2:00PM Water Cooler 9/16/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Patient readers, there was so much political material over the weekend I got wrapped round the axle getting my head around it. I will flesh that section out shortly. –lambert UPDATE All done. And this makes up for my miserably inadequate Water Cooler on Friday!

Politics

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

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

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

And here is (are) the latest poll(s) as of 9/16/2019, 11:00 AM EDT:

Biden, Sanders, Warren, again. (Note that the circles denote the size of the population(s) polled; so the big circles are Morning Consult). And the polling detail:

I think dk has started a really neat project, and in the near future we’ll seek your back (within reason) for the tool “live.”

UPDATE 2019-08-30: Now the polls aggregated (all available) are shown at the bottom of the poll. We also give more detail about each poll than RCP, and allow candidates to be selected or deselected. That’s three reasons what dk is doing beats RCP, and if we can make the individual polls selectable/highlightable, that will be four reasons. With more to come, grid willing.

* * *

2020

Biden (D)(1): “Biden Praises Pharma to Donors as He Pushes to Cut Prices” [Bloomberg]. “‘By the way, great drug companies out there — except a couple of opioid outfits,’ the former vice president told donors at the Dallas home of David Genecov, a craniofacial surgeon.”

UPDATE Biden (D)(1): “Biden’s Brain Is Swiss Cheese And It’s Creepy That We’re Not Talking About It” [Caitlin Johnstone, Medium]. Includes a transcript of “Record Player,” from the debate: “Play the radio, make sure the television, [closes eyes tightly] the — ‘scuse me, make sure you have the record player on at night, the-the-the-the phone, make sure the kids hear words. A kid coming from a very poor school, [closes eyes] a very poor background, will hear four million words fewer spoken by the time they get there.” And: “What’s really weird and creepy is how few people are discussing the obvious fact that the presidential forerunner is also clearly suffering from the early stages of some kind of dementia.” But–

UPDATE Biden (D)(2): The “Corn Pop” story, worth listening to all the way through:

What is going on? I’m really confused and I feel like I’m losing my mind pic..com/S0B4xMyJCW

— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) September 15, 2019

Forget about the content of the story, which involves the white Biden confronting a black kid (“Corn Pop”) using a chain for a weapon. Also, watch the kids in the background. However, Biden gets all the way through the story just fine, and it has some twists and turns. Despite the press covering for Reagan’s Alzheimers, I am still, contra Johnstone, extremely leery about doing armchair diagnosis remotely (oldsters will remember Bill Frist doing that in the Terry Schiavo case). I’m doubly leery of Democrats doing it, because they always call their opponents stupid, often call them insane, and have been doing it for years, even though it doesn’t work (look who’s President). So who’s really stupid, and what’s that definition of insanity?

UPDATE Biden (D)(3):

I bet Corn-Pop’s mamma didn’t turn on the record player for him at night, things could have turned out so much better for him.

— Mrs.Liberty (@LibertyJen) September 15, 2019

Ouch.

Harris (D)(1): “Kamala Harris Was Ready to Brawl From the Beginning” [New York Times]. In the midst of the beat sweetening, this: “‘San Francisco is the bluest of blue,’ said Tony West, her brother-in-law and longtime informal adviser. ‘All political wars there are civil wars. And so it’s like a family fight. And those are often the worst.'” • Oddly, or not, the Times fails to mention that West is “Senior Vice President, Chief Legal Officer, and Corporate Secretary at Uber.”

Sanders (D)(1): Thread:

What’s the most absurd medical bill you have ever received?

— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) September 15, 2019

UPDATE Sanders (D)(2): “Veteran saddled with medical debt tells Sanders he’s going to kill himself” (with video) [KTUU]. ” The exchange between Sanders and the man occurred as Sanders listened to attendees tell about their experiences with private insurance… When Sanders asked the man how he was going to pay his medical expenses, he answered: “I can’t. I can’t. I’m going to kill myself.” Sanders replied, “Don’t. Hold it, John. Stop it. You’re not going to kill yourself. Stop it.”… After the town hall, Sanders and his wife spent some time talking to the man, but there’s no word on what they talked about.” • I should hope not! And: “CNN’s Mark McKinnon Praises Bernie Sanders’ ‘Humanity’ For Response to Veteran Who Threatened Suicide at Town Hall.”

UPDATE Sanders (D)(3): Advance work counts:

Bravo to the @BernieSanders advance team pic..com/swHtfFYKlN

— Cara Korte (@CaraKorte) September 15, 2019

Two good things the advance team took care of. Can you spot them?

UPDATE Sanders (D)(4): “‘The View’ co-host derides Bernie Sanders’ debate showing: ‘Looked like he crawled out of a garbage can'” [FOX]. • Now, to be fair, the View had a Sanders campaign staffer on. But can we at least have a modicum of respect?

Warren (D)(1): “Democrats Love to Nominate ‘Brainiacs.’ That’s Good for Elizabeth Warren” [Bloomberg]. “The party’s last six Democratic presidential nominees had one thing in common: All were perceived as the cerebral heavyweight in their race, and all six went to either Harvard or Yale.” • Great. Remember President Kerry? President Clinton II?’

UPDATE Warren (D)(2): “Warren’s latest anti-corruption plan would put strict new limits on lobbyist power” [CNN]. “The measures unveiled Monday would ban federal lawmakers and their senior staff from serving on corporate boards and would require every new member of Congress to make public any potential financial conflicts before they take office. Corporate lobbyists would have to wait six years before becoming eligible for government jobs, and a range of other powerful officials — from the president to federal judges and cabinet secretaries — would be permanently disqualified from working as lobbyists after leaving office.”

* * *

“A GOP pollster said $2 billion would be spent in the 2020 election on convincing 6% of voters which party to vote for” [Business Insider (KW)]. “Luntz specified that the 6% included people who were ‘conflicted, the ones that liked aspects of the Trump presidency, but not all of it, or the ones who disliked much of what he’s done,’ not those who could flatly deny a candidate. The slice of voters Luntz thinks candidates will be spending big on has ‘never been that small,’ he said. ‘I don’t think more money will be spent with more effort and more intensity on a smaller group of people than what will happen in this election,’ Luntz said. ‘Because in the end, if you’re undecided in Texas or California or New York, you don’t matter. So it’s 6% who are undecided in 20% of the states that could actually move.'” • Or expand the base. But we won’t know if that’s even possible for a campaign until it’s done.

Impeachment

“For the First Time in My Life I’m Against Impeaching the President” [David Swanson, Counterpunch]. “‘Impeachment’ simply means Russiagate to U.S. Congress Members and television viewers. So, I am against it. At the risk of having all the wrath of the impeachers redirected to myself, let me say that I am in favor of friendship and peace with Russia, and of survival for the human species.”

Hoo boy:

pic..com/3h9fug8uNe

— Quinta Jurecic (@qjurecic) September 15, 2019

However–

“New York Times issues correction on Kavanaugh story” [The Hill]. “The correction notes that friends of the woman allegedly involved in the incident with Kavanaugh during college say she does not recall it.” • Oh. Here it is:

The Debate

“The Third Democratic Debate In 7 Charts” [FiveThirtyEight]. Most interesting result to me: “Biden and Sanders had the most exclusive supporters — 24 percent of Biden’s supporters and 18 percent of Sanders’s supporters aren’t considering any of the other candidates who participated in the debate.” • So significant non-overlap between Sanders and Warren.

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE Stoller is correct:

This is how Democrats used to campaign in the south. Notice how they are like 'here's how your life is better.' pic..com/Y5bTTll8jP

— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) September 15, 2019

Universal concrete material benefits.

“Inversions in US Presidential Elections: 1836-2016” [NEBR]. From the abstract: “Inversions—in which the popular vote winner loses the election—have occurred in 4 US Presidential elections. We show that rather than being statistical flukes, inversions have been ex ante likely since the 1800s. In elections yielding a popular vote margin within one percentage point (which has happened in one-eighth of Presidential elections), 40% will be inversions in expectation. Inversion probabilities are asymmetric, in various periods favoring Whigs, Democrats, or Republicans.”

