Links 12/5/16

RBS agrees to $1 billion payout over 2008 fundraising case Reuters. And nobody goes to jail, because impunity.

Desperately Searching For A New Strategy Tim Duy’s Fed Watch

US health care tab hits $3.2T; fastest growth in 8 years AP. So, we bent the cost curve!

Derailing the NHS LRB. Because markets.

Ignored building codes at center of Oakland warehouse fire talks PBS. The flip side of gentrification.

Facebook post from leader of Oakland warehouse artist collective sparks controversy East Bay Times

Inside Russia’s Creepy, Innovative Internet Bloomberg. I see Dmitry has friends at Bloomberg, too!

The New McCarthyism

McCarthyism 2.0 against the independent information the unbalanced evolution of homo sapiens

I’m on the ‘professor watchlist.’ It’s a ploy to undermine free speech Guardian

Facebook’s Walled Wonderland Is Inherently Incompatible With News Medium (Furzy Mouse).

Google, democracy and the truth about internet search Guardian

Spread of Fake News Provokes Anxiety in Italy NYT. “[C]oncern that fake news circulated over social media….” As opposed to, say, Iraq WMDs, which was fake news circulated by the New York Times.

Gunman goes to pizzeria to ‘investigate’ election-related conspiracy theory, police say McClatchy

Europe?

Matteo Renzi steps down as prime minister after defeat in crucial Italian referendum Telegraph

The casualties of Italy’s referendum result FT and from last week: Fears mount of multiple bank failures if Renzi loses referendum FT. Richard Smith: “Strikingly glum.”

Austria center-left presidential candidate deals blow to populists MarketWatch

Brexit?

Government memo demanding end to Brexit leaks is leaked Guardian (RS).

Syraqistan

Rebels defiant as Syrian army nears Aleppo’s Old City Reuters

Our Syrian Rebels Are Issuing Threats Via WaPo emptywheel

Recapture of Mosul ‘possible’ before next U.S. administration: Pentagon chief Reuters

Devastating Cholera Outbreak in War-torn Yemen The Disease Daily

Erdogan wants Turkey’s trade with Iran, Russia, China in local currencies Middle East Eye

Popular New Zealand Prime Minister John Key calls it quits AFP

Thousands of Brazilians Call for Graft Probe WSJ

#NoDAPL

Protesters cheer as feds push pause on final Dakota Access pipeline link Star-Tribune

DAPL Easement Denied The Writing of John Laurits

My Trip to Standing Rock: Bravery, Beauty and Rubber Bullets Rolling Stone (MR).

Veterans Travel to Standing Rock to Join Protesters, Lend Aid Military.com. A bit stale, but good sourcing.

Decades after Chernobyl disaster, engineers slide high-tech shelter over reactor Ars Technica. Please. No email server jokes!

Trump Transition

Trump assembles a Strategic and Policy Forum to better hear the 1% Fabius Maximus

New York Groups That Backed Bernie Sanders Join Forces WSJ

Foreclosing on a 90-Year-Old Woman over 27 Cents and Other Heartwarming Tales from Steven Mnuchin’s Days at OneWest Vanity Fair. Important.

Steven Mnuchin Says U.S. Growth Can Be 3% to 4%. Here’s Why That’s Hard WSJ. Not easy at 27 cents a pop…

Trump criticises Beijing in defence of call with Taiwan’s leader FT

Trumps talks with Taiwan President: Tsai Ing-wen calls Donald, Western media flips out YouTube. Taiwan animators throw gasoline on the flames…

Exxon CEO Now a Contender for Donald Trump’s Secretary of State WSJ

Donald Trump steps up warnings to US business over offshoring FT

U.S. defense elite rally behind Trump’s unusual Pentagon pick Reuters

Local Pantsuit Nation, ‘It’s not a Hillary fan club’ LEO Weekly

2016 Post Mortem

Why Hillary Clinton Lost Zach Carter, HuffPo.

There are three possible choices to be made in the logical universe in which a political party is running a fascist campaign. People can 1) join the fascists, 2) lose to the fascists or 3) defeat the fascists. The Clinton campaign wants credit for not choosing door No. 1. Their job was to make option three a reality. History will remember them for number two.

As Atrios said: You had one job.

Mook: Clinton’s ‘deplorables’ comment ‘definitely could have alienated’ voters CNN. “Definitely could have.” Classic Beltway-speak.

Race, Misogyny, and Election 2016 Alice Marshall, Medium

Identity politics vs. populist economics? It’s a false choice – liberals need to look in the mirror Salon

Putin didn’t undermine the election. We did. WaPo

Recount results – Day Four WBAY. Wisconsin.

Judge orders Michigan presidential recount to begin at noon Monday Detroit News

Jill Stein says she’ll ‘escalate’ Pennsylvania recount case after earlier plans to drop it CNN

Rural Democrats: Party Ignored Us, Suffered the Consequences Roll Call

Four Million Commutes Reveal New U.S. ‘Megaregions’ National Geographic

Guillotine Watch

Jeff Koons Isn’t Worried About His $9,000 Shattered Balloon Dog Vanity Fair

Class Warfare

An econ theory, falsified Noahpinion

Five myths about the decline and fall of Rome WaPo

The End of the American Century The Archdruid Report

Welcome to the World of Software Defined Radio Robert Putt. Keen!

Antidote du jour (via):

whale_shark

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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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.

178 comments

  1. UserFriendly

    Post responded to consortium news on propornot

    WPost Won’t Retract McCarthyistic Smear

    https://consortiumnews.com/2016/12/05/wpost-wont-retract-mccarthyistic-smear/

    The reply came from the newspaper’s vice president for public relations, Kristine Coratti Kelly, who thanked me “for reaching out to us” before presenting the Post’s response, quoted here in full:

    “The Post reported on the work of four separate sets of researchers, as well as independent experts, who have examined Russian attempts to influence American democracy. PropOrNot was one. The Post did not name any of the sites on PropOrNot’s list of organizations that it said had — wittingly or unwittingly — published or echoed Russian propaganda. The Post reviewed PropOrNot’s findings and our questions about them were answered satisfactorily during the course of multiple interviews.”

    1. Yves Smith

      That sort of response is probably their first round of defense regardless, but all Consortium News sent was a petition, not a letter from an attorney with a litigation hold attachment. And this is not an idle threat. But we anticipate we’ll have to go a few rounds before they realize we are not bluffing.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Show no mercy.

        What’s the phrase you and Lambert have been throwing around? “Kill it with Fire!”.

        I prefer to “Blast them like it’s a b-grade zombie apocalypse movie.” But, hey, it’s semantics, really.

  2. integer

    Re: Putin didn’t undermine the election. We did. WaPo

    “We didn’t really learn anything from the hacked DNC emails or Podesta emails that we didn’t already know.”

    Still the same old Washington Post.
    I suppose if they are referring to themselves (“We didn’t really learn anything”) it makes sense as they never do, but in the context of the piece it is clear it is the royal “we”. I will just say that Stu Eisenstat’s emails are pretty damn interesting, among many others. Lots to learn for those who are that way inclined.

    1. Jeff N

      this event just frustrates me so much… “See? This is why we need to block news! Otherwise you’ll get shot while enjoying your pizza!”

    2. ggm

      Flynn never tweeted anything about Comet Pizza. That’s just more anti-social-media propaganda from a usual source.

    3. DarkMatters

      So the perp pulls a gun and shoots the floor? Can someone to whom this makes sense explain what this supposedly”radicalized” individual was thinking? Is this another example of the deductive logic sequence, “Because false news makes people crazy, anything can happen without agency.”

