Links 2/23/17

A Bee Mogul Confronts the Crisis in His Field NYT

These seven alien worlds could help explain how planets form Nature

Giving weight to Darwin’s theory of ‘living fossils’ Science Daily

A New Era of Central Banking? Philip Pilkington, Econintersect

Brussels and ECB divided by Monte dei Paschi’s capital proposals FT

There’s finally a commercial use for blockchain tech in finance Quartz. Private equity (?!).

Big Banks Declare War on Venmo Bloomberg

BREAKING: Exxon to Leave Up to 3.6 Billion Barrels of Tar Sands/Oil Sands in the Ground The Energy Mix

Trade Developments in 2016: Policy Uncertainty Weighs on World Trade (pdf) World Bank

The left’s Brexit dilemma Stumbling and Mumbling

Polls are still reliable, and they show Marine Le Pen losing The Economist

Martin Schulz takes aim at ‘sacred cow’ German economic reforms FT


Russia asks world powers to pay for Syria rebuild FT

Yemen: Riyadh Pledged $10 Billion For Reconstruction, Yemeni President Says Daily Mail

Tearing the Historic Fabric: The Destruction of Yemen’s Cultural Heritage LA Review of Books


China’s H7N9 bird flu measures came too late, experts say South China Morning Post (J-LS).

China’s $9 Trillion Moral Hazard Is Now Too Big to Ignore Bloomberg

33,000 gather in support of Hong Kong officers jailed for beating up Occupy protester Ken Tsang South China Morning Post


Dakota pipeline protest camp nearly empty as holdouts face removal Reuters and Pipeline fights move from Dakota prairie to Louisiana bayous Reuters

“There Is Regulatory Capture, But It Is By No Means Complete” Kenneth Arrow (Interview), Pro-Market

Q: Perhaps the way to fix the American health care system is simply to adopt the [single payer] UK model?

[ARROW:] I would say the Canadian model, rather than the UK model. But it’s so politically out of the question I don’t even think about it.

Thanks, Obama!

Health Care

Republican Health Proposal Would Redirect Money From Poor to Rich NYT

Insurers May Get More Time to Opt Into Obamacare in 2018 Bloomberg

Health Savings Accounts: Don’t Leave Money on the Table NYT

2016 Post Mortem

Democratic divisions on display at DNC debate CNN. “After Perez sought to avoid directly answering the question — saying the party had lost trust in its voters and created a ‘crisis of relevance’ — long-shot candidate Sam Ronan, an Air Force veteran from Ohio, jumped in to call the contest rigged and say Sanders’ supporters felt excluded at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia. Buttigieg said Democrats don’t want to make the mistake of reliving the 2016 race.” Look forward and not back….

The 2017 DNC Chair Election: A Cheat Sheet Washington Monthly. Oddly, there’s no mention of Clintonite “election riggging.” See here and here. I guess Clara had her blue pencil out!

Meet the DNC dark horse: Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg is shaking up the race for Democratic chair Salon. Hoho endorsed him…

On The Future Of The Democratic Party: Let Peter Buttigieg Run The Whole Thing HuffPo

A plutocrat honestly explains the new politics of America Fabius Maximus

Trump Transition

Republicans Confront Protesters at Explosive Town Halls Nationwide Vanity Fair.

Lambert here: I’m all for civic engagement! I’m skeptical (and at this point highly counter-suggestible, I admit) for four reasons: 1) The people who attend these town halls are the people who can attend these town halls, meaning: Not those on the night shift, not those who don’t control their work schedules, not those who can’t afford car-fare and secure childcare, and mostly for those who are comfortable formulating questions and follow-ups in public settings. That is, the “protesters” skew 10%, Clinton’s base. 2) To the extent that the protests do not bring new (Democrat) voters into the electorate — either unregistered or repelled — these protests can only appear as mere venting by a base that, as the last eight years have shown, is ill-equipped to secure and retain political power at the national level, or moral authority, for that matter. 3) To the extent that the protests are about Restoration — #SaveNeeraTandensRiceBowl #SaveTheACA as very much opposed to #MedicareForAll — and reinforcing crazypants groupthink orthodoxy like war with Russia, their effects on the body politic are likely to be at best neutral and quite possibly malign. 4) In general, we note the lack of policy focus in all this #TheResistance material, showing a resolute unwillingness on the part of the Democrat nomenklatura to even consider rethinking its losing strategies and tactics. That said, once again, I’m all for civic engagement, and I’d love to be wrong! Readers, have any of you attended a town hall? If so, what happened?

