2:00PM Water Cooler 2/23/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“Freight forwarding and logistics representatives have welcomed the “historic” implementation of the World Trade Organisation’s multilateral trade facilitation agreement, which promises to streamline, simplify and standardise customs procedures and cut trade costs around the world” [Lloyd’s List].


Our Famously Free Press

“Brian Hook, a former assistant secretary of state in the George W. Bush administration, is Rex Tillerson’s preferred choice for director of policy planning at the State Department, according to multiple GOP Senate aides. The policy planning director leads a strategic brain trust for the secretary” [Foreign Policy]. “Hook is the co-founder of the John Hay Initiative, a group of former Mitt Romney foreign policy advisers whose leaders organized a prominent letter signed by 121 GOP national security luminaries refusing to support Trump last March because he would ‘act in ways that make America less safe.'”

2016 Post Mortem

“Looking Back to Go Forward: A Conversation with Nina Turner” [Paste]. “]TURNER:] Instead of talking down to people and calling them names, those of us on the progressive side gotta win elections.” But it’s fun to call people names. Also too, name-calling is a sign of superior intelligence. I know! I did it! Worth a read since Turner’s an undeniable talent.

“Democracy In Crisis: Democrats in the Afterlife” [City Paper]. “Precisely because the Democrats lack political power, they have the potential to become a great moral force if they are willing to be beaten and tear-gassed and arrested. Instead, they are all blinded by the possibility of regaining power, like underworld shades still pining for their previous lives.”

Will Keith Ellison Move the Democrats Left? [The New Yorker]. Perhaps not. But anybody other than Ellison sends the clearest possible message that the Democrats will not move left.

“Keith Ellison Powerfully Argues For Trump Impeachment At Democratic Leadership Debate” [PoliticsUSA]. The headline is inflammatory, but this coverage includes a video and the full quote: “[ELLISON:] I think that Donald Trump has already done a number of things that legitimately raise the question of impeachment.” Which, when you apply your parsing skills, is not the same as saying Trump should be impeached (which the Democrats can’t do on their own, having taken themselves out of the runnning). Ellison’s reason: The emoluments clause (not on). By the standards of the Clintonite fever swamp, that’s pretty mild. He doesn’t call for war with Russia because Trump is Putin’s stooge, for example. So I’m willing to give Ellison a “He Has To Say That” pass on this one.

“POLL: Who Won the DNC Chair Debate on CNN Tonight?” [Heavy]. Readers?

“Why demographics weren’t — and won’t be — destiny for Democrats” [WaPo]. Third Way lizards shedding their skins….

Trump Transition

“Mnuchin Says to Expect Complete Tax Overhaul by August” [MSNBC]. Promises 3% growth, tax cuts for the rich offset with closed loopholes, and depends on “dynamic scoring.” Apparently Laffer’s napkin is nailed to Mnuchin’s forehead. A remarkable feat, nailing snake oil to anything.

“As a can­did­ate, Don­ald Trump thor­oughly en­joyed dis­mant­ling and tor­tur­ing the Re­pub­lic­an wing of the Re­pub­lic­an Party. But now that chaos, tur­moil, and in­eptitude have be­come the watch­words for his White House—not­with­stand­ing his as­ser­tion Thursday that it ‘is run­ning like a fine-tuned ma­chine’—the tar­gets of his barbs were giv­ing each oth­er ‘I told you so’ glances” [Charles Cook]. “Es­tab­lish­ment Re­pub­lic­ans cer­tainly don’t wish ill for the coun­try or their party, and they un­der­stand that over time they will be seen as own­ing, or at least be­ing re­spons­ible for, Trump’s pres­id­ency. But for now they are en­joy­ing the misery in­side the White House on the grounds that it couldn’t hap­pen to a more de­serving group of people.” I’m experiencing multiple schadenfreude hits simultaneously, here. It’s a novel experience!

“‘I want to make it emphatically clear that neither Mexico’s government or the Mexican people have any reason to accept provisions that have been unilaterally imposed by one government on the other,’ Mexico’s Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said at a ceremony on Wednesday. ‘We won’t accept it because we don’t have to,’ he added, in an apparent reference to U.S. plans to return illegal migrants to Mexico, regardless of their nationality. Mr. Videgaray’s declaration spelled trouble for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, who a White House official said were sent to ‘talk through the implementation’ of Mr. Trump’s guidelines'” [Politico].

On CPAC: “The big story: Just less than a year ago, Donald Trump decided to skip CPAC – a decision the organization said he would come to regret, since it ‘sends a clear message to conservatives.’ The Trump campaign said he would be back in 2017, ‘hopefully as President of the United States.’ (How many in the room in 2016 thought that would really happen?) Now comes this year’s CPAC, with Vice President Mike Pence and President Trump both in the speakers’ lineup. That’s just a hint of the extent to which the conservative movement has been adopted and co-opted by Team Trump” [ABC News]. Too funny.

On CPAC: “‘It’s going to take a lot more than what the Trump folks have managed to take conservatism over from Burke and Kirk, to say nothing of Thatcher or Goldwater or Reagan,” GOP strategist Liz Mair tells First Read” [NBC News]. Also too funny.

On CPAC: “CPAC organizer denounces ‘alt-right’ as ‘left-wing fascist group'” [WaPo]. Remarkably, “alt-right,” “left wing,” and “fascist” have been emptied of all meaning, at least by reflex-driven partisans.

Stats Watch

Chicago Fed National Activity Index, January 2017: “The employment report for January looked strong as did retail sales, but the great bulk of economic indicators are still running slightly below historical trend. The national activity index came in at minus 0.05 in January with the 3-month average telling the same story, at minus 0.03” [Econoday]. “Production is the weak link, coming in at minus 0.07 for January and getting very little lift from the manufacturing component. This index is a reminder that even an apparently strong month this cycle, like January, looks soft when compared against historical averages.” And but: “Economic activity across the United States weakened in January, signaling softer momentum for the world’s largest economy at the start of 2017” [Economic Calendar].

Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index, February 2017: “Hard data on the factory sector have been flat but not advance indications which are flashing strength ahead. The Kansas City Fed manufacturing index is up 5 points this month to 14 and is led by standout strength in new orders which are up 6 points to 26. And orders are filling up backlogs” [Econoday]. ” Gains in this report are at 6-1/2 year highs and reflect, to a degree, easy comparisons after more than 2 years of energy-related weakness.” And: “The Kansas City region was hit hard by the decline in oil prices, but activity is expanding solidly again. The regional Fed surveys suggest a strong reading for the ISM manufacturing index for February” [Calculated Risk].

Jobless Claims, February 23, 2017: “Several states were estimated during the week which, for initial claims, was a holiday shortened one for Presidents Day. But the trends for this report are unmistakable, pointing to strong demand for labor” [Econoday]. And: “The trend of the 4 week moving average iinsignificantly worsened this week. This marks 102 consecutive weeks of initial claims below 300,000, the longest streak since 1970. This is the lowest level for this average since November 3, 1973 when it was 244,000. The general trend of the 4 week rolling average is a slowing rate of improvement year-over-year which historically suggests a slowing economy” [Econintersect].

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of February, 2019: “held onto the bulk of the prior week’s jump” [Econoday]. “This reading on consumer spirits, unlike the consumer confidence and consumer sentiment indexes, has extended its post-election strength.”

Commodities: “The United States is expected to become a net exporter of natural gas on an average annual basis by 2018, according to a recently released Annual Energy Outlook update from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The transition to net exporter is driven by declining pipeline imports, growing pipeline exports, and increasing exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG)” [Farm and Dairy]. “The United States is also projected to become a net exporter of total energy in the 2020s, in large part because of increasing natural gas exports.