      1. Gavin

        Another interesting link with lots of analysis based in reality instead of fantasy regarding Trump’s Taiwan discussion.. thought everyone would like to read it.

        Stronger foreign policy towards China is, to me at least, something that has been coming for a long time.

        The link describes [among other things] China’s method of slowly shifting the goalposts of conversation — witness their willingness to build islands where none existed before and then claim naval territory based on those manmade islands.

        1. witters

          Yeah. Stronger Foreign Policy towards that Great Expansionist Power, China. Really, Really Good Idea! Exception(alist), in fact.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          To pivot towards China, it’s better

          1. you stabilize your home turf and your relationships with your neighbors.

          2. Have Russia on your side, or at least neutral…and not the alternative of Sino-Russian cooperation

          3. Not involving a bystander. Don’t try to hit back at the USSR via Vietnam, or China through Taiwan. It’s their own internal affairs.

          4 Remember, China can telephone DAPL protesters or any Native American sovereign leaders.

  3. Chromex

    ” People can 1) join the fascists, 2) lose to the fascists or 3) defeat the fascists. The Clinton campaign wants credit for not choosing door No. 1. Their job was to make option three a reality. History will remember them for number two.”
    Um what if, as in this case, both parties under discussion were running a fascist campaign? This lets the dems off too easily. Obama moved the country well down the fascist road with his persecution of whistleblowers, his summary executions of American citizens he deemed guilty, his advocacy of expansive powers for the NSA and Homeland Security, his toadying for BP oil by eating shrimp during the massive oil spill and other fascist iterations too numerous to mention. Hillary, publicly advocated for a continuation of this. And the number of fascist republicans who publicly endorsed Hillary is well known. She paraded the fascist war criminal Henry Kissinger before us in her campaign as if her association with him was an asset, People looking for an alternative to slow death may have thought Trump would get there faster but the Democrats have no basis to suggest they offered an alternative to fascism. It was Cthulhu v Cthulhu as far as I was concerned. I am mad that Cthulhu won but happy Cthulhu lost. Nothing will change until the Dems get it through their heads that catering to the rulers is the province of Fascists and the Dems made their bones by being the voice of the people ( and not just calling on past times when the Dems actually WERE the voice of the people without any substantive difference from the fascists except being moved up or down the timetable). As far as I am concerned , the Dems chose door number 1 long ago.

    1. geoff

      Absolutely and thanks for pointing out the obvious. There aren’t any Dems in the DNC or Congress who even remember ever BEING “the voice of the people” as most of the “successful” ones have followed the neoliberal economic policy/ neoconservative foreign policy course of Carter and Clinton for the last forty years.

      I’m very surprised that President Obama hasn’t been called out more in the Democratic “blame game”. His commitment to austerity alone could have cost Clinton the election.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Democrats are afraid of challenging Obama who had henchmen label the left as racists, but part of the Hillary calculus revolved around fixing a mistake by turning back the clock to the good Ole days before Obama. Team Blue elites aren’t exceptionally bright. I like Al Franken, but frankly, it’s embarrassing he went to Congress and became a wonk immediately because everyone else is so stupid despite years of experience.

      2. Elizabeth Burton

        You can’t really expect anyone to call out Obama when the propaganda machine is pummeling people day and night with his “fantastic economic recovery” and pushing the rhetoric about those millions of jobs. I literally had someone who idolizes St. Barack tell me yesterday so what if most of the jobs are low-pay and/or part-time—they’re jobs, and people should be grateful to have them.

        Well, okay, that last part was more implied, but y’all get the idea. The propaganda machine has imbedded cognitive dissonance deep, and it’s going to take a massive effort to get past it.

    2. TK421

      A pro-corporate warmonger who believes herself to be above the law is not what I would call an antidote to fascism, either.

    3. nippersmom

      Thank you. I’m very tired of Democrats screaming “fascism” when Republicans pursue agendas/enact policies, but remaining silent or offering ridiculous justifications when their own party engages in precisely the same activities.

      1. Portia

        yeah, like “the Republicans are so much worse, MORE evil, vote for Dems, the lesser evil”. As long as the Repubs are worse, no changes needed.

      2. Inode_buddha

        As if the Republicans don’t do the exact same thing. As a former Republican I can say that they are completely un-self-aware. Its OK when *they* do it, because a distinction without a difference is still a distinction that requires weeks of punditry and deep thinking. Well, at least its deep for them.

    4. David

      They might also 4) continue to fight said fascists by every means even after losing the election, through mass political campaigning and activism, as Clinton has so conspicuously been doing. Oh, wait. Or maybe the whole “fascist” thing was never serious after all.

    5. Code Name D

      Also agreed. Let’s not forget about the intigraion of the media, party offichals, and stae election offices under one roof. Even having the power to select Trump for the Republican pick, tailoring the primay scedual, and even the superdeligates.

      To me, the Democrats are far more fashist than Trump ever was.

  4. Jim Haygood

    E-wavers say bull markets unfold in five waves: (1) up, (2) down, (3) big up, (4) down, up, down, (5) up to the crest. Here’s how those waves played out over 34 years:

    (start) (Aug 1982) Dow 777

    (1) (Aug 1987) Dow 2,722
    ……multiple from (start): 3.504X

    (2) (Oct 1987) Dow 1,739
    ……multiple from (1): 0.639X

    (3) (Jan 2000) Dow 11,723
    ……multiple from (2): 6.742X

    (4a) (Oct 2002) Dow 7,286
    ……multiple from (3): 0.622X

    (4b) (Oct 2007) Dow 14,165
    ……multiple from (4a): 1.944X

    (4c) (Mar 2009) Dow 6,547
    ……multiple from (4b): 0.462X

    (5) (~ 2017) Dow 22,942
    ……multiple from (4c): 3.504X [same as wave (1)]

    In duration, wave (5) is a Fibonacci 1.6 times the five years of wave (1), or eight years.

    None of this is to be taken literally. It’s an abstract math game; reality always begs to differ. But it’s as good a guess as any. :-)

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      A hypothesis should explain the cause-effect relationship.

      For example,why investors or gamblers behave like Fibonacci or his sequence?

      1. Jim Haygood

        Theory is that markets are a natural process incorporating Fibonacci proportions, like the Fibo patterns of sunflowers, pineapples, and pine cones, not to mention the human body.

        Meanwhile the Dow’s at a record 19,264 this morning. As ol’ Robert Plant used to sing, “We’re gonna groove … lawdy momma yeah.

        1. Synoia

          What, still using classical linear mathematics to try to explain a chaotic system?

          Fibonacci may explain some of the growth phases (greed), but not the sudden collapses (fear).

          It is not clear if growth follows a Fibonacci, a double exponential, or some derivation of the Julia set.

          The problem with this curve/algorithm fitting is that it only works until it does not. And the Not part of the curve fitting is always unexpected (which is a prediction of chaos theory).

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          There are many natural processes, some fit and some don’t fit the Fibonacci sequence, up to a point (the sequence is infinite, but sunflower seeds are finite in any one flower).

          But why do they?

          If we know, then, we can say which natural processes will follow, and which won’t.

        3. hunkerdown

          “Theory is that markets are a natural process”

          If astrology works, I suppose this can too.

  5. Jim Haygood

    You never like to see anything go to waste, but that [$9,000 ‘limited edition’ balloon dog] can be re-created.” — Jeff Koons

    Said in the true spirit of the late Thomas Kinkade. Destroy one item of a limited edition, and the value of the rest should … GO UP!

    Wonder whether Jeff makes snow globes for Christmas. Kinkade’s just blowing him away in this vital market segment.

