2:00PM Water Cooler 3/28/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Trade

“House Republicans’ proposal to create a border-adjustable business tax — a linchpin of the overall reform plan, given the revenue it is expected to bring in — is already on life-support, with Senate Republicans skeptical it could pass their chamber as is, and the White House declining to take a clear stance on the issue. Border-adjustment has also so dominated the tax-reform debate that some say lawmakers have barely begun to consider the myriad other hugely controversial changes the plan would make” [Politico].

Politics

New Cold War

This morning in Links, on the same story, I asked “So will Cheney become a liberal icon now, like Bush?” After lunch, I had my answer!

Also, compare the Politico headline, at 03/27/17 04:08 PM:

Cheney: Russian meddling possibly ‘an act of war’

With WaPo’s headline, at March 28 at 12:23 PM

Cheney delivers a statement on Russian meddling: It’s an ‘act of war’

Planted or not, this is impressive:

“My hunch is that … the 2016 campaign-collusion story will turn out to be a dead end. Much more interesting is the saga of the formation of Trump’s views of Russia over the last twenty-five years” [David Warsh]. Summarizing Warsh’s informed speculation, the Trump+Russia story is more likely to be a New York real estate story starting back in the 90s; Warsh aggregates some actual reporting to that effect. Who remembers Geraldine Ferraro?

“The Devin Nunes wiretapping saga, explained” [WaPo]. We seem to have reached the Benghazi hairball stage. Anyhow, here’s a timeline.

Health Care

UPDATE “How Democrats Aided in the Demise of the GOP’s Health Bill” [Wall Street Journal]. If you’re looking for an explanation of why the #SaveTheACA crowd “never, ever” mentioned #MedicareForAll, the roster of Democrat establishment flexians involved in this effort may help.

“With AHCA defeat, some Democrats see chance to push for universal coverage” [WaPo]. This story… [Please allow me a moment to pound my head on my desk. There. Thank you]. Quoting:

At their first town meeting since the Republicans’ surprise surrender on the Affordable Care Act, progressives in blue America celebrated — then asked for more. Rhode Island’s two Democratic senators, joined by Rep. Jim Langevin, told several hundred happy constituents that the next step in health reform had to mean expanded coverage, provided by the government.

“We have to look harder at a single-payer system,” said Langevin (D-R.I.), using a term for universal coverage.

“I’m old enough to have voted for a single-payer system in the House,” said Sen. Jack Reed, Rhode Island’s senior senator.

“The very best market-based solution is to have a public option,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said.

I’m happy that the voters are asking for more after a victory. That’s a very good sign. I’m unhappy that the idiot reporter doesn’t point out that universal coverage and the so-called “public option” are not the same. I’m extremely unhappy with Whitehouse’s “Because markets.” Really, who cares? I’m even more unhappy with the effing career “progressives” of 2009-2010, who introduced the so-called “public option” to run interference for Obama by suppressing single payer, and introduced the brand confusion between it, and genuine Medicare for All, a confusion that persists to this day and allows Whitehouse to go all flaccid on policy. And I’m terrified that Sanders is going to screw things up, since the “public option” discourse has polluted everything it ever touched. See here. Since given the givens, we’re not going to get either single payer or the so-called “public option” before 2018, why not run on the best possible policy, one that voters support, instead of, like Obama, pre-compromising?

Trump Transition

“Trump’s morally repugnant budget must be defeated: Sen. Bernie Sanders” [USA Today]. Sanders: “Far from compassionate, this budget — if enacted — would be one of the cruelest in American history. In the words of former Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the four star general who warned us about the power of the military industrial complex, it, ‘signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.'”

“Talking to a friend at lunch not long ago, he expressed his amazement that the House and Senate leadership didn’t have bills “lined up like airplanes on a runway” ready to take off in the new year. I was surprised, too” [Glenn Reynolds, USA Today].

“The continuing infrastructure fiasco” [DC Velocity]. “On March 2, the U.S. Conference of Mayors also weighed in on the subject, pressing the federal government to distribute infrastructure funds directly to cities, bypassing the states. In short, the entire problem has gotten out of control. There still is no sign of an overall plan for the needed improvements. And the funding issue is far from resolved. Many of our needs will not be attractive to investors. And even if private investors step up to finance specific road and bridge projects, they will have to be repaid, which means the costs will ultimately be passed on to users. We could easily find ourselves paying tolls and user fees, plus increased state taxes, leaving us in a worse position than we would have been in if Congress had simply raised fuel taxes in the first place. And as far as the ‘new roads, bridges, tunnels, airports, and railways gleaming across our beautiful land,; good luck with that one.”

More New York real estate: “Paul Manafort’s Puzzling New York Real Estate Purchases” [WYNC]. “Manafort’s New York City transactions follow a pattern: Using shell companies, he purchased the homes in all-cash deals, then transferred the properties into his own name for no money and then took out hefty mortgages against them, according to property records.”

2016 Post Mortem

“To the extent Democratic turnout was weak, it was mainly among black voters. Even there, the scale of Democratic weakness has been exaggerated” [New York Times]. “Instead, it’s clear that large numbers of white, working-class voters shifted from the Democrats to Mr. Trump. Over all, almost one in four of President Obama’s 2012 white working-class supporters defected from the Democrats in 2016, either supporting Mr. Trump or voting for a third-party candidate.” As usual, I would like to see “white” removed, surgically if necessary, from “working class,” to see what new possibilities open up. I would bet that black working class rejection of Democrats is expressed as low turnout (anecdotes from IIRC Milwaukee here), since they couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Trump. It sure is puzzling that all those white racists checked their privilege and voted for Obama twice, though. Funny, life!

Realignment and Legitimacy

“A Haunting Debut Looks Ahead to a Second American Civil War” [New York Times]. “Set in the closing decades of the 21st century and the opening ones of the 22nd, El Akkad’s novel recounts what happened during the Second American Civil War between the North and South and its catastrophic aftermath. It is a story that extrapolates the deep, partisan divisions that already plague American politics and looks at where those widening splits could lead. A story that maps the palpable consequences for the world of accelerating climate change and an unraveling United States. A story that imagines what might happen if the terrifying realities of today’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — drone strikes, torture, suicide bombers — were to come home to America.” Zeitgeist watch…

“A conversation continued over health care” [Castle Rock News]. Local report on Indivisible group in Colorado. No mention of single payer.

“North Carolina’s ‘Bathroom Bill’ Could Cost the State More Than $3 Billion” [AP].

“Lemons: Gun-Totin’ Left-Wingers Demonstrate at the Arizona Capitol: Is Bloodshed on the Horizon?” [Phoenix New Times].

“Calexit: The “Bad Boys of Brexit” throw their weight behind move to split state” [Mercury News].

Stats Watch

Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index, March 2017: “Manufacturing activity in the Fifth District expanded for the fifth consecutive month in March” [Econoday]. “The robust strength in manufacturing reported by the Fifth District is in line with strength seen in other regional reports, but it has yet to translate to similar strength in actual factory data out of Washington.”

International Trade in Goods, February 2017: “A sharp 2.1 percent drop in imports helped to narrow a smaller-than-expected $64.8 billion goods deficit in February, masking however another weak showing for exports which edged 0.1 percent lower” [Econoday]. “Also released with this report are advance data on wholesale and retail inventories, both of which rose 0.4 percent in February. These inventory readings may help GDP estimates, where inventory builds are a positive, but not the outlook for production and employment which may suffer if the builds, during this period of slow growth, turn out in fact to be unwanted.”

Wholesale Inventories [Advance], February 2017: “Wholesale inventories rose 0.4 percent in February with nondurables up 0.9 percent vs only a 0.1 percent rise for the key durable goods component” [Econoday].

Retail Inventories [Advance], February 2017: “Retail inventories rose 0.4 percent in February which looks heavy following an upward revised 0.9 percent rise in January. Year-on-year, retail inventories are up 3.9 percent and may be heavy given how slow February retail sales proved to be” [Econoday]. “Inventories are especially heavy at auto dealers, up 1.1 percent in the month and 9.5 percent year-on-year reflecting contraction so far in this year’s vehicle sales.”

Consumer Confidence, March 2017: “It was two cycles ago that the consumer confidence index has been this high” [Econoday]. “At 113.8, the expectations component hasn’t been this high since September 2000. The present situation component is at 143.1 for its best reading since August 2001 which was just at the end of the 1991 to 2001 economic cycle…. Consumers are extremely upbeat right now though the lack of inflation expectations doesn’t quite fit. What else doesn’t fit is actual consumer spending which has failed to match the strength underway in confidence.” Yet again…. And: “An important element will be whether increased confidence in the outlook translates into increased spending or whether there is a move to raise precautionary savings despite higher confidence” [Economic Calendar]. And: “Unusual strength in confidence readings has been the standout feature of the post-election economy. The consumer confidence index has yet to slow, pressing to new cycle highs in February as the spread between optimists and pessimists continued to widen” [247 Wall Street].

State Street Investor Confidence Index, March 2017: “The rise in the confidence of global institutional investors was driven by a sharp increase in the European component, which rose 11.9 points to 95. The Asian component also rose, increasing by 5.3 points to 109.6, but the North American sub-index fell by 0.3 points to 91.6” [Econoday]. “State Street said the return of European investor confidence after a sharp decline in February was due to an easing of political tensions following the Dutch elections, as well as as sustained economic momentum on the back of positive economic surprises in the region. The stalling of U.S. investor confidence, on the other hand, shows understandable caution given the strong run-up in stocks and the simultaneous exit from historically low rates, which has not been experienced before.”

S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index, January 2017: “are on the climb” [Econoday]. “The geographic widening in strength is a special plus of this report, one that points to a solid, though not spectacular, contribution from housing.”

Commodities: “Canada’s IC Potash Corp. (TSX:ICP) is creating a new research and development subsidiary called ICP Organics to focus on enhancing yields for cannabis growers and increasing the health impact and effects for consumers” [Mining.com].

Retail: “The much-talked-about ‘no cashier convenience store’ called Amazon Go to be launched by e-commerce giant Amazon.com, Inc. through its ‘Project Como’ has got delayed.” [Zacks]. “Amazon has been testing the store at its campus in Seattle, with employees serving as beta testers. Reportedly, the store has been functioning well if there are just a few customers and are moving at a slow pace. As it is not feasible to ask customers to keep a check on their pace, the opening of these stores had to be postponed.” This sounds to me like another idea that MBAs and techies think is great but is in fact stupid. From my small town perspective: First, I like having a cashier. The human contact is good! Second, if there’s no cashier, there’s still going to be a human: A cop in a car, to prevent customers from being robbed. In other words, in good Walmart fashion, the social protective function once served by the cashier will now be funded by me, through my property taxes. Go, Jeff!

