2:00PM Water Cooler 4/10/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Trade

“President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping did not announce any major breakthroughs on trade at the end of their two-day summit on Friday. But the two leaders agreed to restructure existing bilateral forums into a new U.S.-China Comprehensive Dialogue overseen by the two presidents and focused on four distinct areas: security concerns, economics relations, law enforcement and cybersecurity and social and cultural issues” [Politico].

Politics

Syraqistan

“A pair of veteran leaders on the left, former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean and Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden, called on Hawaiians to vote Rep. Tulsi Gabbard out of office after the Democrat questioned whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was responsible for last week’s chemical attack” [CNN (DK)]. Orthodoxy enforcement won’t be easy in this case: Gabbard won 81.2% of the vote in her last election.

New Cold War

Bughouse:

Louise Mensch is a “Russia Critic” given space at the New York Times: “What to Ask About Russian Hacking?” Hosannas and endorsements from liberals followed. Here’s one from Obama’s old prof:

“Incomparable” indeed!

2016 Post Mortem

“Bernie Sanders’s Misguided Attacks on the ‘Liberal Elite'” [The New Republic]. This is actually more interesting than the headline. “When journalist Chris Arnade, for insance, argues that Trump and Sanders represent the ‘revolt of the back row kids’ against front-row types like Hillary Clinton, he’s analytically replacing divisions based on class with divisions based on paying attention in class. For Arnade, merit—doing well in school—replaces money as the fundamental organizer of social divisions. Arnade sympathizes with those who have lost out in neoliberalism, but he accepts neoliberalism’s account of how losers and winners are structured. And yet, neoliberalism is a lie.” Hmm.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Kansas Democrat Proudly Wears Support Of Bernie Sanders Group In Unexpectedly Close Race” [HuffPo]. “The Democratic Party, however, is staying away from the race” [HuffPo]. For “however,” read “of course.” Fixed it for ya.

“How liberal activists took over the Democratic Party” [McClatchy]. “Even political decisions – like the party’s involvement in a U.S. House of Representatives special election in Georgia – have been spearheaded by activists, who first started raising gobs of money for the de facto Democratic nominee, Jon Ossoff.” It would be irresponsible not to speculate, so I’ll speculate that the Democrat War Room being run by Clintonites at the DNC is acting as a cut-out for a lot of this. The whole story, shockingly for McClatchy, reads like a beat sweetener.

UPDATE GA-06: “Polls show Ossoff receiving about 40 percent of the vote; if no candidate reaches 50 percent in the April 18 election, the race will move to a runoff between the top two voter-getters” [McClatchy].

UPDATE GA-06: “Mr. Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party has blurred the bright-line ideological distinctions that defined the right for the past eight years. Driven more by personal loyalty and a ravenous appetite to win than by any fixed political philosophy, the deal-cutting president has been received warmly by some mainstream conservatives. At the same time, even ideological hard-liners who share the president’s pugilism but not his pragmatism have stuck by him because Mr. Trump has made the right enemies — and gleefully ridiculed them with public insults rarely heard from a president” [New York Times]. “These loyalties have upended the Tea Party-versus-establishment divide, which has dominated fratricidal primary seasons since 2010 but increasingly has the air of fins on the back of a car, a quaint relic from an earlier era. With Mr. Trump in charge, the political market for purity on the right has been devalued.”

“New York is the first state to make 4-year college tuition free for middle-class students” [MarketWatch]. “Under the plan, in-state students whose families earn $125,000 or less [in other words, working class] can participate. Altogether, the program is expected to cost New York $163 million and is expected to benefit roughly 940,000 families. New York is the first state to offer free four-year tuition.” This near-universal program providing concrete material benefits, especially to the working class, would “never, ever” have happened without the Sanders campaign. Of course, the program could still be sabotaged in the execution, but for now, let’s savor a victory. However, what about the students who didn’t win the birth lottery, weren’t covered by this program, when incurred massive debts that cannot — pause for a hat tip to that loveable goof, Joe Biden 2020 — that can’t be discharged in bankruptcy? If there’s any justice in the world, the flip side of free college is a Debt Jubilee, so when is that happening? (Pause to think through the policy details on this….)

“Don’t let establishment opportunists ruin the resistance movement” [Thomas Frank, Guardian]. “Harbingers of this approach are already visible. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook has written a nonspecific but distinctly anti-Trump manifesto. Budweiser is running commercials perceived to be critical of Trumpism, as is Coca-Cola. Starbucks has made its antipathy clear. A bunch of tech companies have declared their undying hostility to Trump’s immigration policies. Before long, no doubt, Nike or Reebok will be encouraging you to make a stand against fascism with a specially branded line of resistance sneakers.” This is from March. Frank called his shot on the Pepsi ad!

“Last fall, as presidential candidate Donald Trump promised America more oil and coal production, a small refinery town in Northern California stood up against its biggest employer and taxpayer. Valero, the Texas-based petroleum giant, had sought routine approval for a huge crude-by-rail project. The city council of Benicia, however, decisively rejected Valero’s proposal” [Capital and Main]. “”We had a small but extremely well-informed group of people who have been working on these issues for a long time,” said Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson, “and I give all the credit to that group.” Patterson is a longtime environmentalist who has been mayor since 2007 and was re-elected in November.” Activist successes like this require mastery of technical detail, the regulatory process, legal issues, and relationship building, especially with legislators and the press. They also require coalition-building, and public speaking and media skills. I would have expected the anti-fracking effort, to pick a single example, to have cross-fertilized electoral politics (and in some way other than siloed efforts holding up signs in marches). This happened in Benicia , but it doesn’t seem to have happened nationally, and I’m not sure why. Or is this happening — say, in Richmond, California, or Colorado, or upstate New York, and I missed it?

“Introducing the 2017 Cook Political Report Partisan Voter Index” [Cook Political Report]. Fun stuff. More and more interesting maps these days..

Stats Watch

Labor Market Conditions Index, March 2017: “With the unemployment rate down 2 tenths in March to 4.5 percent, the economy is at full employment but it isn’t giving much of a lift to the labor market conditions index which is barely holding above zero at only 0.4 in March” [Econoday].

State Coincident Indexes, January 2017: “Over the past three months, the indexes increased in 46 states, decreased in three, and remained stable in one…. In the past month, the indexes increased in 38 states, decreased in five, and remained stable in seven, for a one-month diffusion index of 66. For comparison purposes, the Philadelphia Fed has also developed a similar coincident index for the entire United States. The Philadelphia Fed’s U.S. index rose 0.7 percent over the past three months and 0.2 percent in January” [Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia].

Construction: “Update: Framing Lumber Prices Up Year-over-year” [Calculated Risk]. “The price increases in early 2013 were due to a surge in demand (more housing starts) and supply constraints (framing lumber suppliers were working to bring more capacity online). Prices didn’t increase as much early in 2014 (more supply, smaller “surge” in demand). In 2015, even with the pickup in U.S. housing starts, prices were down year-over-year. Note: Multifamily starts do not use as much lumber as single family starts, and there was a surge in multi-family starts. This decline in 2015 was also probably related to weakness in China.”

Shipping: “E-commerce users typically need two to three times the amount of warehouse and distribution space that traditional users do” [Logistics Management]. “That’s mostly because e-commerce fulfillment requires more inventory, labor and automation.”

Shipping: “Wednesday’s ProMat keynote panelists agreed it is time to embrace the shift to digital supply chains seen in MHI’s latest annual industry report, titled “Next-Generation Supply Chains: Digital, On-Demand and Always-On” [Logistics Management]. “According to the report, nine technologies including sensors, Cloud solutions, robotics, 3D printing, the Internet of Things (IoT) and autonomous vehicles[,(?)] and drones are working together to create supply chains that are digital, on-demand and always-on.” I’ve helpfully underlined the technologies I could also file under The Bezzle. Was I too kind?

Shipping: “The backhaul North Europe-Asia capacity crunch could last for months, according to new research from liner analysts Drewry” [The Loadstar]. “Drewry said eastbound shippers were ‘struggling for space.’ with some ‘waiting up to eight weeks to load.’ It added that even when shippers had been able to load their export containers, they were obliged to pay ‘considerably more than the usual going rate.'” Cartels work!

Shipping: “[Swift Transportation Co. and Knight Transportation, two] of the largest trucking companies in the U.S are merging in a rare consolidation in the fragmented truckload services market” [Wall Street Journal]. More concentration.

The Bezzle: “10 shocking passages from the Wells Fargo report on aggressive sales practices” [MarketWatch]. All so ghastly I can’t even pick out the highlights. Too bad Putin forced Obama not to indict any Wells Fargo executives; Clinton might have won if he had.

The Bezzle: “Libor: Bank of England implicated in secret recording” [BBC]. Roll the tape:

In the recording, a senior Barclays manager, Mark Dearlove, instructs Libor submitter Peter Johnson, to lower his Libor rates.

He tells him: “The bottom line is you’re going to absolutely hate this… but we’ve had some very serious pressure from the UK government and the Bank of England about pushing our Libors lower.”

Mr Johnson objects, saying that this would mean breaking the rules for setting Libor, which required him to put in rates based only on the cost of borrowing cash.

Mr Johnson says: “So I’ll push them below a realistic level of where I think I can get money?”

His boss Mr Dearlove replies: “The fact of the matter is we’ve got the Bank of England, all sorts of people involved in the whole thing… I am as reluctant as you are… these guys have just turned around and said just do it.”

The Bezzle: “The Gig Economy’s False Promise” [Editorial Board, New York Times]. “But so far, experience with these companies shows that without the legal protections and ethical norms that once were widely accepted, workers will find the economy of the future an even more inhospitable place.” If only there were some institutional structure that could bring pressure to bear. Some sort of collective action….

Labor Power: “The thousands of folks walking the show floor at ProMat 2017 in Chicago this week witnessed material handling automation on a scale unimaginable just two years ago. But the breathtaking high-tech improvements come with a hitch: a shortage of skilled workers to service the increasingly complex stuff” [DC Velocity]. If only we had some mechanism, however imperfect, for matching the demand for these skilled workers to the supply of them!

Labor Power: “. Wages for workers in warehouses – including the distribution centers run by Amazon, FedEx Corp. and others that handle online orders – are rising at their fastest pace in over a decade, the WSJ Logistics Report’s Jennifer Smith writes. The pay hikes come as the warehouse boom runs headlong into a tightening labor market. Warehouse work can be grueling, and logistics companies are finding they can no longer attract a deep a pool of applicants with pay that is often just above minimum wage. In addition to offering higher hourly wages, operators are attracting labor through performance incentives and poaching nearby rivals” [Wall Street Journal].

Labor Power: “Though videos of the Tesla factory emphasize robotic automation, over 6,000 workers engage in intense manual labor to build the cars.” [David Dayen, Capital and Main]. “[A] factory that prioritizes production goals over health and safety. Now they’re fighting back against low pay, hazardous conditions and a culture of intimidation, seeking to unionize through the United Auto Workers. Tesla is the only U.S. automaker using nonunion workers at a stateside plant, and breaking through would give organized labor a foothold in the tech industry as well. Until then, the Tesla experience reveals that green jobs aren’t necessarily good jobs without worker power. ‘They want to make sustainable cars,’ says [Tesla worker Richard Ortiz] . “We need sustainable employment.'”

