Links 3/19/17

Humans may have transformed the Sahara from lush paradise to barren desert The Conversation

Asset managers campaign to limit use of antibiotics FT (J-LS).

Why We’re Suing the UNM Foundation NM Fishbowl (DK). Remember that spate of stories where the key to prosperity was being a college town? Here’s a good look at how the local oligarchies in college towns operate (beyond zoning, construction, and real estate, that is). Readers, have any of you in college towns experienced anything similar?

Why transaction laundering is turning into a huge financial blindspot FT (RS).

“No return to slavery!”: A million take to the streets against Temer’s Neoliberal Reforms Brasil Wire

UN official resigns after pressure to withdraw Israel apartheid report The Electronic Intifada

China?

Tillerson ends China trip with warm words from President Xi Reuters

Will US Go To War With China? Rubio, Cardin Introduce Bill Penalizing Chinese Aggression In South China Sea International Business Times

Asian collision course Le Monde Diplomatique (J-LS).

Act Normal or Go Away n+1. On the Dutch election.

‘I Am Offering the French Renewal’ Der Spiegel

How the Euro Could Break Up—or Be Saved Bloomberg

No other countries will quit EU after Britain – EU chief Juncker Reuters

Health Care

Healthy California Act Town Halls Kick Off Saturday in Southern California March and Rally Planned for March 26 in Los Angeles San Bernardino American. “Health California Act” is SB562, the Calfornia single payer bill.

Trump backers see pros and cons in new plan for health care Star-Tribune

Column Here’s the secret payoff to health insurance CEOs buried in the GOP Obamacare repeal bill Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times

Controversy at Mayo Clinic: Patients with private insurance get priority Ars Technica (AH). Rules 1 and 2 of neoliberalism.

Unspeakable Realities Block Universal Health Coverage In America Forbes

Psych Ward Reviews shows the dire state of mental health care in the U.S. Daily Dot (Psych Ward Reviews).

Opponents of single payer are moral monsters on par with AHCA proponents Matt Bruenig, Medium

Our Famously Free Press

The CIA’s 60-Year History of Fake News: How the Deep State Corrupted Many American Writers Truthdig. Excellent review of the bidding, despite the clickbait-y headline.

What Russian Hackers Teach About America’s Spies Marcy Wheeler, The Atlantic (DK); see also here. A Yahoo attack, with an actual indictment.

The CIA Can Now Order Drone Strikes Without Pentagon Approval Motherboard

Trump Transition

Robert Reich, Facebook (sorry!). Worth quoting in full:

I’ve spent much of this week in Washington – talking with friends still in government, former colleagues, high-ranking Democrats, a few Republican pundits, and some members of Congress from both sides of the aisle. It was my first visit to our nation’s capital since Trump became president.

My verdict:

  1. Washington is more divided, angry, bewildered, and fearful – than I’ve ever seen it.
  2. The angry divisions aren’t just Democrats versus Republicans. Rancor is also exploding inside the Republican Party.
  3. Republicans (and their patrons in big business) no longer believe Trump will give them cover to do what they want to do. They’re becoming afraid Trump is genuinely nuts, and he’ll pull the party down with him.
  4. Many Republicans are also angry at Paul Ryan, whose replacement bill for Obamacare is considered by almost everyone on Capitol Hill to be incredibly dumb.
  5. I didn’t talk with anyone inside the White House, but several who have had dealings with it called it a cesspool of intrigue and fear. Apparently everyone working there hates and distrusts everyone else.
  6. The Washington foreign policy establishment – both Republican and Democrat – is deeply worried about what’s happening to American foreign policy, and the worldwide perception of America being loony and rudderless. They think Trump is legitimizing far-right movements around the world.
  7. Long-time civil servants are getting ready to bail. If they’re close to retirement they’re already halfway out the door. Many in their 30s and 40s are in panic mode.
  8. Republican pundits think Bannon is even more unhinged than Trump, seeking to destroy democracy as we’ve known it.
  9. Despite all this, no one I talked with thought a Trump impeachment likely, at least not any time soon — unless there’s a smoking gun showing Trump’s involvement in Russia’s intrusion into the election.
  10. Many people asked, bewilderedly, “how did this [Trump] happen?” When I suggest it had a lot to do with the 35-year-long decline of incomes of the bottom 60 percent; the growing sense, ever since the Wall Street bailout, that the game is rigged; and the utter failure of both Republicans and Democrats to reverse these trends – they gave me blank stares.

Oddly, or not, #2 doesn’t mention Democrat rancor….

Inside Trump’s White House, New York moderates spark infighting and suspicion WaPo. Front page teaser: “Inside White House, a class war brews between N.Y. executives, populist aides.”

The Reclusive Hedge-Fund Tycoon Behind the Trump Presidency The New Yorker. Mercer’s millions played a huge role in Zephyr Teachout’s defeat; not even Clinton’s principled “There’s a special place in hell…”-driven Teachout endorsement could overcome them. Oh, wait… To be fair, Teachout’s wily opponent, incumbent John Faso, responded to Teachout calling out Mercer by questioning Teachout’s ties to Soros; and the Democrat Establishment (and DNC) position that “Our oligarchs are the good ones” doesn’t seem to be getting a lot of traction, does it?

The blow-it-all-up billionaires HuffPo. Parallel to the New Yorker piece on the Mercers, not derivative from it.

Merkel’s Ivanka moment Politico

G20 finance ministers drop anti-protectionist pledge BBC and Trump blows up G20 trade consensus Politico

In Gorsuch, Conservative Activist Sees Test Case for Reshaping the Judiciary NYT

Icahn Bets Against Renewables Market He Wants Trump to Overhaul Bloomberg

The Trump Resistance Will Be Commercialized NYT

Why Leaders Fail to Stop Bad Behavior Time

2016 Post Mortem

Donna Brazile: Russian DNC Narrative Played Out Exactly As They Hoped Donna Brazile, Time. Even if mistakes were made….

Hillary Clinton, returning to the public spotlight, urges Americans to find common ground Los Angeles Times. Clinton: “[W]e can’t just ignore or turn a cold shoulder to someone because they disagree with us politically.”

Chelsea Clinton joins board of online travel site Expedia, documents say Guardian. $250K-$300K a year. Sweet!

Donald Trump’s favorability numbers now higher than Hillary Clinton’s Chronicle

DNC’s transition team grows after grumbling on the left WaPo. By two. The left shouldn’t want liberals “grumbling.” There’s no percentage in that. They should want them groveling and yammering about “democratic norms” and prophesying the end of the Republic.

Everyone loves Bernie Sanders. Except, it seems, the Democratic party Guardian

Imperial Collapse Watch

Inglorious Empire by Shashi Tharoor — the rapacious Raj FT

Can The Kardashians Survive In The Trump Era? HuffPo

On Banning on Leaf Blowers NYT

After years of drought in the Central Valley, grass — and optimism — return for Hanford residents Los Angeles Times

Guillotine Watch

High-income millennials use their buying power on luxury homes WaPo (Kokuanani).

Now You Can Live in a Remodeled Shipping Container Bloomberg. Snow Crash coming true…

Class Warfare

Immigrants don’t make up a majority of workers in any U.S. industry Pew Research. Interesting charts from 2014: Top industry by share of (illegal) immigrant workers: Private Households (22%). Top occupational group of (illegal) immigrant workers: Farming, Fishing, Forestry. In other words, (cheap) maids to clean the granite countertops for the 10% on up, and (cheap) field hands for Big Ag. Let’s not pretend justice or humanitarianism are the drivers here, mkay?

Wages rise on California farms. Americans still don’t want the job Los Angeles Times. As above.

American Carnage Christopher Caldwell, First Things. Well worth a read. Conservatives are working hard to craft a narrative on opioid addiction. Crickets from liberals; Clinton had the chance to raise the issue in 2016 but dropped it. Caldwell writes: “Today’s opioid epidemic is, in part, an unintended consequence of the Reagan era.” Airbrushing history and economics aside, I’m starting to mentally cross off “unintended,” since the excess deaths from opioids — not to mention “deaths from despair” generally — are eye-wateringly high. Hard not to notice them without an effort of will to look away. Perhaps the people dying the excess deaths aren’t in the “coalition of the ascendant,” and thus written off by liberals?

Bogie men: Meet the foot soldiers of the Indian Railways Hindustan Times

Lyft agrees to pay $27 million to settle driver classification lawsuit Ars Technica

Yellen’s Effed up Attack on Working People, Sad Counterpunch

Where the elderly are still working, whether by choice or necessity Quartz

Rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Chuck Berry dead at 90 Reuters

‘Teenage Historian’ Chuck Berry Reviews The Clash, Talking Heads, Joy Division And The Sex Pistols For A 1980 Punk Zine Dangerous Minds

Antidote du jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

254 comments

  1. fresno dan

    10. Many people asked, bewilderedly, “how did this [Trump] happen?” When I suggest it had a lot to do with the 35-year-long decline of incomes of the bottom 60 percent; the growing sense, ever since the Wall Street bailout, that the game is rigged; and the utter failure of both Republicans and Democrats to reverse these trends – they gave me blank stares.

    =================================================
    “bewilderedly”??? These must be people who watch the TV commercials and proclaim “what a marvel” instead of flipping the channel….

    Reply
    1. crittermom

      Great points by Robert Reich.
      I thought #10 summed it up best. Even spelling it out for those who ‘can’t understand’ fails to enlighten them.
      However, I doubt these people even watch TV.
      More likely, they prefer watching movies in their home theaters so they can remain in a fantasy world & ignore the (ugly) truth surrounding them outside their perfect world. That way they can choose what they see while keeping their blinders on to the rest of it.
      Filtering. Always filtering (to avoid having to see the truth).

      Reply
      1. dcblogger

        As someone who lives in DC I can tell you that our political elite are glued to the TV. Every congressional office and lobbyist has the TV turned to cable news all day every day. Walk into any congressional office and the TV will be on. Most of the hotels have cable news on. Even some of the fast food restaurants have cable news on. There is a reason well call it the echo chamber. it is how the kleptocracy maintains control over the political conversation in our country. It is why they think that the deficit is more important than health care and jobs.

        Reply
      2. witters

        “Filtering” – Thomas Frank calls it ‘curating’ in an excellent essay in The Baffler (earlier linked in Links).

        Reply
    2. flora

      Ah, Robert Reich. B. Clinton’s labor sec who said labor union were “just plain wrong” on NAFTA. Reich, who pushed both NAFTA and welfare reform, is a neoliberal in new deal clothes, imo. He’s a good wordsmith, always sounds very plausible, sounds like he’s ready to fight the good fight. And maybe he is… for the neoliberals.

      Reply
      1. flora

        adding:

        most of his 10-point facebook post is gossip – he heard something, he talked to people (pundits) who heard something. etc.

        #6 is a genuflect to the Blob.

        #10 omits any reference to Reich’s own efforts in causing that 35 year decline in income.

        As Lambert has said: This has been a clarifying election.

        Reply
        1. flora

          and:

          This from #10 is precious”
          “…ever since the Wall Street bailout, that the game is rigged; and the utter failure of both Republicans and Democrats to reverse these trends – they gave me blank stares.”

          He’s still using that DLC 3rd-Way triangulation gambit. Then blames voters: gave me blank stares. Maybe voters can’t believe he still thinks neoliberalism is right.

          Reply
              1. ChrisPacific

                And he was right on that point (both the causes and the DC obliviousness).

                I’m never quite sure what to make of Reich. He can talk the talk pretty well when he wants to (and yes I know it’s gossip, but he’s a Washington insider, so he is a good source for that kind of thing). However he is capable of impersonating an establishment Democrat a little too well for me to think that it’s merely an act. That said, the fact that he is even able to write #10 (which you would never hear from Obama or Clinton) makes me think that he probably has to be considered an ally, even if a not particularly reliable one.

                Reply
                1. Cujo359

                  That’s the way I think of Reich. He’s a Democratic Party loyalist, but he seems to understand that sometimes loyalty requires facing or speaking uncomfortable truths.

                  Reply
            1. NYPaul

              What he got wrong with #10 was using the word, “failure.” That term implies that “both Republicans and Democrats” attempted “to reverse these trends.”
              We know, of course, that “the 35-year-long decline of incomes of the bottom 60 percent” was the goal all along, and, in that, they succeeded magnificently.

              Reply
      2. Teejay

        While I take your points on Reich vis a vis NAFTA and welfare, I’m not as certain of his neoliberal bona fides as you infer. If he currently is a neoliberal I missed it. Then again in ’08 I thought Obama was a liberal.

        Reply
    3. dale

      “1.Washington is more divided, angry, bewildered, and fearful – than I’ve ever seen it.”

      Is it wrong of me to feel some satisfaction that the D.C. class ( I don’t know what else to call them) is experiencing the anger, bewilderment, and fear that has gripped the common man for many years? I want to say to them, careful when you climb into the boat that you don’t tip it over and drown us all.

      Reply
      1. NYPaul

        I don’t know, dale.

        Do multi-millionaire grifters feel “divided, angry, bewildered, and fearful” while stepping over a homeless person and sliding into the back seat of his/her chauffeured limo?

        Reply
  2. allan

    Imperial Collapse, This Time is Different Edition:

    U.S. base rises from the rubble for Mosul push [Reuters]

    QAYYARA WEST AIRFIELD, Iraq

    U.S. troops are hard at work rehabilitating this battle-scarred, rubble-strewn airfield as a logistics and support hub for Iraqi and international forces in the decisive battle against Islamic State for the city of Mosul 60 km to the north. …

    Lieutenant Colonel Curtis also stressed that the build-up did not mean the United States was committing its forces to a long and costly new era of involvement.

    She had served in Iraq during the 2003 invasion.

    “It’s a different fight now. …

    Reply
  3. fresno dan

    High-income millennials use their buying power on luxury homes WaPo (Kokuanani).

    “We owned a condo in Glover Park and wanted to buy a house so we could start a family,” said Diana Stoltzfus.
    ===============================================
    Condo’s….more effective birth control than condom’s……
    children sharing a room…the horror, the horror!

    When I lived in Bethesda Md (a damp, dank, rat infested – OK, OK, one rat once, basement) and I jogged (well, it was jogging for me) and I went back off Old Georgetown Road to “jog” into the swanky, much more than million dollar homes neighborhood, I never ONCE saw a human being other than in a car. Now most of these homes probably didn’t have children – but none???? How many children are going to play outside in their yards of their million dollar homes?

    Reply
    1. Kokuanani

      We moved from this area several years ago, further out in the suburbs from our “ordinary” place to an even SMALLER house. For many years I’ve walked or driven past the huge monstrosities there and wondered:

      * what are their heating & air conditioning bills like?
      * how many folks who need shelter could they house in those countless bedrooms?
      * how many dogs or cats could come from the shelter into these abodes? [I’m into animal rescue.]