Food: “McDonald’s Corp., reeling from an industrywide restaurant slump and slowing growth from its all-day breakfast push, is looking to beverages to help perk up the business. The world’s biggest food-service company, which last year focused its advertising on cheeseburgers and chicken sandwiches, plans to offer $1 sodas and $2 McCafe specialty drinks across the U.S.” [Bloomberg]. “It’s turning to higher-margin beverages at a time when cheap grocery prices are prodding more Americans to eat at home. The drink promotion may also help McDonald’s cope with the eventual rebound in food costs.”

Energy: “Sprawling US pipeline network could see relaxed regulations under Trump” [Workboat]. “The hints of a pipeline spill are subtle: the hiss of rushing fluid, a streak of rainbow sheen. Tucked far below ground, a ruptured line can escape notice for days or even weeks, especially in the backcountry, where inspectors rarely venture.” The “backcountry.” You mean, like flyover states?

Energy: “Wind plant manufacturing is the fastest growing job sector in the U.S. economy — and this employment has been concentrated in the “Rust-Belt” states, pivotal in swinging the presidential election toward Trump. Similarly, domestic solar companies are growing 12 times faster than the overall job creation rate in the U.S. economy. In total, renewable energy sector employment (PDF) in the United States grew 6 percent in 2016 to 769,000 jobs, while employment in gas, coal and oil exploration and extraction combined fell 18 percent, to 375,000 jobs” [Econoday].

The Bezzle: “10 Companies With the Worst Reputations” [MarketWatch]. #1 is Takata (airbag recalls). #2 is Wells Fargo. Hasn’t it ever occurred to the powers that be that is they threw a Wells Fargo executive in jail, the public might regard Wells Fargo — rightly or wrongly — as having purged itself of corruption, eliminating reputational damage?

The Bezzle: “Some technology, like a Bluetooth antenna or an active noise-canceling circuit, is going to cost a manufacturer a certain amount for the components and licensing fees. A manufacturer can’t get them into a product for any less. That sets a base manufacturing cost” [New York Times]. Astonishing to me that IP sets the manufacturing baseline. Surely this has not always been true?

The Bezzle: “With states seizing the initiative on shaping the future of self-driving cars, General Motors is trying to persuade lawmakers across the country to approve rules that would benefit the automaker while potentially keeping its competitors off the road” [AP]. “The carmaker denies trying to freeze out other brands, but legislators in four states say GM lobbyists asked them to sponsor bills that the company’s competitors contend would do just that. The bills set a blueprint for the introduction of fully self-driving cars that are part of on-demand, ride-sharing fleets, but they must be owned by an automaker.”

The Fed: “[S]teady jobs market and rising inflation signal that growth is on track. That was one of the key takeaways of the latest Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting minutes, which were released Wednesday afternoon. Central bankers now expect interest rates to rise again “fairly soon” in light of recent improvements across several economic indicators” [Economic Calendar].

“The U.S. economy, as measured by gross domestic product, is by far the largest in the world at $18.04 trillion. China, the closest thing the U.S. has for a competitor, is No. 2 with a GDP of $11 trillion, while Japan is a distant third with $4.38 trillion” [MarketWatch] (data source). “However, the narrative shifts when countries are grouped by geography, with Asia clearly in the lead. The region, denoted in yellow in the chart, contributed 33.84% to the global GDP.”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 75 Extreme Greed (previous close: 80, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 78 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 23 at 10:56am. Happy days are here again! The skies above are clear again! So let’s sing a song of cheer again! Happy days are here again!

Health Care

“Repeal of Health Law Faces Obstacles in House, Not Just in Senate” [New York Times]. Trump told the House Loons a couple of weeks ago they could punt on ObamaCare. No no, they said, because liberty! We’ll have our plan right away. “Oh, OK,” says Trump. “Go for it.” Then they hit the hustings and it turns out making ObamaCare even worse isn’t popular. It turns out the Endowment Effect is true:

Among the increasingly concerned Republicans are those who represent the 24 congressional districts that Hillary Clinton won in the presidential election — roughly the numerical edge Republicans hold over Democrats in the House — and another dozen in districts that President Barack Obama took in 2012 but President Trump won in November. If 25 conservative hard-liners oppose any robust replacement plan, and 30 swing-district House members demand a more generous plan, passage of a compromise bill will be in jeopardy.

What these silly Republicans are forgetting is that ObamaCare is a Heritage Foundation plan in the first place. It’s already as bad as it is politically feasible to be! But I have a solution: Make some minor changes, rebrand ObamaCare as FreedomCare, and declare victory. That way conservatives get themselves out of a jam, liberals get to #SaveTheACA, and both factions get to deep six #MedicareForAll and kick the left, which is their only goal in life, at this point, anyhow, except the lucrative job later on K Street. Of course, this is far too sensible….

“‘I’m on ObamaCare,’ the man, identified as Chris Peterson, 62, told Grassley. ‘If it wasn’t for ObamaCare, we wouldn’t be able to afford insurance'” [The Hill]. “”Over 20 million will lose coverage and, with all due respect, sir, you’re the man that talked about the death panels. We’re going to create one great big death panel in this country that people can’t afford to get insurance…. ‘Don’t repeal ObamaCare. Improve it, for god’s sakes,’ Peterson said.” Of course, that’s hard to do, too; the real improvement needed is Medicare for All. After all, the 20 million not covered by ObamaCare already went before a death panel. Eh?

“Any change to the existing ACA would likely be limited, Boehner said, since ‘Republicans never ever agree on health care'” [MarketWatch].

“In a 2013 study, a dozen doctors from around the country examined all 363 articles published in The New England Journal of Medicine over a decade—2001 through 2010—that tested a current clinical practice, from the use of antibiotics to treat people with persistent Lyme disease symptoms (didn’t help) to the use of specialized sponges for preventing infections in patients having colorectal surgery (caused more infections). Their results, published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, found 146 studies that proved or strongly suggested that a current standard practice either had no benefit at all or was inferior to the practice it replaced; 138 articles supported the efficacy of an existing practice, and the remaining 79 were deemed inconclusive” [The Atlantic].

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

“Marathon runner’s tracked data exposes phony time, cover-up attempt” [Ars Technica]. Don’t wear your FitBit while you cut the course in a marathon. In fact, don’t carry anything “smart” for any reason, because “smart” does not mean that you are the smart one.


“Animals know when they are being treated unfairly (and they don’t like it)” [The Conversation]. “The fact that inequity aversion is present not only in a number of primate species but also corvids suggests that this idea of fairness and cooperation is something that cooperative species have got in common which has enabled them to evolve sociability.” So mainstream economists are more stupid than crows?

Class Warfare

“Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google’s Google Home peddle stereotypes of female subservience—which puts their “progressive” parent companies in a moral predicament” [Quartz]. “People often comment on the sexism inherent in these subservient bots’ female voices, but few have considered the real-life implications of the devices’ lackluster responses to sexual harassment. By letting users verbally abuse these assistants without ramifications, their parent companies are allowing certain behavioral stereotypes to be perpetuated. Everyone has an ethical imperative to help prevent abuse, but companies producing digital female servants warrant extra scrutiny, especially if they can unintentionally reinforce their abusers’ actions as normal or acceptable.” Siri, Alexa, Cortana (and Google Home) aren’t servants. They’re slaves. They’re owned.

“L.A. County has traded high-paying jobs for low-paying ones” [Los Angeles Times]. “Los Angeles County has recovered the jobs it lost during the recession. But a new report says the region’s job base has shifted over the last 10 years, losing tens of thousands of higher-paying manufacturing and finance jobs and gaining lower-paying service jobs.”

News of the Wired

“Announcing the first SHA1 collision” [Google Security Blog].

