Links 11/11/13

Before dogs became ‘man’s best friend,’ humans regarded them as ‘vermin,’ scientist says Daily Mail

Typhoon Haiyan

Category 1 Typhoon Haiyan Hitting Vietnam; Extreme Damage in the Philippines Weather Underground (hi-res image).

Typhoon deaths climb into thousands in Philippines Asian Correspondent

Vietnam, China Enduring Typhoon Haiyan’s Final Blow Accuweather

Man Nails Testicles to Red Square Cobblestones in Bizarre Protest Moscow Times (RS)

Ex-Moody’s staff raise alarm over ABS ‘meltdown’ FT

Race to Bottom Resumes as Central Bankers Ease Anew: Currencies Bloomberg

Global Economy: Surprise tactics sweep central banking Reuters

ECB split stokes German backlash fears FT

Big Banks May Block Traders From Chat Rooms WSJ

Should the Yellen Fed rely on optimal control models? Gavyn Davies, FT

ObamaCare Rollout

Political Cartoon: ‘Surprise Ending Beginning?’ By Rick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle KHN

“We have a radical philosophy:” The right-wing plot to stop the public option Thom Hartmann, Salon. Career “progressive” disinformation, pure and simple. The article claims that FOX messaging initiated on October 27, 2009 “forced Democrats to drop the Public Option from the health reform law.” Unfortunately for Hartmann’s thesis, Obama cut a deal with the for-profit hospital industry in summer 2009 that there would be no meaningful “public option” (assuming that to be possible; see also here). “Public option” advocacy has been marked by, to say the very least, disingenuousness throughout its sordid history, and Hartmann’s effort continues that sorry tradition, adding to it the blame shifting so characteristic of Obama’s Democrats. If you want to know why career “progressives” fail, you don’t need to look much farther than this little episode. See PNHP here and here for the best background.

Early Obamacare data to signal how many still waiting to enroll Reuters

Limits of Maine Plans on ACA Marketplace Frustrate Consumers MPBN. Only one of the two plans offers out-of-network coverage. Caveat emptor!

Daring to Complain About Obamacare Times

Codebases Information is Beautiful. Spoiler: is quite large.

Coast Guard Proposal to Allow Barges to Haul Fracking Wastewater Draws Fire From Environmentalists Desmogblog

Dramatic scenes as tanker train carrying crude oil derails and bursts into flames in Alabama Daily Mail. This keeps happening.

France Blocks U.S. Pivot To Persia Moon of Alabama

Navy christens newest, most efficient carrier – the USS Gerald Ford CNN. Will General Van Riper please pick up the white courtesy phone?

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

NSA revelations unleash flood of new customers for privacy products San Francisco Chronicle

Former NSA Codebreaker: I Tried To Tell People About Government Spying CBS Baltimore (GW)

Dutch security services plan NSA style phone and internet monitoring Dutch News

UK spies continue “quantum insert” attack via LinkedIn, Slashdot pages Ars Technica

How Australia Is Spying On Its Own – Analysis Eurasia Review

Anti-nuclear citizens groups targeted in massive cyber-attack Asahi Shimbun

Removing Fuel Rods Poses New Risks at Crippled Nuclear Plant in Japan Times

Taiwan’s ‘White Shirt Army,’ spurred by Facebook, takes on political parties WaPo

Has civil disobedience become too predictable? Waging Nonviolence

Food Friggers and Costs of Living High Arka

Seattle Suburb Passes Highest Minimum Wage in Country Real News Network (LN)

We still are our jobs, but no longer by choice Bonnie Kavoussi’s Blog

Xanthe, Job Creator FDL

Light Entertainment LRB

Tea Party Yankees Jacobin

The Devolution of the Seas Foreign Affairs

Antidote du jour (via):


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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.


    1. hunkerdown

      They could have done something very much like that with anti-public-option Members and Senators, if the Party had wanted it. Instead, they threw public-option diehards under the bus. Why do people disregard the old rule of thumb that “actions speak louder than words” in the one venue where it could spare the most damage?

