2:00PM Water Cooler 8/18/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.



“Top officials at the Clinton Foundation believe the organization was hacked — causing concern that the data breach will show Hillary Clinton and State Department staff giving preferential treatment to top donors” [New York Post]. “But the foundation has hired the security firm FireEye to examine its data systems after seeing indications they might have been hacked, sources told Reuters.”

“Trump on the Clinton Foundation: ‘Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt'” [Washington Examiner]. Head fake? Random noises?

UPDATE “Donald Trump Gave Cash To Chris Christie Group Before And After New Jersey Casino Settlement” [David Sirota, International Business Times]. Clinton supporters rush to Christie’s defense: “Yeah, but was it a quid pro quo?”

UPDATE “Newly released documents, obtained by the conservative watchdog group Citizens United and provided to CNN, show the State Department was interested in purchasing land for a new US consulate in a development called Eko Atlantic on the coast of Lagos in 2013, in a story first reported on by Fox News. The development is managed by Ronald Chagoury and funded by an umbrella company owned by him and his brother Gilbert Chagoury” [CNN]. “Gilbert Chagoury has donated over $1 million to the Clinton Foundation, according to the foundation’s website, which also notes that The Chagoury Group — run by the brothers — pledged to commit $1 billion to fight coastal erosion through the Eko Atlantic development as part of a Clinton Foundation initiative on climate change. Eko Atlantic is built on reclaimed land protected by a sea wall.” The State Department did not buy the land (no quid pro quo) but the influence peddling (public office for private gain) is clear.


“[A] Hillary Clinton presidency will want to take the country’s foreign policy [will not only be] ‘bipartisan.’ It’s the point of convergence between liberal interventionism (as represented by Flournoy, Campbell, Rubin, and Steinberg) and neoconservatism (as represented by Kagan and Edelman). Fontaine, Zoellick, and Hadley tend toward the more realist side of what remains of Republican foreign-policy thinking” [Lobelog].

UPDATE “Yes, Clinton Is a Hawk, and It’s Silly to Deny It” [The American Conservative].

It’s not credible to say that there isn’t much evidence for Clinton’s hawkishness. In almost every case for the last twenty years, Clinton has reliably sided with those favoring more rather than less aggressive measures in response to foreign conflicts and crises. She did this during her husband’s administration (“I urged him to bomb” [Kosovo]), she did it as a senator with her Iraq war authorization vote, and she did it as Secretary of State (see Libya, Syria, etc.). Unlike many presidential nominees, Clinton has not shied away from her hawkish record as a candidate. During the primaries, she touted the Libyan war as “smart power at its best” and as I mentioned earlier this week she has made no secret of her support for “no-fly” and “safe” zones in Syria that would entail a significant increase in the U.S. military role in that country.

There’s that word “smart.” Watch for it, because it’s a bullshit tell (although highly appealing to the credentialed)).

“Why Did Clinton Just Tap a Pro-TPP, Pro-KXL, Pro-Fracking Politician to Head Her Transition Team?” [Democracy Now]. Because those are the policies Clinton believes in? And that the Republican voters she’s seeking support? And because every day is kick the left day in HillaryLand?

Our Famously Free Press

“For Conservative Press, The Post-Trump Reckoning Can’t Come Soon Enough” [HuffPo]. Where are the responsible conservatives? Like George Bush?

UPDATE “The Most Venomous Comments on Trump’s New Campaign Chief Are Coming From the Right” [New York Magazine]. Now that Breitbart, for the Republicans, has merged with the Trump campaign, as WaPo, the Times, and most of the political class have merged with the Clinton campaign.

The Voters

“Today marked my 250K mile driven in last three years, around the US, visiting places few visit.” [Chris Arnade]. Must read.

“Americans’ optimism rose sharply during Obama’s first months in office, with the passage of a major economic stimulus package and push for an ambitious agenda on health care, energy and education. The share saying the country was headed in the ‘right direction’ jumped from 19 percent in January 2009 to 42 percent in March and again to 50 percent in April, the highest level since 2003. Optimism fell steadily over the next year of political battles, culminating in the passage of the Affordable Care Act, and by the end of 2010 only 31 percent said the country was headed in the right direction” [WaPo]. One word: Squandered. Or two others: Cashed in.

“The Black Political Establishment Should Never Have Given Hillary Clinton a Blank Check” [Portside]. A little late, now…


“Robert Caro Draws Parallels With 1964 Election in Hamptons Chats” [Bloomberg]. Be careful what you wish for. LBJ’s landslide against Goldware was followed by Vietnam, and LBJ was a one-term President. Nixon’s landslide against McGovern was followed by his impeachment. Caro says: “I believe Hillary Clinton will have an agenda for social justice, and if she has huge majorities, we may see huge advances.” But in what direction?

“Why it’s smart politics for GOP leaders to cut Trump loose” [Matt Bai, Yahoo News]. “What Republicans should have learned from the tea party uprising is that you don’t really appease or absorb these kinds of rebellions. Their guiding principle is to upend party establishments, which is why John Boehner is home in Ohio now, despite having twisted himself like a yogi to avoid alienating the party’s angriest new voices.”

On Clinton’s “triangulation”: “There is, in other words, a distinct history of Clintonian coalition-building with right-wing Republicans, undertaken at the risk of normalizing their politics and at the expense of other Democratic candidates, simply to win the presidency. Yet twenty years later, there’s reason to believe that we still aren’t weighing central strategic tradeoff with any rigor, and that we’re still bewitched by the language of Morris-style tactical wonkery” [Carl Beijer]. “The outcome was predictable: Clinton’s collaboration with Lott and Gingrich helped him to defeat Dole, but it also helped the House and Senate protect the massive gains they had made in 1994, and prepared the rhetorical ground for George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservative” 2000 campaign.”

UPDATE Stoller on Trump:

Stoller is, as ever, acute. And yet, Trump went through the Republican party apparatus like the Wehrmacht went through the French Army in 1939, and made every mainstream candidate, along with the RNC, look like General Maurice Gamelin. Very strange.

Clinton Email Hairball

UPDATE “The FBI, citing a desire for transparency, on Tuesday gave Republican congressional leaders a package of documents summarizing its investigation of Clinton’s use of private email servers. The release of information by the FBI related to a closed investigation is highly unusual” [USA Today]. And then there are the perjury charges, also covered in the story….

Stats Watch

Jobless Claims, week of August 13, 2016: “Claims are low and point unmistakably to strength in the labor market” [Econoday] “Continuing claims are likewise only slightly above the month-ago trend.”

Leading Indicators, July 2016: “Solid and hints at a second-half lift for the economy that many expect” [Econoday]. “A bounce back in the factory workweek led a 0.4 percent gain for July’s index of leading economic indicators. Stock prices and low interest rates were also strong positives in the month, two factors that are likely to be strengths for the August index as well. Unemployment claims were also a positive in July but have been since been edging higher while consumer expectations, the only negative in July, are not likely to show much life in August either based on this month’s early indications.” And: “LEI as an Economic Monitoring Tool” (see the charts) [Econintersect].

Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey, August 2016: ” Once again the Philly Fed’s headline tells an entirely different story than the details. At plus 2.0, the headline may be a bit flat but that’s far better than orders or employment which are in deep contraction” [Econoday]. “The headline for this report is not a composite but maybe it should be. If it were, it would be deeply negative.” And: “The Philly Fed Business Outlook Survey climbed into expansion. Key elements significantly DECLINED and returned to contraction. The only other manufacturing survey released so far for this month was in contraction” [Econintersect]. “This is a very noisy index which readers should be reminded is sentiment based. The Philly Fed historically is one of the more negative of all the Fed manufacturing surveys but has been more positive then the others recently.”

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of August 4, 2016: “[S]olid, confirming mostly positive attitudes in other consumer confident measures” [Econoday].