“Science is facing a ‘reproducibility crisis’ where more than two-thirds of researchers have tried and failed to reproduce another scientist’s experiments, research suggests” [BBC]. “This is frustrating clinicians and drug developers who want solid foundations of pre-clinical research to build upon.”

“Why The Analog Photography World is a Far Nicer Place Than Digital” [The PhoBlographer]. “Put an image into a forum, and chances are that the first thing someone will try to do is pixel peep it and judge the sharpness. But that mostly happens with digital. If you do this with film, you’re kind of laughed at. With film, it’s nice to appreciate the sharpness of a lens or film let alone a good scan, but it’s also much more important to judge the actual photo. We learn how to judge tones and understand the fact that, for the entire time during the shoot, the photographer was in the zone. They tried their very best to get the greatest photo that they possibly can knowing and understanding the pressure put on them by the limitations of film.” Hmm. Readers?

“I fought 32 wildfires over fifteen months as part of my ethnographic research. I fought them with men who are currently in prison. Many western U.S. states use prison labor to fight wildfires. My dissertation examines this atypical prison program, focusing on the experiences with and meanings of such risky, skilled work from the perspective of program participants. In order to get at these meanings of wildfire work for incarcerated people, I had to jump in and dig trenches and handle flamethrowers from time to time. Fighting fires is intense, and so overwhelming from a research perspective, that I had to come up with a specific approach to remembering them” [Allegra Laboratory]. Must-read.

* * *

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

Golden Larch branch in Wenatchee National Forest.

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


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About Lambert Strether

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


    1. Vatch

      Chilling. David Koch, Charles Koch, and Harold Hamm want the pipeline, and they’re all multi-billionaires, so they get to have what they want.

      1. Disturbed Voter

        As I understand it, Warren Buffett didn’t want the pipeline … so it depends on which billionaire you are.

        1. Vatch

          You have a valid point. However, Buffett does want the same tar or oil that the Kochs and Hamm want; he just wants to ship it by train. For now, the two Kochs with $48 billion each, plus Harry with $13 billion, outrank Warren with (only) $76 billion.

          Those protesters just didn’t know their place. They were supposed to let the grownups decide this issue. (/sarc)

        2. cocomaan

          In other words, the billionaires are carving up the last big chunks of the republic, and we’re fighting over the scraps.

      2. different clue

        They may get their pipeline, but does that mean by inevitable definition that they WILL get their oil?

        How big a movement of how many millions would it take to find out where the oil in that pipeline is supposed to go . . . and selectively boycott product made from that oil? So totally and effectively that it does not pay to send oil through that pipeline? Thereby leading to an empty abandoned pipeline?

        Is it worth at least preparing to try to find out?

    2. NYPaul

      Anyone, a little help, please.

      How can I place a link in a comment? Keep getting the sequence screwed up.


      1. Katharine

        It may not be kosher, but I sometimes resort to pasting the url in my comment, since, like you, I tend to screw up the official method.

          1. Katharine

            And thanks for the link. Plain truth is always refreshing. Weasel-words Perez is the one who ought to be finished:

            CUOMO: Hold on a second. Secretary, 10 seconds, was it rigged or not?

            PEREZ: Again, the process, because of the absence of transparency, it created that crisis of relevance and it created the distrust that people didn’t trust the outcome…

            Crisis of relevance! Distrust that people didn’t trust…. Ye gods and little fishes! It’s one thing if a private citizen turns out to have trouble speaking in public, but this was a seasoned politician, in a debate for which he might have been expected to prepare if he doubted his ability to think on his feet.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              The DNC debate was embarrassing, I watched long enough to hear one of the participants state “everybody knows that Putin hacked the election” and nobody even saw fit to challenge her statement.
              Dear God in heaven, what possible way forward is there when even and especially the “leaders” have such a tenuous grasp on reality

              1. Procopius

                I believe that it’s not the case that they don’t know the reality, it’s that they are committed to perpetuating the lie because otherwise they might seem to not be supporting their… what’s the word? masters? Anyway, the childishness of the effort was embarrassing.

        1. different clue

          It may not be kosher? I thought that WAS the “official” method. Its the only way I’ve ever done it.

          1. Katharine

            Well, they have that link button at the top of the comment form, but after it led me into strange adventures once or twice I looked for a simpler solution.

          2. Kurt Sperry

            Pasting the link raw is, I would argue, better etiquette since oftentimes the URL will contain useful information that won’t be otherwise easily visible.

  1. Theo

    I hate it when I hear the answer to health care is Medicare for all. It isn’t. From personal experience I have witnessed the devolution of Medicare into a program with ever increasing medical bills and providers being left off the hook to providing information, e.g., itemized bills which at one point was routine practice by providers, with many other problems as well. Now that itemization is no longer done. The effectiveness and the fairness of Medicare have been undermined for some time now. There are plenty retired people who only have Medicare as they cannot afford supplemental insurance and, once the bills come in for the 20% that Medicare doesn’t pay and in reality under certain conditions it is much more than 20%, they cannot afford to pay those bills. Stop repeating this meme, Medicare for all, Medicare for all without examining exactly what that would mean to everyone not just those who are lucky enough to have money to pay for whatever Medicare will never pay for. I am all for single payer but it needs to be a hell of a lot better than Medicare.

        1. dbk

          Yes, and (once again) I note that people would do well to let their Congressmen know – both in writing and in person – that this is the Bill for All. Honestly. You can’t fight what’s going on here defensively; you need to go on the offensive, and H.R. 676 is one way of doing this.

        2. freedomny

          Thanks for this Vatch…I printed it out. I’m part of a committee in my area actively trying to reform healthcare. A few of us have finally gotten a date (after many letters over many months) to meet with our rep about Assembly Bill 00434. HR-676 would be better so this is great to have on hand. Thank you!

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Is HR-676 better, the same or not as good as the one senators get currently?

        Whatever they get, the people would like to have.

        1. marym

          The ACA required that Congress and some staff transfer from the Federal Employees Health Benefits program to ACA. According to this it looks like they buy their insurance now from an exchange. There have been occasional furors that they’re exempt from the ACA (I thought so myself) or that their exchange takes advantage of some loophole. In any case, FEHB and the DC SHOP exchange are just employer-based programs, a choice of private for-profit insurance policies.

      2. different clue

        Since Canada is generally regarded as the “better yardstick” of how to do Single Payer, what if we were to informally start calling it CanadaCare? Just a tentative suggestion . . .

    1. jrs

      Yes of course they can’t afford the supplemental insurance, but some go with Medicare Advantage because Medicare is so crappified that some people who are poorer willing choose ACA type Medicare over supplemental plans they can’t afford.

    2. reslez

      I think most people who advocate Medicare For All are well aware of the problems. It’s still way better than private insurance everyone else suffers under, a basic principle of equity for every American. This is key.

      I’d say most people who want Medicare For All are also entirely willing to fight to improve and expand the program as it stands today. A country that can get Medicare For All passed can also improve the program.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        This is the language of the email from Our Revolution for the rally I am going to tomorrow.

        All across the country, people are speaking out not only to keep the Affordable Care Act, but to expand it. At a time when millions of Americans do not have health care, we should be working to expand coverage and move towards a Medicare for All system, not throw millions off of the health insurance they currently have. The Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act would be devastating – 30 million Americans thrown off health insurance, with many more denied care for pre-existing conditions and unable to afford their premiums and prescription drugs. In the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, we must understand that health care is a right, not a privilege.

        Make your voice heard. Attend a rally on Saturday and let your elected representatives know you expect them to protect Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and health care as a right.

        So agreed it’s not either/or.

    3. Dead Dog

      Yes, having to make a copay when you can’t afford it means that you just don’t go to the doctor or dentist. So, I agree, a new system has to be better than Medicare.