  1. Concerned Citizen

    Regarding the Australian surveillance state, there’s been some mention in the media about Telstra’s involvement, but the article makes a convinving case that there is much more going on than anyone thought.

    We now have a very right-wing Prime Minister and perhaps his actions prefigure what will happen in the States if/when a Republican sits in the White House.

  2. Jim Haygood

    Pelosinomics on the Great Plains: for each ‘consumer’ enrolled, a thousand victims are thrown under the bus:

    In North Dakota, only 30 people have so far signed up for Obamacare. Meanwhile, 35,000 people have already or will be losing their existing health insurance plans in that state alone, WDAY reports.

    “New information tonight, on the number of North Dakotans signing up for health insurance, under the state’s federally-run marketplace,” says the local reporter. “The insurance commission says just 30-people have signed up so far.”

    “Three insurance companies are doing business in the marketplace: Blue Cross Blue Shield, Medica, and Sanford. Those 3 companies say more than 35,000 people are, or will be, losing their existing health insurance, because of Obamacare.”

    Already an astute observer can espy the approaching Dickensian Christmas miracle of Obamacare: more uninsured Americans than ever before in history.

    Thanks, Barry — you’ve done a lot to us!

    1. sleepy

      What’s surprising about Obamacare is that it’s coming off even worse than I anticipated, and I didn’t anticipate much good at all.

      Considering that imho the whole program was a sop to the insurance industry with keys to the treasury via the subsidies, I would think there would be industry-wide grumbles about the poor performance of the exchanges as in “we paid good money to these pols, and this is what we got?”

      I wonder about any behind the scenes pressure going on. Obama’s patrons can’t be happy.

      Beyond that, what comes after Obamacare?

    2. Benedict@Large

      This is the fault of the insurers, not of ObamaCare. Read the law. Existing non-complying plans were grandfathered in UNLESS the insurer changed plan features substantially. The insurers KNEW they would have to terminate these plans when they made those changes, and so the termination was THEIR decision, and it was almost certainly their intention to terminate these plans. (ObamaCare is simply being used as a cover.) If policyholders are upset over these terminations, their proper recourse would be to file a complaint against their insurer with their state insurance commissioner.

      By the way, that 30 count has nothing to do with this anyways. The people losing plans are being marketed other plans directly by their insurers, and this is taking place outside of the exchange. Even if all of these people have already gotten other plans, that would not effect the 30 count, as their new plans were not purchased through the exchange.

      1. Benedict@Large

        BTW, I despise ObamaCare, but we need to stop making up problems with it that don’t exist, and instead focus our attention on the many and massive problems with it that do exist. This was an insurance company problem, and not one with ObamaCare.

        1. Jane Doe

          I have seen this meme by Obots (I take your word you aren’t one) that ACA can be separated from the actions of the insurance industry.

          1. ACA allows the bad faith actor that you say we should blame to remain in charge. This was wholly predictable. Your comment implies we must pretend otherwise.

          2. From the the theory behind ACA the entire law is about regulating insurance companies

          If it fails at regulation it means the law is a failure

        2. Jim Haygood

          As you say, some of the 30,000-plus cancellees WILL buy new coverage direct from insurers. But, assuming that the cancellations were done to enable price hikes, not all of them will. Some (those in better health) will decide to just ‘go naked’ rather than pay premiums they can’t afford.

          Thus, even on the net basis that you’ve outlined, one would expect the number of uninsured Americans to rise substantially by early next year.

        3. optimader

          “..we need to stop making up problems with it that don’t exist..”
          Paging Forrest Gump

          The only “fix” is a massive Ctrl/Alt/Del of the Legislative/Executive branch’s.

          Cant do much w/ the Judicial branch unfortunately

        4. BondsOfSteel

          Thank you!

          FWIW, I’m one of the people that had their individual policy canceled. Plus, I’m above the subsidy cap.

          I went to (which is working great… no logon needed to compare policies). I found policies within %5 of what my old plan costs.