Retail: “Police reports from dozens of stores suggest the number of petty crimes committed on Walmart properties nationwide this year will be in the hundreds of thousands. But people dashing out the door with merchandise is the least troubling part of Walmart’s crime problem. More than 200 violent crimes, including attempted kidnappings and multiple stabbings, shootings, and murders, have occurred at the nation’s 4,500 Walmarts this year, or about one a day, according to an analysis of media reports. Sometimes they’re spectacular enough to get national attention. In June, a SWAT team killed a hostage taker at a Walmart in Amarillo, Texas. In July, three Walmart employees in Florida were charged with manslaughter after a shoplifter they chased and pinned down died of asphyxia. Other crimes are just bizarre. On Aug. 8, police discovered a meth lab inside a 6-foot-high drainage pipe under a Walmart parking lot in Amherst, N.Y.” [Bloomberg].

The Bezzle: “In big cities across the US, glass skyscrapers and sprawling spec homes that broke ground to fanfare just years ago are now standing with empty units left to sell. Some have said there has been a slower [??] influx of foreign capital thanks to economic instability abroad. Meanwhile, stricter regulations on all-cash, anonymous real-estate purchases — a favorite of foreign investors — have been introduced, potentially throwing some cold water on the luxury real estate boom of recent years” [Business Insider]. So there are tsotchkes: “Though the penthouse is currently listed for $85 million, that price tag includes a number of extras, including two Rolls-Royce Phantoms and a $1 million yacht.” I was thinking of filing this under Guillotine Watch..

The Bezzle: “Uber’s First Self-Driving Fleet Arrives in Pittsburgh This Month” [Bloomberg]. “The goal: to replace Uber’s more than 1 million human drivers with robot drivers—as quickly as possible.” Who insures the cars, and how do they assess the risks? And liabilities?

The Bezzle: “Funding into the [fintech] sector fell 49% globally in the second quarter of 2016 from the first quarter of the year, according to a new report from research firm CBInsights and KPMG. Global funding—from venture capital firms and corporates—fell 51% compared to the second quarter of 2015” [Quartz].

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 77 Extreme Greed (previous close: 76, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 78 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 18 at 12:47pm. Ho hum.

Police State Watch

“Every year, tens of thousands of fugitives and suspects — many of whom have not been convicted of a crime — are entrusted to a handful of small private companies that specialize in state and local extraditions” [The Marshall Project]. “A Marshall Project review of thousands of court documents, federal records and local news articles and interviews with more than 50 current or former guards and executives reveals a pattern of prisoner abuse and neglect in an industry that operates with almost no oversight.”

“More than 4,300 federal inmates were kept in prison beyond their scheduled release dates from 2009 to 2014 — some of them for an extra year or more, according to a report released on Tuesday that highlighted wide confusion in the prison system” [New York Times].

“St. Louis area police department has no insurance, no registration and no apologies” [FOX 2].

Our Famously Free Press

“NPR is killing off comments. That’s great news!” [Chris Cillizza, WaPo]. “Numbers like that make clear that comments sections aren’t fostering conversation, they are killing it. A very small group of people are dominating every conversation, making it more difficult for someone who may be, say, an expert on a particular topic to offer their opinion for fear of being berated for trying to break into the club.”

Health Care

“The AEI report represents one promising alternative: every individual would receive a refundable tax credit, rising with age, to buy a basic plan. Insurers would be largely free to design a plan to fit that price point. This would stabilize the market by realigning premiums with risk. Some people with pre-existing conditions would need additional subsidies. For some individuals, the credit may only be enough for catastrophic coverage. But that, they note, is what insurance is supposed to do: “The insistence that only ‘comprehensive’ insurance coverage is really insurance…encourages a great deal of economic irrationality” [Greg Ip, Wall Street Journal, “The Unstable Economics in Obama’s Health Law”]. Oh, great. A certain bill now. An uncertain tax credit later. Swell. Ip also writes: “Barack Obama’s signature health-care law is struggling for one overriding reason: Selling mispriced insurance is a precarious business model.” No. ObamaCare is struggling because delivering health care through the private insurance system is a very profitable form of rental extraction that turns out to kill a lot of people and create immense human suffering.

“Health care has become so expensive in the United States that a growing number of Americans (and their employers) are finding it more cost efficient to fly across the globe for certain medical procedures” [Business Insider]. The arbitrage between dental care here and dental care in Thailand paid for my ticket. And I didn’t end up writing and screaming in the chair, either.

Imperial Collapse Watch

I’ll just drop this (via RS) here. Chuck Yeager on the F35:

“NSA website goes down as hackers auction stolen ‘cyber weapons'” [We Live Security]. Note “as” in the headline. That said: “[W]e don’t know if the NSA website’s downtime is related to the antics of the Shadow Brokers’ gang, an entirely separate DDoS attack or something more down to earth. But it certainly is a startling coincidence that the website should be proving to be so temperamental at a time like this.”


“Bottles, bags, ropes and toothbrushes: the struggle to track ocean plastics” [Nature]. “Bottles, fishing nets, ropes, shoes and toothbrushes are among the tons of waste washed up [at Kamilo beach, on the tip of Hawaii’s Big Island], thanks to a combination of ocean currents and local eddies. A study in 2011 reported that the top sand layer could be up to 30% plastic by weight1. It has been called the dirtiest beach in the world, and is a startling and visible demonstration of how much plastic detritus humanity has dumped into the world’s oceans.”

Class Warfare

“In a near-cashless world vulnerable groups, such as the poor, the elderly and migrants, could become further marginalised, and those who are especially cash-dependent for income, such as churches, charities and the homeless, could expect to see a drop in their incomes. But changes can be made gradually and intelligently, for example by paying benefits on prepaid debit cards and supplying charities with contactless card machines. The switch could in fact increase financial inclusion, by ensuring that the unbanked become banked” [The Economist]. “Intelligently.” I think that’s Brit for “smart.” Whenever you hear the word “smart,” especially in tech, look out.

“Using deceptive ad slogans like ‘Obama’s New Forgiveness Program’ and ‘We Work for the Department of Education,’ private companies are charging student-loan borrowers for services that falsely claim to provide debt relief, forgiveness, and consolidation. The pervasiveness of these so-called debt-relief companies is a growing problem for millions of borrowers—a problem that gets far too little attention” [The Nation].

“Trust” [Our World in Data]. Contains this handy chart:


“A kind of natural selection is at work here: only smaller, decentralized leftist movements can survive, because capitalism inevitably co-opts and destroys the larger ones. Black Lives Matter, for example, has long been a movement at war with neoliberal attempts to hijack it, and both Occupy Wall Street and Fight For $15 have had their share of problems too” [Carl Beijer]. “Inevitably, it will become clear that even our liberal activism is just another racket that gets exploited for the profit and power of the bourgeoisie. It is when people begin to truly feel their powerlessness within liberalism, when they feel that their political agency has been absolutely commodified, that capitalism will run out of exploitable activism. What will take its place is the one kind of activism that capitalism can by definition not exploit: resistance to capitalism itself. ”

And then there’s this:

I wonder if offering blood as a perk would move any of that pricey New York real estate?

News of the Wired

“Will the Public Internet Survive?” [The Nation]. ” Just as air travel today is a commingling of class and geopolitics that determines how free one really is to travel through various parts of the world, so too is the Internet a complex system of geopolitical and economic interests, with America currently the dominant power in a new global struggle for control.”

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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 (AM):


AM writes: “Last one from my mother in law’s Rehoboth, MA garden. Lovely flowers, grass and other plants. I’m lucky to have an avid gardener as a mother in law!!!”

Also, think levels. Canopies, mini-canopies. I am very fortunate to have attracted birds to my sunflower patch this year!

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Readers, I know it’s the dead days of August, but if you can, please use the dropdown to choose your contribution, and then click the hat! Your tip will be welcome today, and indeed any day. Water Cooler will not exist without your continued help.