    1. UserFriendly

      I personally don’t have a dog in that fight but I know some servers that like the tipping system. They have told me it helps them stay motivated, and the few that have worked at tipped and not tipped have preferred the tipped. Small sample though.

      1. Foppe

        I’m sure some do, but why should waiters bear part of the cost every time there is a slow day? It really makes no sense to me that part of the money you get paid to show up for work should only be paid to you if people show up to consume shit.

          1. aab

            A lot of tipped servers end up making less than minimum wage, because they start from a lower than minimum wage base pay.

            Looked at broadly, most servers do not benefit from the current system, because of the lower base pay, because they suffer due to no action of their own (slow days, nepotism/favoritism/ sexual harassment driving who gets the good shifts, etc., wait staff punished via loss of tip for management and/or food prep problems), wage theft being even easier when some of it is in the form of tips, and on and on.

            There will always some subset of people who thrive even in a terrible system. Look at modern crony capitalism. The Clintons, Jamie Dimon, Rahm and Ari Emmanuel — they have all thrived in the current system. Does that mean we should keep it?

            This notion that pampered twentysomethings won’t work without tips needs to die in a fire. Nobody working an hourly job in their twenties now — whether they are in a tipped position or not — is a special snowflake who needs to be bribed with extra cash to work, as if without tip income, they’ll retire to their yacht off the Hamptons. If restaurants are not offering a good enough wage to work Friday nights, the better way to handle this is to offer a better wage. I thought price transparency was supposed to be one of the benefits of capitalism.

            1. UserFriendly

              They should do it like Cali where they still get the same minimum wage as everyone else. Raise the floor, it’s not like being a server has that high of a ceiling, if rich people want to tip too much it might as well go to college kids. If they got paid by the wage Friday and Saturday would be the busiest and thus the least desireable to work, leaving the least senior staff on duty and a huge incentive to call out.

          2. Foppe

            Work is work, money is money, and given that they also work under current rules, I don’t see why they wouldn’t under different ones, propaganda aside. That said, I wasn’t arguing for ‘no tips’; I was thinking of a system where you make a decent wage, plus tips (5-10% of the bill, as in Europe).

  6. Jim Haygood

    The Green Party’s ludicrosity [sic] goes cosmic:

    Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein said early Sunday she would “escalate” her statewide recount efforts in Pennsylvania through a federal lawsuit, after announcing she would drop it.

    Article II of the US constitution confers plenary power on state legislatures in federal elections. The handle for federal intervention in Bush v. Gore was the Amendment XIV equal protection clause. Specifically, the court found different standards of counting in different counties, including the infamous hanging chads.

    Jill Stein has adduced no such evidence in the great state of Pennsylvania. She’s gonna be summarily turned away at the federal courthouse door. Wish I could be there to hurl Solanums lycopersicums [tomatoes] at her august personage.

    1. Bullwinkle

      I hope time proves you right JH. I still don’t understand how a Federal judge has any jurisdiction in these recount cases. On another note, Judge Goldsmith, the judge with his midnight ruling in Michigan, is an Obama appointee.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette can and should appeal to the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati.

        Believe they would swat down Goldsmith’s intrusion in short order.

    2. Code Name D

      I am a bit confused with the whole JS-recount afair (links welcome). I resently atended a lecture given by an activist. And she said the real problem was the lack of data for stistical analises. Their is no way to tell if an election was rigged or not simply by looking at the data.

      She said she had some hypothises about how one might go about rigging an election. One was called “aportioning”. Voting for canidate A only counted for 90% of one vote, while a vote for B would get you 110%. If she can get hard data, she might be able to prove or disprove this and other hypothisis. But gettng that data is proving to be near imposible. (At least with her given resorces.)

      JS effort could give her the data she needs, giving us more power to detect election rigging.

      1. Eureka Springs

        Any effort is welcome at this point. If only to demonstrate to so many who are paying attention with a 2 million plus popular vote losing this election (if one believes the machines/count/results as given) how impossible, anti democratic, anti transparent the whole process is.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          So a private individual who can crowdsource enough funds to demand a recount in selective states because they didn’t like the outcome should throw a national election into disarray? I can’t wait until a few dozen more people get this idea, maybe Hitler Putin will put up his own effort.
          The electoral and voting systems in the US are badly broken but surely this is not the way to fix the problems.

            1. Code Name D

              Kansas has paper ballots. But only the candidates have standing to call for a recount and thus only have access to the ballots. Until this particular activist found a candidate that wanted a recount – and suddenly they don’t have access to the ballots that way either. (Still not sure how the courts swing that one.)

              What’s the point of paper ballots if the public doesn’t have access to them?

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                Everyone is equal.

                Candidates are more equal than voters.

                Only they can ask for recounts.

      2. a different chris

        >JS effort could give her the data she needs

        Or more likely expose the fact that the system is carefully configured to not have that data. This type of thing could shock the little people enough – remember, everybody across the political spectrum is always astonished that the other guy gets any votes at all – that it would actually bring them together on this one issue and make the next two years pretty darn interesting.

        Some people seem to think that “Jill Stein isn’t going to accomplish what she says she is” is why she should stop what she is doing and act like a normal loser Political Adult. But her failure to simply audit the votes in a couple of states given 7 million dollars will be a way, way bigger story than whether Hillary was somewhat gypped or not. Because if you can’t tell, the fact that you happened to be on the winning side this time is very little solace.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          If she can’t get a hand count, out in the open, if she can’t the data she needs, do the recounts simply legitimize the status quo voting counting systems in those 3 states?

  7. frosty zoom

    uh, hi.

    hey, just kinda wonderin’ why you’ve got links to the washington post [sic]?

    seems to me i’d want my fish’n’chips wrapped in less greasy paper..

  8. cripes

    Has anyone had the opportunity to review 2017 marketplace plans? In COOK county anyway, they’re effing terrible. Expensive, narrow networks, with “silver” PPO plans priced more than gold. Only laughable HMO’s except for the wealthy. 12,000+ before you get healthcare for many. No wonder trump trumped hillary.

    On the comet@pizza deal, I will not link or quote sources, but anyone interested should start with wiki’s podesta emails, Washington’s 49th most influential James Alefantis’ (preserved) tweets, pics of the “art” in the creepy place, and videos of their favorite house band with “majestic ape” and “heavy breathing”
    It’s not pretty, there’s plenty of smoke, and the uncontroversial facts are bad enough without speculation. It would irresponsible not to speculate, but I won’t.

    1. Vatch

      Gosh, who cares about Cook County? It’s not even the most populous county in the U.S.!

      (it’s the second most populous, hence, sarcasm)

      1. Cripes

        Vatch:

        Yeah, I was born and lived majority of my life in Manhattan.
        Not sure which is worse, chicago’s embarrassing inferiority comple, new yorker’s insularity or LA’s insufferable navel gazing.

        I’m sure resident’s of counties large and small have sticker shock, too. Hence my question.

      1. Pat

        Well not exactly, the insurance companies made sure to get their improvements of Romneycare written in during the sausage making that was ACA. Too bad those interested in people getting healthcare were not as efficient and had less access to the writing of the bill and the rules.

      2. UserFriendly

        Every once in a while I use YouGov to see just how aware people are. They let you write up your opinion on things and have others vote and comment on it. I was shocked that more than 1 in 3 get it about Obamacare.
        http://imgur.com/a/SJi1W

        Obamacare is a horrible Republican idea from a horrible right wing president.. Every other country in the world that pays a fraction of what we do, covers all their citizens, and has better outcomes for patients. We have a parasitic private sector that profits on sick people and uses that profit to buy off politicians so that they can keep making money. The only government run health insurance we have is medicare and medicaid, they work fine.