          In the end, I decided to stay with old insurance company. (Same docters… ect.) They had a ACA plan very similar (off exchange) that was ~20% more. Just got a letter yesterday… price dropped and it’s now ~10% more than my old plan. OTOH, it does have much better coverage. All in all, It’s mostly a wash.

          Much ado about nothing.

          1. Jane doe

            So which talking point is it?

            Bc these comments are now contradicting one another and feel like testimonials rather than policy discussion

            Again from a policy view ACA Is meant to regulate insurance companies

            If its failing at that there is a problem

            1. different clue

              It was never meant to regulate them. It was meant to subsidize them, entrench their power, and bail them out. It was meant to destroy any chance at Medicare for all or Single Payer for decades to come. If it succeeds in that, it is a success in terms of its barely secret agenda.

          2. diptherio

            All you seem to be saying here is that you can afford a policy that is 10% more expensive than you’re old one. I’m happy for you, but honestly you’re not in the demographic that I’m worried about. It doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility that at least some people will not be able to comfortably afford a 10% increase in ins. premiums.

            1. Jane doe

              I believe these anecdotes are talking points.

              I have seen this sort of post on quite a few progressive blogs.

              They never answer why regulatorily this is a good idea.

          3. JohnL

            See my other comment about Island County WA. I’m going to have to switch from Group Health to Lifewise(=Premera) as the subsidy-eligible Group Health plans have dropped out-of-network coverage. I can still get a similar plan with out-of-network direct from Group Health but it’s not subsidy eligible. I’m self employed and my annual income varies so I’d rather not pass up the possibility of subsidy. Either way, all my new options are 35-40% more than the current plan with higher maximum out of pocket (unlimited out of pocket if out of network). In talking to an insurance agent friend, 100% of individual and small group plans in WA will be terminated and replaced with a new plan, as none of the old plans are ACA compliant. This with the complicity of State insurance regulators in allowing contracts to be broken before the end of their term.
            “You can keep your plan” is about as untrue as a statement could be. A speechwriter’s head is rolling somewhere.

          4. Lambert Strether Post author

            Shorter: “I’ve got mine.”

            * * *

            I’ve documented at exhaustive length how the benefits of ObamaCare are distributed capriciously, which shouldn’t be the case if health care is, as Obama says it is, a right.

            What are you doing to make sure that everybody has the same access to health care that you do?

      2. Not Sure

        You appear to suggest someone other than the authors read the pornography that is the ACA before, or after, it was made a law.

      3. JohnL

        The grandfathering is only good for a year. Knowing this, state insurance regulators have allowed the insurance companies to cancel plans before the end of their contract period, an illegal breach of contract that the state regulators supposedly exist to prevent!

        How come the administration isn’t suing state insurance regulators?


      4. different clue

        Obamacare was written as cover. The insurance companies are doing exactly what they instructed Obama and the Catfood Democrats to instruct the insurance companies to do.

  3. eeyores enigma

    So is the CFR now proposing another new Pearl Harbor in order to incite and rally the public into action on the degradation of the sea?

    Again if all the issues they mention were addressed it would cause massive economic contraction for large segments of the population.

    The need for everyone to make money in order to live is what will eventually kill us all.

  4. Cynthia

    Lifted from Miles Mogulescu’s article entitled “The Real Reason Obama’s Plan Doesn’t Include a Public Option”:

    “The Federation of American Hospitals’ lobbying group, with whom the White House made the deal, represents America’s investor-owned, hospitals whose profits could be diminished by a public option with the negotiating clout to negotiate lower prices.”

    Private insurers, unlike the government, are in the business of making money. So if anything, private insurers have a much bigger incentive than the government to lower reimbursement rates for hospitals. Unless the hospitals are in cahoots with private insurers — something which I strongly doubt because, more often than not, less profits for hospitals translates into more profits for insurers, and vice versa — it doesn’t make a bit sense to me as to why hospitals feel they have more to gain in terms of profits if they negotiate reimbursement rates with private insurers than with the US government through, say, a public option.

    Someone please help me out here.

    1. diptherio

      Private insurers may have an incentive to lower reimbursement rates, but they don’t have the clout to to cut rates across the board. A single-payer Medicare-like system would have that clout.