Stats Watch

Empire State Manufacturing Survey, September 2019: “Empire State’s sample continues to report flat conditions” [Econoday]. “A prominent negative in the report is a significant decline in general optimism…. the bulk of September’s report is flat to negative especially the six-month outlook which underscores this year’s sluggish trend for the US manufacturing sector which continues to struggle with declining exports and general concern over tariff tensions and slowing global growth.”

Banking: “Wells Fargo pushes wrongly accused N.J. pastor toward arbitration” [American Banker]. “A New Jersey pastor who was falsely arrested because of errors made by Wells Fargo employees may be forced to resolve legal claims against the bank in arbitration, renewing questions about banks’ use of the process. Jeff Edwards, the pastor of Parsippany United Methodist Church for the past 29 years, sued Wells Fargo in May to recoup costs related to his arrest, which was eventually dismissed after it became clear the bank had mistakenly identified the wrong person related to cashing fraudulent checks. But now the bank is seeking to move the case out of court, arguing that the pastor is bound by an arbitration clause he signed when he opened his account with First Union 22 years ago.”

The Bezzle: “Uber customers paid more than $6 billion in cash last year, and accounting for it isn’t easy” [Francine McKenna, MarketWatch]. “Accepting cash contradicts some of Uber’s biggest selling points for consumers and the company — the safety and convenience of paying via credit/debit card, and collecting payments on behalf of drivers who don’t have to handle cash. Uber has to implement expensive systems for drivers to collect and deposit cash and the company to collect, deposit and properly account for the cash received. When it sets those policies, they are not always ‘effective, convenient or widely adopted by drivers,’ Uber admitted in its prospectus.” • Complexity,

The Bezzle: “The FBI is investigating a venture capital fund started by Peter Thiel for financial misconduct” [Recode]. “Mithril’s leader, Ajay Royan, has worked with Thiel for almost two decades and has used that relationship to raise over $1 billion. But in recent years, Royan has frustrated some of his investors by sitting on some of their money rather than investing it in startups — while almost certainly raking in millions of dollars in fees for himself…. The drama around Mithril pulls back the curtain on a venture capital industry that is awash in money but governed by relatively few rules. And it raises questions about how often similar situations are unfolding quietly in high finance but don’t manage to draw the scrutiny of the federal government.”

The Bezzle: “Voyage Snags $31 Million As It Targets A Self-Driving Niche: Retirement Communities” [Forbes]. “‘We do take people from their doorstep to any other doorstep and as long as that speed doesn’t exceed 25 miles an hour and can [sic] handle unprotected left turns, roundabouts, all-way or two-way intersections, lane changes, all that sort of stuff,” [31-year-old CEO and cofounder Oliver Cameron] says.” • If your algorithm doesn’t work, control the inputs…

The Bezzle: “SoftBank Investments Slammed From Wall Street to California” [Bloomberg]. “SoftBank has put more than $10 billion into WeWork and is a key financier of businesses in the gig economy. It’s the biggest investor in Uber Technologies Inc. and also holds large stakes in food delivery startup DoorDash Inc. and dog-walking app Wag Labs Inc., all of which are built on contract labor…. First, SoftBank urged WeWork to shelve its controversial initial public offering after investors recoiled. WeWork instead elected to make some changes to its corporate governance and proceed with a march to the Nasdaq. On the opposite coast, the California Legislature passed a labor bill that could force gig economy companies to incur substantial new employment costs and dramatically reshape their business models.” • Maybe the bet on “contract labor” isn’t quite as solid as they thought.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 66 Greed (previous close: 68, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 45 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 16 at 11:38am. Note that the index is not always updated daily, sadly.

Rapture Index: Closes up one on Oil Supply/Price. “A terrorist strike in Saudi Arabia has put upward pressure on oil prices” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 185. Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing.

The Biosphere

“The Amazon’s Neocolonial Problem” [BrazilWire]. “The G7’s cursory offer of $22 million US dollars [to fight Amazon fires] is not money that Brazil actually needs, the country has $385 billion in reserves. The key failure of this thinking is the notion that the Amazon fires are some kind of tragic accident. It is not through oversight, incompetence or “failure to act” that the rainforest is in flames, it is a deliberate, planned and genocidal deforestation strategy, from which G7 companies are themselves in line to benefit. A leaked presentation by Washington DC lobbyists close to the Trump administration shows US companies being recruited to exploit the Amazon, from the Mining, Agribusiness and Gas/Chemical industries. A myriad of G7-based companies are already directly benefitting from the far-right Brazilian Government’s policies.”

“Indonesia haze: Why do forests keep burning?” [BBC]. “The burning usually peaks from July to October during Indonesia’s dry season. Many farmers take advantage of the conditions to clear vegetation for palm oil, pulp and paper plantations using the slash-and-burn method. They often spin out of control and spread into protected forested areas…. The haze usually measures hundreds of kilometres across. It has spread to Malaysia, Singapore, the south of Thailand and the Philippines, causing a significant deterioration in air quality…. In Palangkaraya, the capital of central Kalimantan, the Air Quality Index (AQI) reached 2000 on Sunday, according to Greenpeace Indonesia. Anything between 301-500 is considered hazardous.”

“Before-and-After Riverside Park Photos Show That the Goats Didn’t Just Nap This Summer” [West Side Rag]. “[P]hotos released on Thursday by the conservancy show that the animals devoured just about everything on a weed-stricken hill between 119th and 125th Street. The goats ate up about three acres of vegetation, ‘clearing the way for more ecologically ideal plants and a healthier forest!’ the conservancy tweeted.” • No carbon-based fuel required.

Water

“Our Secret Delta” [Post and Courier]. The Santee, in South Carolina. Gorgeous long-form piece:

[L]et’s follow the water. From the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, it flows toward South Carolina. It gains force as foothills give way to South Carolina’s Midlands, forming the Saluda, Catawba and Broad rivers, brown with loam. Past Columbia, the land flattens and the rivers expand like lungs into the great cypress swamps of the Congaree. The water slows at Santee Cooper’s dams, forming the shallow lakes Moultrie and Marion. Then it shoots through spillways. Some goes into the Cooper River toward Charleston’s busy harbor. But most pours into the much-less-busy Santee. With no real slopes to guide it now, the Santee meanders like a haphazardly thrown rope until it splits in two, the North and South Santee. Finally, in the flats between Georgetown and McClellanville, those strands meet an opposing force, the rising tides of the Atlantic.This meeting place is where the delta becomes the delta, where sediment flowing from Upstate fans out and makes marshes and barrier islands. And, because this soppy land is low, and because of the tides, the ground isn’t always solid. It’s something in between: swamps so quiet you hear blood rush in your ears, old rice fields with flocks of blackbirds that lift as one and move back and forth, like a conductor’s hand.

The 420

From The full results of the 2018 Cannabis Price Index, total consumption:

We’re #1! We’re #1! And only #39 on price, so, good deal.

“Can cannabis go green?” [Nature]. “Despite its being one of the world’s oldest crops, the production of cannabis remains somewhat mysterious. Thanks in part to decades of prohibition, little has been published about the water or energy requirements of growing cannabis. Cultivation in the laboratory is expensive because of the need for secure facilities, so researchers often turn to information from growers, as well as the law-enforcement officials who target illegal cannabis enterprises. Those data paint a bleak picture…. Wildlife-disease ecologist Mourad Gabriel, a co-director of the Integral Ecology Research Center in Blue Lake, California, joins law-enforcement officials on raids to study these cultivation sites. … A licensed, energy-efficient cannabis farm is a world away from the illegal cultivation sites that feature in Gabriel’s research. Yerba Buena in Hillsboro, Oregon, for example, is the first cannabis-cultivation enterprise to rank in the top ten greenest workplaces in the state.”