Manufacturing: “The future of U.S. manufacturing is increasingly being built through automation, and it looks like the robots are coming from abroad” [Wall Street Journal]. “Commerce Department data show the U.S. last year ran a trade deficit of $4.1 billion in advanced “flexible manufacturing” goods with Japan, the European Union and Switzerland, which lead the industry—double the 2003 deficit. The gap poses a big policy problem: As the U.S. tries to increase industrial production, companies probably will have to import the kind of advanced machinery needed to keep American factories competitive. Consolidation in industrial robotics, including big buys by China’s Midea Group and Japan’s Fanuc Corp., and what one expert says is a “brain drain” in American expertise has left a gap in U.S. domestic production, leaving manufacturers looking for imports for innovation.” But we’re still #1 in fabulously expensive bespoke weaponry and financial scams. And opioids. So not to worry.

Shipping: “Weak import volumes have left Brazil without the necessary empty containers to fulfil export potential, trapping it in a Catch-22 situation that will hinder long-term economic growth” [The Loadstar]. “This is the view of Antonio Dominguez, [Managing Director] of Maersk Line’s east coast South America cluster, who said carriers could no longer be expected to carry the burden of such inefficiencies.”
Political Risk: “[Former BLS head Kathleen Utgoff] isn’t afraid that the Trump Administration will meddle with statistical methodologies or the numbers they produce; that would require co-opting thousands of career government surveyors, statisticians, and economists in an effort to alter data collected from hundreds of thousands of businesses and citizens. (Even Richard Nixon, who, in 1971, hatched a plan to rid the B.L.S. of what he thought was a “Jewish cabal” out to destroy him, was unable to undercut the bureau’s independence.) Nor does anyone object to the reasonable arguments about which unemployment rate (there are six of them) best reflects the true state of the economy. The danger is that a President who disparages the data might convince his followers that bad economic news is political propaganda, and offer numbers that have no statistical rigor behind them” [The New Yorker]. “Good economic statistics benefit the left and the right, government and business. Without reliable data, businesses can’t take risks on investments. Boeing, for example, decides how many 787 Dreamliners to build and therefore how many people to employ based on its Current Market Outlook forecast, which is rooted in B.L.S. data and projects aircraft demand for the next twenty years.”

The Fed: “We note the contrasting projections by the Atlanta and New York Federal Reserve’s GDP trackers. The Atlanta Fed’s model has the US economy slowing to a 1.0% annualized pace in Q1. This would be just below the average Q1 pace beginning in 2010. However, the New York Fed’s model has the economy tracking 3.0%. The market (Bloomberg median) is smack in between” [Brown Brothers Harriman, Across the Curve]. Heck, what’s a mere 2% difference?

The Fed: “Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Robert Kaplan said on Monday that he will support further interest rate adjustments if the U.S. economy continues to show progress” [Economic Calendar].

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 33 Fear (previous close: 29, Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 36 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 28 at 1:23pm. Still hiding under the desk…

Health Care

“H. R. 676” (PDF).

Life’s little ironies:

The 420

“South Carolina Rep. Eric Bedingfield once shunned all marijuana use, but when his eldest son’s six-year struggle with opioid addiction ended with his overdose a year ago, the conservative Republican co-sponsored medical cannabis legislation” [Post and Courier (DK)]. “‘My mindset has changed from somebody who looked down on it as a negative substance to saying, ‘This has benefits,” Bedingfield said recently. The 50-year-old teetotaler believes marijuana may effectively wean addicts from an opioid dependence. Ultimately, the Marine veteran hopes medical marijuana can be an alternative to people being prescribed OxyContin or other opioid painkillers to begin with, helping curb an epidemic he’s seen destroy families of all economic levels.”

Water

Michael Burry, courtesy phone please!

“Managers with the Oregon Water Resources Department have handed out rights to pump water while pleading ignorance about how much was actually available. They have approved new pumping for irrigation even as their own scientists warned it could hurt the water table, interviews and state records show” [The Oregonian]. “Some irrigators are so confident their permits will be approved, they sink wells first and file the paperwork later. Andy Root, a Harney County rancher who began pumping without state approval, said it has long been common practice in the area. He’s since applied to obtain a water permit years after he began pumping.”

“Thousands of farmers in the parched Mexican border city of Mexicali are protesting plans by Constellation Brands to build a $1.4 billion plant there, the WSJ’s Robbie Whelan reports, and want President Donald Trump to push for the brewery to move to the U.S. side of the border. The farmers worry that the plant will use too much water, taxing an area where aging irrigation infrastructure and a low water table have already forced farmers to pull tens of thousands of acres out of production” [Wall Street Journal].

“The best estimate is that at present India uses 230-250 cubic kilometres of groundwater each year. This accounts for about one-quarter of the global groundwater use. More than 60% of irrigated agriculture and 85% of domestic water use now depends on groundwater. India now uses more groundwater than China and the United States combined” [Quartz]. “According to official assessments by the Indian ministry of water resources, in 2004, around 29% of the groundwater blocks were critical, semi-critical or over-exploited. It also concluded that the situation was deteriorating rapidly. In 2014, the central groundwater board noted that the number of over-exploited districts increased from 3% in 1995 to 15% in 2011.”

Guillotine Watch

“But the deafening din crackled with the spirit of a communal rally. [Hamilton] full-throated affirmation of diversity, inclusion and tolerance has taken on new urgency now that these values have fallen under sharp attack. “Hamilton” has become part of the resistance” [Los Angeles Times]. Read Stoller to innoculate yourself against this bullshit.

Class Warfare

I had to leave this on the cutting room floor for the Frank RIch piece. But:

Sharpening the contradictions… And this:

“Hijab becomes symbol of resistance, feminism in the age of Trump” [USA Today]. I don’t get this at all. What am I missing here?

“Top US coal boss Robert Murray: Trump ‘can’t bring mining jobs back'” [Guardian].

News of the Wired

“Galactica stellaris: Astronomers Build a Family Tree for the Milky Way’s Stars” [Scientific American]. “Classification is never easy. Whether it’s monkey species, astronomical objects or elementary particles, there are seemingly endless ways to organize and group things. For centuries biologists have used “family tree” diagrams as their approach of choice for tracing living organisms’ lineages. And now astronomers are borrowing from biology to classify stars this way, too.”

“Universal adversarial perturbations” [Archiv.org]. “Can we find a single small image perturbation that fools a state-of-the-art deep neural network classifier on all natural images? We show in this paper the existence of such quasi-imperceptible universal perturbation vectors that lead to misclassify natural images with high probability.” Hmm.

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant (CW):

CW wrote: “This morning, I outside when I heard a shriek from partner and thought the worse (dead chicken??) – no she had found that one of the banana shoots she had put in a year ago was flowering. The flowers are on the end of the bananas and the plant is thick with our small native bees (who share my home and live in one of the walls of my 60s era house). I have so many great flowers and plants here, fruiting trees, even persimmon and ylang ylang. Just about anything will grow and my partner is always cutting off plants and bringing the cuttings home, in the ground and away you go. Yes, we are lucky. We see many different bird species and butterflies large and small, and fruit bats fly in every night to feed off a large ficus tree we have on the back boundary. I’ve been meaning to send in pics of plants etc, but my best camera is my phone, so I have procrastinated. There are two pics I hope you can use attached.”

Readers, Water Cooler is a standalone entity, not supported by the very successful Naked Capitalism fundraiser just past. Now, I understand you may feel tapped out, but when and if you are able, please use the dropdown to choose your contribution, and then click the hat! Your tip will be welcome today, and indeed any day. Water Cooler will not exist without your continued help.

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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.

185 comments

  1. Jim Haygood

    “Talking to a friend at lunch not long ago, he expressed his amazement that the House and Senate leadership didn’t have bills “lined up like airplanes on a runway” ready to take off in the new year. I was surprised, too.”

    This is an enduring mystery. Recall 1994, when Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America really did have ten bills lined up like airplanes on a runway.

    From an R party perspective, it was hugely successful. They won back majority control of the House after a 40-year hiatus, and proceeded to enact six or seven of the ten bills.

    But in the following 1996 election, and all those thereafter, no “accountability” promises were offered again. WHY? One can only surmise that politicians fear accountability like vampires flinch from silver crosses (bearing in mind that there may be some overlap between these two demographics — reportedly some House members only come out at night).

    1. Pirmann

      What that tells me is, aside from a couple of tweaks here and there, the Republicans pretty much got their agenda pushed through during the 0bama administration, so no substantive changes needed to be lined up for this one.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Ding ding ding we have a winner
        7 years to construct an ObamaCare alternative but why bother? Since you got the Heritage Foundation version implemented already. With an added, deeply fascist bonus: for the first time (so far) citizens are now required by law to purchase a certain service provided by a private company. Think of the possibilities!

      2. Marina Bart

        I don’t think this is correct. The corporatist neoliberals may be content, but the Freedom Caucus certainly isn’t. It seems clear to me that the bigger problem is that there is no consensus in the caucus on the role of government.

        Once Trump won the nomination, the Republicans in the Congress had no incentive to work on bills. He had no pre-existing constituency among the elected. He’s not a Freedom Caucus guy and he’s not (left to his own devices) a Koch guy. Even if they thought he had a chance to win, what he was saying he wanted to do wasn’t relevant to them. And I’m sure they all thought he would lose. The party tried to block him from the nomination, and then in the fall, it tried again to side with Clinton and get her elected. Under those condition, no Trumpian bills could be or would be developed, and those opposed to him and his expressed policy preferences had no reason to craft bills in case he won, either.

    2. sleepy

      Perhaps because the status-quo has become so comfortable for the duopoly that there’s little need to offer things like actual laws, other than their utility as campaign rhetoric. When the dems are busy polishing the Heritage Foundation turd of the ACA why bother?

      Dems 2018–We saved Obamacare and you’re whining about single-payer?

      Repubs 2018–We saved you from single-payer and you’re whining about Obamacare?

      1. charles leseau

        LOL. I typed nearly the same thing, but failed to refresh the page in between a little break to see you and Pirmann write it for me.

        1. wilroncanada

          I would presume that ALEC has dozens of bills ready and waiting, but for some reason they are not being presented. They should suit the Freedom Caucus fine, but other Republicans as well as the President are unwilling to jump at the chance. I imagine the American Chamber of Commerce is fuming. In the words of a well-known Canadian comedy duo, They don’t know what to do with their caucus.

    3. charles leseau

      One can only surmise that politicians fear accountability like vampires flinch from silver crosses.

      Or maybe that they’re already pretty satisfied with the current status quo, and all their vituperative public positions and cries for change are little more than lines read by hired actors to continuously mollify their constituency.

      When the opposing party is doing all the work for you, why feel the need to do anything?

    4. MartyH

      Maybe they don’t have bills “lined up like airplanes on a runway” because it’s all working so well for their constituents (the ones who fund them) that they’d hate to mess it up.

    5. Steely Glint

      That’s because he had aids who knew how to write legislation. After Newt (that vile creature) got rid of those aids, who provided advise to both sides of the aisle & went to partisan $$$ think tanks congress “forgot” how to write bills. I remember one Congress woman stating before the ACA passage that they would have to sharpen their pencils and relearn how to write legislation.
      As much as I would love to see Medicare for all, as long as $$ rules the day, I believe we would see a whittling away of Medicare as we know it, so people would have to purchase private insurance supplemental policies.
      http://washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/junejulyaug-2014/the-big-lobotomy/

  2. Roger Smith

    “Hijab becomes symbol of resistance, feminism in the age of Trump” [USA Today]. I don’t get this at all. What am I missing here?