Political Risk: “After an unpredictable political cycle and an equally unpredictable M&A environment in 2016, dealmakers have refreshed their outlook for M&A activity under the Trump administration—and they like what they see. According to Brunswick Group’s 10th Annual Global M&A Survey, about 44% of respondents expect M&A activity to increase in 2017, a significant surge since last year, when only 13% of respondents were optimistic about M&A levels growing in the wake of record-breaking levels in 2015. At the same time, practitioners expect more scrutiny of cross-border deals, particularly from China, and a lighter touch with regard to antitrust obstacles. And the impact on jobs will be front and center” [The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation].

UPDATE Public Relations: “Man pulled off of United plane in Chicago set for Louisville” [WHAS]. And by “pulled,” we mean “dragged down the aisle.” The video:

The Twitter reacts to the CEO’s statement:

Shaking my head. Third World stuff wherever you look.

Rapture Index: Closes down 1 on Anti-Semitism. “There has been a decrease in anti-Semitic activity” [Rapture Ready]. Record High: 189, October 10, 2016. Current: 182.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 38 Fear (previous close: 40, Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 46 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 10 at 11:28am.

Health Care

“The physicians with whom I’ve spoken agree that doctors who put in the extra time to create relationships with patients do it because they feel it is the right thing to do, despite the fact that the system doesn’t reward their efforts. But a system that relies on physician good-heartedness alone is hardly sustainable, especially given that half of physicians already report professional burnout” [Health Affairs]. “The good news is that a quiet revolution is now afoot in medicine. Many doctors, just like their patients, long to have more healing encounters and foster strong patient-doctor relationships. To achieve that, we will have to rethink how we deliver medicine.” The title: “How To Win The Doctor Lottery.” I’m sure some readers have won this lottery, and equally sure some have lost. We need more winners.

Gaia

“After severe coral bleaching in the northern third of the reef last year, an aerial survey [by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies] has found the middle third has been hit by intense bleaching in 2017, damaging 1,500 kilometers, or 900 miles, of coral and leaving only the southern third unscathed” [MarketWatch]. “‘This year, 2017, we are seeing mass bleaching, even without the assistance of El Niño conditions,’ [Terry Hughes, director of the ARC Centre].”

Class Warfare

“Late capitalism: the infographic” [Bat Bean Beam]. Fun takedown of “How to Build Wealth on the Minimum Wage.”

News of the Wired

“In Search of the Axe for the Frozen Sea Within Us” [Power of Narrative]. Still worth a read.

Not just for Australian politics junkies:

* * *

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

Cambridge, MA. Is that bark mulch?

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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.

219 comments

  1. Altandmain

    Has anyone been watching Jimmy Dore lately?

    Youtube appears to be pulling funding from left wing shows.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=alAz8Ie-EcA

    From what I have seen, some conservative shows have also lost funding.

    I sure don’t believe that this is racism, which is used as an excuse. I think that they are censoring alternate media, both on the left and right of mainstream. Lots of channels are being demonetized apparently.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Kyle Kulinski is experiencing the same problems with his Secular Talk channel.

      Pardon my heresy, but wouldn’t people like Kyle and Jimmy be better of if they self-hosted their videos rather than depending on Google, which owns YouTube? Or if they formed a network of their own to host their videos?

      Google giveth and Google taketh away.

      1. Yves Smith

        Given what it costs us in hosting for a mere text site, which is very lightweight, I suspect the hosting and more important, the bandwidth charges of hosting your own videos would be deadly. Even Real News Network, which has a full scale production studio and full time staff, uses YouTube to post videos to its site.

          1. flora

            Of course, if Real News Network and others were to move their video upload to a youtube-like alternative site – and there are several good ones – then Youtube might reconsider its editorial stance. ( Right now, everyone uses youtube because everyone uses youtube. )

            Here’s a short list of alternatives to youtube.
            https://www.thetoptens.com/best-alternatives-youtube/

    2. m

      They are pulling from “Bernie left” & “alt right.” Google is also going to let us know what news to read & watch.

      1. MoiAussie

        It’s hard to quantify, but it seems recently that goggle news (local edition) is preferentially selecting more Murdoch and similar outlets’ articles for display.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          This might not be possible, because AFAIK Google tunes the news algo to [it’s best approximation of] the individual, but it would be itneresting to do an hourly scraping of the Google news front page, and then map the links to ownership. There could even be in index: Murdoch +1.2%, Bezos -2.5%, and so on.

  2. Corbin Dallas

    Indeed, Cuomo’s tuition free program is as usual more about appeasing than actually doing good. Reports are that its linked to staying in-state for the same length of time as your grant, otherwise the grant turns into a loan – and needs to be repaid. A mildly noble ambition, perhaps, but one that forces poor people (the benefactors of this grant) to stay in the most expensive state/city in the country, and among the most in the world. Meaning, we can’t take advantage of this and move out for a long time. Cuomo’s your typical HRC Dem – don’t put trust in anything he says.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If student debt is a bubble, it’s a localized bubble. Many of the not-so-smart people never had a chance to incur that debt.

      A universal black hole, on the other hand, is thereality of our health care system.

      I rather have free health care (for all, dumb and genius level smart) than free college.

      “Name me one person who doesn’t need health care.”

        1. DJG

          And an end to the attacks on Social Security, along with several sizable yearly raises to recipients to stimulate demand and to give people a genuine decision about retirement (now that defined-contribution plans have been exposed as scammy).

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’ll keep my eye on it. Still, I look at this as a crack in the ice. (I’m not so sure staying in the state is such a bad thing — what that really says is we need a national program!)

      1. cocomaan

        I am looking around for more details, because it’s a really fascinating thing to see it happening. You wonder what the effect of it will be by happening in one state.

        Details I’m seeking (after reading this). Does anyone know where I can find details of the deal?

        What is the minimum GPA that needs to be maintained? Wonder if that will climb in later iterations of the bill.
        Students need to enroll FT? Even for community colleges? Not sure why that is the case, but whatever.

        If I worked for a private college in NY State I’d be looking for another job.

        1. bob

          I’m been looking for those details for a long time. No luck.

          It was passed in one of the good-old-days of albany midnight sessions. A guarantee of graft.

          I fear he’s just going to push all the costs to students into “fees”. Dorm fee, tech fee, professor fee.

          He’s also never seen a public/private project that he didn’t like. The immutable property of its inherent conflict of interest plus the ongoing graft opportunities get him hot.

      2. FreeMarketApologist

        I think this will be a big benefit to those trying to attend the many non-NYC-centric SUNY schools.

        Interesting that this came out today – the first day of spring break at my nearby SUNY school — many faculty are on vacation this week (though it’s been talked about for a while).

        I’ll have to check in with my faculty and staff friends as to their thoughts.

      3. a different chris

        I have another idea for Cuomo: if you come to work in his state, NY will buy your student loan and you can make the same payments, but no interest. Every penny goes to principal.

        The “kids today” have learned way too much more than is good for anybody about “compound interest”. What kind of evil charges them 6% whilst gorging on the Fed’s ZIRP?

      4. Carla

        Massachusetts had (and perhaps still has) a program whereby any high school student maintaining a certain grade point average and/or attaining a certain class standing (I can’t remember but it was based on the student’s academic record) could attend the University of Massachusetts tuition-free. My nephew qualified and enrolled in UMass-Amherst. Tuition was free but the FEES topped $10,000 a year; room and board brought the cost to $20,000 per annum. Now, that’s some free tuition program, ain’t it, folks?

        1. bob

          Cuomo and his close surragates have already been caught with their hands in the cookie jar on building dorms..etc. Preet’s whole case was around SUNY.

          Unfortunately, I think this is where it’s headed. School for free, but a teachers fee, not included.

          The amounts being spent on “student housing” are crazy. Lots of public/private overlap and looting in this area that is never explored well enough.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            And of course we’d be funding a whole gaggle of corrupt and useless administrators, too. That’s bad.

            But we have to start somewhere, and I think it makes sense to start with the benefit.

        2. Carla

          Excuse me, in my comment about Massachusetts above, I should have said that any IN-STATE high school student meeting the specified academic requirements was entitled to attend U-Mass tuition-free — though NOT fee-free.

      5. bob

        Cuomo is “dem” like Nixon was. He’s afraid of them. It’s some sort of crack…

        I haven’t seen any analysis on the plan.

        It doesn’t help upstate when all he pushes is more money for non-tax paying “industry”. SUNY and the gov’s office are already involved is a corruption investigation (preet). He’s somehow got his hooks into SUNY, which is separate from NY is some important, and very weird ways. Looking up the SUNY research foundation is a good start. Very nebulous, and responsible for a huge payroll. I’ve never gotten a handle on it, going at it from several different directions.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > the SUNY research foundation

          That sounds intriguing. Here’s the FAQ which is, shall we say, dense. But there’s real money involved:

          In the 2016 fiscal year, across SUNY’s 30 state-operated campuses, the RF managed $920.3 million in research expenditures related to 7,102 projects that produced more than 300 new inventions.

          That’s near a billion…

      6. bob

        Yanno, this is important-

        Cuomo did his “public service” under Clinton, and more importantly, Summers, at HUD.

        His next job, riding in on the coat tails of Spitzer, was as NY AG during 2008. He couldn’t find anything wrong either. Just like the feds. He took a few files out of Spitzer’s desk, and talked himself up, while doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

        He’s filthy. Filthy. Filthy.

        It’s always in the fine print, he has very verbose white shoed superiors who want their goddamn muni bonds, in order to wash their wall st cash.

      7. Steve

        We have a national free college system, called public schools. We could eliminate the 3 month summer vacation and send kids to school for 12 solid, 12 month years. Voila! The high school grads would have the equivalent of a four year BA, just like Japan’s schools!! We could even have a technical track (used to be called shop) for kids not wanting to “learn Dante and such”.

        Any teachers not able to pick up the full four quarters could job share with other teachers in a similar situation. The beauty of this approach is the infrastructure is already in place, only the schedule needs to be changed.

    3. lambert strether

      I forgot to say I trust Cuomo as far as I can throw a piano. A concert grand.

      Still, it’s a good sign when opportunists see opportunity in doing something approximating thevrigh thing.

    4. jhalllc

      If this only covers tuition, not room and board and fees, then this is not really free. Here in MA many students get a scholarship to cover tuition at our flagship UMass Amherst campus if they score high on our state tests. Tuition there is relatively cheap, hasn’t gone up much, but the fees and other costs have risen significantly.

      It’s a start, and if you can live at home and attend then not so bad.

    5. PKMKII

      The catch on the program is that it requires the student to be taking 30 credits a year to receive the funds. I went to a CUNY school and there were a lot of students for whom taking a full credit load was impossible due to employment, family demands, etc. So while it’s not explicitly excluding the lower income students, it’s putting up a barrier that’s harder for them to clear than a middle or upper-middle class student.

    6. Kurtismayfield

      Is the free tuition requirement tied to finishing the degree? If so that is a huge problem, only 40% of NYS students finish their degree in four years.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        What happens to life-long continuous education?

        Will you have to pay to learn Chinese in New York via an extension program?

    7. different clue

      If this New York State program is funded by New York State taxpayers, why exactly should New York taxpayers pay for someone to leave the state and spend the money somewhere else? If this is to up-build New York people and society, paying people to flee the state does not achieve that purpose.

      And there are good schools all over the STATE of New York. There is no requirement to go to a school in the gold plated urban shit-hole of New York City.

      1. marym

        The tuition grant is for schools in NYS.Then recipients are required to stay in NYS after they finish school.