      I care for my remaining Uncle (82). He sees the doctor and also the dentist (public, waiting list, but good) for no cost. He also gets all his prescriptions filled for around $5. The providers accept the fee set by the Government, as he is on the aged pension. It’s not a perfect safety net, but there are plenty in our current Govt would like to see it gutted as they only see the cost and what alternatives they could use the money for (all politicians focus on the budget and the lie that taxes fund spending).

      Just one example of how the safety net is being eroded, 65 used to be the qualifying age for the pension, but the Labor govt increased it to 67, essentially anyone born after 1958. And, the current Liberal National govt had been talking of raising it to 70. FFS, women used to qualify for the aged when they turned 60.

      ok rant over.

      I see things not so much that people are covered or insured against the cost of future health care. So much of the narrative is around getting affordable insurance, having a backstop.

      Rather I see the issue as being able to constrain the costs within the system (including the cost of insurance, pharma and clinicians).

      Clearly a profit driven health care system does not work and public needs to take it back and have health care delivered by public servants on reasonable salaries. Where the costs are borne by the government and citizens pay nothing.

      1. Annotherone

        ” citizens pay nothing.” Well, they pay nothing at point of service, but (in the UK anyway) they have paid National Insurance Contributions throughout their working lives – quite a hefty payment in some cases, on top of Pay As You Earn income tax, it used to amount to a good slice from one’s salary. National Insurance Contributions cover medical, sick pay and towards state pension – or they did during my working life in the UK.

      2. Cynthia

        From what I’ve read and from what I have witnessed firsthand, the overhead costs of running a hospital is at an all-time high, most of which is due to the huge uptick in the number of overpaid paper pushers in the back office. And this is true despite the fact that hospitals have spent tens of billions of dollars on computer software to do the work of tens of thousands of paper pushers.

        Needless to say, the only thing that can be done to reduce all of this overly burdensome and totally unnecessary overhead costs in hospitals is to reduce the government-imposed regulatory burden in hospitals. I say, it is “totally unnecessary” because it has done nothing to improve quality of care, much less reduce hospital stay or reduce readmission rates. And if you can find data proving otherwise, it was probably intentionally fudged in order to protect countless number of overpaid jobs in the hospital regulatory industry.

        So it’s my hope that Dr. Price, the new head of HHS (Health and Human Services), along with the new head of CMS (Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services), Ms. Seema Verma, will take some meaningful steps to reduce most, if not all, of the reams and reams of paperwork imposed on hospitals by Obama’s unaffordable healthcare reform law. Keep in mind, the more you spend on paperwork, the less money you’ll have to spend in patient care. The public needs to understand this very simple fact in order to understand why quality of care has not improved under ObamaCare. If anything, it has only gotten worse.

        Unfortunately, though, when it comes to “repealing and replacing” ObamaCare, most of the focus has been on the issue of insurance and coverage. Which is fine, but is not likely to result in meaningful and significant changes to the law. At most, what can be done to change ObamaCare in terms of insuring Americans is to make a few minor tweaks here and there. No major changes are likely to occur without enacting Medicare-for-All, which is a no-starter with no chance of ever getting off the ground. The industry is too powerful and too politically connected to ever let that happen.

        However, big changes can be made to ObamaCare without the public ever noticing. That entails reducing the regulatory burden on providers, namely hospitals. Care, cost, and access, the three things the public cares most about, won’t be negatively affected if the regulatory burden were to drop to zero. If anything, it will have a positive effect on care, cost and access. Sadly, this is something the media rarely reports and thus the public doesn’t know much about, much less understands.

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          sorry, but those overpaid paper pushers are inextricably linked to the too powerful and too politically connected industry. managerialism rules the day

          1. Cynthia

            Okay, but something’s gotta give. And sooner rather than later. Either we continue to pour more and more healthcare dollars into managerial overhead costs. Or, we can change course and start putting more of these dollars into direct patient care. But we can’t do both without breaking the bank.

            If the issue of healthcare reform was presented this way, then a huge chunk of the affordability, accessibility and quality of care problems would be solved without addressing all the very complex and politically-loaded issues surrounding health insurance, public or private, subsidized or not subsidized.

            Throughout the healthcare reform debates, and over the past eight years or so, politicians, the people and the media have all put too much emphasis on health insurance, and not enough on actual healthcare. I find this to be 180 degrees backwards given that we can’t do much to fix our health insurance problem without FIRST fixing healthcare.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              Here’s what’s “gonna give”: when tens of millions of sick, overworked, and broke people get fed up with watching billionaire lifestyle TV shows and decide they’ve had enough. Crack a history book, that eventually happens everywhere and always, the elite always overplays their hand and their heads end up on a pike. I give it 5 years but it could be a whole lot less.

        2. Anon

          Hmmm…ever spent any time seriously ill in a hospital? Ever seen the bill for aspirin? Or for the nutritionist who came into your room for two minutes, asked a few questions about the hospital food and never returned?

          Hospitals (management) are profit seeking enterprises that will charge whatever the market will bear. And if you don’t meet payments, they will readily send your charges to disrespected Bill Chasers.

          The nurses are another story: they do most of the real work in a hospital.

        3. marym

          I would imagine programs like the ACA or Medicaid, are subject to lots of regulations regarding medical records, billing and payment procedures, financial reporting, outcome measurements, safety, accessibility….etc., along with regulations for the insurance industry in general, and providers in general.

          No doubt there’s bureaucratic waste, but can you clarify which regulations you would eliminate and how you see that specifically leading to better and/or more affordable care? As it stands, with no details or links, your comment seems to be the usual “deregulate and magically everything gets better” argument.

      3. HotFlash

        I live in Canada, and we have government health insurance, (single-payer to you) and it works pretty fine. I’d like some improvements, but we have better outcomes than you US-ians for about half the cost. I do not get why you keep arguing about the best sort of wood for the runners of the sledge you guys are dragging your ‘health care’ around on when there is this cool thing called the wheel. Which you refuse *refuse!* to even look at.

        1. Carla

          HotFlash — “We, The People” do not refuse to look at single-payer, government health insurance. In fact a majority of us have been advocating it, and a very vocal portion of those folks demanding it, for years.

          It’s our captured elected officials who will not cooperate; from the most progressive to most the conservative, they are all, one way or another, in the pockets of the Medical Industrial Complex, which is closely aligned with Wall Street and the Deep State — all of them, enemies of the people.

          That is the sad state of affairs for all 330 millions of us, your neighbors to the south.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      I know that Medicare has a bad neoliberal infestation. But we’ve got to get the universal benefit started somehow, and HR676 looks like the best start (I like it better than SB703 (?), the Sanders bill.

    1. nippersmom

      Thom Hartmann, Ed Schultz, and RFK, Jr., among others, are contributors to Ring of Fire. It’s a “progressive” network that actually is progressive. They were very pro-Sanders during the Democratic primaries. They actually provided coverage on his campaign, accurately reported his platform, and didn’t spread any lies- unlike virtually every MSM outlet.

      1. freedomny

        Thanks. Well then what they are reporting is very scary – Facebook, Apple and Google giving out the passwords of protestors who have been arrested to the Justice Department….

      2. EndOfTheWorld

        I would disagree that Thom Hartmann was actually pro-Sanders during the primary campaign. He claimed to be both pro-Sanders and pro-HRC at the same time—-which is impossible, seeing as how they were running a heated campaign AGAINST each other. IMHO he betrayed Bernie by not clearly endorsing him, which would mean non-endorsing HRC.

        I will never tune in to this traitor’s program again as long as I live.

        1. nippersmom

          Ed Schultz, on the other hand, lost his previous gig for not playing the DNC propaganda game. TROF as a group, and several of the contributors individually, endorsed Sanders.