    The rose tinted glasses that mask liberal contradictions. Girl Power!*

    1. Vatch

      Hijab wearing women in America have voluntarily chosen to be oppressed, unlike women in Saudi Arabia, who are oppressed whether they like it or not. Sometimes real life is its own satire.

          1. Fred1

            It’s a little bit more complicated that. Please consider A Quiet Revolution by Leila Ahmed, which discusses the unveiling of Muslim women during the 50s, 60s, and 70s, and then the reveiling that continues to today.

      1. Katharine

        You guys are so far out of it, I’m sorry for you. Nobody is oppressed who wears what she chooses to wear. It is her choice: that is the whole point. Doing what you think she ought to do would be evidence of oppression. Why is this so hard to understand?

        1. clarky90

          Pregnant hijab wearers at risk of Vitamin D deficiency

          http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/293505/hijab-wearers-risk-vitamin-d-deficiency

          “She carried out her own investigation in 2012, and found that all the women who took part were Vitamin D deficient.”

          “We investigated Vitamin D status of Middle Eastern women and we found that all women were Vitamin D deficient, all.

          “We had 44 participants in our study and all were Vitamin D deficient, and I love walking, I love sunshine, when sun’s out – I’m always out, but no benefit, no benefit. But I enjoy it.”

          1. optimader

            Pregnant hijab wearers at risk of Vitamin D deficiency
            Then there is that.. …no doubt.. I presume that would extend beyond just pregnant women?

          2. Katharine

            There are supplements they can take, and in any case it is their choice. I do not understand the hubris of people who think they have a right to tell other adults what to wear.

            1. Vatch

              We’re not telling her what to wear — that’s what the Muslim men do — they’re the ones with hubris. She can wear whatever she wants. It’s her right to choose to be submissive — tragically, in some countries, failure to do so would be very dangerous. The whole situation is dripping with irony.

              1. Katharine

                You called her oppressed because of what she chooses to wear. Excuse me for reading that as a judgment of what she should wear: it certainly appears that by your standards she would only not be oppressed if she chose as you think she should.

                I thought the idea of hijab as feminist act was no more than mildly interesting till I saw the way you reacted to it. Who do you think you are to judge her? Why can you not show her the elementary respect of believing that she makes her own choices without coercion?

                1. Marina Bart

                  Katherine, are you really unaware of the phenomenon of internalized misogyny and internalized hatred of oneself as “other”? There are women who hate women, black people who hate blackness. It starts very early.

                  The New Testament includes Paul’s letters enforcing the covering of women’s hair. This is a very, very, very old ploy. Are you also fine with the Duggar girls not being allowed to go to school and then married off to pop out babies until their uteruses (uteri?) collapse? They will tell you they are making a free choice. Are they?

                  Is it a choice when a girl hyper-sexualizes herself? Those seven year olds in bikinis? Is that a choice?

              2. clarky90

                Somali woman killed for not wearing veil, relatives say

                http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-28564984

                Militant Islamists in Somalia have shot dead a Muslim woman for refusing to wear a veil, her relatives say.

                Ruqiya Farah Yarow was killed outside her hut near the southern Somali town of Hosingow by gunmen belonging to the al-Shabab group, they say.

                The militants had ordered her to put on a veil, and then killed her after returning and finding she was still not wearing one, the relatives said.

              3. Optimader

                Touche.. i could give a FF what someone wears if it is not an imposition on me. None the less it is mysoginist cultural imposition that I dont care for having to accommodate with any special rules…. no less on the road when they situationally unaware weild toyota corrollas like inertial mass weapons.

            2. Steely Glint

              After having a squamous cell carcinoma removed, I believe the burkini is very sensible.

          3. clarky90

            Implications of vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy and lactation

            https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3540805/

            “Because calcium demands increase in the third trimester of pregnancy, vitamin D status becomes crucial for maternal health, fetal skeletal growth, and optimal maternal and fetal outcomes. … Vitamin D deficiency has long been associated with poor bone development and has been identified as the cause of rickets.Oct 20, 2009”

          4. zapster

            I just heard on some podcast that Vit. D deficiency in pregnant women has now been linked to autism in the offspring, as well.

          5. jrs

            but are they more or less at risk for it than pregnant office workers … they don’t get much sun either.

        2. Vatch

          She’s doing what conservative Muslim men want her to do. This reminds me of Phyllis Schlafly, and her efforts to impede women’s rights. It also resembles the behavior of some lower income people who repeatedly vote for politicians who consistently betray them by serving the interests of the ultra-rich.

          1. Katharine

            She is doing what she wants to do. If that happens to coincide with what conservative Muslim men want her to do rather than with what you want her to do, too bad for you.

            You still do not appear to grasp that grown women can make their own choices and that your opinion is irrelevant. I refrained from spelling that out in my previous comment, because I was trying to be nice, but evidently nice won’t work. There are times–and when women with no connection to you choose their clothes is one–when your opinion is wholly irrelevant.

            1. Katniss Everdeen

              I wish I could agree with you. I really do. But I don’t. Dressing this way seems deliberately antagonistic and provocative to me.

              And, considering the religious implications for similarly clothed women globally (I’m thinking stones here) that this garb represents, I find the tortured explanation of expressions of american feminism to be pure, unmitigated bullshit.

              In my own defense, I would say that I extend my critique to female newscasters and politicians in four-inch heels displaying acres of boobs and miles of cleavage and expecting to be taken seriously. A distinction without a difference.

              I have a brain too. Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining..

              1. Katharine

                You call this antagonistic and provocative?

                “Everyone deserves to choose their self identity,” she said. “If it is OK in the society for women to show their skin then it should also be OK for them to cover up.”

                Sorry, looks like a plain statement of equity to me.

                1. Katniss Everdeen

                  I call the hijab antagonistic and provocative, and I stand by that call.

                  There are plenty of articles of clothing, readily available in any american store, with which one can “cover up” if “modesty” is one’s religiously inspired aim.

                  As near as I can tell, the hijab covers hair (kind of), not skin. So what’s this really all about?

                  1. Katharine

                    I call your condemnation of the hijab antagonistic and provocative. Last I heard, we had free exercise of religion in this country, and if anyone, of any religion, wants to dress in a way they regard as religiously meaningful, I stand by their right to do it.

                    1. Optimader

                      So , Katherine, you would not be offended if in my kay es mas macho religious belief i choose to wear a fleshtone tank top? Just the tanktop? Would you defend me in that religiously driven clothibg (or lack of it ) practice?

                      I do my morning walk by the local grammar school BTW.

                  2. Marina Bart

                    I’m with Katniss. I’m appalled that we’re now being asked to accept the hijab as a “feminist” statement. It’s not.

                    Are you also down with women consenting to have their daughter’s clitoris excised? I mean, that’s the next step here.

                    In case the success of Hillary Clinton didn’t make it clear, lots of women consent to abide by misogynist control, for a wide variety of reasons. Internalized misogyny is a thing, in case you have never met a female anti-choice activist from among the evangelical community that used to not care about abortion at all. I don’t know whether it makes sense to ban hijabs from public school, and I would never force a woman to remove it by law, but come on. This is misogyny 101. Do men have to cover their hair? Why is covering her hair important to her? This goes back literally thousands of years. Enforcing the covering up and hiding of women’s bodies is part of hyper-eroticising them to weaken their ability to participate in public life, facilitate male sexual objectivity of them while putting the onus on the women for any sexual violence against them, and literally render them less visible as people.

                    1. Katharine

                      Don’t be ridiculous! I have said only, and repeatedly, that I support women’s (or men’s) right to dress as they choose, and to suggest that means I would support their efforts to mutilate other persons is absurd and offensive. Why can you not respect other people enough to let them make purely personal choices that are different from those you would make? What kind of power trip is this?

                    2. dcrane

                      I think that we’re focusing on the wrong issue. We’re critiquing a woman’s choice of clothing, rather than how the men and other woman in society treat that woman depending on which choice she made.

          2. hunkerdown

            Daily reminder that female modesty including veiling was normalized in the West early on by Greeks. Also, please look up “purdah”. That you choose to see women setting themselves apart from male society as a violation of Western norms is simply a liberal reflex, and really kind of embarrassing.

            1. Plenue

              Why should I care what about the social customs of the slave owning Greeks? Pointing to what a bunch of boy-diddlers considered proper isn’t a compelling argument. It was stupid then, and it’s stupid now.

              1. hunkerdown

                If anything, Wahhabists got it from the tradition of the “forefathers of Democracy™” in the West. Indeed, the only point in complaining about it when the US sends them the materiel they use to enforce the subjugation of women is to soothe one’s conscience or to create an opportunity for moral dispensation.

                I don’t buy that “we’ve” moved past anything. If we oughtn’t take cues from boy-diddlers, we must disavow the entire history and most of the present of Western civilization, because they still run the joint.

                1. Plenue

                  “If anything, Wahhabists got it from the tradition of the “forefathers of Democracy™” in the West.”

                  Bullshit. Regardless, you’re proving my point. Screw the Greeks and their bad ideas.

                  And the present of Western civilization is in large an extension and expansion of basic ideas from the ancient world, changed in ways those ancients would most definitely not approve of. The United States itself was explicitly based on Roman and Athenian Greek ideas. Most of the things we equate with US democracy, things like universal voter enfranchisement, were never the vision of either our founders or the people they based their new government on. We didn’t even have direct election of Senators until 1913. The story of US democracy is one of clawing real democratic values out of the cold, dead hands of wannabe Athenians.

        3. marieann

          I agree the hijab can be a choice.
          When I was a good little catholic girl I went to Mass wearing a hat or a little black veil. I never really thought about it but I didn’t really have a choice, women and girls had to cover their hair, if I didn’t I wouldn’t be allowed in Mass, to miss Mass is a sin and I could go to Hell, I was taught this in school
          Nowhere in the bible or the Koran does it say that women have to cover their hair ( what is it about friggin’ hair that bothers the religious anyway) ; it is a cultural thing.
          The good thing is when I was older I could ditch the brainwashing.
          To live in a country where the brainwashing is so strong means you don’t get to choose, and you grow up thinking it is your choice.

          I had a friend who wore the veil and from what she says it was never a choice, family pressure was the reason she dressed the way she did.

          1. JustAnObserver

            A Hijab is NOT the same as a Veil!

            A hijab is just a bloody headscarf with a fancy name.

            I can remember 80s London when no Sloane Ranger worthy of the name would be without her Hermes headscarf (o.k. in a pinch Liberty would do). Did that make them oppressed by men ? by religion ?