“Michigan’s ban on flavored vaping products ignores the dangers of THC cartridges” [Detroit Metro Times]. “Michigan’s unprecedented ban on flavored nicotine vaping products failed to target the primary culprit of the fatal lung illnesses sweeping across the country — marijuana cartridges. While Gov. Whitmer and the state’s health department insist flavored e-cigarettes and e-liquid constitute a “crisis,” they have done little to nothing to address the THC — or tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive component of marijuana — vape cartridges that have been linked to the outbreak.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“They were once America’s cruelest, richest slave traders. Why does no one know their names?” [WaPo]. “[Isaac Franklin and John Armfield], who headquartered their slave trading business in a townhouse that still stands in Alexandria, Va., sold more enslaved people, separated more families and made more money from the trade than almost anyone else in America. Between the 1820s and 1830s, the two men reigned as the “undisputed tycoons” of the domestic slave trade… Their success was immense: The duo amassed a fortune worth several billions in today’s dollars and retired as two of the nation’s wealthiest men… Even while actively trading slaves, the two men enjoyed an excellent reputation and moved in top-tier social circles, according to [Joshua Rothman, a professor of history at the University of Alabama]. Franklin went to the theater with other rich whites and threw dinner parties, earning a reputation as a ‘gregarious’ host with ‘the best liquors.'” • I’ll bet.

L’Affaire Joffrey Epstein

“My Tea with Jeffrey Epstein” [Edward Jay Epstein, Air Mail News (Furzy Mouse)]. “It was all dazzling fun, but in late 1988 a dark cloud poked its way into the festivities. It began when I tried to board an All Nippon Airways flight that Epstein had upgraded [for me] to first class. The A.N.A. representative told me it could not be a first-class ticket, which cost $6,000, because I had paid only $655. When I pointed to the first-class sticker, she said anyone could steal one and paste it in. I was unceremoniously moved to coach.” • Plenty more highly regrettable detail at the link! [Boston Globe].

“A meeting with Jeffrey Epstein led to a gift — and, now, regrets” [Boston Globe]. “n 2017, Ito requested that [Neri Oxman’s] design lab, which often produced donor gifts for the university, send a token of appreciation to Epstein: a grapefruit-sized, 3-D printed marble with a base that lit up. It came with a pair of gloves to avoid getting fingerprints on the surface. She complied, and asked lab members to mail it to Epstein’s Manhattan address…. In recent weeks, journalists have asked questions of MIT about Oxman’s lab sending the gift to Epstein. According to e-mails obtained by the Globe, Ito asked Oxman how she wanted to respond to media questions. Oxman’s husband, William Ackman, a hedge-fund billionaire, in a phone conversation and e-mail to Ito raised concerns about Oxman’s name being tied to the Epstein situation, according to multiple people aware of the situation.” • Quite the rarefied atmosphere! And yet another billionaire connection, note well.

Guillotine Watch

“America’s Billionaire Playgrounds: Rockets, Ranches and Rivers” [Bloomberg]. “Acquiring land for recreation is a common motivator for today’s ultra-rich buyer. A unique property with stunning vistas and vast acreage has become its own class of luxury asset and, unlike, say, fine wine, it can be enjoyed while it appreciates. The quirky pastimes of billionaires often require huge amounts of open land. ” • Quirky pastimes.

“A penthouse, limousines and private jets: Inside the globe-trotting life of a W. Va. bishop” [Daily Progress]. Cf. Matt 19:21. Handy chart:

On the bright side, I guess we’re lucky Bishop Michael Bransfield (Wheeling-Charleston diocese, W.Va.) didn’t have a friend with a private jet….

Class Warfare

“In the new game of Monopoly, women make more than men” [CNN (JBird)]. • I don’t see the issue. I mean, it’s still Monopoly.

“Auto Workers Go on Strike After Years of Tirelessly Helping General Motors Reach Record-Level Profits” [UAW]. • Maybe not ideal messaging?

“Inside the Carpenters’ Fight for Control of Their Union” [The Nation]. “The terms of the agreement became available to carpenters just a few days before the contract was formally agreed upon. Members cannot vote directly on contracts….” • (!!!!)

“The School to Prison Pipeline: Long-Run Impacts of School Suspensions on Adult Crime” [NBER]. From the abstract: “Students assigned to a school that has a one standard deviation higher suspension rate are 15 to 20 percent more likely to be arrested and incarcerated as adults. We also find negative impacts on educational attainment. The negative impacts of attending a high suspension school are largest for males and minorities.” • Everything’s going according to plan.

News of the Wired

“Americans are not using umbrellas as they were intended” [Quartz]. “But walking outside under the fierce summer sun—even if it’s to run a quick errand—can be taxing: We sweat, we get exhausted, we burn, and we expose ourselves to dangerous UV rays. In Asian countries, many people have a convenient tool at their disposal: They’ll often use umbrellas to shield them from the sun’s powerful rays. In the US, even though most people own an umbrella to keep them dry when it’s raining, almost no one uses one for sun protection. Yet at one time, trendsetting American women did use umbrellas for sun protection…. The origin of the word “parasol” comes from the French ‘para,’ for ‘stop,’ and ‘sol,’ for sun. And ‘umbrella’ originates from the Latin ‘umbra,’ which means ‘shade” or ‘shadow.'” • Eesh, how could I not know this?

“The grandmaster diet: How to lose weight while barely moving” [ESPN]. “Robert Sapolsky, who studies stress in primates at Stanford University, says a chess player can burn up to 6,000 calories a day while playing in a tournament, three times what an average person consumes in a day. Based on breathing rates (which triple during competition), blood pressure (which elevates) and muscle contractions before, during and after major tournaments, Sapolsky suggests that grandmasters’ stress responses to chess are on par with what elite athletes experience…. The 1984 World Chess Championship was called off after five months and 48 games because defending champion Anatoly Karpov had lost 22 pounds.”

“An important quantum algorithm may actually be a property of nature” [Technology Review]. “Back in 1996, a quantum physicist at Bell Labs in New Jersey published a new recipe for searching through a database of N entries. Computer scientists have long known that this process takes around N steps because in the worst case, the last item on the list could be the one of interest. However, this physicist, Lov Grover, showed how the strange rules of quantum mechanics allowed the search to be done in a number of steps equal to the square root of N. That was a big deal. Searching databases is a foundational task in computer science, used for everything from finding telephone numbers to breaking cryptographic codes. Today Stéphane Guillet and colleagues at the University of Toulon in France [say] there is evidence that free electrons naturally implement the Grover search algorithm when moving across the surface of certain crystals.” • And from there we move to organic material, like DNA, also implemented Grover’s algorithm. I guess our non-quantum computer models might have a hard time keeping up. Well worth a read.

* * *

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 (TH):

TH writes: “This leaf is on the Bodhi Tree in the Fullerton Arboretum. Also known as the ‘Tree of Knowledge’ (though doubtless, not in Christian circles) and the ‘Tree of Enlightenment.’ It bears a dedication to the 14th Dalai Lama in honor of his visit on September 13th, 2000. We (my husband and I) were fortunate enough to be able to attend that event and get a signed copy of ‘The Art of Happiness.'” I could certainly use more enlightenment. Nevertheless, with Yves, I’m dubious about seeking happiness instead of contentment.

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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.

119 comments

  1. WheresOurTeddy

    “The party’s last six Democratic presidential nominees had one thing in common: All were perceived as the cerebral heavyweight in their race, and all six went to either Harvard or Yale.” • Great. Remember President Kerry?

    And of those 6, 4 — stay with me here — LOST. The other two were GOP-lite centrists who would be moderate republicans in the 1980s (one by his own admission).

    Time for a working-class socialist who grew up poor in Brooklyn. There’s a lot more of us who have that story resonate than an Ivy League technocrat who has probably never done an honest day’s LABOR in their life…

    Reply
  2. Acacia

    Caitlin Johnstone weighs in on record players:

    Biden’s Brain Is Swiss Cheese And It’s Creepy That We’re Not All Talking About It

    Reply
    1. WheresOurTeddy

      “The only people who are absolutely acutely aware of Biden’s cognitive decline and yet still want him to become president are his handlers. ”

      Caitlin on point again

      Reply
    2. dearieme

      He obviously is a bit senile. But there seemed to be some serious neurological problem with Hillary last time and that was assiduously – I might almost say actively – ignored. In fact more people seemed to want to suggest that she had a drink problem than to discuss her unhealthiness.