      And even if you don’t understand why that would be, the fact is that the private hospital lobby didn’t want single-payer, and Obummer agreed to stop it (for their benefit, not ours), and then proceeded to blame the Tea-Party.

      1. Cynthia

        Most states just have a handful of healthcare insurers, Diptherio. It’s even more extreme in my state. Blue Cross holds 90% of our polices, leaving Humana and United Healthcare with only 10% of them. This gives Blue Cross the clout that the government has to lower reimbursements to hospitals. But for some strange reason unbeknownst to me, Blue Cross continue to give hospitals what they want, which is reimbursements that run much higher than the rate of inflation.

  5. frosty zoom

    what i don’t understand is that if you must buy private insurance, ¿why is the website healthcare.GOV?

    more privblic nonsense, i guess.

    1. BondsOfSteel

      You only need to go through the exchange if you want (or are eligible) for a government subsidy.

      There are “off exchange plans” that are ACA compliant you can get directly from insurers.

  6. eeyores enigma

    Single payer would wipe out the health insurance industry and seriously damage the privately owned hospitals. One of the most successful industries at extracting steady cash flow from the economy. Which would then collapse many if not most retirement funds as they are heavily invested in them as are many investment portfolios.

    The fact that we need to make our money grow in order to continue to LIVE or it steadily goes away is what is going to kill us.

    1. financial matters

      I see the health care problem as another aspect of the crumbling of our economy due to the FIRE sector. This finance, insurance and real estate sector obviously makes a lot of its money in a rentier fashion but also by being ‘hidden’ and often considered as part of the real economy.

      There is no reason for insurance to be a part of the medical system. It has led to a system where hardly anyone knows the real cost of health care as the insurance companies walk off with millions. If someone comes into the emergency room with a head injury and the doctor orders an array of tests she probably has no idea what they actually cost, what the hospital will actually charge the patient and what co-pay the patient will have to come up with.

      In a single payer system people would know that they are covered and how much the health care providers and the health care administrators are making, procedures would have an actual cost associated with them and society would be aware of that cost. This could also include subsidized education for medical workers so they don’t have to choose high reimbursement specialties. Money would be saved by not having the private health insurance profit overhead, employers wouldn’t have to worry about providing this as a benefit package, employees would be healthier and more mobile. This would take the people wrestling control back from the plutocrats…

    1. howard in nyc

      beat me to it. But, I’ve seen grown men pull their own heads off rather than face Putin; even Dinsdale was afraid of Putin.

      1. Optimader

        I walked out with Dinsdale on many occasions and found him a most charming and erudite companion. He was wont to introduce one to eminent persons, celebrated American singers, members of the aristocracy and other gang leaders.

    1. down2long

      Viz Skunk Antidotes: They keep reminding of a very valuable life lesson I got from Muriel Siebert: “Never get in a piss war with a skunk.”

      She was a pretty smart cookie, Muriel. (Yes, her run for office as a Repugnican was baffling.) Just goes to show everyone has something to teach us.

      I try to listen closely to almost everyone (Ted Cruz, Obama, excepted; pathological liars just teach the craft) when I can get myself to shut up.

    2. AbyNormal

      “Exclusiveness is a characteristic of recent riches, high society, and the skunk”…lately, backboard shards everywhere from lamberts game

  7. AndyB

    Re: the fukushima mess. If the slightest mistake occurs in the removal of the rods from #4, that’s all she wrote for the planet within 50 years. Pesky things those ocean and wind currents. There’ll be no place to hide, even the bunker for the elites under the Denver Airport. BTW, #s 1,2, and 3 have already “melted down” and nothing is being done about them, even as the radioactivity they are currently releasing is many times than of Chernobyl.

    1. Mark P.

      Eh. Not really true. Chernobyl blew a substantial radioactive particulate plume directly up into the jet stream and thence across much of Europe. That’s the point: if you were _deliberately_ designing a weapons system to disperse radioactive particles simply over a large territory, it’s a great option — though, granted, the Soviets got more of their own people than anybody else’s.

