2:00PM Water Cooler 7/23/2018

By Lambert Strether of .

Patient readers, as usual, a new midterms worksheet took the time that it did. More in short order! –lambert UPDATE 4:00PM After some errands, all done!

Politics

2020

“Donald Trump’s Approval Rating Inches Higher, Buoyed by Republican Support” []. “WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump’s approval rating edged higher during a week in which he following a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, signaling that he is positioned to weather the latest controversy sparked by his unusual brand of politics. Mr. Trump’s job approval rating rose to 45% in a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, the highest mark of his presidency and up 1 percentage point from June.” • If the “withering criticism” doesn’t make it out of the 9.9% bubble, there’s no impact on voters, apparently.

“Tim Scott for president? Iowa and New Hampshire visits get people talking” []. “The South Carolina Republican is not actively seeking the presidency — ‘I’m not even running for president of my home owners’ association,’ he said, a quip he makes every time somebody asks him about his national ambitions. But ‘nobody comes to Iowa by mistake,’ said Craig Robinson, who runs the influential Iowa Republican news site in the state that has long been the first to hold a presidential caucus every four years.” • Interestingly, Scott is black…

“Inside the mission to blow up the 2020 Democratic field” []. “America Rising PAC, which at the time of its founding five years ago focused exclusively on researching, tracking and deploying rapid-response against Hillary Clinton, is well into a beneath-the-radar effort to define — and ultimately derail — the Democrats preparing to take on President Donald Trump in 2020…. With a potentially colossal field of Democratic presidential contenders and no one close to being a front-runner, the mission figures to be an expensive endeavor. So donors across the country are quietly getting the hard sell as the group moves toward its goal of raising $8 million for the 2020 cycle — roughly three times as much as it took in during the successful three-year quest to help defeat Clinton.” • Ka-ching. Amazingly, Cuomo is a person of interest! If our party system runs true to form, some of this oppo will end up, duly laundered, before the FISA court as probable cause…

New Cold War

“NYT reporter: Trump often tells the truth” []. Maggie Haberman, who recently limited her presence on the Twitter.

2016

“It should have been President Hillary Clinton. Here’s why it’s not” [Willie Brown, ]. “There was no better proof of how we have failed as voters than the scene at last week’s NAACP convention, where former President Bill Clinton presented me with the group’s award for outstanding achievement. As I told 2,000 attendees in San Antonio, if we had all done our job and voted in 2016, it would have been President Hillary Clinton making the presentation.” • Yes, that Willie Brown. I am amazed that liberal Democrats believe so strongly that blaming voters is their path to victory. Let me know how that work out.

Obama Legacy

“The Enemy Within” []. Just a little background:

Obama was and remains a pure politician, a member of the country’s most powerful and corrupt political faction, the Democratic Party of Chicago. Having left his work as a community organizer in order to attend Harvard Law School, he returned to his adopted city, law degree in hand, and proceeded to associate with the local political barons and thus to prepare his future. Along the way, he literally married the Democratic machine: as the daughter of a precinct captain, Michelle Robinson Obama had not only grown up in the milieu dominated by the party’s reactionary “boss,” Mayor Richard J. Daley, but was also indebted to him for her economic survival. Her father, Fraser Robinson, worked in the city water plant, where the machine’s soldiers were practically guaranteed employment. It was through Michelle that Barack, in 1991, met Valerie Jarrett, who was at that time the deputy chief of staff for Mayor Richard M. Daley, son of Richard J. and heir to the family fiefdom. In the Illinois Senate and elsewhere, Obama performed favors for his patron, and in December 2006 the boss repaid him handsomely by announcing his support—very early in the electoral cycle—for Obama’s presidential candidacy.

A single event exemplifies the close ties between Chicago’s political boss and his disciple: in October 2009, in the midst of the country’s financial crisis and while engaged in a crucial battle for the reform of the national health care system, President Obama went to Copenhagen in a vain bid to secure the 2016 Summer Olympic Games…for Chicago.

So, how’s that Library going? :

Protect Our Parks, a Chicago nonprofit [Herb Caplan] leads, is suing the city and Chicago Park District to stop the Obama Presidential Center from being built in Jackson Park. Caplan, 87, who once worked as a lawyer for former Mayor Harold Washington, calls the city plan to lease 19 Jackson Park acres to former President Barack Obama’s foundation for $1 a “political manipulation” that breaks the law by handing over public land and tramples the city’s legacy of open parks.

The federal lawsuit filed in May might seem a legal long shot, since the center is an ode to Obama, the city’s favorite son. But Caplan’s challenge forced the city last month to reveal that the Obama Center isn’t quite the done deal that many Chicagoans think it is: The city hasn’t reached key agreements or a lease with the foundation, and those pacts will require another new city ordinance to be passed sometime soon.

• Well, well. Note the essential corruption is not that some Chicago Alderman of squishy consistency will send their child to a better school than they would otherwise would have been able to afford, but the conversion of a public good to private use.

When you’ve lost Atrios:

8 years of power wasted. i am so tired

— Atrios (@Atrios)

(Cruikshank deleted whatever tweet Atrios quoted, oddly.)

Realignment and Legitimacy

Alert reader Dan Kloke submits another chart:

(.) My interpretation is that Clinton supporters still live within their own bubble. Whether they can — or even wish to — expand their bubble to include more voters is the central question for 2018 and 2020, central in every way: Ideologically, strategically, horserace-wise, the future of the country…. And Dan says the same thing with much better words:

(.) My interpretation is that Clinton supporters still live within their own bubble. Whether they can — or even wish to — expand their bubble to include more voters is the central question for 2018 and 2020, central in every way: Ideologically, strategically, horserace-wise, the future of the country…. And Dan says the same thing with much better words:

I think it’s really two little worlds, not little in size but in the tight constraints of their self-identifying precepts.

I find this chart and dataset alarming, it shows extreme polarization, even the Non-voters have unusual distribution (large “Very” types). I myself have thought since childhood that the USA was not viable in its current dimensions, too large an area and too many people (and US population was half its current size at the time). It’s obvious, the quantities are too big to manage in Ptime; uniform equitable and sustainable society is not possible at this scale, and large national regions just exacerbate the problems, their rates of accumulation, and the range of failure effects.

It would not be satisfactory to anyone (a good sign of potential sustainability), but reducing federal government and shifting legislation and administration back to states and counties would go a long way to making our systems more sustainable. This would also surface some of our core issues, namely willingness/unwillingness to cooperate, forego damaging advantage, and make merciful exception on a case-by-case basis.

State’s rights was claimed by the conservative righties years ago, a ploy that has helped to kept the liberal lefties from realizing that localization is good for equitable and sustainable communities, some on the newest left seem to have some sense of this (Scholten IA-4, Ocasio-Cortez NY-14). Over-federalization is a systemic issue, and a vehicle for delivering a lot of bad legislation and policy from a culturally isolated location with inadequate oversight or restraint. Three branches were not enough to resist gradual compromise between two effectively warring parties, proxies for countless private domestic, and eventually trans-national and foreign sovereign, interests. (Russia being only one of many, I viewed Clinton/Trump as proxies for China/Russia, with SA and Israel also at the tables).

The 50 states and 16 territories, and also the 3,242 counties, represent available and (mostly) operational administrative regions and bodies. We already use and depend on them, it would be wise to consider falling back on their scopes and functions to avoid catastrophic collapse at the federal level. National military is as usual a wildcard in the fate of a nation in decline, which the US certainly is. On the bright side, The US is large enough that total invasion is not a viable option, although land border regions are of course vulnerable.

Readers?

* * *

New hope for the dead?

🚨 bold communications department intern alert 🚨

— Kate Aronoff (@KateAronoff)

* * *

“All Expenses Paid: How Leadership PACs Became Politicians’ Preferred Ticket to Luxury Living” ) []. “What do $741,000 at St. Regis hotels and resorts, $871,000 in golf-related expenses, and $469,000 worth of spending at Walt Disney properties all have in common? These expenditures, and many more, encapsulate how federal officeholders and candidates use so-called “leadership PACs” to subsidize lavish lifestyles on their donors’ dimes. Little-known beyond the Beltway, these oftenoverlooked political committees, conceived in the 1970s, are frequently described as slush funds — and nearly every member of Congress has one. It is not just one party or lawmaker perpetuating this system…. A leadership PAC is a political action committee (“PAC”) that is established by a candidate or federal officeholder but that is not his or her authorized campaign committee. Yet today, a minority of leadership PAC spending goes towards contributions to other candidates or political committees: on average, only 45 percent, over the past three election cycles, according to our analysis of data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics.” • Ka-ching.

“Board of Elections says Wilson’s cash giveaway didn’t violate rules” []. • Alrighty then…

* * *

“Voter purges are on the rise in states with a history of racial discrimination” []. “The spike is notable. Between 2006 and 2008, 12 million voters were purged from voter rolls. Between 2014 and 2016, that number rose to 16 million — a roughly 33 percent increase. Brennan Center researchers also found a major surge in voter purges in the places that had previously been subject to federal under the Voting Rights Act. Several states — including Alabama, Virginia, and South Carolina — with a history of racial discrimination in their voting laws had been required to run changes in such policies by the Justice Department, a practice known as federal preclearance.” • Terrible. If only there were a national institution with a lot of donor money — say, like a political party — that could help these voters get back on the rolls!

“Sununu Signs Voter Residency Bill; Legal Challenge Expected” []. “But in a statement, the governor said the bill, which aims to make people like college students who vote here abide by other residency requirements, like getting a drivers license or registering their cars, means ‘Every person who votes in New Hampshire will be treated the same. This is the essence of an equal right to vote.'” • Unless you don’t have a car?