Trump to seek jobs advice from firms that offshore U.S. work Reuters

New EPA head is awfully friendly with the industry he should regulate, emails show The Verge

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The Federal Government’s Reversal: Let the States Deal With Transgender Kids The Atlantic

Trump administration scraps Obama transgender-rights directive Politico

Waiting for the Supremes: High Court’s Decision in Gloucester County to Determine Validity of ACA Section 1557 Gender Identity and Transgender Services Rules C&M Health Law. There’s more at stake than Title IX.

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Why Trump’s Immigration Crackdown Could Sink U.S. Home Prices Bloomberg

Immigration and Wages Ian Welsh

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The Foreign-Policy Establishment Defends Itself From Trump The Atlantic (Re Silc). The Blob (original report from Brookings) answers the question: “What are your demands?”

The War Hawks Rolled Donald Trump Moon of Alabama

McMaster May Reorganize Trump’s Foreign Policy Team Once Again NYT

The Duty of General McMaster The American Conservative. “Like German militarists in 1917, American militarists in 2017 fight on because they lack the capacity to imagine an alternative. In policymaking circles, war has become a habit.” I’ve said that Trump’s personality flaws are more similar to Kaiser Wilhelm II’s than Hitler’s. You should not find this reassuring.

* * *

Justin Amash Emerges as Leading Critic of Fellow Republican Donald Trump WSJ

Susan Collins Implies She Could Be a Swing Vote in SSCI’s Investigation of the Russian Hack emptywheel. I dunno. District 2 (University of Maine) went for Trump. District 1 (Portland, a Boston suburb. Kidding!) went for Clinton. Collins is the quintessential Republican moderate, but does she need to be anything more than a revolving heroine?

Sen. Susan Collins develops pivotal, but uncomfortable, role as check on Trump Portland Press-Herald. “‘The advantage for those not following the herd is that they will have some leverage because few people are moving over to the other side,’ says Steffen Schmidt, a political science professor at Iowa State University. ‘Right now Collins can probably hold Trump hostage for a vote and get a yuuuge new naval facility built in Maine for her vote.'” Exactly.

NPR has created a team devoted to covering President Trump’s conflicts of interest Poynter. Of course, if NPR had created such a team to press for throwing the banksters in jail in 2009, there might not even be a President Trump. And once more: The problem with Trump isn’t the vacuous liberal framing that he’s “conflicted,” as if the Democrat Party weren’t; it’s that Trump is an oligarch, along with much of his cabinet, and rule by the rich is conflicted by definition.

Ex-CIA officer jailed in Portugal for her alleged role in kidnapping a terrorism suspect WaPo.

Class Warfare

America’s Monopolies Are Holding Back the Economy Barry Lynn

Inside Uber’s Aggressive, Unrestrained Workplace Culture NYT (DL). Workers sleeping in their cars doesn’t create a moral panic, but if professionals are unhappy…

Platform Co-ops: How have we got here – and where do we go next? Co-operative News (DB).

Sue the Bastards? It’s Harder Than You Think Counterpunch (RH).

For a Society without Jobs Dissident Voice

Are We Spoiling Our Kids with Too Much Praise? JSTOR Daily (MT). MT: “Makes me think about the difference about poor schools and some schools for the elite: in poor school you learn mathematics, in elite school you learn to think like a mathematician.” And in the uber-elite schools, you learn how to simulate thinking like a mathematician. That’s what the economics department is for!

The Greatest Living Economist Has Passed Away: Notes on Kenneth Arrow Part I A Fine Theorem. Arrow was a fine prose stylist, and not a mathy obscurantist.

Code-Dependent: Pros and Cons of the Algorithm Age (pdf) Pew Research Center

A Muddle of Mind and Matter The Archdruid Report

NASA’s longshot bet on a revolutionary rocket may be about to pay off Ars Technica (CL). Interesting!

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Abigail Caplovitz Field

    I live in NY CD-1, which is a swing Congressional district. Two elections ago, the incumbent D lost to an extreme R. This year, that R–who was an early Trump supporter and votes lockstep with Trump’s agenda–was reelected.