      I mean, really, what can you DO with a place like this, and all the land around it? We really should tax the hell out of these fools so we could get some good out of all their $$$$.

      Reply
      1. polecat

        The same area of land that surrounds your smaller abode is, in all probability, swallowed up by theirs !

        And what good is that ‘yard’, if not to be sprayed, fertilized, and mowed to perfection ….. and if perchance there IS a food garden on site, that it’s most likely the ‘staff’ that tends to it ……

        Reply
      2. bronco

        As a builder in the early 2000’s many of us felt like some sort of crash was coming. We were working in these soulless developments full of cookie cutter monstrosities. 5 or 6 bedrooms , 3 full baths , 3 car attached garages. Many of these places were sold before we were done and we got to see the buyers around looking at their new homes. No one could understand why a man and a woman and 2 cats needed such a huge house.

        We used to joke amongst ourselves that both were probably working 60 hours a week to pay the mortgage and would never get around to having enough kids to fill up the bedrooms.

        Reply
    2. marieann

      Children don’t play outside anymore. We live in a suburban neighbourhood, mostly older home with new subdivisions around. My husband walks for an hour 3 times a day and reports that he sees the occasional kid out playing, we do see kids walking home from school.

      When we first moved here 40 years ago we had to dodge the kids playing road hockey, but I haven’t seen that in a while

      Reply
      1. Paid Minion

        If they are anything like my upper crust brother and his snowflakes,
        they are at baseball, basketball or soccer games, or being coached at high dollar clinics by former pros, or in the SUV being shuttled to these activities.

        Noteworthy…….even though he owes everything to his football scolarship at a Big 12 school, he’s keeping them out of football.

        Reply
    3. Anonymous

      I live in Bethesda and I don’t think young families can afford to live here anymore. Minimum for a house is around $600K to $700K and you get a forty year old bungalow (not quite a teardown but getting there) with less than a thousand sq ft of living space. A lot of these ranch houses are being torn down to make way for 5,000 to 7,000 sq ft. McMansions that fill up the entire lot, leaving very little area for the front and backyards. Children do play and walk to school (but usually less than 500 yards). A lot of them hang out in the local YMCA on Old Georgetown Rd. Condos in downtown Bethesda are even worse – like $2M to $3M but you get 3500 sq ft. Townhomes start at $800K but come with elevators and roof decks. Young familes that do move here seem to be slightly overstretched – like they can afford the house but nut much else.

      Reply
      1. Octopii

        Same south of the Potomac. My comfy little close-in neighborhood has become a target for a-hole lawyers, lobbyists, and financial people to buy up bungalows and tear them down to two walls, then “remodel” them into gross McMansions that block out the sun. And they rarely come outside or can be bothered to wave hello in the morning as we all head out to work. They don’t seem insightful enough to realize they’re ruining the reason they wanted to come here.

        Reply
    4. wilroncanada

      High-income millennial to partner: Guess what, I just bought a condominium.
      Partner to millennial: O goodie, now I can throw away my diagram.

      Reply
    1. Tom Doak

      Thanks for the laugh, I had forgotten that skit !!

      The best part was that in the same skit that they honored Chuck Berry, they endorsed the destruction of all 3.5 million copies of the #1 song at the time, by Debby Boone.

      Reply
    2. jhallc

      With the loss of James Cotton on 3/16 it’s been a sad week for all.

      “The Blues will be alright,
      if there’s someone left to play the game
      The Blues will be alright,
      if there’s someone left to play the game

      All my friends are going,
      things just don’t seem the same”

      my modified version of
      Born in Chicago by Nick Gravanites & Paul Butterfield Blues Band

      Reply
  4. JTMcPhee

    About Reich on Current Washington: Observations from the Third Reich, my people. Eeeeeekk!

    Thus it always is in imperious, Imperial capita-bubbles, as the end draws nigh… let us remember how he had a not insignificant role in bringing about anomie and the war of all against all… No gracious pardon for you, Robert. And little cred or diagnostic value to your 10-pointer.

    But not to worry. You’ll have a comfy living, among comfy friends, and a full rice bowl, and be able to afford the best health care and stuff, while yet you live. Welcome to Elysium!

    Reply
    1. John Wright

      Google books came up with this:

      “As Douglas Janicke points out Reich was rapidly marginalized within the first Clinton administration by economic policy analysts – like Leon Panetta and Alan Greenspan – who gave rather more importance to cutting budget deficits than human capital formation”

      Source “Critiques of Capital in Modern Britain and America: Transatlantic Exchanges 1800 to the Present Day” edited by Mark Bevir and Frank Trentmann

      Note, Reich does seem to be well-meaning, I remember when ObamaCare was initially proposed (2009) and Reich was willing to drive the 55 miles from Berkeley to my northern California town to discuss the implications of the new health insurance proposal to a packed audience.

      AFAIK, no appearance fee, Reich simply was willing to get involved.

      But Reich does seem to believe the Democratic party can be restored, somehow, to something worthwhile, despite his own prior experience in neo-liberal Democratic politics.

      Trump’s, completely unintentional, greatest service to the country may be the destruction of BOTH parties.

      Reply
      1. Mark S.

        I put Bob Reich in the same category as John Dean: former criminals who still embody the culture but who are well worth reading. They’ve seen the sausage being made and have former insider instincts for the quid pro quo.

        Reply
        1. JTFaraday

          Reich would clearly like to go on supporting the insupportable as demonstrated by his constant supplication to the Party. But he is not a criminal.

          And given the way he publicly informed on the Clinton Administration, in its dealings with the real criminals Rubin and Greenspan, it is more likely than not that his old friend Clinton regards him as a traitor.

          Reply
    2. No Way Out

      Regarding Reich’s list, these may well be the perceptions, but remember also that this is what people are being fed by the intel community’s agit-prop. This stuff feeds on itself, legitimate or not. The one thing we can count on is that this sort of stuff benefits the Clinton-Wall Street-intel faction that believes the people have made a mistake by ousting them from power.

      If this all sounds like third world intrigue, it is, and remember that third world intrigue all sounds the same because the same people create it all. The same people in fact that are creating it this time.

      We have a big problem here, and it’s not just Trump. It’s that the people who want to replace him have shown themselves to be worse than he is.

      P.S. And let’s not forget that Reich can also get to hyperventilating from time to time. He’s a Clintonite at heart, and his lot would improve were their faction to regain power. The whole lot of them, BOTH SIDES, need to go.

      Reply
      1. NYPaul

        “He’s a Clintonite at heart,……”

        Except when the polls said, “Obama,” the ease with which Clinton was shown her place under the bus was truly breathtaking.

        Reply
    3. wat stearms

      Reich’s observations certainly seemed to be precisely reflected in the WaPo “Inside Trump’s White House” piece. Reading which, I was amazed, as I have been most days since Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2000, how incredibly shallow and stupid the entire Penn Ave pageant is. They should all call themselves Pangloss Nos. 1 through whatever.

      Reply
  5. hidflect

    “UN official resigns after pressure to withdraw Israel apartheid report ”

    I suspect that part of the DNC’s refusal to reform is down, not just to serving the Corporate money, but also to the same lobby group as probably figures here. What sympathy do Latinos, Blacks, Asians and Millennials have to the cause of that little, beleaguered beacon of democracy in the Middle East? Not much, I’d say and they know it. Let them in the door and you might have another South Africa on your hands.

    Reply
    1. WheresOurTeddy

      What sympathy do Latinos, Blacks, Asians and Millennials have to the cause of that little, beleaguered beacon of democracy in the Middle East?

      There are no beacons of democracy east of Casablanca, west of New Delhi, north of Khartoum, or south of Kabul.

      Pretending otherwise just dishonors the dead crushed under Israeli and American tank tracks. Democracy. Ha!

      Reply
  6. dontknowitall

    Robert Reich’s points but specially #3 “Republicans (and their patrons in big business) no longer believe Trump will give them cover to do what they want to do. They’re becoming afraid Trump is genuinely nuts, and he’ll pull the party down with him” is idiotic but good news though he presents it like a cause for alarm. Reich, a Democrat who was silent for too long about the damage NAFTA and other trade treaties would do to American workers, shows his true colors in this specious essay.

    Big business is not getting what they want or expect from Trump and how could it be otherwise since they signed up for Hillary or waited until the last second to endorse him and so had no input in his economic program whatsoever (Trump’s “jobs, jobs, jobs the greatest job machine ever” ). If Trump is sticking to his guns in internal meetings it weakens severely the neoliberal consensus and their tools in the money parties. So they will not be able to do what they want to do which is globalizing, worker-destroying economic policies.

    By “genuinely nuts” Reich’s interlocutors probably mean he’s breaking the Davos/G5/G20/World Bank/IMF consensus (in that specific order of authority) that gave us democracy-destroying zombie like TPP, TISA, NAFTA, CETA, stealth demonetization and other neoliberal organized policies that we can’t seem to stop by any democratic mechanism or even in transnational organizations like the EU.

    And, finally “he will pull the [Republican, presumably] party down with him” which Reich, a Democrat, says it like it is a bad thing though I bet here he means the money party and its two wings in Congress, Republican and Democrats.

    This is an opening for Sanders to come in and try to find a deal with Trump on Medicare-for-all, if one is possible.

    Reply
    1. Kokuanani

      Reich should note that Obama passed up a golden opportunity to put the Republican party down in 2009, when it was in nearly as bad shape as the Dems are now.

      Reply
      1. John Morrison

        Absolutely. I have the hunch it was intentional: get his base to overspend, overwork, and overstress themselves to insure that he won and the Republicans lost. Then betray the base. It would be a long time before they tried that again.

        https://rortybomb.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/obama-is-bad-at-losing-budget-edition/ contains the link to his earlier bad-at-losing article, which itself links to an article questioning why he avoided using his the huge base he built up in his campaign.

        Republicans and the neoconmen were loathed in 2008. With regime change, there was a serious concern that some of them might have been axed to pieces on national television, or at least made to walk the perp walk. That must not be allowed. Hence Obama and Clinton were leading by far, before a single primary or caucus was held.

        Reply
    2. Carolinian

      Is Robert Reich ever right about anything? He should be ignored at all times.

      Meanwhile here’s the considerably more sensible Justin Raimondo explaining how the current and dangerous North Korea confrontation can be laid at the feet of George W. Bush, the man who gave DC a thrill up the leg. North and South Korea were on the road to reconciliation until Dubya arbitrarily decided that he needed an extra enemy for his “axis.”

      http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2017/03/16/how-to-end-the-korean-war/

      As for Reich, while the Republicans have long been the plutocrats’ sock puppets it’s the Dems who own the fact that Trump is now president including Dems like Reich himself with all his crocodile tears about the working class.

      Reply
      1. Reno/Dino

        http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2017/03/16/how-to-end-the-korean-war/

        Backstories like this about how we got here provide historical perspective, but do little to address the current situation. Why not go all the way back to WWII and note that Korea was the biggest loser in the world-wide conflict? It is the only nation torn apart by that war that is still divided today due to our unwillingness back then to negotiate with the Soviet Union due to the communist scare. The fact is there have been dozens of opportunities to avert the coming disaster.

        Justin’s solution now is to simply withdraw our forces from the peninsula and let the North and South hash it out. That would pull the rug out from under Kim’s paranoid hold on power and his regime would probably collapse, according to Justin, thereby ending the possibility of war.

        Nice idea, but it will never happen. We have too much invested to withdraw. That’s the mantra for every conflict we are engaged in around the world. We double down, that’s how we roll. I don’t see, how under these circumstances, we avoid a major conflict now that N.Korea will soon have a nuclear delivery system capable of reaching the U.S. The irony here is that after decrying their nuclear capability, we will be the one who uses nukes on them.

        Reply
        1. neo-realist

          I don’t see, how under these circumstances, we avoid a major conflict now that N.Korea will soon have a nuclear delivery system capable of reaching the U.S. The irony here is that after decrying their nuclear capability, we will be the one who uses nukes on them.

          I hope we don’t. China goes after us if we do (possibly w/ icbm’s), and if that’s the case, game over. China doesn’t want the nuclear wreckage of NK to cause the ones left alive to come crashing its borders, nor does it want to risk some semblance of a unified Korea w/ western styled democracy at its door step if the buffer of North Korea is eliminated.

          Reply
    3. Edward E

      Oh just wait, it’ll come off his lips soon, SDR – the mother of all cans replacement hegemony​. Then he will reassure Americans that he’s an excellent driver and thirteen minutes to Judge Wapner and the People’s Court.

      Reply
    4. Ed

      ““Republicans (and their patrons in big business) no longer believe Trump will give them cover to do what they want to do. They’re becoming afraid Trump is genuinely nuts, and he’ll pull the party down with him””

      Yes, this was the most interesting part of the Reich intervention. That, and the one about no one thinking impeachment, though I think that will happen eventually.

      The “Trump give them cover” basically explains the last two months. Trump promises change, but the interest groups put out their wish list and started introducing its items in the House, plus stuffed the administration with their people, taking advantage of Trump’s inexperience and the fact that he is not exactly a detail person..

      But it seems that Trump himself is not in on this, and if this is true there will be at least entertainment value when he starts firing people and vetoing legislation that does make it through the Republican controlled Congress (the Republican majorities are not that solid so the program may not get that far). Then we will start hearing more about impeachment.

      Reply
      1. JTFaraday

        I think Trumpy Trump has been pretty good at dangling Paul Ryan out in public, and by extension the Freedom caucus. And as of today they are all still out there completely oblivious to how abhorrent a majority of the public finds them.

        I’d say right now they don’t have cover, though I have no idea how it ends.

        Reply
  7. allan

    ” the granite countertops for the 10% ”

    The use here of ” the 10% ” as some kind of signifier of moral or political malignancy has gotten out of control.
    It’s time to lodge an official protest with the management.

    Let’s roll the tape. From 2016 data, rounded:

    Top 10% individual income: $105,000 (less than the Soc. Sec. tax cutoff!)

    Top 10% household income: $162,000

    Top 10% household wealth: $944,000 (includes primary residence)

    That last figure might seem like a lot, especially to the other 90%.
    But check out the chart of household wealth.
    To have real power and influence in this country you have to be in the top 0.1% (more like .01%).
    As noted civil libertarian Peter Thiel has said, even single-digit millionaires don’t have real access
    to the legal system. Much less the political system.

    So, why the contempt for the 10%?
    Does an economic decile have agency?
    Do you think everyone in the 10% is responsible for the (numerous) faults of the Democratic Party?

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      See Thomas Frank here:

      [I]nequality has gotten worse, and the gains since the financial crisis, since the recovery began, have gone entirely to the top 10 percent of the income distribution.