      These Dem geriatrics are hoping, I assume, to serve two terms. I’m tempted to say Vote for Trump, at least he’ll serve only one term.

      Tricky business this elective monarchy lark, eh?

      Reply
      1. Ford Prefect

        Hillary, Joe, and Donald seem to be infected with the politician’s version of Toxoplasma gondi in that they seem unafraid to say random things that will alienate people or just leaving them scratching their heads. https://www.livescience.com/39772-parasite-makes-mice-unafraid.html

        In Donald’s case, it seemed like his statements seemed to tie into some underlying angst that got him elected (barely).

        Reply
        1. Procopius

          I wish I would bookmark these things so I could find the links, but somewhere a couple of days ago I saw a comment that if you remove California from the results, in the rest of the country Trump actually won the popular vote. In other words, the popular vote was greatly skewed by the huge margin in a single (very large) state.

          Reply
    3. petal

      I’m relieved other people are noticing that perhaps something seems to be off. I’ve been worried I was imagining it, or that I was way off base. I, too, don’t like armchair diagnosis, but after witnessing it, I have been thinking about it and trying to figure it out.

      Reply
      1. Whoamolly

        Transcripts of his comments read like word salad. Sounds a lot like an advanced case of cognitive decline that comes normally with aging — or early Alzheimer’s . I hate watching him deteriorate in public. One of symptoms of both is doing worse when under stress.

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Considering the active life-destroying harm he did to millions of people, on purpose, as a perfect expression of everything he stood for; I hope he understands exactly what is happening to his speech-center in particular and his “higher cerebral cortex” in general. I hope he stays in the race, deteriorating in his own eyes as well as everyone elses’; and harvests the maximum possible crop of personal pain and humiliation.

          Reply
          1. Tom Doak

            It would be much better for the left if Biden dropped out before he could accumulate any delegates. Harris and Mayor Pete do not seem to be in position to take a big chunk of Biden’s support, so with him gone it would be down to Warren and Sanders pretty quickly.

            Reply
            1. Procopius

              I’d be down with that. As much as I prefer Sanders, Senator Professor Warren seems to be gaining momentum. The way she got the original Consumer Financial Protection Agency through, I have to admire her competence. I would like her to be farther left, but I could vote for her without the bad taste in my mouth I’ve had since 1968. She wouldn’t be another evil, but the lesser one. I don’t have much hope she could accomplish much, because I think the Repubs are going to hold the Senate, but she could, and I believe she would, appoint good Cabinet Secretaries and they could appoint good subordinates and we could start re-building the permanent civil service machinery of government, and we could start the long process of restoring some of the good rules and regulations that the Republicans are burning to the ground now. If she would devote her attention to that I would be satisfied.

              Reply
        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          I wonder how much sympathy/empathy support he will get, most people would have someone similar in their family.

          “Aww let Sloppy Joe have a turn before he croaks, he’s a folksy old guy and his stories sure are funny, if you can follow them. He can’t really do that much harm in the job, and we won’t have to stop and think about things like big disruptive changes or anything. We can all just go back to circling the drain in a civil and friendly kind of way”.

          Dangerous to misunderestimate the levers people actually decide to pull in the privacy of the voting booth.

          Reply
      2. Darthbobber

        I’ve perceived his output as word salad for quite awhile. It’s only during campaign season that he has to think on his feet at all, and I found him nearly this bad in the 08 primary season.

        He was passable against Palin during that outing, but if she hadn’t been so egregiously bad he would have seemed worse.

        Reply
    4. DonCoyote

      Liberals Harken Back to Halcyon Obama Days When There Were No Problems

      Nearly three years into Trump’s presidency, liberals across America are longing for the days of yore, when Barack Obama was president, and the biggest concern facing most people was getting a brunch table at a trendy restaurant in a newly gentrified neighborhood.

      And see the new Biden ad complete with Biden’s 2020 campaign slogan: “Barack Obama was a great President”

      Or, as Vox puts it: To twist Biden’s 2007 line about Rudy Giuliani, it often seems that, for Biden, there are three parts to a sentence: a noun, a verb, and Barack Obama.”

      Reply
    5. The Rev Kev

      You really wonder what is wrong with the DNC with their choice of candidates. In 2016 they put up a candidate that collapsed on a nice September day and had to be thrown into a van like a sack of potatoes to get her out of sight. Now they have as a “frontrunner” an old man that is obviously well past his use-by date when the elections are over a year off. Voters deserve better.

      Reply
        1. Librarian Guy

          DNC sells what they’re paid to sell . . . & a “majority” of voters supported her (still enough to LOSE), after they drove out the crazy radicals who make up the Dem base who don’t want a Neoliberal NeoCon “It’s My Turn” Warhawk . . . thankfully, Unca Joe seems to be even more maladroit than Hillary, and Bernie pushed the Overton Window considerably to the left in 2016. Biden seems to be on his last legs, all the MSM propping up in the world won’t likely save him.

          Reply
          1. Acacia

            Fully agree. At some point, Biden will likely plunge in the polls, following some particularly colorful “episode” perhaps in which the word salad goes into hyperdrive. The only question in my mind is whether or not the DNC will have to give him the Vaudeville Hook treatment. I’m kind of hoping they will, as it would reflect badly on their whole operation and the more damage they inflict upon themselves, the better.

            Reply
    6. Acacia

      Back in the pre-Internet era of newspapers, in the year before Ronald Reagan was elected, I happened to read an article in a local California newspaper, which claimed that Reagan was exhibiting early signs of dementia. The claim was based upon an informal analysis of an experienced gerontologist, who stated that from listening to Reagan’s speech during the presidential campaign, it was his professional opinion that the then-candidate already had some form of marked cognitive decline. It was so long ago, that I don’t remember the newspaper, but it could have been the San Jose Mercury news.

      A brief search did turn up a study, from 1988, which analyzed Reagan’s debate performance in 1980 and 1984:

      Gottschalk, Louis A., Regina Uliana, and Ronda Gilbert. “Presidential Candidates and Cognitive Impairment Measured from Behavior in Campaign Debates.” Public Administration Review 48, no. 2 (1988): 613-19. doi:10.2307/975762.

      Following the 1984 debates, a number of news outlets (including the NYT and WSJ) apparently questioned Reagan’s surprisingly poor performance against Mondale. However, the Gottschalk et alia study concluded that compared to Carter, Reagan had already demonstrated some cognitive impairment in 1980:

      The results of these analyses indicate that President Reagan had significantly higher levels of cognitive impairment scores than President Carter, Vice-President Mondale, or the non-candidate participants in the three debates studied.

      This would then seem to corroborate the lost newspaper article that I read around 1979-80. Note also, from the Gottschalk et alia study’s introduction:

      To avoid possible conflict between scientific and political approaches to such an issue, the senior author decided to study the verbal behavior of the participants in these presidential debates but to avoid publishing any of the findings of this research until long after the presidential election in 1984 and only toward the end of the term of the successful candidate.

      Reply
  3. petal

    At the town hall, Biden said about Pharma: “Not all of them are bad guys”. He carefully stuck up for them, and has plenty of help for them written into his plans.
    And I believe Neri Oxman was linked to Brad Pitt not too long ago.

    Reply
  4. Mike

    Re: “A penthouse, limousines and private jets: Inside the globe-trotting life of a W. Va. bishop”

    Quote – “On the bright side, I guess we’re lucky Bishop Michael Bransfield (Wheeling-Charleston diocese, W.Va.) didn’t have a friend with a private jet….”

