boss. So just take a deep breath. It’s going to get a lot uglier soon.” • I thought scatology was edgy and empowerinf in 2003; so does Chapo today. It wasn’t then and it isn’t now.


“The Prosecution Of President Donald Trump” [The New Yorker]. Deep from the heart of Sorkin territory, and worth a read for that reason. The Lawfare post mortem I linked to this morning is far more intellectually honest, which is pretty shocking, because when they say “lawfare,” they mean it.

Realignment and Legitimacy

But they’re credentialed professionalns!

“Democrats Embrace the Grift” [The New Republic]. “The press accounts of the App That Failed during the Iowa caucuses this week were probably most Americans’ introduction to Acronym, the Democratic nonprofit responsible for developing the app, but journalists have had a chance to scrutinize the organization for almost three years. Acronym launched in 2017, to overwhelmingly credulous coverage. Axios wrote that it creates ”breakthrough digital [campaigns]’ online and on mobile to reach progressive voters during crucial campaigns.’ That was the general tenor of most stories written about Acronym, basically, up through Monday night. Reading those stories now brought me to a depressing realization: The people who said they were going to beat Donald Trump in 2020 by emulating his supposedly highly sophisticated digital targeting operation have instead emulated Trump by turning their campaigns into a lucrative grift for a small group of well-connected party insiders. And, because this is the Democrats we are talking about, they did so by burning enormous sums of money that could have done untold good, politically and strategically, had they been used for just about anything else.” • The Democrat Party is a lot easier to understand if you simply remove the assumption of good faith.

“Moneyball politics: Florida” [Princeton Election Consortium (UserFriendly)]. “This year is a little different because the stakes are higher: Redistricting happens in 2021, which sets the maps for the next ten years. Therefore whoever controls state legislatures is unusually important. Up to 1/3 of the seats in a chamber are under the control of whoever holds the redistricting pen. This means that the difference between single-party control and divided government can reverberate for a decade…. Florida’s congressional district lines are drawn by the legislature and Governor, and legislative lines by the legislature alone. The Florida House, Senate, and Governor are Republican. Control of either chamber of the Florida General Assembly is a valuable prize. The Florida House of Representatives has 73 Republicans and 47 Democrats. Between the two, the state House of Representatives is more winnable: to change partisan control, 14 out of 120 seats would have to go from Republican to Democratic control. The resulting divided government would bring bipartisan rule to the Sunshine State…. Normally I’d say that 14 seats is a lot to shift. But there’s a new population of potential voters, thanks to ex-felon reenfranchisement.”

“The Pennsylvania Valley That Became A Bellwether For Trump” [The American Conservative]. “It’s tempting to think that Pennsylvania’s political map is settled in this presidential election year. And it’s true that the state’s northeastern and southwestern coal regions, once Democratic, are set to reward Donald Trump again. Philadelphia’s ‘collar’ counties, meantime, will continue their Republican purge. But the outcome of this battle of the voting margins—working class versus suburbanite—still remains unpredictable. The Lehigh Valley, the most populous region between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, will prove the bellwether in this fight. Its cities and towns have already had an understated yet immeasurable impact on America’s economy and history. Come November, its voters could determine Trump’s fate in Pennsylvania—and his reelection.”

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “Hiring surges in January as Americans flood into job market” [Associated Press]. “Hiring jumped last month as U.S. employers added a robust 225,000 jobs, bolstering an economy that faces threats from China’s viral outbreak, an ongoing trade war and struggles at Boeing. The Labor Department also said Friday that a half-million people streamed into the job market in January, though not all of them found jobs. That influx meant that more people were counted as unemployed, and it boosted the jobless rate to 3.6% from a half-century low of 3.5% in December. The government’s monthly jobs report signaled that businesses remain confident enough to keep hiring, with the pace of job growth accelerating from a year ago. Solid consumer spending is offsetting drags from the trade war and declining business investment.”

The Bezzle: “Uber’s new roadmap to profitability draws Wall Street praise” [Reuters]. “Uber shares, which were down almost 50% percent at the end of last year from its public launch, jumped 7% in trade before the bell as investors were also smitten by the company’s aggressive plan to cut costs.” • Lol.

The Bezzle: “Airbnb bans under-25s from booking ‘party houses’ after violence” [City A.M.] “Airbnb has launched a crackdown on young people booking entire properties in a bid to prevent house parties from descending into violence. The new rules have been rolled out in Canada as part of a trial programme, though the company did not say whether it will be extended to other countries. Under the new measures, Canadians will still be able to book single rooms. However, under-25s will only be able to book whole properties in their area if they have positive reviews on the website. The restrictions will not prevent young people from booking homes further afield.” • Totally not game-able!

The Bezzle: “Why Have So Many Breast Pump Startups Flamed Out?” [Marker]. “‘The folks who are the gatekeepers of funds are men, and they, for the most part, don’t tend to see issues that affect women and women’s bodies as being important,’ MIT’s D’Ignazio says. The most recent data reveals that startups founded by all-women teams raised only 2.8% of all venture capital last year; when women co-founded with men, that number increased to a still-meager 11.5%. Part of the problem is the makeup of the people doing the investing: Women represent less than 10% of venture capital fund employees. ‘With issues related especially to women’s bodies, [there’s] a mismatch with the investment ecosystem and the problem you’re trying to solve,’ D’Ignazio says. The founders of Moxxly, another breast pump startup, echo running into similar problems. ‘We were a female-founded team fighting for capital for a product only women use.’ says co-founder Cara Delzer, who spoke to me in April.”

Tech: “Apple’s Independent Repair Program Is Invasive to Shops and Their Customers, Contract Shows” [Vice]. “Last August, in what was widely hailed a victory for the right-to-repair movement, Apple announced it would begin selling parts, tools, and diagnostic services to independent repair shops in addition to its “authorized” repair partners. Apple’s so-called Independent Repair Provider (IRP) program had its limitations, but was still seen as a step forward for a company that’s fought independent repair for years. Recently, Motherboard obtained a copy of the contract businesses are required to sign before being admitted to Apple’s IRP Program. The contract, which has not previously been made public, sheds new light on a program Apple initially touted as increasing access to repair but has been remarkably silent on ever since. It contains terms that lawyers and repair advocates described as “onerous” and “crazy”; terms that could give Apple significant control over businesses that choose to participate. Concerningly, the contract is also invasive from a consumer privacy standpoint. In order to join the program, the contract states independent repair shops must agree to unannounced audits and inspections by Apple.” •

Tech: “Twitter tops expectations with first $1 bln quarterly revenue, but outlook lags” [Reuters]. “Twitter Inc hit $1 billion in quarterly revenue for the first time, topping expectations and also beating user growth estimates in a rebound from previous troubles with ad platform bugs and unusually low seasonal demand. But the company also posted fourth-quarter net income lower than expectations.”

Honey for the Bears: “French industrial output plunges in December as strikes weigh” [Reuters]. “French industrial production fell much more sharply than expected in December as factories contended with nationwide transport strikes and a broader European slowdown, official data showed on Friday. The INSEE stats agency said industrial output plunged 2.8% in December from November when production was flat, marking the biggest drop in nearly two years…. Economists have blamed the slowdown in large part for a surprise decrease in overall economic growth in the fourth quarter when it fell 0.1% from the previous three months.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 59 Greed (previous close: 63 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 44 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 7 at 12:18pm.

The Biosphere

“Lights out? Fireflies face extinction threats of habitat loss, light pollution, pesticides” [Tufts Now]. “Habitat loss, pesticide use and, surprisingly, artificial light are the three most serious threats endangering fireflies across the globe, raising the spectre of extinction for certain species and related impacts on biodiversity and ecotourism…. Artificial light at night has grown exponentially during the last century. “In addition to disrupting natural biorhythms – including our own – light pollution really messes up firefly mating rituals,” explained Avalon Owens, Ph.D. candidate in biology at Tufts and a co-author on the study. Many fireflies rely on bioluminescence to find and attract their mates, and previous work has shown that too much artificial light can interfere with these courtship exchanges. Switching to energy efficient, overly bright LEDs is not helping. “Brighter isn’t necessarily better,” says Owens.”