        1. different clue

          Ahh. Now I understand. How long are recipients of this tuition support grant supposed to stay in NY state after they graduate in order to avoid having the grant convert to a loan?

  3. funemployed

    163 million (program cost) divided by 940,000 (families who will benefit from free tuition in NYS) equals $173.40/family. Per the same article, annual tuition for in-state residents is $6,740 for 4 year schools and $4,350 for community college.

    1. Liberal Mole

      Housing, fees, and food are the big load. That’s how you get to 20,000+. I just put the deposit down for U Buffalo for my youngest. The older one, who had an athletic hook, is at MIT, so we toured a lot of elite schools during his time. Honestly, I was impressed with Buffalo. Felt modern and the engineering facilities were impressive, the food and varieties was good, and there were all the chain stores and shopping of home around the campus.

      1. Inode_buddha

        I’m a native to the area (Buffalo), lemme know if you ever need guidance around here.

      2. bob

        I’d vote for making Buffalo a food destination. Some of the best, worst for you food. No pretense here, either. They keep the costs low, and pass the savings on.

    2. MoiAussie

      You spotted it too. I guess they’re counting families who qualify based on income whether or not they have ready-for-college children who could benefit. There’s about 4.6 million “family” homes in NY, so 1 in every 5 of these is projected to benefit.

      Whatever the reason for the error, the number of families that will benefit is vastly overestimated. Assuming $5000 as an average benefit, 32,600 families could benefit, smaller by a factor of about 30. And if some families double dip, that reduces the number even more.

      1. funemployed

        Yeah. Maybe they could bump the number up a bit with part-time students, but still doesn’t come close to 940,000.

    1. MoiAussie

      Long before he teamed up with Bryan Dawe for his “political interview” series The Last Word, John Clarke created the legendary Fred Dagg. See this and hear this for a sample.

  4. allan


    From last month.
    Awwwwkward:

    Oscar Munoz, the charismatic CEO of United Airlines, is PRWeek U.S.’s Communicator of the Year for 2017 – he is the fifth recipient of this title. …

    Critical to its success has been United’s ability, led by Munoz, to sign new contracts with all union groups, most well ahead of deadlines, helping to curtail customer service problems caused by disgruntled staff that had long plagued the airline. …

    Under Munoz’s vision for the brand, the airline hired Jim Olson away from Starbucks in February 2016 as SVP of corporate communications. United also hired its first chief storyteller and MD of digital engagement …

    Chief storyteller.
    File under Economy Class Warfare.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Why on earth were they removing people who were already seated? That isn’t how they do it. Something went really wrong. Not that that’s a big surprise.

        1. cnchal

          Hmmm. According to today’s MSM telling, the airlines, it’s right there in the fine print of your ticket, can remove you from a flight before it takes off. Also, the story goes, a serious effort was made to find someone to voluntarily take the deal, there were none, so it was a random choice that selected this individual. Truly a horror show. The guy was just rag dolled over the seat and dragged out. Could have happened to anyone else on the plane, were they to refuse to leave on demand after being randomly selected.

          Is it fun to fly still? Looking for adventure? Go for a ride in the menacing skies!

          1. robnume

            All to give employees of the airlines the seats which had already been paid for by the customer. I have been in that situation before and I’ve never seen an airline “handle” that situation quite like this. Most particularly not after the plane was already boarded.
            Shameful. Equally as shameful are some of the “they were just following orders” comments from a lotta folks over at the lamestream media sites, like Yahoo.
            Guess I shoulda said “shameless” instead.

      2. Robert McGregor

        Frequently there is another flight in 90 minutes or so. We were offered a $400 voucher each in that situation, and jumped on it! But I could see how one would turn down even $800 if there was no flight until the next morning, and you had a high-paying job to go to. Someone mentioned the guy being dragged was “a doctor.” I would like more details. Maybe I would be in favor of him being forcibly dragged out–class struggle etc.

        In any case:

        1) When the police say, “Please leave the plane.” You don’t respond, “No, make me!”
        2) I’m not feeling much “Mood Affiliation” with all these little pussies on the plane whining and taking videos.

        It’s a “Neoliberal Jam-Up” to be sure. The Airlines are trying to “pump their overbook algorithm” as much as they can to maximize their profit. Oops, sometimes they can’t buyout enough passengers with vouchers. The Police are called. At least they didn’t shoot, or clobber him with his baton. With the Collapse coming, you people better get used to a little more violence. This is nothing.

        1. cnchal

          I admire the good doctor for standing up to the authorities by going limp and forcing them to drag him off. I bet the whole time he was thinking – “why me” and “damned algorithm”.

        2. pretzelattack

          what the fuck are the police doing enforcing united’s policy of screwing their customers? and what offends you about people taking videos of cops being brutal. one of them may lose his job for keeping a doctor from seeing patients. glad there’s video evidence of it.

          1. Yves Smith

            These were either airport police, whose role (assuming that they really were sworn in as local police, practices vary by jurisdiction) have limited authority or else they were private security guards. Either way the guy was completely overstepping any authority he had.

            This is one thing I was told if I ever escalated with a gate agent and they threatened to call the guards to have me removed because I was holding things up: Call 9/11 and tell them airline personnel are threatening you with physical harm. I was told are guaranteed to back down (at least if they are not United).

            I hope lawyers will pipe up but I think the authority of guards to get physical with people is limited to if they are threatening or engaged in harm to people or property. For instance, and I don’t know what the legal theory is, but it’s OK for a bouncer to remove an unruly patron from a bar.

        3. JerryDenim

          1) When the police say, “Please leave the plane.” You don’t respond, “No, make me!”

          Excellent public service announcement as far as health and wellness are concerned. Post 9/11, Patriot Act, Police state America any act of persistent non-compliance on an airplane is guaranteed to end in flexicuffs, brute force and a bevy of nasty legal charges, but from a moral standpoint the intransigent passenger was on the side of right. Not only had he paid the financial price for his seat, but he earned his seat with the horrible inconveniences of airport parking, security lines, pat-downs, time lost and the 3 ounce liquid rule. This man earned his seat and he wasn’t going to be singled-out on a plane with seventy-five other people and denied what was rightfully his. I thought possession was 9/10ths of the law, no? He was seated with a full-fare ticket in his hand for god sakes! Have you no sense of fair play?

          2) I’m not feeling much “Mood Affiliation” with all these little pussies on the plane whining and taking videos.

          Whining and taking video isn’t nearly as noble or as manly as blocking the aisle with your body when the goons come for your fellow passenger, but that is a very tall ask for a stranger who is merely being inconvenienced. If the nice Asian doctor guy would have left the plane when asked he could have avoided being brutalized. As far as the video goes though I am thinking the brutalized doctor and his attorney are going to be very grateful for the people who thought to film the man’s ordeal. No video no story, no story, no settlement, no settlement ($$$$) no changes to United policies. So the “pussies” taking video are the ones to thank for the story, the outrage and any pending policy changes or large cash settlements. What is there to criticize?

          1. Yves Smith

            Even if this jurisdiction has “airport police” that have governmental authority, their role is supposed to be limited to law enforcement and airport emergencies and safety issues. This was clearly not a law enforcement matter. Normally, the only “police” as in government employees who can arrest people at airports are the TSA, and they stay at the entries unless someone unauthorized gets in or there is a security threat or outbreak inside the terminal. As indicated in another comment, I’ve been advised by other people who’ve been threatened by airport “police” to call 911 for the local police, and the gate agents have backed down when that occurs.

            I don’t see any legal justification for any effort for removal, aggressive or not, given that the passenger had paid for the seat, had a valid boarding pass, and had been allowed to board. Basically, this was a blatant contract violation and then United decided it was OK to rough the guy up too if necessary.

            As for people interceding, most people were probably under the same misapprehension as you regarding the status of the “officer”. And the only people who could have interceded were on the aisles. It would be too risky for one person. You’d need 2-3 minimum acting in concert. But after this, if anything remotely like this ever happens again, maybe passengers will rise to the occasion.

            1. Marina Bart

              I wasn’t feeling well enough to pursue the assertions on Twitter to another source to confirm, but there was an interesting thread claiming that because he was flying to get to his patients, he had an ethical duty to commit civil disobedience rather than leave the plane.

              Also, a completely apolitical tech writer I follow mentioned that United’s tone deaf “Storyteller in Chief” CEO used to be a senior executive at Pepsi. The CEO previously working at Pepsi is less interesting to me than the exemplary 10%er liberal commenting on it.

            2. JerryDenim

              “This was clearly not a law enforcement matter.” I whole-heartedly agree, but unfortunately my comment regarding health and wellness was 100% factual. I am a pilot who has been employed by major airlines for the last 13 years. I have made the decision on multiple occasions to divert or gate return to remove disruptive passengers. It happens far too often. I have never taken the decision lightly. The law enforcement officers who remove disruptive or uncooperative passengers from airline flights vary from airport to airport but it is never the TSA. All three major NYC airports are policed by the Port Authority of NY&NJ. If you get thrown off a plane in JFK, LGA or EWR it will be the Port Authority that will manhandle you. Bigger cities with bigger airports almost always have their own designated airport police department for airport law enforcement matters. In smaller cities like Louisville, usually the unpleasant task of removing passengers by force falls to the local Sheriff’s department, but it could be the local police.

              Anyway I’m with you Yves, regardless of what the law says. If you’ve paid for your seat and you’re already seated it should be yours barring absolutely crazy scenarios such as onboard fires, tornados or terrorist attacks. Speaking of the law here is United’s version: https://www.united.com/web/en-US/content/contract-of-carriage.aspx

              Section 21 or 25 would be the most applicable. I read it through and didn’t find any provision for ejecting a paid customer who is behaving themselves and already seated. Seems like a slam dunk for the attorney’s unless there’s more to the story. (There frequently is though)

        4. different clue

          Robert McGregor,

          I hope you personally suffer some of the violence you would like the rest of us people to get used to.

          I also hope that if it happens to you the way I hope it happens to you, that the people around you know who you are and know what you wrote here, and make very sure to take zero phone photos of it.

    1. Benedict@Large

      How does United not know when it is overbooked before the overbooked passengers get on the plane? Advanced booking management techniques, otherwise know as head counts, can readily provide this information. The only reason I can envision as to why simple counting would not be used to avoid this problem in advance is that United wants to look over the entire passenger crop before deciding who it wants to throw off.

    2. DJG

      Okay, maybe I am Mr. Picky when it comes to logistics (since I already disapprove of the mad scramble which ye old storytellers now call “pre-boarding”), but why would anyone allow passengers to board a plane and then tell people to get off? What about checked bags? (Which brings up thoughts about just how crappy U.S. airline security truly is.)

      If United required use of the seats, then they should have bought the passengers out while the passengers were milling around. And for that matter, the distance from Chicago to Louisville is short enough that United could have stuck the staff members on a corporate jet once all of the passengers said no.

      Yet I remember the days when the food on United was merely dubious, so maybe I am overwhelmed by nostalgia for those wondrous times in the blinky underground passage at the United terminal at O’Hare.

      1. nippersdad

        I haven’t been on a plane for over thirty years, but I do remember that the last flight I took was also overbooked and they waited until everyone was seated to start the bidding process. I, like you now, questioned it then.

        I guess, other than actually dragging random people off of the plane, nothing has changed in a really long time.