    Who’s to say he wasn’t running his own “service”- transport provided by your neighborhood Vatican connection? If Bransfield caroused with Philly, Chicago, NY or Boston, the possibilities mounted…

    Reply
  5. Jason Boxman

    Living in Somerville, MA, I do see the rare person using an umbrella against the sun; It’s always someone of Asian ancestry. It always struck me as a brilliant idea, but I always forget to bring an umbrella when it’s hot out. It’s just not a practice I’m accustomed to I guess.

    Reply
    1. MJ

      According to Wikipedia: In the United States and Western Europe before about the 1920s, tanned skin was associated with the lower classes, because they worked outdoors and were exposed to the sunlight. Women went to great lengths to preserve pallid skin, as a sign of their “refinement”.

      That’s why they carried parasols.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Further back, centuries ago, Rubenesque ladies were considered attractive by some painters, and their patrons (I assume).

        Reply
        1. Divadab

          Who says people don’t like rubenesque women now? I do. Some prefer tomboys ; others prefer skinny brainiacs. Just because some precious persons in the fashion biz think they can dictate people’s preferences doesn’t mean anyone pays attention to them.

          De gustibus non disputandem est.

          Reply
          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Even then, some preferred one type over another (not all for one type). So, you had, and always have, diversity, as far as the body shape is concerned.

            Reply
    2. ewmayer

      A simple visor serves a similar purpose for me – takes up less room than an umbrella, no risk of getting broken, easily flattened and slipped into a pocket when not needed, unlike sunglasses covers the key facial real estate the eyes and without the drawbacks (lens-scratching, breakage and loss of peripheral vision) of sunglasses.

      Of course I live in dry CA – in places where sun alternates with rain, often with little warning, I can see the utility of always carrying a small folding umbrella.

      Reply
    3. The Rev Kev

      There is a cemetery down the road from where I live that have the first pioneers in them from over a century ago. The older stones have German writing on them from that era. Sometimes you will see a big funeral and you will see the older ladies with an umbrella up against the heat of the sun. I would guess that these old ladies are carrying on an idea that they themselves saw when they were young women back in the 1950s and 1960s.

      Reply
    4. clarky90

      Re; “We sweat, we get exhausted, we burn, and we expose ourselves to dangerous UV rays.”

      “Heat shock proteins (HSP) are a family of proteins that are produced by cells in response to exposure to stressful conditions. They were first described in relation to heat shock, but are now known to also be expressed during other stresses including exposure to cold, UV light and during wound healing or tissue remodeling. Many members of this group perform chaperone functions by stabilizing new proteins…..”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat_shock_protein

      Imo, it is important to consciously include heat shock into our daily lives. We humans evolved in an ever-changing environment. In the past, we never walked on flat, uniform surfaces. Some years we had plenty to eat, other years, not much. There were wet seasons and dry years……….hot or cold…

      Our demand that our lives be as “uneventful” as possible is wrong, debilitating and fear/anxiety inducing. Like all wild animals, we are better, outside.

      Sauna Use as an Exercise Mimetic for Heart and Healthspan
      Rhonda Patrick, Ph.D. at the heart summit 2019

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUnDkqjncSM

      Reply
    5. Procopius

      I see it in Thailand pretty often. Strangely, Thais rarely wear hats. The only time they do is when they’ve been in the monkhood (most Thai men spend two or three months as Buddhist monks while they’re in their early 20s, if they can) and they’ve shaved all their hair off.

      Reply
  6. Carolinian

    Re SC hydrology–the state has a fall line that runs diagonally through Columbia at the center of the state. Below that line marine fossils can be found because Columbia is where ocean waters once lapped. Something to think about in our AGW era, but the side is that those of us who live in the Piedmont will have a shorter drive to the beach.

    Reply
  7. Grant

    “24 percent of Biden’s supporters… aren’t considering any of the other candidates who participated in the debate.”

    You have to wonder what is going on between the ears with these people. Even if someone, god forbid, liked the younger Biden, you have to ask yourself, if he is in this position now, where will he be mentally in five years? Clearly these people either like or are indifferent to his horrific record, maybe like that Obama named him his VP, but I can’t see any good logic as to why to support him today. Maybe they just want a corrupt, right wing Democrat to change nothing, and the other corrupt right wing Democrats that would change nothing are not polling well.

    Reply
    1. pretzelattack

      i think they simply always assume voting for a democrat is better than voting for a republican, and biden (they have been told) is the most electable.

      Reply
    2. neo-realist

      I recall a comment a while back on NC from somebody who did some informal polling of sorts of people on the street in the Boston area or somewhere in NE I believe, who said there were a bunch of middle aged/older people who were supposedly well off who believed that the status quo was fine for the most part and all we need to do is tweak it a little bit, but nothing more. They strike me as the 24 percent of the Biden voters.

      Reply
      1. Henry Moon Pie

        The point of view is being pushed at DNC outlet DailyKos that dissent and dissatisfaction are signs of mental disease or personality defect:

        In other words, these people gravitate to and spread propaganda they may know is false, simply because they have an amorphous, probably undefinable, intent to destroy—to “bring everything down.” So dissatisfied are they with their own existences that they latch on to these computer-generated “memes,” these social media-hyped lies, for the most part, because they want to do damage and harm to others they perceive as more powerful, more privileged, more favored—and thus more important—than themselves.

        Those who dislike elites, perhaps because they’re not fans of endless war or ever-increasing GINI coefficients or declining life expectancy, are merely failed human beings who are envious of our meritorious betters.

        Didn’t the Soviet Union try this “you’d better tell us you love your s–t sandwich” approach with very limited success?

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Well . . . I would certainly like to see “Dartagnan” burn.

          Hey there, “Dartagnan” . . . if you read Cfdtrade and are reading this thread, I would like to see you burn, you beautiful thing you.

          Reply
        2. Darthbobber

          So need for chaos is what explains the massively mendacious output of establishment Democrats, spooks, and their bootlicking lackeys in the media? Seems more purpose driven than that to me. Though a burning world IS the logical outcome of leaving them in charge….

          Reply
        3. Librarian Guy

          ++ and thank you. Glad “Marko” is a fake left millionaire, has got his, and is telling the rest of us to “swallow”, like Biden’s wife did. Funny that anyone who trusted Kos circa 2003 would read or respect it 15 years later.

          Reply
          1. Hepativore

            Balloon Juice post-2015 is a pit of hatred and vitriol for anybody that does not tow the line of worshipping saints Hillary and Barack. As of now they spend most of their time heaping praise on establishment Democrats. Kamala Harris and Buttigieg have been annointed as the new chosen ones. Anybody who mentions Bernie Sanders is immediately hounded by DNC apologists and ad hominems.

            Pre-2015 Balloon Juice was actually a decent and relatively fair left-leaning blog. Since then the Clintonites have turned it into the political equivalent of Mordor.

            Reply
            1. Procopius

              If you’re willing to refrain from responding to the bile-filled denunciationsof “Wilmer” it can still be pretty good. Adam Silverman sometimes (often?) posts good stuff on national security, as does Cheryl Rofer, and I like Anne Laurie and John Cole. I made the mistake of objecting to RussiaRussiaRussia a couple of years ago and got some very hostile responses, but they didn’t seem to know the difference between Lenin and Trotsky, so I just laid low for a while and they lost interest in me. Oddly, it’s the only blog I read as regularly as NC.

              Reply
    3. Biph

      The better question would be is that high or low compared to other candidates? I would expect at least the top candidates to have some die hard supporters, I just don’t know what an average percentage for that is.