“A nearly 50% decline in bumblebee habitat in North America is tied to climate change, scientists say” [CarbonBrief]. “A new study warns that bumblebee populations in North America and Europe “have plummeted as a result of extreme temperatures”, the Washington Post reports. It continues: “The number of areas populated by bumblebees has fallen 46% in North America and 17% in Europe, and the new research found that regions with sharp bee declines also experienced strong variations in climate – and especially higher temperatures and worse heatwaves.” The researchers examined 66 bumblebee species using data collected over a 115-year period (1900-2015), notes the Independent. Bumblebee populations have been hardest hit in warming southern regions, such as Spain and Mexico, where some species already live near the edge of their temperature range, reports InsideClimate News. The findings suggest that the likelihood of a bumblebee population surviving in any given place has declined by 30% in the course of a single human generation, says the Press Association.”

“Australia celebrates as heavy rains dampen huge bushfires” [Reuters]. “Much of Australia’s wildfire-ravaged east coast was drenched on Friday by the biggest rainfall in almost 20 years, dousing some of the most dangerous blazes and providing welcome relief to farmers battling an extended drought…. By afternoon, there were 40 active fires in NSW, less than half the number of blazes at the peak of the crisis, with all burning at the lowest level danger warning of “advice” only. Neighboring Victoria state had 21 active fires, also at the lowest level.”

“A conundrum: Who owns Louisiana land after it washes away?” [Times-Picayune]. “The problem is a result of the state’s rapidly changing landscape. About 80 percent of Louisiana’s coast is privately owned. But, under an old law, as coastal erosion and sea level rise turn the land into open water the area becomes property of the state, including the mineral rights underneath. Private landowners have become more adamant about restricting access to water on their property in order to assert their claim to the minerals underneath it. But boaters often have difficulty figuring out where private property ends and public waterways begin.”

News of the Wired

“Are Insects Capable of Moral Behavior?” [JSTOR Daily]. “[One] take on the value of insect life presented by Louis Figuier, a French writer who interpreted science for a popular audience. His 1868 book The Insect World fascinated and repulsed readers with descriptions of astonishing insect behavior. He ascribed conscious choice, industriousness, and sociality to the bugs. In some cases, he did this by anthropomorphizing them—describing a flea laying eggs as a ‘foreseeing mother,’ for example. But often, the value he found was totally independent of human ethics, lying simply in their status as living creatures that play a part in the web of natural life. For example, he praised the ‘marvelous…industry, patience, and dexterity’ and ‘biological intelligence’ of parasitic fleas, ticks, and lice.” • I suppose fireflies and bumblees might ask whether humans are capable of moral behavior… .

“The Joy of Collecting Stamps From Countries That Don’t Really Exist” [Atlas Obscura]. “Laura Steward, curator of public art at the University of Chicago, who organized an exhibition of stamps from micronations and other dubiously defined places, believes that these tiny squares are more than a toss-off: They’re art, proof of imagination, and rather sophisticated bids for public recognition. “A postage stamp is a small but mighty symbolic emissary from one particular nation to the rest of the world,’ Steward writes in text accompanying the exhibit. ‘A functioning postal service, made visible in stamps, is an unmistakable expression of national legitimacy…. As a result, the postage stamp is an excellent vehicle for spurious, tenuous, or completely fictitious states to declare their existence.'” • Odd to fit privatizing the post office into a legitimacy frame…

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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 (Clive):

Clive comments: “Amanita muscaria, commonly known as the fly agaric — a just-emerged fruiting body.” Considering whether to say this is suitable for tonight’s debate, but on the other hand: Don’t try this at home!

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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. Hepativore

    I wonder what the Sanders ground game or contingency plan is going to be for New Hampshire should the DNC try more funny business (almost a given) and cook the books to ensure a Buttigieg victory. I hope the district chairs in the up and coming states are independent enough or have the foresight to impede future meddling attempts by the DNC.

    After all, Sneaky Pete probably has more tricks up his sleeves.

    1. carl

      Did you notice Sneaky Pete just lifted Sanders’ answer as to how to work with a hostile Congress (i.e., go to those Congress-people’s districts and rally the people directly)? Just blatant plagiarism.

            1. ambrit

              You haven’t heard? It’s a pretty “fun” CT lite spread around the alt-right spheres. He’s supposed to be gay, she is really a man, and the girls were ‘abducted’ from a Chicago area hospital ward. Clicking on this theory on certain sites on “Bluedditt” entitles the reader to an entry into the “Own The Brooklyn Bridge” sweepstakes. (A nominal handling fee will be charged to your bank account per entry.)

      1. OIFVet

        Sounds like another way to say that he will put on comfortable shoes, with the exact same lack of follow through. The question is, how does the Sanders campaign expose Mayo Pete as the shameless pretender that he is. Given the days of free media exposure for Buttigieg, that becomes both harder and ever more important. Sanders should be able to get New Hampshire outright, but I really think that going into South Carolina, Mayo Pete’s horrific track record with blacks in South Bend needs to be hammered home relentlessly. Nip this con artist and his backers at the bud, I say

        1. inode_buddha

          I think Sander’s campaign needs to point out all the parallels to Obama, that should be enough to take Pete out of the race. Most of America remembers Obama as the guy who bailed out the bankers while they got foreclosed on.

          1. Henry Moon Pie

            Or leave the attacks to Biden and Warren who must go after Pete to survive. Meanwhile, Sanders could congratulate Pete on a historic performance in Iowa and an important milestone for LGBTQ equality. While Pete is a skunk, maybe more of a pit viper, it does demonstrate important progress in that area, and Bernie’s history of support for that community makes it especially appropriate for Bernie to let the LGBTQ community that Bernie’s fight for his votes and his just deserts was not intended to slight them.

            1. OIFVet

              Good lord, identity politics is truly a more effective censor than anything we had in Eastern Europe before 1989. Fine, congratulate the LGBTQ community, and then point out that most LGBTQ are not billionaires, therefore Mayo Pete is not their champion. It’s about class, that cuts across identities. Class is inclusive, identity is exclusive. And FWIW, Sanders’ fight was (and is) for the people, not merely for the votes. Remember the campaign motto, “Not me. Us.”

              1. Carey

                Good lord, identity politics is truly a more effective censor than anything we had in Eastern Europe before 1989.

                that’s what the Lord put idPol on this earth for, and so far it’s working really well.

        2. Carey

          What I don’t get is why more exposure would be helpful to Buttigieg- I mean
          what’s his narrative?

          “Failed one-time mayor of small Midwestern city with McKinsey/Intelligence background, speaks only word salad, deeply distrusted and disliked
          by anyone not rich and white, deeply deserves your mcVote”?

          Something’s not right here, to say the least.

          1. OIFVet

            I think it simply shows how little esteem our “betters” have for us. I mean, look at that Minneapolis Star-Tribune article wondering why we should have even a symbolic say in who the nominee is. The mask keeps slipping little by little, and we ought to be prepared to stand our ground and demand our rights to be heard and truly represented. I am saying this as a naturalized citizen who once bought the narrative hook, line and sinker.

            1. Carey

              Yes, the headline of the article you mention was remarkably telling:

              ‘With Iowa in mind, should voters have this much say in who gets the party nomination?’

              The disingenuous implication being that the [stupid] *voters* caused the problems in Iowa™..

              Team Dem are inadvertently creating a *lot of* Solidarity against
              themselves with their ratfvcking and gaslighting, like Mr. Chapman’s..

        1. OIFVet

          One of my cats is the same way, and our relationship has really deteriorated this week. Which raises the question, why do the DNC and Mayo Pete hate felines?

      2. jrs

        rather untested as it is. I think it might work with right wing Dems if they controlled congress, I suspect the chances of it working with Republicans are next to non-existent.

      1. inode_buddha

        Maybe somebody should inform them that what radicalized people is the fact that they have been getting screwed hard by the big donors for decades.

        1. JBird4049

          The article does some great cherry picking and logical fallacies; small donor tend to be more radical; therefore small donors are extremists.

          The writer ignores the general anger against the corruption both economic and legal as well as wealth inequality, which does tend to make people more radical and donate more. The people who are prosperous are doing fine and can make the large donations to keep the system rigged.

          Don’t these educated fools realize that if reforms do not come by the ballot, then they will come by the bullet? Or is the possibility of “another long, hot summer” inconceivable?

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            They realize it. That’s what the Raytheon OvenRay and the LRAD Ear Splitter and etc. are for.

      2. Gregorio

        Who get’s to decide what is “extreme?” I mean, is it more of an extreme policy to be for a single payer universal healthcare system, or one that is run by cartels who pay their CEO’s tens of millions of dollars to maintain a business where there’s no price transparency, profits are increased by denying care, and patients can be bankrupted by illness or injury?