      This is not only because of those evil Republicans, but because Obama played it the way he wanted to. Even when he had a majority in both houses of Congress and could choose whoever he wanted to be in his administration, he consistently made policies that favored the top 10 percent over everybody else. He helped out Wall Street in an enormous way when they were entirely at his mercy.

      He could have done anything he wanted with them, in the way that Franklin Roosevelt did in the ’30s. But he chose not to.

      Why is that? This is supposed to be the Democratic Party, the party that’s interested in working people, average Americans. Why would they react to a financial crisis in this way? Once you start digging into this story, it goes very deep. You find that there was a transition in the Democratic Party in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s where they convinced themselves that they needed to abandon working people in order to serve a different constituency: a constituency essentially of white-collar professionals.

      That’s the most important group in their coalition. That’s who they won over in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. That’s who they serve, and that’s where they draw from. The leaders of the Democratic Party are always from this particular stratum of society.

      More here, and much Thomas Frank elsewhere.

      I don’t regard “the 10%” as any more invidious than “the 99%” vs. “the 1%,” even if “the 1%” is a lot more like the “0.01%”. At least a 90% + 10% + 1% formulation (any errors due to rounding) puts across the idea that income distribution as a proxy for class follows a power curve, and not a bell curve including that noxious construct, “the middle class.”

      A decile doesn’t have agency, of course, any more than a demographic does. In this instance — I would urge — the decile verbal formulation is a proxy for class, and classes do have agency, at least when the members of that class are conscious of themselves as having it so, due to common values, common property interests, common professional associations, a common credentialing process, personal and/or Flexian networks, clan and family ties, and common forms of value extraction, etc. (“It’s called a ruling class because it rules,” as the great Arthur Silber once said). There’s probably a book to be written on this, but I haven’t seen it…

      Adding, as for where “real power” resides… Sure, we’re an oligarchy, and most power resides with the 0.01%. But “the 10%” have real power as well, especially over “the 90%”. See on “Credentialism and Corruption” here, here, here, here, here, and here.

      Reply
      1. allan

        If the Democratic Party is going to be reclaimed from its current controllers, it will need to happen at all levels, including the local level where the 10% might actually have some ability to influence the outcome. (That, unfairly, includes having the “free” time to devote to party politics.)

        The 10% are a very heterogeneous group, and their relations with power structures vary.
        Some of them might even remember who it was that originated the granite counter top meme.
        Alienating them en masse doesn’t seem like a recipe for success.

        Reply
          1. allan

            Both tactics and substance.
            Cleaving the 10% from the 90% and associating them with the 1% serves whose purpose?

            Down below, Katniss@10:19a.m. refers to news personalities, lawyers, judges and advertising executives.
            For the most part, those people are in the 1%, not the next 9%.
            In the case of TV news types, they’re in the .1%, which is one of the reasons that
            the poison of right wing talk radio and Fox News was never called out the way it should have been. (Didn’t Brian Williams once say what a great guy Rush is?)

            Some (not all) of the 10% ex 1% might be enablers of the 1% in some sense,
            but many of them have little power.
            To lump them in with the Robert Mercers of the world is inaccurate and counterproductive.

            Reply
            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > Cleaving the 10% from the 90% and associating them with the 1% serves whose purpose?

              The 1%’s, obviously. You seem to be confusing labeling a cleavage with causing it.

              Adding, the language is hard. For example, some 10%-ers “play against type,” as it were. People are complicated! But one the whole and on the average? See the series on credentialism and corruption, especially the first one.

              Reply
            2. Katniss Everdeen

              According to “Billionaire Bonanza: The Forbes 400 and the Rest of Us,” just the twenty individuals at the top of the pile—a group that could fit into a Gulfstream G650 luxury jet, according to the study’s authors—now control more wealth than the bottom half of the population. That’s 152 million people living in 57 million households.

              20 individuals. One person could count them on their fingers and toes.

              Just as there is no way those 20 people have provided “benefits” to society commensurate with the wealth they now control, there is no way that brian williams or rush limbaugh is a card-carrying member of that club.

              And no drug salesman who knocks down $250,000 per year making sure that no pharmacy ever runs out of oxycontin even comes close.

              https://www.thenation.com/article/20-people-now-own-as-much-wealth-as-half-of-all-americans/

              Reply
              1. dontknowitall

                Even though I am a self-described Bernie fan (OK bro) I have several close relatives who are solid ten percenters and Republican to a fault but who also have great respect for Bernie and recently (in the last couple of years) started supporting the idea of a national health service like Canada or Medicare-for-all because they can’t stand anymore the health insurance scams of Obamacare. So yes the 10 percenters are not monolithic and many may be allies.

                On the politicians not listening to even the bottom of the ten percenters, I tell you credentialism can be your friend. An anecdote that doesn’t prove anything but is suggestive is this – A credentialed friend was trying for a while to get his local congressman to pay attention to some problems in his district and without any success. He would send this congressman polite letters signed with his name only which would go without response. And one day he sent another letter and thinking it might help he signed it “…Ph.D.” and, sure enough, a few days later he had a polite answer from the congressman. Again, no proof of anything but suggestive that you should use your credentials if you have them and you suspect it may help.

                Reply
      2. LD

        A lot of people have a cup of coffee in the 10%, but it’s more of a temporary condition than a social class.

        “Consequently, 55.8 percent of those 45 to 54 will experience at least one year of household income in the top 20th percentile, 37.9 percent will be in the top 10th percentile, 23.5 percent in the top 5th percentile, and 6.3 percent in the top 1st percentile.”

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4309558/

        Reply
      3. PhilM

        Rich people do not have

        common values, common property interests, common professional associations, a common credentialing process, personal and/or Flexian networks, clan and family ties, and common forms of value extraction….

        Some have financial wealth, some real estate wealth, some manufacturing wealth, some intellectual wealth. Some are globalized, others own the Publix supermarket chain.

        Do the professional associations that bind physicians have common interests with those that bind litigating attorneys? Do the surgeons have common interests with the chiropractors? Do the osteopaths, even? Do the people at Goldman Sachs have the support and affection of the oil-men and miners, or of anyone at all outside of the financial sectors of New York and Washington DC and San Francisco; or even within them?

        Looking from the outside, you may see a unity, but it is an illusion. There are only people with wealth who are in a constant, competitive, bitter struggle with other people with wealth. Because the major activity of members of a class is to associate with, and fight amongst, themselves, not against members of other classes. That’s actually the major predictive value of class in social analysis. That’s where “credentialism” is very important, too: it is primarily an intra-class tool, one that people within a class use to step on other people in the same class.

        Most of the richest people don’t want effective markets at all, not if they are the market-leading capitalists: they want “rigged markets” and rent. Other very rich people want “free markets” to fight the “market-leaders.” But they are both very rich by any standard; it’s just that some are more rich at this very moment. And yet they are at war with each other for the power to change the rules. They certainly are not at war with the working class, who are nothing more than a number in the background of their enormous wealth.

        So, I hope you can help me to understand how “classes have agency,” because I just don’t see it from my admittedly very limited experience. Indeed, as I consider the last presidential election, your analysis has highlighted many examples of how classes do not have agency at all; or at least, if they do, that we do not have classes in America.

        Reply
    2. Sam Adams

      The 10% have the pitchforks and building materials for the scaffolds. Ask Louis and Marie how that Estates Generals thingy worked out.

      Reply
      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        The 10% are doing great. The Bourbons were fine until the 1% decided they were getting screwed by the .01%., we’re not there yet. Getting there, but not yet.

        Reply
        1. Deadl E Cheese

          The top 20 – 5% aren’t really doing that great. The 1940s-1970s were, believe it or not, relatively better for this group than the 1980s-present. You just don’t hear much about it because A.) a lot of people measure their prosperity by how much better they’re doing than their neighbors (and the bottom 80% have done a lot worse) B.) going from three nice cars to one serviceable car is much less disastrous than going from one clunker to zero cars and C.) a lot of the top 20 to 5% made their bones via neoliberalization rather than just being ignored by it.

          But you can already hear some grumbling from the historical 5 – 20%. You know, the engineers, the project managers, the doctors, the foremen, the military officers, and the professors. They’re starting to feel the pinch of globalization and other STEM candidates desperate to break into the upper-middle class. Once decapitalization begins in earnest (and it will, if the GOP and Democrats have anything to say about it) they’re going to be reproletarianized bimby-fast. That’s when shit will start getting ugly.

          Reply
          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Good point, I and my brothers (engineer, lawyer, business-owner, and software sales) are all in the squeeze, eating our seed corn. But my point is that it doesn’t tip over until it’s the 1% that are feeling it, especially with a pervasive controlled narrative on how great things are. In the end all it takes is one bread seller in Tunisia who has had enough and sets himself on fire

            Reply
            1. PhilM

              Even the 1% can’t do it. There has to be a collapse in civil authority without a strong military to take charge. That’s never a happy time.

              Reply
        2. clinical wasteman

          And depending whether you think the “1% decided…” moment happened in 1792 or 1789, it took either another one or four years for a plurality of the 90% (urban artisans, laborers & ‘underclass’ plus a few famous lower-caste lawyer-intellectuals; fewer of the priestridden rural poor) to decide the same thing about the 1% (Barnave, Lameth, Lafayette) first and then about the 10%. (‘10%’ = so-called ‘Girondins’, who included some brilliant revolutionaries — Condorcet, Brissot, Olympe de Gouges — but still represented a slaveholding war party, eager 1914-style for continental war because it would get Deplorable sans-culottes out of Paris and into cannon-fodder regiments. See Albert Soboul, Georges Lefebvre and (less ‘reliable’ but a delight to read) Jules Michelet.
          The ‘90%’ got just over 1.5 years in precarious, informal power before a new 20(?)% rentier/’meritocratic’ coalition unleashed the 18th century equivalent of frat boys (‘jeunesse dorée’) in a bloodthirsty “white terror” coup (dress rehearsal for the massacre of Communards in 1871, which by some calculations killed more in a week than the Robespierre/Saint-Just ‘terror’ did in those 1.5 years). The Therimdor gang misadministered for a few years as a ‘Directorate’, nearly re-losing the continental war that the ‘Jacobins’ — who had opposed it on class grounds — were winning; then around the turn of the (19th) century the gilded gang stepped or was kicked aside for Napoleon, who promptly restored courtly trappings and colonial slavery. (The kicking of his regal Arsch in the latter respect by Toussaint and Dessalines of Haiti is another story: a great one, but with a wretched present-day ending.)

          Reply
      2. PhilM

        Yes, and while you are at it, ask the million+ Frenchmen who died between 1792 and 1815 how they enjoyed their fates, the result of which was to put onto the throne a Bourbon monarch far more reactionary than Louis ever was.

        Reply
    3. Pat

      Lambert has given you a more fact based answer, I am going for the anecdotal.

      A large portion of the 10% is part of the problem because they have been oblivious. They grant cover to the 1% and more particularly the 0.01% and their policies. Largely because they do not connect the dots. They do not get that the problems they see in keeping up, being able to retire, their children have getting a job are the destructive creep of the same policies that mean half of all children in America live in poverty. That now they must be stripped same as the 90% below them were to keep some small group’s voracious greed satisfied…briefly.

      That is why supposedly well off elderly where I work can bemoan that their SS isn’t being raised enough to keep up with rising food costs. Why hardworking friends can worry about their spouse having another bout with cancer because they no longer have enough savings to cover medical expenses and their mortgage pages while they were on unpaid leave for treatment. And then make remarks about how they never realized how many Americans were bigots and misogynists. Or talk about Russia. And all get outraged at Trump’s actions while ignoring or pooh-poohing how they are just building on previous failures, biggest example see the Bruening link about it you hate the Republican revision of ACA based on the numbers you should hate ACA compared to single payer because it’s numbers are worse.
      The 10% may not be driving the destruction, but it has been complicit in that destruction.

      Reply
      1. Eclair

        “The 10% may not be driving the destruction, but it has been complicit in that destruction.”

        Yes, thank you for that observation, Pat. And, technically, my husband and I, due to a fortuitous combination of parents, genes, timing of birth, and sheer dumb luck, are in that 10%. We have been .. and are … complicit.

        We have more than we ‘need,’ and we use more than our fair share of limited resources, in terms of housing, food, comforts, although, compared to most of our neighbors and friends, we live frugally. And are suspect because of that. However, I have another group of acquaintances, who, because of their racial and/or ethnic backgrounds, or their political views, have very little in the way of worldly goods. I try to help out, in a spirit of solidarity rather than charity; but when I have so much more, it always devolves to charity.

        We can go on as we have been, with money and power flowing to those who already have money and power, and with our planet’s poor becoming more dispossessed and more reviled.
        We can ‘willingly’ divest … and here I mean that we can make structural reforms that change the way in which income and wealth (and, thereby, power) are allocated.
        If we choose the first option, we wait for a few years, or decades, and the change will be made violently and without our consent. Either the planet itself or the millions who have been living lives of misery or a combination of these, will convulse and redistribute what remains of the earth’s resources.

        Reply
        1. Pat

          For much of the 90’s and the first decade of the 2000’s I was probably in the 15%, a couple of years I possibly even made it into the 10%. It may have meant working over 60 hours a week, but I was there. So I should have made it clear that I also blame myself for being complicit for far too long.

          I also apologize for the fact that other than being willing to continually point out the various emperors I can see walking around nude are wearing no clothes, I have no clue how to combat this.

          Reply
          1. JTFaraday

            One is never in X% for a couple years. Either one is there semi-permanently or not at all. One of our big problems, and what is wrong with all means tested programs as well as income taxes, is that we take annual income as some kind of measure of something.

            Reply
      2. Marco

        Thanks Pat. I’ll add another anecdote. My friend, an associate dean at midwestern university was completely against the plight of grad / temp educators and lecturers “griping” for a living wage. He makes $165k AND more importantly in a position to help them. His reason? There wasn’t enough money in the budget to pay them more. This after a recent 40 million dollar spanking shiny new student union that resembled an upscale mall inside. AND he voted for Bernie in the primary. WTF moment for me. He doesn’t read NC thank goodness. Maybe that’s his problem. He is proud he belongs to the 99%.

        Reply
        1. PhilM

          So happy you are here to cast stones.

          Have you given all that you have?

          Remember the fate of Ananias and Sapphira.

          For you are rich, and others, poor; and you refuse to help them.

          Reply
      3. LT

        In his book A People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn referred to the 10% or so as “the guards” for the wealthy establishment. T Frank calls them the “professional class.”

        Reply
    4. Katniss Everdeen

      The “.1%” is comprised of a very few actual people. Even fewer occupy the “.01%.” Despite their over-sized financial positions, they could not exert the power they do over hundreds of millions of americans and many more globally without the cooperation of the 10 or 20% directly below them.

      These are the news personalities who spin destructive policies favorably or ignore them altogether, the lawyers who defend the indefensible and judges who look the other way, the advertising execs who sell any product regardless of what it is or whom it hurts, and the politicians and government agency bigwigs who do the bidding of their owners in return for campaign contributions and permanent positions in government, to name a few.