            O.k. just like all junkies started by smoking weed (or drinking milk) there is the ever present danger that today the headscarf => tomorrow the burqa => emigration to Saudi Arabia is just around the corner. /s

          2. Plenue

            “what is it about friggin’ hair that bothers the religious anyway”

            You could ask that about a lot of things. The Abrahamic G-d, Lord of Lords & King of Kings, The Alpha & Omega, The Almighty, The Merciful (/sarcasm) regularly comes across as nothing so much as a petulant child. A raging sociopath who throws a smiting hissy-fit at the merest minor infraction (not to mention decreeing the stupidest things to be infractions in the first place). Polytheist religions at least generally acknowledge that their gods are petty and vain, and that sacrificing to them is at least as much about convincing them to not actively screw you over as it is about getting them to support you.

            Show me a jihadi with the worlds worst facial hair, and I’ll show you the true face of Faith.

        4. Plenue

          Do they ‘choose’ to wear it because they actually like how it looks and feels, or because they subscribe to the woman-hating, men belittling philosophy behind it; that women need to cover themselves lest men lose control of their urges?

        5. clinical wasteman

          !+10,000+!
          “Sorry for you” will do for internet comments, but it goes to another level when, as in several European countries among other places, it becomes a police matter. (Sumptuary Laws, they used to call that in those same European countries only a few hundred years ago. It was explicitly about knowing your place in the social-economic caste system.)
          No amount of anecdotal or statistical evidence that some hijab-wearing Muslim women are oppressed (by family members, religious or community organizations etc, as well as by the state, employers … i.e. just like countless non-veiled, non-Muslim women … and men) is relevant at all here, because it’s all about whether or not you claim the right to try to make her do as you think she ought when she says she doesn’t want to. Maybe you suspect she was coerced into saying that, but presuming to know other people better than they know themselves is the ugliest habit of Blairite social SWAT teams, Sunnstein-Thaler-style ‘Nudge’ bullies, Toughlovers tabloid editors and … oh yeah, religious authoritarians at best; at worst it’s the habit of the same sort of people but with actual political power.
          Apart from a few protests in France about the infamous new Sumptuary laws there (women forced off beaches for showing too little skin), I’ve heard of few hijab-wearning women — few people at all other than liberal columnists actually — trying to claim ‘subversive feminist’ status for the scarf, and I live in a country where this is a routine shrieking point of pro-cultural-“integration” (i.e. not the Civil Rights Movement sense but forced conformity to imaginary British Vales as defined by lifestyle choices) media.
          The wry comments in this thread risk confusing a few other commentators (who don’t wear a veil but do spout about its “subversiveness”) with a great many more women who do, but don’t. For the latter — and for anyone else whose “cultural”, i.e. non-self-explanatory, needs are presumed and policed from above (eg.”offensive” speakers, “mis”users [not industrial-scale shippers] of Harmful substances, fans of Chief Keef in Chicago or Bashment raves in Croydon, refusers of nationally-specific Minutes of Silence/war memorials), etc etc it’s a matter of elementary respect. Ideally, respect would mean respite from other people trying to tell us what’s good for us — but the mere telling might be bearable if they would stop sending cops to force us to swallow it.

        6. Dandelion

          Well, that would be the neoliberal expression of feminism. Class-based feminism takes into account t the fact that no choice is made in a vacuum and also considers the effect of women’s choices on the global class women as a whole. Oppression is structural, not individual, and the hijab is very definitely a form of structural oppression, encoded in religious and secular law to enforce the submission of women.

        7. wilroncanada

          Thanks Katherine. Maybe you could respond with some jibe about the “magic underwear” that millions of USite Mormon men wear, but I know you’re too respectful of choice to write that.

    2. DJG

      What are you missing? Well, you don’t mention the deeper cause, which is the continuing crisis of monotheism. Just as one of the nice Christian ladies is quoted as saying that her dress is modest, too (and her husband will approve), so we are getting lots of enforced modesty these days. Further, what you missed telling us is that the obsession with women’s hair is part of a Semitic paradigm, because it turns up in Judaism, too. So this is deeply seated.

      And then there’s Good Ole Saint Paul, the guy who ruined the Beatitudes, who insisted women should cover their hair in church and not speak. Meaning: Women in Greek culture didn’t cover their heads in the temple (Romans did, to avoid evil spirits) and that there were rituals led by Greek and Roman women. See Jane Ellen Harrison’s magisterial Prolegomena to Greek Religion for women’s rituals.

      And what you were missing is the recent bad faith in attempting to compare the hijab to the habits of Catholic and Orthodox nuns. This came up as a metaphor in the burkini controversies. A little problem there: Nuns take vows and follow a rule (as do monks). They are not part of secular society. But what does religion in practice matter when we are all “spiritual” and metaphorical?

      So we are back at the same issue: What is equality for women? What is compulsion? What should a secularized culture accept? France and la laïcité may have a point.

      All that said, I don’t have a problem with women wearing the hijab. And there are many women who do so up here in the northern neighborhoods of Chicago. Just don’t try to sell me a bill of goods about agency, because I have seen Middle-Eastern men look right through the woman in the hijab. And don’t lecture me on “modesty.”

    3. reslez

      Hijab may make one feel trendy and open-minded but it is not a fashion statement. To try to characterize it as such is to trivialize and ignore the rising history of oppression against women and loss of women’s rights in the Middle East since the 1960s. Hijab was considered a laughable, paleolithic demand of ultra-religious conservatives as little as 40 years ago. Choosing to wear it is like a freed slave choosing to wear an iron collar. At bare minimum it sends the wrong message. Wearing it means being completely conscious of that message and supporting it. Trivializing it is a mistake, one possible only for comfortable liberals in the West.

      1. JerseyJeffersonian

        Yes indeed. Next stop for the comfortable liberals is undoubtedly to argue for the sanctity of female genital mutilation.

        Eh, no.

      2. clinical wasteman

        “Trivializing” or not is one thing, but legislation, i.e. policing, is another. I’m a commie not a liberal, but I’m offended on what I guess must be liberal-equivalent grounds when anyone presumes to guess my motives for doing anything, and I’m absolutely unwilling to be made to do (or stop doing) something “for my own good” (For others’ good, or under some sort of provisional voluntary arrangement, or crushed by force majeure: all a different story. The “for your own good” part is even worse than the force.) So awareness of late 20th century Wahabi revivalism — and its social/economic and geopolitical causes everywhere — is not going to convince me that anyone else must or can ever be “saved from herself” by High-Empathy-Quotient, blissfully conformist know-it-alls.

    4. justanotherprogressive

      Whoa! Whatever happened to the feminism I fought for? You know, the one that said that all women should have the right make their own choices? Does that not apply to clothing? Do we really need other people acting as “fashion police” telling women what they can or cannot wear?

      If you are a woman and you want to walk around in a bikini, that is your choice.
      If you are a woman and you want to walk around in cowboy boots and a 10-gallon hat, that is your choice.
      If you are a woman and you want to walk around in high heels and a skirt that cobbles your movement, that is your choice.
      If you are a woman and you want to walk around in a sari, that is your choice.
      If you are a woman and you want to walk around in a dashiki and a dhuku, that is your choice.
      If you are a woman and you want to walk around in a hijab, that is your choice.

      I’m thinking some self-examination might be in order.

      1. Marina Bart

        This is absolutely deluded. Do you not understand the power of social and cultural conditioning on people’s thinking? Economic forces, too.

        Yes, women wear high heels, that ruin their feet, tendons, and spines, while hobbling them so that they can’t run or even stride comfortably with authority. The high heels act to force their bodies into a sexually stimulating swaying motion. (Sexually stimulating to observers, that is. Not to the hobbling woman in the painful shoes.) Yes, we “let” them do it. Do you really think it’s some free expression of personal choice?

        I can’t believe we’re fighting this issue all over again. FAMILY BLOG this. FAMILY BLOG it to FAMILY BLOG.

    5. Donald

      I read the hijab piece. I don’t understand why so many people here find it hard to understand.

      I will repeat the point made in plain English in the article. Forcing women to wear a hijab is oppressive. In the US, where Islamophobia is rampant, the pressure is on women who are Muslim to conform to what we think is right. So wearing a hijab in the US, if done voluntarily for the reason stated in the article is a way of telling moral busybodies that it is none of their business what a woman chooses to wear. It is also a thumb in the eye of Islamophobes.

      1. Marina Bart

        So forcing women to unveil to conform to existing liberal society norms is bad, but applauding them for conforming to millennia-old restrictions still enforced with violence and oppression all over the world, including in communities here, is good?

        How about we let them wear the restrictive symbol of their oppression unmolested, while working to help them free themselves mentally and economically so they can and want to remove it?

        1. clinical wasteman

          How about…?
          By all means, provided “we…help” means people who see it that way collectively trying to do that — which means the work would be with the women on the “receiving end, i.e. a two-way exchange, which is what I do think is meant here — rather than a “Nudge”/”soft policing” state/NGO campaign. The UK is maybe the world leader in that sort of “behaviour modification” as political policy, despite the US origin of so much of the theory: it’s always invasive, with the additional galling aspect that the coercive power involved is coyly dissembled but still always there. It tends to get a show of meek compliance where the stakes are low and conformism is fashionable anyway (eg. diet commandments), but fares about as well as you might expect when it clashes with intensely felt group allegiances (eg. politically obnoxious, occasionally armed Wahabi/Salafi sects and any other Muslims who happen to be standing nearby) and offers nothing less laughable than “British Values” (politically obnoxious with some colourful cultural quirks; in the end always armed) in return. For similar reasons, a Nudge campaign against high heels (yes indeed, a grotesque symbol of male ((would-be)) proprietorship of women, imposed by “soft” coercion, and nowhere near as historically complicated as women’s religious headwear in any monotheistic religion) might fare better than a “soft” veil crusade. But it’s telling that there’s no such institutionally-backed anti-heels campaign anywhere, let alone a ban. The sexual symbolism could be argued (but let’s not start) to be even more blatant than that of the veils, but heels are apparently in keeping with certain prevailing “modern liberal sensibilities”/”Western Values”, even though they physically, visibly enact oppression, whereas veils attacked politically with occasional reference to oppression (real — I don’t think anyone is denying that) they sometimes symbolise. Not surprising, because feminist arguments are an afterthought in most anti-veil campaigns, which in Europe at least really do spout Clash Of Civilizations boilerplate all the time. Now bear in mind that “Muslims” are a described “culture” in Respectable Newspapers and as a “race” quite often in common speech: if outright prohibition of any religious paraphernalia is proposed, an officially retired (at least in Europe, yeah right…) “-ism” springs to mind, whether campaigners intend it or not.
          So although I agree with Katherine and Donald word for word, I don’t think that’s incompatible with gratitude to Marina — especially given the different perspective on the veil/s as such — for making the distinction between criticising something and policing it. Although I tend to disagree about the importance and legibility of symbols in general (leave them alone because they’re 1. more oblique than they seem and 2. are disastrously used as a diversion from real material problems: cf. “Culture Wars”, “National Socialism” vs. socialism), I do also agree with Marina about the absurdity of “personal choice” as an
          analytical category. The reason to resist institutional “benevolent”, especially when it’s “for your own benefit”, is that no-one outside some tiny economic elite is EVER even relatively “free to choose” almost anything. What looks like “choice” is a desperate, open-ended attempt to survive or evade multiple, conflicting, interlocking imperatives, threats and constraints. Prohibition and compulsion are obnoxious because they PRESUME that the compelled social group/individual is ABLE to choose to obey, and based on that presumption, the compelling institution (as likely private- as state-sector) threatens or perpetrates real violence by way of “deterrence” or “punishment”.