      3. remmer

        Pildes has been making this argument for years, against supporters of campaign finance reform. But his history of small donors leaves out the fact that both parties began small-donor programs in 1908. That’s because a campaign finance scandal about corporate contributions made them realize they needed to show people that their bases extended beyond Wall Street. The parties had a PR contest to see who had the most donors. As recently as the 1980s the GOP was boasting that it was the party of the small donor. No one raised alarms then.

        Political scientists found that small donors tend not to give at all in normal times, but when they do it’s because they’re attracted to a candidate or a cause. Small donors didn’t create Bernie as a polarizing figure, and Bernie didn’t create polarization by stirring up donors. His donors are people who were already stirred up by what’s happened to them over the last thirty years, and when candidates promised to do something about it, they contributed to their campaigns. Small donors don’t create polarization, they respond to it.

        1. JBird4049

          >>>Small donors don’t create polarization, they respond to it.

          I know that, and you know that, but to “them,” if the proles actually respond with other than obsequiousness we are radicals, socialists, anarchists, and maybe kick puppies.

    2. MRLost

      Me? I wonder if Bernie has his own security people. Surely the DNC doesn’t control or even influence who watches Bernie’s back while he’s at a campaign event. Recall the sudden and surprising conclusions of the campaigns of Bobby Kennedy, Yitzhak Rabin and Benazir Bhutto. Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated while campaigning for a for a fellow party member. I attended Bernie’s campaign event in Asheville in 2019 and I didn’t notice much in the way of security other than a very friendly crowd. I keep reading riffs on the order of “they will do anything to stop him” and I hope Bernie’s people take that literally.

      1. hunkerdown

        That’s not the question. The question is, if someone does make an attempt on his life, who will be targeted in the subsequent low-level civil war?

      2. Michael Hudson

        There’s no reason to assassinate Bernie unless/until he wins the California primary.
        I predicted that six months in advance for Bobby Kennedy in a public speech. Assassinatons always are deferred until necessary, hoping that threats will do or the target’s support will falter.

          1. ambrit

            While Attorney General, RFK went all out against the Mob of the time. Said Mob was ‘in bed’ with the CIA due to Mob-OSS ties beginning in the Sicilian Campaign of WW2. Hence, two of the ‘Underground’ power centres of the time felt threatened by RFK. RFK was killed just as he won the California primary and was set to run as the Democrat national presidential candidate in 1968. He could have, as President, forced a reinvestigation of his brothers assasination.
            The Kennedys have been prime conspiracy theory fodder for half a century. We are just finding out that many other of the formerly “crazy” theories are true.

      3. petal

        He had a lot of security for his event (it was held outside) here in Hanover, NH this past Fall-more than Biden or Warren. It was surprising for around here. There was a bag check table, then next you got wanded by a Suit, then you got in. I couldn’t tell if they were private security types or someone else.

      4. Eduardo

        How many hundreds of thousands does the USA kill each year for fun and profit? What’s one more?

        But, it will appear to be natural causes. They don’t want to create a martyr.

      1. hunkerdown

        I am fascinated by the strong, relatively unified pro-billionaire pro-Pete messaging from those who identify as liberal attorneys on Twitter. Rats stick together, I guess?

      1. Shonde

        Thanks flora. I hope he says something similar at tonight’s debate. This distills the message to its essence.

      2. antidlc

        Thanks, flora for posting that.

        The last two minutes sum it up perfectly: “Which side are you on?”

      3. tegnost

        Interesting or not how the next two auto play youtube videos are for the lousy mayor, and I scrolled down the list and it’s pretty close to half. Google did say it will be different this time. Sharpening the creases on my tinfoil hat, then putting that protective screen back on my head, I’ll posit that an upside to the clusterbomb in iowa is that people self identified as against the status quo by saying things such as; clusterbomb, ratatat tatters, oil rigging, cliff notes cheat sheet, or I just returned some khakis to banana republic, thusly marking themselves for algorithmic discrimination.

    3. randomworker

      Why would the DNC want to rig the primary for Mayor Pete? A guy thats like 12, gay, and got about 8000 votes total in his political career? Wouldn’t they rig it for Biden? Or Klobuchar?

      1. HotFlash

        The Manchurian Langley Candidate? The Establishment is not a monolith, not even the Democratic establishment. Or maybe they are answering Bernie’s long-distance runner strategy with a marathon strategy; Pete for Iowa and New Hampshire laps, passes baton to Biden for SC, who passes baton to whoever is strongest (other than Bernie), and finally to Bloomberg for the sprint and finish. I think Biden, Warren, and Klobuchar surprised with their weakness, but throw enough mud against the wall, you’ll get a brokered convention, in which case, all primaries, and bets, are off. I also think Bloomberg may have surprised everyone, incl the Democratic establishment.

  2. Wukchumni

    The Bezzle: “Why Have So Many Breast Pump Startups Flamed Out?” [Marker]. “‘The folks who are the gatekeepers of funds are men, and they, for the most part, don’t tend to see issues that affect women and women’s bodies as being important,’ MIT’s D’Ignazio says.
    I’d occasionally do crank calls in L.A. in the 80’s, and my all-time favorite was calling a store that rented breast pumps and get the price: $2 a day for less than a week, $1.50 per day for longer periods, and i’d ask more questions until the woman’s voice on the other end asked how long my wife was going to need it, and then i’d lower the boom by telling her it was for my own use, with much gender righteousness in my voice, as my authority.

    1. prx

      jokes aside, it doesn’t seem like a capital-intensive business. why not bootstrap it or raise capital from your clients (kickstarter)?

    2. Carey

      With the idPol bar finally requiring a feminist-founded, female-funded BreastPump Startup™ (?), could we have finally, finally, reached peak NeoLib Capitalism?

      “breastpump startup” ? [shakes head]

      dog i hate this country

  3. Bugs Bunny

    small thought and just my own – the Coronavirus, should it result in a pandemic, would certainly erase a lot of IdPol “principles” from the get-go, as they say in Indiana. Nothing more important than your tribe when the masks fall, as it were.

    1. JBird4049

      This presupposes common sense and many people have truly drunk the cool aid. I do not mean that people are stupid, but living in a pretty safe environment allows people to let their inner fool be free. Sometimes fatally so. Like with the antivaxxers or letting the IdPol overriding everything.

  4. campbeln

    Something very important re: Coronavirus – https://www.reddit.com/r/dataisbeautiful/comments/ez13dv/oc_quadratic_coronavirus_epidemic_growth_model/

    Numbers posted 2 days ago:

    If I’m right, this near perfect “Chinese Propaganda” quadratic model will provide the world press and the WHO with the following numbers over the next few days:

    05/02/2020 23435 cases 489 fatalities

    06/02/2020 26885 cases 561 fatalities

    07/02/2020 30576 cases 639 fatalities

    08/02/2020 34506 cases 721 fatalities

    09/02/2020 38675 cases 808 fatalities

    10/02/2020 43084 cases 900 fatalities

    11/02/2020 47733 cases 997 fatalities

    Quite sad, considering all the commendations for transparency bestowed upon China by the WHO!

    (from https://www.reddit.com/r/dataisbeautiful/comments/ez13dv/oc_quadratic_coronavirus_epidemic_growth_model/fgkkh59/ )

    Compendium of comments (read: quoted in part by me) from the thread’s OP:

    [W]hat we get is an exceptionally smooth quadratic rise. This makes the data hard to believe.

    If the data being published were subject to limited testing supplies, then I would definitely expect a constant daily case discovery and therefore a linear increase in total cases. I would also expect it to be irregular depending on the provision of supplies.

    Fatalities can also be accurately predicted by taking 2.06% of the number of confirmed cases of infection. So that means it is necessarily also quadratic. You can test the theory tonight. I gave some of my predictions in another comment below.

    (from https://www.reddit.com/r/dataisbeautiful/comments/ez13dv/oc_quadratic_coronavirus_epidemic_growth_model/fglns3x/ and https://www.reddit.com/r/dataisbeautiful/comments/ez13dv/oc_quadratic_coronavirus_epidemic_growth_model/fgokjte/ )

    1. campbeln

      Another worthwhile comment from the thread’s OP:

      If testing capacity were limited, the gradient would be a (possibly noisy) constant and we would be seeing a linear rise in cases. However, what we are seeing is an exceptionally smooth quadratic rise, and what is more curious is that:

      * The public health interventions that were implemented in mid-January including use of face masks and increased personal hygiene;

      * The mass quarantine lock-down measures introduced in Wuhan City on January 23; and

      * The addition of two new hospitals that started operation on Tuesday 4th of February;

      …have simply not dented or altered the published growth rate in any way whatsoever.