      They don’t scour the toilets or shine the shoes of the .1%, but they work for them all the same. They just get paid way better.

      And they convince themselves that their financial success is evidence of their competence, brilliance, righteousness and “integrity.” Looking the other way pays really, really well. Maybe you’d prefer to call them the enabler class instead of the 10%ers, but any way you slice it, they are deserving of a large dose of contempt. Particularly the ones who only get $105,000 a year to sell out.

      Reply
    5. Norb

      How about courtiers of the .01%. Courtiers of the ONE. It must have been so much easier when one could proclaim oneself a Kings man, a true and faithful subject of the Crown. In a way, fealty to corporate power is an evolution of this Divine Right of Kings idea.

      The contempt comes from the irreversible damage being caused to uncounted millions of people and the environment due to our current economic system and those that refuse to change course because they draw huge rewards and personal security form the current arrangement. As long as I have mine is their ethos. Justified by the hubris of individual meritocracy. The professional class is despised for this sense of moral superiority. In a word, elitism. That is the true divisiveness.

      Another round of social conflict is inevitable. Environmental degradation is inevitable. But lets party on with business as usual. The top 10% control the resources and command the power to enact a change in course, but lack the moral and social courage to do so. There is no political will to reduce conflict and inequality.

      A major split in the professional and elite classes will have to take place before any meaningful lasting change can occur. Enlightenment ideals supporting the people, the masses, will be taken up, or they will be crushed by corporate authoritarianism. You can’t have both, which is liberal folly.

      Reply
      1. Antifa

        You raise a superb point — the meritocracy fetish of the neo-liberals atop our society and system of governance.

        Yes, they each take pride in themselves individually on being part of the ruling system, but there is another side to their worship of meritocracy. They genuinely believe that their unique strength and brilliance as an ideology and party is that they always use the best information, and latest data, to place the most qualified persons in charge of whatever office is to be filled. This is just not so, no matter how fervently they believe in it.

        They also believe that, having placed the best and brightest atop every agency and outfit, there is nothing that can go wrong from there. So how could listening to the carping of lesser minds or the unwashed publick possibly improve the decisions and designs of these experts?

        Therefore they proceed blithely with the status quo while climate change, oil wars, racism, wealth inequality, and numerous violations of international law run rampant in service of their other goal, which is globalization. Which is Pax Americana. Which is just another form of seeking lebensraum for our people. Thus we buy up or gain control of oil in the Middle East, farmlands in Africa, and generally dominate the lesser powers of the world who might hinder our pursuits on our behalf.

        The end result, after decades of following this ideology, is to create a royal court, a societal layer of willing and dedicated servants to “the best and brightest” and — no surprise — to the wealthiest. What’s more meritorious than to make yourself rich beyond measure?

        But neither wealth nor the ability to live and retire in complete comfort is any real measure of merit. Not compared to coming up with sustainable systems to manage our presence on this planet without heedlessly killing off tens of thousands of species and ourselves as well.

        Reply
        1. Eclair

          “But neither wealth nor the ability to live and retire in complete comfort is any real measure of merit. Not compared to coming up with sustainable systems to manage our presence on this planet without heedlessly killing off tens of thousands of species and ourselves as well.”

          Exactly, Antifa. Well said. We tend to forget that the monetary form of wealth being accumulated represents finite resources wrested from Mother Earth. Every SUV built, every smart phone manufactured, every McMansion constructed, every well fracked, each take resources from an ever dwindling supply. And, every acre of once fertile corporate farmland that blows away into dust, every stream polluted by a leaking pipeline, every wolf or elephant or carrier pigeon hunted into extinction, leaves all of us a bit poorer than before.

          Reply
      2. HopeLB

        Courtiers of the ONE is very good but does not quite get at what I find is the real problem. It is a combination of Upton St Clair’s quote about a man not understanding a thing if his salary depends upon his not understanding it and 10%-ers actually having a REAL and TRUE misunderstanding of the situation in the US , propagated/perpetuated by both the MSM and their own time constraints (sports/fun/work and their kid’s sports/fun/work). It is troubling that these highly educated people see no problem with the Clintonite Dems’ path.

        (Our district had one of the highest percentages of votes for Hillary in the country.)

        Reply
        1. clinical wasteman

          Yes, ‘courtiers’ is good, not least because ‘divine right of kings’ — along with the purchase of ‘executive’/bureaucratic office — is an invention of ‘early modern’ absolutist states (actually a whim of James VI of Scotland/I of England, of all tyrannical dilettantes), i.e. it comes from a time of military-mercantile elites consolidating power on top of a crumbling feudal economy, and embarking on island-grabbing/slave-raids to counteract the crumbling. Does that remind you of any other century?
          As for the enabling function of the 10%, at least in a ‘cutting-edge’ ‘service’-based economy like the uk, that also goes for the coerced Scheisswork done by millions of the rest of us, and we do know it, there’s just not much we can do about it. Or maybe there is, but it’s an endless-term project for the old prole mole. As Zhou Enlai did or didn’t say, too soon to tell. One obnoxious attribute of the ‘10%’/’high achievers’, though, is the way they think their problems are all existential or ‘human’, as opposed to problemlets that only people like themselves could possibly be bothered by. Ergo those problemlets are the real problems for everyone (cf. the Guardian every day and the insufferable use of ‘We’ in all publications of that sort). Ergo anyone with any other (i.e. real) problems must be making ‘bad life choices’ or at best suffering pathological symptoms.
          As for awareness of ‘complicity’ on the 10-15% margins: 1. yes, always better than non-awareness because ignorance on that level is socially destructive as well as personally ill-advised. But 2. awareness of complicity plus the delusion that it can somehow be ‘offset’ by self-abnegating lifestyle choices (i.e. the very opposite of the real awareness shown by the commenters above) is maybe even worse.
          &&&… One reason I keep insisting on a global rather than a country-specific perspective has to do with that sort of awareness: I can’t recall ever having got anywhere near a 30% income — let alone asset-ownership — threshold in local (UK & before that its most favored ex-colonies) terms, but I doubt that I or many other people writing here would ever have been far outside a global 15 or 20%. I know how badly I’d cope with trying to live some of my friends’ and neighbors’ economic lives, or even stretches of my own life a few years ago if it (quite plausibly) returned tomorrow. The implications about the lives my friends & neighbors left (and still contribute money to) in West Africa or Eastern Europe aren’t hard to extrapolate. That doesn’t make me feel guilty, but it leaves me in no doubt about complicity. If I couldn’t cope on, say, the 50th figurative percentile in London, how can I say that anyone should have to cope with the equivalent — or a lot less — anywhere? How could it seem reassuring if ‘most people’ in one particular country were doing ok? Complicity is the same thing as dependence, which means that almost all of us have something comparatively to lose and a lot absolutely to gain.

          Reply
    6. tongorad

      Does an economic decile have agency?

      I wonder how many of the 10% belong to the management/administrative class? Certainly that group has agency, which it has used to the detriment of the working class.

      Reply
    7. WheresOurTeddy

      An Oligarchy can’t exist without enablers and apologists. There’s a lot of what Steinbeck called “temporarily embarrassed millionaires” who think what’s good for the rulers is good for America.

      Having numerous relatives in this group, I think the 10% signifier is relevant.

      Reply
    8. Alex Morfesis

      Allen…it’s not my concern…I got mine, the heck with them…I didn’t realize I would have to be doing these things to others, but with the house payment, college loan payments, private school, nanny, boat payment, three cars in the garage, credit cards for the vacayz…

      what’s an enabler to do…???

      It is not exactly everyone who is in the ten percent…simply that the ten percent, in theory have the capacity to change the tide and won’t…

      Granted, this generation of enablers has been filtered through human resource machines designed to insure this generations 10 percenters are weak in spirit and are first generation financially capable to insure the vast majority of enablers do not have a strong enough support system to change course…

      But life is complicated and those who choose to turn a blind eye to the plights caused by their daily routines of what they claim is a luxuriated survival, should not explore the possibility of empathy nor forgiveness…sadly…

      we always have a choice…

      making the mobster argument that someone would do it so might as well be me doesn’t wash anymore…

      Reply
    9. Elizabeth Burton

      As Lambert has already referred you to Thomas Frank, I’ll add that what Frank was addressing wasn’t a financial divide but a class one. Those in the top 10% are, by and large, members of what he calls “the professional class;” that is, people who are college educated and likely engaged in one of the more prestigious lines of work such as medicine, law, et al. They consider themselves superior to the “deplorables,” perhaps in part because some of them come from the working class and want to distance themselves from it.

      In other words, “the 10%” is a mindset, not a classification per se. It refers to a group that isolates itself within said group and, having no immediate concern about the essentials like food, clothing, housing and so on, doesn’t like to consider just how close they may be to losing their place among the successful. Poor people remind them of that, and it makes them uncomfortable.

      I see this every day, and it is all but impossible to penetrate their pale with facts. For them, getting rid of Trump is the be-all and end-all, because (as one person recently commented) at least Mike Pence has some manners.

      Reply
    10. Jen

      I’m just barely one of the 10%. I’m fortunate enough to have gone to college when state schools were still cheap, and yes, I’m one of those administrative/professionals. I passed on additional credentialing because the prospect of taking on 100K of debt for a degree terrified me.

      I’m able to live a comfortable life because, in addition to a low six figure income, I have no student debt, no kids, a modest house, and a 10 year old car. And I know that I have the luxury of being able to cut out a lot of discretionary expenses if I need to. I am well off by any measure and thankful for it.

      I have friends and co-workers who, with a combined family income may make a bit more than I do, and who also have a couple of kids, are trying to save for college, save for retirement, still paying for their own student loans, paying off a mortgage. They’re still well off by any measure, but have fewer options for cutting expenses if they have to, and they don’t feel well off. I apply that math to each rung further down the economic ladder, and it gets harder at every step.

      I have family who are trying to get by on less than 30K a year. They have no savings and no margin for error. Some are retired and lucky enough to own the home they bought in the 60’s. Some have been able to find and keep cheap apartments. But every car problem, home repair, or family emergency puts them on the precipice.

      I credit Naked Capitalism for making me fully aware of how the Democrats have screwed everyone but those in the top income brackets and I don’t see the 10% as a monolith.

      Reply
  8. Nippersmom

    Thanks for sharing Chuck Berry’s reviews.

    In interviews, members of the Ramones said they wanted to return to the “roots” of rock’n’roll. They felt rock music on the whole had become over-produced and over-orchestrated; they strove to return to a simpler, high-energy sound. In his review, it seems like Mr. Berry thinks they succeeded in that goal.

    Reply
    1. neo-realist

      If it wasn’t for Berry’s riffs, it’s likely that there wouldn’t been a band called the Ramones, or Sex Pistols for that matter.

      Reply
  9. Eureka Springs

    6. The Washington foreign policy establishment – both Republican and Democrat – is deeply worried about what’s happening to American foreign policy, and the worldwide perception of America being loony and rudderless. They think Trump is legitimizing far-right movements around the world.

    This is just laugh out loud funnie. Bipartisan projection much? The enemy of the U.S. establishment within or anywhere around the globe has always been the/a Left.

    And all this hysteria over Trumps behavior. Does anyone remember just how bizarre everyone from Gingrich to Bush Jr and co. behaved and just how hard Clintons and Obama worked to (NPR rhetoric style) normalize it all?

    In my neck of the deplorable flyover world… people have stopped talking about politics. Our Clinton loving – see themselves as left alternative newspaper can’t find a grain of self-sanity. The only reason they are not still in hair on fire mode is because the they have no more hair! But there was a lovely cover photo of thirty women meditating in ‘resistance’ on the manicured grounds of the most expensive hotel in town last week.

    All is vanity

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If anyone who doesn’t agree with the Washington foreign establishment – both Republican and Democrat – he or she is right wing.

      Better come home, you prodigal son (or daughter).

      Reply
    2. LT

      Indeed. I’m surprised the establishment lets TCM remain basic cable (the cheaper package). They’ve recently shown such classics as “Z” and “The Battle of Algiers.”

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Good! It’s about time! Now for “The Damned” and “The Leopard.” Maybe even “The Conformist” and “1900.”

        Reply
        1. LT

          They have shown 1900 and The Conformist. 1900 is looong, but I watched it all the way through. The way that young boy was killed in one of the scenes still disturbs me.

          The other two I haven”t seen, but they may shown those…not sure.

          Reply
          1. clinical wasteman

            Not sure from here what TCM is, but glad it exists by the sound of it. If they’ve already shown ‘The Battle of Algiers’, hound them until they add Gillo Pontecorvo’s other masterpiece ‘Queimada’/’Burn!’, with another astonishing Ennio Morricone soundtrack, a quietly possessed Marlon Brando and 20thc. imperial looting as it stood in the mid-60s retold via a story about William Walker, the precocious pillager of the tropical Americas.
            Then if this really is a network that runs class-conscious, aesthetically beautiful art, perhaps they’ll remember Georges Franju’s ‘Eyes Without a Face’ (private medicine and surplus/precarious life) Henri-Georges Clouzot’s ‘The Wages of Fear’ (what it says in the title) Fassbinder’s ‘Lola’ (but any and all Fassbinder really) and the first three John Waters features (don’t be misled by the upscale latter-day fanbase, these are all about class).

            Reply
  10. MoiAussie

    Donna Brazile: Russian DNC Narrative Played Out Exactly As They Hoped
    I confess I was mislead by the headline. I thought that, after fessing up to her lies about leaking the questions to Clinton, she was now fessing up that the DNC’s narrative that the “Russians done it” had played out exactly as the DNC had hoped, allowing them to avoid any blame for the loss and then get Perez over the line so the influence peddling could continue as usual.

    Then I saw the link was to Time, who haven’t printed anything worth reading this century, and I realised my mistake.

    Reply
    1. optimader

      I thought that, after fessing up to her lies about leaking the questions

      Please provide a link citing her apology for “leaking the questions”, or for that matter framing ANYTHING in the context of a lie!

      Reply
      1. MoiAussie

        Yeah, I see what you mean, she is trying to walk a fine line on this, and is back in denial again. She admitted she “shared topics” (the DNC emails show this was actual questions, and in them she wrote “… I get questions”), so her previous denials were lies, and she called this “a mistake she will forever regret”, but now has decided that (as a christian who knows persecution) she needs to double down and split hairs, and wrote in her latest response

        “At no time did I receive or participate in the drafting or dissemination of questions provided by CNN”

        Which is probably true only because they were provided to her not by CNN.

        What a piece of work. I think the correct translation of “a mistake she will forever regret” is that she regrets not using encrypted communications.

        So what I should have written is
        “after admitting enough to confirm that she was previously lying but still trying to brazen it out, …”. Mea culpa.