            1. freedomny

              I am really liking Katie Halper and Nomiki Konst. Both millenials – I agree with Mark Blythe that this generation is a positive…and could be a game changer.

              Didn’t know that about Ed Schultz – but I always liked him when I used to watch cable.

              1. freedomny

                You know – have also been trying to find more minority-progressive reporting…

                Someone suggested Black Agenda Report (nipper – you?). That’s been added to my list – but if anyone has suggestions I would really appreciate it :)

      1. RudyM

        There’s no mention of brownshirts. The identity of the shooter is unknown. It’s not that unusual for shots to be fired in downtown Albuquerque. Violence, in general, is not all that uncommon there. I lived there when I first moved here, and heard someone get shot a few blocks away. (I regularly here what sound like gunshots in my current Albuquerque neighborhood, but I suspect it’s not a matter of anyone being shot at. Possibly someone’s way of letting people know they have gun.)

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          More hysteria. At this point, I don’t believe anything unless it’s verified six ways from Sunday. Which is a shame, since at some point I’ll miss a legitimate incident.

          Isn’t there a fable about this? Something to do with wolves?

  2. Steve H.

    : Allegra Wildfire

    I’d been reading about the leeward side today, and here he’s “watching for shifts in the wind.” A lot of nice writing in a short article, here’s a bit:

    “The fire was racing across 10 different military ranges, all of which had various explosive devices on the ground from previous training sessions. Bullets were popping every few minutes, and training bombs would explode (their blasts much less dangerous than actual bombs, but the sound was similar) every so often.”

  3. allan

    Bumble bees are surprisingly innovative [Science]

    Bumble bees may have small brains, but that doesn’t mean they’re not inventive. A new study shows that the insects can innovate to solve complex problems, quickly figuring out a better way to get a sugar reward. Such mental flexibility may help bees overcome human-caused changes to their environment.

    “It’s a cool study, and both the authors and the bees deserve credit for their innovativeness,” says Dhruba Naug, a behavioral ecologist at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

    Bumble bees have already proven themselves remarkable animals. They possess complex navigational skills, rudimentary culture, and emotions. They can even use tools: Scientists have shown that the insects can learn to pull a string—and so get a sugary reward—by watching another bee perform the task. …

    1. Clive

      I might be wrong but I recall this was in “Links” a week or so ago, but it’s good to give it another airing. When I first read it, I got to thinking that if bees can do that with their tiny brains, cats must be capable of world domination.

        1. jsn

          They sleep so much because they’ve already achieved their domination: when was the last time you saw a cat punching in at the office? You don’t see cats fetching the paper, do you?

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            I often wonder when we will evolve like cats have to the point where we have managed to train another species to take care of all of our needs, food, housing, medical care, amusement. I’ll sleep alot then too.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          We do little constructive, but a lot destructive with ours.

          The combination of greed (and/or ego) and elite university education is probably the worst tragedy to have occurred in this universe.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Cats dominate not just with IQ, but also Hollywood-glamour attractiveness (short legs can be so beautiful), and that unobtainable-girl insouciance attitude (I am not even aware of your existence).

      2. JustAnObserver

        Oh come on Clive. We’ve known for years that cats are just conducting a long running experiment on us feeble humans. They took over when the mice got bored.

        1. polecat

          Cats are extra-terrestrials that found their way to Terra, and realized they had a gooood thing going, having stumbled on such a docile, and pliant animal species known as humans …. and then, in the process of working out the kinks involved in primate domestication, lost all knowledge of the propulsion drive they invented getting here …. which means they have nothing better to do then to lounge around being fed
          and cared for, day in and day out … until either NASA, or Elon come up with a comparable hyper-drive propulsion system, at which time the feline race will scurry on back to Alpha Ceti 9,…. storing their pet ‘humons’ in steerage for the journey home, with the planet Mars in tow using the mother-of-all tractor beams, as an eons long supply of cat litter!

          the dogs, however, will have to wait for a later shuttle …..

    1. Carl

      Quite a bit better. Watching that clip tells you all you need to know about the current state of the Democrat party.

  4. Steve

    Siri, Alexa, Cortana…

    I’m reminded of a line from the Firesign Theatre:
    I ain’t free, I’s expensive!

  5. fred

    “But anybody other than Ellison sends the clearest possible message that the Democrats will not move left.”

    So that’s why the Democrats have lost all those seats in the House and Senate and lost the presidential election. They were not far enough to the left. Good luck with that in four years.

    1. jrs

      Yes because the base didn’t turn out to vote. Well that and boatloads of voter disenfranchisement, gerrymandering, undemocratic system etc..

    2. reslez

      As we like to say around here, when voters have a choice between fake Republicans and real Republicans, they usually go for the real thing. Democrats have clustered around an increasingly right-wing Overton window as they chase after donor cash and reject all solutions from the left. Today’s Dems make Nixon look like a hippy socialist (EPA, universal health care proposal, etc.).

      Meanwhile a solid plurality of the country rejects both parties.

      1. Oregoncharles

        About 47%, depending on the poll.

        To be precise: these are the percentage of people who will not admit to a pollster that they belong to either “major” party – according to Gallup, now at 25% (D) to 28% (R). It’s new that there are more Rs, I think because they won the election.

        Major-party affiliation has been declining since 2006.

    3. Fastball

      This is why I tend to think that the “left-right” dichotomy is meaningless to most Americans. For example, Obamacare is only popular with about 45% of the population in terms of being a “good idea”, even now. It does not come close to the popularity of “Medicare for all”



    4. Deadl E Cheese

      The people most on the margins of the Democratic Party coalition (poor whites, Millenials, non-black PoC) are also the ones most receptive to economic leftism.

      The simple passage of time would’ve rendered Obama’s 2008 coalition a bare landslide to a crushing landslide that included Arizona, Montana, Georgia, and Texas had the Democratic Party replicated Obama 2008’s performance and changed nothing else. Hell, if they had replicated his 2012 performance and sank to 2004 levels with black support, the Democratic Party would’ve won both the Senate and the House.

      Don’t need any phantom hidden leftist uprising from hardcore nonvoters or the white working class to undo the GOP. We just have to do what we did in 2008 or at least in 2012. This means at the very least moving to the left on economics. Of course, I suspect that moving to the left on economics will ALSO activate voters who didn’t even show up in 2008’s juiced turnout, but my strategy doesn’t involve this.

      Of course, this is meaningless because the Democratic Party as a whole is among other things corrupt and warmongering, which wouldn’t change even if Bernie Sanders was elected DNC President. I’m actually rooting for Perez to lose. It’s pretty much the only way the Democratic Party doesn’t nominate Booker/Cuban in 2020 and give us four more years of Trump.

    5. different clue

      It depends on what sort of left we mean. A “New Deal Reactionary” sort of civic-economic left might start doing well over time.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        To me, if you don’t put markets first you’re on the left. That’s what distinguishes the left from the liberals and the conservatives, who do (although in different ways).

    6. Edward E

      Ellison may not call for direct war with Russia, but calls for the next best thing in Syria, that’s sure to get the war. I stand with Debbie ‘Sane Progressive’ on many things too time consuming for busy people to track down. Please check out the links on Ellison in the show notes.


      “LEFT? He has the same foreign policy as John McCain & Lindsey Graham. He is Soros funded. Identity politic puppet” Debbie Lusignan

  6. Fastball

    “Will Keith Ellison Move the Democrats Left? Perhaps not. But anybody other than Ellison sends the clearest possible message that the Democrats will not move left.”

    What about Sam Ronan?