“Georgia cancels registration of more than 591,500 voters” []. “Several weeks ago, the state through local county election offices also sent out address confirmation notices to more than 383,400 voters as part of its biennial cleanup effort. Such notices are used across the country to confirm whether a voter has moved outside a registrar’s jurisdiction.” • I can’t tell, from reading the story or a quick search, whether these “notices” were postcards, which are designed so that voters do not return them, or not. Georgia readers?

“Democrats need to fix their own voter suppression problem” [Jeff Weaver, ]. “In New York, independents — those who haven’t enrolled in a party — are the second largest group after Democrats in terms of party registration. (Republicans are effectively the third party in New York.) Who are these independents? Many of them are reliably Democratic voters, donors, and volunteers on campaigns. They are disproportionately young. Nationally, some 44% of millennial voters are registering as independents rather than with a party, yet polls show this age group overwhelmingly self-identifies as Democratically-leaning. Among the millennial generation’s independents, African Americans are the most likely to lean Democratic, followed by Latinos. Why does the New York Democratic Party insist on locking them out of the primaries and creating a culture of non-participation? The answer is simple. These closed primaries allow party bosses to exert control over the elections.” • Exactly. Liberal Democrat do not want to expand their base; that’s why they don’t do it. They want to appeal to already registered wealthy suburban Republicans. Lord Saletan:

Lots of folks bashing this tweet because it's Comey. But he's just one of many ex-Republicans alarmed by Trump and seeking a home. Consider what compromises might be worth consolidating these people in a 60% center-left majority.

— Will Saletan (@saletan)

* * *

Liberals vs. the left:

OK, it’s hard to write single-column headlines, & ⁦⁩ didn’t write it but – “FAR to their left?” Because they’re for single-payer healthcare & no corporate money in politics?
Something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is, do you, ⁦⁩

— Nina Bernstein (@NinaBernstein1)

I love the concept, in the deck, that socialists are “fiercely liberal.” The Times does seem confused:

Dear ⁦⁩: please, please update your style guide. It’s “democratic socialists” not “Democratic socialists.” The word “democratic” refers to support for democratic control over government and the economy, *not* to the Democratic Party. You are in error. Please desist.

— Daniel Denvir (@DanielDenvir)

Stats Watch

Not as much business news today as there should be; I’ll catch up tomorrow. –lambert

Chicago Fed National Activity Index, June 2018: “[V]ery strong” []. “The big bounce back for industrial production, specifically manufacturing production, contributed 0.36 to June’s 0.43 showing for June’s national activity index.”

Existing Home Sales, June 2018: “Existing home sales have been flat and results for June are on the low end of expectations” []. “Watch for new home sales on Wednesday which have been doing better than resales though a fractional decline is Econoday’s consensus.”

The Bezzle: “Doctors slam sex robot ‘family mode'” []. “A sex robot with a ‘family mode’ that dials down her dirty talk has been blasted as ‘profoundly damaging’ for kids by academics…. ‘Children will imitate machines if brought up by them,’ Kathleen Richardson, professor of ethics and culture of robots and AI at De Montfort University [said]. ‘They’ll learn that women only have certain uses. Then they start to use that as a template for how they interact intimately with others – this is profoundly damaging.'”

Five Horsemen: “Only Microsoft is at a record high in mid-morning trade today, as Tesla worries weigh on tech” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen July 23 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “After Friday’s flat session, the mania-panic index remains unchanged at 57 (complacency)” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood]. (The NakedCap mania-panic index is an equally-weighted average of seven technical indicators derived from stock indexes, volatility (VIX), Treasuries, junk bonds, equity options, and internal measures of new highs vs new lows and up volume vs down volume … each converted to a scale of 0 to 100 before averaging, using thirty years of history for five of the seven series.)

Mania panic index July 20 2018

Our Famously Free Press

“Newsonomics: Newsprint tariffs are a Black Swan event that could speed up the death of U.S. newspapers” []. “The tariffs increase the cost of newsprint by as much as 30 to 35 percent, though the impact on publishers is highly uneven, with some chains in better shape and the dwindling independents most at risk. The predictable impacts already in motion: more newsroom layoffs, thinner (and reshaped) print products, fewer Sunday preprints, and an overall further diminishing of the value proposition newspapers are offering their readers.”

“New York Daily News to slash 50% of its newsroom” []. “‘We are reducing today the size of the editorial team by approximately 50 percent and re-focusing much of our talent on breaking news — especially in areas of crime, civil justice and public responsibility,’ read the email [from Daily News owner Tronc], which was obtained by CNN. ‘We know our readers look to us for a unique point of view, and we believe these topics offer our best opportunity to differentiate our reporting. We will, of course, continue to cover local news, sports and other events, but our approach will evolve as we adapt to our current environment.'” • : “In addition to the New York Daily News, Tronc’s other media holdings include the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, The Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sentinel, South Florida’s Sun-Sentinel, Virginia’s Daily Press, The Morning Call of Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, Hartford Courant, and The San Diego Union-Tribune.” So look out.

Gaia

Speaking of forest fires:

There’s something ominous about the fact that old fire trucks from the 80s are starting to show up on news coverage from the heatwave wildfires. (Photo: Sofia Nahringbauer)

— Simon Stålenhag (@simonstalenhag)

Anybody tracking the market in used firefighting equipment?

“Federal Government Releases National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Plan” []. “The 20-page document is titled “The National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan,” and organizes and coordinates efforts related to the NEO efforts within the federal government during the next 10 years to ensure the nation can more effectively respond in case this type of very low-probability but very high-consequence natural disaster should occur. ” • Tail risk….

“Firefighters saved a man having a heart attack and then they finished his yard work for him” []. “Gene Work of Pasco County, Florida, was racing to get the sod down Saturday to avoid getting a fine from his homeowner’s association, his wife, Melissa Work, wrote on Facebook. ‘While he was having his heart attack, literally in and out of consciousness, he kept begging me to figure out the sod and have it put down because he didn’t want it to go to waste and die,’ she wrote. ‘It’s ALL he kept asking about literally during a massive heart attack.'” • Killer lawns!!!!!!!!!

Gunz

“Gunman in parking space shooting not charged because of ‘Stand Your Ground’ law” []. An armed society is a polite society. Until it isn’t.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

“Raytheon never wavered when fighting for DOMino, a $1B cyber contract” []. This really is a must read. Really, it’s all about norms. “DW” is David Wajsgras, a Raytheon Company vice president and president of the Intelligence, Information and Services business:

DW: DOMino is one of the largest cybersecurity contracts that’s been awarded to date. It’s actually over $1 billion. We recently completed the transition and now are in a full operational mode. What it does essentially is advance the cybersecurity stack for DHS, which is responsible for the cybersecurity across over 100 dot-gov agencies, as well as overseeing the automated information sharing platform for those agencies as well as 16 critical infrastructure verticals.

So what does that mean in English? The way to think about it is it’s a large threat intelligence library and it’s bi-directional with industry providing threat indicators into that library. The government is providing threat indicators into that library too and we are working side-by-side with DHS. Our teammates are overseeing and administering that and then pushing those threat indicators out so that the analysts know what to look for. We’re advancing and we’re improving the overall architecture and systems and tools that are used by DHS to improve the cybersecurity posture of the government.

[INTERVIEWER]: So when you’re talking about bi-directional, you’re acting as the middle person between the government and the industry sides?

DW: No. think of the system as a warehouse where this information comes in from both industry and from the government, it’s administered by DHS and it benefits industry and the government. The more we understand about the threat environment, the easier it is for analysts to protect whatever system they’re responsible for.

“[B]enefits industry and the government,” eh? One can only wonder how “threat” is defined, then.

Thai Cave Rescue

This clip from Vern Unsworth, one of the British cave divers who discovered the boys, is really worth a listen:

This is a true hero who deserves the accolades and not the sports people who get labelled hero’s.

— Dave Codd (@meggies58)

Their way of thinking is entirely different to Elon Musk’s, and well-suited to the project (and, I would think, other projects).

Here is an important thread from Zeynep Tufekci ampifying Unsworth’s views (and dealing with Elon Musk’s frivolous intervation and don’t @ me).

Heard about 's rescue "submarine"? The cave-diver who masterminded the Thai cave rescue called it a "PR stunt"—that was the politest thing he said. You might be wondering: well, he tried to help. Let me explain with this thread and this NYT piece.

— zeynep tufekci (@zeynep)

“What Elon Musk Should Learn From the Thailand Cave Rescue” [Zeynep Tufekci, ]. The tweetstorm supplements this article, rather than the other way around:

The Silicon Valley model for doing things is a mix of can-do optimism, a faith that expertise in one domain can be transferred seamlessly to another and a preference for rapid, flashy, high-profile action. But what got the kids and their coach out of the cave was a different model: a slower, more methodical, more narrowly specialized approach to problems, one that has turned many risky enterprises into safe endeavors — commercial airline travel, for example, or rock climbing, both of which have extensive protocols and safety procedures that have taken years to develop.

This “safety culture” model is neither stilted nor uncreative. On the contrary, deep expertise, lengthy training and the ability to learn from experience (and to incorporate the lessons of those experiences into future practices) is a valuable form of ingenuity.

This approach is what allowed the airline captain Chesley Sullenberger to safely land a commercial airplane on the Hudson River in 2009 after its engines were disabled. Captain Sullenberger’s skill and composure were, of course, a credit to him personally. But they also rested on decades of training and learning in an industry that had been government-regulated and self-regulated to such a degree that hurling through the atmosphere in giant metal cans at 35,000 feet is now one of the safest ways to travel.

• How do you want robot cars engineered? Silicon Valley style? Or safety-culture style? And speaking of safety culture–

“5 Questions: Sullenberger on applying lessons of airline safety to health-care practices” []. “As we know from the Institute of Medicine reports and others, medical errors and health-care-associated conditions lead to 200,000 preventable deaths per year in this country alone. That’s the equivalent of 20 large jet airliners crashing every week with no survivors. If that were to happen in aviation, there would be a nationwide ground stop, a presidential commission, congressional hearings. The National Transportation Safety Board would investigate, search out root causes. No one would fly until we’d solved the fundamental issues.”