    3. JerryDenim

      Since those amazing new PR department hires United has been brutally trounced twice on social media now. The first was the yoga pants debacle which was a even larger PR fail in my opinion because United did nothing wrong and had nothing to apologize for (employee pass riders in clear violation of company standards/policy) but still came out looking evil due to a poor response. With the latest United PR disaster they were clearly in the wrong (not legally perhaps, but morally and from a business standpoint) and they have certainly done absolutely nothing to ameliorate the situation with their heartless and tone-deaf response. Where the hell is the story-teller-in-chief and the hot shot coffee guy? I mean Capitalism is Capitalism right? Coffee, airlines, toilet seats, copper mines, smart phones, whatever- f*#k it. I gotta MBA from Harvard- where’s my bonus?

      It will be very interesting to see what happens to Jim Olson and the new ‘story-teller-in chief’. The social media narrative has really been kicking United’s ass the last month. United’s real problem isn’t PR though, it’s outsourcing. An astonishing amount of United Airlines flying is conducted by outsourced employees who work for contractor shell companies. The whole idea is cost savings/profits through labor arbitrage and the typical race to the bottom dynamic. Regional airline employees have coined their own term for it- “The Whipsaw”. Even worse than the shell-company Regional airlines whose employees are second class citizens are the shape-shifting contractor companies that provide gate agents, bag handlers and other random airport services for United. These people are really paid peanuts and mistreated, they are something akin to third or fourth class employees and usually not what I would call the cream of the labor pool. The United flight with the passenger that was brutally manhandled was UA 3411, it was technically operated by Republic Airlines, one of United’s many “regional partners”. As this event took place in Chicago O’Hare the person who made the decision to cap the offer for volunteers willing to give up their seats at $800, then call in a goon squad to get rough was likely a full-fledge United employee, but then maybe not. When I was a outsourced regional jet captain operating United Express flights between 2010 and 2014 the gate agents in charge of the regional (out-sourced) flights at United hub, Washington-Dulles, were third-party contractors. They were horribly trained and frequently surly. The gates were always crowded, everyone there was angry, nothing worked, it was utter chaos and misery. I absolutely dreaded flying there and did my best to avoid it, Chicago was only a little better. Sadly the horrible, unnecessary violence that played out on United Express flight 3411 doesn’t surprise me a bit and is par for the course with a company as disgruntled, disorganized and dysfunctional as United. I really don’t think the upper management at United has any clue about the nuts and bolts, day to day, inner workings of the company. Post-merger United is too big to fail, too big to manage and far too Balkanized to govern. I fully expect the ugliness to continue at United.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Thanks for the insight into United as an operating company, if operating is the word I want.

        > The United flight with the passenger that was brutally manhandled was UA 3411, it was technically operated by Republic Airlines, one of United’s many “regional partners”.

        Apparently, Republic is still in bankruptcy. Must do wonders for morale.

        1. JerryDenim

          Nice catch on the Republic bankruptcy Lambert! Sharp as always. The Republic bankruptcy is a very interesting case study in pretty much every topic near and dear to Naked Capitalism. Basically Republic, a fake airline that only exists to help legacy airlines arbitrage labor groups, chiefly pilots and flight attendants but to a lesser extent gate agents, mechanics etc. declared bankruptcy because they couldn’t attract, nor retain enough pilots to operate their schedules. (mainline partner’s schedules) Type rating a new pilot (like a driver’s license only good to fly one particular model of aircraft) typically costs about $40,000 grand at most airlines depending on the quality of the training department and other variables. It can be a little lower or a good bit higher, but a revolving pilot door at any airline is very costly. My understanding (don’t quote me on the exact particulars) was back in 2016 when Republic filed for chapter 11 the Republic pilots were operating on a 13 year old contract that expired sometime around 2006. The pilots voted to go on strike (99% voted to strike) for a new contract in 2011 but the federal arbiter refused to allow it. Despite hiring, training, and attrition issues Republic limped on, marginally profitable but refusing to address their pilot pay and rention problem. Due in large part to the wishes of the legacies, but also because they are a fake airline, Republic with some credence claimed they could not afford to pay the pilots more. They have no control over routes or ticket pricing and are only as profitable as their mainline patrons allow them to be. Also the “whipsaw” dynamic I previously mentioned. Republic’s CEO Bryan Bedford said the decision to file for bankruptcy was made for him when the DOT rejected his request to hire demoralized, desperate Brazilian nationals to staff the airline. That was the plan though. Pay peanuts, create a staffing crisis, then hire foreign pilots with foreign certificates and questionable skills (Portuguese vs. English for ATC communication?) Immediately after Bedford called the Legacies bluff with a bankruptcy filing and threats to cease flying, the “DBA” independent airline ruse was up and the legacies came running with giant sacks of cash to preserve their flights. In an unusual twist the Republic pilots received gigantic pay increases and retention bonuses in the midst of a bankruptcy. A very similar story played out in the last couple of years between Delta and one of their vassal airlines previously know as Pinnacle. The regional airline world is a perfect microcosm of American-style, neoliberal capitalism’s worst practices.

          1. Mark

            More to the point the travel voucher offered, was that from Republic or United? A travel voucher from an airline operating in bankruptcy is less use than toilet paper (they email it to you so your phone… never mind).

  5. down2long

    Re: Wells Fargo. Still dealing with Wells Fargo trying to foreclose on my property – nines years in – after they returned 48 court approved post-BK payments. My new BK “judge” Sandra Klein, remained unperturbed by this flouting of federal BK law (there seems to be a popular meme out there that Fed BK judges are a step above state judges. According to my lawyer friends, both BK lawyers/judges are the bottom of the heap, only above Workman’s Comp. lawyers/administrative judges. All due respect to BK scholar Elizabeth Warren.) There is a clause in the BK code that says refused payments by BK creditors are forfeited forever, but I am waiting to see that realized. (The aim is to deter creditors from forcing the complying borrower back into BK, or to break their re-org plan with legal fees. Perhaps even to force miscreants to follow the law, but that seems too high minded for our judicial system.)

    If you steal a stick a gum at WalMart, the power of the state will crush you and send you to prison. If you steal a person’s home from them through fraud, you will get an invitation to the White House, or a position of power in the Treasury Department.

    Wells foreclosed on another property of mine, sold it to a new buyer, and then tried to foreclose on me for the property again, based on the second they had been gifted from Wachovia. I was desperately hoping they would foreclose on the new owner, who was a racist piece of work who pounded at my former tenant’s door (he was a still in the property after the foreclosure – rent control LA) every night at 10 PM demanding a green card. I was so incensed, I hired a lawyer at my own expense to help my former tenant.

    While I am glad to see Wells excoriated for their sales practices – they were the worst in foreclosures of the TBTJ’s(They were well sanctioned by New Orleans BK judge Elizabeth Munger for millions.) I wish their malfeasance in foreclosures would’ve come up too.

    Of course, one must remember that despite California AG Kamela Harris’ staff finding over 15,000 verifiable acts of foreclosure fraud by Steve Mnuchin’s One West Bank here in California, he was made Treasury Secretary. Of course, it turns out that his well-timed $40K donation to Harris’ campaign made it all go away…. Anyhow, foreclosure fraud is so – um – yesterday – n’est pas?

    And Charlie Munger thinks this Wells fraud was a one-off, isolated incident. . God knows what the Orifice of Omaha thinks about this. Remember that old saw that the Orifice would tolerate a head at one of his company’s losing money, but not its reputation! Good times.

      1. down2long

        Thanks Lambert. You must be quoting Bk Judge Christopher Klein, who just sanctioned B of A $46 million for its foreclosure malfeasance against borrowers here in California under BK protection., which you covered here in N.C.

        At one point Wells also went in and nailed all my windows shut and changed the locks while I was still living in the property. The police were unmoved by this vandalism “But, they’re the bank. What did they do that was illegal?” I really was gobsmacked. The cop had the temerity to ask me how I knew the locks had been changed. Um, the lock is changed from the one I had put on and the key won’t work?” I had to get a ladder and crawl in a window they had missed in their nailing frenzy. I asked the cop if it were his house if he would consider if – if not vandalism – somehow, illegal? He was perplexed.

        Am moving forward in state court now, going for a jury trial. To return to BK court would be to return to the same judge, who has – in my case, and that of many others – shown her animus toward all borrowers. Thank God the California Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit have subsequently issued several rulings that will support my case. The wheels of justice barely move, but in ten years, the gears clicked one notch. Thank God it’s not the 5th Circuit, in which case I would be in chains for even challenging the sovereignity of a bank

        1. robnume

          Good for you, down2long, for helping out your tenant. Wells has not been called out for their sleazy foreclosure practices and I am sorry for your troubles with them. When you have to go up against TPTB for no particular thing that you, yourself, have done but for what they do to you, just because they can, I suppose, it behooves you to fight back as best you can.
          And that Kamala Harris; she was a bad AG and now we’re stuck with her as our U.S. Senator. Oy vey.

    1. Jeotsu

      Okay, first let me be very clear I am in no way advocating violence. I just have a serious question.

      We’re seeing a couple of western societies (either on the whole, or distinct groups within) being pushed to the edge. The oppressive boot on the throat of Greece is clear to see, and the same applies to many people suffering the effects of big-bank foreclosure practices. I have remarked privately that Greece can be seen as a social experiment of how badly you can push a society before they break – the answer being that you can push them very, very far. And this lesson has been absorbed by the western powers who, looking into the future, know now how tightly they can twist the screws on their own societies safely.

      Now here is the question: why haven’t people started killing bankers in the US yet? The rule of law has clearly been discarded. Exploitation is rampant. And this is in a country with lots of firearms and access to Google. It would not be that hard (I would think) to track down some of the executives in charge and take revenge.

      But if this has not happened. I would also expect that there would be NO media coverage if there were such a killing, lest a wave of copycats leave a pile of dead bankers.

      Given the millions screwed over by banks in the US, and the fine US tradition of people to use firearms to settle much lesser scores it seems odd that nobody has gone after that particular sort of oppressor.

      I wonder how you would find out if it is happening, and just being suppressed?

      1. Mike Mc

        If we’d elected Hilary instead the current guy, I think we might have found out. Like a day or two after the election.

        Also the screwed over may understand that this sort of action is generally a suicide mission, and TPTB would leave no stone unturned in finding anyone and everyone involved.

      2. Medbh

        I’ve wondered this as well. Not just with all the banking and foreclosure mess, but the health insurance fiasco too. I can see someone losing a child or spouse due to medications/treatment being denied or delayed, and becoming enraged.

        It seems like people will lash out randomly, but you don’t hear about it ever being directed towards the people who are actually setting the policies, making the decisions or profiting from them. I’m not advocating violence either, but given the U.S. culture and access to weapons, I’ve wondered why this hasn’t come up.

      3. robnume

        Like you,Jeotsu, I have never advocated for violence to solve one’s problems. But the idea that if just one terminally ill person take one bankster with them has, merit, I believe. If the law of the land is not going to help you ever or be on your side ever, as seems to be the case these days, then violence is going to be a viable option.
        But then, that’s all the state needs before you feel the boot on the back of your neck.
        What’s a body to do?

      4. JerryDenim

        I read Studs Terkel’s excellent oral history of the Great Depression recently called “Hard Times”. There was a surprising bit of militancy and self help in the 1930’s surrounding bank foreclosures. I’m not sure folks have the same sense of community now to achieve that kind of closing of ranks around neighbors, even the local police were willing to side with militants against the bankers, but it makes for some interesting and thought provoking reading. Definitely stories they don’t teach kids in school.