      I’m in General Buck Turgidson mode here, but in terms of cold-blooded risk analysis those busted reactors in Japan — for all that each represents 100 tonnes of MOX fuel, which means 4 tonnes of plutonium in the mix in each core meltdown — seem for now to be just sitting there and not killing anybody. (And if not, we will find out, won’t we?)

      Conversely, still in Turgidson mode, those approx. 1,500 spent uranium fuel rods sitting in that pool by reactor four represent — whether the Japanese go in or leave them alone — a quantity of radioactive material dwarfing what was at Chernobyl, with novel possibilities for criticality accidents.

  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    From vermin to best friend – talk about hatred to love turned.

    I see that many happy couples met that way too…or at least that is the standard romance movie plot.

  9. optimader

    Daily Mail Fail

    “Before dogs became ‘man’s best friend,’ humans regarded them as ‘vermin,’ scientist says ”

    does not equal

    “Prehistoric dogs may have been considered ‘vermin’ …according to one scientist.”

      1. optimader

        Re: Nepal, I don’t doubt that many societies treat dogs poorly.

        A good illustration is long form history of China. From venerated symbol to piranha status during the blight of the “Cultural Revolution”.

        My point was that the article title lights up the Bullshit alarm.
        It misrepresents the fact that the one Clive D.L. Wynne, a psychology professor at Arizona State University (Fallacy of False Authority) is merely making a “claim” regarding a prehistory relationship. I can offer equally valid contradictory claim that in prehistory the concept vermin did not exist but if it did, Homo.S. would probably also be a candidate for the title.
        I think a case of Clive fitting a modern sensibility to a prehistoric era. Hopefully Clive at least scored the complimentary buffet dinner at the event.

        I’ll go w/ the Oxford dictionary on this one.

        vermin Pronunciation: /ˈvərmən/
        Wild mammals and birds that are believed to be harmful to crops, farm animals, or game, or that carry disease, e.g., foxes, rodents, and insect pests.

        dog Pronunciation: /dôg/
        Domesticated carnivorous mammal that typically has a long snout, an acute sense of smell, and a barking, howling, or whining voice. It is widely kept as a pet or for work or field sports.

        “Dog” does not fit our contemporary definition of “vermin”.


    1. Synopticist

      This guy came to much the same conclusion about the domestication of dogs as the guy in the article (not that you get much sense from the article)…

      It’s an interesting read, if you can get over the turgid prose. He suggests that wolves hung around camp sites of early humans as scavengers, and that a genetic mutation arose which made some of them unusually friendly. These same animals were adopted and proved themselves useful. Basically, dogs domesticated themselves.
      He also points out that the modern wolf is much more scared of humans than older wolves would have been, as they’ve been driven to near extinction. In the last few thousand years, wolf evolution has favoured caution toward humans.

  10. Bridget

    First, the “glitches”. Next, once the “glitches” are fixed, will come the sticker shock. Finally, slowly but relentlessly, will come the cancer patients and the children with rare disorders, formerly known as the uninsurable, who will now have insurance, for which they will be paying dearly, but NO ONE TO TREAT THEM. The Democratic red state Senators who think they are going to save their careers by letting everyone keep their plans until after November are just using their fingers to plug up the hole in the dike. This is a tsunami.

  11. diptherio

    Michael Johnson, co-founder of Staten Island’s Ganas Community, has some thoughts on Moving Beyond Oppression.

    Bedrock conviction: oppression is a relational dynamic involving at least two roles: oppressor and oppressed. If we want to relate to someone or some situation in a different way, then we have to move out of and beyond these two roles. We have to focus our attention in a way in which we can experience the other as neither oppressive nor oppressed. It has to be focused on the other as genuinely and humbly as possible in order to experience them as they are. At least as much as possible.

    To do this our action has to be grounded in experiencing ourselves and other(s) in a context out of and beyond the oppressive dynamic. Free of it as much as possible in a given moment.