      It remains perfectly smooth and quadratic and very hard to believe.

      (from https://www.reddit.com/r/dataisbeautiful/comments/ez13dv/oc_quadratic_coronavirus_epidemic_growth_model/fgosxle/ )

      1. Monty

        i see 638 actual deaths reported on 2/7/20. Do you have the numbers for 5th and 6th, were they also correct?

        1. Wisdom Seeker

          Yes. 491 and 564 cumulative deaths on those days, in China, per the WHO daily Situation Reports.

          I want to thank Campbeln for the interesting links – I was also suspicious that the Chinese data releases were being “managed” to maintain public concern without triggering mass panic.

          P.S. Even with these disturbingly regular numbers, the coronavirus is about to become the leading cause of death in Wuhan (and Hubei Province).

        2. campbeln

          At the links and up above :)

          05/02/2020 23435 cases 489 fatalities

          06/02/2020 26885 cases 561 fatalities

          07/02/2020 30576 cases 639 fatalities (638 reported)

          08/02/2020 34506 cases 721 fatalities

          09/02/2020 38675 cases 808 fatalities

          10/02/2020 43084 cases 900 fatalities

          11/02/2020 47733 cases 997 fatalities

        3. MLTPB

          Thanks . I noted a one day lag on those two numbers I quoted (did not check earlier ones).

          On the daily number of confirmed cases, I dont see them as near perfect, even with that one day shift.

          1. Wisdom Seeker

            I’ve reproduced the quadratic model and it’s accurate for the WHO-reported Chinese cumulative confirmed cases number, as well as the deaths number, to within an absolute range of -2 to +3% over the past 10 days.

            I pulled the China data from the W.H.O. situation reports 5 through 18. I used the “report number” of the WHO situation report as the time variable t, and then the cumulative confirmed cases, C, is very close to C = 124*t^2 – 546 t + 900. I didn’t try to further optimize the fit.

            A quadratic rate of increase in the aggregate implies a linear rate of increase in the daily number of new cases. The fit function says the daily number should increase by ~250 per day. Since there were ~3150 new cases in China yesterday, there will be ~3400 today showing up in Situation Report 19 tomorrow.

            SitRep. WHO. Model
            5 1297 1270
            6 1985 2088
            7 2741 3154
            8 4537 4468
            9 5997 6030
            10 7736 7840
            11 9720 9898
            12 11821 12204
            13 14411 14758
            14 17,238 17560
            15 20471 20610
            16 24363 23908
            17 28060 27454
            18 31211 31248

            The model fit forecasts these values for Situation Reports 19, 20, and 21:
            19: 35290 total cases in China
            20: 39580 total cases in China
            21: 44118 total cases in China

            Data prior to Situation Report 5 don’t fit the model. That was from January 24 data, January 25 report date, immediately after the January 23 lockdown of Wuhan. I imagine that’s when the government got serious about managing either the data release or something involving the availability of test kits to different provinces.

            1. MLTPB


              I just noticed that the second derivative is 2a, not not a, as I wrote above.

              Here x is the number of new cases, and it is the rare of chane of the rate of change that should be 2a.

              Going thru the WHO numbers above, I get the following for the value of 2a:

              68 = (2741-1985)-(1985-1297)

              They seem to be varying, not constant around 250.

              1. MLTPB

                Sorry, x is time, which is your t, and y would be your C.

                And today, 2-7-2020, we have another de line.

                1. MLTPB

                  Well, I’m heading home, so I will keep it short, but I meant the second order change I’ve been tracking using Chinese National Health Commision numbers at Wikipedia, though its 2-8-2020 in Beijing, the latest updated number is notated with a date of 2-7-2020, is negative for the 3rd in a row.

                  1. Wisdom Seeker

                    With the latest numbers the quadratic model is still within 1% overall. There may be some upward revisions yet in the data; I usually hold out for The WHO situation report which won’t be out for another 18 hours. (Funny how humanity can globally count the number of cases of an emerging virus, with fewer revisions and disagreements than the DNC has going on with the Iowa Caucuses!)

                    If the data are real test results, the daily fluctuations would have something to do with the random number of tests that didn’t confirm cases, either healthy patients or false negatives.

                    If the data are goalseeked national numbers, the daily fluctuations could be from provinces that aren’t included in the scheme, or are massaged individually (e.g. maybe to get Guangdong and Zhejiang to cross the psychological 1000 level on a weekend). Or the master planners could be using a random term. Remember the China number as a whole is a sum of individual province numbers, and those appear to be reporting at different times each day.

    2. Ignacio

      In fact, if anybody wanted to have an idea on the real incidence of the disease, it should be done in Hubei by random sampling of several thousand individuals and repeat in a couple of days to estimate false negatives. Chinese authorities must have thrown the towel knowing it is out of control and the WHO knows it… as anyone watching those numbers. In this sense no more transparency is needed: out of control, STOP. The question is for how long will it take to become endemic in other countries. Remember those cruises in quarantine in Japan where one case was confirmed? In a couple of days it has go to 61 confirmed. Yups!

        1. Wisdom Seeker

          When the number of cases crosses 200 in any jurisdiction, indicating widespread local transmission, I expect everyone else’s data will be just as massaged as China’s. China is implementing quarantines at the 200-1000 case level as well.

          The overarching need is to get people to stay home calmly to limit the spread of the virus. Neither complacency nor panic is of public benefit.

            1. Jeremy Grimm

              That motto could be made into a song. It sounds like the chorus line for a song of existential despair. It should come with a new dance craze.

        2. John k

          But every country’s med system has advance warning, suspects go into isolation and get best available care. This combination was never available in China, and now their system is overloaded.
          Given the better combination in the west, we should get less transmission and higher survival rates.
          Granted we continued allowing air travel with China much longer than we should have.

      1. campbeln

        My advice? Watch those two cruise ship in Yokohama very closely as they are the best source (for us little people) to get as accurate of information we are likely to get during the epidemic.

        1. MLTPB

          I think those ships are much more confined…also not sure if certain age groups are more present on board

        2. Acacia

          Only the Diamond Princess is in Yokohama. The MS Westerdam was supposed to dock in Naha, Okinawa, but Japan has refused entry so they turned away. I also notice a tweet from the Governor of Guam, stating that the US State Dept made a request that the Westerdam be permitted to dock there, which Guam has refused. So, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and Guam have now all refused.

    3. Lina

      My boyfriend is a scientist and (sort of) mathematician. He’s saying similar to this, though his predictions are a bit more aggressive….

    4. MLTPB

      A quadratic equation like, a x2 + b x + c?

      Differentiate it twice, one gets the constant a.

      Using the numbers from Wikipedia, gathered from the National Health Commission of China, the ,last 9 values of a range -551 to 653.

      That seems to be a higher order polynomial.

    5. MLTPB

      Also, the reported numbers for the next two days after the post (2 days ago) are

      Feb 5, 2020, 28,018 vs the equation value of 23,435

      Feb 6, 2020, 31,161 vs 26,885

      And the death total:

      Feb 5, 2020, 563 vs 489
      Feb 6, 2020, 637 vs 561

    6. Lee

      Why do the hard work of gathering real data when you can provide a mathematically generated knock off. It’ easier, cheaper, and less disruptive to business as usual. What’s not to like?

    7. Aumua

      Yeah I mean, sure. They could be making numbers up according to some formula. I wouldn’t put it past them? That being said, this whole thread is pure speculation.

  5. BoyDownTheLane

    “Bill Maher interviewed Pete Buttigieg a few days ago on January 31, 2019. Bill Maher said, “You are the only military veteran in this.”

    Buttigieg nodded along and said, “Yeah.”

    It was a critical test of character for Mayor Pete, and Buttigieg showed his true colors. Instead of acknowledging Major Tulsi Gabbard — the first female combat veteran to ever run for the presidency, who volunteered to deploy twice to the warzones of the Middle East at the height of the war, who has served in the Army National Guard for 17 years and is still serving today — Buttigieg chose to allow the audience to believe the falsehood that he was the only military veteran running for president because it benefits him politically.

    Furthermore, when Buttigeig’s campaign posted the interview on social media, they chose to cut out the first part of Maher’s statement (i.e.“You are the only military veteran in this.”)”


    1. Oh

      I’m being nice when I say that Bill Maher is a jerk. He could’ve pointed out that Tulsi has served longer.