“Backstory: From foreboding to exhilaration, correspondent Liam Cochrane reflects on covering Thai cave rescue” []. “Rescue workers are pumping around 1.6 million litres of water from the cave each hour.” • Impressive; but the figure is on a photo caption in the story. More from the story: “Engineers and irrigation specialists installed dozens of pumps and water flowed out of the cave mouth constantly.” • We knew that water was constantly coming in through the karst limestone of the cave region. It would have been nice — and I should have thought of this — to have a back-of-the-envelope calcution of how much water was flowing out, and thus what the net water level in the cave was likely to be.

Neoliberal Epidemics

“The Farm Group that’s Part of Rural America’s Crisis” []. “[W}hat we eat is a political problem. A in the journal Lancet identified structural changes to the farm bill in the 1970s as the culprit of the obesity crisis. At that time, the replaced the New Deal agricultural policies that sought to manage supply and protect farmers from the big agribusiness companies with a system with one that forced farmers to get big or get out, and to plant commodity crops—corn, soy, wheat—from fencerow to fencerow. Butz’ mantra was simple: volume, volume, and more volume. Monopolies thrive under this system, at the expense of our health and environment. Grocery stores now teem with a cornucopia of different products, but a few firms with dominant market positions manufacture the vast majority of the supermarket items, as highlighted in a 2013 from Food and Water Watch. This focus on volume—in farming as well as in food production—has led to a seemingly endless availability of cheap carbs and highly processed sugar- and salt-laden convenience foods, at the expense of more nutritious options. The same companies that make these foods also designed to solve the problems caused by those foods.” • That is a lovely example of a self-licking ice cream cone.

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Or not!

I want to go to there

— 70s Dinner Party (@70s_party)

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“The Urgency of a Third Reconstruction” []. “In each of the previous two Reconstructions, an inability to unite across various identity fault lines contributed to the collapse of the progressive insurgency.” Interesting material on William Barber of the Poor People’s campaign.

Class Warfare

“Eviction Lab” (map) []. Handy interactive map, set to DC as a default. Rather a lot of evictions, it seems. Gentrification? Readers?

News of The Wired

“Midlife crisis? It’s a myth. Why life gets better after 50” []. My experience, at least.

“Search Full-Text within 4M+ Books” []. • Sound fun. Perhaps a reader will try it out and report?

“Japan’s Streets and Gardens” []. “[Gordon Kanki-Knight, author of Wallpaper* Japan city guides], explained that because of this lack of central gathering points, ‘the street, almost any street, plays an important role in Japanese urban life. The Japanese street is a public space—a place to hold parades, eat taiyaki (fish-shaped traditional sweet), over-indulge in beer. It’s not just about providing efficient routes for cars. In Japan’s cities, Tokyo included, you’ll still find kids playing hopscotch on the road or messing around on unicycles.’ He notes that it’s in these small ways ‘Japanese cities are defiantly anti-modern and anti-rational.’…. Worrall went on to say that he finds something almost ‘medieval’ about the backstreets of Tokyo, and added: ‘There’s a gentleness and a sweetness about the built environment here that can be very appealing, although it can appear a bit chaotic and disordered your first time here.'”

Manhattan streets, though. Thread:

So here's my favourite little quirky thing in New York, which to me is a perfect embodiment of New York's attitude, and a direct result of New York's street grid, arguably two of the city's most famous aspects…

— Chaz Hutton (@chazhutton)

Internet of Shit:

To use my oven I have to accept terms and conditions

— Morten Nielsen (@dotMorten)

“Ticking Meatmares” []. “Even a decade ago, only small populations of lone star ticks were found in the northeastern U.S. As climate change shifts temperatures and humidity levels across the country, many types of ticks, which thrive in warm, humid weather, are able to expand their ranges. The EPA , which is transmitted by blacklegged ticks, as an indicator to track where the country is warming. The spread of lone stars to climate change, and now, the ticks have , imparting severe red meat allergies on unsuspecting carnivores — and offering a window into our changing world and its effect on human health.” • Eeew. I can live without red meat, but still…

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Readers, feel free to 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 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 (AB):

AB writes: “Bachelor buttons; Shasta Daisies; Fern-leaf Yarrow; Absinthe. All the plants are self-seeded or perennials that I started from seed.” That’s the ticket! (Careful about where the autofocus makes it’s decisions, though; think of AF as about as accurate as a spellchecker.)

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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.

136 comments

  1. WobblyTelomeres

    What it does essentially is advance the cybersecurity stack for DHS, which is responsible for the cybersecurity across over 100 dot-gov agencies, as well as overseeing the automated information sharing platform for those agencies as well as 16 critical infrastructure verticals.

    DHS Stack???? Oh, the tieranny of it all.

    Reply
    1. noonespecial

      My favorite part of the article is where the program(s) are lauded for their ability to identify insider threats from within private companies. Oh wait, my canary just passed out from lack of O2. /s/

      Reply
        1. noonespecial

          (In the voice of Rod Serling) Imagine if you will a Freud-based algo for keystrokes combined with a recording device (I’m looking at you WalNot-mart) to weed out pests who may expose the brains behind not-so-good acts, such as re-introducing glyspohate to Colombia even though the effects are, let’s say, problematic. Video from an indigenous point of view: .

          Reply
    1. fresno dan

      “Gene Work of Pasco County, Florida, was racing to get the sod down Saturday to avoid getting a fine from his homeowner’s association, his wife, Melissa Work, wrote on Facebook. ‘While he was having his heart attack, literally in and out of consciousness, he kept begging me to figure out the sod and have it put down because he didn’t want it to go to waste and die,’ she wrote. ‘It’s ALL he kept asking about literally during a massive heart attack.’” • Killer lawns!!!!!!!!!

      ==================================================
      So if I send in a picture of my dead, dead, DEAD lawn, I get in my lawn is the daily picture of plants>>> The lawn is plants…albeit DEAD plants….
      So a couple of weeks ago the local County water conservation officer came out to help me with the drip irrigation system I inherited. Supposedly, the fact that I stopped watering the lawn was worth some money,
      1. So the conversation officer is showing me this picture of a lawn replaced with gravel and some succulent plants to replace the lawn (obviously less water will be used), but no money cause there weren’t enough replacement plants (I thought the whole point was to diminish the amount of water going to plants….but somehow if you diminish the amount of water going to plants TOO MUCH the deal is off???)
      2. So I’m talking to a bartender about it, who replaced lawn around his pool, but who didn’t get any money due to the fact that any material replacing plant material had to meet the “porosity” specification.
      I decided the h*ll with it. I am almost tempted to revive my lawn….

      Reply
        1. fresno dan

          Arizona Slim
          July 23, 2018 at 5:03 pm

          People, people, people…I SAID almost
          I’m just b*tching about not getting any money. I am way TOO LAZY to mow the lawn, and I am WAY TOO CHEAP to spend all that money on water.
          There are plenty of shrubs, succulents, cacti, and other plants that are easy on water.

          Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Please don’t revive your lawn, if reviving is the word I want.

        Perhaps we have some readers who can help out with () suggestions, even if the requirement is low to no money.

        Reply
        1. Lee

          Western native bunch grasses can sink their roots down 10 to 20 feet below below the surface. These root systems hold a great deal of water for drier times and prevent erosion. They are also quite attractive. Also worth noting:

          Experts conclude that native grasslands in California are among the most endangered ecosystem in the United States. Due in most part to historical land use and introduced disease, it is estimated that less than 1% of our state’s original grasslands remain. Fortunately, as forward-thinking home and business owners, we can address this issue by including California’s native grasses in our residential and commercial landscapes.

          For those of you east of the 100th meridian, on the soggy side of the continent, I got nothin’. Sorry.

          Reply
        2. Oregoncharles

          Plant seeds. Even expensive ones are vastly cheaper than plants.

          However, I’m not familiar with the appropriate plants for Fresno.

          Reply
      2. JTMcPhee

        You are talking to the wrong bureaucrat. Either the county agricultural extension service, or the local environmental control people. And look up xeriscaping or dry-land lawn in your local county directory.

        Around here where I am, you can’t have your own water well for domestic use (drinking, bathing, clothes washing etc., which is probably a mixed good idea since already the local aquifer is under stress due to overuse thanks to effing developers and commercial users, the latter get reduced rates for volume consumption. The deal with no water wells is that your water/sewer bill is based on how much water you use, and they won’t let you get away with helping yourself. The back room planning looks to have privatized SOBs take over and “run like a business” the county utilities — the bankers are already “advising the commissioners” on forward planning and monetizing and stiff like that. So local government, without someone to shoot the wandering sabertooths and hyenas that constantly poach and loot, is not an anodyne.

        I am slowly pushing the envelope with adding food crops to the front lawn on my 50 x 80 foot lot. Jasmine and perennial peanuts for ground cover (the neighbors mostly have a wide collection of weedy plants and nasty invasive things like torpedo grass and spurge and nutsedge, which they, in order to keep up appearances and avoid a $50 ticket from the Code Enforcers, mow every so often. A couple of tomato plants, squash last year, but I am getting older and not so physically able any more. We’ll see what I can do, “in the living years.”

        There’s three St. Augustine grass monoculturists on the block, with (mostly illegally operated) irrigation sprayers and regular applications by migrant professionals of a soup of toxic chemicals.

        But any bit of xerixcaping or better, food gardening (which many local colleges and extension services can help with planning, and there’s a ton of Internet stuff, is a move in the right direction. Best of luck. And ”reviving” your moribund “lawn” is zombie stuff…

        Reply
    2. polecat

      I’d say it time to kill the idea about both ! .. I mean really ! Who needs an ersatz-Manorcured-lawn or a ‘home-of-Sauron association ??