      Reply
      1. Grant

        I don’t know, but that isn’t the only question. I get what some have said above. Not tons of thought put into it by many, many are well off and completely lacking in empathy, all that. But, there are other people that would do what Biden would do, and they are more competent. Harris polls well versus Trump, and I would imagine that these polls mean something to those people. Even if the 50 year old version of Biden is their cup of tea, how in the hell is Biden now anything but a train wreck? If you really like this system and don’t want people to change it, you have to have the system work well enough so that lots of people don’t call for structural changes. Even if they want to keep the system largely as is, there are other candidates that would probably more effectively do what he would. I don’t care what the polls show, there is no way he beats Trump. He is not mentally competent to take part in a fight with Trump, nor can he effectively defend his atrocious record, and that will matter when it comes to the states the Democrats need to win. I don’t think he could hold up in a campaign, with all that it would demand of him. The national polls, even if they are accurate or reflect what might happen nationally in 2020, given the screwy nature of this system, Biden could get far more votes than Trump because he absolutely cleans house in states like California, and still lose because he can’t win key swing states. Think his record on things like trade won’t be a huge issue in swing states in the Midwest? People being turned off by both of those horrible choices, if it was Trump versus Biden, could result in Trump winning (again) because of a depressed turnout. You really have to put in far more mental work to just justify voting for him versus the other corrupt right wing Democrats. Seems to be a mixture of being economically privileged, ill informed about records and what will happen in this context if power is given to him and those that would pull his strings, and an incredibly poor and dated feel as far as what it takes to win elections in 2020. At least the other corrupt right wing Democrats know that they have to lie about their intentions. Looking at the mood of the country, there is not a worse candidate. I, personally, think that his role is to win enough votes to deny Bernie the nomination (as crazy as it is, it appears that if Biden dropped out, Bernie would benefit more than anyone else). For that reason, I think he will continue his dumpster fire of a campaign until the brokered convention, and then a compromise candidate like Warren will be chosen. And the superdelegates will only settle on someone like Warren if they are assured that someone like Bernie will not get the VP slot. The two parties running this system are horrific.

        Reply
        1. Dan

          “Harris polls well versus Trump,” (?)

          Yup, among IDpol Mercedes driving studio executives, Beverly Hills real estate tycoons, Wells Fargo executives, and senior legal partners looking for a third wife with a little spice thrown in.

          The average American is not going to vote for Kamala Harris.
          Trump wins easily against any appearance of her.

          Harris is an easy shortcut to political suicide for the Democratic Party.
          Bernie Sanders is the route to the white house and the tough policy
          choices of having to actually do something for the American People.

          Just one of the catastrophes she left behind as A.G. in California:
          http://www.capitolwatchdog.org/article/harris-lets-statute-limitations-san-onofre-lapse-defends-brown

          Ties in nicely with
          http://cfdtrade.info/2019/09/while-pge-played-cat-and-mouse-game-with-california-regulators-where-was-kamala.html

          Reply
          1. Darthbobber

            Right now, almost everybody with a ghost of a chance for the nomination polls we’ll against Trump. But we’re not holding the election right now. And her baggage can only become more apparent if she moves closer to center stage

            Reply
            1. Librarian Guy

              Thoroughly agree. The DNC wants a charismatic, faux Obama knockoff in hopes that the good times for the top tier MOTUs without an “embarrassing” senile and racist POTUS to lessen public respect for the Oligarchs government. They’re hoping Beto could be the White Obama or Kamala the female One . . . I don’t see it happening, though I have underestimated the American public’s stupidity (or pliability) in the past, I’ll admit.

              Reply
          2. Grant

            I don’t disagree with your assessment of Harris. To say the least, I am not a fan, think she would not do well versus Trump, and not because of her race or gender. She shares many of the problems we see with Biden and Clinton, in regards to corruption, policy and worldview. The polls, if I am not mistaken, show Bernie, Warren, Biden and Harris all doing well versus Trump nationally. Doing well in national polls that are somewhat suspect right now is different than doing well in needed key states a year from now. California is going to the Democrat, so I think states like that (especially given its size) or similar states on the right should maybe not be included in polls, or at least taken into account when these national poll results are given. And with candidates like Biden, Harris, and I would be willing to bet Warren, that lead could narrow a bit. They all have flaws Bernie doesn’t. If a recession hits, maybe not, maybe anyone in the other party with a pulse could win, which means that voting for someone like Biden makes even less sense. If we don’t get Bernie, we will regret it, that I am certain of. And by we, I mean working people, the poor, people on the left, communities of color, the young, people that don’t want to exist in the most inefficient healthcare system in the developed world, and humans that want to live on a habitable planet.

            Reply
  8. Seth Miller

    Re “crawled out of a garbage can.”

    Oscar the Grouch is my favorite Sesame Street puppet. There’s a whole line of internet pieces comparing Bernie to Oscar, e.g. http://www.oztimes.citychurchol.com/sanders-oscar-the-grouch-slam-the-count-for-disrespecting-ocasio-cortez/ ; https://www.theodysseyonline.com/bernie-sanders-oscar-grouch ;
    https://www.newtekjournalismukworld.com/robert-weller/category/sanders-the-grouch

    Sanders can use this to his advantage.

    Reply
    1. nippersmom

      The comment is about what I’d expect from The View, a group that seems to epitomize the preference for style over substance.

      Reply
      1. Drake

        My parents basically watch MSNBC, The View, and Colbert. Besides reruns of Gunsmoke and Maverick (or whatever), that’s all they dare to allow to filter in.

        They used to make fun of an acquaintance who watched Fox during the Obama years. I used to laugh along, thinking they were appalled that he would get worked up over propaganda all day. When Trump got elected I discovered that they were only appalled at which channel he had chosen.

        Reply
      2. The Rev Kev

        I have seen clips of the View and it is really the view of wealthy establishment figures. In 2016 they were Hilary Clinton voters. Having Meghan McCain give her thoughts should be the tell on what they are pushing but some of the things I have heard Whoopi Goldberg say shows that she has forgotten her origins and where she came from. Disappointing that.

        Reply
        1. Librarian Guy

          Didn’t they add a little Huntsman trust fund baby to their lineup for more “balance”– she and Meggerz are both ReThuglican Presidential (failed) candidate offspring . . . or maybe this was just Chapo Trap House satire sounding too credible?

          I would not watch that garbage and have to brain bleach cleanse afterwards.

          Reply
  9. NotTimothyGeithner

    Re: Harris being ready for a fight.

    Political campaigns are grinds, not fights, and outside of safe districts, there isn’t a clear path to horse trade.

    Reply
    1. Dan

      “Kamala Harris Was Ready to Ball From the Beginning”

      “the 38-year-old prosecutor, was bracing for questions about an uncomfortable topic: her relationship with the (67 year old, married for 30 years) mayor of San Francisco, Willie Brown. Harris’ consultant, Jim Stearns, had warned his candidate that her opponents would dredge up her ties to Brown… In the mid-1990s, Harris had dated Brown, who was investigated by the FBI when he was speaker of the California Assembly and as mayor was dogged by conflict of interest, and she had benefited from his political patronage. As the speaker of the state Assembly, Brown had named Harris to well-paid posts on the California Medical Assistance Commission and Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. As mayor of San Francisco in 2003, Brown was supportive of her district attorney campaign although they were no longer dating. Critics—including her opponents—were bemoaning cronyism at City Hall.”

      https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/01/24/kamala-harris-2020-history-224126

      Great role model for little girls, eh?

      Reply
        1. richard

          “I think you’re just what I (just what I needed!)”
          at every single party and kegger, the song i remember most
          never failed to raise the roof
          among us guitar face doofuses

          Reply
    1. Bugs Bunny

      “Life’s the same I’m moving in stereo
      Life’s the same except for my shoes
      Life’s the same you’re shakin’ like tremolo
      Life’s the same it’s all inside you…”

      Great lyrics. RIP

      Mentioned to a few millennials today. Blank stares.

      Reply
  10. shtove

    Checked in on Calculated Risk for the first time in ages – he’s got an update of Predicting The Next Recession: https://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2019/09/update-predicting-next-recession.html

    [CR 2019 Update: This was written in 2013 – and my prediction for no “recession for a few years” was correct. I’m still not on recession, and I don’t expect a recession in the immediate future (not in the next 12 months). ]

    Reply
  11. dearieme

    In elections yielding a popular vote margin within one percentage point … 40% will be inversions in expectation.