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About Lambert Strether

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


    1. Vatch

      Even Ajamu Baraka clarifying his statement calling Barack Obama an “Uncle Tom” and then mentioning the need for internal discussion on the left – most people in the United States don’t have a concept of ideology or that like-minded activists can have a broader conversation about tactics and platform. Now, they might.

      I won’t have a chance to view the video until later. We know that Obama deserves severe criticism. Did Baraka clarify any of the things that he said about Sanders? Thanks.

      1. Unorthodoxmarxist

        Yes. Chris Cuomo asked him directly about that, and he had a very detailed response. To boil it down: Sanders’ foreign policy didn’t break with Dem party orthodoxy, and that foreign policy kills poor people all over the world and works to oppress them. In that sense the Sanders campaign offered nothing new on FP and would have continued white oppression of other countries. He mentioned the comments by Sanders about how Saudi Arabia would have to “get its hands a little dirty” and said they are already bloody.

        I think once you watch you will better understand Baraka’s POV.

        1. perpetualWAR

          How about Obama’s admin transferring more generational black wealth to the 1% more than any other time in US history? I think that counts as an Uncle Tom, esp considering that Obama golfs with the recipients of that black wealth transfer.

        2. Vatch

          The transcript of the Town Hall meeting is now available on the CNN web site, so one doesn’t have to sit through the whole 80 minutes, unless a person is a slow reader :-)


          This is relevant to Sanders supporters (at around the 21:30:00 mark):

          CUOMO: Now, Mr. Baraka the polls show about seven in 10 Sanders supporters say they’re going to go with Hillary Clinton, but they’re vary degrees of strength, so they’re going to do their research. They’re going to see that on party platforms, the Green Party does lined up with a lot of the things that Senator Sanders was fighting for. But when they do their research, I want to give you an opportunity to clear up some of the things you’ve said about Senator Sanders, because not all of it was flattering.

          The main idea you had was that Bernie Sanders should be seen as an ideological prop, and that there was an idea of nativism to his campaign. An idea of complementing white supremacy to his campaign, what did you mean by those statements from when the Sanders supporters come look in your way?

          BARAKA: What we had to do was to raise some issues that seem to be as one point very troubling.

          You know, Chris, I wanted to feel the burn [Bern]. I really did. And so as Dr. Stein said, I saw from the very beginning, the real possibility for this campaign to really expand the scope of conversation here in this country, to introduce to the American people a term like Democratic socialism. To really tap into this desire that people had for real change. But I was troubled by some other tendencies. And that is that we can’t build a progressive or revolutionary process by just looking at the United States of America. That, you know, you can’t disconnect U.S. foreign policy from domestic policy. And so, I was concerned by some of the comments around, you know, allowing the Saudis to get their hands dirty. You know, because many of us who follow geopolitical events understand that not only were the Saudis’ hands dirty, they were dripping with blood.

          And so my point was that Bernie needed to understand that the America people were ready for a real progressive candidate. You don’t have to play into the hands of the Democrats. You don’t have to embrace Barack Obama’s drone program. You don’t have to suggest that, you know, be silent about other foreign policy issues. So I wanted to see a real comprehensive, progressive campaign and the people were ready for this …

          CUOMO: So why did you say that instead of hitting him over the head with being a tool of white supremacy’s difficult contradictions of reinforces, race synthetism? Why did you have to hit them over the head with that, Senator Sanders if you want to feel the burn? That’s not trying to feel the burn.

          BARAKA: Yeah. Yeah. Because I want him to deal — I want his supporters to deal with those contradictions like Dr. Stein I said, this wasn’t about the man. It was about the movement. We’ve got to disconnect personalities from movement building. You know, and we’ve got to — we see contradictions. We have to engage in those conversations with our friends. This was a conversation among those of us on the left, progressive people.

          It’s my feeling that while saying all of this, that Baraka should also have taken a few seconds to say “Bernie Sanders is not a nativist or a white supremacist, and I’m sorry that my disagreements with him over some important policy issues have been misinterpreted as accusations of nativism or white supremacy.” Would it have been so hard to say that, in addition to what he did say?

          1. Lambert Strether

            Adding, I kept Googling for known bits of the transcript, as cited in WaPo, for example, and not coming up with anything. Very unfortunate! So thanks again for this link.

  1. Roger Smith

    The Bezzle: “Uber’s First Self-Driving Fleet Arrives in Pittsburgh This Month” [Bloomberg].

    But but… was Uber not the hip and innovative way to subsidize income for our glorious service based economy?

    Oh right, just more people trying to make $$$ Ka-Ching!

    1. Ed S.


      I’ve seen two (I think remarkable) Uber related “things” lately (from the heart of Uber-land aka Silicon Valley):

      1) a LARGE billboard on US 101 South (the main artery between SF and San Jose) for Uber showing a nicely groomed 40 something guy with the slogan “A little drive goes a long way”. Call it what you will — it’s an advertisement for drivers.

      2) A Jiffy Lube I drive by daily has a table set up in front with an Uber banner across the front and 2 young-ish guys sitting there (doing what – I don’t know – again — looking to sign people up?).

      Could be that part of the rush for the self driving fleet is difficulty in recruiting drivers now that the shine is gone.

      1. Arizona Slim

        I’ve seen TV recruiting ads for Uber drivers.

        And here in Tucson, the local Uber signup place is at a brake shop.

        1. Skip Intro

          Makes sense. I think a link here showed that Uber had an unsustainable driver burn rate. They may eventually have to pay drivers close to what their time and cars are worth, which would disrupt their business model!

    2. curlydan

      I could see code as law here. Let’s say Uber programs the cars to drive in a certain way and check for a certain number of criteria every 0.2 seconds or so. Also, all the cars have video on them.

      So if anyone does something wrong, Uber claims no liability and says it’s always someone else’s error because the car “checked for that”. A pedestrian jaywalks or ignores a vehicle turning right on red, hey, it’s the pedestrian’s fault.

      Basically, a lot of people are going to get maimed or killed, and Uber will lawyer up and try to get away with it all.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Like the nuclear power racket — get the public to pre-agree to pay all the externalities and “insure’ the rest of the public against the loss occasioned by a failure of another idiot complexity..=

      2. cwaltz

        I ‘m not convinced that even if you have a “self driving” car that you are going to be allowed to have a driverless car. I’ve been under the impression that someone will always be required to man the wheel in case of malfunction.

        ( so not sure how they think they are “replacing” anyone )

        It’ll be used as a reason to lower pay further(you are just basically sitting behind the wheel and that will be sold as “not a skill set” )

        I’m gonna bet they’d offer someone a “car” in return for becoming a self driving car driver. It’ll be the coal mining company store model.

        1. Tim

          Driverless cars with no steering wheels, redundant sensors and sensor monitors that will pull the car over to the side of the road if a sensor fails is the final future. And there will be no in-between without some hard lessons learned.

          Psychologists know that a human behind the wheel doing nothing for more than a couple minutes will not be able to react to something going wrong. X10 in this age of distraction with smart phones

          1. Jeff

            My car did this once to me. In the middle of a drive to see some friends, 300 miles from home, it just shut down, and the board computer saying ‘mechanic needed’. That required assistance, two cab rides, one rental car, and 800 extra miles to get everything back to normal.
            It’s all I needed to buy another car without a board computer that makes decisions in my place – the sensor that failed was the one measuring whether fuel was running, so not even something fatal/essential.

    3. ProNewerDeal

      What is the status of current human-driver-based Uber, with respect to car accidents?

      If I understand correctly, most Uber contractor/drivers do not “upgrade” their auto insurance beyond the standard personal/noncommercial auto insurance the majority of US drivers have. In contrast, “traditional” taxi drivers are regulated to have a specific taxi driver type commercial auto insurance.

      By now, I’d guesstimate there must’ve been at least 100+ auto accidents with the personal auto insurance having Uber driver. Does the insurance vendor refuse to pay any claim?

      This Uber status quo seems unsustainable. I wonder if this could be a BigBusiness fight between Uber & auto insurers, both in terms of lobbying the Legislature, & in terms of paying lawyers to handle judicial court cases.