    2. OIFVet

      Another strike against Mayo Pete. Embellishing his own service record is one thing. Negating the service of another veteran is beyond the pale.

  6. divadab

    Amanita Muscaria – tried it once – the most delicious mushroom I’ve ever eaten – the flesh was like scallop and the red skin a chewy jello. Hardly any psychoactive effects – apparently the mushroom must be boiled, drained, and dried to activate the psychoactive elements and to detoxify . However – DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME – amanita is kidney and liver-toxic and although there has not been a documented death in 100 years (wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amanita_muscaria), why take the risk?

    Psilocibens a better choice and non-toxic.

          1. Samuel Conner

            There’s a multi-entendre lurking here, depending on how one pronounces the word

            * toad stool

            * toad’s stool (multi-entendre within these two)

            * toad’s tool

            English is such a rich language!

      1. ambrit

        The estate of Carroll, the pseudonym for the author of the ‘Alice’ books, should sue for brand appropriation. That idea is central to the ‘Adventures in Wonderland.’

    1. Samuel Conner

      I suppose it says something uncharitable about me that my first thought on encountering today’s “plantidote” was related to the personal observations of a former legal client of Michael Avenatti.

    2. Oregoncharles

      There’s a serious theory that Amanita muscaria is god – although there’s a white mushroom also in the running.

      That is, that the psychedelic experience from it is the source of much religion, at least in the Old World (in the New World, it’s psylocybin). The same theory says that it was the “mystery” of the mystery religions – including quite possibly Christianity, but especially the Eleusinian Mysteries. It isn’t a coincidence that fairies are always shown hanging around it.

      And maybe the secret of the Viking Berserkers, as well. Supposedly (haven’t tried it) it produces delusions of grandeur, and to a degree the reality.

      Someone we knew at the beach, back in the psychedelic days, mistook A. pantherina (tan) for A. muscaria (red), and spent days in a coma. Not sure what he reported when he came out of it, but he nearly died. Be careful out there.

  7. dcrane

    Trump had a zinger in his East Room speech that the Democrats can’t count the votes in tiny Iowa yet they want to take over the entire healthcare system.

    I tend to think Iowa is an example not of incompetence but “strategic incompetence”. But what if it really was incompetence (e.g., the app)? Think also about Boeing and the F35 and the evidence of a neoliberal rot infecting the “private” sector. We should consider whether American government and business elites are even capable of designing such a system successfully. Maybe a Sanders administration would need to put this problem first.

    Either way we spin this, the Democrats have damaged their own case for taking power.

    1. hunkerdown

      Bernie’s campaign managed to build one and got a more accurate read more quickly than the IDP did. Only the Clintonites and the market-idolater techno-fetishist “learn to code” way have damaged their case for taking power, as they have on the regular, for decades.

      The obvious solution is to enhance the contradictions between the “let them eat training” neoliberal failchildren and the Sanders wing of the party.

    2. KLG

      Eh, maybe. But most sentient actors will come to view the Iowa fustercluck as a case similar to the potential accountant for a mob boss asking his future employer, “How much to you want 1+1 to be?”

      A few days ago in the aftermath of Monday night, a colleague asked me if I wanted the “government” in charge of my health care? “No, not this government.” He is a native of a Warsaw Pact country, so I asked him if he though a government, state, or political culture could change? No response, as he was stumped. But that is the point of this election. We either change our state and political culture or keep accelerating toward the edge of the abyss…

      1. katiebird

        I just want the government to pick up the tab. A National Health Service would be great. But that isn’t on the table at all. Medicare has been fine. Just expand it to everyone and i prive the coverage.

          1. Carey

            I don’t want “insurance”, or “coverage”, or any of that other bullshit.

            What I want is Healthcare-emphasis on care-, TYVM, and that’s just what They want us to not have; for ourselves, or for each other: Care.

            Sanders 2020

    3. Matthew

      If you think that the majority of ten-percenters actually think they are the best people available and are doing the best they can — despite what has happened to the country and the planet over the past fifty years — then the only conclusion to draw is that they are morons. And what better proof could you ask for than this?

    4. Woodchuck

      Trump and Republicans in general will run away with this and you will see all sorts of variation of “they can’t even count votes in Iowa but…”. And honestly, they should. Democrats would do the same thing if Republicans did anything as shameful as what happened in Iowa.

      But Democrats are hard at work winning the real election that matters to them : winning against Sanders. Trump winning is just 4 more painful years. Sanders winning can tear down their entire establishment for a long time.

    5. tegnost

      clearly sanders is the only one he’s worried about, the rest of the candidates have already taken over healthcare

    6. The Rev Kev

      It was a very effective campaign for the DNC. Instead of a victory lap by Sanders after a win in Ohio capped by a rousing victory speech, the whole things is filled with Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt over the results and a made-up win by Buttigieg. And all they had to do was to trash Ohio’s reputation to do it. And below is a Jimmy Dore 10-minute video showing how bad it got but if nothing else, just watch the first minute or so-


  8. Tom67

    About the Amanita muscaria mushroom, commonly known as the fly agaric from personal experience: it is considered to be less dangerous in Siberia where it is widely used by Shamans. Tried it both in Middle Europe and in Siberia. In Europe headache. In Siberia I learned that the psychogenic ingredient is execreted through urine so you have to drink it. Did that and had quite a psychogenic effect. Was warned never to use it with drink. Brought dried mushrooms back to Germany and gave it to an acquaintance who didn´t heed my warning and drank beer with it. Result: his girlfriend of many years left him after he smashed their appartment. Later read that the Vikings used it with fermented berries to get psyched up before attacking. Sounds logical as the Amanita muscaria of Scandinavia should be quite the same as the Siberian one. No, I am not advocating the use of Amanita muscaria. Just a tale for a possible mushroom afcionado among the readership.

    1. Matthew

      I think Terence McKenna discussed fly agaric as one of the primary candidates for the Vedic soma, which was also used to induce battle rage.

    1. dcrane

      That’s an important essay. I passed it to my father-in-law who is now willing to acknowledge that Assange is being railroaded.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Thank you for the link. That interview and its conclusion make for very scary reading. Given the consolidation of the MSM into control by Big Money, the gradual clampdowns on the Internet, and this report on the torture of Assange I am not sure we will have to wait twenty years to ask: “what you will still be able to write then as a journalist”.

  9. OIFVet

    Mayo Pete’s DD214 makes no sense. He was an officer, and Navy OCS lasts 13 weeks, that’s just the basic course. Afterward he would have had to do separate training for his MOS, the length of that varies based on what the MOS is. All of that training is active duty and counts as such on the DD214. Yet he had just under two months of active service prior to his deployment. So it’s obvious to me that it has been altered (notice how the article states it wasn’t redacted) prior to being released. The DD214 is the most important document for anyone wearing a uniform, so it would take friends in very high places to alter it. Or it would take friends in very high places to support lies that contradict DD214 records. The latter is harder, obviously. Bottom line, quite likely intelligence type, but more like a forensic accountant type intelligence type. As for going outside the wire 119 times, I doubt that. Look at that M16 he is yielding in the picture, not a wear sign anywhere on it, not to mention any optics or other attachments that are essential for anyone who would spend that much time on patrol. Desk jockey, REMF, HQ warrior, whatever, but definitely not high danger position. At most, leaving the wire under heavy protection to meet local dependents to deliver their payroll.

      1. Wisdom Seeker

        I’m not a vet but I know a few and wound up reading Once and Eagle as a result. Even from a distance Buttigieg smells unmistakably like a Massengale.

        Gabbard is far more authentic as a leader.

      2. Calvin

        You have the timeline backwards. His deployment was two years after he was elected mayor. It appears he went to both Iraq and Afghanistan as a defense contractor prior to that.”

        Can’t wait to see his health plan in action for the rank and file:
        ” Buttigieg’s work at McKinsey included an engagement for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, during a period when it considered cutting up to 1,000 jobs (or 10 percent of its workforce).”


        Love these Come Out of Nowhere candidates like Bill Clinton with overseas contacts…”Rhodes Scholar”

        1. Pat

          If you think people despise Obamacare wait till a whole lot of people hanging on by their fingernails but still considered too flush for help, people who haven’t seen a Doctor for years get hit with a retroactive bill for Pete’s public option aka Medicare for all who want it.

    1. skippy

      Chairborne in a air-con carpeted AO … and think his outside the wire recon patrol duties were to the O club. Then again I know of some cases where higher O’s liked to keep pets around, cabana boy stress relief, old as Spartacus.