    1. NYPaul

      Sam Ronan? You’re kidding, right? Unless the establishment Democrats and all those voters who considered Grifter Clinton to be, “light itself,” submit themselves for elective lobotomies, he’s toast. An honest guy for a leadership post in a Party that is so aware of why they lost to a dimwit that they elected Chuckie Schumer & Nancy Pelosi to lead Congress into the future??? Right!

      Sam Ronan, from last debate:

      “The point is — not only was the primary rigged but also rigged across the country because the DNC has never allowed outsiders or brand new people to rise through the ranks. And it’s always been insider game and it has been that way for a very, very long time.

      That is where the lack of trust has come into play because not only was Bernie Sanders snubbed, not only did it look like Hillary Clinton had bought or muscled her way into it, then those supporters were denied the chance to speak at convention, and that was final straw.”

    2. freedomny

      I agree re Ellison. If they vote Perez the establishment is sending a message. Ronan, as honest as he is, probably doesn’t stand a chance…but also doesn’t mean there isn’t a future for him in the party.

      If Perez is the DNC chair – there is a serious possibility that Sanders will go a Draft Bernie and build his own coalition to prepare for 2020 – but not necessarily with him as Pres (because of his age). He is tough and smart and saw what happened during the campaign. I am hoping to see more of Nina Turner…..

      So – if Ellison doesn’t get Chair – I can’t see Bernie going down softly. He has too much invested.

      And if Bernie does go down softly…I will seriously think about moving to…some other country that Trump hasn’t pissed off. :)

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I think Bernies #1 goal, at this point, is spreading the small-s socialist message. I think, for elective office, we need Sanders 2.0. Not sure who that might be, but it’s telling that both on the left (Nina Turner) and for the “centrists” (Buttigieg), we’re looking to promote Triple-A talent directly to the big leagues without a lot of seasoning. Even the Establishment realizes how deep the rot has gone and how weak the bench is.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Low A and High A is the dividing line in baseball. You don’t get to High A without talent or at least enough charisma to be deemed as a future coach or front office type. The rest is deciding If the talent aren’t complete head cases or can read a scouting report and compete against guys who have read scouting reports.

          Triple AAA talent is ready for the big show. Some are paranoid about the hook and flounder in the bigs as a result, but those guys are ready.

          The really can’t miss players who need seasoning go to whatever game has the best pitcher or lineup that night. 2B Dustin Pedroia in 2004 had every at bat micromanage by Terry Francona by phone from a major league dugout while Pedroia played all over the North East.

        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          I think Bernie should push a “Big Huge S” socialist message right in people’s faces but then simply point out who is currently already feeding at the Big Huge S socialist trough today: Wall St, Big Pharma, Big Military, Big Oil, Big Spy. Google, Lockheed, Aetna, Verizon, and Goldman.
          Take it one step at a time. First get people to understand the we already have massive “Big S Socialism”…just not the kind for actual people.

  7. Elizabeth Burton

    I can’t speak for the other three, but there’s a male voice available for Siri, so we women can have our slave, too.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Whereas if you address her as “Hey, puta,” Siri will start cursing you in Spanish.

        Kidding (I think).

        1. RMO

          When voice systems were first used in aircraft research suggested that female voices were more authoritative to male pilots and easier to understand. As far as I know nowadays the general consensus is that both male and female voices are about the same when it comes to authoritativeness and clarity. I don’t us any sort of electronic device that uses voice input or synthesized voice output as I find the whole setup kind of creepy. As for how it influences people in person to person interactions I would hate to see things get worse. I just think of how badly many people treat those who have less power than they do. People higher in the company abusing those lower. Employers abusing employees. Customers abusing staff.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            I always thought that car direction systems should license Barry White’s voice and spice it up a bit: “Hey, baby, you’re lookin’ fiiiine today…turn left in 100 yards”

  8. cocomaan

    It really feels like the two parties are coming apart – R’s won’t be able to kill Obamacare because it’s too entrenched (even so far as to be integrated into computer systems that can’t be walked back) while the D’s struggle with crushing the left wing of their party.

    Seems to me they are both being threatened existentially.

    As Dan Carlin said on his latest episode “Get Me a Glass of Water“, it’s exactly what I said I wanted, but now that I’m watching it, presided over by a buffoonish outsider president, a set of incredibly naive corporations, and an occult intelligence community at war with itself, I’m not ashamed to admit that it’s getting tiring and alarming.

    If this were happening in isolation, it might be less impactful, but it’s also happening as other political orders split apart, such as the EU. The Middle East is starting to look stable in comparison. Even Israel is enjoying a period of complete silence, which is pretty unusual for me as a MENA observer.

    Now I know what my dad meant when he said that growing up in the late 1960’s wasn’t as much exciting as it was frightening. So now I’m listening to old protest songs and changing the lyrics.

    1. Carl

      Nice roundup. It definitely does look like quite a few institutions are losing their credibility (and their sanity). Business as usual doesn’t cut it any more. Fascinating to see the implosions.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Bibi has his corruption charges, and Likud recently announced new settlements. It looks like the Israeli courts will let that soldier who shot a kid out of jail.

      I think things are fairly loud, but the appearance of an “adversarial press” or at least piqued presstitutes who don’t get invited to lunch versus the somnolent stenographer of the last sixteen years has added so much noise it’s hard to see to the forest through the trees.

      The world didn’t stop spinning due to a Donald Trump tweet, later contradicted a few tweets later or denied a few years prior, or possibly confirmed.

    3. Oregoncharles

      50+ years. So that’s how long it takes for the cycle to come around.

      However, there is not the culture of rebellion now that there was in the 60s. I came of age then, and remember it as hugely exciting. We were too young to know any better.

  9. Paid Minion

    LMAO…………”subserviant female bots”

    If they are so worried about it, maybe they ought to create their own “I ain’t gonna take any shit off no man……..” bot/app.

    Suggested replies:

    “WTF do you want?”

    “Look it up your own goddam self. I’m busy”

    “I have a headache”

    “I’d give you the directions, but you aren’t going to listen to me anyway…..”

    “Don’t bother calling…….nobody at this number wants to talk to you.”

    “I don’t want to go there. I like _______ better.”

  10. NoOneInParticular

    Re film vs. digital:

    My experience reading photo forums, while not encyclopedic, backs up this notion. (Photography is the thing I do to retain my sanity. I make some money at it but it’s not my living.) I usually read the forms to seek out technical advice, hoping to get a feel for what’s out there if I need new equipment. And these days opinions on digital are more nit-picky than opinions on film. “X sucks” is a more likely comment about a digital product than film.

    More generally, however, the pictures I see on photo forums are routinely awful, lacking any true creativity, whether film or digital. This is probably because the forums are generally geared to gearheads. And maybe there’s something self-selective about digital and people who obsess over equipment. They look for the best within a certain narrow, measurable slice of photography. During the early years of DSLRs there was a nasty film vs. digital split, with many film people simply refusing to even consider going digital. Within the digital community, during the early years, the focus was generally on megapixels, more was better (even though the pros were doing fine in print with 2MP sensors). In the last few years as those numbers have all basically surpassed 35mm film quality, the obsession has branched out into tonal range or dynamic range. Now we all know that film feels different than digital. So perhaps it’s the acknowledgment that we’re in the realm of feelings and not numbers that makes the film discussions more gentle.

  11. PKMKII

    Tangential on the photography issue: I’ve seen it recommended for people looking to do photography seriously and/or professionally, that they do a “Year of Film.” Get an old SLR (film ones are cheap these days) and spend a year shooting just with the film camera, going on a digital fast. Idea being that digital makes it a little too easy; you can switch up ISO, shutter speeds, etc., so easily, many photogs end up just taking a shot at a bunch of settings, and then picking the best in post-production. Film forces you to both think about what would work best before committing, and to conserve your shots. You end up taking a greater percentage of good pictures, rather than picking out a few good ones from hundreds or thousands of mediocre ones.