      Meanwhile, it seems that the Uber customer/passenger & contractor/driver are at big risk should they suffer health injuries in an auto accident. Am I perceiving this situation correctly? The lawyer they can personally afford cannot credibly fight the Lawyer Army that Uber & auto insurers have.

      1. habenicht

        You are right that this is relatively new territory as insurance goes. Some insurers have policies to explicitly cover for this gap. However in the few times I have been in an uber vehicle (I don’t personally have an account, but ride with colleagues who do), I have made a point of asking the driver about their coverage.

        In my informal data set (n less than 10), everyone of the drivers I’ve ridden with was relying on their personal auto coverage. This is worrying since the Uber drivers personal auto insurer would likely deny coverage if there was an accident while the driver was conveying us. Sometimes the driver makes mention of an Uber policy, but I don’t think this means what they think it means. (although this is speculation on my part)

        Consider this another advance in crapification.

        Personally, I don’t think this insurance issue gets addressed seriously until there are headline kinds of accidents involving Uber drivers and uninsured passengers with catastrophic damages.

        1. John Zelnicker

          Carrying fare-paying passengers will void a personal auto policy. Most companies will refuse to cover any type of accident claim in this situation. A few might cover physical damage, but none are going to cover any liability from an accident nor will they cover medical claims for the passenger.

      2. crittermom

        My insurance agent told me years ago that if I even put a magnetic sign on my vehicle advertising my photography, I would need to have commercial insurance or any claims would be denied.

        I can see where even one major (publicized) accident involving an Uber driver and their insurance not paying would cause Uber drivers to quit in droves or passengers to quit using them once they realized they’re uninsured while riding with them.

        It seems too many ‘great ideas’ are implemented without further thought about consequences.

        ‘The obscure we see eventually. The obvious takes a little longer’.

  2. dcblogger

    ObamaCare is struggling because delivering health care through the private insurance system is a very profitable form of rental extraction that turns out to kill a lot of people and create immense human suffering.
    so good, it had to be repeated.

    1. nippersmom

      Yet there are those who will persist in believing the ACA is/was ever about providing health care and not about increasing the profit pool for insurance companies.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Keep the faith on single payer, it’s not just some “impossible dream” and maybe the cluster of ACA will re-open the possibilities.
        I live in a single-payer country (Australia) and here’s what health care is like:
        5PM my head cold finally tips over into a full-blown sinus infection so I decide I need to see a doctor, I call a local clinic and get an appointment for 8:30 the next morning.
        I ride the clean and excellent public transport to get there ($1.75). When I arrive, since I’m a new patient I get a one-page form to complete. The doctor sees me 5 minutes later, does an overall scan (blood pressure etc) and asks questions, examines my ears, nose, throat. He prescribes an anti-biotic, total charge is $50, I pay by credit card and give the receptionist my Medicare card, she processes my reimbursement of $50 which hits my bank account the following day. At the pharmacy they ask if I want a generic drug, I say yes, a one-week course costs $12.50 (partly reimbursable).
        Train home is free since I’m within the 1 1/2 hour transfer window.

        1. Tom Bradford

          Or as in New Zealand, when my wife’s hair begins falling out in clumps she not only receives numerous free consultations with her GP and specialists to uncover and treat the cause, she gets a grant from the health authorities to purchase wigs to help ease the nervous trauma of appearing in public in her motheaten state,

          While I, noticing I am not hearing as well as I used to, get a free hearing check and discover that I am entitled to a grant that would cover the cost of a basic hearing aid or aids, and go a long way towards meeting the cost of upmarket, digital and programmable aids I had no idea even existed.

  3. Peter Pan

    “NSA website goes down as hackers auction stolen ‘cyber weapons’”

    I wonder if this has any relationship to the RT News website coming under a DDoS attack for the past two weeks ?

  4. Vatch

    I followed the Peter Thiel young person’s blood Twitter link, and there were references to both Elizabeth Bathory and Baron Harkonnen! A two-fer!

    1. Daryl

      “You are so beautiful, my Baron. Your skin — love to me. Your diseases — lovingly cared for for all eternity!” – Peter Thiel’s doctor, while preparing a fresh injection of blood from healthy young inmates who adhere to strict fitness and diet regimens (in exchange, of course, for reasonable compensation deposited in their commissary accounts…)

    2. ProNewerDeal

      What is the medical experts’ opinion on this issue of someone like Thiel injecting “youngblood”? Is this another example of anti-scientific quackery?

      1. Vatch

        I have no idea. I suspect many benefits could be realized simply by eating nutritious foods and doing a reasonable amount of exercise. Broccoli, blueberries, pomegranates, cauliflower, various kinds of beans, tomatoes, parsley, raspberries (plus vitamin B-12) are great.

  5. abynormal

    HolyShit, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/08/18/justice-department-says-it-will-end-use-of-private-prisonsThe Justice Department plans to end its use of private prisons after officials concluded the facilities are both less safe and less effective at providing correctional services than those run by the government.
    Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced the decision on Thursday in a memo that instructs officials to either decline to renew the contracts for private prison operators when they expire or “substantially reduce” the contracts’ scope. The goal, Yates wrote, is “reducing — and ultimately ending — our use of privately operated prisons.”
    “They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and as noted in a recent report by the Department’s Office of Inspector General, they do not maintain the same level of safety and security,” Yates wrote.
    In her memo, Yates wrote that the Bureau of Prisons began contracting with privately run institutions about a decade ago in the wake of exploding prison populations, and by 2013, as the federal prison population reached its peak, nearly 30,000 inmates were housed in privately operated facilities. But in 2013, Yates wrote, the prison population began to decline because of efforts to adjust sentencing guidelines, sometimes retroactively, and to change the way low-level drug offenders are charged. She said the drop in federal inmates gave officials the opportunity to re-evaluate the use of private prisons.

    Yates also wrote that private prisons “served an important role during a difficult time period,” but they had proven less effective than facilities run by the government. The contract prisons are operated by three private corporations (ALL CRASHING), according to the Inspector General’s report: Corrections Corporation of America, GEO Group and Management and Training Corporation. The bureau of prisons spent $639 million on private prisons in fiscal year 2014, according to the report.
    Yates said it was “really hard to determine whether private prisons are less expensive” and whether their closure would cause costs to go up, though she said officials did not anticipate having to hire additional Bureau of Prisons staff. “Bottom line, I’d also say, you get what you pay for,” Yates said.”

    1. abynormal

      does this mean Jamie goes too?? “JPMorgan’s no-bid deal to issue debit cards for various federal agencies began in 1998, was extended in 2008 and eventually expanded to include cards for federal prisons. Fees from inmates make up most of the bank’s compensation for these cards, documents show. A separate Treasury document from 2013 said that about 50,000 released prisoners had been issued cards and listed fees of $2 for withdrawing money from an ATM and $1.50 for leaving an account inactive for three months.” 1 of 2pt series http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/10/02/megabanks-have-the-federal-prison-system-locked-up.html

      1. Pat

        I don’t know what happened to derail the plan somewhat in NY, but even earlier than 2008 the state contracted with Chase to provide the same type of cards for unemployment benefits, no choices offered. I guess too many people who could read actually read the information attached to the announcement and pointed out that the fees were, well predatory, especially since this was a service that the citizens had not requested and were not really benefiting from, particularly those on unemployment. They still issue these debit cards if you are unemployment, but anyone who has a bank account is better off arranging direct deposit of the funds when they claim unemployment if they can, an option that was hastily added.
        I’d prefer if it was still check or direct deposit, but at least it is not entirely compulsory.

    2. ekstase

      This is good news.

      Also in the Wapo today, “the stocks of CCA and GEO — two of the largest private prison companies in the U.S. — are crashing on the Justice Department’s news.” Perhaps not the most moral way to make your money. God works in mysterious ways.