        Reply
        1. bronco

          Anyone who criticizes Donna for leaking the questions is a by definition racist so she should be able to just say “yup I did that “

          Reply
          1. MoiAussie

            Anyone who criticizes a PoC is racist.
            Anyone who criticizes a woman is sexist.
            Anyone who criticizes the CIA/NSA is a traitor/Russian agent.
            Anyone who criticizes the US military is un-american.
            Anyone who criticizes Israel is anti-semitic.
            Anyone who criticizes the 1% is a loser/deplorable/expendable.

            There’s got to be a better characterisation than ad hominem for this kind of fallacy.

            Reply
            1. Tom Denman

              Anyone who demonstrates a capacity for independent thought of any kind will be silenced.

              Nineteen Eighty-Four is at hand.

              Reply
        2. lambert strether

          It’s true that she didn’t participate in drafting the questions. They were, IIRC, passed to her by broadcaster Roland S. Martin, another member of the Black Misleadership class.

          Reply
  11. millicent

    Re the Mayo clinic exclusion of patients with government insurance. I (age 70, medicare plus pension covered private insurance) have had this experience with Mayo in AZ. This article is a welcome publicizing of Mayo’s disgusting policy. However it importantly neglects making the point that the policy is fundamentally discriminatory of all people over 65 since all people over 65 (or nearly all) are covered by medicare. Wouldn’t it be ironic if Mayo were the recipient of federal research funds or special tax benefits? If so, they clearly cannot discriminate against the poor and elderly.

    Prior to this policy I did receive care at Mayo AZ. It was excellent, many classes above what can be had, in my experience, anywhere else.

    Reply
    1. knowbuddhau

      m is right. Mentioned this just the other day, but I’ll say it again.

      As a former certified nursing assistant, I have first-hand knowledge that this isn’t limited to Mayo. I know you’re all shocked, shocked to hear that.

      When I was being trained, back in 2001, I was shown the Medicare/Medicaid wing and told, if all the call lights are on, let them wait, and answer the private-pay calls first.

      I quickly “forgot” which wing was which, and treated them all the same.

      Reply
      1. LT

        Yeah, that’s why if you have a not wealthy elderly family member or friend in the hospital, someone has to be there on stakeout, especially if the situation is critical.

        Reply
      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > if all the call lights are on, let them wait, and answer the private-pay calls first.

        Private-pay goes to HappyVille, the great unwashed goes to Pain City.

        Thanks for not doing what you “forgot” to do.

        Reply
    2. Jomo

      My son works at Mayo and from his description of the patient population he serves, there is no possible way that Mayo could discriminate against people over 65 and stay financially viable. No doubt, Mayo “prefers” patients with private insurance and/or private means, as does every hospital in America, but I do not see this as an age discrimination argument. Another argument for single payer, yes.

      Reply
    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Uncle Sam takes a backseat to no one.

      That’s why we all have to wait for Air Force One.

      But now it seems, in the public sector, there is an elite 1% and the rest of Medicare//Medicaid 99%…even in the public sector.

      Reply
      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Best thing to do is a bill that says congress critters must buy Obamacare from an exchange. Only way to get them to care.

        Reply
    4. amousie

      Well, the state of Minnesota came up with a half of billion dollar for Mayo’s expansion so they could stay “competitive.” Does that count?

      http://www.startribune.com/rochester-mayo-clinic-celebrate-585-million-windfall-from-the-state/208594531/

      ROCHESTER – Minnesota came up with the money — more than half a billion dollars — and now Mayo Clinic is keeping its part of the bargain. It won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

      “It’s a great day to be a Minnesotan, a great day to call Rochester our home,” Mayo CEO John Noseworthy told a cheering crowd Wednesday in Rochester. He was flanked by Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders, all celebrating the herculean effort that went into ramming the $585 million Mayo legislation through the Legislature in a matter of months.

      Reply
  12. a different chris

    >Carrying a fat stack of business cards for his company, Silverado Farming, Solorio approached one prospect, a man with only his bottom set of teeth.

    Did he try posting on Craigslist? A community college campus? Jesus “I looked everywhere in the forest for fish but there aren’t any”…

    Reply
  13. Uahsenaa

    re: fieldhand wages and farm work labor shortage

    A few points:

    1) Working in the fields sucks. It’s hard work, and you’re hot most of the time, with only intermittent breaks. My brother did detasseling one summer and was basically a zombie when he came home each day. This is a man who’s worked in the auto industry his entire adult life.

    2) 30,000/yr is still less than half of the median in CA. Sure, cost of living varies wildly across the state, but $16/hr for what amounts to hard labor is still a crap wage.

    3) The US produces way too much food anyway. Something like 50% of all produce is wasted, much of shipped directly from the field to the landfill, because it doesn’t meet appearance standards.

    4) Most farm jobs have no fringe benefits, and those that do only started offering them recently, so the perception among workers is still that farm work is okay-ish pay with no benefits.

    5) You have to live in the middle of nowhere. Many farm workers are migrants, living quite far away from their families. Such a transigent existence is not exactly appealing to anyone who’s not desperate for work of any kind.

    And all that’s before you get into the corporate structure of Ag in the US.

    Reply
    1. BeekeeperRorie

      My middle aged farmer friends who left for other craptastic jobs were not just physically exhausted. They’ve had enough of pesticides/fungicides/herbicides exposures. They’re fearing for their health.

      Reply
    2. todde

      I worked in detassling when I was a kid.

      It suckered and in only lasted one day, a day that mostly consisted of me riding around in the tractor I borrowed.

      Reply
  14. HopeLB

    Is it possible that the “overdose” epidemic is intentional? Eliminate the deplorables by treating their Neoliberal induced pain with an early death? Man, that is cynical, but I remember during the Obama admin oxycontin’s FDA approved dosage being increased and opened to children 11 to 16. (Though it is possible too that pure benevolence is behind this; give the masses a way to avoid death by the starvation/war of global climate change? ) Couldn’t find the original article and that particular FDA’s page has been removed but there are these;

    https://popularresistance.org/stop-obama-from-putting-big-pharma-in-charge-of-fda/

    https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm207480.htm

    http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dph/quality/drugcontrol/drug-formulary/oxycontin/46-fda-approves-new-formulation-oxycontin-pi-04-05-2010.pdf

    https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm207480.htm
    https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/01/11/fda-approves-painkiller-obama-administration-warned-about-in-december

    https://popularresistance.org/tag/big-pharma/

    Reply
  15. cripes

    Despite the best efforts on the alt-alt left to find silver linings and opportunities for Sanders and Trump to join hands over the heads of their respective parties on Medicare-for-all–or anything else–the chances are fast receding.

    The Democrats are intent on deligitimizing Trump on spurious claims of Russia! instead of offering decent policies and the republicans, well, what can you say?

    The best hope i have is total gridlock and incapacity to govern, no health insurance plan, no budget, no trashing Meals on wheels and no 53 billion for the pentagon. No huge tax giveaways for billionaires would be nice.

    The democrats, ever willing to “reach across the isle,” on worker-bashing, may yet again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Sanders and Trump to join hands?

      Bernie was calling for independent probe of Trump’s ties to Russia.

      Reply
      1. dontknowitall

        Once the accusation was leveled by the “serious people’ something [genuflects] had to be done even though Bernie like most Americans doesn’t completely buy the bs, at least I am not convinced he does. In any case one thing is not the other and they can do business together, and chew gum while walking, while the ‘investigating’ wends its way through LaLa Land…If Bernie sees a true possibility to make a deal with Trump I think he will not sit back and wait it out.

        Reply
          1. Aumua

            There’s that strange ‘hope’ thing again, which seems curiously out of place when discussing anything going on with Trump, congress, or D.C. in general these days. I’m at a loss as to what makes you think for a second that Trump has any a) intention, or b) capability of actually helping the regular people of the U.S. and/or Earth.

            Reply
            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              I hope, in general, because politics makes strange bedfellows.

              And I hope, in this case, specifically in response to dontknowitall’s comment that ‘If Bernie sees a true possibility to make a deal with Trump I think he will not sit back and wait it out.’

              “There is that ‘strange’ hope thing again,” – if I have hoped too many times, too excessively, I apologize. but I don’t see the next 4 years (or however long he stays at the White House) as pre-determined.

              Reply
              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                And also, almost forgot, but credit is due here, to cripes’ comment about ‘best efforts…opportunities for Sanders and Trump to join hands.”

                He/She then mentioned Democrats delegitimizing Trump with spurious claims, before offering his/her ‘best hope’, though said nothing on Trump not being capable of working together (from the comment on 9:53 AM)

                Reply
                1. Aumua

                  Well for what it’s worth I hope I eat my words, but I’m not holding my breath for that outcome. I think pessimism, and even cynicism is well warranted here.

                  Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > on the alt-alt left to find silver linings and opportunities for Sanders and Trump to join hands

      I don’t know to whom this can be addressed. For myself, I’ve said that Trump is the only political figure I can imagine doing a 180° on this, and that it would be to his advantage to do so. That’s not at all the same as saying it’s anywhere near likely. It’s also not the same as saying Trump and Sanders would “join hands.” i don’t think they would.

      Match for that straw?

      Reply
  16. timbers

    Healthcare:

    Some of my friends text me about the horrible things TrumpCare will do to ObamaCare.

    What they are really saying is “Obamacare is so great that’s why we never said anything bad about it because there is nothing bad about it and never acknowledged any of your criticisms of it because everything is awesome and now look how awful Trump is we told you so you were such a loon to criticize Obamacare it’s all your fault you should have voted Clinton. Everything was perfect and now you wrecked it.”

    Because “Obamacare will only be improved over time” – like it’s being improved now.

    My response is to remind them I told them Obamacare would NOT get better but worse, and that every suggestion to improve Obamacare (single payer) was opposed by Democrats that YOU (my friends) supported and their allies.

    Now get ready for what you (my friends) set us up for: Changes to Obamacare that benefit those who already make out like bandits under Obamacare, as was always intend from day one: the rich, corporations, and CEO”s.

    Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Wasn’t the Team Blue starting pitch just, “we’ll fix it later!”?

        And people wonder why the establishment Team Blue types keep losing.

        Reply
    1. BeekeeperRorie

      Further proof that

      “Changes to Obamacare that benefit those who already make out like bandits under Obamacare, as was always intend from day one: the rich, corporations, and CEO”s.”

      crosses both isles, is uniparty control.

      Reply
    2. Norb

      Working in a liberal environment, daily, I have to face angry diatribes like the one you mention. The most vocal is from a homosexual freelancer, accusing me of pretty much personally bringing about the destruction of all the social identity gains made in his life. Not much is expressed about his employment status changing from a full time position to a full time freelance, without benefits. He rationalizes the higher wages of freelance work as a plus, but ignores or pretends to acknowledge the extreme downside of being made unemployed in business downturns. He expresses little concern that owners have successfully shifted more business risk onto his shoulders without proper compensation, and our owners rationalize they have no choice but to do so. The idea is perfectly integrated without a peep. But Evil Trump and Russia! Obama’s hands were tied!

      I enjoy my conversations with the man who owns the cleaning company for our office. Ex-huey door gunner in Vietnam. He sees the folly of it all.

      Reply
      1. Uahsenaa

        Ms. Joplin had it right: freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose. Those who still might fall further down the totem pole have no problem with closing off their minds from what’s happening around them. Those who were never on it to begin with, understand the current state of affairs for the farce it is.

        Reply
  17. Mark S.

    Re: Psych ward reviews:

    I work as a social worker on a psych unit, and it’s great work on a good day. A few thoughts:

    1. Markets and healthcare are a terrible combination. The pressures to discharge for financial reasons are enormous and what insurance pays for and what the patient needs dovetail only loosely.

    2. While we work hard to make the unit as therapeutic as possible, Inpatient psych units are for crisis resolution only. Once the patient is stable, the “system” demands they be discharged to the next level of care, and that is often sorely lacking.

    3. We routinely have to admit people who are under-resourced (homeless, living on pitiful disability incomes) and often they will come to the emergency room, say the magic words (suicidal ideation + plan + intent) so they can come in and get a break from their lives. Staff tend to hate them, and they can be difficult, but they really would be better served by more robust community services (which opens a whole different can of worms about the pitfalls of community based mental health case management services).

    4. Many of our patients have drug and alcohol problems along with their mental illness and the treatments for each often conflict with the other, e.g. “tough love” for the addict vs. patience and compassion for the mentally ill.

    5. Many of our patients have personality disorders and would savage us in reviews because, well, that’s what people with PD do.

    6. It frustrates me to no end how regs and guidelines designed to improve patient care serve mostly to make workers lives more difficult. The “data” show “improvement” and the problems remain unsolved with another layer of metric keeping added.

    7. Some staff become dehumanized in response to the agony they witness. And it is a weird disconnect between us just doing our jobs, chatting the way coworkers do, and the often dire situations of our patients. But there is a type of worker who gets a prison guard mentality, and I think that’s largely what’s being referenced in the article.

    8. Treatment of mental illness is a highly individualized and labor intensive process that often comes in a two-steps-forward-one-step-back fashion. Institutions suck at that.

    Reply
    1. justanotherprogressive

      Re 2). I can tell you where mentally ill people go after discharge from facilities like yours – prison.
      As one of my excursions from my career, I once worked as a Corrections Officer at a prison (my choice, I wanted to see what that world was like, and I could afford to do it for a while). More than 50% of our prisoners were mentally ill. They got incarcerated because of two reasons – either they were trying to “self-medicate” or they lashed out inappropriately when the stress got too much for them. And our police have very little mental health training so they do their job as best as they know how, which is to remove disruptive people from society.
      I was fortunate that I worked at a prison where their were compassionate case workers and a warden who understood mental health issues, and that prison, a high stress environment, was no place for them. Sadly there was no where else to send these people – so they were ours. And, yes, they were very hard to deal with, especially since there wasn’t much we could do to help them. And when their sentences were up, they were no better mentally than they were before they came to us. Our state closed most of its mental health facilities (because, yes, they were bad and very rundown places) but put nothing in place to help the people who needed that mental care. And I often wonder about the mental health of those those legislators in that state who still can’t understand that outpatient care is far cheaper than incarceration.

      Reply
      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Conclusions after my glance around NC today:
        – Gulags full of mentally ill people;

        – Hideous, embedded crony rent-seeking bureaucracies delivering (denying) basic services

        – A dozen guys in a private jet owning half the nation’s wealth, 50% of people needing to borrow to fund a $400 emergency

        – A former president backed by police state apparatus leading a secret attempt to de-legitimize a current president

        – State media organs plying the populace with propaganda insisting everything is as it should be

        I’d just remark how much we resemble some pathetic and universally-ridiculed banana republic

        Reply
    2. knowbuddhau

      First of all, a bow in your virtual direction. And more power to you.