          1. clinical wasteman

            Apologies for meaningless italics mid-post: cat stood on (computer) mouse! Happens all too often.

            1. clinical wasteman

              Ach, just realized the cat scrambled even more than that. Towards the end, it (the post not the cat) should say: “the reason to resist institutional coercion, especially when it’s “for you own benefit”…”
              Using the same keyboard/mouse-walking trick, the same cat once deleted most of a deadline-sensitive 10,000-word article, hiding this in just such a way that on returning to the computer I immediately saved the deleted version on screen and in all backup places. Needless to say, I adore this cat to a near-pathological degree.

              1. ChrisPacific

                Coming to this a bit late, but I think those who argue that feminism means women being free to wear what they want should try other articles of clothing/decorations on for size (Confederate flag, swastika, KKK outfit, SS uniform…) and see if their mental model still applies.

                Clothes aren’t just clothes. They have a historical and cultural context, and they send a message. Yes, people are free to send whatever message they choose by wearing what they choose, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t also be evaluated on the content of the message they choose to send. To give another example, if you see a woman on TV arguing that women’s right to vote should be revoked, do you applaud her as a feminist for exercising her First Amendment right to say what she thinks unconstrained by society’s expectations? Or do you think about what she is actually saying?

                Now it’s possible that women wearing the hijab by choice are trying to co-opt the message and change its meaning, which has been done successfully in the past before (the use of the term ‘queer’ by the gay community, for example). If that’s what they are doing then we could debate that (chance of success, whether it’s a good or a bad idea). But nobody in this thread seems to be making that argument. If the view is that women should feel free to wear a hijab because they think it’s comfy and warm and they want to, then I think that is naïve.

    6. Dandelion

      Well, that would be the neoliberal expression of feminism. Class-based feminism takes into account t the fact that no choice is made in a vacuum and also considers the effect of women’s choices on the global class women as a whole. Oppression is structural, not individual, and the hijab is very definitely a form of structural oppression, encoded in religious and secular law to enforce the submission of women.

    1. flora

      and on the Cold War stuff: et tu, Lawrence Tribe? The list of people to never again take seriously gets longer and longer.

  3. Left in Wisconsin

    I guess it’s robot day in the news. When trying to locate WSJ story behind paywall, lots of other robot news. This from Supply Chain Digest on the same story:

    The US does have an overall trade surplus in robotic-related technologies, but a growing deficit to Japan and EU countries, as shown in the graphic below. Even the overall surplus is the result of exports of components and less-sophisticated machinery, mostly to developing nations. The US largely imports all the more advanced robotics.

    No comment necessary.

    Also, today or yesterday, Acemoglu is out with a new study saying “for each robot per 1000 workers” about 6 jobs were lost. Not sure I understand what “a robot per 1000 workers” is but not making any robots, hardly any advanced machine tooling at all, will obviously make it harder to ‘reinvigorate’ the sector, TSTL.

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      What matters is where the profits go. Labor is a line in the cost structure.

      Jobs don’t matter to your rulers. Profits matter because the people who keep the profits keep the rulers’ campaigns funded.

      Waiting for the “robot tax” that will miraculously have exemptions for those who know who to donate to.

    2. Dead Dog

      yes very depressing trajectory we are on, LIW. With Amazon seeking to be the first company to have no employees, it’s all rosy for us consumers

      Just need some money to buy that stuff they got

  4. Altandmain

    Anyone read Ted Rall?

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/03/28/five-things-the-democrats-could-do-to-save-their-party-but-probably-wont/

    5/ Bernie Sanders says Democrats can and should do class issues and identity politics. He’s right. As we’ve seen with the increased acceptance of LGBTQ people in recent years, the two are intertwined: gays’ incomes have risen But here’s the rub: you can’t really take on poverty and income disparity while accepting contributions from banks and other corporations whose interest lies in perpetuating economic misery by keeping wages low. The biggest lesson Dems should internalize from Bernie’s candidacy is his reliance on small individual donations.

    Yeah I don’t see this happening any time soon. Not the Democrats. They’re bought.

    Jimmy Dore had a good video on Youtube about Robert Reich a while back:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_Gd__K-sl8

    We gotta put together a strategy revolving around the fact that both parties are bought.

    Oh and put this one in the class warfare section:
    https://qz.com/932813/employee-burnout-is-becoming-a-huge-problem-in-the-american-workforce/

    While companies are posting record profits, Americans are working harder than ever before for a nominal wage increase. The national unemployment rate has been cut in half since 2010 and the economy is projected to grow by almost 50% between 2010 and 2020. Despite this positive outlook, employees are overworked, burned out, and dissatisfied. A recent study my firm conducted, in partnership with Kronos, found that burnout is responsible for up to half of all employee attrition. Employees are working more hours for no additional pay and as a result, they are searching for new jobs. Nearly all employers surveyed agree that improving retention is a critical priority yet many aren’t investing in solving the problem, even though it costs thousands of dollars to replace each employee lost.

    Companies need to do something about this burnout crisis now because otherwise, they will pay the high price of turnover.

    Sadly it’s only the fact that turnover might increase costs for business and lower profits that causes any action.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Do Democrat do identity issues?

      Court challenges drove DADT and Obama’s evolution on gay marriage. Am I wrong to say the Federal Judge who ruled DADT unconstitutional after the Army Times produced evidence contradicting the Administration’s stance on gas affecting unit cohesion embarrassed Obama into acting before voters noticed what a pig he was?

  5. JohnnyGL

    “Hijab becomes symbol of resistance, feminism in the age of Trump” [USA Today]. I don’t get this at all. What am I missing here?

    – My uninformed take on this is that the headline writer felt compelled to insert Trump where there was no need to do so. I’ve been seeing many more hijabs in recent years. 10 years ago, barely saw them. Not Trump related at all.

    I’m going to speculate that 16 years of wars, covert ops, coups, assassinations by our government against muslim countries, and western corporate media’s constant islamophobia has fueled a culture that wants to push back in some form. I think US cities have more immigrants coming from refugee numbers and from US universities that charge so much money that they need to pull in rich kids from the Gulf States. I don’t know enough to understand if there’s a class dimension here or if I’m way off.

    1. cocomaan

      There were trump protesters donning hijabs out there, apparently (though I haven’t seen much written about it). Also, lots of signs promoting diversity using hijabs as a symbol (same artist who did the Obama Hope poster), which some people didn’t like.

      I don’t think there’s a lot of thought going into it. If they wore dashikis or a shriner fez or a keffiyah, nobody would care. Keffiyahs were, for awhile, a fashion statement. Some on the conservative side said it was the imminent Muslim invasion, those of the liberal bent said it was cultural appropriation. So there you go.

      I forget when I realized that roles in life are really a series of hats. Some soldiers wear helmets, others wear berets. Police officers wear visors. The Tuareg have the tagelmust among men, while traditionally the women went bald.

      I think the real rule here is, “Don’t let your hat have more personality than you do”.

    2. marym

      Your take is right. In the same paragraph in the USAToday link calling it a response to Trump there’s a HuffPo link that shows that it’s not!

      There’s a lot of 20th and 21st century history of unveiling and resuming veiling among Muslim women in Muslim countries and the US. The Muslim women in the article have articulated their own reasons clearly enough.

      For a study of the subject in relation to political activism from 1940’s Egypt to current day US: A Quiet Revolution: The Veil’s Resurgence, from the Middle East to America by Leila Ahmed

  6. Jess

    “Perturbation”.

    Do Lambert and Yves own stock in a company that makes thesauruses? I always feel like I should have next to me when I’m on NC.

      1. carycat

        anybody see this research getting classified and deep sixed soon?
        slap a bumper sticker with a dodgy image on some .01 percenter’s car and watch a self driving Uber lose its mind. win – win.

    1. MoiAussie

      Fascinating. Shows that “deep” neural network based feature recognition is as fragile today as the original NN algorithms were 20 years ago. Other classifier based decision systems, such as ones used to approve finance, insurance, etc. are likely just as vulnerable.
      Tech people rarely learn from the past, as they’re too busy trying to invent the future. Most of today’s AI is brute-force stupidity, and massively overhyped. Remember the predictions from a decade ago that the internet itself was about to become conscious? Dream on …

  7. Tim

    “This sounds to me like another idea that MBAs and techies think is great but is in fact stupid. From my small town perspective: First, I like having a cashier. The human contact is good!”

    Lambert, you’ve obviously never lived in Seattle. Go to any supermarket and get in the cashier line. It’s as quite as a library, people simply do not converse.

    So Amazon folks probably think this is typical across the country and therefore ignorantly reached the conclusion that all humans are introverts and prefer not to have to interact with another human being to buy stuff.

    Still a miscalculation, but now you know why.

    1. Kurt Sperry

      Up here in Bellingham, I often enjoy chatting with the other customers and the cashiers at the check-out lines, and it seems a lot of other people do as well. Seattle *is* often a little creepily emotionally cold, I think wealth inequality makes a lot of social interaction fraught and uncomfortable in urban areas where the discrepancies are concentrated. There’s basically no middle class in Seattle; it’s either rich or poor–kind of a Third World dynamic.

  8. TellMeWhy

    Okay, so I’m curious to hear everyone’s thoughts. I went to a meeting for a local chapter of Our Revolution this past weekend. The organizer began the discussion before voting on steering committee members by asking what should be the priorities for Our Revolution nationally in the short to intermediate term.

    I remarked that they should take a page from Grover Norquist and his tax pledge and work on getting every Democrat to sign a pledge that they will vote for single payer (referring to a specific bill would be best) and, if they don’t, working to make “primarying” them a priority.

    A less robust alternative would be to simply say that anyone who doesn’t sign it will not be endorsed by Our Revolution, period.

    So what I am wondering is what are the difficulties that would be involved? What are the drawbacks to such a strategy? To my mind, it seems like the worst case (which would be bad) is that for whatever reason it was ineffectual or came to be seen as toothless. Is that a strong likelihood?

    Does anyone else see this as a worthy pursuit to identify and solidify reliable supporters, identify likely holdouts, and work to keep the issue at the forefront of discussion in upcoming elections?

    For the record, I’m not claiming to be original in coming up with this idea, but I haven’t really seen any discussion of it as a concrete possibility.

    1. Andrew

      As you say, there’s talk about single payer, but I haven’t seen anyone suggest the “Grover Norquist pledge” approach, and frankly that seems like a very sensible, effective idea. Not least because vocal support for it is a concrete demand that can be made of every single political operative you come across, including local Our Revolution organizers.