      And while we’re at it let’s have those narrow, winding Tokyo-like streets!

      Reply
  2. Isotope_C14

    “There’s something ominous about the fact that old fire trucks from the 80s are starting to show up on news coverage from the heatwave wildfires.”

    Our goose is cooked, thank you global predatory capitalism for brainwashing people to throw away perfectly usable items, and for planned obsolescence. Thank you also for making sure we use as many fossil fuels as we can, and fighting to make the world uninhabitable for humans in the near future. But plastics make “it” possible, which I think “it” means runaway global warming.

    I’ve been watching this URL closely:

    Bunch of other good weather products on there as well.

    Reply
  3. j84ustin

    I knew before I clicked on the Eviction Lab link, but the graphic that was populated when I chose my metropolitan region confirmed it immediately. Evictions are not related to gentrification. They are related to the relative poverty of a neighborhood/city. Poor people can’t pay their rent as easily as higher income people.

    Reply
    1. Synoia

      Poor people can’t pay their rent as easily as higher income people.

      Expanded: Poor people must rent, and can’t pay their expenses as easily as higher income people.

      This was the WHOLE PREMISE, and PROMISE, behind public housing. To house everybody.

      To whom much is given, much will be required’ (Luke 12:48)

      From each according to their ability, To each according to their needs. (Marx).

      Reply
    2. JTMcPhee

      What a comforting thought. No correlation between rising rents due to “neocapitalism” and inability of poor people to afford them. And rising rents have nothing to do with the incentives and behaviors that drive and consequences that flow from gentrification, I am sure…

      John Belushi to Carrie Fisher in “Blues Brothers:” “Baby! It wasn’t my fault!”

      Reply
      1. j84ustin

        As someone who works in housing in gov’t, I’m not saying that increasing rents aren’t affecting poor people everywhere. But rents usually are not increasing due to “gentrification.” More urban neighborhoods are getting poorer than they used to be than neighborhoods getting wealthier, or gentrifying.

        Reply
        1. chuck roast

          So, if I can get a nice balloon mortgage to buy an apartment house I’m good.
          The guy I buy it off invests his cap. gain (sans taxes) in his new bigger apartment house also via a balloon.
          The balloons are good for five years with low payments during this period. We both simply screw the tenants to the wall with annual rent increases and unload the asset prior to the five year balloon payment kicking in. The next real-estate geniuses buy the structures and pay us our cap. gains for the next round of “squeeze the tenants.”
          America is already great!

          Reply
  4. roadrider

    Re: Trump leadership

    Independent voter here (Stein in both 2012 and 2016). Not sure that Trump’s “strength” or lack of same is the question. I mean I think we can all agree that Hitler and Stalin were “strong” leaders but that living under their “strong leadership” would have been , err… undesirable? The question I would ask is if he’s a wise leader. Maybe the results would of the poll would be the same. Not sure how I feel about turning more stuff back to the states. They have budgetary concerns that the Feds don’t and we would end up with a crazy patchwork quilt of conflicting standards (as we already do in some cases). Sounds like a prescription for returning the Articles of Confederation.

    Reply
    1. Brindle

      I don’t trust the federal govt but I trust the states less. Does anyone doubt that states like Alabama or Missouri would make life in general tougher on Black people.

      Reply
        1. Summer

          True, there would be many people stuck. Migration wouldn’t be easy for anyone.
          Look what happened to the people fleeing the Dust Bowl.

          Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The only person one can trust, to some degree, is oneself.

        Even then, often, I don’t trust myself when something tempting, for example, some ice-cold beer on a hot day like today, is before me.

        But no man (or woman) is an island, but we have to, always, work it out the best we can. And every place and time is different, so what worked before may not work today, or what works in another society may not work where you are.

        Reply
    2. Isotope_C14

      Hello fellow Stein voter, roadrider.

      Strong isn’t a great word for describing this either I think.

      I see Trump as simply doing what he’s told by the permanent government, and the appointees that he’s been told to appoint, since he likely never intended to win. I guess in this framework he could be called weak, but I’d rather use the term ignorant.

      I wouldn’t call Stalin and Hitler “strong” – I’d call them ruthless. They are the epitome of authoritarian megalomania, which I see as an inherit weakness, since it blinds you to criticism.

      I think we’ve reached a precipice that could actually end global farming the way we know it, and possibly our species. We need to stop this silly – “try to pound the square peg into the round hole” of capitalism and do something different.

      We need local leaders, and a resource based economy, where the most important tasks are urban farming, CO2 capture, creating reusable items instead of transporting plastic crap across the planet that gets replaced every 2 years. Now to me Peter Joseph is saying all the right leadership things in this department, as that makes me think he’s “strong” as he doesn’t want power, just to show there is a system we could implement. I will get his “New Human Rights Movement” book here hopefully soon. As long as it doesn’t come from Amazon, ha!

      Unfortunately the greedy powers that be don’t care, they think they will be safe in their underground bunkers when the Nuclear power plants start popping. Nuclear power was the dumbest creation of our species. There was absolutely no reason for it. To think that these things unmanned for just a little time is essentially a bomb, was not a wise plan.

      Reply
      1. Swamp Yankee

        re: “We need local leaders, and a resource based economy, where the most important tasks are urban farming, CO2 capture, creating reusable items instead of transporting plastic crap across the planet that gets replaced every 2 years.”

        +1,000. This summer heat in coastal Mass. is like being in the tropics, and it isn’t going to get better for centuries. Summers are far different than even 20 years ago. We have reached heat indexes locally of 120-130F!

        And yes, living up the coast from the Pilgrim Nuclear Plant, consistently one of the worst performing plants in the country, I couldn’t agree more re: nuclear power. And though it’s to be decommissioned next May, what are we going to do with all that nuclear waste? Just yards from Cape Cod Bay, on the one hand, and the Plymouth-Carver sole source aquifer, the largest and probably cleanest in Massachusetts, on the other.

        Very scary — cross yourself or knock on wood, or what action you prefer.

        Reply
        1. Isotope_C14

          Hi Swamp Yankee,

          I had no idea coastal MA was that tropical these days. I guess it shouldn’t surprise me. I have been here in Berlin nearly one year, and since April or thereabouts it’s been essentially the bay-area of CA, without the super-heat. It’s been exceedingly dry here too. I’ve been told that this historically should be more like Portland OR, with many overcast days and drizzle. Its been the complete opposite.

          We passed the point of solving this predicament when James Hansen was essentially ignored by the oligarchy/politicians that protect them. And yes, at the time, something could be done, of course, wealth does not equate to wisdom at all.

          Reply
    3. Burritonomics

      Using the term “strong” virtually guarantees a polarized result. Opponents will read strong as “authoritarian or strongman”, supporters will read strong as “bold or decisive”. Makes the poll near worthless; we know these interpretations damn near a priori.

      Reply
    4. Kurt Sperry

      Indeed about the “budgetary constraints”. Devolution that transfers taxation to state and local government that cannot issue money sounds like the fast lane to neoliberal supply-side austerity hell.

      Reply
    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      > turning more stuff back to the states

      The states are not currency issuers, unlike the Federal government. Maybe we should devolve the Defense Department to the states*, and move all health care to the Federal level.

      * That’s the ticket! Fund the DoD with property taxes, since after all it’s property that’s being defended. Then, because it’s absolutely nutty to use property taxes to fund the local schools, move the local school funding to the Federal level. Ha ha only serious.

      Reply
    1. fresno dan

      Incredibly, the Pinellas County sheriff, Bob Gualtieri, is refusing to charge Drejka, citing Florida’s stand-your-ground” law. At a news conference, Gualtieri said, “The law in the state of Florida today is that people have a right to stand their ground and have a right to defend themselves when they believe that they are in harm.” This is an inexcusably bad misstatement of the law. Drejka should be charged, and law-abiding Florida gun owners should demand accountability.
      ………
      Note that the statutes contemplates two very different circumstances, one where a person is authorized to use “force, except deadly force” and the other where “deadly force” is authorized. So, no, not every punch, kick, push, shove, or fear of “harm” grants a person the right to pull his gun and shoot. It just grants him the right to punch or push back. That’s it. It would be utterly absurd if every physical altercation immediately granted the victim a license to kill. That’s not the law.
      ===============================================
      1. Refreshing that their is a principled analysis.
      2. Those crazy idealists at National Review – thinking NRA supporters are going to betray a member of the tribe….
      3. “That’s not the law” BUT that is the way its enforced. Forget about it Mr. French – its Floridatown….

      Reply
      1. ChrisPacific

        I’m not convinced. As the sheriff noted (and as we learned from the Trayvon Martin case) the burden of proof under Stand Your Ground is on the prosecution. The defendent can of course claim any belief he wants and it would be nearly impossible to prove otherwise. So the only option for the prosecution, as stated, would be to assert (and prove) that his expressed belief wasn’t ‘reasonable.’

        That’s an awfully fragile word on which to base an entire legal case. All a competent defense lawyer would have to do would be search for news reports of incidents involving deadly force that began with somebody shoving someone else to the ground, assert that the defendant knew of them and that they informed his reasonable belief that deadly force was needed, and challenge the prosecution to prove otherwise.

        I remember thinking after the Travyon Martin verdict that it meant anyone in Florida could shoot anybody they wanted provided they could claim they were under threat. I haven’t seen anything since that contradicts that view.