    1. Carolinian

      When National Geographic photographers used to go on assignment they took suitcases full of Kodachrome to produce the dozen or so pics that would wind up in the magazine. I suspect for most professional photographers this high shooting ratio is their trade secret. The beauty of digital photography is that it allows ordinary people to do this without spending thousands of dollars. As someone who grew up in the film era with developer stained fingers I say thank god it is over. By simplifying the technology from the user standpoint digital cameras allow photographers to concentrate on what matters–the thing in front of the lens. The craft should be the craft of looking, not fooling with f stops.

      1. different clue

        But will digi-pixels ever be as small and as many-per-square-unit-of picture surface as the pigment molecules of photochemical emulsion film? Will digipixel photography ever capture as much actual visual information and detail as photochem film does? Or at least can?

        1. Carolinian

          I believe digital has already equaled 35 mm for Hollywood’s purposes which is why most movies are now shot digitally. Film undoubtedly has special qualities but the cumbersome technology means that shrinking film demand may soon make the whole debate moot. Movie theaters, which not that long ago made use of miles of the stuff, now show all their movies digitally after the movie studios engineered the changeover.

  12. Foppe

    Since I’m a reader: why is there a DNC chair “debate” on CNN? Was the last one? (Or was that “uncontested”?)

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      When the President is a Democrat, the President picks, so Timmy Kaine and DWS were selections of Obama. The last DNC chair race was in early 2005 to replace Terry MacAuliffe. I dont remember the Clinton candidate in the race. Obviously Terry Mac was a holdover from the Clinton years. The Democrats almost immediately started winning races including holding both of the former seats of Republicans Tom Delay and Danny Hastert in the next few years. Whatever Obama touches turns to garbage.

      1. Procopius

        I have read, and believe, that Obama was strongly influenced by Rahm Emanuel to shut down the Organize For Obama, which had become a real, bottom-up grass-roots organization and turn all control over to the DNC and have them devote all the money to recruiting and supporting right-wing candidates. Oh, and end the 50-state strategy, which might spend money on liberal candidates. I know that I was so angered by the way in which Obama and Plouffe disempowered OFA that on 20 January 2010 I asked them to remove me from their mailing list.

  13. Jim Haygood

    ‘Astonishing to me that IP sets the manufacturing baseline. Surely this has not always been true?’

    Apparently it has:

    Although the principle of the crank had long been known, Pickard managed to obtain a 12-year patent in 1780 for the specific application of the crank to steam engines; this was a setback to Boulton and Watt who got round the patent by applying the sun and planet motion to their advanced double-acting rotative engine of 1782.

    Watt’s vigorous defence of his patents resulted in the continued use of the Newcomen engine in an effort to avoid royalty payments. When [Watt’s] patents expired in the 1790s there was a rush to install Watt engines, and Newcomen engines were eclipsed, even in collieries.


    At least patent terms have remained relatively constant — 20 years in the US. Copyright is the horror story, having morphed from 14 years initial + 14 years extension when the US began, to author’s life plus 70 years today (which can add up to 120 years or more).

    Today’s copyright terms amount to a corporate-sponsored theft of culture, suppression of expression, and abuse of human rights. Under these circumstances, copyright piracy becomes a moral obligation. “Steal this book,” as ol’ Abbie Hoffman used to write.

    1. Cujo359

      I think what’s different now is that there’s software. When you make something out of actual matter, whatever that material (or the parts it’s made into) is, costs some money for every unit manufactured. Software, though, is basically free on a per unit basis, except for IP and cost of transmitting it or embedding it into the unit.

      So,nowadays I’d think IP cost quite often represents a floor.

    2. Larry Y

      There’s patents, and if there are standards, manufacturers have to pay for them too. And remember, patents cover the manufacturing process, not just the design and functioning of the widget. This is especially true as most firms have separated design and manufacturing. The contract manufacturer brings their own issues.

      Also, if there’s any kind of processor on it, there’s the software aspect. It’s not enough to buy the chip, need to buy libraries of software, and then there’s the software needed to program the processor.

      1. Procopius

        As for standards, it is now common for laws to specify standards produced by private organizations which must be adhered to. Anybody who wants to do anything covered by that law then must buy a copy of the standard from that private organization. Otherwise they cannot know what the standard is. This has been upheld by at least one court. I think it hasn’t gone to the Supremes yet.

  14. allan

    Correct the Record goes Hollywood?

    The anti-Russia flick Bitter Harvest is opening at theaters today or tomorrow.
    A fictionalized portrayal from the Ukrainian nationalistic point of view
    of Stalin’s war by starvation on Ukraine in the 1930’s
    (discussed at length in the comments a few days ago),
    the movie has been advertised nonstop on NPR
    and pushed by noted progressive Amanda Marcotte at Salon.
    Which these days are apparently where one goes to place neocon agitprop.

    The movie has been skewered by film critics:
    The Irish Times says, An epic monstrosity that’s so bad it’s almost unmissable.
    The Seattle Times says, Turning famine into cheesy Ukrainian war romance.
    You get the idea.

    But strangely, or not, as of today the movie has an 8.5/10 rating on IMDB.
    Someone who wants to stir the pot with Russia has been busy.

    1. hunkerdown

      Rotten Tomatoes, which is apparently not engaged by the IC, gives Bitter Harvest an average rating of 3.8/10, 26 out of 26 rotten.

  15. KurtisMayfield

    Siri, Alexa, etc.

    You have it all wrong, you don’t “own” the software, they are licensed to you so that they can own your data. If anyone is the slave in this relationship it is the customer.

  16. DH

    The ironic and hypocritical moment of the week: http://gohmert.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=398419

    The patriotic Second Amendment loving politicians are afraid to meet with their constituents because they might be shot like Gabbie Giffords. I thought the obvious solution was for the politician and all of his staff to carry handguns and AR-15s to ensure their safety from their constituents. They could even announce their heroic policy of appearing in public by wearing the appropriate attire:http://www.nrastore.com/nra-good-guy-with-a-gun-t-shirt

    After all, school teachers are supposed to do that to protect their kids from bears. We should expect no less of our politicians.

  17. RenoDino

    Portion of recent article by Brian Hook (soon to be at State) and friends at Hay Institute…

    U.S. foreign policy today is failing every test that a great power’s foreign policy can fail. Today, America’s enemies do not fear the United States and America’s friends doubt that they can trust it. Neither the American people nor the world-at-large understands anymore either the purposes of American power or even, in some respects, the principles that shape them. Indeed, after a decade and a half of conflict in the Middle East and South Asia, some Americans have concluded that the best thing to do is to pull back from the world and its troubles. Some argue that America’s role as guarantor of global order is no longer necessary, history having ended with the Cold War; there are also those who think the United States is too clumsy and incompetent to do much of anything right; and there are, finally, those who think that “nation-building at home” is some kind of alternative to engagement abroad.
    We disagree. We believe that a strong United States is essential to the maintenance of the open global order under which this country and the rest of the world have prospered since 1945; that the alternative is not a self-regulating machine of balancing states but a landscape marked by eruptions of chaos and destruction. We recognize the failures as well as the successes of past policies, because to govern is to choose, and to choose in the world as it is, is necessarily to err. But while we believe that we must understand those failures and learn from them, we also believe that American power and influence has, on the whole, served our country and the world far better than American weakness and introversion.

    So it begins again. That didn’t take long.

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘U.S. foreign policy today is failing every test that a great power’s foreign policy can fail … American power and influence has, on the whole, served our country and the world.’

      WTF … this is openly contradictory. Failure = success.

  18. RudyM

    More specifically, El Rey Theater is about two blocks from where I was living in downtown Albuquerque when I heard someone get shot a couple blocks away.