      I’m curious, what kind of response did you get from other attendees?

      1. TellMeWhy

        That part of the meeting was fairly informal and a bit disorganized (it was the first meeting for the chapter). There was definitely some audible agreement from those in attendance but then it was quickly on to the next person without any further discussion. I plan to bring it up again at future meetings when there will hopefully be more substantive discussions. It was really just something that occurred to me spur of the moment so I hadn’t really thought it through much.

        I can say though that Medicare for All probably came up more than every other issue combined among those running for steering committee positions, and drew the most vocal response from the crowd.

        1. Ulysses

          “I can say though that Medicare for All probably came up more than every other issue combined among those running for steering committee positions, and drew the most vocal response from the crowd”

          Excellent!

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I like the “pledge” idea very much.

      I don’t like the disorganization of the meeting at all, however. I’ve been to way too many meetings where everybody sits in a circle and shares, and then the decisions are made later (or were already made) by insiders (even well-meaning ones).

      Roberts Rules are great to prevent that nonsense. One of the good things about Indivisible, which I keep meaning to write about but never get to, is that they have material like “How to Run a Meeting” on their site. Essential!!!!!!!! (And do make sure that minutes, which are records of decisions taken only, and not the discussion, are kept.)

  9. Mark Gisleson

    I believe Sanders is conflating public option with Medicare for All to make it easier for other politicians to agree with his remarks. He’s flipping the ambiguity to his advantage. Neoliberals claim no difference, so can’t disagree with Bernie for linking public option to Medicare for All.

    I don’t think Bernie gets nearly enough credit for always moving the ball forward even when the optics reflect on him in a less than ideal way.

    1. RUKidding

      I agree overall with what you say. I’ve wondered, too, if Sanders is conflating Public Option with Medicare for All because it’s easier to explain and gain agreement. And I agree that he’s done hard work on keeping this conversation going after putting up with a jillion slings and arrows from both sides of the aisle. However things turn out, I feel a debt of gratitude to Sanders for what he’s done and doing.

      1. bob k

        there is no need for Sanders to introduce a bill, unless it goes along with Conyers’s bill he introduced again to the House. This is the real deal. No conflation, no confusion, spelled out in simple terms all can grasp on his website. I quote:

        “This bill would establish a privately-delivered, publicly-financed universal health care system, where patients, their physicians, and non-profit health care providers would be in charge of medical decisions — not insurance companies. H.R. 676 would expand and improve the highly popular Medicare program and provide universal access to care to all Americans. The program would be primarily funded by a modest payroll tax on employers and employees, a financial transaction tax, and higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

        H.R.676 has been introduced in Congress since 2003, and has a broad base of support among universal health care activists, organized labor, physicians, nurses, and social justice organizations across the nation. The bill has been endorsed by 20 international unions, Physicians For A National Health Program, two former editors of the New England Journal of Medicine, National Nurses United, the American Medical Students Association, Progressive Democrats of America, Public Citizen, and the NAACP. Last year, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll found 67 percent of Americans support “Medicare for All.””

        [A] “privately-delivered, publicly-financed universal health care system” is exactly what’s needed in the
        US. It can’t be tarred with the epithet “socialized medicine.” It’s got the support of unions, physicians, nurses, medical students and progressives. It plainly states how it will be financed – as it should be, through progressive taxes – the more you make the greater your contribution. That means it will be vastly more affordable than insurance premiums*.

        Conyers has been doing yeoman’s work, introducing this bill EVERY YEAR since 2003. He says that now is the time to give it legs, to push beyond the hollow “victory” of “saving Obamacare.” Will it be left to rot or will those who are advocating for Single Payer/Medicare for All put their activities where their mouths are.

        *The 1% need not fear the loss of their high priced health insurance that gets them to the head of the line at prestigious institutions like the Mayo Clinic. I’m pretty sure insurance companies will be happy to sell them The Ferrari Line of Super Expensive Medical Insurance that will allow them to look down on the 99%.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I preferred HR676 to SB703, that last single payer bill Sanders introduced. I forget the details, but the Sanders bill struck me as needlessly complex.

      2. JohnnyGL

        I’d say the uneasy relationship between Bernie and the Dems parallels that of Trump and the Repubs. Both kind of need each other and think they can get something from the other one. It’s not clear who’s actually winning quite yet.

        1) Bernie’s got a long track record of playing a weak hand very well. Lambert included the intercept article about the Community Health Centers which I can personally vouch for as “concrete material benefits” for people. My wife works for one. They save lives.

        2) I think he sees himself as the insider part of the inside/outside strategy. I think he’s hedging his bets, politically. If he can only get a public option through congress, he’ll take it, and when it falls short, as we know it will, he’ll push for more. If he can get Medicare for all, he’ll take it.

        3) He sees my item 2) as his secondary job. He sees his primary job is to keep getting people fired up and keep getting them to harass their reps. He’s doing this very well and he’s building political capital in doing so. Look at his favorability ratings!

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          The great thing about Sanders is that he’s a socialist politician.

          The frustrating thing about Sanders is that he’s a socialist politician.

          But I’d rather have him doing what he’s doing than going down in flames to make a point about purity. I’m worry that he’s got the political calculations wrong, but I don’t fault him for making them.

          Another way of saying this is that I think Conyers had the better bill (HR676). But who forced the topic onto the national agenda, after the Democrat establishment suppressed it? Sanders, not Conyers.

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      Bernie clearly outlined his goals for Anderson Cooper. The ultimate goal is Medicare for All. However, there’s no chance in Hades of getting that in the current culture. Therefore, he will, while gathering support for same, also pursue some form of public option and lowering the Medicare age to 55 because people need help now. They shouldn’t have to wait another two or four or six years while the politicians get straightened out.

      1. Vatch

        Absolutely! I support HR676, I asked my Representative to co-sponsor it, and I have no expectation that it will pass in the 115th Congress. We won’t know until we see the bill that Sanders supports, but he seems to be doing the correct and pragmatic thing. HR676 has been introduced repeatedly over the years, and it has never passed the House. As far as I can tell, it has never even emerged from committee to be voted on by the full House of Representatives. Go here:

        https://www.congress.gov/advanced-search/legislation

        and select all Congresses from 2003 to the present. Enter hr676 in the “Legislation and Law Numbers” text entry field, and click Search. You’ll see HR676 has been introduced in each Congress, but it has never passed the House.

        When a party controls the House, as the Democrats did in 2009, it is a tactical error for members of that party to compromise in advance. When the other party controls the House, such as now, it makes perfect tactical sense for the minority party to do a little compromising, since that might allow the bill to actually come up for a vote.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        I don’t have a problem with incrementalism if there’s a clear roadmap, a goal*, and a “What have you done for me lately?” attitude from a resurgent left. All three seem possible to me, but if Sanders has done that framing, I haven’t seen it — not that it would make the news!

        * For example, Sanders sold the West Virginians on universal coverage (meaning, in practice, either single payer, the globally centrist position, or a national health service, the left position).

  10. RUKidding

    I’m certainly not going to make – ICK – Darth Cheney into any kind of icon, liberal or otherwise. Still loathe that rat-bastard, evil murdering thug/crook robber.

    That said, it’s interesting that he’s coming out against Trump. I do wonder what his motivations are.

    With the Bush clan, it was more evident bc they must loathe Trump for busting up their dynastic hold on the US gubmint, plus making fun of JEB! and telling the truth about W.

    Who is Cheney rubbing shoulders with? Is he cozy with the Kochs? Just wondering…

      1. RUKidding

        Ah. Yes, but of course! How else is Cheney gonna get his grubby mitts on pallets and pallets of Yankee Dollar$$??

  11. grayslady

    Regarding the Washington Post article on Dems and health care proposals, Wiegel is not an idiot when it comes to understanding the difference between universal health care and the “public option.” To wit, on July 9, 2016, Weigel wrote an article titled Sanders secures health-care promises from Clinton before expected endorsement. In that article, Weigel stated:

    “Hillary Clinton, in moves aimed at securing an endorsement from Bernie Sanders, on Saturday highlighted her support for a “public option” in health insurance and proposed additional funding for community-based centers championed by her rival for the Democratic nomination.
    Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, said in a statement that she would affirm her support for allowing states to offer government-run health plans as part of the Affordable Care Act. And she said she would support allowing people 55 and older to buy into Medicare, which is available to people 65 and older.
    Those steps fall well short of the single-payer, “Medicare for all” program at the centerpiece of Sanders’s presidential campaign. But on a call with reporters Saturday, Sanders praised Clinton for “an important step forward” toward universal health care.”

    Lambert, I know you say you are waiting to see the text of any bill that Sanders puts forth on health care, but Russell Mokhiber, who began a modest website, Single Payer Action, a few years ago, and has been doggedly pursuing the cause of universal health care, reported back in December, 2016, that Bernie decided to abandon his campaign health care promises. In a December 2, 2016 Counterpunch article, titled Sanders Single Payer and Death by Democrat, Mokhiber reported on a conversation he had with Sanders’s health policy advisor, Laurie Kearns, who stated that Bernie believes party unity “is more important than single payer. Sanders apparently believes that single payer will get in the way of electing a Democratic Senate in 2018.” In his latest Single Payer Action website article, Single Payer Bernie Sanders Morphs Into Public Option Howard Dean, Mokhiber quotes several known single payer advocates, including David Himmelstein and Dr. Margaret Flowers, who agree with your take that the public option doesn’t come close to providing the economic and social benefits of an Improved Medicare for All, and could actually derail progress toward universal health care.
    As The Polemicist said, in a January, 2016 article:

    “Bernie Sanders is the dog who’s about to catch the car. We all thought it would pull away too quickly, but that doesn’t seem to be happening. If he catches it, he’s going to have to turn into a helluva ferocious beast, or let it go….You can say that’s just cynical old me, and I may be and hope I am wrong, but I contend that it’s reasonable to infer from Bernie Sanders’s political history, and from the position he has put himself in (an integral part of Democratic Party politics!), and from what he has said during this election, that his main goal is to prevent a Republican victory, and that if he thinks his presence in the race will risk that, he will find a way to get back to being America’s favorite “socialist” senator.”

    I, too, am taking a “wait and see” attitude, at this point, but my gut is telling me that Bernie is pursuing the approach Weigel described in his 2016 article, because the Clintons still control the Democrats, and Bernie would rather be an insider than an outsider.

    1. Eureka Springs

      Wait and see hasn’t worked well. Sanders, bless his heart, has failed us before. H.R. 676 is already written, with sponsors, expands medicare in a manner which those who have it now should have, and it’s what we all want/need.

      No excuses, no repetition of past mistakes, and no muddying the waters for the sake of uber dimensional fake out option chess.

      1. bob k

        ^ Agree. Let’s get behind H.R. 676 and give it the legs it needs to get to committees and the floor. Quit talking about Medicare for All. Strike now. Put your effort where your mouth is.

          1. JerseyJeffersonian

            Thanks for the link, Bob. Lots of information beyond merely the text of H.R. 676 itself.