        Reply
  5. JTMcPhee

    “Over federalization is a systemic issue, and a vehicle for delivering a lot of bad legislation and policy from a culturally isolated location with inadequate oversight or restraint.” Lots of people, like in New York and FL, live in political units where the state capital is exactly the same distant, bubble-iced, efficient concentrator of power and wealth per the ‘federal’ model. Tallahassee is way, way off in the far northwest corner of the state, and with the death of serious newspaper investigative reporting, the kind of sh!!t that is going on up there is off the charts. And with no way to “seek redress of grievances” for the mass of mopes living in the Lower 67, and most of those counties are ruled by equally above-the-mopes corrupt groups too. Developers (that sick pseudonym), ag interests, the power companies (aptly limned) and other BIGs own the processes. And they pretend to represent us, so we pretend to vote…

    No simple solutions. Even the many churches that I have attended over the years tend to devolve to self-serving hierarchies, with little bits of looting and corruption and of course politics of all sorts, mostly ugly. Even when God and Jesus are watching closely at what is going on, and St. Peter is scribbling as fast as he can in his Great Book…

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      The best solution to the avarice and greed problem for ‘post living’ earthly beings would to have PWC audit St. Peters’ books.

      Reply
      1. FreeMarketApologist

        If PWC were capable. As was noted in the news (I first saw it here at NC, I think) the other day:

        PWC ordered to pay $625 million to the FDIC for allegedly negligent audits of Colonial Bank Group (which collapsed in 2009 after fed regulators found a $3 billion fraud involving fake mortgage assets).

        Reply
    2. JohnnyGL

      Localizing/shrinking government to smaller units has its limits. After all, Jim-Crow era laws were very localized. Feudalism was quote local and intimate, too.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        There are myriad aspects to life.

        Aspect 1: 1% small government, 50% medium government and 49% big government.
        Aspect 2: 99% small government, 0% medium, and 1% big.
        Aspect 3: 50% small government, 50% medium, and 0% big.
        .
        .
        .
        etc.

        There isn’t one number nor one size.

        Reply
        1. Lee

          Just spitballing here but the common wisdom, at least according to Hollywood, was that the pyramids were built by slaves. But it turns out that they were built by well compensated workers with a decent standard of living.

          Life during the feudal period is one of many things about which I know little. Could it be that it was, for the peasants, laborers and artisans, a bit less oppressive than we have been lead to believe? It was after all the bourgeoisie who lead the revolution against the aristocracy. Can they really be trusted to tell the historical truth?

          Most literature, with exceptions such as Zola, and many histories tell the stories of conflicts between the elite factions. I can imagine the vast majority of humanity shrugging their shoulders and muttering, “Let the phkers in the palace and their minions slaughter each other to their hearts’ content; I still gotta plow this furrow or sew this seam no matter who’s in charge.” I welcome recommendations for further reading on this topic.

          Reply
          1. Plenue

            Not just paid professionals, it seems a lot of work in Egypt was done through labor as a form of tax payment.

            There’s a growing consensus among historians that there never was any kind of single, universal feudalism. There were peasants and kings and nobles and churches etc, but the power relations and interactions varied wildly depending on time and place. If you read a hundred different (popular) books on medieval history, you’ll get a hundred different definitions of feudalism, each claiming to be the right one, because changes going on in the academe have yet to filter out into the wider world.

            So to answer your question, you would first have to specify a particular time and place, and then consult someone who is a hyper-specialist in exactly that area. Because attempting to describe a generic feudalism that never actually existed is a pointless exercise.

            “Most literature, with exceptions such as Zola, and many histories tell the stories of conflicts between the elite factions.”

            Academic Roman history is especially bad about this. Now, granted, basically all the primary source material was written by elites, and the Populares and Optimates were both elite factions who merely had different power bases. But the degree to which histories just seem to ignore the common people, deny them real agency, and simply accept the ancient chroniclers dismissals of ‘the mob’ is quite shocking.

            Michael Parenti wrote a book that tried to rectify this, but his “A People’s History of Ancient Rome” is also garbage, for a whole different set of reasons. He applies dime store Marxism and tries to portray Julius Caesar as some kind of genuine populist who was set to radically transform Rome into a plebs paradise when reactionary aristocrats assassinated him.

            Reply
            1. Lee

              Thanks for the response. We appear to share a similarly skeptical view of received history. Lately, I’m much impressed with the application of the physical sciences to historical research, often overturning what we’ve gotten from less than reliable witnesses and their camp followers in academia.

              Reply
              1. Plenue

                On that front, and speaking again of Rome, a case where historians often don’t just blindly accept a chroniclers claims is that there’s traditionally been a lot of skepticism of the kind of population figures Caesar gives in his Gallic War commentaries. Lots of hundreds of thousands and even millions given. But the archaeology, as well as more esoteric fields that focus on things like what a given population size actually requires, seem to point toward his numbers being plausible.

                Likewise, experts in the minutiae of morale and the difficulties of melee combat suggest that the extremely lopsided figures Caeser gives for some battles (like claiming Pompey lost 15,000 killed at Pharsalus while Caesar himself only lost 230) aren’t impossible.

                Reply
            2. Musicismath

              History from below is really hard to write without documentary evidence. Elites tend to leave paper trails (or at least monuments or inscriptions). Non-elites before the nineteenth century generally don’t. You have to look to other forms of evidence—material culture; popular song and folklore; archaeological remains—to uncover any trace of ordinary lives before the big increases in bureaucracy and record-keeping over the last two hundred or so years. And even then, you’re only going to get the most accidental and happenstance indication of the past.

              The vast majority of human lives have left no traces behind whatsoever.

              Reply
      2. dk

        Very true. But under national federalization, cops still shoot black people (and others) in the streets. We still have effectively segregated neighborhoods, by bank red-lining and zoning regulation instead of by law. These widespread, unconcentrated issues are more difficult to categorize, more difficult to address from a single point of administration.

        Law enforcement administration and zoning regulation happens at municipal and county levels. Some of the tools are in place, inadequately funded and overseen. But with all eyes on DC, we may be missing the housekeeping and oversight we could be doing closer (literally) to our homes. And federal intervention can help, here in Albuquerque our police department has been investigated several times. But all we got was guidelines: the heavy lifting or changing our police culture is being taken up by our new mayor, Tim Keller. Our last mayor Tom Berry left problematic administrators in place or shuffled them around a bit. That’s on us out here. The solution like the problem is ultimately local.

        And feudalism, how we are not feudal in our social and economic patterns now, just less brutal and with unclear, sometimes invisible boundaries? Feudalism developed unconsciously, from clans competing for land and exchanging loyalties, trading and sometimes warring. We’re not going to get away from the patterns we use to deal with physical realities by proclaiming we have changed them, we are now one people. We aren’t; look at the chart.

        We don’t have to be “united” across a vast land in order to address some of our respective issues, because some of our issues are local, and some of the mechanisms of remedy are local even when similar/identical issues appear in many places. Let’s settle things between neighbors. When our communities work we can federate well too.

        I’m getting a little bleary, I hope I’m conveying my respect for your points, they’re valid and important, and they go beyond the context I was trying to address above. Thanks!

        Reply
  6. Grant

    “State’s rights was claimed by the conservative righties years ago, a ploy that has helped to kept the liberal lefties from realizing that localization is good for equitable and sustainable communities, some on the newest left seem to have some sense of this (Scholten IA-4, Ocasio-Cortez NY-14). Over federalization is a systemic issue, and a vehicle for delivering a lot of bad legislation and policy from a culturally isolated location with inadequate oversight or restraint. Three branches were not enough to resist gradual compromise between two effectively warring parties, proxies for countless private domestic, and eventually trans-national and foreign sovereign, interests. (Russia being only one of many, I viewed Clinton/Trump as proxies for China/Russia, with SA and Israel also at the tables).”

    I think returning things to the states is a horrible idea. Since big money controls the national government, how easy would it be to control state governments? It seems to me that operating within a range of opinion that we have to this point isn’t a good idea. We shouldn’t assume that more federal power or more power to the states are the only two options. We could also move more towards a democracy and have things like national referendums on policy and the power to recall of politicians at any point. There are things like this in places like Switzerland and Venezuela (I know that Venezuela is a boogieman at this point, but it does have a participatory democracy and the participatory nature of the system has been successfully used. The recall against Chavez years ago was only possible because of the Bolivarian Constitution that was agreed upon in a national referendum shortly after he took office). It also would make sense to support publicly financed elections and to support structural changes to the economy that would take power aware from interests that now control the state. Things like public banking, supporting worker owned cooperatives, remunicipalizing formerly privatized public utilities, reversing privatizations of other assets and services. Democratizing the economy in other words.

    Reply
    1. dk

      Since big money controls the national government, how easy would it be to control state governments?

      It’s 50x the effort, first to co-opt, then to control. It’s not quite 50x the cost but it does cost more than just controlling DC. Not that DC is as cheap as a single state, because the stakes are high, arguably 50x higher but let’s get a discount on the bulk order… it just business. Big business loves federalization, because it’s so much cheaper to create and maintain monopolies/monopsonies/etc. Win once and take the pot. It shouldn’t be that easy.

      And all I want to suggest is that we weigh some of the risks and vulnerabilities of the federal system(s) against the benefits we know, and also check if those actually are benefits. Low-no tax, regulation-minimal coast to coast interstate commerce creates fly-over states, where no money is left behind for the use of their rail- highway- and air-space. Taxing for every state crossed raises the price of goods! But it also puts money into state/local coffers, hmm. Is this tweakable for better performance and distribution? Maybe not, but maybe.

      And that’s all I really have on that, I don’t have the answer, or even the 50 answers. I’m just a systems guy who does implementations, and I look at our federal, state and local systems and I see distribution issues all over the place. Some problems like big money control of governments, which will always be a threat no matter what we do, and I think oversight and remedy is easier and cheaper to do on a local level, when possible.

      So in that context, we would expect a small nation like Switzerland to be more likely to succeed at whatever they want to do, and be able to sustain it as well. It’s not foolproof, it’s just more manageable and sustainable, and adaptable too when that’s necessary; and it will be necessary.