  6. jsba

    I don’t know anything about Ossoff except that he is the only Dem running in these special congressional elections who the DCCC has lined up behind and given money to. They are completely absent from the KS and MT races (DCCC “national mobilizing chair” Jim Clyburn *didn’t even know about the MT race* until asked about it last week….)

    That alone makes me suspicious of Ossoff.

    Dems seem hellbent on remaining criminally politically incompetent. But at this point anyone who gets the DCCC seal of approval in this kind of situation is suspect.

    1. sleepy

      He’s young and photogenic and offers no policy proposals other than credentials–Georgetown and graduate work at the London School of Economics. His mom runs a Georgia PAC for female candidates.

        1. Marina Bart

          He’s not even from the district he’s running in.

          Your Democratic Party recruiting team, ladies and gentlemen.

  7. flora

    re: Syraqastan

    Tulsi Gabbard, Irag war veteran, has her military service summarized in her Wikipage detail window.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulsi_Gabbard

    I looked for any Mil. service for Dean and Tanden. nothing. It’s just possible her point of view about not rushing to war is better informed than theirs.

    1. oho

      once again Clintonite Dem. women have broken a glass ceiling–

      Women can be as big of chickenhawks as GOP men!

    2. Bugs Bunny

      Is the world really as upside down as it seems over there? I can’t believe every single Dem but for two supports this insanity.

      1. Uahsenaa

        Yes, it is. It’s all over the mainstream press, lock step. Brian Williams praised the beauty of cruise missiles, and you see almost none of what ran in the Boston Globe just one year ago. I was listening to C-SPAN this morning, and people were practically gushing over military involvement in the Middle East. Not a thing has been learned from Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Iraq the first time, or Lebanon, or .

    3. Chauncey Gardiner

      Thanks, flora. Point well made. As retired Col. Andrew Bacevich pointed out on PBS Newshour last Friday evening, it seems the policy makers attempting another end run have either learned nothing from Iraq and Libya, or those are their templates. Why?

    4. Biph

      I’m pretty sure it’s not their plan, but they’ll end up turning her into a national figure. With so much public skepticism and so little elite skepticism about our involvement in Syria it makes her one of the few politicians the skeptics can turn to. Drawing attention to that fact will help her far more than hinder her.

  8. Jim Haygood

    Though videos of the Tesla factory emphasize robotic automation, over 6,000 workers engage in intense manual labor to build the cars.

    Tesla is building the world’s largest factory in the Tahoe Reno Industrial Park:

    Tesla’s Gigafactory measures in at 5.5 million square feet, easily making it the biggest building in the world in terms of its physical footprint. The closest building to the Gigafactory is Boeing’s Everett factory in Washington state with a square footage of 4.3 million.

    http://bgr.com/2016/08/08/tesla-gigafactory-size-cost-elon-musk/

    One might guess that labor relations may not be that wonderful in such an outsized building. Elon Musk probably never heard of the Battle of the Overpass at Ford’s giant River Rouge plant in Dearborn, Michigan.

    From a tech POV, if the cost of Li-ion batteries can be driven down to $100/kWh over the next few years as some project, battery backup could replace fuel-fired generators for home use. Tesla offers a 14 kWh “Powerwall” home backup, which is pricey at $5,500 (almost $400/kWh).

    Evidently Generac is running scared, though. They have a long diatribe posted about how crappy and uncompetitive battery backup is. Tell that to the folks I met last winter in the local cafe, whose generators failed to start. When the power blinks out, my laptop don’t miss a beat. :-)

    1. Ivy

      While I wish Tesla success, that type of gigantic specialized investment in a single-purpose building just screams out tomorrow’s white elephant. Combine that with massive tax incentives and you have the makings of an economic black hole in case the rainbow of promises is not delivered by Magic Musk. I think that covers the spectrum.

      Edit: Of course, the NSA may need the extra building capacity any day now :(

      1. Optimader

        Right on. Building massive infrastructre for an application residential power storage that is no where near settled technology.
        So why again do we need lithium batteries for static, as in not mobile, power storage?

        1. craazyboy

          Well, Li has 3X the energy density of lead-acid car batteries. So you won’t have to park the car out in the driveway or street because your garage is full of car batteries.

          However, I don’t like the fire risk of charging LiPo batteries. I do my little ones very carefully at a safe charging rate out on the cement patio. Water won’t put the fire out either, so a fire extinguisher and large bag of sand is close by. Everyone also recommends you watch them while charging – like don’t leave home to go somewhere.

          Then there are the re-cycling issues and all that lead. Mining lead too. Re-cycling is an issue for LiPo as well. All Li needs to burst into extremely hot flames is contact with oxygen. There is just plastic sealing it off from oxygen in the battery pack.

          But in Elon’s defense, he did mention they have an eye on emerging new battery technologies and tried to design the plant to be versatile enough to make changes to accommodate a new technology and manufacturing process. That sounds nice and is easy to say, of course. At the moment it’s still just another sci-fi story for wide-eyed investors. Like we don’t have enough stories for everyone as it is.

          1. Optimader

            My primary point is Li based batteries have a periodic table advantage to heavier elements, but in a static application the “lightweight” advantage (and energy density) is not so relevant and other battery and storage schemes will compete.

            Flow batteries just being one example
            http://www.energystoragenews.org/category/16/flow-battery/

            No less the issue of peak Lithium. I will say Elon Musk is one heck of a wheeler dealer

        2. bob

          How else are the Elonites supposed to get their smug?

          “We see a solution where you see a problem. Get with the program.”

          I don’t know how to argue with people about this. You either get it, or you don’t. There’s nothing to argue over. Even with a top of the line, super modern, environmentally disastrous iBattery, you’re only getting, tops, 90% of the energy out that you put in.

          That’s not a solution, that’s a problem.

        3. bob

          I’d also argue that the point of his companies is to collect subsidies, not to actually sell anything. Selling things costs money. As he’s finding out – People expect this stuff to WORK.

          It’s much better, and lower cost, when you don’t have to deal with all that messy “reality” stuff.

  9. Carolinian

    Justin Raimondo answers the “I told you so’s” (some of them around here)

    The millions of voters who voted for Trump based, at least in part, on his “America First” foreign policy views had to experience – and embrace – what might be called “Trumpism” before they could be react in bewilderment and disgust as he turned on a dime. Trumpism, in this sense, was a bridge they had to cross before coming to a full understanding of just what “America First” means. Trump’s many denunciations of our regime change policy in Syria, Libya, and throughout the world brought them halfway across that bridge – and his betrayal is bringing many thousands of them all the way over … to us.

    “Us” being antiwar, the site as well as the movement. But it is rather amazing (or not?) to see Ann Coulter coming out against militarism while the “liberal” media gush over the beauty of cruise missiles. And while it’s not entirely clear whether Trump has turned on a dime–his even looser cannon Nikki Haley often seems to be citing administration policy according to what she thinks it should be—the disgust his base has shown toward the Syria attack could be very positive if only we could get the Dems to agree with them.

    http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2017/04/09/trumps-base-revolts-against-syria-strike/

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Trump brings them halfway across the bridge only to betray them, so they can cross the bridge completely to the antiwar shore?

      What would he have done without the betrayal? Let them complete the crossing? Or, the other outcome – let them jump off the bridge (and that’s not betrayal)?

      1. Carolinian

        I think he’s saying it’s not about Trump but about breaking the groupthink. Once a candidate or a president has said that our foreign policy is bogus then it’s hard to unsay it. He goes on in the piece to say this is why the PTB are treating critics of the bombing as far out radicals who should be shunned (i.e. Tulsi). Indeed TINA was Hillary’s whole pitch which is why some of us (while not voting for Trump) felt she had to lose.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Thanks. After reading the article, I agree (perhaps except the bridge analogy – it’s more like the barn door is now open).

          1. different clue

            Or maybe the ocean-floating ice cap has been blasted into moving grinding floes, and the ice floes won’t stop grinding around anymore now.

        2. Optimader

          I voted for Trump to do my best to ensure HRC would loose. You have to make your best decision with the information available.
          Just as Syria as the alternative universe case study, what kettle of fish would we be in already with HRC declaring a no fly zone and poking Russia with a stick in other ways i dont care to consider?

          Ill take incrementally less worse if it is a bunch of cruise missiles used to crater runways ( omg what a waste of money) and damage some infrastructure ata MIL base– after warning the Russians ( and by default presumably theAssad government)

          Yes we should not be there and yes we shouldn’t bomb a soveriegn country w/o a declaration of was and yes the circumstance should not be a likely fabrication, but Trump is what were are working with. In my estimation so far way less strategically fkd up than HRC as meaduref by her history and pronouncements

          1. a different chris

            >if it is a bunch of cruise missiles used to crater runways

            People did die there. Good, bad, or indifferent people we’ll of course never know.

            I *do* suspect they had at least brothers and sisters that are cursing the US as we speak, though. Hey what’s another dozen implacable enemies, anyway?

            1. Optimader

              We will never know who would have been responsible for more deaths to date in Syria given the choice between HRC and Trump, as that was the real choice after the DNC gamed the primary and the RNC foisted choices that most will agree were even worse than Trump!

              I presume you feel HRC would have been the better POTUS? Based on her record, FP inclinations , no less how she was able to loose an election after squandering near $1B running against Trump?..well..

          2. JerryDenim

            All of the available information last November indicated Trump was a liar, fraud, phony, poser, etc. What information did you have that made you think the billionaire, narcissist landlord was a anti-interventionist, pro-labor, populist?

            There were other choices besides HRC and Trump you know….

            1. optimader

              Trump was a liar, fraud, phony, poser, etc.
              He was running for POTUS, so your point is? Anyhoo, I consider HRC all of that plus STUPID.

              There were other choices besides HRC and Trump you know
              No electable choices, the risk being dilution to HRC, an utter failure who surrounds herself with syncopates that delude her into thinking she is the smartest person in the room.

              I thought the candidate both parties loath was the best choice.

            2. different clue

              Those other choices were symbolic virtue-signalling choices.

              They were not the choice most effectively able to make Hillary Clinton, the James Bond villain of the piece, lose.

  10. voteforno6

    Re: United Airlines Fiasco

    Apparently, those paying passengers were bumped in order to seat United employees. It’s good to see that customer service is a priority for United.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      The alleged justification was that the employees had early flights the next day. The man who was dragged off the plane stated he was a physician who had patients to see the next morning. I have no information to verify that at this point, but in the video posted you can hear someone telling another passenger the man had said he was a doctor.

      1. Ivy

        So he wasn’t wearing yoga pants?
        It may be a long while before I consider flying on United, although many other airlines seem to be hovering just above that level of customer disservice.

    2. roxy

      At 12am on Christmas Eve 2007 in Denver United told us our connecting flight to Great Falls, MT was cancelled. They told a grandmother also headed to GF to go to the bus station. We teamed up with her and a college student, all of us dumped by United, rented a car and drove six hours the rest of the way to GF. Through the travel booker we had used we were able to extract refunds for the dumped flights.

    3. optimader

      Did they give him a complementary snack tray for his trouble?

      RoboCop: [dragging Leon Nash by the hair] Let’s talk.