            1. HopeLB

              On c-span today, two Congressman, Jones(R) and Garamendi (D) were promoting their bill, HR 1666, which would stop the wars until there is a debate about whether or not to go to war. They both urged viewers to call their Congresspeople about supporting HR1666 and reclaiming Congress’ constitutional war power. They said enough of AUMF and endless war waged by the Executive branch alone.

              https://www.c-span.org/video/?426056-4/washington-journal-representatives-walter-jones-john-garamendi

          2. John k

            Thanks.
            73 dems in the house co sponsors, no reps. Supporting this is simply supporting what he previously called for, so why not, bernie? And 73 others provides good cover…

            and everybody knows there’s no chance right now with reps in control… so a wonderful and harmless club to bash them with…

            Seems as if lots of companies would love to have gov take this over…

    2. Jeff W

      Mokhiber quotes several known single payer advocates, including David Himmelstein and Dr. Margaret Flowers, who agree with your take that the public option doesn’t come close to providing the economic and social benefits of an Improved Medicare for All, and could actually derail progress toward universal health care.

      In addition, a properly constituted public option would (eventually) drive private insurers out of business as surely as would single payer—and the health insurance companies and Pharma would fight that kind of public option tooth-and-nail, if it were not assumed out if existence at the outset. So whatever public option might be “allowed” to occur would necessarily be constrained. (Recall President Obama using as a selling point that “less than 5% of Americans would sign up” for the public option on offer in 2009—he had, of course, secretly bargained it away months earlier—or Senator Claire McCaskill’s statements that it was important that the public option be “handcuffed.”)

      If the choices are a constrained, “handcuffed” public option, whatever that is, or a properly constituted public option that health insurance companies oppose in much the same way as they would single payer, there’s no reason to consider either—we might as well be spending our time and energy fighting for single payer.

  12. dk

    Trump+Russia story:

    Good start from David Warsh, hope further digging does not neglect the matter of Trumps attitude towards China.

    Chinese government entities began purchasing U.S. government agency-backed RMBS in the early 2000s to diversify beyond U.S. Treasuries. And the NYC real estate investment magnates of the time, Trump prominent but not alone among them, were not pleased when the dismissive Chinese government investors (private investment followed some years later) initially bypassed them almost completely and made offers directly to property owners. This had changed by the late 2000’s and beyond, and Trump’s attitude softened, but the macho never-forget-a-grudge stance remains.

    And speaking of election meddling, and not to pointlessly beat a hopefully mostly dead zombie horse, here’s a little item some may recall:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1996_United_States_campaign_finance_controversy

    The 1996 United States campaign finance controversy was an alleged effort by the People’s Republic of China to influence domestic American politics prior to and during the Clinton administration and also involved the fund-raising practices of the administration itself.

    I think it should be understood that the Chinese effort/need to have influence over US policy would have existed regardless of the particular president/candidate at the time. The Clintons did not solicit Chinese interests specifically, they were generously open to anyone with a checkbook, having already demonstrated as much during the 1992 campaign.

  13. Dead Dog

    Yes, my bananas, Lambert. Your kindness will be rewarded with more plant pictures, and more comments.

    We are just waking up here, and many towns south of me are waking up to clear away the mess from Cyclone Debbie. It’s part of life here in the tropics and, in my time in Cairns, we’ve faced off three. There’s always a lot of property damage, but I think, loss of life and injuries are on the low side.

    Just to brighten your days, I’ll relate one of my chicken stories. Shirley came to us to replenish our small flock of 4 and fitted in well, often coming into the house to see what was going on. A real social bird, who would squat next to you and invite you to pat her sleek, red back, and fluffy back end. If you were gardening or fixing your car, Shirley would often be around keeping you company.

    My partner was throwing scraps to the chooks one day when one of our mini fox terriers, Jimmy, went for some of what Shirley was trying. Shirley didn’t back off until the dog had ripped into her shoulder. (It has been Jim’s only black mark.)

    When I saw the deep gashes in her back and thigh, I thought that Shirley was mortally wounded, and we put her in a travel crate to wait things out. A few days later and she was still going, even though she had developed a limp and could no longer fly. Months passed and she came back to her old self, even laying those big, big eggs of hers. And she was still capable of scratching one footed and feeding, although she probably lost a third of her body weight.

    I bought a troublesome utility (pick up) a year or so ago and it developed an electrical short and host of other problems, which saw it confined to the yard, with the battery disconnected, while I procrastinated about selling it on. As it was damaging the grass, I moved it every few days or so.

    One day, Shirley went missing, but we’ve got a biggish yard and there are plenty of hiding spots, so we didn’t panic. After three days, there was no smell, so we assumed that a python had taken her and went on with our lives. Five days in and I could smell death. I’d picked up several of our hens over the years and buried them in the corner, so I set about looking, under house, everywhere. The smell was faint, yet I kept going back to same part of yard.

    Then it hit me. My ute! I tentatively opened the drivers door and it hit me, the rank smell of decomposition. I held my breath, stuck my head in and saw what looked like a river of maggots flowing all over the interior of the vehicle. I shut the door and recalled when I had parked it last. I’d disconnected the battery and the door had been open for perhaps half hour. She’d hopped in to lay an egg, and I’d killed her. And my ute, I thought!

    I retold this story recently and my friend said: “If that had been me, I would have just locked it up and arranged for a tow. Wouldn’t even have stopped to gather the change.”

    But not me. First, I needed to respect my former friend, so I dug a small trench in the nearest garden bed and went back to the ute, big set of BBQ tongs in hand. Poor Shirley, was almost unrecognisable. A combination of 50c heat, 5 days and several hundred flies had done their job and, as I held her tightly and her body emerged from the vehicle, she slipped from the tongs and went splat at my feet. I looked inside and among all the goo and maggots was her last egg. No thanks, I thought and threw it into the garden. I quickly finished off Shirley’s burial, rammed home some big rocks to keep the dogs and chickens off her and then thought about the ute.

    Perhaps I could clean the mess and save something, I thought. So, I left the doors open, ruining our garden experience, and the neighbors’, for a couple of weeks until all the maggots had grown up and flown away. So I persisted, even driving it to one of those self serve car washes, with the carpet shampoo and so on. But when I saw the state of the floor mats, I knew I was defeated.

    I tried to sell the car, as a project you know, for parts, but it sat there. I rang the wreckers, but no-one was interested and I faced the prospect of having to pay to have it crushed.

    On a whim, I advertised the tow bar for $100 and, hidden in fine print was that the ute attached to the tow bar was free. And, I could deliver.

    Well, it sold that day. The buyer actually was looking for a tow bar and asked what was wrong with the ute. Not wanting to put him off, I was non specific, just saying that there were too many problems with it to fix. It was still registered and drivable, so he asked me to drive out to his son’s work and drop it off, which I did, removing the plates, and he handed over $100.

    I never did wait around to see what happened.

    In death, as in life, Shirley had made her mark.

    1. Harold

      I once heard a policeman’s tip that smell of death, on shoes, for example is removed by burying something in dirt (garden soil). Microbes remove smell.

  14. TK421

    I don’t get this at all. What am I missing here?

    Because hijab.

    There, that explains everything.

  15. Tvc15

    The 420. Funny how that works, sort of like Cheney’s stance on same-sex marriage because of his daughter. If we can just figure out how to personalize some issues maybe we’d see more reasonable legislation. Whom am I kidding, that will never happen until we bring out the guillotines.

    1. HopeLB

      Or we get the army corp of enginneers to secretly build a huge underwater wedge wall that would allow Trump to experience, firsthand, sea water rise at Mar-a-Lago. The Pentagon believes in climate change and will certainly aid and abet the engineers (unless, of course, if there is more money and need for the military in the other scenario).

  16. heresy101

    File under Class Warfare:
    https://www.rt.com/op-edge/382599-tax-havens-banks-eu/

    The OxFam report:
    https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/opening-vaults
    https://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/bp-opening-vaults-banks-tax-havens-270317-en.pdf

    Always thought Gerald Celente was right wing but maybe not:
    “They are doing terrible harm. It is not a victimless crime. The people are the victims. Let’s get this straight: it is a neo-feudal society. You have different rules for the economic elite and the political nobility. So when they don’t pay taxes, or they cheat the people out of money, like too big to fail – no one goes to jail for their crimes,” he told RT.
    By not paying taxes, companies “are robbing the population,” Celente says.
    “They are hurting the school systems. They are hurting the healthcare systems. They are hurting the transportation systems,” he said.

  17. PH

    Whitehouse is a putz. Arrogant, obnoxious and not too smart. God, I would love to send money to a primary challenger against him.

    Messina is a reptilian version of Baucus, his old boss, vote 51 for the Bush tax cut of 2001 (supported by Greenspan on the grounds that budget surpluses were erasing the Treasury bonds needed to maintain liquid markets — how soon we forget the quackery) and bag man for industry and Pharma that drafted Obamacare. The horror, the horror.

    Anyway, we need spokesmen for Medicare for All other than Bernie or anyone else in Congress. They are compromised by the need to make deals.

    Please, please, please can we find a strong spokesman or two willing to run for office. Let the papers (or blogs) quote them.

      1. PH

        Interesting. And surely I am out of my depth on finance on this blog. Do you buy the arguments in the article?

        In my uneducated view, patterns of economic activity matter more than isolated statistics. A budget surplus might be good or bad, depending on the circumstances, and what generates it. My view of Clinton years is too much surplus was generated, in part, by high social security payroll deductions. And with regard to mortgage back paper, it was bad because of the underwriting.

        I could be way off.

        But as far as Greenspan excuse in 2001 goes, I think it was hack politics that motivated him at the time. That I feel pretty sure about.

        1. UserFriendly

          Yes, the points are valid. I’m sure everyone here would have preferred more government spending on things like health care or not having ended welfare as opposed to tax cuts but we are big fans of running deficits.

  18. Jessica

    “Talking to a friend at lunch not long ago, he expressed his amazement that the House and Senate leadership didn’t have bills “lined up like airplanes on a runway” ready to take off in the new year. I was surprised, too” [Glenn Reynolds, USA Today].
    Perhaps the Republicans in Congress actually don’t even have that much interest in servicing their masters. Perhaps their primary interest is the crumbs of wealth and power that fall to Congress critters themselves. Making a lot of noise about servicing their masters is necessary to generate the flow of wealth and money in their direction, but actually doing something does not matter to most of the Republicans in and of itself. This is the difference between a true ideologue and those who play ideologues on TV (and on the Internet).
    If this seems hard to believe, look at the Democrats, who obviously only pretend to stand for their values.

    1. RUKidding

      It does seem as if all the parasites in Wash DC are there only to collect their paychecks, their platinum-plated health insurance benies, and any other grift and payola that they can suck off the system.

      Work? What’s that? Especially when so many “consumers” are so easily satisfied basically with Team sports of attacking the “other side” and getting their jollies from that.

      Nice not-werk if you can get it.