      I turned down a Command Sargent Major driver gig after being short listed down to 3 candidates. Told him why would someone with more bolo badges than him be used as a Major Darling, especially as one that preferred camo in the field to spit and polish.

      This was to a Vietnam era sort, so, I can imagine Pete’s mentality in taking the job – punching the ticket. Something he seems adept at IMO.

      Hell thinking about it now brings back the memories …. ugh.

      1. OIFVet

        Pete’s mentality in taking the job – punching the ticket. Something he seems adept at IMO.

        Another form of credentialism. “Vet,” check. “Business background,” check. “Gay,” check. Perfect, as far as the establishment is concerned.

        1. skippy

          The – thing – about it is the duration of works, just enough to say you have been there and by that some proxy about knowing stuff, but not long enough to have any negative aspects stick too you E.g. one and done which feeds into the “Rising Star” image that served Obama so well.

          Personally I would have liked to take him through the motivator to see whats under all that crafted chimera.

          Would seem he’s a Ken doll Fexian that is willing too accept or present himself to the wishes of his betters, without any ethical or moral friction for a life raft payday.

          Opportunist comes to mind.

    2. stefan

      During Vietnam, I was a US Army Chinese linguist assigned to Detachment N, 500th Military Intelligence Group for two years. I never was in combat, but McGurk, the guy who worked next to me had been wounded as a helicopter gunnery man and always called me a “frustrated hippie.” The truth is, if you’ve been inside real trouble, you don’t talk about it much. You’re just saddened and grateful to still be alive.

      I think veterans are aware that Buttigieg is embellishing his resume a bit for this “thank you for your service” age of ours. But I think it’s wrong to go after him on this point. He served where he was ordered to go.

      1. OIFVet

        All if fair in love and politics. “119 times outside the wire, wow” thinks Jane Q. Suburban and perhaps her panties moisten a bit as she contemplates who to vote for now that it’s clear Hillary won’t be running. I get it, he is courting votes. Forensic Defense Accountant or Financial Intelligence is decidedly unsexy and unglamorous, but an exceedingly safe way to pad one’s resume in preparation to launch an ambitious political career, so adding a little hint of danger is understandable – in a bar. Running for CinC, however, that’s a moral violation of Stolen Valor. If he wanted to tell impressive – and true- stories, he should have joined combat arms. But then again, as you correctly point out, he would likely not be very talkative about his combat experiences.

        Plus, I truly dislike him, so there.

        1. RMO

          The more time he actually spent “outside the wire” the more I would loathe him – stay with me here: he’s fully on board with the all-war-all-the-time gang. The more actual experience he may have had in real combat, seeing what the US military has done to the places it has invaded, seeing what it has done to the people living there and seeing his fellow soldiers lose hands, arms, legs, minds as a result of these wars the more psychopathic, immoral, unethical and self–promoting he would have to be to continue pushing for more of the same.

        2. Oh

          I would recommend that Jane Q wear ‘depends’ before reading Mayo’s background.
          BTW, I don’t thank him for his “service”.

        3. rowlf

          My mom, one time during a trip to a nearby VFW hall where my family could gather and have a few drinks and conversation, overheard someone getting loud at the bar about how tough serving in Vietnam was, commented “Must have been clerical”.

          I think it is funny that my cousin’s kid, a US Army Infantry company commander, was posting in the late 2000’s from Afghanistan, that he and a lot of his command thought Occupy Wall Street had the right idea to get the US back on track.

    3. Collapsar

      Good catch on his rifle in all those photos. I thought something was off about it, but couldn’t figure it out. He seems to have been using the only battle rifle in Afghanistan without a scope.

      1. OIFVet

        He was stationed in Kabul according to the article Lambert linked. Hardly a FOB, which were always rather spartan, at least during my time (2004-2005), so definitely not a fobbit. At least fobbits still roughed it, no Green Beans Cafe or Chinese food places on FOBs.

    4. David J.

      Also a USN vet here. I served at the tail end of Vietnam (when it was essentially all over) and in both the 2nd (Atlantic) and 6th (Mediterranean) fleets. So, sort of a REMF myself in the sense that I never deployed to a combat zone. But I know a lot of vets who did.

      And this is anecdotal, but I think the my thoughts may seem true to other vets–correct me if I’m mistaken.

      Generally speaking, most vets I’ve known tend to downplay their service, particularly if they were in a combat zone. I’ve heard a few horrific stories in my time, but often it was either a) when vets were deep in their cups, or b) many, many years after the events took place. I didn’t learn much detail about my father’s WWII experience until the early 2000s when he was in a bad health trajectory which we all knew was leading towards the end. And Dad really wasn’t in that much danger either.

      The vets I’ve encountered who tend to burnish their service have always raised my BS antennae. IMO, it’s not consistent with the vat majority of vets I’ve known. As I said, this is just my experience and other vets who comment here may know kind of what I’m trying to describe.

      Buttigieg, imo, is the kind of vet who is burnishing things. Just my opinion, but I think we all have met a Pete or two in our lives. He’s the person who will look you in the eyes and tell you a whopper, even though he knows you suspect that he’s telling a whopper. Yet, he tells it anyway.

      Just my two cents.

      Edit: I see a lot of fellow vets have weighed in during the time it took to write this. Bravo Zulu to all.

    5. The Rev Kev

      That article – “Fact Check: Does Mayor Pete have more military experience than George W. Bush” – mentioned that Bush was never deployed. Yeah, there was a reason for that. Once saw a doco where some guy had a copy of some of his military records. One sheet that he showed on camera was where a candidate offered to serve overseas or not and it was a yes or now question. The answer for Bush was blocked out but a question below it asking where the candidate would like to serve if they answered yes was totally blank.
      And before I forget, Bush never really finished his term of service. He just kind of wondered away from his base to take part in political campaigns and never came back. If you wonder how someone can “wander away” from a term of military service, the reason was that his last name was Bush, that is how. It is like the time he spent a night in jail for drink driving with his sister in the car but when he was President, it could never be “confirmed”.

  10. Plenue


    Syrian army continues to advance like a juggernaut. Al-Qaeda (Hayat Tahrir al-Sham) made a few counterattacks and took back some villages, but the Syrian army seems to have retaken them in turn, and then kept on advancing beyond them.

    The ‘rebels’ basically don’t seem to be fighting much. At a guess the transfer of several thousand fighters to Libya seems to have not just deprived them of manpower, but moral as well. Unless they’re intentionally falling back and planning to mount a firm defense later, but if that’s the case they’re giving up a lot of strategic assets, like both key highways, in the process.

    Turkey says it’s planning to ‘discuss’ the situation with Russia tomorrow, but at the pace they’re going the Syrians will have taken a large amount of new ground by then.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Thanks for that update Plenue. Hard to make sense of Erdogan pushing all those commandos, tanks, artillery, etc into southern Idlib and what they are supposed to achieve except to try and get between the Jihadists and the Syrian Army. If it got ugly, those Turkish troops would be at the end of a very long vulnerable, supply line.

      Looking at the map at https://syria.liveuamap.com/ I can see the Turks trying to occupy Taftanaz Military Airport to deny it to the Syrians as well as try to block a highway to the west. By my count, I see three Turkish observation posts well behind Syrian Army lines with the promise of more to come.


    2. ObjectiveFunction

      As I’m sure you know, no light infantry in its right mind attempts to hold any kind of open ground against mechanized forces with on call air support. But that hardly means they’re beaten.

      (In 2006, Hezbollah contested the Israeli armor from carefully prepared and disguised positions in rough ground peppered with farmsteads, also taking full advantage of the IDF’s known doctrinal reluctance to deploy dismounted infantry. But even then, their ‘victory’ consisted of blooding the IDF and forcing a number of medevacs under fire. The Israelis held the field at the end of the day and recovered their KOed tanks. And they also learned a lot from the ordeal; Hezbollah has been unable to repeat that ‘victory’)

      The jihadis will make their stands in the usual places: towns, where they can’t readily be spotted by ranged weapons, and can plant IEDs and ambushes along a limited number of approaches. The regime remains infantry short, and is even shorter of experienced pioneer troops willing to dig out fanatics house to house. Jugger or naut, this vicious war is not over.