  11. montanamaven

    On “Morning Joe” this morning they had Sebastian Junger on. His new documentary “Hell on Earth” is about Syrian refugees and Syria. Can a few of you watch this? It seems as if it’s all kind of set up. Mark Halperin asks Junger if there is one example of the “heroes” he talks about and Junger says, “The White Helmets. “We were lucky enough to get in with them.” (Leading you to believe he was there, but we later find out “I wasn’t on the ground in Syria….too dangerous…we got cameras in.” After Halperin asks his question, the reporter gal says she is deeply disturbed by the conspiracy theories about the White Helmets. Yes, so is Junger. He says they are doing great and heroic work “If you just watch the footage” you can see this. It was weird and he looked nervous.
    He also interpreted Michael Flynn’s remarks about establishing peace in Syria so the refugees will go back home as “nation building” that is not a popular idea. ??
    Go to the Morning Joe website and click on the Sebastian Junger segment. Morning Joe

    1. Carolinian

      Junger has most recently made his career about embedding with the military and telling stories about soldiers. He’s not exactly what you’d call a dissenter.

      1. Marina Bart

        I think definitionally at this point, if you claim the “White Helmets” are good guys, you are a “lovable” liberal.

        1. VietnamVet

          English language has been corrupted by the fake propaganda. “Liberal” now means supporting Al Qaeda offshoots who would gladly chop off their cosmopolitan heads if they ever vacationed in Idlib province Syria. God forbid that they even acknowledge that their money making schemes are radically destabilizing the little people. There is a mini World War III underway that is continuing to escalate. The news today is not unlike Germany in World War II when the glorious victories keep coming closer to Berlin.

          1. montanamaven

            yes i’ve seen eva’s reports. i believe her. what i’m pointing out is that i think Junger might actually know he is lying. and this is a blatant example of complicit propaganda.

          2. Marina Bart

            That was my intended snarky point, patrick.

            I’ve got a migraine today, so I guess I’m a bit off my game.

  12. Kronos

    To add to the possible injustices of offering free tuition…I wouldn’t be so quick to add a debt jubilee. Debt jubilees are fine as long as you give an 18-year notice or give rebates to people who sunk money into 529 savings plans because they were told that was wise. I am currently putting money aside for my kids. Should I, instead, expand my house or get a boat? I fear that my neighbors are out on their boat every weekend have a good’ol’ time and I will come to find that their kids will get their debts erased in 10 years time. If that happens, and my kids have smaller debts to jubilate, I would be, livid.

    1. justanotherprogressive

      Sooooo…….our children shouldn’t have a chance for a free education because you can’t buy a boat?

      1. Nickrivers

        I think you are reading the comment incorrectly. It is almost like the opposite of the ant and the grasshopper.

        1. philnc

          Look, as soon as we start treating people fairly, that will mean those treated unfairly in the past are going to be disadvantaged. They would have missed out, at least in the past (if you or your kids have already been through college and paid off your loans, for example). Here’s the thing though: Do we really want unfairness to continue forever, for generations, because some of us may never be made whole? Also, the economic effect of loan forgiveness and prospective free tuition isn’ t just going to benefit the boaters (at least they’re spending on main street instead of sitting on a hoard of derivatives on Wall Street) : it’s going to ripple out to the whole economy, including you and yours, in ways that the trickle-downers never delivered on. We commoners have to start thinking generationally, playing the long game, if we ever want to knock the neofuedalists back on their sorry asses.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I think that’s a good argument for Social Security for All, with payments increased to about $40,000 to $50,000 per recipient per year.

          2. Ulysses

            “We commoners have to start thinking generationally, playing the long game, if we ever want to knock the neofuedalists back on their sorry asses.”

            Very well said!

            The ruling classes have always sought to expand and preserve their power over many, many generations. Ardingo de’ Medici was the first of his family to achieve high office when he was elected Gonfaloniere in 1296. More than two centuries later Catherine de’ Medici became Queen of France in 1547.

            Centuries before Spartacus rebelled commoners were pushing back against their oppressors. Some gains in this eternal struggle have endured, many will have to be won all over again.

            “Workers of the world awaken. Break your chains, demand your rights.
            All the wealth you make is taken, by exploiting parasites.
            Shall you kneel in deep submission from your cradle to your grave?
            Is the height of your ambition to be a good and willing slave?”

            — Joe Hill

            1. Ulysses

              I think our public discourse today suffers from a toadying, cringing tolerance of gross iniquities that far too many fear to condemn.

              We need, in these desperate times, the spirit of Gerrard Winstanley, who plainly spoke Truth to Power:

              “The power of enclosing land and owning property was brought into the creation by your ancestors by the sword; which first did murder their fellow creatures, men, and after plunder or steal away their land, and left this land successively to you, their children. And therefore, though you did not kill or thieve, yet you hold that cursed thing in your hand by the power of the sword; and so you justify the wicked deeds of your fathers, and that sin of your fathers shall be visited upon the head of you and your children to the third and fourth generation, and longer too, till your bloody and thieving power be rooted out of the land.”

      2. JerryDenim

        Instead of a Jubilee every American should get a check for a half million dollars or some other large figure. That way no one gets rewarded for being profligate while the frugal and responsible get punished. I’m 41 with zero debt and savings. I borrowed almost a 100k for post secondary education when I was 26 and I was paid horrible, exploitative wages for many years thereafter even with a very demanding and credentialed job. Lots of people my age are living pay check to paycheck just trying to service the interest on a mountain of debt while living well above their means. Forgiving people’s irresponsibly large loans for education, houses, cars, etc. while giving people like myself nothing would be worse than a slap in the face. You need credit to get credit in this country so such a jubliee would be very unfair to the very poor as well. Not much point in arguing this at present moment though- I don’t see any dump-trucks full of cash or gigantic debt erasers on the horizon.

        1. Deadl E Cheese

          Forgiving people’s irresponsibly large loans for education, houses, cars, etc. while giving people like myself nothing would be worse than a slap in the face.

          Good. Meritocracy is a bunch of bullshit and humanity would be better off if the ‘winners’ of these games felt like they wasted their time.

          The parable of the Workers in the Vineyard gets told for a reason.

    2. tegnost

      Really what you’re clarifying here regarding student debt is that it works both ways to enrich the fire sector. Create a class of losers with unpayable debt, and garnish their social security (assuming you can’t get it another way, such as seizing tax returns) then manage the savings of the 10% who can sock away enough money to make sure that i this rigged game your kids come out on top. It’s a win win win to infinity and beyond. For the record you are describing an unfairness that makes you livid, try to see it from the point of view of those of us who have not had the game rigged in our favor, our lividity is not an abstract possibility, it’s right here right now.

    3. funemployed

      We have an unsustainable economy. Permanent war. Record millions of refugees. Escalating risk of nuclear catastrophe. Inevitable climate catastrophe. We’re running out of water. Civil society is coming closer to total dissolution with every passing day. The government and private companies track everything you do. Even the pretense of democracy is fading.

      You have children in this world, and you’re getting worked up over potentially missing out on a boat or spare room in the future because you might have guessed wrong about future policy re: student loans? In any case, calm down. You probably guessed right. Those of us who want to actually save the world and economy for our children are few in number and excluded from power.

    4. Bugs Bunny

      Lots of comments like this in the NYT whenever it reports on the student loan crisis.

      Solidarity is hard to find or even imagine whilst peering into the neoliberal fog.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        We have to understand human nature.

        If we propose all pensions be folded into Social Security for All, Single Pension, solidarity means those who have contributed harder (or more) – and made do with less -to identity with those who have not.

        1. marym

          Solidarity means we understand that lack of affordable access to education or healthcare, crushing student debt, and lack of retirement security are huge problems for all of us a society. It means understanding that regardless of our personal accomplishments, missteps, or luck, there are systemic reasons for these problems, and that we must come together to forge systemic solutions.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            And I think the systemic solution to retirement insecurity is Social Security for All, one single pension nationwide plan, even if some have put in more previously, and defend it together.

            Yes, some have worked harder to get more degrees, and made do with less pay, accepting some promises. But, as you say, we must come together.

        2. Marina Bart

          But I think we are reaching the political crisis point precisely because the vast majority don’t have retirement savings they can live on, in any savings vehicle. If you’re not very old or very fortunate, you don’t have a defined benefit pension. People who diligently saved in the 401(k) system either had that money raided, or stolen in private equity fees, or they have long since raided that fund themselves to survive a job loss or medical crisis. How many non-1%ers don’t know someone who has had their retirement assets pilfered, when you include houses and such?

          Again, Bernie Sanders’ campaign proved the majority WANTS universal benefits. It isn’t citizens blocking this; it’s just the elite.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Based on

            1. We have to move forward
            2. Let’s move past how much you saved, how you forwent a boat, how much you contributed, or how much less pay you accepted
            3. We come together
            4. Many lack adequate retirement savings.

            I think we need Social Security for All, and hike payments to about $40,000 to $50,000 a year…for All.

        3. witters

          Social Justice: From each according to ability, to each acccording to need. (How, in fact, homo sapiens lived for most of their history. But too hard for us hyper developed progressive intersectional beings.)

    5. Kurtismayfield

      So not paying student debts = welfare queens now?

      If you have such suspicion of your neighbor, maybe you should find a better neighborhood.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I think medical debts are easy to ignore.

        It seems the medical debt victims don’t suffer as much (as the jubilee, here, being the flip side of student debts seem to suggest a student debt jubilee, and not a general debt jubilee – in that case, it would include money borrowed by Goldman Sachs, for example)…maybe they just die.

        1. Marina Bart

          Bear in mind that once you declare a medical bankruptcy, finding employment is much, much harder. It’s a different system of destruction, but it works just as well as non-dischargeable student loan debt to starve people and choke off the productive flow of currency through the economy.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I think medical debt jubilee is even more needed than student debt jubilee.

            The former is not mentioned as frequently, though when it is brought up, people at least realize we need to do both.

            1. robnume

              MLTBF, I agree. We all know that the number one cause of personal bankruptcy is: medical bills.
              Single payer, now.

    6. Marina Bart

      Did you not read the piece? The current system means that if you are affluent, the money you are saving is almost guaranteed to be flowing to you because some large number of other people are being horribly exploited. You are currently being unjustly enriched.

      And the system is a spiraling snake eating its tail, like every other part of our corrupted, financialized economy. So your diligently saving money facilitates the continued upwards increase in tuition to benefit not your child or any other, but adminstrators and bankers — thieves in the guise of bureaucrats.

      I have friends who saved diligently. Very, very diligently. Over the course of their child’s life, they have saved slightly less than one year’s worth of tuition at a top private school — what would have gotten them a full year not that long ago. All the private LACs their child has been offered admission to expects them to pay at least that same amount EVERY YEAR.

      Unless you are very affluent, you can’t beat this spiral. You will save, and then they will raise tuition, and you will save, and they will raise tuition. No matter what you do, when the time comes for your child to enroll in college, they will take all your savings, and still demand you put a second mortgage on your house, drain your retirement accounts, or put your child in debt peonage for decades.

      If you are affluent enough to save enough to keep pace with the price acceleration, you are benefiting (massively) from the immoral, extreme exploitation of your fellow citizens here, and your fellow humans abroad.

      So it is in your financial as well as moral interest to push for both free college tuition AND a debt jubilee, to free your fellow citizens from financial enslavement and end the cycle of oppression.

      There is no version of this paradigm where you have any right to be livid if some people are freed of their financial enslavement. Either freeing them frees you, as well, or freeing them only hurts you because you are one of their captors, and have already benefited only too well from this ugly system.

      1. Ulysses

        “Either freeing them frees you, as well, or freeing them only hurts you because you are one of their captors, and have already benefited only too well from this ugly system.”

        X1000!!

      2. bob

        I didn’t read yours before writing the below comment.