        By far the most written comments I’ve gotten on one of these and almost all going something like “What it was all Dem Votes?!?” But a good comment or two does happen:

        Thank you GOD. there are still humans in America. Robots need to stop running this country and let humans handle it.

        and

        The tragedy is that after years of propaganda demonizing Obamacare, the right wingers are stone cold incapable of any rational discussion of any model of better healthcare delivery should be. So many other countries do a far better job because the government acts for the people. Why do right wingers bother electing people to an institution they bad mouth at every turn as ‘get the government out of my life’ because it can’t be trusted to do anything right? Profit-makers rub hands in glee.

    2. Lemmy

      My ACA plan premiums went up 25% this year to $504 and my spouse’s went up as well, so we’re looking hard at an alternative from Lloyd’s of London. It’s a non-compliant, 11-month short-term plan with either a $2,500 or $5,000 deductible. Once you hit the deductible, the plan covers everything up to $1,000,000. Up to the deductible, however, you’re on the hook for everything including routine physical, screenings. etc. The monthly premium for the $5,000 deductible is $256, and even adding in the out-of-pocket cost of annual physicals, two other office visits and the cost of 1-month short-term coverage for next December, we still come out way ahead. Between the two of us, we’ll save about $5,000 between us for the 2017. Even if we get hit with a tax penalty, (which I don’t think we will, because our combined ACA premiums would be more than 8% of our adjusted gross income), we would still come out about $3,700 ahead.
      It’s risky, for sure, but we just can not afford to pay an unsubsidized $940+ per month for crappy Bronze ACA plan.
      What a great country! (ht Yakov Smirnov)

      1. kareninca

        Does the Lloyd’s policy cover pre-existing conditions??
        I guess you would be using the Lloyd’s policy as a catastrophic policy and then if a pre-existing condition item (which it doesn’t cover) comes up you would switch to Obamacare?

        1. Lemmy

          No, it doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions, so you would be responsible for those costs. In my case, I do have a pre-existing condition, but it’s a mild thyroid condition that costs less than $100 a year in prescription meds to treat, so it’s no a big deal to pay that out of my own pocket. More serious pre-existing conditions would be a deal killer, however.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        What happens after the $1,000,000?

        Is it too chicken-little to ask that, given the way they run our hospitals?

        1. Lemmy

          It’s a $1 million cap, so they pay nothing after you hit it — similar to the caps that policies used to have before the ACA. Essentially, if you get sick and your treatments exceed $1 million, then you are f*cked … but you will be thanked for playing an exciting round of Healthcare Roulette.

    3. annie moose

      “It’s not pretty, there’s plenty of smoke, and the uncontroversial facts are bad enough without speculation. It would irresponsible not to speculate, but I won’t.”

      How can a fact be controversial it either is true or it is not. Someone will end up getting killed over this nonsense, please stop spreading it.

      1. witters

        As a point of clarification. Facts are facts – they are not true or false. Statements of facts (propositions, assertions) are true or false. Roughly, the world is as it is and as it is not. Claims about what is and is not the way the world is may be true or false. Knowing that such claims ARE true or false is knowledge.

    1. Cripes

      Trump probably thinks HUD’s a job for black “folks”
      His idea of diversity.
      Would you hire a candidate who tells you he’s not qualified for the job?
      Personally, I’d believe him.

      1. epynonymous

        Isn’t HUD just a way to fit another black in the cabinet?

        Isn’t it a way of blaming minorities for situations caused by un-equal hiring, law enforcement, and banker’s doing stealth segregation through red-lining?

        Carson is/was controlled by a private firm with government ties. I believe it was called Eclipse.

        Why blame Trump? It’s like he’s trying to build a party. Also, let’s not fall into the trap of thinking Carson’s a Republican.

        He is the R party’s official black friend.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        For him to work there, it must be mutual.

        If Carson thinks he can help, he will take the job; If he doesn’t think it’s for him, he will refuse.

        1. craazyboy

          We can review the R debates for some clue. Here’s

          “FIRST REPUBLICAN DEBATE HIGHLIGHTS: 2015” — A Bad Lip Reading of The Republican Debate

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufGlBv8Z3NU

          Keep anything spillable far away before watching. Carson was sort of there, and the funniest, IMO. Also some hot shots of Megyn Kelly before she decided to cut her hair off!

        1. Jim Haygood

          Me too.

          Then Ben could finally build that seeing eye pyramid pictured on the back of a dollar bill.

          Annuit coeptis, comrade.

    2. Anne

      But of course! Carson is opposed to the Fair Housing Act, so what’s not to like? He joins the nominee at HHS who is opposed to Medicare/Medicaid and any woman’s health issue that is currently under the control of women themselves, the nominee for Department of Education who doesn’t support public schools, a White House Counsel who is a rabid supporter of Citizens United, an Attorney General who doesn’t support the Voting Rights Act, the nominee for Transportation who, as Labor Secretary under Bush, was lax on oversight and safety regulations, a nominee for Treasury who has no qualifications apart from being wealthy, a billionaire nominee for Commerce who has been feasting on the carcasses of bankruptcy victims…

      And people still want to “wait and see” what kind of president Trump will be. His nominees tell us he has no intention of making America great again for anyone other than himself and his millionaire/billionaire cronies.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The key is Trump’s positions on those issues.

        I think his ego tells him they will do what he tells them, in spite of what they had said before.

        He campaigned to protect Medicare, for example. Let’s see how that works out between him and the guy who is going to work for him.

        If he wants to renege, then both of them will work to oppose Medicare.

        If wants to keep his promise, can he take bowing down to the guy who works for him?

        1. Vatch

          The key is Trump’s positions on those issues.

          I disagree. There’s a limit to how much micromanaging a person can do. The leaders of the Executive branch departments are going to do what they want to do, unless Trump explicitly tells them otherwise, and he can’t specifically tell a dozen people exactly what they have to do. Either a President picks people who substantially agree with him, or he lets them go their own way. I suppose it’s possible that Trump will have to fire 3/4 of his cabinet after his first year, but wouldn’t that be a huge failure on his part?

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Take the case of Medicare, for example.

            If he wants to break his promise, he will.

            But if he doesn’t, what can the Secretary do? The president will be needed to sign off or sign any new legislation into law. Even if the Secretary goes around the Alpha Male, he can always reverse that and fire him, if he wants to.

            1. Vatch

              Cabinet Secretaries can do a lot. They can issue directives on a wide range of issues, and they can interfere with the tasks that their departments are supposed to carry out. A new President’s appointments are very important first step.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                You’re right; let’s see how is plays out.

                Is that, his former adversaries lining up to kiss his ring, or he succumbing to their agendas?

                It’s kissing the ring, when it suits the MSM to connect him to emperors, kings and strongmen.

                It’s the creatures from the Swamp taking over, when it suits to present the worst case scenario awaiting us. Who can argue with events what have not happened yet?

  9. Laruse

    Re: #NoDAPL
    Call me a cynic if you will, but if Pres. Obama had issued the Stop Work order on the line a few months ago when protests began, we might have had a viable reroute in place and a plan to get it started again. Instead, he waited to “pause” the project for reroute at a point when there is absolutely no possible time to survey and plan a reroute before Pres. Trump takes office and instantly restarts the program.
    Sorry. This is typical Obama Kabuki politics, not a win.