    Setting ourselves up in “anti-oppression,” anti-racism,” and other “anti-” spaces is a big mistake. When we engage in these oppositional frames we are grounding ourselves in the dynamic we need to move beyond. Keeping ourselves grounded in it experientially no matter to what cognitive lengths we go in opposing it. Hobbling ourselves from moving out of and beyond it.

    Food for thought from someone who speaks from long experience…

    1. Skeptic

      Carry this logic a bit further:

      All citizens should be treated like corporations for tax purposes. As an example, all the expenses I incur to keep myself alive, like Health, Housing, Food, Travel, Entertainment etc. should be income tax deductible just like a corporation. Whatever is available to a Corporation as a deduction should also be available to the individual. I create jobs just like corporations and should be entitled to the same deductions and tax loopholes.

      Since the Robbers’ Court has declared corporations to be persons then persons should have the same rights and tax advantages as corporations.

      Why no legal challenge on this? Where are you ACLU?

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s not this
      It’s not that
      It’s not both
      It’s not neither.

      That’s a Zen saying.

      Underneath it all, there is a non-discriminating oneness.

      Thus, we search for the Unified Field theory in physics. Maybe it’s possible. Maybe it’s not.

      But in the field of human social/political forces, it is possible to say that underneath the force of the right, the force of the left, the force of the extreme left, the force of the extreme right and the force of the center, the 5 fundamental human forces, there is only oneness – no opposing forces when you get down, or up, to that level…you move beyond opposites.

      1. subgenius

        there is a unified system – it’s called the universe

        sadly an individual brain is too small to comprehend it…

  12. diptherio

    Xanthe, Job Creator is a great article. Wish I were working for her instead of the #@$%ing .01%!

    If we ever pull our heads out our arses and come up with a Job Guarantee program, I think the first thing we should do with it is make sure folks like Xanthe have all the help they need to stay in their homes as long as possible. That would be a big step towards re-humanizing our society, imo.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’m in a very similar situation. I just wrote a small check to my door guy, because in this old house nothing is true, and I couldn’t rehang a door to save my life. Bonus points that decreasing a draft decreases the heat bill.

      There’s something to be said for housing stock that’s 100 years old, and more. (Maine has the country’s oldest housing stock, I’m guessing because all the houses were built when we were rich from timber, and back then builders built to last. No styrofoam pediments on this monster!) Why not maintain and improve, instead of ** cough ** developing?

    2. anon y'mouse

      even better, when she or someone like her finally does need help with doing the housework, cooking, errands and so forth (if no family is willing or available) this too will create a job for someone.

      and yet some people around here think that keeping old people ‘in the style to which they have become accustomed’ is too financially wasteful to allow to be continued. so, i’m still lost. is it because we just don’t want to pay out what is/should be ‘rightfully due’ our elders? it can’t be because we don’t have the actual resources to go around, can it?

  13. Jerome Armstrong

    Thom Hartmann has moved quite a bit over the last decade from populist to pragmatist. He constantly thinks he has to take Obama’s side and make up rightwing postures; same crap you find all over the crumbles of Democratic blogosphere.

    1. Klassy!

      That article was silly. It had all the dog whistles– Koch bros., Sarah Palin, Fox News. Very enlightening.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      It’s one thing to be a pragmatist. It’s another to just make shit up. I wonder if it’s too late for Hartmann’s editors to fix his book? BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!!!

  14. Hugh

    What is important to remember about the public option is that it was never anything more than a talking point. It was never actually defined in any concrete way, allowing supporters to read into it whatever they wanted. As a consequence, politicians could puff themselves up and establish progressive cred by saying they were for not just the public option, but a robust public option. This was much like multiplication by zero. They were saying they weren’t just for zero but twice, even three times, zero.

    The point of the public option was always to shutdown any discussion of single payer Medicare for All and in this, it succeeded admirably. The question has always been why so many liberals and career progressives let themselves be had by such a transparent sham. Essentially, the options come down to were they bought or stupid, or both?

    1. hunkerdown

      “Giving the benefit of the doubt to someone who had only just begun showing signs of duplicity on the national stage” is a decent and generous interpretation. So is “Propaganda works; otherwise they wouldn’t use it”.