      1. PH

        I disdain Congressmen and their staff, but not for those reasons. Few make much money at it, and they are not there for the money. Many work long hours.

        The problem is that most are not serious people; they are there for the ego-boost. After a few years, most staff drift away, and a new crop just as insipid as the last crop arrives. When staff drift away, they look desperately for a place to land, and maybe a few have passed out favors with future employment in mind, but that is not what drives the institution.

        They want to be big shots. If not famous, at least somewhat influential, or if they do not get that far, at least part of the show. Part of something exciting and important.

        Their focus is not on policy. Most Congressmen and staff are pretty flexible about most policy. A few pet peeves aside, they do not care that much.

        What they care VERY much about is staying part of the show. Winning elections.

        Corporate money buys them cheap by giving them an edge against anyone that might run against them. Fundraising and toeing the line is a chore. Not to get rich; just to hang onto the seat. For many, the seat (or staff position) is central to the sense of self-worth and place in the world.

        That emotional tie explains the violent hatred of Bernie by nearly every Dem senator and Dem staffer in wake of his challenge to Hillary. Bernie embodies the worst kind of threat to them.

          1. PH

            I do not think so. I think he wants them replaced by a new generation of populist Dems.

            And I think he wants the holdovers to be intimidated by grass roots to move Left.

            I doubt Bernie is against Third Party in principal — just on pragmatic grounds. Anyway, that is how I feel about the third party route.

          2. Darius

            If you’re really into signature gathering and think it’s a valuable form of organizing, not the energy and motivation sucking time waster it is, then good luck with your third party. The Greens have accomplished it in about two thirds of the states. They could in theory be a viable vehicle for your ambitions. Bernie is too old for the long game and we need action now.

            1. Marina Bart

              I don’t know why people keep forgetting the lesson we JUST learned about how easy it is to suppress and flip votes. Where are these third party votes going to be reliably and honorably counted? Because right now, the Ds and Rs are free to block and pilfer those votes at will.

              Again, please enjoy starting a third party. But in the meantime, always vote against EVERY establishment Democrat, at every level of government, at every stage of the process. Force the grifters to abandon the edifice of the Democratic Party. You think rats would suck on a metal tube if there was no sugar water flowing out of it?

              Pick whatever easy, study metric you want: Did they endorse Hillary before the convention? Vote against them. Do they refuse to endorse Improved, Expanded Medicare For All? Vote against them. Did they vote for Tom Perez for DNC Chair? Vote against them.

              They’re only in it for the money and status. Take that away from them and they will find another patronage scheme to milk.

              Vote against them.

        1. djrichard

          Not to get rich; just to hang onto the seat. For many, the seat (or staff position) is central to the sense of self-worth and place in the world.

          This is what college is for. So you can strive for such positions. In the gov sector, or the private sector.

      1. Optimader

        A Standard Bosch plug.
        These are actually cool and well engineered. Ferdinand Porsche ended up paying patent infringment fines post WWII to Tatras chief designer for lifting the VW bug (peopleswagon) design

    1. RMO

      Get Putin to autograph the glovebox door and you’re all set! (he might be a bit more expensive than Carrol Shelby though:-)

      1. craazyboy

        I’m kinda partial to these. Perfect for the wild and crazy American motoring about town. Artistically innovative – melding the back end of a half track with the front end of a motorcycle! Cannon for personal security and good old fashioned German engineering. WW2 Nazi Germany heritage, leaving no doubt the rider is a true American patriot.

        I only wish they had a Steampunk version with coal fired steam engine and a Trebuchet instead of the cannon. You can always get ammo for a trebuchet. Just drain the oil into a white wine bottle if you’re in a pinch.

        I’d suggest a Goth leather outfit for the rider. Hajab gear is too conservative and people always assume you’re trying to conceal a pair of hand grenades. It’s not fair, but that’s the way it is, unfortunately.

        https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=German+Kettenkrad&FORM=IRIBEP

        1. HopeLB

          Very nice ride! But some might doubt your American patriotism, not Mercedes/BMW drivers who will agree that superior engineering trumps idealology, and not those who conclude your grandfather took out a German and kept a souvenir, but others, who will assume you are the progeny of some great ex-Nazi German rocket scientist who was brought here to work for our space program and who never actually gave up his Nazism. (You could decorate the surfaces with geometric patterns (stars and stripes to prove you’ve moved on?) made of glued on paper clips (Weld Bond works great) to further this hereditary allusion and your generation’s US patriotism. (The coal fired steam engine would be cool because of the street level contrails but you might pass out at red lights from carbon monoxide poisoning.) Maybe have the trebuchet send up small wine bottle-rockets that ignite when they reach maximum height.

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

        2. Optimader

          Actually it is lifted czech technology …
          :0(

          http://www.tatradakar.com/en/

          The Czechs were raped by the Germans in WWII, then the Russians went in for slippy seconds metaphorically speaking.

          Actually no, literally speaking.

          That goes for Hungary as well which was in a horse race w/ the Czechs as the leading technology innovator in Europe prewar.
          Much of the heavy and precision of both countries industry was Borged off by the Nazis to the Swiss so they could be a “neutral” weapons mfgr for Germany over the course of the war. A very ugly history

  19. craazyboy

    Glad the Dems are taking the first small baby steps for mankind in the quest to come up with 2 or 3 words to describe a brand new healthcare system. This must come first, before we can derive the acronym. I recently read O Care eventually generated 60,000 pages of regs, instructions, definitions and whatever. Then the half billion dollar software platform. But the first 2 words is a start….

    1. Marina Bart

      While it probably is something icky like that, I’m starting to wonder if some of this is non-optional belt tightening.

      There have been several hints that the money is just not there. Sirota backing away from his already announced employment with Brock, all the donor quotes that they’re closing their wallets, etc.

      I was dreaming (actually daydreaming, in those waking moments before you fully discipline the direction of your thinking) of getting a consultant job that would allow me to talk to donors — not about the policy stuff I want, but the reality of what they are actually buying now by donating to Democrats. Because I think there’s no value for money there for anyone not in on the consultant revenue stream. Yes, there are those for whom blocking the left from power is a urgent necessity. But I don’t think there are that many Dem donors who are really incentivized consciously to do that. If you’re a 5-10%er, neoliberalism is coming for you, too, and soon. Most of the upper middle class is next down the chute. I believe the Dems rely on that money. It’s not all coming from billionaires.

      And maybe, just maybe, those donors are acting rationally. It does happen occasionally.

    2. Big River Bandido

      From that link:

      It’s a whirlwind job that took Perez from being feted at a donor conference at the Mandarin Oriental in Washington Thursday night to playing Solitaire on his iPhone in row 31 on a Delta flight to Detroit shortly after dawn the next morning.

      I immediately thought of Raymond Shaw, the brainwashed assassin in The Manchurian Candidate, and his trigger line, “Raymond, why don’t you pass the time by playing a little Solitaire?”

      It’s the perfect game for the chairman of a brainwashed political organization. One could take the metaphor further and say that the Democrats have no more political relevance than a ladies’ garden club.

  20. Ranger Rick

    That “no lined-up bills” quote really strikes to the heart of the AHCA debacle.

    They had years to come up with a better (read: more effective at delivering health care into the hands of citizens at affordable prices) plan. And Ryan had nothing. Ryan has nothing.

    Is the ALEC-led outsourcing of legislation so far gone that lawmakers have simply completely forgotten how to write their own bills? Do they not each have a bucket list of legislation they’d love to see passed or repealed in an ideal world?

    I think the party leadership on both sides of the aisle are still in full panic mode, trying to calibrate their behavior for maximum effect in what is going to be the most riotous midterm election in US history.

    1. Marina Bart

      Is the ALEC-led outsourcing of legislation so far gone that lawmakers have simply completely forgotten how to write their own bills?

      Yes.

      1. wilroncanada

        Marina
        See above re ALEC.
        They have the bills; that’s what they do, in addition to buying politicians and their staffs.
        For some reason the bills are lying dormant.
        What could it be?
        Surely not just republican and democratic party amnesia.

  21. allan

    U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said on Tuesday he will not divulge – even to other members of his panel – who gave him intelligence reports that indicated President Donald Trump and his associates may have been ensnared in incidental intelligence collection.

    Asked by a Fox News reporter whether he would inform the other committee members about who gave him the reports he viewed on the White House grounds last week, Nunes said: “We will never reveal those sources and methods.”

    Onion or Reuters?

    Nunes is turning out to be the love child of Maxwell Smart and Inspector Clouseau.

  22. ewmayer

    Re. India water usage:
    Doing the math, that translates to an average usage of ~200 Gal (~700 L) per person per day, and this of course lumps personal, industrial and Ag usage into the per-person average. BY way of comparison, California’s 2016 daily water usage averaged out to roughly the same amount [https://ca.water.usgs.gov/water_use/], though it’s not clear to me from that page whether that includes industrial and Ag usage.

  23. Darius

    The usual excellent work by Matt Stoller on Hamilton. The Democrats’ extollation (sp?) of Hamilton is high-profile evidence of their becoming the party of the rich. When I was a kid being dragged around to Jeff-Jack dinners, the name Hamilton was a dirty word. My grandpa would be spitting out his cigarettes.

    Stoller mentions a milestone in the current Hamilton hagiography: when Robert Rubin kicked off the Hamilton Society in the dark days of the Bush administration. The headline speaker was the new Senator Barack Obama, performing his trained seal act. I’m sure Rubin patted him on the head and told him what an impressive young man he was, which is Obama’s catnip.

  24. Flyover

    re — Hijab

    In my corner of flyover US, I see a number of women wearing the veil, or head covering. My flyover village is accepting of all kinds of faiths and nationalities, including Moslems, and I don’t have the impression that force or oppression are involved.

    Rather, at least in my village, those women wearing headcovering do so to display their faith. They appear to be doing so freely. By the way, some of these women speak perfect English.

    So maybe these women are simply displaying their allegiance to their faith.

      1. Quentin

        In western countries we see Moslem women making a point of their religious belief in public by their clothing while Moslem men remain for the most part indistinguishable from non-Moslem men. Are women more religious than men? Isn’t that odd? That may be the reason they’re not allowed to drive in Saudi.

  25. Dandelion

    What you’re missing, Lambert, is the degree to which postmodernism has re-shaped (completely inverted?) feminism, with its primacy of the subjective over the material; its absolute refusal to deal in ethical absolutes which therefore tends towards a vacant relativism that purports to support materially oppressed people but instead merely re-defines oppression as cultural expression; its dislocation of power due to lack of any class analysis; its obscuring of exploitation within an ever-expanding matrix of advantage; its emptying of meaning from language or even inversion of language such that, for example, discourse is action — all combined with the neoliberal belief that individual market choice and consumerist expression (such as clothing) maximizes power and freedom, no matter what the choice or the expression actually is and no matter the impact of that choice or expression on the population of women as a whole.

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      Yes, well said. What is truly problematic is the degree to which vast numbers of people have “become” postmodern and neoliberal entirely thoughtlessly. Very very very large educational task ahead.

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