    1. tejanojim

      I think your cynicism is well founded, but remember two months ago Obama planned to hand off to President Clinton. I suspect he wants the pipeline to go ahead, due to fealty to his donors, and only relented after public pressure made it untenable. He may now see an opportunity to hand Trump a black eye when the latter tries to restart the project.

      1. Lynne

        Except he had donors on both sides. It’s no coincidence that Buffet started publicly supporting Obama right after he bought a fortune in railroad stock. Or that a few years ago, crops were rotting in the Dakotas because there were no railcars available as the railroads made a fortune hauling oil instead.

        1. Anon

          Buffet bought more than a fortune in RR stock. He bought ALL of Burlington Northern (BNSF). It is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway.

      1. Laruse

        I know nothing about pipelines, but I have direct experience with overhead and undergrounded electric transmission lines.
        In those cases, the Federal Govt. doesn’t really care what/when/how contracts are agreed upon. I can point you at a case of a 500kV transmission line in Tidewater VA that the Company argued needed to be in operation by 2017 to prevent load shedding. The localities, having considerable war chests, rallied and got their case before the SCVA and now everyone is waiting on approval from the Corps and the locality to grant a certificate (they won’t) for the line to be built.
        That case has been underway since early 2012. Not the first piece of ground has been broken nearly 5 years later.

  10. Laruse

    PS: I adore today’s antidote. Whale sharks are one of my favorite living creatures on this blue marble.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It reminds me of the famous ‘oil spot’ Jian tea bowl (aka Temmoku chawan).
      https://www.google.com/search?q=famous+bluish+oil+spot+tenmoku+tea+japan&rlz=1C1VFKB_enUS639US646&espv=2&biw=1093&bih=530&tbm=isch&imgil=XBFEABElQ5tLrM%253A%253B5wJ4BzyyB0Kl9M%253Bhttp%25253A%25252F%25252Fwww.koh-antique.com%25252Fjian%25252Fjian.html&source=iu&pf=m&fir=XBFEABElQ5tLrM%253A%252C5wJ4BzyyB0Kl9M%252C_&usg=__jAv-8Qcygc2ZPkRBPFHh1TzvkaY%3D&ved=0ahUKEwj9ssvxot7QAhUUI2MKHTybBGQQyjcIJw&ei=GAFGWP3GCZTGjAO8tpKgBg#imgrc=7bOzTb-hgy1jcM%3A

  11. fresno dan

    http://www.bradford-delong.com/big-history-the-multi-millennial-perspective.html

    2000, 3000, 4000 years from now, what will professors–if there are professors–in universities–if there are universities–teaching classes–if there are classes–about what they will then call “ancient history” teach? They will spend more time on the long 20th century then on any other earlier century. It will be salient, in that more and more that is important happened in the age than in any equal earlier length of time.

    The first thing that they will stress is that the history of the long 20th century is predominantly economic, or rather political-economic history.
    ==============================================================
    No, that is not a parody….
    Teach a man to hammer, and everything is a nail.
    Yup, human organization, inventing of numbers, writing, printing, germ theory, etcetera, etcetera – not nearly as important as economics….(or to be fair politico economics as developed in the 20th century)
    It apparently does not even occur to DeLong that our “economics” or “politico economics – aka neoliberalism” is just a blip in human history, and that 4,000 years hence the 20th century would be judged no more important to human history than the use of religion as a basis of governing in Europe in the middle ages or the invention of paper.

    Dare I say that 4000 years hence DeLong’s pivotal century will be viewed as the “dark ages”? Indeed, how is the apportionment of wealth and power today (Balzac – behind all great fortunes are great crimes) superior in any way to the divine right of kings to rule – other than the toadies have better PR?

    1. craazyboy

      DeLong is obviously running out of things to type about. The only thing we can be somewhat sure about 2000 – 4000 years in the future is there will be a species of Orange Hayrians living in heavily fortified bio-domes made of bullet proof glass and brass. What their Inquisitors teach their kids is anyone’s guess, but due to short attention spans and the generally useless subject matter of economics, economics won’t be it. However, they will be much better looking and smelling than your average homo sapiens.

      1. Optimader

        In centuries to come the economists that take themselves too seriously will be put on the first evacuation spaceship with the phone sanitizers, event planners and HR Admins for evacuation off the Planet; and a new Renaissance Period will occur
        Hat tipto D Adams

      2. curlydan

        DeLong: It’s best to leave the predictions to Zager and Evans…although I prefer Visage’s late 70s cover

        “In the year 2525, if man is still alive
        If woman can survive, they may find
        In the year 3535
        Ain’t gonna need to tell the truth, tell no lie
        Everything you think, do and say
        Is in the pill you took today
        In the year 4545
        You ain’t gonna need your teeth, won’t need your eyes
        You won’t find a thing to chew
        Nobody’s gonna look at you
        In the year 5555…”
        –In the Year 2525

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhlZmO3Scvg

    2. integer

      “the history of the long 20th century”

      Was the 20th century longer than the other centuries?
      Hilarious.
      Where do they find these people?

      1. fresno dan

        integer
        December 5, 2016 at 3:46 pm

        “Was the 20th century longer than the other centuries?”
        Nah…..the economists only made it seem that way…

        1. integer

          Now I’m wondering how the width of the 20th century compares to the other centuries (hat tip to Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm). Perhaps deLong will write about that in his next article, or maybe, as his name suggests, he is biased towards analysis of the length of one century compared to the next, and hence marginalizing the conversation that could be had on the relative widths of centuries. What a bigot.

  12. Cynthia

    “US health care tab hits $3.2T; fastest growth in 8 years”

    As someone who’s on the frontlines of care, this doesn’t surprise me a bit. Deep from within the trenches of healthcare, I can attest to the fact that ObamaCare is largely to blame for this recent surge in healthcare costs.

    Prior to Obamacare, hospitals had just a few so-called “care managers” and “throughput” management was nonexistent. Now hospitals employ hundreds of care managers and have created a standalone “throughput” department to manage and supposedly improve patient flow. And none of these jobs come cheap. Most of these jobs require a masters’ degree to work there, and the department heads often times have a PhD in some sort of branch of healthcare management. Sadly, their pay scale far exceeds the pay scale of those on the front lines doing all the heavy lifting, as well as heavy thinking, in terms of providing patient care. What’s worse, none of these jobs do anything to improve care, much less reduce bed turnover time, much less reduce hospital stay or readmissions. If anything, ever since ObamaCare, such hospital goals and objectives have only gotten worse. Much worse.

    Thanks to ObamaCare, thanks to all of this what conservatives would accurately describe as “regulatory burden” that this federal law has imposed upon hospitals, healthcare dollars have shifted away, far away, from direct patient care in order to pay for all the worthless bureaucrats housed in departments that entail throughput/patient flow and care management. Not to mention the department that entails informants, which is a bureaucracy in and of itself.

    Oh sure, pharmaceutical costs are mostly why healthcare costing are shooting through the roof. The evidence is indisputable. But least pharmaceuticals, for the most part, improve the health and wellbeing of patients. They really do. You can’t say that about throughput/ patient flow management, care management, and especially informants. As near as I can tell, all of these ObamaCare creations are only there to feed the regulatory beast. Hopefully, TrumpCare knows how to starve it to death!

    1. JTMcPhee

      Thanks are due, as with so much complexity that involves actual human lives and comfort and care, to the aides and nurses and techs and therapists and let us not forget the the family-and-friend caregivers. Millions of people, who labor in obscurity and without much of a voice, for low or no income, to make “outcomes” that relieve suffering, restore function and health of their fellow humans. All those people forced to work under the neoliberal business model: More and more work, piled on fewer and fewer workers, for less and less remuneration, under ever more burdensome micromanagement and sanctions. And somehow, goodness gets done — not always, not without forced and unforced errors and the excursions into institutional-protocol-induced stupidities and subject to the rule that every population will have its coasters and sociopaths, but all in all, amazing that “the system” results in as much good as it does.