  15. Benedict@Large

    Re: HARTMANN. Hartmann has gotten very sloppy since he moved inside the beltway. In fact, Hartmann himself reported on the same article that you cited back when it came out. Somehow he has become convinced that his best purpose is to be the anti-Fox, even though he would deny this if you asked.

    As for his book excerpt (you’d think he’d be more careful), there is this:
    “In those cases, a ‘subjective judgment’ is made on how a cancer patient’s chemotherapy will affect the corporation’s bottom line.”

    This is flaming nonsense, and the type of stuff Hartmann peddles along with Zeese and Flowers. There is simply NO SUCH PROCESS that occurs as a part of the claim payment process. Claim processors do not make “bottom line” decisions. They make decisions based on what the contract says. If some particular sort of chemotherapy is denied, it’s denied because the contract doesn’t cover it. Might they push their contract definitions? Sure, they like others) might try, but insurance companies would be quickly driven to bankruptcy (not to mention, abandoned by Wall Street) if their bottom lines depended on wholesale contract violation, yet this is exactly what Hartmann, Zeese, and Flowers insinuate.

    And how do they come by such knowledge? Zeese and Flowers may buy an individual health policy from time to time; Hartmann buys a TINY group policy for himself and his staff each year. From this they claim to know how multi-billion dollar health insurers work on the inside? It would be laughable if they weren’t out there purporting to “inform” us all; to guide us in our political resistance. But they are, and if we listen, we will be fighting populist red herrings instead of the real problem.

    And mind you, even if insurers were doing this, their MERs would make them return any of this “profit” as overpayments of premiums under ObamaCare, and similar market constraints were operating even before this became law. Anyone who thinks “[h]ealth insurers make their profits from charging the highest premiums they can and by restricting and denying payment for care” (a quote from Zeese and Flowers) simply doesn’t have a clue as how the health insurance business actually works.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Dunno about one these points. “Contract violation” worked pretty well for the banksters in the foreclosure crisis. Remember robosigning?

      As for the overpayments… I have a hard time remembering that profits are supposedly capped to 25%? 20%? because that seems so ripe for being gamed; it’s like Hollywood, where the accountants make sure that no movies make any money, at least for tax purposes. Is there any sort of audit procedure?

  16. Hugh

    If an economy is producing what is needed for a just and equitable society, and doing so in a sustainable fashion, then it is doing what it should. If anyone wants to call that optimal, they may although it does not add much to the conversation.

    Optimal control models should be confined to hobby shops where they can do no harm. The use of words, like “optimal”, should be banned from economics. Optima simply do not correspond to the real world, where good enough is about as much as can be hoped for. As it is, the debate over Yellen and the optimal control model is really about the cover ideology we are to be looted under.

    1. Optimader

      Economics is not a science and the participants dont neccesarily behave rationally, therefore the notion of optimization is delusional. The failed attempts are scattered through history.

  17. JohnL

    @Maine plans..
    Same in Island County WA. Only two companies, only one of which offers out of network.

    Two tier health system. In the “better” hospitals in Seattle, most of the waiting room works for Boeing or Microsoft. Everyone else is on 50% copay because they’re all out of network.

  18. Maju

    Dog has been domestic for at least 33,000 years ago (, probably quite more. There was no much trash back in the day. People then also did not have a concept of “vermin”, which is an agricultural notion, not a hunter-gatherer one.

    I’m not sure if Wynne’s claim of “Williams-Beuren syndrome” is real or not but I’m pretty sure that if you get a wolf cub and raise it as your kid (even breastfeeding it, as probably happened in many domestication cases), the wolf becomes a dog, at least that was probably the case originally.

    1. anon y'mouse

      not quite, or perhaps not quite.

      a few years back, we had a sudden spate of wolf-mix pets randomly attacking owners. there was a lot of hubbub about how wolves are not pets, even with mixed with domesticated dogs. their behavior was considered not reliable (docile?) enough, and the recommendation was to definitely not have such pets with children in the house.

      granted, this may be faulty memory/understanding again on my part. also, ‘pets’ in the conception of a hunter-gatherer is not someone who is sleeping in your bed and living in your lean-to. dog/pet in that case probably does his own thing most of the time, and merely shares activities with humankind from a mutually respectful distance (i’ll accompany you & help on the hunt, but you eat over there and I over here-dog sez).

      could be wrong, though.