        1. different clue

          But if you did that, you would have a vested interest in their business revival. As long as you don’t buy their stock no matter how deep the dip, you are still in a position to take pleasure in their extermination from existence and their enwipement from the face of the earth.

          1. tegnost

            “Huh?….”tegnost looks up from bottom of hole he’s digging in order to set the bar lower…
            ok maybe it’s me…

        1. JacobiteInTraining

          Ah, but eventually even slave labor realizes they can sabotage the Evil Machine – much as slave laborers in Nazi work camps did:


          Of course, no prosecution other then a fine and wrist-slap action from the Feds:

          “…Criminal prosecution resulting from these investigations was declined, and the DOJ Civil Division, Commercial Litigation Section and the Eastern District of Texas, United States Attorney’s Office entered into a civil settlement agreement with ArmorSource in which ArmorSource agreed to pay $3 million, based on its demonstrated ability to pay, to resolve potential claims against it under the False Claims Act, according to the report…”

    3. Romancing The Loan

      Decline to renew, eh? I wonder if any of the contracts are set to expire before the changeover in administrations. The big $ is in immigration detention centers anyway.

      1. abynormal

        i’m a little concerned about those super max’s…they’re all software, digital, skerrie technical stuff. we’ll hear about it after Amnesty splashes it everywhere…US PRISONERS LOCKED AWAY NO FOOD/WATER NO WAY OUT :/

        you dipper you, too funneeee

  6. Carolinian

    A very small group of people are dominating every conversation

    Indeed. One of them is named Chris Cillizza. Didn’t NYC once have, like, a dozen newspapers?

    1. NYPaul

      That’s correct. And, they had actual reporters working for them.

      But, that was before 1980 when Gordon Gekko was elected and a new sweeping law was enacted: It was quite complicated but it became euphemistically known as the, “everything’s a profit center now,” law. So, newspapers often reported real news, sometimes even at a loss to their bottom line. You see, back in those long, long ago days some billionaires were content with owning only 98% of the country’s wealth. That left a percent, or so, for genuine, benevolent, philanthropy. It made them feel really swell, and, whether by mistake, or by true earnest dictate, we plebes got to read some of what was really happening.

  7. Jim Haygood

    Here’s an astonishing dose of elitism from The Federalist:

    Working- and middle-class white American communities are in the throes of a moral and cultural crisis—a breakdown of the family and social institutions that has given rise to drug addiction, welfare dependency, and simmering resentment.

    Yes, we could have better trade and immigration policies. But that won’t bring back regions of the country afflicted by heroin and broken homes and idle men who refuse to work or move for a job.

    it’s not just government welfare [but also] the “private safety net,” in which unemployed men rely on a girlfriend or family members, often people who are themselves living on government assistance, for support.


    Ha ha, yeah, that’s always been a sound plan — spongeing off a girlfriend. That’s why you constantly see personal ads like this one:

    “Looking for girlfriend with well-stocked fridge. Send photo of fridge.”

    1. Roger Smith

      Sigh…. I don’t know whether to laugh, cry, or to take another bump. Who wants to play Call of Duty?

    2. Carolinian

      This is the reverse double whammy where Reagan’s welfare Cadillacs are now driven by don’t want a job white trashers. It’s blame the victim, that evergreen chant of old time Republican reactionaries and Hillary identity politics meritocrats.

      1. Romancing the Loan

        I wonder if (hope) they’re overplaying their hand. Those white working class conservatives just might figure out these tropes are bullshit once they’re used against them, and playing working class racial groups off against eachother has been a large part of what’s sustained the two party system for fifty years.

    3. jrs

      No words for how disgusting and self-contradicting that essay was, I expected just standard conservative boilerplate but it’s much worse, that guy is not just wrong, but completely incoherent.

      “Their communities are in the throes of a moral and cultural crisis—a breakdown of the family and social institutions that has given rise to drug addiction, welfare dependency, and simmering resentment. ”

      A breakdown of family and social institutions says the exact SAME writer who is telling people a few paragraphs earlier to move to wherever the jobs are and that their main problem is they aren’t moving all over the country for jobs. Listen brainiac: how do you expect family and social institutions to persevere if everyone is always moving to chase more dough? The very advice you champion is one of the causes the breakdown you lament.

      “”They need to persuade Trump supporters that they don’t need a border wall or a disability check to “Make America Great Again.” If they want to do that, they need to start by making their own towns and neighborhoods and families great again.”

      The same towns and neighborhoods you just told them to move away from?

    4. MtnLife

      Gotta love them understanding that they are broke and unemployed yet somehow fail to see the connection between that and them being unable (“refuse” in their words) to move due to lack of funds. Or maybe they just think broke is like Romney’s “we had to sell some stock we were so broke”.

      1. Elizabeth

        Or maybe it’s like when the Clintons were “dead broke” after they left the White House.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Plus, the author has a notion that all these good jobs are out there, if the lazy bums would just move elsewhere to take them.

        Unfortunately, he failed to list the cities where these unclaimed opportunities await. Maybe they’re by invitation only. You have to knock on an unmarked door in San Francisco, say the password, and they usher you in.

        Then you find out it’s a B&D dungeon, and you’re on night shift. ;-)

        1. Paid Minion

          I know guys making six figures who are commuting by airline from flyover to LA or the Bay area. Mainly because nobody in flyover can sell their home and make enough to pay for a home in California.

          If you don’t count all of your personal/family time lost in transit, it sorta works for pilots making six figures plus. Doesn’t work at all for the run of the mill wretched refuse.

          And yeah, I’d sure like to know “Where are these “good jobs” of which you speak, Kemo Sabe……”

    5. fresno dan

      Jim Haygood
      August 18, 2016 at 2:49 pm

      I read that article earlier today. I agree with Carolinian at 3:34pm as to the crux of the article – i.e., “poverty is due to a lack of character.” Funny how people with money have sooooo much character, and those who don’t don’t have any money don’t have character (maybe its really the opposite???). Is this author related to that guy who wrote the National Review article about poor whites all being meth addicts??? These authros seem unable to acknowledge that poverty can ever have deleterious affects – nothing but bootstraps as far as the eye can see….

      There was a great movie called the “Overnighters” that showed the desperation of people who have to move for a job, and how unlikely that is to lead to a stable, long term employment.

      1. jonboinAR

        Yeah, I run into a lot of people who move/are moving while seeking work. As an exterminator in a fly-over town that has a couple of plants in it and others nearby, I service a motel whose rooms serve as apartments to quite a few. It’s basically full of 1) men who are sent all over to do contract repair/building/installing, and 2) young families seeking a place and way to survive. Neither group stays long, but the second I find very sad and concerning. And yes, from all I’ve heard, drug use is somewhat prevalent among the temporary-contract laborers. Moving all over the country, even while employed the whole time can’t be terribly emotionally healthy.

    6. TedWa

      They take away hope and condemn us for a lack of inspiration. The height of hypocrisy. In other words –
      The beatings will continue until morale improves….

  8. Fred

    “NPR is killing off comments. That’s great news!” [Chris Cillizza, WaPo]. A very small group of people are dominating every conversation, …. berated for trying to break into the club.”

    NPR wants conformity not conversation.

    1. RabidGandhi

      The other day I saw Putin running off with all the NPR comments stashed under his shady KGB overcoat.

      Just sayin’.

    2. Jagger

      Look, if you were putting out brainwashing propaganda BS for the unwashed masses, would you allow comments pointing out the obvious? I expect the day will come when the NYTimes, Washington Post, etc will eliminate comments.

    3. Bubba_Gump

      The comments are often screaming rebuttals to the bullshit propaganda of the stories. Finding that out was a surprise, since I’d thought previously that all the NPR-heads were at one with the machine.

    4. Mike

      The article’s complaint is an inane tautology: “So many comments are from people who like to comment!”

      And while Yves and Lambert are right to insist on comments that add value, the Post takes things to a ridiculous extreme, suggesting that comments by “experts” are the only ones that need to be heard. Shut up, amateurs and receive their wisdom!