      The neolibs are all about driving people to do more with less. Everyone ought to have the chance, in person or via video, to observe the complex hyperspeed dance that hospital and clinical caregivers have to do to even provide that constantly crappier standard of care and endless kindlinesses that goes on every day. With constant changes to the electronic documentation they have to provide, everything in “supplies” constantly moving as the admin “gets better deals” on IV sets or bedpans or whatever, the time drain of “in-service training” to keep up with the bureaucracy or the latest “innovations” or the admin propaganda. Those people KNOW what is so terribly wrong with the US system, but of course from the git-go, nurses and their representatives were kicked out of the room, when the shape of the giant d!ldo that is OCare was being sketched and carved in stone in what, 4,000 pages of “legislation” crafted by the fokkers who fly up and down K Street.

      Even fokking Dickless Cheney (as one example of the Great Ingratitutde) benefited in all his medical shenanigans from people who cared, people who took their calling seriously, and made sure his bed was made, his excreta were collected and cleaned, that he was turned and positioned to avoid bedsores, he was washed and fed, and his meds delivered and IVs tended, and careful and competent eyes were on his monitors and lab results. All so he could get out of the “care setting” and get back to fokking and robbing the people who did all that for him.

      Thanks, to all those decent increasingly desperate folks, so many of whom work in pain themselves, from the inevitable injuries they get doing what they have to do, what they are driven to do by their consciences and innate goodness. And it’s not just “health care,” it’s the local and state and federal and corporate employees down the pay scales that fight the descent into feudalism.

      1. a different chris

        The neolibs are all about driving other people to do more with less.

        Fixed it for you! If a guy is running a business, and he’s working balls out and barely making it, his employees will often do the same. They have quite a bit, and see somebody with almost all, invested in the company.

        But these scumbags just take and take.

    2. Jim Haygood

      But MACRA and CMMI are going to fix all that. /sarc

      When it comes to many CMMI [Centers for Medicare and Medcaid Innovation] programs, it’s possible Congress may want to assert more control, and not provide them as much authority to make payment changes. Instead, they may opt for more mechanisms related to payment cuts.

      The greatest criticism of CMMI is that the changes they make are not subject to Congressional approval, so for one of the largest spending programs on earth — Medicare — Congress doesn’t get much say in how payment is going to be reformed. But CMMI is part of the ACA, so if they repeal ACA, CMMI goes with it.

      On the other hand, CMMI provides the administration powerful tools to change payment and control spending on its own without congressional approval. Though it’s been subject to Congressional criticism, the incoming administration may see value in keeping it around.

      http://tinyurl.com/jbqmxcd

      Let’s all get law and MBA degrees, so we can play doctor. :-)

      1. craazyboy

        I’ve got an unofficial, second hand MBA. The First Law is ” There is NO relation between Price and Cost”. The Second Law is “Don’t try negotiating while sedated in any way – you’ll be screwed!”

        I want a price list.

      2. JTMcPhee

        Yah, all this “innovation” in “bundled care,” a single payment out for a particular procedure or encounter. THAT is goung to “bend the cost curve,” all right. But any downward trend will be for no other reason than the one daily encountered by the doctors I worked for — whether to even accept Medicare patients for “care,” because “reimbursement” to said doctors is for less than cost of care in so many cases. So many points at which lobbying clout and/or corruption can be applied.

        The people who end up running these systems get lost in their own little worlds — and nobody has the “big picture,” or any incentive to do anything other than loot and make it worse. Other countries seem to do a bit better: why is that?

        Yes, it of course is crazy complicated, what with all the many lobbying inputs and greed groups and the fundamental nature of a beast that has little to nothing to do with “caring” for a fellow human, giving medical attention where needed, without greed drivers and Bezzle and corruption killing the patient…

        A nice starting point for anyone wanting to scope the complexity of just this one set of “inputs” into the whole “equation” that always seems to balance by taking money and health from ordinary people and enriching the worst of the worst parasites and predators: https://www.advisory.com/research/financial-leadership-council/at-the-margins/2012/10/cmmi-bundled-payment-update-less-flexibility-more-risk

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          But hey, GDP! Obamacare premium rises accounted for something like a quarter of the recent US GDP growth numbers. Economic activity! The transfer of money from your wallet to a multi-millionaire insurance CEO with a fat account in Panama. Forward Soviet!

    3. Berit Bryn Jensen

      …pharmacuticals, for the most part, improve the health and wellbeing of patients… Really? As far as I know, after having experienced people becoming chronically ill, drop dead, read books by Peter Goetzsche, Robert Whitaker’s Mad in America and Anatomy of an Epidemic, 1boringoldman.com, drs John Ioannidis and Marcia Angell, among others, I think humans, fish, birds and Mother Nature would be better off without most of the toxic drugs produced by Big Pharma.

    1. human

      Cool. If I were 40 years younger, I’d be spending my time in my mother’s basement being a real pain in the axx. Just think how simple it would be, once you had your trojan, to insert these into computers wherever and retrieve them at will, with their new contents.

  13. epynonymous

    http://www.popsci.com/why-wildfires-are-ravaging-southeast-this-fall

    “The humid Southeast isn’t supposed to be prime fire territory. -Wildfires in the southeastern United States are usually small and do not produce much smoke,- writes NASA’s Earth Observatory, which has been publishing images of the fire all month. But these fires are something else entirely: Reports of unprecedented, raging blazes in places like Gatlinburg, Tennessee, are nothing short of terrifying.

    A combination of drought and climate variability appears to be to blame.”

  14. JohnnyGL

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2016/12/04/pelosi_on_future_of_democratic_party_i_dont_think_people_want_a_new_direction.html

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2016/12/04/robby_mook_clinton_emails_most_over-hyped_story_is_the_history_of_american_politics.html

    For those among us who have yet to lose their $h!t this morning, be forewarned that clicking the above links may result in an immediate loss of your $h!t.

    Just make sure you aren’t near anything that will cause serious injury when you bang your head against it. The urge is overwhelming.

    1. EGrise

      So the plan from Pelosi and the rump Dems is to just wait until 2018?

      Fantastic. How Bourbon of them.

      1. reslez

        It certainly sounds like they’re counting on their fake “Coke vs Pepsi” duopoly to continue for the foreseeable future.

        DICKERSON: Here’s my question, though, Democrats since 2008, the numbers are ghastly for Democrats. Democrats are down 10%, in the house down 19.3% and in governors 35%. The Democrats are getting clobbered at every level over multiple elections. That seems like a real crisis for the party?

        PELOSI: You’re forgetting that we went up so high in 2006 2008, and let me just put that in perspective. When President Clinton was elected, Republicans came in big in the next election. When president Bush was president, we came in big in the next election. When President Obama became president, the Republicans came in big in the next election.

        For my dad, a vote for Trump was explicitly a vote to destroy the Republican party. For me, it was a vote to destroy the Democrats. I hope for a giant power vacuum that Sanders can jump into. Pelosi, your days are numbered.

        1. JohnnyGL

          LOL, that sounds like a conversation I might have had with my dad, too! :)

          Everyone who votes Trump seems to want SOMETHING to be destroyed by him! What a tremendous burden to be expected to destroy all the stuff that everyone hates!

          For people like Pelosi, there’s nothing wrong….the tide comes in, the tide goes out.