      Yep, saw that, too. Especially 6.

      I took my second CNA job, this time dementia-care certified as well, on the assurance that the facility practiced Gentle Care. I was explicitly told that I’d get in trouble if I *didn’t take the time to “sit on the edge of the bed and just talk.” So I did. And I did anyway.

      For just one example, I was the only aide who could get a retired civil engineer to do his ADLs (activities of daily living) in the morning. He had reverted to his native German. So I got a German phrase book. Took half an hour some days. Meanwhile, my co-workers would “crank out” (their exact term) several residents. So on the charts, it looked like I was “wasting” my time with just one resident.

      While I was thus engaged, it was all, “Oh, you’re so great with him, isn’t it wonderful?” But during reviews it was all, “He’s too slow.”

      The problem was that we were understaffed on purpose. We couldn’t possibly accomplish all that we were legally obligated to, in the time we had. Hell, we didn’t even have enough pass keys! People took to taking them home at night.

      But the others were better at making the charting comply with the rules, the residents be damned.

      I often saw aides burst into rooms, flip on all the lights, whip back the covers, roll half-awake demented residents around like sacks of potatoes, quick march them to the dining room, plunk them down without a word, then rush off to do it again. And then they’d wonder why the residents were agitated!

      And of course, when the residents would lash out, it was *their fault.

      One day, charting at the end of my shift in the CNA office with a few others, one noticed the tune I was humming and asked, “Are you humming Judas Priest, ‘Breaking the Law’?” In fact, I was.

      I kept telling them that if we keep making it look like when can accomplish impossible demands, we’ll never get the staffing we need. AFAIK, though, that’s still SOP.

      Reply
  18. MoiAussie

    I Am Offering the French Renewal

    In this Spiegel interview, Macron comes across as determined, measured, intelligent, and not afraid to tell it how it is, although there weren’t any difficult questions to fend off. My impression of him is gradually improving, and his policies seem generally more sensible than his main rivals’, but it’s still hard to avoid suspecting that this former investment banker may be the bought-and-paid-for candidate of some group of 1% backers, carefully chosen to offer hope and change you can believe in, especially to younger voters.

    Does anyone know more? Are there any facts or rumours about who is behind him? Or is he actually, like Sanders, an independent without the corrupting influence of a party behind him?

    Reply
    1. David

      I don’t think there’s anyone “behind” Macron in the simple sense of financing his career, but in a sense he doesn’t need that. He is already a millionaire, and he’s been adopted by the French elite as its neoliberal flag-bearer, to stride forth out of the wreckage of the two main political parties with vague promises of change but in practice with a continuation of the policies of the last twenty years. I think some of them see Macron as the core of a kind of future permanent government with a technocratic face and a neoliberal heart. A move to proportional representation (which he supports) and a reduction in the number of parliamentary constituencies (as Fillon and others have proposed) would lead to a political system closer to the German model, with the same small group of figures always in power, irrespective of the actual result of the elections.
      In the meantime, Macron is basically repackaging all sorts of ideas that have already been road-tested by others and passing them off as “change”, even though they don’t cohere very well, and sometimes contradict each other. But in a way that’s not surprising: Macron is the logical end product of taking politics out of politics.

      Reply
        1. Sputnik Sweetheart

          Former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi introduced the Jobs Act when he was elected. One of the details of the act was to repeal an article that protected workers from unjust dismissal, all in order to “stimulate economic growth.” This proposal was passed on November 25th despite several protests against it, one of which numbered one million people in the streets.

          During his tenure as Minister of the Economy, Macron was responsible for further privatising government assets (see the selling of GE to Alstom: http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/12/02/behind-ges-takeover-of-alstom-energy/) and further weakening protections on workers (with the Loi Macron and the El-Khomri laws). The current platform he’s running on makes it so that people who are on unemployment benefits are forced to accept one of their first two job offers in order to avoid their benefits being cut (as long as the salary is not below 20-25% of their previous job). He uses the term “as long as it’s a decent job,” but that’s as vague as his usual statements. (http://www.linternaute.com/actualite/politique/1343676-programme-macron-retraite-isf-emploi-immigration-liste-des-mesures/)

          So I suppose that in a sense, Macron is the new Renzi.

          Reply
          1. David

            I think the key is really his youth. He’s not a first-generation traitor like Blair or Clinton (W). He’s a post-modernist traitor, or if you like someone who doesn’t even really think of betraying principles, because nobody he’s ever met has any. He is a politician playing at playing the role of a politician, with lots of knowing winks and in-jokes for the cognoscenti. His tenure in a Socialist Party government was just another entry in his CV. He was brought up on the idea that you offer just enough vaguely progressive sounding rhetoric to comfort one part of the political spectrum, whilst pursuing hardline neoliberal policies to benefit only the wealthy. If you called this an ideology, he would be genuinely puzzled because he wouldn’t understand what an ideology was.

            Reply
              1. David

                Well, he’s trying, but current polls give him only about 12% of the vote in the first round. That’s roughly half of what Macron and Le Pen each have, so barring a miracle he’ll be out after the first round – only the second time that’s happened since the Fifth Republic was founded in 1958. Amazingly Hamon is still well behind the apparently indestructible Fillon (on 19%) in spite of the latter’s problems. He is likely to be eliminated as well, so there will be no establishment right-wing candidate in the second round for the first time ever. Hamon’s problem is often explained as the usual disunity on the Left. This is partly true, but it goes beyond that. Hamon basically has the middle class vaguely progressive vote, whereas Mélenchon has much more of the traditional Socialist vote. It’s clear that if Mélenchon withdrew, Hamon would have a better chance of getting into the second round, but even then I don’t think he’d win. He’s a weak candidate and is generally considered as Hollande by other means, with a slight leftish tilt.

                Reply
                1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                  If/when Fillon crashes, in the privacy of the voting booth I wonder how many of his die-hards would prefer Le Pen’s nationalist Judeo-Christianism to Macron’s globalism and continuing Musli-fication? Seems to me if they are Catholic first, French second, upper-class third they may let the first two categories influence their vote? If they can put aside all of the negative historical FN baggage that is. Ma belle mere est francaise, baronne d’une famille ancienne, and that’s how she’s thinking

                  Reply
        2. clinical wasteman

          And the one before that (likewise unelected) and the one before that (likewise unelected).
          See David’s post above, in which he already said what I intended to say: Macron doesn’t need a nest of secret string-pullers or bankrollers, he’s the asset of perpetual administration (cf. Gentiloni, Renzi, Letta, Monti…) and French, English (FT, Guardian) and German (FAZ, Spiegel) media can anoint him without so much as a sniff of ‘bad faith’. Statistically adjusted sample story: “a woman who looked remarkably ‘working-class’ pledged her support and was rewarded [emphasis added] with a kiss on the cheek”. (FT, Le Monde, all agencies, et al., some time when Fillon was still in the running. Don’t know exactly when because it wasn’t exactly scrapbook-worthy.)

          Reply
      1. visitor

        There have been several powerful people behind Macron, but three stand out:

        1) Jacques Attali, a key provider of ideological backstop for policy choices of French governments of all colours for decades. Macron was a member of the latest famous Attali commission elaborating a plan to “unleash French growth” (a compendium of the usual neo-liberal “reforms”). Jacques Attali also introduced Macron to the Rothschild bank.

        2) Henry Hermand, a retail moghul in France and Africa, extremely wealthy and a socialist, linked to most think-tanks, journals and turfs of the French Parti Socialiste with a “third-way” blairite kind of orientation. According to Hermand himself, he “never left Macron” and “Macron never takes a decision without talking to me first”. He coached Macron, induced him into his own network of political and business relations, and educated him politically — till Hermand’s recent death.

        3) Jean-Pierre Jouyet. A real “éminence grise”, involved in many governments and presidencies — both from Socialists like Jospin and Hollande, or from right-wing governments like Fillon. Was a collaborator of Delors when he was running the show at the EU Commission. He introduced Macron to Valls and Hollande.

        Obviously, Macron is an insider through and through.

        He is also not a “new” person in any way. He is an ENA-alumnus and was also general auditor — you cannot have a more conformist career start than that in French political terms.

        Macron is just a nice, younger face for a continuation of the Hollande & Sarkozy policies.

        Reply
        1. MoiAussie

          Thanks for your perspective. You and David have rather confirmed my original suspicion that Macron is a candidate carefully selected and marketed to offer hope but deliver the kind of reform that will only make things worse for all but a few.

          I’m having a deja vu moment – like that when I first realised that Trump was preferable to more of the same because his election could create opportunities for enlightenment and hence for change. So perhaps Le Pen is to be preferred, given the state of the left.

          Reply
  19. crittermom

    I love the photo of the raccoon & the dog. Awww.
    It appears to be a young raccoon, which would explain why it’s so ‘loving.’
    Many decades (another lifetime) ago I looked into getting one as a pet until I found out that no matter how you raise them, they turn very mean (& destructive) around a year old.
    Sadly, that relationship pictured could turn very ugly in the future. Hoping not.

    Reply
    1. hidflect

      Good for you to do the backgrounding first. I can see how trash pandas could turn bad. They’re much too wiley.

      Reply
  20. Tom Doak

    The “Unspeakable Realities” piece was excellent, and hardly the sort of article I would have expected to come from Forbes. [On second thought, I guess they’re libertarian, and would prefer no welfare at all, to the “welfare for well employed white people” they describe as coming from tax breaks for employment-based insurance programs.]

    Still, it’s the best explanation I’ve seen for why unemployed whites would prefer Trump to Sanders … because the treatment of people with jobs is MUCH better than they get from social programs designed for the poor, and they know it from first-hand experience.

    Reply
    1. Katniss Everdeen

      “…..it’s the best explanation I’ve seen….”

      Agreed.

      Interestingly, I’ve heard the words “ward of the state” more, lately, than I have in years.

      A friend who pays $1300 per month for health insurance from the exchange for herself and her husband vehemently denied that she participated in obamacare. They are both self-employed, and she seems to associate obamacare with “welfare.” She is apparently offended by the chorus of obamacare defenders, most of whom are insured by more conventional means, that obamacare is a necessary program for those who cannot access insurance the “normal” way.

      Both of them were Trump voters.

      Reply
      1. barefoot charley

        In this vein, I’ve long observed that welfare (though it’s majority white) is for minorities. SSI is middle-class white people’s welfare. You gotta know how to work the system, or you don’t deserve it!

        Reply
    2. djrichard

      This was an eye opener for me just from a historical perspective as well. From the article,

      In the years after World War II, the western democracies that had not already done so adopted universal social safety net programs. These included health care, retirement and other benefits. President Truman introduced his plan for universal health coverage in 1945. It would have worked much like Social Security, imposing a tax to fund a universal insurance pool. His plan went nowhere.

      Instead, nine years later Congress laid the foundations of the social welfare system we enjoy today. They rejected Truman’s idea of universal private coverage in favor of a program controlled by employers while publicly funded through tax breaks. This plan gave corporations new leverage in negotiating with unions, handing the companies a publicly-financed benefit they could distribute at their discretion.

      Presumably that did cement the connection in people’s minds that employers should be the provider of health care rather than the Fed Gov. As they say, mission accomplished.

      Makes one wonder, if the Fed Gov did provide single payer, would people care if they were working crap jobs or not? Maybe not so much anymore. And maybe this is the “unspeakable reality” that is blocking single payer. It removes a dis-incentive for labor to avoid falling off the conveyor belt of a “good” job into a crap job. [Especially when the carrot of being a player (getting rich by leveraging private debt staked to ones income/assets) is not an option anymore. Which is true even for those that still have good jobs (and have reached their max debt load) and who for all their efforts are now just house poor.] Hard to keep labor disciplined if dis-incentives and incentives start disappearing. Indeed, labor might get crazy ideas and think about what’s the point of it all compared to simply being a slacker as much as possible.

      So I’m thinking it’s more that employers wouldn’t embrace Bernie’s message. And therefore congress wouldn’t embrace it. That’s the “realities blocking” single payer. Gotta keep fear in the high-performing individuals who still have good jobs.

      Reply
      1. roadrider

        Makes one wonder, if the Fed Gov did provide single payer, would people care if they were working crap jobs or not? Maybe not so much anymore

        Are you delusional or what? Of course people would care about having a crap job in a crapified company or institution even if they had single payer. People work for reasons other than health insurance. Its only an artifact of the plantation mentality of the US corporate system and the irrational fear of social insurance due to the juvenile, nihilistic, Randian pseudo-philosophy that rules public discourse that we’re dependent on employers for health insurance.

        There’s lots of other things wrong with the corporate employment system besides health insurance: (suppressed wages so the vast majority of profits are funneled to management and shareholders, treatment of workers like cattle or machine parts, and on and on. Single payer can’t possibly address any of those but it can give workers more leverage to tell employers to fuck off as opposed to having to eat shit from them because they need the insurance which they can’t get at an affordable price anywhere (despite what idiot Obamacare apologists like Dean Baker like to claim).

        Reply
        1. djrichard

          I have one of those so called good jobs. But it has a lot of stress. Given my druthers, I wouldn’t mind being downwardly mobile to a crap job: one that doesn’t have good health care and only has menial responsibilities. As long as I can get free health care otherwise in the process.

          Of course, this alleviates the need to address one of Trump’s big promises which is to bring the good jobs back that were sent overseas. But let’s think about it. Once you take healthcare out of the equation, what actually separates a good job from a crap job? Is it the glory? Is it the creativity? [Indeed will the jobs brought back from overseas even have these dimensions?] Well there’s a lot of competition for such jobs that do have those dimensions, and the ones who “win” at these competitions are the ones who can best internalize the values of the company. Which to be frank, I have a hard time doing. Maybe the same is true with a crap job, I don’t know. But with a crap job, I wouldn’t really care about fighting for my job. And I wouldn’t worry about fighting for my job if I could move from job to job. Which I think is the point you’re making.

          Reply
    1. Nippersdad

      In search of the perfect lawn….I used to get inquiries all the time about poor lawn performance, even after atrocious sums were expended upon them. One person’s yard man, I remember, used to throw the leaves and clippings over his fence into the woods. I asked the homeowner to do a soil test on the clipping pile and on the soil in his lawn; he couldn’t believe that he had just thrown all those thousands of dollars over the fence and only had bare clay to show for it.

      It is remarkable how little most people know, or care to know, about even the simplest natural systems.

      Reply
  21. ChrisAtRU

    More Brazille – Comedy Central interview with Trevor Noah (some of you invariably may not make it all the way through).

    Wish Trevor would eviscerate the Dems as much as he does Trump. But that, perhaps, is wishing for too much.

    Reply
    1. ChrisAtRU

      Ah, the one time I’d like to edit … straight to comments! LOL

      “some of you, no doubt, may not be able to make it all the way through”

      Reply
    2. oho

      >>Wish Trevor would eviscerate the Dems as much as he does Trump. But that, perhaps, is wishing for too much.