      Venezuela is roughly comparable to Texas in size and population, but the population density of Venezuela is lower:

                 Pop          SqMi     Pop/SqMi
      Texas      28,300,000   268,597  105.36
      Venezuela  31,570,000   353,841  89.22
      USA       325,700,000 3,797,000  85.78

      I know too little about the situation in Venezuela to comment specifically. My only point is that being a geographically smaller (narrower range of local needs) than the US.reduces some risks and impacts for Venezuela, compared to the problems of staying a democracy here in the US. Only a comparison by scale, all other factors to the side. They’ll have problems, but they’ll have numerically fewer, the problems will be easier to identify and cheaper to fix than if Venezuela was the size of the US.

      Which is really the only point of shifting some control towards states (and counties/municipalities): it makes corruption somewhat more difficult, somewhat easier to recognize and remedy. And national-scale monopoly-busting is also being taken up by states that have aggressive attorneys general. The states can gang up on the corporations, DC just has two houses of Congress and a Supreme Court, and we let those go sour. Oh yeah and an executive branch… ’nuff said.

      We shouldn’t assume that more federal power or more power to the states are the only two options.
      No we shouldn’t, but shifting our focuses and expectations might help us get some traction on our problems, and also solve some of them in regions, on regional priorities. We can’t just ditch our federal system completely, not saying we should.

      Things like public banking, supporting worker owned cooperatives, remunicipalizing formerly privatized public utilities, reversing privatizations of other assets and services. Democratizing the economy in other words.
      Agreed. All of those things worked well when their scopes were local, on the scale of states or regions of a handful of states. The organizations and services were responsible and responsive to their constituencies. That’s really hard to do on a large scale, and one size never fits all.

      Reply
      1. HotFlash

        More power to states? Reminder: ‘s already in and has been for decades. I am fairly sure that ALEC would be happy to be thrown into that briar patch.

        Reply
      2. Maury

        It will become a devolution without end until the remnants of the existing polity atomize into nothingness.

        c.f., Isaiah 30:14

        And he shall break it as the breaking of the potters’ vessel that is broken in pieces; he shall not spare: so that there shall not be found in the bursting of it a sherd to take fire from the hearth, or to take water withal out of the pit.

        Reply
    2. JTMcPhee

      Big money controls a lot of state legislatures too. Here in FL, Wisconsin, of course the Kochianistan empire, California, etc. It’s a pretty universal thing with money and power.

      Reply
    3. bun

      Since big money controls the national government, how easy would it be to control state governments?

      a point made by Chomsky years ago.

      Now that we are at the point with ginormous business concerns that already control the feds, making it even easier for them, and opening up the ‘market’ to smaller businesses, would be a disaster. hello feudalism.

      Maybe if the country started out that way, with smaller essentially autonomous units, the idea could have some merit (haven’t thought it through) but in any case that cow has left the barn and has BBQed at some political fundraising event …

      Reply
  7. MC

    Lambert, have you read Eviction by Matthew Desmond? He’s the person behind that resource. It’s a tremendously good ethnography that’s followed by some of the most bland cop-out policy suggestions I’ve ever read. The juxtaposition is really striking and really reinforces why I’m leaving academic sociology and devoting myself to organizing.
    Anyway, gentrification is part of the story, the other is wage stagnation, the continued erosion of the social safety net, and renters with scant political power.

    Reply
  8. JohnnyGL

    Interesting meltdown over Russia-gate involving Cenk Uygur of TYT and Aaron Mate of Real News

    Hat tip to Jamarl Thomas, who’s a regular Youtuber on lefty political stuff.


    Reply
      1. johnnygl

        I actually generally like Cenk. But he and TYT seem to have lost their marbles over Russiagate and exhibit strong signs of Trump Derangment Syndrome. That last line is filthy and he should know better.

        I also think at some level Cenk wants to have it both ways, be an ‘insider’, and also be a lefty rebel of sorts. The middle ground he seeks doesn’t exist, no matter how badly he wants to find space there.

        If the rising bernie/left movement dies post 2020, the network will summarily throw him and his show overboard just as we’ve seen them do in the past to lefties who stray.

        Jimmy dore understands as much, which is why he’s doing his own thing, and doing it well.

        Reply
        1. JCC

          The people at Chapo Trap House, like Jimmy Dore, are doing a good job and also doing it well. Their latest review of , A Colossal Wreck, is both funny and enlightening.

          One noted a woman he saw wearing a T-shirt stating “Dance like the Russians aren’t Watching”. They all got a good laugh over that one (as did I).

          They also discuss the appearance of HRC, known to them as The Infallible MotherGod.

          Reply
      2. JTMcPhee

        Maybe partially that came out just because Ughyur is just an overbearing snot whose ego can’t stand to take an honest hit?

        Reply
    1. Richard

      Thanks for this link. I know Uygur mostly through the J. Dore show. Jimmy really sticks up for him, but I think there are some emotional loyalties there. I never had much of an opinion about him, other than he’s obviously way more moderate than Jimmy!
      It’s hard to believe that Cenk’s reaction to Trump’s psychotic threat (btw, a threat that would be cheered by all of the talking class if it actually happened, and which could realistically happen at any time), is to treat it lightly as some symptom of Russia. Sloppy, reactionary and careless of consequences that is. Mate was 100% correct to call him on it, and Uygur’s redbaiting response should matter to anyone who wants to take him seriously.

      Reply
  9. Swamp Yankee

    Re: the country breaking up.

    I think it’s a more real possibility than I ever would have imagined.

    I remember having an argument with a friend in college in the early 2000s. He said the US would last 1,000 years (different number might be better, I suggested).

    I disagreed. Everything comes to an end, sometime. New England and the Chesapeake, for instance, or the Middle Colonies/Mid-Atlantic, all existed before the United States, and they will exist after. The Mississippi-Ohio-Missouri valleys is another natural polity (cf. ancient Cahokia).

    New England the Great Lakes states would be a very powerful country in world terms. NYC would have to be its own city-state, their influence would quickly overpower northern Michigan’s or Maine’s or Rhode Island’s.

    What once were idle thoughts now have a way of reemerging….

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      China could similarly be broken up –

      the lamadom of Tibet,
      the islamic republic of Uighurstan,
      the Inner Mongolia state,
      Manchuko,
      the island country of Taiwan,
      Northern China along the Yellow River,
      Southern China around the Yangtze Delta,
      the Sichuan Republic,
      etc.

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        And all the neighbors would be hugely relieved. The colonies you name would have a terrible dilemma: what do they do with all the Han colonists?

        Reply
      2. Oregoncharles

        Hmmm – my reply went astray. Most of those are ethnic areas (Tibet, at least, has a legitimate claim to long term independence) which have been heavily colonized by Han Chinese. They would face a dilemma: what to do with the colonists.

        But China’s neighbors would certainly breathe a large sigh of relief. Of course, all of those have been separate at various times, but it hasn’t stuck.

        Reply
      1. Swamp Yankee

        There’s the rub. I would think we in New England would at least want the North Atlantic nuclear sub fleet at Groton.

        And, as Carolinian correctly notes, the foremost struggle is the class struggle.

        But the federal Union is a pretty rare and delicate thing. You could easily see a situation where, after a Koch-called constitutional convention, some manner of constitutional change is made that New England, or New York City, or California, cannot abide, and they up and leave.

        The Hartford Convention failed and helped destroy the Federalist Party, but it does show that secessionism is not exclusively Southern (to my mind, the reason for secession matters immensely; in order to preserve the slave system, clearly immoral; but if there was some other reason, it might — or might not — have some validity).

        Nevertheless, it would be a pretty catastrophic development, I think we can all agree. I like the idea of driving from coast to coast with one passport.

        Reply
    2. Carolinian

      Secession as the continuation of politics by other means? We can break up the United States in order to solve our political problems or we can reform our politics. One wonders which would be easier or more successful. As ancestral yahoos here in SC discovered, secession is taking “thinking outside the box” to an extreme. They lived in a fantasy world of cavaliers and literary versions of feudalism. They were also autocrats who didn’t have to be worry about being contradicted in their own little intrastate world. Will the newly atomized United States then further atomize as communities discover they’d rather run their own affairs and not be under the thumb of some local rather than national tyrant?

      In the end it might be easier if this large, diverse country instead brought back the social contract. The real war is between the classes, not the regions.

      Reply
    3. Summer

      Re: Under Realignment and Legitimacy

      “On the bright side, The US is large enough that total invasion is not a viable option, although land border regions are of course vulnerable.”

      What would be more likely is that a civil war in the USA would prompt foreign countries to choose sides. They would get involved that way…what goes around comes around…

      Reply
    4. ChrisPacific

      I’m not convinced it would help with anything. Ask Greece whether being a separate country makes you more or less vulnerable to exploitation.

      One immediate consequence would be that each state or group of states would have its own balance of trade, and fiscal redistribution would become a lot harder. Also it would get much easier for big business to play the states off against one another.

      Reply
    5. drumlin woodchuckles

      I think it would be interesting if West Virginia were to officially change its State Name for itself to . . . Appalachia. The State of Appalachia could then invite any Appalachian counties on its borders to secede from :”their” state if they want to , and join the growing State of Appalachia. An Appalachian state for Appalachian people.

      Reply
  10. Zachary Smith

    An armed society is a polite society.

    References to Robert Heinlein tend to cause me to go wild. The man was an amazingly good writer, and as such was able to successfully peddle the most astonishing notions to young readers. At one time I owned everything RAH had ever published, but all of a sudden I found I’d outgrown him. Stuff like having wild sex with your mother (Time Enough For Love) and writing another very long and tedious novel (Number of the Beast) to rescue Mom so the fun could continue back in the future. Arranging for a little girl to become a future wife. (Door into Summer). Writing some serious nonsense in Starship Troopers, then lying about it later.

    IMO Double Star was the best thing he ever wrote, and it’s about the only thing by RAH I’d recommend.

    (rant over)

    Reply
    1. neighbor7

      Double Star is fantastic. Would make a great & serious film. Some of his juveniles are very good, too. Time for the Stars I find quite moving.