    Your Constitution provides an effective tie-breaker. You should be pleased with that.

    Reply
  12. lyman alpha blob

    If I remember right we had some talk here not too long ago about challenges to the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics. Just ran across this article about challenges to the big bang theory and specifically Guth’s inflation theory: https://undark.org/article/physicists-rewrite-origin-universe-inflation/

    The old adage is that science progresses one funeral at a time as the old guard dies off and new theories challenging the status quo get to be heard. The interesting thing here is that it’s one old guardian leading the charge – Roger Penrose.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      But if scientists can achieve immortality for the rich, and for themselves, then, does it mean that there will not be progresses (no funerals)?

      Immortality = end of science (as practiced by mortal humans)?

      Reply
    2. dearieme

      The old adage was investigated decades ago by a psychologist. He used the case of old physicists and the coming of quantum theory. He decided that they had mainly coped well in absorbing the new work.

      That was quite droll since the adage, phrased differently, is attributed to Planck.

      Reply
      1. Jack Parsons

        A whole lot of money was bet on getting physics right. A whole lot of money wants economics to say insane nonsense. Follow the money. In fields without a lot of money riding on it (anthropology, say) the dead scientist story holds.

        In fact, a really great history of science project would be to do all of the fields and chart which ones roll with the punches and which ones are naturally ossified.

        Reply
  13. PKMKII

    Agreed that armchair psych evaluations of politicians are problematic. However, given that liberals have spent the last 3-4 years constantly making hay out of Trump’s alleged lack of intelligence/senility/learning disabilities, it’s a very bad look for them to take Biden, who displays many of the same or comparable outward “tics,” and say that he’s the best choice. Especially as there’s a half dozen “qualified” centrists running in the primary at the moment; it’s not like they have no option other than Biden.

    Reply
    1. Drake

      Scott Adams, who I think provides some pretty sharp analysis, has declared the top 3 democrats (Biden, Sanders, Warren) unelectable and still thinks Harris will ultimately prevail (only to lose to Trump), because she’s only an unbelievably bad campaigner whose superficial flaws might still be fixed. Personally I think he’s overpessimistic about Warren and probably too optimistic about Harris righting her listing ship, but I think it will come down to one of the two women. Biden would be an epic mistake if allowed to continue, and Sanders will never get the nomination, so barring a deus ex machina it has to be one of them. Once Harris wins California I can see easily see it playing out along Adams’ line.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        It wouldn’t necessarily require a deus ex machina. In the right circumstances, it could require certain well-strategized perfectly-carried-out humanly possible actions.

        Under what right circumstances? Under the right circumstance that the First-Ballot-Committed delegate votes that both Warren and Sanders go to the Convention with . . . . add up together to at or more than the magic 51% needed to nominate a nominee on the First Ballot.

        And what would those perfectly-carried-out human actions be? Well, if the “right circumstance” I just described is discovered to definitely absolutely positively exist just before and right up to the very moment of the Convening of the Convention . . . the Decent Democrat with fewer First Ballot Delegate Votes herm’s own self could instruct herm’s delegates to all unanimously vote for the OTHER Decent Democrat, thereby adding the margin-making number of Delegates to the “bigger bloc” of Delegates for a Decent Democrat on the First Ballot.

        But only the First Ballot. The Second Ballot would be too late. Why? Because many of the delegates bound to vote for Warren or Sanders on the First Ballot . . . are released to vote for anyone they like on Ballots number Two-to-Infinity. And many of those delegates may fancy themselves to be clever wheeler-dealers who think they can get something for themSELVES and their cheap tawdry little political career . . .if they support the right Catfood Democrat on ballots number Two and Beyond.

        Reply
  14. David Carl Grimes

    Any reaction to Working Families’ endorsement of Warren?

    https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/16/politics/elizabeth-warren-working-families-party-endorsement/index.html

    Reply
      1. Massinissa

        Honestly I don’t think she should even be VP. One assassination and we get Warren? No thanks.

        A cabinet position should be good enough.

        Reply
        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          When you go to the doctor with cancer he doesn’t tell you “I’m only going to remove part of the tumor”.

          Elizabeth Rodham Warren must be excised entirely or the patient will die. Put the tumor in a jar and blast it with fire. Put the ashes in a bucket and fill the bucket with concrete. Then take the bucket and throw it down the deepest hole you can find. Appoint someone to stand by the hole to make sure nothing creeps out.

          Reply
          1. Librarian Guy

            +++++ on your medical metaphor. She would get my (worthless, purely symbolic) vote as a “lesser evil” candidate, which the remainder of the 8 Dwarves would not. But I would still retire a bit early and leave the country as I know it’s sunk even deeper into the impending doom and dissolution.

            Reply
      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Those who are Bernie or Bust should begin researching all the legally bulletproof ways that exist to Write Bernie In and make sure every such Write In is counted AS a Ballot for Bernie. Such study should begin now, including ongoing real-time scrutiny of all the dirty tricks the Catfood Enemy will use to create the most obscure and hidden requirements possible for how to write Bernie’s name in the exactly legally must-be-counted right way.

        Reply
        1. marym

          Requirements for write-in candidates

          Although a write-in candidate is not entitled to ballot placement, he or she may still be required to file paperwork in order to have his or her votes tallied (or to be eligible to serve should the candidate be elected).

          A total of 33 states require a write-in presidential candidate to file some paperwork in advance of an election. In nine states, write-in voting for presidential candidates is not permitted. The remaining states do not require presidential write-in candidates to file special paperwork before the election.

          Reply
    1. Adam

      My first reaction is that they seem mostly likely to continue stabbing themselves in the back before whomever they pair with even gets a chance.

      Reply
    2. Another Scott

      My guess is that there are three factors at work. Within the WFP, there are people who genuinely prefer Warren to Sanders on the issues. In addition, I think there is a tendency in some of the press to downplay the difference between the two of them, casting them both as progressives, but ignoring the very real policy differences between the two (see Lambert’s article this afternoon). Finally, there are a large number of women (especially white, middle age, professional women) for whom the number one issue in the election is getting a female president. I heard this directly in 2016 and again this year. In Massachusetts, this constituency has been the key one in Democratic primaries over the past five years, and I don’t envision this changing. I image that there are a number of these voters in the WFP.

      Reply
  15. XXYY

    “Warren’s latest anti-corruption plan would put strict new limits on lobbyist power”

    I don’t dislike Warren but a lot of her “plans” seem to fall in this category of (a) narrow regulatory improvements that (b) have no particular constituency behind them (let alone a popular movement) and will never be passed. Clinton also famously had a deskful of “plans” she was very proud of. It’s not difficult to sit and make a big list of tweaks to the existing US political system that would make sense to do if you had a magic wand. But why bother?

    They also seem like very small ball and rather quaint when we have another candidate proposing national healthcare, $16 trillion for green new deal, free college, canceling medical debt, nationalizing the electric grid, and a federal job guarantee (to name just a few proposals), all of which would still just be down payments on what’s needed to get the US back to first-world status.

    Reply
  16. notabanktoadie

    Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing.

    So you keep saying. But according to whom? Since I read this in the Bible:

    Alas, you who are longing for the day of the Lord,
    For what purpose will the day of the Lord be to you?
    It will be darkness and not light;
    As when a man flees from a lion
    And a bear meets him,
    Or goes home, leans his hand against the wall
    And a snake bites him.
    Will not the day of the Lord be darkness instead of light,
    Even gloom with no brightness in it?

    “I hate, I reject your festivals,
    Nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies.
    “Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings,
    I will not accept them;
    And I will not even look at the peace offerings of your fatlings.
    “Take away from Me the noise of your songs;
    I will not even listen to the sound of your harps.