      Trevor doesn’t have the intellectual curiosity to delve into politics as Jon Stewart did—nor Stewart’s desire to be self-critical and internally consistent w/his politics.

      it feels like that to Trevor ‘the Daily Show is just a job’

      Reply
      1. WheresOurTeddy

        That show is a hollow shell of what it was. In the seat where someone who obviously burned hot for the issues he cared about sat, we now have a grinning, self-satisfied snarkfest devoid of much of anything except democratic talking points. Noah’s miniscule intellectual firepower is ever and always turned in the “right” direction.

        There are half a dozen shows that already do that, and frankly, do it much better.

        Reply
  22. justanotherprogressive

    Poor, poor Richard Reich. I believe he is a kind and generous person and cares deeply about what is happening in this country. But, sadly, he lacks the imagination, like many, many people, to make the jump to greatness. And because of that, he only nips around the edges – he can never get to the root causes of what is happening to us.

    He can’t imagine a world where money isn’t collected for its own self, instead of just being reduced back to its original function as a tool to facilitate good transfer.

    He can’t imagine a world where what you own doesn’t determine your place on the social hierarchy. Does owning a Mercedes really put you on a higher plane than owning a Subaru? Seems to me both do the same job…..

    He can’t imagine a world where “owning” a degree (it’s the paper that you pay for that is important – not what you should have learned) doesn’t make you any better than anyone else, especially when you never crack another serious book or never use the windows on the world that getting that degree should have given you. A BS does not tell you how to survive – all it does is give you glimpses of what is possible. ( I am amazed how many people are just satisfied with those glimpses and never want to learn a thing more.)

    He can’t imagine that those people that he cares so much about, the downtrodden, just might have something important to say to him. He is under the impression that because he owns so much, he is more competent to determine what they, the downtrodden, need than they are – an idea that Plato, another elite, foisted on us.

    He just can’t imagine that he can give up all the sacred cows of his profession, like Adam Smith and other Enlightenment thinkers who steered society down this path. Where would the world be if Capitalism, which has favored the elite so much, had been rejected because of how much damage it has done to the rest of society? Might we not have developed a more egalitarian system that depended more on cooperation (which favors most people) instead of competition (which favors only the elite)? We, and well as Reich, will never ever know….and Reich is incapable of thinking about that…….and that is what keep him locked in the elite jail of his own creation..

    Reply
    1. justanotherprogressive

      Yikes! I did it again. I know Dr. Reich’s first name is Robert, not Richard. Must be something Freudian on my part…..

      Reply
    2. juliania

      Plato may have been ‘another elite’ but he didn’t do what you are claiming. Socrates, his hero, makes a distinction between those who are paid professional ‘philosophers’ (sophists) and the nonpaid such as himself, who seek to know whilst knowing that they do not know. You are confusing Plato with persons such as Leo Strauss and the Chicago boys. Birds of a very different feather, even though they claim to be philosophers. By their salaries ye shall know them.

      Plato didn’t claim that he knew more than the downtrodden. He claimed that the downtrodden had the same capacity for knowledge as the elite (see the slaveboy in ‘Meno’). And in ‘Politeia’ (The Republic) that guardians can arise in laboring families. That the soul is immortal – in everyone. You might be thinking of Aristotle, who claimed that slaves were slaves inherently. Not the same thing at all.

      I agree with you about the value of ongoing education. So would Plato and his Socrates, which is what got him killed in the end.

      Reply
      1. justanotherprogressive

        Plato didn’t believe in elite “philosopher kings”? Could have fooled me. Yes, I know, “philosopher ings” were to come from the most educated people of the time. And so, where did these “philosopher kings” come from? Remember education wasn’t for everyone in Athens at the time……. Do you remember what he wrote about democracy and rule by the general public?

        Reply
          1. justanotherprogressive

            Sadly, this describes it best:
            “Plato’s educational philosophy was grounded in his vision of the ideal Republic, wherein the individual was best served by being subordinated to a just society. He advocated removing children from their mothers’ care and raising them as wards of the state, with great care being taken to differentiate children suitable to the various castes, the highest receiving the most education, so that they could act as guardians of the city and care for the less able. Education would be holistic, including facts, skills, physical discipline, and music and art, which he considered the highest form of endeavor.”
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_education

            Reply
    3. witters

      It seems hopeless, but might I point out that this – “He [Reich] is under the impression that because he owns so much, he is more competent to determine what they, the downtrodden, need than they are – an idea that Plato, another elite, foisted on us” – is NOT Plato, but the precise opposite! Plato’s Philosopher Kings owned NOTHING. It is merely a point of historical accuracy I suppose, but Plato isn’t the propetarian elitist so many seem to think.

      Reply
  23. Susan the other

    Motherboard. “The CIA can now order drone strikes without military approval.” There’s a pattern in the news today. Robert Reich has just power-pointed the reasons why Congress is no longer functioning and no longer necessary. Motherboard just told us, almost casually, that the CIA can order drone strikes whenever they want with no military oversight. And the presidency as we have known it has now become complete, as in a farce. Nobody is even pretending Paul Ryan has a brain cell, not even Republicans. The EU is falling apart. The G-20 just tossed its sacred anti-protectionist trade measures to the wind. And amusingly, Steve Bannon recently thought there was actually some functioning reality which needed to be “brought down”. One day soon we will see a headline like this: “Drones have made the military unnecessary.” The very engine of our civilization.

    Reply
    1. Freda Miller

      ” ‘Drones have made the military obsolete.’ The very engine of our civilization.” Bingo! We live in revolutionary times. The question is: How long will it take to put the brakes on runaway military spending?

      Reply
      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        It’s a startup opportunity:

        1. Use Google and FB artificial intelligence to determine which persons in the world are detrimental to system health (Designated Detrimental Persons, DDP);

        2. System sends the DDP’s current lat/long via API to PPES (Populace Purification Enforcement Service);

        3. PPES uploads DDP coordinates to AKARS (Active Kinetic Aerial Response Service) drones and completes purification process. You’d also want APIs for automated notification of next of kin and closing of retirement and other accounts.

        Instead of voting on governments we would vote on proposed upgrades to the algorithm, interest groups would form promoting certain algorithm changes: MBP (More Brown People) Coalition; SBAH (Smash Billionaires At Home) Alliance, etc.

        Reply
    2. LT

      Well, the drones appear to be effective against little armed bandit groups.
      The saber rattling at China and Russia is another story.

      And you’re assuming military build-up is only for foreign threats that the establishment perceives.

      Reply
  24. ChrisAtRU

    Renaissance: La Deuxieme

    “Macron: We need much deeper integration within the eurozone. A multispeed Europe has long been a reality and we shouldn’t even attempt to push all countries to move forward in unison. That was a major mistake of the past years. We haven’t further developed the eurozone because we feared scaring the British and the Poles. And what did that lead to? Britain voted to leave anyway and Poland is now telling us that Europe is a horrible thing. We have lost a lot of time.”

    It’s simple enough to articulate, but will the psychopaths listen? Get rid of the 3% deficit rule. Allow countries to run deficits based on sectoral balances (3 year rolling average or some such). Aaaaand you’re done! Send the money hoarders off to Switzerland or Japan to binge off -ve rates if they’re that concerned about safe havens.

    Reply
    1. Bugs Bunny

      That’s in the platform of Benoît Hamon, the rebel Socialist who broke with Hollande and Macron’s neoliberalism and quit the government — only to win the Left primary and is now representing the PS. Unfortunately he couldn’t reach an agreement with Melanchon for a united Left candidacy so both are likely doomed to lose in the first round. Mind you there are quite a few within the PS “centrists” who are backing Macron. I guess they want their party to evaporate into a neoliberal fog.

      Reply
      1. ChrisAtRU

        Merçi Beaucoup! Bit serpentine navigating his site as an English reader, but I’ve read through some translated pages/PDF’s to get the gist. Really good to see anything argued in favour of creating more fiscal space. Also really sad to see leftists yet again fail to coalesce against neolibs.

        Reply
        1. Bugs Bunny

          It’s hard for Mélenchon to concede that he’s not going to win on his own when it’s so obvious to him and his supporters that he’s the Man of Destiny /sarc

          France still has its “Man on the White Horse” issues.

          Reply
  25. Foppe

    Dutch election: yes, dog-whistling became much more pervasive during this election cycle (because the right doesn’t want to have to talk about austerity, of course.) So the yammering about “Wilders” not having won is only true by virtue of the fact that Wilders’s seeds are starting to take root elsewhere.

    Reply
  26. Reno/Dino

    Controversy at Mayo Clinic: Patients with private insurance get priority

    Medicare patients have only one strategy at their disposal to upgrade their treatment that I’m personally aware of. By opting to buy Medigap insurance along with the standard Medicare coverage, you have the option to go to any provider taking Medicare anywhere in the country. Medigap coverage pays for the 20% that Medicare doesn’t cover and is purchased from a private insurance carrier. Providers light up when you provide them with your Medigap policy info. It means they will get paid in full and on time, something that is not always the case with just straight Medicare. It is important to buy Medigap insurance right when you become eligible for Medicare or you will be subject to underwriting after six months.

    This can make the difference between getting seen by a provider of your choice or being told outright “We don’t take Medicare.” It gold plates your Medicare coverage. With that private insurance kicker thrown in, it may get you out of steerage and on the top deck. The sad fact is health care is a luxury item worth the sacrifice.

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth Burton

      You’re correct, but you’ve just proved the point of the article—if you can afford Medigap, you’re fine. If, however, your monthly income doesn’t support several hundred dollars in insurance premiums, good luck.

      Reply
    2. sleepy

      But medicare only pays 80% of what it considers reasonable charges and medigap only picks up the additional 20% of that reasonable charge. What medicare considers a reasonable charge is generally far below what private insurance pays the provider. Since medigap also generally pays copays and deductibles, albeit only on procedures that medicare approves of, the patient usually pays zero.

      While the provider may be paid in full, the total amount paid is usually substantially less than what a full private policy would pay. In other words, the billed amount might be $1000, medicare thinks the reasonable amount is $300, pays $240, and medigap pays the remaining $60. Private insurance may have negotiated a payment of $600. Patients with medigap may be favored over those without it, but private insurance is still more lucrative.

      Oh and on a related matter, most of us know that providers who accept medicare are prohibited from balance billing–billing the patient for any amount beyond medicare’s “reasonable” amount. Pence has expressed interest in doing away with that ban and allowing balance billing.

      Reply
  27. Olga

    “The CIA’s 60-Year History of Fake News: How the Deep State Corrupted Many American Writers Truthdig. Excellent review of the bidding, despite the clickbait-y headline.”
    This deserves the ‘must-listen” label – deliberate and persistent misinformation corrupts and damages the world – but it also deeply corrupts and damages those who create and spread the misinformation. Combine that with a willful lack of understanding of the world’s complexities and a sense of superiority and we have a recipe for disaster (or, many disasters). Not sure much has changed…

    Reply
  28. Townie

    Why We’re Suing the UNM Foundation
    I live in a boarding school town, which has a similar Town vs Gown dynamic as you find in college towns. The boarding school is the largest employer here, and the largest private land-owner. Over the years it has bought all the property abutting its campus. Now, it’s buying the property abutting the properties abutting its campus.

    As a non-profit educational institution (with a $45 million endowment), the boarding school is exempt from paying property taxes. Every time it buys a house, the town literally becomes poorer. Yes, the boarding school “gives back,” but even that comes with strings. For instance, it “saved” the pubic library a decade ago, but on the condition that control of the library would be turned over to a private foundation (administered by the boarding school). When the public schools had to cut the swimming pool out of the budget (in part because of dwindling property tax revenue), the boarding school generously offered the townies practice time at its lavish aquatic center. Left out of the self-congratulatory press releases announcing these generous gestures was acknowledgment of the boarding school’s role in creating the crises that prompted them.

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      If I hear the phrase “gives back” one more time, I will scream. Loudly.

      It is just a bunch of sanctimonious BS.

      Reply
    2. Lord Koos

      My town would be pretty bleak without the local college, which has grown from its roots as a teachers college in the early 1900s to a University with a student population that now amounts to half of the town’s 18,000 people. Without the school, this place would be little more than a minor agricultural and ranching hub. There are also many cultural benefits, and without the school this place would be extremely conservative. (The county has reliably voted Republican for many decades.) It is nice and quiet here in the summer when most of the kids are gone.

      But I’ve noticed changes over the years — the president of the University owns a couple of rental properties in our neighborhood, which is a nice one, and in fact our entire block, which was formerly single family-owned homes, is now mostly rentals, and the town itself is 60% rental properties. As a result the town has a more transient feel than it did before the University experienced major growth during the 80s and 90s.

      Reply
  29. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Icahn Bets Against Renewables Market He Wants Trump to Overhaul Bloomberg

    Any nonpartisan, smart thought not wise, robot trader can make that short trade today, knowing Trump’s position on that.

    And being able to talk to Trump is not necessarily the most advantageous.,.got to talk to leaders of the both parties in Congress as well, to monitor the situation second by second.

    Reply
  30. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Immigrants don’t make up a majority of workers in any U.S. industry Pew Research.

    Immigrants contribute to this country.

    That is, they help make the empire great.

    Decades after, it seems, to take one example, Mexico has become poorer relatively to the US…all the talented people from down south have come to make the empire (and the 10%) great…though America (the 90% Americans) needs to be great again.

    Will more immigrants make the empire even greater and richer, relative to Mexico?

    Seems likely.

    Reply
  31. LT

    Re: Forbes article on health insurance
    Single payer wouldn’t necessarily make private insurance illegal. It would make those less well off (even those workers who make less than execs at corporations) not have to subsidize (in subtle and not so subtle ways) people who make enough to afford it. Least that’s my take on it.
    The story about the Mayo clinic shows where the rubber meets the road. A non-profit with tax breaks worried about profit shows that the PRICE gauging for care still needs to be addressed.

    Reply
    1. marym

      HR 676 Expanded and Improved Medicare for All:

      Section 103.
      “IN GENERAL.—No institution may be a participating provider unless it is a public or not-for-profit institution. Private physicians, private clinics, and private health care providers shall continue to operate as private entities, but are prohibited from being investor owned.”

      Section 104
      “IN GENERAL.—It is unlawful for a private health insurer to sell health insurance coverage that duplicates the benefits provided under this Act.”

      https://www.congress.gov/115/bills/hr676/BILLS-115hr676ih.pdf

      Reply
        1. marym

          The bill is for comprehensive coverage (Section 102.a (1-16) – pretty much everything, including dental, vision, etc,; and stipulates no cost sharing (Section 102.c – no copays, deductibles). Similar to other countries that have comprehensive universal healthcare, private insurance would only be allowed for anything not covered, the usual example being non-medically necessary cosmetic surgery.