  19. Bart Fargo

    “Pollution, overfishing, the destruction of habitats, and climate change are emptying the oceans and enabling the lowest forms of life to regain their dominance.”

    So global capitalism is having the same effect on the world’s oceans as it is having on Western society.

  20. susan the other

    Moon of Alabama. France Blocks US Pivot to Asia. France votes against Iran’s nuclear energy industry? With France as the major expert in the field. Is this a confl,ict of interest? France is a world expert. But Iran is certainly not stupid. And both France and Isreal and also Saudi Arabia wnt to kep US power in the Middle East. It would be better now and not later and for the long run for there to be a breakaway from the EU of Greco-Latin nations (Greece, Italy, France Spain, Portugal, and maybe the UK including Ireland). Because the north (Germany, and Scandinavia and some eastern blocs) are naturally aligned with Russia, (nat gas etc) whereas the southern EU block is more naturally aligned wit the Mediterranean. So, back to the title, how can France block the US pivot to Asia? By forcing the cohesion of the EU. Is that good or bad?

    1. Synopticist

      I suspect it has a lot to do with Saudi contracts for big French firms and projects, now that france is becoming Saudi’s new BFF. You don’t necessarilly have to look much further than naked self-interest by the French oligarchy, frankly.

      The French have always had the attitude that big business for their companies is a major part of their foreign policy, even more so than other “serious” countries. They sold Israel their nuclear reactor in the sixties, and did the same for Saddam in the late seventies. (Jaques chirac was the point man for the Iraqi business).

  21. DakotabornKansan

    Bonnie Kavoussi asks, “Why should what we do to survive define who we are? We should work to live, not live to work.”

    Sadly, “Work is becoming an even bigger part of people’s identities,” she says. “We still are our jobs, but no longer by choice, because of the loss of worker leverage.”

    “Thanks to the lousy economy, we aren’t just making less money than we otherwise would have. We also have less time to become who we are meant to be.”

    To become who we are meant to be…

    “You’ll have a good, secure life when being alive means more to you than security, love more than money, your freedom more than public or partisan opinion; when the mood of Beethoven’s or Bach’s music becomes the mood of your whole life; when your thinking is in harmony, and no longer in conflict, with your feelings; when you let yourself be guided by the thoughts of great sages and no longer by the crimes of great warriors; when you pay the men and women who teach your children better than the politicians; when truths inspire you and empty formulas repel you; when you communicate with your fellow workers in foreign countries directly, and no longer through diplomats…” – Wilhelm Reich, Listen, Little Man!

    Alas…living in this nation involves pressing and uncomfortable questions about justice and opportunity for its least powerful citizens…

    “The budget crises of recent years were greeted not as tragedy, but as opportunity—a chance to advance long-held agendas and to lock in new restrictions on public services and workers’ rights,” says Gordon Lafer at the Economic Policy Institute. “The corporate lobbies’ legislative agenda has been to reduce UI benefits by multiple measures to undercut the bargaining power of potential employees and force more people to take lower-wage and less-desirable jobs.”

    Lafer’s report “provides a broad overview of the attack on wages, labor standards, and workplace protections as it has been advanced in state legislatures across the country. Specifically, the report seeks to illuminate the agenda to undermine wages and labor standards being advanced for non-union Americans in order to understand how this fits with the far better-publicized assaults on the rights of unionized employees. By documenting the similarities in how analogous bills have been advanced in multiple states, the report establishes the extent to which legislation emanates not from state officials responding to local economic conditions, but from an economic and policy agenda fueled by national corporate lobbies that aim to lower wages and labor standards across the country.”

    “What you don’t want is always going to be with you. What you want is never going to be with you. Where you don’t want to go, you have to go. And the moment you think you’re going to live more, you’re going to die” – Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity

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