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        The other thing that’s ridiculous is the statement that only a tiny minority of readers comment. I could have told them that 13 years ago at Atrios; the rule was that about 1% of readers comment, and of that 1%, another 1% go on to become posters themselves.

        In other words, the distribution follows a power curve.

  9. Benedict@Large

    The reason they want to go cashless is because negative interest rates don’t work in a cash-full society. The reason they want negative interest rates is because Monetarism breaks down without them. The reason Monetarism breaks down is because the piece of crap was broken from the start. The reason they didn’t care about Monetarism being broken at the start is because they saw the way it was broken was a giant wealth shift to the top.

    When they go cashless, it’s truly time to burn w the whole place down. Which will happen because they’re never going to clear it with the marks. Economists never ask the marks. Which is why they always get everything wrong.

      1. Arizona Slim

        As if this banked up world isn’t banked up enough already. And, yes, I’m alluding to another word that has the letter “K” in it.

    1. fresno dan

      August 18, 2016 at 3:41 pm

      They (economists) really are some of the most remarkable people ever: They didn’t see it coming, they say they don’t know really what caused it, and yet they have a solution to it.
      They make Alice in Wonderland look like a treatise in logic…

    2. habenicht

      Consider the additional implications of a cashless society in the event that the grid goes down (a topic from a post earlier this week).

      Towns could go feral much faster without a few greenbacks laying around to buy that can of tuna…

    3. Vatch

      Ken Rogoff’s latest book is The Curse of Cash, in which he, you guessed it, advocates getting rid of most paper money. I haven’t read it, and I don’t think I will read it. People should be aware that this book is out there, because it is ammunition for the people who want a cashless society.

      I don’t know whether any spreadsheets were used in the research or writing of this book.

  10. RabidGandhi

    Thumbs up on the Arnade twitter rant. He’s worth a follow.

    There was a sort of companion piece in today’s links, Hillbillies of France. A good quote:

    In fact, we understand more the minorities who work with us than poor white people from our own country. It has become easier for many of the French elite to understand a Chinese from Shanghai or someone from the Tunisian upper class than it is to understand poor white people from France. We do have more contact with the upper class from all over the world than we have with the poor people of our own country.
    What I read about Brexit tells the same story and the next presidential election in France is smelling bad. Neither French conservatives nor our liberals really understand what is going on in the country. More and more people from the big cities (where the elite live) are disconnected with poor people (who can’t afford to live in the cities anyway). We just don’t live in the same world. We don’t know, we can’t understand.

    Arnade, by the way is offering paid trips to beltway pundits to get them out of their acela bubble. No takers yet.

    1. Pavel

      The Arnade twitter rant as you call it was by far one of the best and most moving things I read today. Highly recommended. This is the “flyover zone” that Stockman talks about and is very similar to the forgotten regions of the UK that voted for Brexit. For better or worse, Trump would win if all those people went out and voted.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Arnade is great, but that Hillbillies story was good too. I think its very true to say that all over the ‘developed’ world people in the prosperous urban areas congratulate themselves in being nice and interested in the welfare of the immigrant who cleans their office or the international cause du jour, but are genuinely clueless about the more run down parts of their own countries – simply because there is never a need to visit your local version of a Buffalo NY, or wherever. I’ve travelled kind of randomly in France and it does have small cities and towns which look as if they’ve been hit with a neutron bomb. Just everything empty. A french friend tells me that in the prettier places its actually retirees from the UK or northern Europe who keep the villages running. But its this neglect that is feeding the right populism which has the potential to be so dangerous. And of course much of the blame goes to the left, which has either sold out to big business, or has become obsessed with identity politics.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I think Arnade is a lot stronger on systems. The Hillbillies book, from what I’ve seen of it — I haven’t read it — plays a little too strongly on the “Culture of ____” conservative trope for my comfort.

      2. fresno dan

        August 18, 2016 at 5:09 pm

        “….all over the ‘developed’ world people in the prosperous urban areas congratulate themselves in being nice and interested in the welfare of the immigrant …”

        The thing about “nice and interested” is that it is free, and never turns into money for the downtrodden, nor does it ever, EVER reduce the prosperous’s income that is due to the capture of the state…

    3. cyclist

      I wish the Arnade rant was not a Twitter string. Makes my head hurt. Some of the linked articles are good, however.

  11. Carolinian

    Glen Ford, not mincing words.


    As the U.S. and its allies literally competed with each other to flood Syria with the weapons, funds, intelligence resources and diplomatic and media cover to bring down the government in Damascus, they collectively created both the material basis and political space for the jihadists to pursue their own ideological objectives. ISIS emerged, to establish a caliphate of its own in Syria and Iraq. No one should have expected otherwise.[…]

    Extreme imperial chauvinism allows Americans to send to the White House people that should, instead, be sent to the gallows or a firing squad (after a trial, of course). It allows Americans that claim to be on the “left’ side of the spectrum to recoil in horror at Donald Trump (who hasn’t killed anybody that we know of, and who says he will not engage in regime change as president), yet will vote for a woman whose career is soaked in the blood of hundreds of thousands in the Middle East and the northern tier of Africa, and whose husband set in motion a genocide that has killed six million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo.[…]

    What is scarier than Clinton or Trump, is that Americans seem to have no visceral aversion to genocide (of non-white peoples). But, unless you’re a Green or some shade of Red, genocide isn’t even an election issue.

    1. Bob

      I wonder if Trump will pull this report out at the debates, or sooner. I feel certain we won’t read much about it in the WaPo or NYT.

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      How the Syria war started, with a nice anti-Palestinian angle:

      And now the Chinese are backing Assad:

      I’m struggling to think how the entire Obama/Hilary/NeoCon program could possibly get any worse, as Trump says if they had all just gone golfing we would be so much better than where we are now. But when does abject, complete, total, and utter failure get noticed?

      1. cwaltz

        Who here didn’t believe in WW3 that China and Russia will be aligned against us?

        It isn’t like we haven’t spent a long time banging the “China is horrible for currency manipulating” drum and they’d have any reason to believe that after we took care of Russia economically that we wouldn’t be coming after them next. Apparently, China isn’t filled with idiots either. Who knew?

        How dare countries act in their own interests! The outrage! The outrage! *sigh*

      2. tegnost

        “But when does abject, complete, total, and utter failure get noticed?”
        when they’re making their case for an order of magnitude raise in pay?
        …and yes to the golfing, maybe a walk in a forested countryside would calm their inner demons and inspire a bit of the old “live and let live”….

    3. ekstase

      There is no way to bring up the genocide issue in conversations with most people. It must be ignored at all costs, and mentioning it treated like an impropriety, a social faux pas of the highest order. How dare you spoil my dinner. So when are we allowed to bring it up?

    4. fresno dan

      August 18, 2016 at 3:45 pm

      Thanks for that link!!!
      I still can’t give over how the zeitgeist during the course of my life changed from long hair and bellbottoms to all war all the time.

    5. different clue

      It would seem that what Glen Ford is describing could almost be covered in the phrase I will take pardonable pride in having invented: The Global Axis of Jihad.

  12. PlutoniumKun

    Re: The Economist article on the cashless society.

    I was talking today to a Chinese friend who just moved back after a year to Beijing after living in a smaller city for a year. She said she was astonished to see that even street vendors were accepting payment using wechat’s contact payment system through mobiles. She said they see it as more convenient than carrying around cash.

    It did make me wonder whether we might have this upside down – that convenient means of mobile paying might be embraced more by the poor and the casual economy than the mainstream. There are systems working in Africa and India – this may be an unusual example of a ‘bottom up’ tech change. But it is scary to think of the consequences of a major hack or system breakdown.

    1. RabidGandhi

      Here in my little corner of the semi-developed world, it’s hard to pay for anything with anything but cold hard cash. Only about 30% of the businesses I patronise on a regular basis accept credit/debit cards. On-line purchasing is utterly unheard of for various reasons– mainly because no one trusts in not getting scammed, and because those who have enough money to make such transactions don’t want to pay taxes.