    I’m not saying it’s that bad there, but gunshots are not unheard of.

  19. ewmayer

    “Siri, Alexa, Cortana (and Google Home) aren’t servants. They’re slaves. They’re owned.”

    Sorry, no sale here – I would put it “Siri, Alexa, Cortana (and Google Home) aren’t servants, nor slaves. They’re software tools.” Which is not to say that their usage modes have no effect on the user’s brains. In the original Star Trek series, the computer was also provided with a “pleasingly female” voice, so this choice goes back a long way. I can’t say if there is any “this is the voice that, averaged over the user base of both sexes, gets highest marks for pleasing-ness” basis for this manufacturer choice, but fully support user customization here – if some users prefer a gruff male western drawl [“please choose between [1] actor John Wayne, and [2] actor Sam Elliott”] or a mellifluous baritone [“please choose between [1] former president Obama, and [2] 60s SciFi hunk Rex Reason”], I say give it to ’em! And on April 1st, everyone gets Elmer Fudd.

      1. Oregoncharles

        You greatly underestimate the kids. They are quite capable of learning multiple sets of rules, for different situations. So, you interact one way with people you’re close to, another with people you don’t know, and yet another with cops. Your phone isn’t, doesn’t look like or sound like, another person, even if it’s using an artificial human-like voice.

        They might try treating their mother or sister the way you treat Siri, but only once. It’s an important learning experience.

        Let’s just hope you set a decent example when interacting with PEOPLE. That, they will follow.

  20. rjs

    yesterday i saw that Alex Jones’ Infowars had been blacklisted..
    today i read that Natural News has been too: quoting:

    “Mike Adams reports from NaturalNews.com
    GOOGLE blacklists Natural News… removes 140,000 pages from its index… “memory holes” Natural News investigative articles on vaccines, pharma corruption, fraudulent science and more
    Late last week, I received a direct threat that warned if I did not take steps to destroy Alex Jones and InfoWars, I would be targeted for destruction in a campaign of smears, censorship and defamation.
    True to form, today the entire Natural News website has been blacklisted by Google, entirely without warning. This is just one of many censorship events that have all taken place over the last few days:
    •Last weekend, damning videos were leaked in a focused effort to take out Milo Yiannopoulos, a former Breitbart News editor and gay conservative who has openly supported President Trump. ….
    •Yesterday, InfoWars was blackballed by AdRoll.com, an online advertising distribution company. According to Alex Jones, the blacklisting by AdRoll will cost InfoWars $3 million in annual revenues.
    •Today, Natural News has been hit by Google, which has blacklisted the entire Natural News domain and removed over 140,000 pages from its index.

    that’s from a heavily linked comment at Chris Martenson’s site:

    you all know that Naked Capitalism was once on one of those fake news lists..the refrain “first they came for the socialists, but since i was not a socialist, i did not speak out” comes to mind…

    1. Oregoncharles

      Goodsearch still finds it, no problem. Plus it makes a small donation to the charity of my choice each time I use it. Why are you still using Google?

  21. june z

    The US-China comparison is, I think, not using the appropriate valuation. [“The U.S. economy, as measured by gross domestic product, is by far the largest in the world at $18.04 trillion. China, the closest thing the U.S. has for a competitor, is No. 2 with a GDP of $11 trillion…” [MarketWatch] ]
    According to the World Bank , China’s GDP in ppp terms surpassed that of the US in 2015 at $19.8 tr vs $18.0 tr. Of course this it total output, not per capita.

  22. Daryl


    On top of the sha1 collision from earlier, a catastrophic security issue.

    > We fetched a few live samples, and we observed encryption keys, cookies, passwords, chunks of POST data and even HTTPS requests for other major cloudflare-hosted sites from other users. Once we understood what we were seeing and the implications, we immediately stopped and contacted cloudflare security.

    1. Anon

      This is huge. Any private data sent to a Cloudflare-proxied site during the affected time period should now be considered compromised. Change passwords, secrets, clear active sessions, etc. on any affected sites (unfortunately there isn’t an easy list I know of, but Cloudflare is pervasive) to prevent future misuse of these credentials, but that won’t do anything about private data that has already been disclosed.

      There’s more discussion at HN: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13718752.

      Tavis’s tweet mentions a few high-profile sites that use or used Cloudflare: https://twitter.com/taviso/status/834900838837411840. NC uses Cloudflare, but the impact of this issue should be limited to site administrators (whose credentials and active sessions should be considered compromised and changed, as described above).

    2. ewmayer

      Re. the SHA1 article, instead of “9,223,372,036,854,775,808 SHA1 computations in total” they could have just said “2^63 SHA1 computations in total”, but nooo… :)

    3. Oregoncharles

      I don’t understand why anyone would think something call the Cloud would be secure. It may be a useful backup, but not for stuff anyone else might want.

  23. allan

    Early Uber investors call on company to change ‘destructive culture’ [Reuters]

    Early investors in Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] wrote to the ride-hailing company on Thursday to criticize it for failing to end a toxic culture of harassment.

    Mitch and Freada Kapor publicly rebuked the company after former Uber employee Susan Fowler described in a blog how she was sexually harassed by a manager and that human resources and upper management refused to punish the offender and even threatened her with a bad performance review. …

    Uber did not directly address the Kapors’ letter but repeated its commitment to investigate Fowler’s claims. Uber has hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to lead the investigation alongside attorney Tammy Albarran. …

    The Kapors, though, called out conflicts of interest that may hinder the investigation. Holder has been working for Uber since June to dissuade lawmakers from requiring fingerprint background checks for drivers.

    “We are disappointed to see that Uber has selected a team of insiders to investigate its destructive culture and make recommendations for change,” they wrote.

    The Kapors’ letter raised eyebrows in Silicon Valley where investors usually defend their startups.

    Eric Holder called out as ethically compromised by Silicon Valley venture capitalists. Tragic.

    1. Kurt Sperry

      Hey if anyone’s expert on ethical compromise, it’s Silicon Valley VCists. Takes one to know one?

  24. Old Hickory

    “Apparently Laffer’s napkin is nailed to Mnuchin’s forehead. A remarkable feat, nailing snake oil to anything.” Lambert, you outdid yourself with that one. I am still laughing!

    1. Carla

      I’m wondering if Lambert actually meant nailing anything to snake oil…

      maybe because if I’d been smart enough to think of it (which I’m not), that’s what I would have meant…

  25. Vatch

    Some of you may have seen this already, but it’s still fairly fresh: Attorney General Sessions plans to continue the use of private prisons by the federal government:


    WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Jeff Sessions signaled Thursday his strong support for the federal government’s continued use of private prisons, reversing an Obama administration directive to phase out their use. Stock prices of major private prison companies rose at the news.

    Sessions issued a memo replacing one issued last August by Sally Yates, the deputy attorney general at the time.

    That memo, which followed a harshly critical government audit of privately run prisons, directed the federal Bureau of Prisons to begin reducing and ultimately end its reliance on contract facilities. Yates, in her announcement, said private facilities have more safety and security problems than government-run ones and were less necessary given declines in the overall federal prison population.

    I don’t think there’s anything about this at the Justice Department web site yet.

  26. ewmayer

    Waymo sues Uber for allegedly stealing self-driving secrets – SFGate

    The suit alleges that [Otto co-founder Anthony Levandowski, formerly of Google] and others who followed him from Waymo to Otto stole details of Google’s proprietary [LIDAR] sensors before his departure. Waymo charged that Levandowski downloaded 14,000 confidential files shortly before he left the company. “Mr. Levandowski took extraordinary efforts to raid Waymo’s design server and then conceal his activities,” the lawsuit reads.

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