          Reply
  32. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Unspeakable Realities Block Universal Health Coverage In America Forbes

    They brainwash you by giving you a list to choose from.

    It’s like those multiple choice questions in school.

    Here, you are confined to view the question or issue through the carefully chosen choices.

    They don’t want to think on your own.

    Because, who knows, you might connect some dots…

    Free college education + Single Payer = Free Single Payer Health Care.

    Why shouldn’t health care be available to all, and free, when you say college education should be?

    Instead, we pine away for Single Payer, and offer ‘Yes, we will pay!!!!”

    Reply
  33. HopeLB

    Is it possible the opioid kill off is intentional? Was it engineered/ignored to give the deplorables an escape from their neoliberal induced pain and/or to save them from a worse death by starvation/war from global climate change?

    https://popularresistance.org/stop-obama-from-putting-big-pharma-in-charge-of-fda/

    https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm207480.htm

    https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/01/11/fda-approves-painkiller-obama-administration-warned-about-in-december

    Reply
    1. Lord Koos

      I think the whole let-them-die thing is somewhat intentional, perhaps you could call it malicious neglect. Not only the drugs (I bet at least 30% of the country is on anti-depressants), but the lack of affordable health care and the mass incarcerations speak to the elite’s dislike of the common folk. It’s gone from “let them eat cake” to “fuck off and die”.

      Reply
  34. WheresOurTeddy

    The Deep State goes to war with history itself:

    Paranoia, conspiracy theory and a plan to make America great again: The Illuminati panic of the 1790s

    Conspiracies don’t exist, kids!

    How Russia Recruited Ernest Hemingway

    And Hemingway was a commie agent of the RUSSIANS…who have always been our enemies…Oceania has ALWAYS been at war with Eurasia…

    That Chelsea Clinton sits on the board of the parent company of the Daily Beast is, I am sure, purely coincidental.

    Reply
    1. WheresOurTeddy

      Ignore the fact that Russia was the sole European ally for the Union in the American Civil War, and that every other European power wanted 2 competing nations on this continent instead of 1 unified one. Especially Britain.

      Click here for some tasty 1800s anti-Russian propaganda from London depicting Lincoln as a Russia-loving Putin puppet! Er, I mean Alexander puppet!. Facts are so inconvenient sometimes. What’s old is new again…

      http://www.voltairenet.org/article169488.html

      Reply
  35. LT

    You know what stat law enforcement, law enforcement and the NRA get on podium and speak to the press about? It’s a stat that remains consistant over time and all cultures and crosses all geographical boundaries.

    Most people that are victims of violent crimes, including and especially murder, are killed by someone close to them that they know. Yet everyone is riled up to fear the “other” and to buy things to protect themselves from the “other.”
    Often, even robbery and thefts are an inside job…someone the person has in their home or lets in their home.

    The decline in the murder rate since the 70s oddly correlates to the rise in single households. Don’t know if anyone has studied that. I just find it intersting. It wouldn’t exactly be fodder to increase law enforcement budgets and weaponry.

    Reply
    1. LT

      Oh, that musing is in reference to the Huffpo article on the Kardahians and Kim’s tweetings about gun control.

      I’ve also read before that police answering domestic disturbance calls consider it high risk.

      Reply
      1. human

        One of the few times that I saw “stars” was when I intervened between a husband and wife in a barroom scuffle. She picked up one of those heavy glass ashtrays and clocked me in the head with it. Learned my lesson right then and there. Do not interfere in a domestic dispute.

        Reply
        1. LT

          Long ago, I had to pull one roommate off another as he held a knife to the other’s throat.
          Tense night in that apartment.
          Within the week, I was out of that situation.

          Reply
        2. LT

          And the only other time I have faced someone with deadly weaponry pointed at me was policemen during a traffic stop, that ended after much tension (the entire stop was a comedy of errors on both our parts) with a phony ticket that was never entered into the system.

          Reply
      1. LT

        Yeah, I remember that, but still the stat remains consistent about perpetrators.
        But the lead didn’t necessarily mean you would kill someone.
        So it shows how the lead could cause aggression, but the leap to murder is hard to quantify.

        Reply
        1. LT

          But then the inventors of “the pill” would have to take some credit, too.
          It will be interesting to see what happens if the male pill ever hits the market.

          Reply
    2. TK421

      The decline in the murder rate since the 70s oddly correlates to the rise in single households

      That’s true, but theres likely no causation. A single woman is far, far more likely to be the victim of violence than a married woman.

      Reply
      1. LT

        Nope…a truly single woman, in no realtionship and living alone would be safer than a married woman. And get pregnant and a woman’s risk for murder rises.

        And I realize co-realtion does not equal causation…which why I said it would be interesting to study.

        Reply
  36. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Caldwell writes: “Today’s opioid epidemic is, in part, an unintended consequence of the Reagan era.”

    Kind of like the H1B visa epidemic today is, in part, an unintended consequence of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.

    Some good, some bad.

    Reply
  37. bob

    Psych ward–

    Wow that first sentence is a mess-

    “The state of psychiatric care in America, and around the world, lives at the intersection of our debates about access to healthcare and our prejudices about mental illness.”

    That’s gotta be MBA level BS there. America=the world, to begin with

    Reply
  38. different clue

    Here is a comment from a very recent Sic Semper Tyrannis post and thread. It purports to explain how US-based actors “could” obtain every little thing Trump and/or every anyone else ever said from within Trump Tower without having to involve the Five Eyes at all. I don’t know if it is true or false, but it seems internally coherent. Here it is.

    MRW said in reply to David Habakkuk…
    They didn’t need GCHQ. They could have asked the Israelis who invented NARUS in the late 90s, the interface between NSA and the backbone. (Plausible deniability anyone? Remember Alex Klein and the San Francisco facility in 2007? And the ridiculous claim that it only involved one location?)

    NARUS, now owned by Boeing–after complaints of Israeli (foreign) access to NSA dumps–hoovers e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. [Israel had already designed a pipe of this info–the stuff NSA sends to their current Utah location–to their computers in-country.] Nevertheless, the Israelis would know the interface fields and how they operate, something I taught NSA in the 80s when NSA was still in direct control of the nodes attached to AT&T’s 10 (then) backbone nodes nationwide. It was called the Private Line Network (PLN) then and only 100 AT&T scientists knew how it worked. I had to learn it, and I can tell you definitively that NSA attached its hoovers to each backbone node and copied every domestic and foreign telephonic and electronic communication in its entirety. Everything. Don’t ever believe the ‘only metadata’ or ‘call-record data’ horseshit; it’s bogus.

    There are any which way to glean that info without involving Five Eyes, which in my view would be ludicrous to attempt because it would leave a trail. The secret lies in Utah. That’s why they put their facility there: the Mormons are accommodating as long as you don’t bitch about their marriage practices, now considered illegal, but still practiced just east of NSA’s facility.

    Reply 19 March 2017 at 02:57 AM

    And here is the post-thread from which it came.
    http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2017/03/httpwwwtheamericanconservativecomarticlesa-soft-coup-or-preserving-our-democracymc_cid2f82659492mc_eid101f318c4e.html#comments

    I strongly suspect it is worth at least some consideration.

    Reply
    1. Outis Philalithopoulos

      At least the part of the comment discussing Utah is rather misleading. The people in Utah practicing polygamy now are small splinter groups (perhaps 20000 or less people) that the main Mormon church (LDS) regards as heretics. There have in fact been suspicions that the main church lobbied for recent legislative attempts to crack down on polygamy.

      Reply
      1. different clue

        I suspect that MRW knows a lot about the things he knows about. I also suspect that that leads him to think he knows just as much about other things too. It is a besetting hazard for people who are awfully smart in some areas.

        The Mormon stuff aside . . . does anyone think the meat of the statement has problems of mistaken understanding or extending the analysis too far? If not, then this comment may have been well worth the copying, and may be well worth considering.

        Reply
    2. dontknowitall

      I have three objections. The first one is that NSA keeps a red list of politicians and others which excludes from surveillance except with permission from higher authority, but the list also includes contact numbers of informants and pizza parlors of all places for technical reasons. Those streams are later filtered out of the intake even though the intake is universal. This was revealed during the whole Obama spying on Merkel kerfuffle.

      Second objection is that shortly after Trump started making noises about surveillance a reportedly chastened NSA director unexpectedly visited Trump at Trump Tower and it was then that we start hearing about GCHQ. On Jan 23, three days after Trump was sworn in, Richard Haming the director of GCHQ reigns unexpectedly after only two years on the job ‘to spend time with his family’.

      Third objection is that Trump is pointing fingers directly at Obama and GCHQ not NSA so NSA is a distraction in this discussion.

      Reply
  39. LT

    Re: Article on opiod addiction…
    “I’m starting to mentally cross off unintentional…”

    And I can understand that statement. Even with knowledge of the Oxy issues, the fenatyl (or is it fenytal?) has now been intruduced to the market.

    Reply
    1. different clue

      Well . . . if its made in China, as are so many chemicals and drugs these days . . . the intention could be simple plain outright profit to the China-based smuggler and bootleg groups ( who may well be Communist Party connected, even if only in a nepotistic-family way . . . Little Red Princes and all . . .).

      Reply
  40. Bernard

    The 10% live apart from the rest of us working people. they have no clue or interest in “others.” self focusing, self this, “I’ve got mine, why haven’t they got “theirs” is the answer i hear all the time. My siblings are in the 10%, I am not. they can’t grasp the world isn’t as perfect as theirs is.

    They just fault “OTHERS” for not pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps. Cause every one has “bootstraps” according to the 10%. the horror/histrionics over Trump was something i’ve never seen before. Freaked me out like i couldn’t have imagined, definitely all the Evil Russians fault, hook line and sinker. I’ve called Trump “Frankenstein” created by the system the 10% defend.

    but my sibling have lived in this world all their life. they have no clue whatsoever about life outside the “American Dream” or the concept that capitalism is killing our entire world. while they can see the Climate Change occurring, hotter days, shorter winters, it’s all the Russians fault, everything bad that happens. Money is all that matters. and in America that is the only functioning reason to base your life upon.

    American has never had any culture other than Money. nor has there every been any other country that matters. even traveling all over the world, America is still the only country that matters. Nor is there any clue as to how the violence in Central/South America is a result of the School of the Americas or Kissinger/Chicago School Propaganda wars on our Latin neighbors.

    America is without fault. it is all these other countries fault for not being as Exceptional as America. After all, Money makes the World go round.

    the Ayn Randian indoctrication/Cold War upbringing shapes everything everyday. Intellect is not needed cause “Markets”. lol Thatcher and Reagan are the only Gods these people recognize, worship and live for/by.

    some Baby Boomers will need to die/get out of the way/ before they stop voting, i mean. Paul Weyrich was right about not wanting the “wrong” person to vote.

    Reply
    1. different clue

      But Weyrichs’s “wrong person” and your “wrong person” are two different people. In terms of not voting, I suspect Weyrich would be one of your “wrong people”, and you are most definitely one of Weyrich’s “wrong people”.

      And GenX ten per centers and Millenial ten per centers are probably just as money-and-bootstrap committed as are the Boomers’ ten per centers.

      It really is a ten per center problem, not a Boomer Problem or an X-er problem or a Millenial problem.

      Reply
      1. Bernard

        now we can see how well “interest groups” have stolen the money, America, and control the direction of this country. meanwhile, these organized group of grifers open up this country to what i would call allowing “Trump and His merry band of Thieves” to sell America off to the highest bidder.

        Voting sure makes a difference. i guess that is why they don’t let the “riffraff” vote. i can easily see how good the pay is. There is a club, and most of us ain’t in it.

        Reply
    2. PhilM

      Well, the working people don’t have the time or money to educate themselves properly, so they are not really fit to vote. That group includes everyone below the 90th percentile, given the wealth curve at this point.

      Wow, that sounds kind of harsh. It sounds that way because it doesn’t feel good to be lumped into a generalized “thought-group” by attributes presumed on the basis of one’s income.

      Back in the day, when commoners threw rocks at a nobleman’s carriage, they were whipped. How I miss the good old days. Working people don’t understand much if they’re not whipped, do they?

      Reply
  41. ChrisPacific

    From the Juncker article:

    Asked by Bild am Sonntag newspaper if other member states would follow Britain’s example in quitting, Juncker said: “No. Britain’s example will make everyone realise that it’s not worth leaving.”

    He added: “On the contrary, the remaining member states will fall in love with each other again and renew their vows with the European Union.”

    Yes, there’s nothing like realizing that you will be savagely beaten if you ever try to leave (and being shown graphic footage of previous victims) to make you rediscover your love for your partner and want to renew your vows. Is Juncker sure that’s the metaphor he wants to go with?

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We have to make nations more like households (in certain aspects), and progress to no-fault divorce.

      Reply
    2. Oregoncharles

      Yesterday we saw confirmation that the EU’s treatment of Greece was a factor in the Brexit vote. It doesn’t sound like Juncker learned the lesson.

      It does sound like the EU intends to be vindictive about it.

      You’re right: not a good look, and he’s saying that in public?

      Reply
    3. vidimi

      one way to punish britain would be to drain it of the high-paying finance jobs that keep the city of london running. but juncker’s tiny luxembourg ensures that they won’t do just that by offering london firms seeking shelter from brexit a sweet deal: set up your postal address in luxembourg, pay very little taxes, and keep all of your staff in london.

      Reply
  42. allan

    Experian partners with tech firm to speed up lending [Reuters]

    Credit bureau Experian Plc has teamed up with technology firm Finicity to launch a new product aimed at speeding up the consumer lending process in the United States making it more digital.

    By using Finicity’s technology, which aggregates data on accounts from thousands of banks and financial institutions, Experian’s new service will give lenders real-time access to information on a customer’s assets, income and ability to pay, the companies said.

    This means consumers will be able to apply for mortgages without having to provide reams of paper-based verification documents during the underwriting process, the companies said. Instead they will only need to authorize lenders to view their account data, the companies said. …

    It’s a good thing that the credit agencies’ databases are so completely accurate and dependable.

    Reply
  43. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    10. Many people asked, bewilderedly, “how did this [Trump] happen?”

    From his center-of-the-universe vantage point, he asks ‘how did Trump happen?’

    For many, they’ve been asking a different question: ‘how did Obama happen?’

    That, of course, leads to the embarrassing question of why we have always been gullible, falling easily for false Messiahs.

    And the next question, how do we stop falling for false saviors.

    In summary,

    1. How did that disaster (Obama) happen?
    2. How do we prevent it in the future?

    But Reich doesn’t ask that. In his world, disasters are other people.

    To me, his point #10 is a complete failure (haven’t thought too much about his other 9 points yet).

    Reply

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