      I’ve never been to China, but if it’s anything like here the attitudes toward cash would be much different outside of the big cities.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I think the key is widespread and easy 3G connections. Contactless payments with mobile phones were actually pioneered in Kenya, and I’m told its getting common in various parts of India and poorer countries in Asia. Mobile phone connections are amazingly good in some supposedly ‘undeveloped’ parts of the world, because its the only option they have. 12 years ago I was in remote areas in Tibet – I hadn’t brought a phone, but I was amazed that people were getting perfect connections many miles from the nearest village. Similarly with parts of northern India. I suspect its poor line and 3G connections in South America that holds things back as much as fear of fraud.

        Its often the case in technology that the ‘second adaptor’ ends up with far better systems because they don’t have the handicap of lots of legacy hardware and software.

        Whether this is a good thing for the poor or not, is not something I’ve given much thought to. I know there is widespread cynicism here and elsewhere about moves to a cashless society, but it does seem to have genuine benefits for the poor in some parts of the world. At least up to the moment the power gives out.

        1. aab

          I used to work in that space and heard all the proselytizing, from and supported by a lot of the same players that pushed microlending. For the profoundly poor, perhaps it is a undiluted good, because being surveilled, sold and controlled via data is irrelevant in comparison to their greater challenges. But I wonder. Those same promoters are devoutly neoliberal, and seem to have been completely consumed by Big Finance. So I can’t offer evidence-based proof that cheap cellphone delivered payments is detrimental to third world citizens, but I’m suspicious.

        2. RabidGandhi

          With all respect PK, I just don’t think that’s the situation here. We’ve had 3G for years here, everybody has (at least one) cell phone, there is no where in town where you can’t get excellent coverage, and even in the boonies the coverage can be very good. But there is nevertheless a huge resistance to going cashless. Perhaps it’s a cultural issue? (noting: it’s the same in Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay…).

          That said, I agree that it remains to be seen whether cash-free could be beneficial or detrimental to the poor.

  13. Gaylord

    Useless F35s, nothing for firefighting. State of California has to lease Super Scooper water tanker aircraft from Canada, and those arrived too late to deal with one of the worst fires in SoCal (they keep getting worse). This demonstrates one of many misplaced priorities. Future super storms, fires, floods, earthquakes, desertification, power grid failures, nuclear power plant disasters, cyber attacks, etc. will bring our civilization down. The Federal Government is utterly unprepared for what is coming …soon. “Heckuva job, Brownie.”

  14. Paid Minion

    Seeing more spew about the pizzed off “unprotected classes”

    Implying that a bunch of worthless SOBs need protection from a socialist nanny state.

    I prefer the term “Unfavored and unsubsidized” classes.

  15. Waldenpond

    The Bezzle: “Uber’s First Self-Driving Fleet Arrives in Pittsburgh This Month”

    Didn’t Uber finance a bunch of those sub-prime auto loans? They must have packaged those bogus loans and pawned them off on someone… retirement funds maybe.

    1. Ivy

      Startup Idea: Combine Wayz app and Uber self-driver location app into a NoWayz app that helps conscientious drivers avoid driverless car accident zones. Think of it as redlining the roads.

  16. Waldenpond

    In re: Police State Watch….


    [Geo Group, the world’s second-largest operator of private prisons, took a hit along with the rest of the industry Thursday following a U.S. Department of Justice announcement that it plans to end its use of private prisons.]http://www.bizjournals.com/southflorida/news/2016/08/18/breaking-local-prison-operators-stock-plummets.html

    Does anyone have an analysis on the Justice Dept prison ruling today? I see that GEO stock is down more than 40% but don’t have the details.

    1. ChrisFromGeorgia

      Oh, the money that could have been made if certain DC “playas” loaded up on puts a few days ago.

      Of course I am 100% confident that our top notch SEC is on top of this, pulling trading records as we speak.

  17. ewmayer

    Pair of links from the SJ Mercury News:

    California water saving: 84 percent of agencies choose zero as conservation target

    Under fire from water agencies who were losing millions of dollars in lost water sales, Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration two months ago dropped all mandatory water conservation targets and allowed cities, water districts and private water companies across the state to set their own targets.

    Now, the results are in: 343 urban water agencies — or 84 percent of the 411 largest in the state — gave themselves a conservation target of zero for the rest of this year.

    Brown again shows his neoliberal true colors. But with all those initiatives to recover ‘perfectly safe’ fracking wastewater, CA should be drowning in the stuff in no time! Especially funny is the mention of bank-style joke ‘stress tests.’

    Cisco Systems to Cut 14,000 Jobs

  18. abynormal

    Air Guitar
    John Bennett (poet, friend)
    …dedicate this to Lambert (cause i don’t hear Cohen anymore w/o thinking of you and now i’ll have to add a heavy bag of groceries bahahaaa)

    I sometimes get Leon Russell confused with Leonard Cohen. It’s not as strange as it may seem, it’s more than the first four letters of Leonard’s name and all the letters of Leon’s being the same, there’s something subtle in the cadence of their song, something in long-buried drug habits and bedroom habits and in Leonard’s case maybe not so long buried, maybe not buried at all, just crawling thru the mud on their hands and knees. And let’s face it, I don’t have a clue about Leon’s sex habits, but I can imagine from the way he sings and plays piano and guitar and bass, and so I don’t really get them mixed up, Leon and Leonard, it’s more I recognize something the same in both of them, if Leon’s even alive. Jesus, he may be dead and buried along with his sex habits, and Leonard can’t be far behind if he is, all the good ones are being sliced down by age and sleazeballs are writing books about them and claiming to be sex partners from back in the day when we were all sex partners, which makes me think of Joe Cocker.

    I’m pretty sure Joe is dead and gone, recently too, somewhere up in the mountains in Colorado. Rocky Mountain High, and no, that’s not Joe’s song, but it would have been if he’d ever got around to singing it, he would have snatched it away from John Denver just like he did with anyone whose song he sang, it was all over once Joe got a hold of your song – ask Leon Russell.

    I’m thinking of that concert they did in Berlin back in 1970, Mad Dogs and Englishmen. For a long time I had it in my head that Leon Russell was English, which is totally wrong, Leon was an Oklahoma boy but he moved on down the road, they all do, look at Joe Cocker, cashing in his chips in the mountains of Colorado, a long way from Yorkshire.

    It’s annoying the hell out of me that I don’t know if Leon Russell is still around. But either way and in an important way he is, the greats are eternal. But what I was getting at back a ways is Cocker didn’t just make a song of Leon Russell’s his, he made a whole concert his, and he did it with an imaginary guitar, an air guitar. There they are squared off stage center, ripping away, and Cocker stole the show. You could hear it, this invisible guitar, gut-wrenching.

    You may be wondering about now where in the hell this is going, and where in the hell did Leonard Cohen wander off to, and is Leon Russell still alive?

    All I can say is clever men and grocers weight everything, and I used to write a column for the local paper called Air Guitar.

  19. Kurt Sperry


    Actual alt/politics is getting a foothold now in Iceland. An old acquaintance of mine is running for an MP position there under the Pirate Party banner. His comment on the story above,

    “It’s doubtful that we can maintain such numbers in the general election but on the other hand we have been polling consistently high for quite a while now. We’ll have to wait and see how things develop when all the party primaries are over and the real campaigning begins, I fancy our chances because we have quite a lot of novel approaches that I think will go a long way to addressing the systemic issues that lie at the heart of much of the clusterfuck we have experienced here in the past decade and in fact many decades before that.”

    1. Daryl

      Pirate Parties actually gaining seats and power has been one of the more bizarre but welcome developments over the past few years.

    2. crittermom

      I believe Iceland is also the ONLY country that threw their banksters in prison (and continues to go after ’em).
      Gotta admire that!