          She literally doesn’t understand that people are constantly trying to throw ALL the bums out, but their only choice is to replace with the other set of bums!

          Sadly, she’s probably right, unless Trump surprises us a bit.

    2. Mark P

      Dept. of ‘Life is a comedy to those who think, and a tragedy to those who feel.’

      Thanks for the laughs.

  15. Altandmain

    Let us face the reality – Obamacare was largely written by HMO lobbyists.

    It is working as intended, namely to be a great transfer of wealth from the rest of society to the insurance industry, which is now extracting more economic rent than ever before. That was the real objective of Obamacare.

    If the US wanted to take a look at what to do to actually improve quality of care, then the reality is that the US needed to emulate the rest of the Western world and pass universal healthcare. As it is, the US spends a lot more on healthcare, for worse outcomes than other developed nations.

    While I am sure that some factors do add to this problem, such as the infamous American sedentary lifestyle, the unhealthy diets, inequality, financial anxiety (likely worse in the US due to the weaker welfare states), and lack of economic opportunities for many Americans, the healthcare system is itself deeply flawed by design.

    Meanwhile, Americans pay the most for pharmaceutical drugs in the world, again due to lobbying and rent seeking. This has left many in a desperate situation.

    1. Brett

      I know for a fact that AHIP (Americas Health Insurance Providers) wrote the first draft of the ACA. https://www.ahip.org/. It was an 800 page homage to everything the Health Insurance Companies wanted which was further adulterated with 500 additional pages of special interest amendments by your loyal House members and Senators.

  16. Montanamaven

    The Archdruid’s essay is a must read. While most of his essays are a must read, this one nicely encapsulates what the U.S. should do in terms of foreign policy within the context of …ohmygawd….history. Will we go the way of the Assyrians, the Ottomans, or the British Empire? And I did not know about all the Chinese outposts in the Indian Ocean. It is also a useful essay for grieving Democrats who still are sending me links to the NY Times and Washington Post and watch MSNBC. “Smug, shallow, and dull” will be in every post I do this week as I point out the “narrow range of acceptable opinions and issues” on the TV news.
    This morning on “Morning Joe”, Harold Ford pointed out that maybe they all needed to step back and maybe find different opinions out there about 2016. The rest of the crew looked at him like he had just let out a big fart. They have not changed one of their regular commentators and so continue to scratch their heads. I mean, really, Richard Haas of the Council on Foreign Relations is treated like an oracle? Why not get professor Steve Cohen on? Because, as the Archdruid points out, the social strata they belong to do not want to hear other opinions about how The Plan for the New American Century is a steaming basket of manure. And that the way forward is not keeping the empire afloat.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      From the Archdruid link:

      Duterte, like the heads of state of many nominal US allies, resents US interference in his country’s affairs, and at this point he has other options. His outburst was followed in short order by a trip to Beijing, where he and China’s President Xi signed multibillion-dollar aid agreements and talked openly about the end of a US-dominated world order.

      A great many Americans seem to think of the Phillippines as a forgettable little country off somewhere unimportant in the Third World. That’s a massive if typical misjudgment. It’s a nation of 100 million people on a sprawling archipelago of more than 7,000 islands, commanding the entire southern end of the South China Sea and a vast swath of the western Pacific, including crucial maritime trade routes. As a US ally, it was a core component of the ring of encirclement holding Chinese maritime forces inside the island ring that walls China’s coastal waters from rest of the Pacific basin.

      1. Is the US again interfering in the internal affairs of another nation – China, this time, when taking that call from Taiwan?

      2. Is Taiwan part of that ring of encirclement holding of China? Do people there want to be a part of the ring or do they desire peace and prosperity?

  17. Lee

    Ya gotta love the wit and wisdom of Archdruid:

    The only difficulty, really was that the people who actually mattered—in particular, voters in half a dozen crucial swing states—responded to all this by telling their soi-disant betters, “Thanks, but one turkey this November is enough.”

    This assumes of course that the voters in question could afford the one.

    1. polecat

      ..”would you like a helping of faux turkey (of Russian origin, of course) …. with a side of fake non-fake news ?”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Will Egypt go the way of Turkey?

      By that, I mean, will they trade with Iran, Russia, China and Turkey in local currencies?

  18. JTMcPhee

    Would like to hear from the Antipodes what the departure of Key as PM (on to “greener” pastures, one expects?) might portend for NZ… Another dead neoliberal?

    1. juliania

      Sorry – I was out shopping today. Here’s a portion of the anti-Key analysis (rest can be found at thedailyblog.co.nz – which would be on the Washington Post’s list were the country a tad bigger):

      “Key’s leadership saw 300 000 kids in poverty.
      Key’s leadership saw us back involved in the Iraq war.
      Key’s leadership nearly brought in the TPPA.
      Key’s leadership saw 41 000 homeless.
      Key’s leadership saw 560 suicides per year.
      Key’s leadership saw mass migration scams.
      Key’s leadership saw Helen Kelly live out the rest of her life as a criminal because he refused to move on medical cannabis.
      Key’s leadership saw NZers living in cars.
      Key’s leadership saw tens of thousands thrown off welfare with no where to go.
      Key’s leadership saw one of the worst housing bubbles in NZs history.
      Key’s leadership has seen housing affordability crumble.
      Key’s leadership saw state assets sold off to fund irrigation infrastructure.
      Key’s leadership saw huge increases in state spying powers.
      Key’s leadership saw nothing for stopping climate change.
      Key’s leadership saw 10 000 in prison and the vast expansion of our private prison industry.
      Key’s leadership saw a dirty ops campaign run out of his office.
      Key’s leadership saw his office collude with the SIS to frame Phil Goff in the 2011 election.
      Key’s leadership saw him phone buddies with hate speech merchant Cameron Slater.”

      The comments at the site are informative and speculative but all in the same tenor.

  19. Dave

    Oakland fire. 36 dead so far in notorious warehouse deathtrap.
    Disgusting dereliction of duty.

    Here are the main people “in charge” of Oakland.

    The fire chief–wow, sure glad she didn’t get any dirt on her uniform,
    The mayor, picked through secondary candidate ranked -choice voting
    and the police chief.

    http://ww1.hdnux.com/photos/55/40/13/11928268/3/1024×1024.jpg

    from San Francisco Chronicle article.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Go to bed early and wake up at sunrise.

      You’d use less lighting energy and less of whatever powers the music system.

      ‘Sunlight, and how ever many dewdrops that are left, are waiting for thee.’

      Whatever happened to those flower children? Only night prowlers left?

    2. Jay M

      yeah, illegal 2nd floor built within warehouse cube with stairway made of pallets???
      pallets are notorious for creating a fierce fire
      a terrible cost in young lives

    3. reslez

      Fire chiefs wear white so they’re easier to see on the field. Firefighters’ turnout gear quickly becomes stained with smoke and ash. Fire chiefs don’t go inside unless something has gone terribly wrong — you want your commander to have full visibility so they can direct people and resources to where they need to go. So I think calling out the fire chief for not having dirt on her uniform is a cheap shot, especially since the chief of a huge city like Oakland has plenty of district chiefs and captains beneath her who actually ran the fire. At that point she’s more of a political figure anyway, hopefully one who looks after her people and department.

    4. Fiery Hunt

      Jesus…so a Fire Dept Chief is to blame?!?
      Such a f***** up perspective.

      Horrible loss. Of potential. Of people who have struggled to fit in this heartless society but…

      Are not these young fools RESPONSIBLE in any way for the choices that led to their own deaths?

      I live with these “free spirits” every day. Panhandling, “nodding” off in front of my shop due to heroin addictions, coping an attitude when I don’t offer a cigarette in response to their “Can I bum a smoke?”.