      1. The Rev Kev

        The Syrians seem to use a lot of light infantry themselves to go after the Jihadists. I have seen a few film clips of Syrian troops going into battle and I see small groups of men and nary a helmet to be seen among them. The problem for the Jihadists is that the Russian and Syrian air forces clobber any point of concentration, fortification or supply line that can be found. And it is not only the Jihadists that can use ATGMs against strong points and troop concentrations. The war does have a long way to go yet but that is mostly because external powers like the Turks, Saudis and the US continue to supply the Jihadists with all the supplies that they need.

        As for the 2006 invasion of Lebanon by the Israelis, I am afraid that I have a different take on that war. It was the second-stringers of Hezbollah that held the Israelis in place and broke up their attacks. It does not matter if the Israelis manged to salvage a bunch of broken tanks either – the Israelis were shocked that Hezbollah had that capacity at all. It showed the Israelis that getting kicked out of Lebanon several years before was not an anomaly. I have a clip of one armoured Israeli attack coming under fire by one ATGM after another and it was bad. And Hezbollah will repeat that victory if Israel invades Lebanon again. Worse yet, Hezbollah now has missiles that can reach most of Israel and they have missiles in the thousands.

        One middle east expert put it like this. Before then if the Israelis invaded the young men would drive north into the next country and take in a movie. In this war, the young men got into their cars and headed south to help take on the Israelis. Here is a good document on this war worth reading-


  11. ambrit

    The piece on ownership of mineral rights below the bounding waves is common along shorelines. Where we once lived at the mouth of the Pearl River, the legal state line between Louisiana and Mississippi was centre of the stream. Somehow, denizens of either bank could fish the entire stream. You could only be charged with poaching the other side’s fishies if you stepped out of the boat and onto ground, even when that ground was under the river’s water. So, stay in the boat!
    Secondly, and indicative of the tangle that is common law, commercial fishing boats could be, and were, from my personal knowledge, fined for fishing without a license if they were caught with any gear in a “deployed state” on the wrong side of the centre of the river. (One local shrimper I knew somewhat was almost bankrupted by one of those ‘gotcha’ fines. He was hanging out his nets to dry from partially deployed booms while sailing home up the East Pearl River. One of those booms was across the centre line into the Louisiana half of the waterway and the Louisiana fish and game wardens wrote him up for commercial trawling without a Louisiana commercial fishing license. I believe the fine was in the ten to twelve thousand dollar range.)
    As for the mineral rights issue in Louisiana marsh lands, well, an old and predatory South Louisiana political family was famous for using fraud and influence to gain control of one income stream.
    Leander Perez family: https://www.nytimes.com/1981/05/11/us/attacks-mount-against-perez-empire-in-loiusiana.html
    Louisiana’s penchant for dubious schemes and outright fraud starts from the very beginning. The French crown backed the settling of Louisiana as part of a massive stock swindle.
    See, John Law’s speculation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mississippi_Company
    (Yes. John Law, the early Scots economist.)

  12. Brooklin Bridge

    I’m having a hard time believing these polls any more than I believe the flustercluck in Iowa was unplanned (even if last minute) or the knee-capping of the last survey wasn’t part of the whole charade.

    Can the bump from Iowa really propel rat face from 12 to 22 in 4 days, or is this barely disguised DNC prep work for a “turnaround-rodent,…” err kid, in NH? The DNC is giddy drunk with brazenness. https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/nh_2020-02-04_numbers.png

    1. Matthew

      An important connection Ball makes is that the DNC wants to devalue specifically the votes of the new voters that the Sanders campaign is trying to bring into the party. Those are the people in the satellite caucuses that Buttigieg and Perez don’t want to count. This connection might have been made here and I missed it, but I wanted to draw it out just in case.

    2. aj

      In my dreams Christopher Hitchens is still alive and is being interviewed by Krystal Ball about our current mess. I really miss that man’s biting commentary, but Krystal is soon become a very close 2nd.

      1. Basil Pesto

        ditto – he posthumously occupies a kind of no man’s land – disdained by the left because of his (cogent, whether you agree or not) support for the Iraq war in principle, and by the right for his anti-religion position and his own political left history. But his C-SPAN appearances from the 90s are fantastic, ‘No One Left To Lie To’ holds up brilliantly as anti-Clinton polemic, and his cheeky irony is typically a delight. He’d be a most welcome voice in this day and age, for mine.

  13. aj

    RE: “I remain convinced that one of the main reasons conspiracy theories are so popular is that even average people, who resent those in power, have a hard time believing the people in power are as stupid and frivolous as they actually are.”

    People are quoting Hanlon’s razor all over the place (i.e. Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.)

    I propose a corollary: If the amount of incompetence exceeds even the highest expected amount, we can assume the incompetence was purposeful and revert back to the original assumption of malice.

    I’ll leave it to someone else to wordsmith that so it sounds better.

    1. inode_buddha

      Malice and incompetence are not mutually exclusive.
      Go ask malice when she’s ten feet tall…

      1. aj

        Lol. I like that. I was imagining some sort of circle where you go around the incompetence direction far enough and it loops back around to malice. Pardon my french here, but at some point if you just don’t give enough shits to do your job correctly, I think we can stop saying you fucked up on accident. Especially if you fucking up benefits you and your buddies.

    2. Calvin

      “I’ll leave it to someone else to wordsmith that so it sounds better.”

      How’s this?

      “3 steel framed high rises don’t fall into their footprint
      without help.”

      1. Plenue

        They do when hit by burning jet fuel that heats the steel sufficiently that it loses half its strength, causing a pancake collapse where the floors crash one after another into each other, picking up speed on the way down.

        Now, want to try thinking like an adult?

        1. Calvin

          A gullible adult? Your version has never been proven. 3,000+architects and structural engineers have put their professional license and careers on the line repudiating your theory. What backs yours? A magazine and government agency?

          The version of events we are expected to believe and that you quote is the ultimate conspiracy theory.

          Also, even if your version were correct; no plane hit Building Seven,
          which also collapsed into its own footprint.

          The University of Alaska released an engineering study last September detailing how the collapse was impossible per the Official narrative.


          What’s your theory on that?

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Incompetence is the best all-around cover that malice ever had.

      Stupidity is the best all-around cover a saboteur can have.

  14. cm

    Someone needs to do an expose on sleazy reporting on Iowa. As I write this, the final results are still not known since there is one precinct that has not been counted. Yet the mainstream media has been pushing 100% the entire day.

    Since Hillary established that popular vote is more important than delegate count, clearly all Democrats can now cheer Sanders’ win in Iowa.

    1. jrs

      Based on actual delegate count it’s a tie. The numbers that show Buttigieg ahead are state delegates, they aren’t actual delegates, they are a fictional number that doesn’t seem to have much to do with anything. Sanders and Buttigieg will get equal numbers of ACTUAL voting delegates from Iowa period, I believe it’s 11 each (barring a DNC recount and then I guess all bets are off). Warren will get a few delegates, maybe someone else here and there. I can’t see one precinct changing the tie and it actually is a tie in terms of actual delegates.

      The popular vote is another matter, one could certainly argue it should be what counts, but it’s not and neither is the state delegate number, the only number that counts is actual delegates.

      1. Samuel Conner

        I thought Iowa had 41 total national convention delegates.

        27 are awarded at this moment to Sanders, PB and EW.

        How will the other 14 be allocated? Are these all “supers”?

        1. chuckster

          Yes they are. Bloomberg will probably buy them so that the “winners” get 11 each and Bloomberg – who didn’t run at all – gets 14. Welcome to the Democratic Party.

  15. Cat Burglar

    I keep wondering who at the DNC compelled the Iowa party to use the app. From the Kiernan tweet it seems that the DNC adopted some kind of tech standards applied to state parties. I keep wondering who spoke to whom and gave the advice or orders, but no reporting I have found has uncovered that yet. People at the top in Iowa must know, and so must staff at the DNC.

    1. Calypso Facto

      My hunch is a LOT of people within the DNC were angling for cushy Silicon Valley roles after the election via their affiliation with Acronym. Lots of former Obama and Bush people sit on boards of big tech companies or are invited to give speeches at tech events for pay. With enough donations to Acronym (and similar) plus ‘notching wins’ during this election cycle regardless of whether the tech was relevant to the wins, they could put it on their CV and use the connections via the donations as references.

  16. Ed Miller

    “Twitter is Blocking My Tweets” This post is visible to me when reading Water Cooler.

    When I click on “Home” it is gone! Weird and thought you’d like to know.

    1. tegnost

      refresh browser should work, you may be getting a cached screen…same with matching the comments you see with the reported number

  17. Samuel Conner

    Re: Uber’s “roadmap” to profitability:

    roadmap … roadmap …

    I’ve heard that somewhere before. I think in connection with Middle East “peace plans”.