  20. Mark John

    OK, maybe someone can give me some advice. I am at the point where I am feeling that people are saying such nonsense that I am going off on them. This evening, some bar owner tried to do a hatchet job on Jill Stein. For me, the bottom line is she is an honest, decent person so, ok, disagree with her, but disparage her, that’s a different thing. I went McEnroe with him and also my significant other, who is also a Hillary voter. Can someone advise me on how to express myself without just completely losing it? I feel like their arguments are so massaged and manipulative, I just blow a fuse. My partner is crazy mad at me.

    1. Anne

      Count to ten. Take a mental or actual deep breath or two, and ask yourself how willing you would be to change your mind if someone went off on you for your political choice. If the answer is, “not very,” then I think, if you can’t engage without losing your mind, you’re better off just letting it go.

      Yes, there are a lot of people out there who don’t know more than bumper sticker facts, and they annoy the crap out of me, too, but you have to be able to figure out who is open to information and who isn’t.

      Politics isn’t worth wrecking your relationships over.

      1. pretzelattack

        yeah, i have to remember that, have a longtime friend who is a clinton supporter, i just try to stay away from the subject of politics till this election is over, anyway.

    2. Isotope_C14

      It’s difficult, but you really have to think about people who are susceptible to propaganda, and if you want to spend your long-term relationship with that person. I’m not one to soft-sell this, if your significant other is perfectly OK with a war-hawk bomb obsessed deranged POTUS there might be some other things that may suggest moving on. Don’t drag a relationship through the mud.

      If they can’t see the merits of an anti-war president, they best go enlist immediately so they can support our troops by becoming one of them.

    3. relstprof

      I’d also think about how to approach the whole subject from another angle. One of the links above — “Trust” [Our World in Data] — gives great info about how trust levels are related to interpersonal relationships, income inequality, and social stability. The advantage here is you can try to change the conversation from “Jill’s an anti-vaxxer nut” or “Bernie’s a closet racist” to a less charged conversation. Do we trust one another? If not, why don’t we trust one another?

      But I hear you. A lot of us are in the same boat.

  21. Vikas

    Re Thiel and young blood: there is strong animal data from parabiosis experiments that there are circulating factors in blood that have significant anti-degenerative properties. Nobody knows if it will work in humans nor which molecules exactly have the effect, though the TGF beta superfamily (IIRC) is thought to be one source. Sounds like Thiel is experimenting on himself. At his relatively young age, it seems foolish, arrogant, and vain to me, but not exactly crazy.

    1. aab

      What Lambert said, but also, in an egalitarian society, he’d need to make equitable trades or use persuasion to get that blood. What makes this so repellent is how it is a perfect literalized metaphor for the brutal exploitation of other humans by Thiel and other predators like him. He’s a metaphorical vampire, and now a literal one.

      He should have to buy that blood for a million dollars a liter, with half the fee going back to the community.

    2. Praedor

      The factor was/is thought to be GDF11 but conflicting data brings it into question. Paralysis does work but the actual factors that carry the benefit are not nailed down yet. GDF11 actually can have the OPPOSITE effect to the desired antiageing. http://www.nature.com/news/young-blood-anti-ageing-mechanism-called-into-question-1.17583

      In any case, self-indulgent, self-entitled looter rich will obtain any and all benefits from ALL anti-ageing treatments to come along at whom while the system will deny it to the commoners, or worse, only provide it when you are already very old and decrepit rather than provide it at a younger and healthier age when it would have the greatest effect. At least the aristocracy will live much longer and enjoy the fruits of no taxes on their unearned wealth. Permanent bootheels on our adding necks.

      I’m perfectly OK with providing any who desire it longevity treatments IF it is available to poor and rich alike equally IF the recipients agree to give up ever having children in return. You cannot have people suddenly actually living significantly longer without taking strong steps to prevent population explosion on steroids, and that would happen if people started living longer and STILL kept having children at a taste even close to that of today.

  22. Chris Williams

    Re going overseas for medical procedures.

    The arbitrage between dental care here and dental care in Thailand paid for my ticket. And I didn’t end up writing and screaming in the chair, either.

    Yes, even here in Australia, dental work is hideously expensive. I recently got a tooth pulled – $350 Aussie, about half my week’s pay, in and out in 45 minutes…

    In 2012, I went to Philippines on dental holiday, researched and got reviews for a dentist and off I flew. 12 full porcelain crows and a dental implant – I looked a million dollars, all for around $3,500 Aussie. And, what a holiday, even brave enough to go to Mindanao on my own, while a fellow Aussie was being held for ransom just off the coast of where I stayed for a beautiful 2 weeks, Zamboanga City:


    Four years later, the work is still fabulous. Just do your research first.

    Equivalent cost here, BTW, was $60,000 Aussie.

    A dental practice is a license to print money the way these ‘guys’ maintain control and quotas on who can get a license to practice

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Oversees medical work is very common in Asia, not just for price – many Chinese (to take one example) simply don’t trust their doctors and hospitals and will go to Bangkok or Singapore or KL instead (or India if poorer). Its a particularly big industry in India, the prices for some procedures are remarkably cheap in very good hospitals. Some very small countries, such as Bhutan, routinely send people to India with public subsidies as its much cheaper than setting up their own high tech hospitals. I met several cancer sufferers in Bhutan who went to either Kolkota or Bangkok for their treatments.

      In the EU its been quite effective for pulling down the price of ‘elective’ work like dental improvements or laser eye surgery. It was common in Ireland or UK for people to go to France for laser eye surgery as it was usually 700 euro there for two eyes, while (in Ireland) it could be 4,000. Hungary is a favoured country for dentistry for some reason – I even know doctors in Ireland who will fly to Budapest for dental works. It has had an effect, mostly by preventing doctors creating little local oligopolies.

      It also applies to retirees – many UK retirees move to Spain and France specifically so they can benefit from the excellent local health systems (which is why almost all of them were very anti-Brexit). Thailand has become a major centre for retirements from Japan and Europe for a similar reason (although you would have to pay for medical aid, its cheap and very good if your insurance covers you).

      I think this is one ‘positive’ from globalisation. Medical tourism breaks up local professional monopolies and allows doctors and nurses to prosper in their home countries rather than being poached as cheap labour by richer countries.

      1. Praedor

        I’m still strongly considering a run to Mexico to obtain a spinal disc replacement that I cannot acquire in the US. First, in Europe (and Latin America and Asia) they do disc replacement as standard procedure for disc degeneration vs the US where it is still common to do try and balance your humours via bloodletting (do spinal fusion). Second, they have been doing multiple level disc replacements for decades elsewhere but in the US that is verboten as “experimental”. Then it costs a FORTUNE to get a disc replacement in the US whereas countries actually functioning in the 21st century, it costs at most HALF what it costs in the US ($30,000+ in US vs $13,000 or less in other countries…the $US cost doesn’t include hospital stay, by the way, but that low cost elsewhere includes hospital stay! ). Other countries will do up to 3 disc replacements while the US only permits 1 per patient.

        Instead, in the short term, I’m going to get an insurance-approved spinal chord simulator that stops nerve pain transmission (works well, by the way – you get a test drive first and it worked well) BUT that is simply blocking a symptom, not fixing the cause AND, get this, it costs around $70,000!! Insurance will pay twice the amount (with a big deductible, natch) to treat my symptoms but refuses to pay half that amount to cure the cause.

        I hate US healthcare. Primate and exorbitantly expensive and overly restricted. So, I’m saving up to go to Mexico eventually. ..

  23. Praedor

    I can’t state it strongly enough: I despise the sham of tax deductions OR credits for such big ticket essentials as healthcare. They are both useless because you don’t get to wait to pay healthcare costs until AFTER you claim a deduction or gain a credit, you have to pay now. That means people of limited means STILL have to decide if it will be eating this month or filling a prescription or payoff for a treatment. Yeah, great, you get a credit after tax day many months from now AND get to wait for the check from the government refunding you’re taxes. Too bad you needed that money 6 months prior!

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