      Reply
      1. Zachary Smith

        Some juveniles I don’t read anymore because I’ve essentially got them memorized. Citizen of the Galaxy. Farmer in the Sky. Starman Jones. Exciting stuff many years ago, but modern kids would be bored out of their heads.

        I erred in my previous post by forgetting Job and Friday. The former is one which would likely cause a stroke in some “Christians”, for the hero of the story most definitely isn’t God. The latter was prophetic about the likely end game of the corporate governance we’re seeing more and more of.

        Reply
        1. Grebo

          Job is, I suppose, better than the run of his later work. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and Friday are his only post-Stranger books I would recommend.
          His short stories are where the real gold is, for the most part.

          Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      You might like some of his other sayings. There are three pages of them and they are from only one book-

      Reply
  11. Jean

    “An armed society is a polite society. Until it isn’t.”

    It’s OK to slam a persons skull into the ground when they photograph your car’s license plate.
    Nothing should happen to them because that’s really only an annoyance, not a threat to their person.

    Reply
  12. cyclist

    Regarding Hillary supporters living in a bubble, this thread, from a town near where I live, almost made me weep:

    Maplewood is a mostly upscale NYC suburb where rainbow flag and “No Place for Hate Here” lawn signs are common. The poster named Nan puts up the good fight, but, man, is she outnumbered.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Maplewood is a mostly upscale NYC suburb where rainbow flag and “No Place for Hate Here” lawn signs are common.

      Of course it is. And plenty of hate on that thread, too.

      It’s easy to see that the intelligence community has a lot of traction in the 9.9%. But why? The etiology of spy-humping is indeed a question….

      Reply
      1. Plenue

        e·ti·ol·o·gy
        ˌēdēˈäləjē/
        noun
        noun: aetiology; plural noun: aetiologies; noun: etiology; plural noun: etiologies

        1.
        Medicine
        the cause, set of causes, or manner of causation of a disease or condition.
        “a disease of unknown etiology”
        the causation of diseases and disorders as a subject of investigation.
        2.
        the investigation or attribution of the cause or reason for something, often expressed in terms of historical or mythical explanation.

        I like how the medical definition is possibly valid here.

        Reply
      2. Swamp Yankee

        As for the etiology of spy-humping — they’re fellow professionals! They’re in government, but they’re not prole infantrymen or showboating politicians — they have the same aesthetic and lifestyle choices and tastes as their counterparts in the rest of the 9.9%.

        I also think we should not underestimate the extent to which the 9.9% is an hereditary class; yes, they let some new blood in, at the price of destroying the communities talented outsiders/class climbers come from and renouncing their native lifeways; but, at least anecdotally, I see a lot of professors reproducing professors, lawyers begetting lawyers, and other forms of professional-managerial reproduction. These people do all know each other, to a certain extent. (You went to W______ with my fiance, who went to law school with your brother, etc.)

        Reply
        1. Plenue

          “yes, they let some new blood in”

          The Optimates let Cicero in too, when he showed up much of a subservient and eloquent worm he could be in their service.

          Reply
            1. Plenue

              I’ve started using the treatment of Cicero as something of a gauge for historians. Most of them seem to take the rat seriously. He’s certainly immensely important in the history of language and rhetoric, but if you aren’t particularly impressed by fancy speeches and prefer substance over style, he isn’t at all a praiseworthy figure.

              So far Mommsen seems to be the only one I’ve read who treats Cicero with the utter disdain he deserves.

              Outside of historians, Steven Saylor’s Roma Sub Rosa series provides a portrait of a gradually more compromised and power seeking Cicero, at least in the eyes of the protagonist. Tiro is ever present to provide a counter, leaving the issue somewhat ambiguous (Saylor does similar with Catiline as well)

              Reply
  13. clarky90

    This is info that I became aware of yesterday. Being an intelligent old person, Good Health is my #1 interest!

    Re, “[W}hat we eat is a political problem.”

    MEDICAL EVANGELISM: A HAND OUT FOR BAD DIET ADVICE?

    “Australian orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Gary Fettke, showed how (Seventh Day) Adventist, Lenna F Cooper, co-founded the American Dietetic Association (ADA) in 1917. She was a protégé of Dr John Harvey Kellogg, one of the founders of the cereal industry. She wrote textbooks that lecturers used for dietetic and nursing programmes around the world for 30 formative years.

    Thus, Cooper was the voice of dietetics globally for decades.

    Cooper also appears to have originated the idea of breakfast as “the most important meal of the day”. She wrote as much in a 1917 issue of Good Health. The publication is self-proclaimed as “oldest health magazine in the world”, as Huffington Post senior editor Sarah Klein noted…..”

    Reply
    1. Whoa Molly!

      Re: MEDICAL EVANGELISM: A HAND OUT FOR BAD DIET ADVICE?


      ===========================
      • I recently got a(nother) beatdown on the evils of meat and the health benefits of Plant Based Diet from a convert.

      The person doing the beatdown pointed me to two large studies that apparently prove that the Adventists have been right all along.


      Personally, I am agnostic when it comes to diet. Show me the data and I will change.

      Unfortunately there appear to be gold standard studies proving both sides—low carb meat vs low fat plant.

      What turns me off is the smug, holier than thou attitude I see in many food evangelists. (I am NOT talking about the Adventists. They are good people in my book.)

      Food choice has become a secular religion. Oddly, most of its adherents seem to be in the professional classes.

      Or maybe food always has been a religion.

      Reply
  14. NotTimothyGeithner

    In regards to the size and structure of the U.S., the states, and Washington, Canada passed its healthcare system originally when the provinces were more powerful in relation to their federales. One province passed it, and the others went “we better do that too.”

    My assessment of states is they are too strapped and are too dependent on federal matching funds to organize a credible government program. What you get is the “work from home” Vermont $10,000 grant as the best the states can practically achieve. There are a number of smaller tasks the states can do.

    The states piggy back off the IRS or are dependent on basically use taxes which limits when money arrives and how they can raise money as states are particularly at risk of a tax revolt. Going back some years, then Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore cut the car tax (there is a tax on everything in Virginia), but the size wasn’t the problem as much as there wasn’t a plan to deal with a lapse of funding. Combined with the economic malaise at the time, it hit Virginia’s budget fairly hard. 9/11 was a huge boon for Virginia.

    With the Federal matching funds, money the state has needs to be spent that way which can be fine, but it inevitably leaves the states with little in savings to use to address larger needs. Unfunded mandates and mandates with Federal funding that have not kept up with inflation have required the states to dig deeper into the general revenues reducing their own ability to govern as they have less money.

    With the distances involved, lobbying the Federal Government isn’t easy. State officials are much easier to reach and lobby for the average citizen. Its local government, but the recent efforts against the Olympics and cutting school funding by the people and children (who scared the mayor) of Boston springs to mind.

    One issue with Washington is how do you build an effective coalition to govern. Is 535 members across two chamber with different rules and membership selection process the President and Supreme Court concerns too many people to manage? Its possible. As Washington has assumed more power, its also ungovernable without an LBJ or FDR or even 43. The President should be a strong figure by merely existing as President, but its possible there is too much complexity. Then you add the size of the country into the mix. Pelosi’s views on both how her constituents are just too liberal for the nation or her views that her promise not to impeach 43 won the 2006 election are simply bizarre. Its possible she’s lying, but there is a credible argument that the complexity of everything means she can’t functionally lead the chamber, be a member of the leadership, be a member of the Gang of Eight (torture, am I right?), be the top fundraiser, and serve as a mouth piece for the Party. Oh right, she still has constituency concerns.

    As far as cultural issues, I have two main views on that point. One, the culture wars of the 80’s and 90’s represented a cyclical religious obsession that comes and goes. By the time, Obama was President, no one cared he wasn’t wearing that stupid flag pin. The kids all watch “Game of Thrones.” The internet stream has altered how popular culture is pushed out and disseminated. My sense is there is a greater homogenization today that there was not that terribly long ago.

    Reply
  15. Summer

    Re: “It would not be satisfactory to anyone (a good sign of potential sustainability), but reducing federal government and shifting legislation and administration back to states and counties would go a long way to making our systems more sustainable…”

    Are states going to be able to establish their own currency?

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The really important step is for the Federales to reassume the duties done by the Federal Government prior to Reagan and Clinton’s embrace of unfunded mandates. This would solve the Jim Crow threat and would still give the states an ability to address local concerns without having to beg Washington.

      Reply
      1. Summer

        “address local concerns”….

        Jim Crow would be passe with all those little Greecified states (just one example).

        It wouldn’t be something to half do and end up like Southern and Eastern EZ regions.

        But I get the feeling a lot of people are talking about “Identity Zones” rather than actual TCB.

        Reply
  16. HotFlash

    Just watching AOC’s part of the (KS-04) in Wichita last Sunday, from a video posted on Howie Klein’s Down With Tyranny and Act Blue. My heavens, that young lady can work a crowd!

    Haven’t even gotten to the Bernie part yet.

    (apologies if it’s been linked to on NV before, couldn’t find)

    Reply
  17. Darius

    Really appreciate the mania-panic index. Also, the old and new fed spread indices. They demystify the financial markets for this layman.

    Reply
  18. Enquiring Mind

    Cornucopia, heh!

    Keep avoiding HFCs, corn solids, corn syrups and related products to be healthier.

    Reply
  19. flora

    Thanks for the Thai rescue tweet threads on the difference between SV “whiz bang” and diving/climbing/safety “slow careful methodical” approaches. Very good.

    Reply
    1. Zachary Smith

      I looked for the story elsewhere, and it just wasn’t there! Guess the Corporate Media isn’t too pleased it surfaced at all.

      Reply
  20. Plenue

    From that Manhattan streets Tweet thread:

    “Also, constructing the streets was pretty wild as well, whole hills were removed in order to get things level, and in a lot of cases, existing farm houses were left in some pretty awkward positions. Here’s the The Brennan farmhouse, at 84th and Broadway, in 1879 for instance.”