        The whole point of “public universities” was to cover the cost. Now, they’re revenue streams. Revenue for muni bond holders. See Cuomo’s new plan. I haven’t seen details, but I’d put every little bit I have on him taking more state control of SUNY and giving it to “private” people to build with muni bond proceeds.

        In NY, probably as well as CA, the demand for the bonds far outweighs the demand for any of the projects they’re proposing. The wealthy want tax free income, and they’re not getting enough at 3%, so they have to buy more. Wall st compounds this effect in NY. They need NY munis.

        Only, in the name of “fiscal responsibility” no gov want to do actual public works. It’s too slow. The money can’t be spent fast enough, and they’re aren’t enough avenues for graft on the project itself.

        It’s much easier, and faster, to buy a pump than to dig a ditch. That’s where we are.

    7. bob

      “Debt jubilees are fine as long as you give an 18-year notice or give rebates to people who sunk money into 529 savings plans”

      And we need a new, growing class of Certified Credentialists to judge who, and under what circumstances anyone gets aid.

      The program cost for Certified Creditalist’s will be more than the 2x the benefit they pay out each year, but we have to be fair –To the Certified Creditalists among us. It’s very expensive to be Credentialized. Huge costs. After all, you don’t want anyone getting that money who doesn’t need it.

    8. HotFlash

      I fear that my neighbors are out on their boat every weekend have a good’ol’ time and I will come to find that their kids will get their debts erased in 10 years time. If that happens, and my kids have smaller debts to jubilate, I would be, livid.

      Kronos, may I quote this advice from a very wise man, a Greek squash referee, no less:

      When more parties than just one team are involved, namely when we get out of the monopoly concept, then two choices are offered:

      1. Together, hand in hand, move on to the next stage or

      2. Stay opposed and detached in the notion of “let the neighbour’s donkey die”

      Maybe they’ll give you a ride on their boat.

  13. flora

    re: Bughouse and L.M.

    From Consortium News

    “Historian and journalist Stephen Kinzer has said, “Coverage of the Syrian war will be remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the American press.” This past week’s coverage of the April 4 chemical-weapons incident in the northern Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun will only add to that dubious legacy.”
    ….

    “So what did happen in Khan Sheikhoun? The story actually may have started a couple of weeks earlier. On March 22, anti-government militants overran the government-controlled town of Khattab and kidnapped some civilians who were taken to the nearby opposition-controlled town of Khan Sheikhoun.

    “On March 30, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nicki Haley indicated that the removal of Assad was no longer a U.S. priority, instead the focus would be on defeating the Islamic State and other terror groups. Tillerson said Assad’s future should be settled by the Syrian people, and Haley said the Trump administration would not “focus on getting Assad out.”

    “Those comments brought harsh criticism from American neoconservatives, liberal interventionists, Israeli leaders and others obsessed over the past six years with “regime change” in Syria.”

    https://consortiumnews.com/2017/04/10/how-media-bias-fuels-syrian-escalation/

    1. Jim Haygood

      Hacking is, of course, a felony … unless you have a badge.

      In light of the CIA’s computer hacking, heroin smuggling and sponsorship of terrorist groups, there seems to more than enough evidence to RICO the agency and shut the sucker down.

      1. Marina Bart

        Apparently, running a violent criminal enterprise is unassailable if you wear Tretorns at your summer place.

        If only Sonny Corleone had known…

      2. robnume

        Please, correct me if I’m wrong, but I seem to remember while studying law that the Feral Government has immunity to the RICO statute.
        I hope I am remembering that wrong.

    1. Kurtismayfield

      It doesn’t make any money, so it isn’t really a business. You should go start a small business, then in a few years go try to claim business expenses when you haven’t made a profit. The IRS will laugh at you.

  14. Code Name D

    Any one voting on the Kansas special election tomorrow? I haven’t decided yet. James Thompson strikes me as being too much like a Clinton Clone. In none of his materials, he doesn’t talk about the issues. And when he does, it in that vague Clinton-speak of saying a great many words without out ever managing to commit to anything. Even his TV spot has him shoot’en guns without saying if he is for or against gun rights.

    1. Big River Bandido

      I just read the two Huffington Post links. The second contained this nugget:

      Thompson’s campaign said it raised a substantial portion of its last-minute fundraising ― about $85,000 ― via its website over the weekend. Daily Kos appeals accounted for about $143,000 of the total raised, while Democracy for America appeals brought in $12,000. Our Revolution, the progressive group aligned with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), helped contribute $900.

      Notwithstanding that those numbers make no sense (how could $143K be only part of the “total raised”???)…if Daily Kos and DFA are that excited about a nominee, I probably shouldn’t be.

      1. Marina Bart

        I think the DNC/DCCC stances (refusing to fund Thompson) are more relevant. Democracy for America is not in the inner corruption circle, as far as I can tell. It may be staffed by precisely the people who think “more and better Democrats” is a real thing; they may not have gotten the message that “better” = corporate Republican-lite. Same with Kos — Markos is clearly not to be trusted, but there are people still trying to use Kos to do some good, I think. And site readership has tanked. Markos is caught between his brand identity and serving his masters. If he’s going to be useful as a tool of control, he has to have deluded people coming to the site to be controlled and manipulated. So even if Markos himself is pleading for Thompson, that doesn’t mean Thompson is a bad dude.

        With the DCCC and the Clintonites pouring money and media resources into Ossoff in Georgia (who is HORRIBLE in every way: carpetbagger, running on nothing, appealing to Republicans, wants endless war, mom runs a PAC) and REFUSING to help Thompson, I don’t see any downside to helping Thompson. If nothing else, a Thompson win would show you can thwart the DCCC’s use of money to control who can get elected to the House, which would be a very good thing, indeed.

        1. What's the Matter with Kansas

          If nothing else, a Thompson win would show you can thwart the DCCC’s use of money to control who can get elected to the House, which would be a very good thing, indeed.

          Not only that, it would show every Republican Congressperson up for re-election in 2018 that nobody is safe. You thought Trump was having a hard time now, if the Shocker pulls off a shocker, we’ll have complete chaos. Plus if there is a wave of opposition, where better for it to start than in Koch Industries’ hometown?

          I shared this Prospect article yesterday, but bears reposting. Thompson has the right story to cross-over appeal to (I)s and (R)s and he’s been doing all the right things to win and his opponent has been doing shit all. Remember, this is a small turnout election. Early voting totals favor the upset, if …

          Running total for voting so far:
          Early voters: 13,517 Dem – 5,057 Rep – 6,518 Unaff – 1,879 Lib – 63

          via @TabithaLehmanSG

          … if it can be assumed this trend continues through election day and that 75% of (I)s went for Thompson and 0% of (D)s went for Estes and 10% of (R)s went for Thompson. Perhaps an unsafe assumption? Plus the Kansas Republican machine still more or less gets to count the ballots.

          1. Code Name D

            Not only that, it would show every Republican Congressperson up for re-election in 2018 that nobody is safe. You thought Trump was having a hard time now, if the Shocker pulls off a shocker, we’ll have complete chaos. Plus if there is a wave of opposition, where better for it to start than in Koch Industries’ hometown?

            That’s just what I am afraid of. The DCCC’s strategy is to literally wait for the Republicans to implode. Now it may be unfair to Thompson, but the establishment is using district 4 as a test of that strategy.

            Of course if Thompson losses, this will not compel a re-examination of the strategy ether.

            1. What's the Matter with Kansas

              They can’t take credit for a win here, if it should come to pass. The secret sauce is a cross-over candidate who campaigned tirelessly versus an entitled smug old pol who campaigned terribly. In a state ready for reassessment of their options. During a light turnout special election. Relying on an energized corps of volunteers. While feuding with the State Democratic apparatus and being ignored by the National Dems.

              1. Code Name D

                Agreed, if its a Win, Tompson gets full credit. All though I am sure they will take credit for it any way.

                Tompson is playing it safe. But maybe that’s the best stratigy here.

                I think will vote for him. I may not have a reason to vote for Tompson, but I have no negaties eather. In a nutral case, perhaps a vote can be generius.

      2. Code Name D

        if Daily Kos and DFA are that excited about a nominee, I probably shouldn’t be.

        No. The problem is that the DFA and Daily Kos indorses ALL Democrats, including former Republicans without any attempt to offer scrutiny or standards. They may not be part of the inner circle, but they are still loyal to its ideology and will do as they are told in order to retain their station of privilege within the party, such as it is.

    2. What's the Matter with Kansas

      Thompson doesn’t much sound like a Clinton clone in this interview, nor does his resume bear that out. Not sure why you come to that conclusion. Sure his positions are vague, but the guy had 90 days to articulate them and he’s been doing a bang up job campaigning from a -27% deficit out the gate … or else the RNCC wouldn’t be calling in the cavalry so late.


      http://kmuw.org/post/meet-4th-congressional-candidates-james-thompson

      Estes on the other hand sure has been acting as if the (R) next to his name entitles him to be elected, without engaging in any meaningful campaigning.

      1. Code Name D

        Okay, maybe comparing him to Clinton is a bit strong. The comparison is drawn from two observations.

        One, he doesn’t talk about the issues, accept in the broadest possible context. I had a talk with one of his supporters and he said that Thompson “agreed” with sanders, but still didn’t support Sander’s platform. (Said that it would be considered in the appropriate time.) And there has been absolutely nothing (at least as far as I know) regarding current events. All of which is perfectly consistent with slandered DNC play book. In other words, he isn’t taking any risks.

        From my perspective, that makes him a blank slate.

        Two, also consistent with the play book, he talks mostly about himself and his past. As if they are to mean any thing to me.

        If he is doing well, I suspect its because Ester comes off like a nut job. (Obamacare = government take over, Palosie stooge. That sort of thing.) I am still undecided. But I greatly resent having to vote for another blank slate.

        1. What's the Matter with Kansas

          That is a fair critique. He’s not completely a blank slate though. One’s past does inform their view of the world. He’s certainly more blue collar than HRC. There is also e.g. this (from the KC Star piece above), which speaks to his walking the walk.

          As an attorney, Thompson has sued the city of Wichita on behalf of people who have been shot by police, according to Djuan Wash, a Black Lives Matter activist who has served as the campaign’s director of African-American outreach.

          “I think that really excites people to have someone who has fought on behalf of the rights of the disenfranchised and abused,” Wash said.

          Of course, he did not take a Gabbardian position on Syria, but there’s a fine line with the veteran’s appeal he’s made. I’m willing to believe he’s mostly authentic right now and only time in the swamp will corrupt him :) At least give the guy props for rolling up his sleeves and working for a win.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      Given the givens, I tend to think any Democrat the DNC doesn’t support should be supported. Those guys need to keep losing, losing, losing, all the way down the drain.

  15. George Phillies

    “Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean and Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden , called on Hawaiians to vote Rep. Tulsi Gabbard out of office”. Democratic Party warmongers on the march. We have a major issue, and the two parties and the main stream media are the same. Or, as has already been noted here:

    http://www.alternet.org/…/five-top-papers-run-18-opinion-pi…

    Five Top Papers Run 18 Opinion Pieces Praising Syria Strikes—Zero Are Critical

    No wonder Americans aren’t reading them as much:

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      First, the Russian-hacker hunters came for Trump.

      Now, they are going after Tusi.

      Will progressive politicians say nothing, in order to better protect themselves? (The Jam-Tomorrow move).

    2. Big River Bandido

      To me, this just looks like a typical establishment ruse. They’ve marked Gabbard not for her position on Syria so much as her candidate in the last primary election.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I think she is more alone in her Syrian position than the last primary election (many, including the candidate, would have been similarly marked if that were the case).