      Not victims of anything that the rest of us don’t have to deal with but their own naivety, stupidity and susceptibility to the cons of predators.

      1. Fiery Hunt

        Don’t misunderstand me…
        The fokkers responsible should be hung by their tiniest, most sensitive bits.
        This was most definitely preventable…but blaming the city officials for clandestine occupation and/or use is beyond specious.

  20. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Five myths about the decline and fall of Rome

    The author sets up a bit of a straw man by claiming that it’s the election of Trump bringing on comparisons to the fall of Rome and that those comparisons are not valid.

    The US is definitely going through what the Roman, Alexandrian, Ottoman, British and any other empire you can name went through. Here’s a pretty simple Friedmanesque explanation – when the empire gets so big that the right hand no longer knows what the left hand is doing, the center can no longer hold.

    I would argue that the class conflict and barbarian invasion ‘myths’ are very much intertwined. As the author notes, the so-called barbarians were not unknown invaders but people from the fringes of the empire who had served it for many years but weren’t compensated nearly as well as full citizens of Rome, ie they were the hard working lower class as opposed to the Roman establishment upper class. Alaric led the Goths to the gates of Rome asking for equal status – equal pay for equal work so to speak. When the Romans said ‘no’, he sacked the city. They can’t say they weren’t warned.

    1. DarkMatters

      It always struck me odd that Attila the Hun was wreaking mayhem over the Roman Empire and its allies in Europe at about the time of the fall, yet little mention is made of him in this context. Why does it seem such a far reach to consider that a wholesale invasion of Turkic/Mongolian interlopers might have had something to do with Rome’s collapse?

    1. reslez

      He made some interesting comments, here are a few weird things I picked up on:

      What matters now, far more than the choices made by these two electorates, is how the elites react. Should we, in turn, reject these votes as outpourings of crude populism that fail to take account of the facts, and attempt to circumvent or circumscribe the choices that they represent?

      As Lambert always asks, who is the “we” Hawking refers to and isn’t it very telling? And why does he feel the need to state that elite reaction is more important than a democratically made decision? Do we or do we not live in democracies? If not, maybe a few more things need to change.

      the rural poor flock to cities, to shanty towns, driven by hope. And then often, finding that the Instagram nirvana is not available there, they seek it overseas

      Is it “hope” that drives the rural poor to shanty towns, or were they driven from their land by debt peonage, destructive trade deals, and forced removals which all benefit the rich? Or were they fleeing military violence courtesy the elites of their countries and ours? Are they looking for “Instagram nirvana” or basic survival?

      We now have the technology to destroy the planet on which we live, but have not yet developed the ability to escape it.

      Key quote. And as much as we can all hope the billionaires will decamp to Mars and leave the rest of us in peace, it seems increasingly likely to me that a few of them will look around at all the “excess labor” and unleash smallpox or something equally nasty on the rest of us. After all, they believe automation has made us all obsolete.

      I guess they don’t realize, or don’t care, that you can’t have billionaires unless you also have billions who are desperately poor.

      1. integer

        I noticed that too but considering where the article was published I wondered if he was just trying to gently break down a few facts for the political “elite” without being confrontational. I mean, for Stephen Hawking to use the term “we”, he is sharing in the responsibility rather than laying blame, and I think the “elites” would find it pretty hard to make the case that Hawking doesn’t know what he’s talking about. In this case, I’m just going to assume the best.

  21. Plenue

    “Rebels defiant as Syrian army nears Aleppo’s Old City Reuters”

    Well, mostly defiant. Word is that up to 150 of them (out of an estimated 900 total) were planning to surrender. Their militant buddies rounded them up and moved them to detainment somewhere. Or just executed them. Either way, that’s 150 out of the fight.

    This morning the ‘rebels’ launched a desperate counterattack inside East Aleppo. It was crushed within hours. Currently the SAA is repeating their previously successful strategy of slicing across northern militant territory and creating a sub-pocket. Nothing fancy now; the militants simply don’t have the manpower left to oppose the SAA on all the fronts it’s attacking on.

    They did manage to kill and injure a few Russian medics with mortar fire, though. They were at a mobile hospital 2km from the frontline.

    Latest battlemap as of yesterday:

    http://b.top4top.net/p_338257cs1.jpg

    I don’t know if this battle will last even weeks at this pace.

  22. Pelham

    So US healthcare costs continue to rocket upward even as life expectancy drops. It used to be we paid a lot more for healthcare for small improvements in health. Now we pay more to get less.

    1. Fiery Hunt

      Uninsured for the last 2 years…and have paid $755.81 (in “shared responsibility” taxes) for the privilege!

      Thanks, Wealthy Elite!

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Fortunately, our Social Security is not like that.

        “I want to opt-out of Social Security. And I have to pay a penalty?”

        1. Fiery Hunt

          Right?!?

          But there is a heavy “I need it earlier than I would like…” penalty for SS.
          My mom got forced into early retirement and it has cost her dearly…

        2. Code Name D

          But you CAN opt out of SS. Just go talk to your average musician or artist that was mostly self employed. If you work for your self, you have to make your own payments into the system. The more you pay in, the more you are aloud to take out. Many self employed people (especially those of color, odd how that works out) were never told what SS was or how to register. Thus when they go to retire, the find they are ineligible or only qualify for small pay-outs.

          My dad use to do Taxes before he retired, and every year he could come across neo-conservatives who filed to opt out of SS. Turns out its easy. You just send in a waiver exempting your employer from having to make SS deductions, and giving you more take-home pay.

          Usually they victims of AM talk radio scams. For $19.99, we will send you the secrets of stopping the tax-man/government thief, secrets the IRS doesn’t want you to know. He has even seen some of these guides they buy. The most damaging are the income tax exemptions. You basically zero out your tax deductions and ramp up your take home pay. Only to discover the hard way you are still libel for those taxes, and it can be quite a chunk at the end of the year, especially if that money was already spent on other things.

          No doubt similar scams are afoot for Medicare and Obama care policies.

          1. oh

            Quite a few of the accountants and CPAs advise the self employed to not take higher salary because it would increase the social security taxes (the employee side once and the employer side again). But they don’t explain that when they retire, they receive higher payments for life.

        3. rd

          Some public sector pensions were designed to replace Social Security, so the employees and employers didn’t pay into Social Security. It turns out some of those pensions are underfunded and the recipients may see reduced benefits and won’t have Social Security to fall back on.

          Oops.

  23. Raj

    Here’s a satire which pretty much sums up the demonitisation debacle here in India. In Hindi, without subtitles unfortunately so get a friend to translate – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqwVOWYJSxw

    As an Indian, I am still amazed people are not out on the streets protesting against the sheer harmful incompetence of the Indian government.

  24. rd

    Re: Ignored building codes

    The building, fire, electrical, and plumbing codes in the US have developed incrementally over the decades. Pretty much every paragraph comes painfully from lessons learned from incidents like this. This is what deregulation looks like (the banks accomplished something similar in 2008). Deregulation takes two forms: an actual eliminating of the regulation; or simply not enforcing it. In this fire’s case, it is a lack of enforcement since the building codes would clearly have provided a much safer environment in just about every way.

    One of the reasons that these types of spaces get developed like this is because they are zoned for something else that is lower value (like industrial). The owners clearly did not want to go through the official hoops to rezone the space and develop it in accordance to the codes. In many cities, there is a lot of resistance to rezoning because it destroys the “character” of the area. I have seen areas that prefer to have a vacant, falling down industrial plant to a multi-story apartment building.

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