    “But let justice roll down like waters
    And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
    Amos 5:18-24 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

    Reply
    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      love me some Amos. of course that’s the point: the rapture ain’t gonna be for those who think it’s for them

      Reply
  17. Expat2uruguay

    Richard Wolff, of democracy at work, has partnered up to create a new podcast named All Things Coop. I’ve listened to several episodes and I can recommend this one so far as my favorite.
    https://democracyatworkdc.com/2019/04/26/all-things-coop-podcast-episode-6/

    In this episode, members of [email protected] discuss the potential benefits of the Main Street Employment Act, which, among other things, enables the U.S. Small Business Administration to provide loan guarantees to small business and worker owned and operated cooperatives to purchase a firm which is going out of business. The SBA is gathering information how to improve the ability of worker owned and operated coops to purchase these businesses. The podcast identifies key changes which will improve the ability of cooperatives to participate in this process known as “conversion.”

    Reply
  18. Jeff W

    “No carbon-based fuel required.”

    Huh? Aren’t all those weeds the goats are eating “carbon-based”? I kind of had this kooky idea that all life (on Earth, at least) is carbon-based.

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      Yup. Just like calling things organic. They’re organic if they contain carbon, according to what I learned in chemistry.

      As for the goats and their eating habits, did you know that they willingly chow down on poison ivy? If you ever need that stuff cleared out, hire some goats.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        In chemistry, “organic” means based on carbon chains, rings, links . . . or their components, like methane, which is not a chain itself, but any number of which can be linked into longer carbon chain compounds. Calcium carbonate contains carbon, but Calcium carbonate is IN-organic.

        In agriculture, “organic”, especially “certified organic” has its own specific meaning which has now been codified in the Federal Takeover Organic Law. So that special community meaning is also fixed and explainably understandable in its own context.

        Reply
  19. Expat2uruguay

    Personally, I love podcasts and things I can listen to while I cook, go on long walks, and do calisthenics / stretches. My latest email from the Black Agenda Report had a whole bunch of stuff from their Radio Show featuring one of our favorite authors here Glen Ford. I haven’t listened to this yet but I wanted to pass it along for other people who enjoy audio content.

    Black Agenda Radio for Week of September 16, 2019
    Black Agenda Radio with Nellie Bailey and Glen Ford
    Police Killings of Blacks Explode in Bolsonaro’s Brazil / Blacks Pay
    High Price for Bad Healthcare / US Schools are a “Carceral” and
    “Punitive Landscape”

    Police Killings of Blacks Explode in Bolsonaro’s Brazil
    Black Agenda Radio with Nellie Bailey and Glen Ford
    In just three months, police in Rio de Janeiro killed 434 people, most of them young Black men. Joao Costa Vargas, professor of anthropology at the University of California at Riverside and author of “The Denial of Anti-Blackness,” blames President Jair Bolsonaro, who claimed that the former Workers Party government was “too weak on crime,” and promised that he would make Brazil “white again.” Bolsonaro is often called “Brazil’s Trump.”

    Blacks Pay High Price for Bad Healthcare
    Black Agenda Radio with Nellie Bailey and Glen Ford
    Dr Leslie Hinkson, author of “Subprime Health: Debt and Race in US Medicine,” said Black people “get bad care, and that not only leads to further undermining of their health, but they also ultimately wind up having to pay more for it.”

    US Schools are a “Carceral” and “Punitive Landscape”
    Black Agenda Radio with Nellie Bailey and Glen Ford
    For students of color in the US, schooling has long been a “carceral condition,” said Connie Wun, a researcher and advocate for women and girls, who wrote an influential article titled, “Racialized and Gendered Violence Permeates School Discipline.” “We now have to think about the architecture of the school as a punitive landscape where students are subjected to surveillance cameras” and more police on campus,” said Wun.

    https://www.blackagendareport.com/black-agenda-radio-week-september-16-2019

    Reply
  20. ChrisPacific

    I remember watching ’13 Reasons’ and wondering what world these kids lived in where this kind of thing was all normal. I recognized elements of it but the whole toxic combination of all of them didn’t match anything I’d ever seen or heard about.

    Then I listened to the descriptions of the elite high school culture in the Kavanaugh hearings and read the perspectives on it at places like SST, including the ones celebrating it (especially the ones celebrating it) and it all started to make a lot more sense.

    Reply
  21. ewmayer

    The Bezzle: “The FBI is investigating a venture capital fund started by Peter Thiel for financial misconduct” [Recode] — This is one of those rare times where I actually wish the global infotainment evilcorp known as Disney were even bigger than it is. Specifically, if Disney owned the rights to Tolkien’s literary estate you can bet they would’ve sued the pants off Peter “Mouth of Sauron” Thiel by now for appropriation of multiple Tolkien “brands” (Palantir, Mithril) in his commercial ventures. This creep is so evil all of his ventures would more aptly be lumped under the alternative Tolkienesque rubric “MordorCorp”.

    Reply
  22. dcblogger

    Just finished Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins, highly recommended

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySefPIZaYT0

    Reply
  23. mraymondtorres

    Re Americans are not using umbrellas as they were intended

    No.

    Para sol is Spanish. French would be arrete soleil. WTF?

    So basic. One wonders what else the author gets wrong…

    Reply
    1. marym

      English borrowed from French…going back to Middle French, borrowed from Italian parasole…

      https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/parasol

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        From your link: ” Italian parasole, from para “(it) shields, keeps out” ”

        My wrong guess is just below, once it posts. I was half right: “para-” does not mean “stop” – in French.

        Reply
  24. Phillip Allen

    For some reason I am not seeing any Twitter links. This has been the case for several days. Is anyone else having this issue?

    For example, all I see is:

    UPDATE Sanders (D)(3): Advance work counts:

    Two good things the advance team took care of. Can you spot them?

    I am reading NC via Firefox under Windows 10.

    Thanks for any assistance anyone can provide.

    Reply
  25. Synapsid

    mraymondtorres,

    Beat me to it. Thanks.

    Shame on you Lambert Strether. That’s what living in New England will do for you.

    Reply
  26. Wombat

    Let’s be wary about Biden’s potential dementia. When he inevitably drops out after Super Tuesday, Biden will advocate for passing the torch to the younger generation (harris, buttigieg). The gloves will be off, and MSM hounding of Sander’s age will begin in earnest like clockwork. Nevermind that Sanders is sharper, wittier, better-focused, and youth-supported than the rest of that field. It won’t matter- the manufactured horror at old age will begin once Biden is no longer around.

    Reply
  27. richard

    This is indeed a very bounteous water cooler!
    I am still working on the sanders advance work picture puzzle
    is it supposed to be a before/after?
    if so, I see they got the hoop out of the way, but I can’t tell what the other thing is

    Reply
  28. RMO

    “For the First Time in My Life I’m Against Impeaching the President” [David Swanson”

    I read the piece hoping for clarification – is he saying he has been in favor of impeaching every U.S. President that has held office in his lifetime (which is a supportable position after all) or is this simply poor writing, and he meant this is the first time he hasn’t been in favor of impeaching Donald Trump? Sadly, no clarification was forthcoming.

    Reply
    1. HotFlash

      Well, maybe not *every* president. A bit of duck duck go yielded this:

      Impeach Obama here: http://davidswanson.org/remaking-the-world-from-madison-wisconsin/

      Impeach Bush (and Cheney) here: http://davidswanson.org/op-ed-california-can-impeach-bush-and-cheney-pch-press/

      No results for “Impeach Clinton”

      Reply
  29. Oregoncharles

    ” The origin of the word “parasol” comes from the French ‘para,’ for ‘stop,’ and ‘sol,’ for sun.”

    “Sol” is sun, for sure, but does “para” really mean “stop”? My French was a long time ago, but I think it’s the same as English: ” “at or to one side of, beside, side by side”.

    Reply
  30. Acacia

    Hmm… looks like Gabbard has fired a shot across the bow:

    Tulsi Gabbard Sparks Tweetalanche After Accusing Trump of ‘Acting Like Saudi Arabia’s B****’

    Reply
  31. Jack Parsons

    Mithril!

    “You see, if you give us your money and we don’t do anything with it, we charge you. But we charge you less than those negative interest rate bonds.”

    Man, there is a sucker born every minute.

    Reply

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