      2. cm

        I went to her website today to donate some money, but didn’t see how to do it! Other than writing a check, does anyone know how to xmit her money? I refuse to use CodeBlue…

  16. queenslawyer

    Re: stats, political risk, facts on the ground…

    Some anecdata suggesting that some bubble-maintenance measures may be running out of steam.

    I’m currently renting in a supposedly “hot” neighborhood in Queens, NY with good subway service to Manhattan. We were just notified of our annual rent increase: only $50. That’s the smallest increase (both in $ and %) we’ve seen since moving here 6 years ago. Shockingly small, after what we’ve come to expect…

    I am also one of those apparently-rare millennials that actually wants to buy a house, having recently gotten married and looking to start a family. We have been looking in Westchester County, and have been getting listings from a few brokers for a while now. We are seeing more and more price reductions and length of time on the market in our target range. Mind you, a 1500sqft “starter home” in one of the decent school districts in lovely Westchester is still listing for a half million, give or take, despite the median household income of slightly less than $80,000. But we have definitely noticed a change…

    Another interesting data point: my law firm hires (and competitively pays) a few law students every summer. We are not a big or well known player, to say the least. We have never gotten so many exceedingly high quality applicants as we did for this coming summer. We are usually limited to the local, more practice-oriented schools but not this year. Things cannot be great at the entry level of the profession.

    Just my view from the ground…

  17. Musicismath

    So gutted when I woke up this morning to the news about John Clarke’s death. Can’t imagine a world without him.

    1. queenslawyer

      I felt similar when Carlin went.

      I am ashamed that I never knew about Clarke until I watched “The Front Fell Off” in today’s water cooler. And laughed so hard I cried.

      1. AbateMagicThinking but Not money

        One of the joys of living in Australia was to watch Clarke & Dawe just before the 7pm news on a thursday evening.

        Now I’ll have to make do with Shaun The Sheep – which is one of the best antidotes for modern life – about 10 minutes of joy. My favourites are the pigs – especially when they go off-farm in a big yank-tank. Claymation forever!

        1. barrisj

          Clarke, Dawe, and Riley doing “The Games”…fabulous takedown of Sydney Olympics and televised sports bureaucracy in general.

  18. vegasmike

    One thing my grandkids find difficult to believe is that free tuition actually at one time existed.
    Tuition was free at the City University of New York until the 1970s. I went to college for free back in the 60s. Some of the fellow student’s parents could probably afford tuition, but many of my friends family couldn’t afford to send their kids to college. Means testing requires an elaborate bureaucracy. It’s probably more efficient to simply accept all academically qualified applicants to the university. Children of the 1% aren’t going to apply to City College. And if kids from modestly affluent families do go to college for free, in New York City the parents pay a relatively high state and city income tax.

    1. Synapsid

      vegasmike,

      I started college at Berkeley, a quiet university at the time, in 1962. There was no tuition. Fees were $173, I believe.

      This changed when Reagan was elected governor.

  19. Oregoncharles

    ” If there’s any justice in the world, the flip side of free college is a Debt Jubilee, so when is that happening? ”

    Which is what Jill Stein called for. Just sayin’.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If no one mentions Free Medicare for All, we get only Medicare for All.

      Don’t forget Free, as a reminder.

      “Dying is worse than not going to college.”

    2. HopeLB

      Jill Stein is the best even better than Bernie on foreign policy and better at speaking the unvarnished truth.

    1. Insertnamehere

      http://www.garynorth.com/public/16461.cfm

      When Limbaugh, of all people, feels enough pressure from the grassroots-right to at least question Syria, you know Trump has enraged his base. For all of the stupid Trump has done and will do, he has at least helped cynicism of eternal war reach public opinion.

      1. Massinissa

        I’m honestly amazed that we got from Republicans being OOH RAH RAH war 12 years ago or so to being largely antiwar today, at least on the far right.

        Buuut, the folks on the center left who were opposed to the war years ago are for it now… For some reason…

        1. Marina Bart

          One important difference (I think? I hope?) is that the Democrats who are pushing for war are not the same demographic that would fight the war. It sure looks to me like the communities that have been providing much of the cannon fodder for the “all volunteer” army have wised up. The military has been struggling to find enough soldiers for a while. The people poor enough and desperate enough to still sign up are often too unhealthy, psychologically damaged or undereducated to be useful, even as fodder.

          I have no proof, but I am positive that is why the ruling class had “President Hillary” and “let’s draft women” all queued up and ready to go. “Electing” a warmongering woman gives you the excuse to make drafting women an act of “Go Girl” feminism. That opens the door to a broad, general draft to sweep up enough healthy bodies and decently functioning minds of both sexes to not have to go anywhere near the 10%.

          With the Republicans having forced the Democrats to remove the drafting women part of the funding bill, they may have done more than they realize to hamper our military adventurism.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Why are some women keen to go kill wogs for God and Country that they will make it all about Freedom of Choice and Equal Opportunity, including the opportunity to “learn a trade” and “get an education” and “buy a car with their re-enlistment bonus,” and to get raped by their Band of Brothers brothers in arms? How many girls and women play Call of Duty and World of Warcraft and fight paintball wars and Airsoft? (I have no idea of the answer to that, but I do look at the gun magazines in the store racks and there are now fetish gun mags just for women, and lots of women in the ads in male gun mags and in the many gun videos on youtube, e.g., https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57ocGk1l7BU, often emitting that rebel-yell young women do when expressing high excitement and solidarity, as they send hot lead down range toward human-profile targets and Japanese pickup trucks)?

            What ever happened to the stuff I was told, back in the day when Lurch was tossing his medals over the White House fence, that putting women on top would result in peace and love and kindness and decency all around?

            Say again what the real nature of our whole species, and the subspecies labeled male and female, is all about again, looked at from 20,000 feet?

            Then there’s this, for fun: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phU4uq4p-Sc

        2. Insertnamehere

          I think neocons have been over-represented as being the posterboys of the right. They certainly make up the Beltway Right, but I think non interventionism has more grassroots influence than we realize. Bush 2 ran on ending nationbuilding after Clinton’s foreign escapades. 9/11 made it treasonous to be a dissenter, but Obama certainly paid lip service to a reduction in foreign hostilities when he first ran. He also outperformed Hillary in a lot of rural counties, despite the “Hillary’s hawkishness will steal Republican votes from Trump” narrative we got from the Kristols and Krauthammers. Coincidentally, Trump won a lot of those voters back to the GOP by questioning eternal war.

          As much as the real left dislikes being represented by the DNC, I think a significant portion of the right dislikes their representation. Look at Republican voter registration. It generally sucks. Republicans are competitive because independents vote Republican and right-leaning indies are still stuck in the lesser of two evils paradigm.

  20. m

    It may be true what is being said on crazy alt right sites since reuters has an article out now. Troops on southern border Syria, Jordan & Iraq. Still have hold over special forces from Obama in North- Raqqa area. All to support moderate rebels/ISIS to fight Syrian army & ISIS?

    1. Byron the Light Bulb

      DJT is pulling US air force units out of the Incirlik air base in southern Turkey and moving to five new air bases in Syria. Tabqa air field, 40km west Raqqa, was captured recently by US-trained Kurdish irregulars. DJT’s strategy is to fight ISIS, block Iranian access to the Levant, and discourage Turkish aggression against the Kurds. Last time I checked the Deep State did not control the USAF.

      1. a different chris

        Good, but last I checked the USAF had maintainined it’s perfect lifetime record of 0-for whatever many wars they haven’t won.

      2. craazyboy

        “Last time I checked the Deep State did not control the USAF.”

        That would depend on whether you think the Pentagon is part of the Deep State?

        Now, in the “Blob”, the Pentagon is the 5th tentacle connected to one(? – more MRI scans needed) of the right wing hipbones with neurons leading from the hipbone to a pulsing, humming, red area deep within the “Blob”. There are more suspicious neurons radiating from the red area and some of these terminate in a cavity near the top of the “Blob”. This area we often call the “Bully Pulpit”. There are more neuron connections connecting out the lower backside, where one sees a partially embedded media megaphone. It makes loud noise at times, and has a sticker that says, “Not classified, and I have no idea where I’m coming from! So sue me.”

      3. MoiAussie

        It has been suggested that a purpose for taking the Tabqa air field was to allow the US to invisibly arrange safe passage for “our jihadis” out of Raqqa province, and deliver them to where they were next needed.

      4. Lambert Strether Post author

        > “Last time I checked the Deep State did not control the USAF”

        Christ on a crutch. What kind of “state” doesn’t have an air force? It’s so deep it can’t control things that go up in the air?

  21. Mike Mc

    Today’s apocalypse alert:

    https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-03/uoic-fbr032717.php

    Extra irony – me and mine live in the Midwest, and my wife inherited some prime Corn Belt acres in – you guessed it – Illinois.

    Midwesterners urban and rural watch the skies each spring for tornados. For some time, the farmers and gardeners among us have been watching the climate change before our eyes. The future is here, folks. Get used to it.

  22. Burritonomics

    Re :”Wages for workers in warehouses”

    Read this one last night. Love articles like this; they want to give the impression of workers reaping the benefits of a “tight” labor market, when all they show is a -slight- slowdown of real wage erosion.

    More benefits of having crapified products direct to your door! No need interact with humans. Somehow this isn’t the future I hoped for.

  23. ewmayer

    “New York is the first state to make 4-year college tuition free for middle-class students” — So what’s to prevent a professional “Grifter Uni” like NYU from milking this promised cash cow by skewing admissions to the covered class and jacking tuition and fees to the moon?

    1. craazyboy

      Um, the heated university competition in NYC will allow Mr. Market to fairly set prices and service levels?

  24. IDontKnow

    Twofer : Gia and Logistics
    http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2085444/climate-change-will-lead-much-more-severe-turbulence

    Air passengers are likely to experience nearly double the frequency of severe turbulence during flights in the coming decades because of the impact of climate change, according to a scientific study published on Thursday.
    The research suggested that if the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases at projected levels by the middle of this century then severe air turbulence will increase by about 85 per cent compared with current levels.

    1. IDontKnow

      Reuters quoted White House press secretary Sean Spicer as saying on Monday.

      “If you gas a baby, if you put a barrel bomb in to innocent people … you will see a response from this president.”

      Damn straight, imagine the gall of not buying proper, factory made bombs from Olin or DuPont. Now that’s American First.

        1. IDontKnow

          Tablets don’t always display this site quite right. If you are offering to move it to the base line, then thanks.

  25. robnume

    On “Late Capitalism”: The word of the day, I’m sure we’ve all noticed, from the “I’m rich and you’re not, you must not be working hard enough” camp is “meritocracy.” We read it over and over again but they never ever mention the real problem with this theme: we have a “restricted” meritocracy vs. an “unrestricted” meritocracy.
    Read an article about 20 years ago on restricted vs. unrestricted meritocracies from a blog which a California public school teacher wrote and I can’t for the life of me remember his name.

  26. Greg

    My favourite John Clarke video is still the subprime explainer, which has been incredibly useful ever since 2007 in explaining wtf actually happened to friends and family who didn’t quite get it.

    Clarke and Dawe on the Subprime crisis

    As a New Zealander I have to be embarrassed that I never connected Clarke of Clarke and Dawe with Fred Dagg, but I excuse myself because the Dagg stuff was mostly before my time (even if it is a permanent cultural artifact down this way).

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