    What was done to those islands, turning them into an endless sea of concrete, was monstrous. Here’s some footage from a couple video games that give some idea of what NYC once looked like:

    I’m not anti-city at all, but they can be done while still retaining some semblance of the original nature. I know New Yorkers take a certain pride in Central Park, but to me it (and the various other NYC parks) are sad husks. Artificial islands of greenery amid a landscape of grey highrises.

    Reply
  21. RMO

    Airline safety practices have been experimentally introduced to the medical world (to the resentment of many of the doctors involved as the procedures struck them as insulting – call and response checklists including things like wash hands and put on gloves for example). The practices typically greatly reduced infections, complications and deaths…

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Oh yes! Humour is revolutionary theatre. I especially liked the ‘subliminal’ messages. Just a tad slower than actual subliminals would be, to enhance the irony.
      That the Onion is bringing this subject up means that the Onion editorial board has been seeing signs of actual unrest at a significant level.
      Watch the reactions of people you deal with enough to have an idea of their political philosophies. Those reactions filtered through their world views will tell you much about how seriously they take the idea of actual social disruption.
      A sign of the times.

      Reply
  22. fresno dan

    Moreover, the FBI’s former deputy director, Andrew McCabe, told Congress that the bureau tried very hard to verify Steele’s information but could provide no points of verification beyond the fact that Page did travel to Russia in July 2016 — a fact that required no effort to corroborate since the trip was unconcealed and widely known. (Page delivered a public commencement address at the New Economic School.) Furthermore, in British legal proceedings, Steele himself has described the information he provided to the FBI as “raw intelligence” that was “unverified.”
    …….
    I prefaced my remark about the judges with an acknowledgment of my own personal embarrassment. When people started theorizing that the FBI had presented the Steele dossier to the FISA court as evidence, I told them they were crazy: The FBI, which I can’t help thinking of as my FBI after 20 years of working closely with the bureau as a federal prosecutor, would never take an unverified screed and present it to a court as evidence…..
    The FBI would go to the FISA court only with independent evidence corroborated through standard FBI rigor.

    Should I have assumed I could be wrong about that? Sure, even great institutions go rogue now and again. But even with that in mind, I would still have told the conspiracy theorists they were crazy — because in the unlikely event the FBI ever went off the reservation, the Justice Department would not permit the submission to the FISA court of uncorroborated allegations; and even if that fail-safe broke down, a court would not approve such a warrant.

    It turns out, however, that the crazies were right and I was wrong. The FBI (and, I’m even more sad to say, my Justice Department) brought the FISA court the Steele-dossier allegations, relying on Steele’s credibility without verifying his information.
    ====================================================
    I think Andrew McCarthy of National Review has done the most dispassionate analysis concerning the FISA process and Carter Page. And, unlike so many, facts determine his conclusions, instead of desired conclusions determining what facts are acknowledged.

    Reply
  23. The Rev Kev

    “70s Dinner Party”

    So there was a British series called “Supersizers” not that long ago which had two people experience the food of different eras as well as the lifestyle. The Wikipedia page at … will give you a rundown but a favourite episode for me is when they did the Seventies. If you watch the first minute or to on this episode it will give you the flavour of the series but the section on booze in the seventies was a bit of an eye-opener. Link at-

    Reply
    1. HotFlash

      Oh, thank you, Rev Kev. That was a blast, and the aspirational food of my past. OMG, Mateus, Harvey’s Bristol Cream, TV dinners and instant mashed potatoes! Also, a great look at what they served on the Concorde — never had a chance to try that, personally. Bonus! At the end, the gastroenterologist was amazed.

      Reply
  24. Henry Moon Pie

    Wendell Berry was railing at Butz and the direction of U. S. agriculture decades ago. It’s striking how prescient The Unsettling of America is. It would be hard to come up with a description of the 9.9% better than Berry’s. They are the “lucky” ones who have risen from “victim” to “exploiter,” all by means of becoming “specialists.” From the chapter on “The Ecological Crisis as a Crisis of Character:”

    It is for this reason that none of our basic problems is ever solved. Indeed, it is for this reason that our basic problems are getting worse. The specialists are profiting too well from the symptoms, evidently, to be concerned about cures.

    Reply
  25. The Rev Kev

    “It should have been President Hillary Clinton. Here’s why it’s not” – Willie Brown

    Nice to see that the Democrats are on track to reelect Donald Trump as President in 2020. Was Willie Brown here saying that Kamala Harris has got the inside track to be the Democrat candidate in 2020? Not bad that as she use to be his arm bracelet – or should I use the euphemism bunk-buddy. He might want to be careful here as she may prove to be the proverbial ex-girlfriend-from-hell over time.

    Reply
  26. clarky90

    Newsprint tariffs send costs soaring for US newspapers

    “One consequence of the trade dispute with Canada is that the cost of newsprint to soaring. In turn, that is killing off newspapers at a faster rate, especially tabloids.”

    “OUR tabloids”, the WaPo and the NYT?

    Reply
  27. cuibono

    if the ticks spread due to global warming and theresult is we become meat allergic and stop raising cattle , will we solve global warming?

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      No, we won’t. First, because “stop raising cattle” would include the carbon-capture cattle on pasture and range, meaning all the carbon those cattle-on-pasture/range systems have been skydraining and soil-sequestering will no longer be skydrained and soil-sequestered.

      And second, because “getting allergic to cattle meat” won’t necessarily mean getting allergic to pork, chicken, aqua-lot fish, etc. If tick-bitten people remain non-allergic to pork, chicken, etc. those animals will still be raised, mostly in carbon-emissioning conditions.

      Reply
  28. The Rev Kev

    “Doctors slam sex robot ‘family mode’”

    The wife may be cool with Samantha the sex robot but could he take her home to meet his mother? Is there a place for her at the Thanksgiving table? What would you get her for Christmas? Inquiring minds want to know. Personally it creeps me out. Must be the uncanny valley effect.

    Reply
    1. Whoa Molly!

      She smiles, gestures and carries on a simple dinner conversation.

      Available as a Trump supporter or a Clinton supporter. (The Sanders supporter version is no longer available. It kept saying uncomfortable truths.)

      So yes, she can most certainly go home to meet mother.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Wait there. Samantha is the sex robot and Semiramis is the mother robot. They can just link up over the wires, so to speak. We won’t get into what the Atalanta robot is for.

        Reply
  29. Skip Intro

    I think the spike in disappeared voters before 2016 is reasonably explained by the fact that, for 2016, both parties were working hard do disenfranchise voters.

    Reply
  30. Oregoncharles

    On “It would not be satisfactory to anyone (a good sign of potential sustainability), but reducing federal government and shifting legislation and administration back to states and counties would go a long way to making our systems more sustainable. This would also surface some of our core issues, namely willingness/unwillingness to cooperate, forego damaging advantage, and make merciful exception on a case-by-case basis.” – since you asked:

    From the 10 Key Values, : “5. Decentralization

    Centralization of wealth and power contributes to social and economic injustice, environmental destruction, and militarization. We seek a restructuring of social, political and economic institutions away from a system controlled by and mostly benefiting the powerful few, to a democratic, less bureaucratic system. Decision-making should, as much as possible, remain at the individual and local level, while assuring that civil rights are protected for all.

    6. Community-Based Economics

    We support redesigning our work structures to encourage employee ownership and workplace democracy. We support developing new economic activities and institutions that allow us to use technology in ways that are humane, freeing, ecological, and responsive and accountable to communities. We support establishing a form of basic economic security open to all. We call for moving beyond the narrow ‘job ethic’ to new definitions of ‘work,’ ‘jobs’ and ‘income’ in a cooperative and democratic economy. We support restructuring our patterns of income distribution to reflect the wealth created by those outside the formal monetary economy – those who take responsibility for parenting, housekeeping, home gardens, community volunteer work, and the like. We support restricting the size and concentrated power of corporations without discouraging superior efficiency or technological innovation.”

    The Green Party may be the only political entity advocating localization. I share Dan’s feeling that the US is too large, at the least too large to administer, as well as too large to form a political consensus. Worse, its size and diversity lead directly to imperial adventures. Eventually, the price of those may well be devolution into regions, as many authors, including JMG, have imagined. If not bloody, that would be an improvement.

    Reply
  31. Oregoncharles

    ” “But in a statement, the governor said the bill, which aims to make people like college students who vote here abide by other residency requirements, like getting a drivers license or registering their cars, ”

    I frequently register voters in a college town in Oregon, so this comes up a lot. I was told, many years ago now, that it was best practice (but possibly not legally required) to keep the various elements of residency consistent. This may be especially important for students, since it can affect their tuition status. In particular, the DMV needs an accurate mailing address so they can you if something goes wrong, like an outstanding ticket; this actually happened to me, lo these many years ago. If all of these elements are in the same state, your registration, for example, can’t be challenged.

    Now I wonder whether I should keep telling people that – my honesty has lost us a couple of registrations.

    Reply
  32. Oregoncharles

    “Dear ⁦@nytimes⁩: please, please update your style guide. It’s “democratic socialists” not “Democratic socialists.” The word “democratic” refers to support for democratic control over government and the economy, *not* to the Democratic Party. You are in error. Please desist.”

    So why are they running as Democrats (capital D)? I don’t think the Times is mistaken.

    Reply
  33. Oregoncharles

    “one that has turned many risky enterprises into safe endeavors — commercial airline travel, for example, or rock climbing, both of which have extensive protocols and safety procedures that have taken years to develop.”
    Uuhhh…my wife and I were just chatting with a friend, a former avid rock climber, who would beg to differ. It took just two falls, one by her husband and another her own, to convince her she’d rather not be a cripple for the rest of her young life.

    Rock climbing isn’t safe. It isn’t meant to be.

    Reply

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