    Methinks that when people are throwing around language about “roadmaps”, it might be a tell that they are actually lost.

    1. ewmayer

      “Uber shares, which were down almost 50% percent at the end of last year from its public launch, jumped 7% in trade before the bell as investors were also smitten by the company’s aggressive plan to cut costs.” — The Reuters author/AI/spellchecker/whatever appears to have mistakenly used “smitten” as the past tense of “smite”.

  18. Potted Frog

    Buttigieg will never survive Trump.

    Should Buttigieg really become a contender, Trump will have rich Pete-joke opportunities to mine at his rallies which will, in turn, make the rounds of bars, basements and backyards well past election day. It does not stop there – it translates into campaign swag to carry the jokes nationwide.

    What is the DP leadership thinking? It’s like it has chosen to run a horse that will break a leg during the first big race – which Iowa was not.

    1. tegnost

      Attrition. They threw warren under the bus with the debate no handshake, now it’s pete’s turn, the end result being bloom/hill at the brokerage. Anyone but and all… for the republicans it was the clown car, the dems are in the parachute plane, give liz a golden parachute (cabinet position or something) and out the door she goes… pete just jumped and the sun glinting off the precioussss parachute has everyone looking up, but he’ll be down to earth soon and it’ll be someone else’s turn

      1. Potted Frog

        I’ve stopped trusting any official statistics.

        That said, the failed binary-farce of Muller and Impeachment may be good for a Trump bounce on the principal of rebound alone.

  19. Calvin

    “I have more military experience since anybody to arrive behind that desk since George H.W. Bush.” Buttigieg said.”

    No you don’t. Major Tulsi Gabbard did two combat tours. Surfer Tulsi could kick his Buttship in a minute. When she criticized Buttigieg in the last debate she was in, the wimp’s lower lip trembled and he looked like he was going to cry.


  20. Zzzz Andrew

    The question Are Insects Capable of Moral Behavior? is a lovely one to contemplate, going back a long way …

    “Amptes & attircoppes & suche oþer þat ben euere bisy ben maide to schewe man ensaumple of stodye & labour.”

    – Elucidarium of Honorius of Autun (Wycliffite version) c. 1400

    1. Calvin

      “ants and grasshoppers and such things have been very busy and have been made to show man examples of study and labor.” Is that right?

      1. Zzzz Andrew

        Sorry, missed this! Yes, almost right, except “attircoppes” is “spiders” (compare dialectical English “attercop” in the Hobbit, or Norwegian “edderkopp”). Also “euere” is modern “ever,” and “ben” (related of course to “been”) is technically a third person plural present of “be.” Basically “Ants and spiders and other such that are ever busy are made to show man example of study and labor.”

        I guess I understand the charm of looking for morality in animals, but any investigation that doesn’t presuppose “how do we end up not eating each other” as the goal doesn’t seem likely to help much.

    2. ewmayer

      “Are Insects Capable of Moral Behavior?” — Well, they’re certainly capable of anty-social behavior! [Quickly ducks out the rear exit of the club as the rotten produce begins its descent.]

  21. Carey

    In mid-January I called my local Clerk-Recorder’s Office (SLO County, CA) and asked for them to send me a form to update my registration, since I’d moved from from Atascadero to Los Osos (whew!). The person I talked to suggested I do that online™, but I told her that I’d tried something like that, only to find out that I apparently did not exist, according to the System. She finally agreed to send me a form that I could return by mail. It arrived eight days later (Pony Express, apparently; my place is twelve miles from their office), and I filled it out and returned it right away. Couple of weeks went by, and it was close to the end of January, so I called to politely ask when I could expect
    my ballot. “They’re going out starting 3 Feb”, I was told, for the 3 March election. Mmm, OK. Well, a ballot did arrive, but lo! and behold, just as for 2016 CA Primary, it was the wrong ballot:
    NO Presidential Candidates on it at all; I’d been sent something called a ‘Nonpartisan’ ballot, despite registering Democrat.

    Called the Clerk-Recorder’s Office *again*, and got an answering machine, left a message;never got a call back. Called a few more times and the person whom I’d talked to the very
    first time, but she seemed intent on getting me on my back foot right away. Mmm..
    I answered her questions in a certain icy way, and mentioned also that I was quite certain that I had in fact registered as a Democrat, and that I’d taken and saved digital photos of all materials I’d received and returned to their office.. her tone seemed to change then, and she said some fast-shuffle stuff about ballots and voided and new one going out tomorrow and.. you probably get the picture.

    So supposedly the correct ballot will arrive tomorrow or Monday. As for it getting accurately counted for the candidate of my choice, I have little confidence of that, but will be making signs to put on my Sanders2020 signs with an arrow toward his name and “I voted for”, once I’ve received the
    correct ballot.

    Gave a couple of Bernie2020 stickers to enthusiastic and unexpected older recipients today though, and that felt really good.

    1. flora

      Thanks for this report. Sounds like telling the Clerk’s office that you had photo evidence had an effect.

    2. Calvin

      You go to the polls to vote, so why not go to the registrars office to straighten things out? (e.g. Decline to State switching to Democrat to vote for Bernie).
      Hard core voters will also drop off their completed mail in ballot in person at the registrar’s office.
      We do.

      1. Carey

        No, I don’t “go to the polls to vote” since awhile. Congrats on what you do.

        Thanks for clueing me in, though, on what “hard core voters” do.
        Maybe your method is more likely to ensure a counted vote.

  22. The Rev Kev

    “Australia celebrates as heavy rains dampen huge bushfires”

    Yes indeed. When I woke up this morning it was raining and has been on and off since Tuesday. Yesterday we took a drive by Wivenhoe Dam where several weeks ago there was an emergency with a fierce fire. It was all hands on deck back then and they just managed to contain it. But when we went through this area we could see green growth on a lot of those burnt trees and green grass in all those areas not touched by the flames. The worst of the fires are over now for the bushfire season but now is the time to assess what has lost and what has to change before next year.

    Now comes the real fight with our neoliberal leaders who insist that all is well and want to ‘move on’ including Scotty from Marketing. I would not be surprised if he uses the Coronavirus outbreak to try to push aside questions over climate change when comes time for the Royal Commission either. There have been questions raised about replacing him before the next election due to his incompetent performance. So who knows what a person like that will do to save his skin while defending against climate change debate.

  23. Tomonthebeach

    The update on the Blue Collar Boom is gaslight. Wealth is a fungible term, but for the sake of argument let’s pretend it is how long one can sustain their standard of living without working. If we go by the FED aggregate data reported by Reuters, we college people can stay unemployed 17% longer than 3 years ago, whereas poor folks can stay unemployed twice as long as 3 years ago.

    Put into perspective, wild guestimate, that might mean college people can go say from 7 weeks to 8 weeks without working before things get tight. Compare that to poor people who can now go from say 2 days to 4 days without working before they cannot eat or pay rent. That is progress?

    Where the hell are the Democrats with this sort of nonsense is highlighted as progress?

  24. chuckster

    “Hillary Clinton on being asked to be vice president: ‘Never say never’”

    Is there anyone in their right mind who would pick Lucrezia Borgia as their running mate? Who wants to be known as the president with the shortest administration?

    1. typing chimp

      Somebody with a lot of ambition who believes that her partnership will allow him to get an administration to begin with.

      Again, the only person who could possibly benefit from this, however short-term, is Biden–Hillary would alienate the supporters of every other candidate so far as I can tell.

  25. typing chimp

    I am somewhat fascinated by Hillary’s comments, especially after her previous comments about how people are telling her that they wish she would run for president. Realistically, the only person who could possibly benefit from announcing her asVP is Biden, and whatever cash and press he gets from doing so would be dwarfed by the amount of ridicule that follows him until he drops out from sheer embarrassment.

    But really, this is a wonderful testament to the power of sheer persistence–this woman went from presuming to becoming President-Elect almost 1200 days ago to pathetically indirectly groveling for some attention from another deluded, half-dead zombie candidate who has no realistic hope of getting the nomination, and yet no matter how polarizing or unpopular she is, this woman will just not let herself slip into quiet irrelevance and do something worthwhile with herself.

    I can’t help but following this.

  26. Idland

    Mayo Pete sheepdogs for little mike with the promise of VP. Little mike reneges and picks Clinton. Boom, four more years of Trump.Signed sealed and delivered.

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