    There is a local effort, following the indivisible guide, to meet and keep meeting with him. After a few meetings with staff, the congressman cancelled a previously scheduled town hall. Now the demand is for a live town hall. He has offered a telephone town hall for tonight, but the demand for an in person one remains.

    Here are what seem to be practical consequences so far:

    1) people I’ve not seen involved locally before are joining local stalwarts. If being willing to take a new political action–showing up at a Congressman’s office–turns into a willingness to take other actions–make phone calls, knock doors–then it will have a big impact. Turnout will really matter in 2018.

    2) They skew retired and young, but some work from home/gig economy types show too. This is just in my part of his district; he has multiple offices and I’ve not been to the actions at his other ones

    3) It is generating media coverage locally and on national TV. The local coverage matters; it bugs even some of his supporters that he’s avoiding having a meeting rather than hear people and then ignore them.

    4) This is a second homeowner community, with the other home often in NYC. Based on Facebook comments, some NYC folks are going to register to vote out here, as they can as long as the second home is legitimately a residence. If that becomes more than a handful–we have lots of second homeowners–that could change the electorate locally; whether it really impacts the Congressional depends on that being a meaningful number of people.

    1. allan

      I haven’t been to an event this year, but will add that the raucous Tea Party crowd that I did see at a 2010 town hall given by Eric Massa (who later self-destructed over personal issues) was very affluent. The long line of cars that I walked past to get in were generally a lot more expensive than mine, and not what I was expecting to see given the location. So, Lambert’s focusing on the alleged top-10% makeup of the crowds this year misses the point that, for good or ill, a movement can start with the relatively affluent and spread.

      Lambert, I hope you’re feeling better.

      1. nick

        Yeah I think Lambert’s exposition on cruddy liberals is a hobbyhorse that misses the mark here. For example, check out Michael Tracey’s tweets on the Peters/Davis (D) town hall last night which describe an unfriendly and uncompromising reception.

        Though I’ll make a declaration of potential bias: I have a soft spot for some of these Clinton voters, specifically ones who were convinced by the “electibility” argument during the primary and came to see what a steaming pile that turned out to be. In my organizing (not-so-tony NE) I’ve found these people often are good policy, and so are sympathetic to outside-the-Dems left politics while also being able to kick in a few extra $ every so often, or give rides, which helps.

        1. Deadl E Cheese

          In my organizing (not-so-tony NE) I’ve found these people often are good policy, and so are sympathetic to outside-the-Dems left politics while also being able to kick in a few extra $ every so often, or give rides, which helps.

          FDR’s kludging of all left-of-center folk who weren’t super-pinko into ‘liberal’ was one of the greatest rhetorical coups ever devised. It lets orthodox liberals steal the accomplishments of pinkos while tricking more confused centrists into letting them off the hook. ‘Hillary Clinton is one of the most liberal candidates since LBJ!’ her propagandists shriek, allowing her to nab the halo of his Good Not-Quite-Liberal Stuff (economic leftism) and denying his Actual Liberal Stuff (nationalism and racism).

          It’s why I don’t even use the term neoliberal except in a strict normative sense. I always use the term liberal (or orthodox liberal or even regular-ass liberal if I’m feeling crotchety) even if neoliberal would be slightly more descriptive.

        2. SpringTexan

          Yes, Clinton is sorry, but many of her supporters are great folk who should not be dissed and who want the same thing we do.

          1. tegnost

            knowing many hillary supporters, I disagree that they want the same things as I, they want the same things as moderate republicans do, charter schools, laissez faire, corporate control of the state, police state/surveillance state, meritocracy, non dichargeable debt, open borders in order to keep wages down, and to “save” the Affordable Care Act. Not the same things.

            1. Carla

              Hillary supporters want the status quo because it’s been working for them, or they think it has. That’s all.

              Those with second homes FOR SURE want the status quo. Sheesh!

            2. mpalomar

              Spring Texan and others in the thread specified ‘some’ or ‘many’ Clinton supporters not all. What is the point of lumping them together as if their issue preferences are a monolithic given? Beyond being inaccurate it is divisive at a time when people should be coming together to share ideas and educate each other.

              If you are disputing that ‘some’ Clinton supporters might back public schools over charters, single payer universal health care or a re-do on trade deals, stricter financial regulations, or a $15 minimum wage I know you are wrong because I know a range of people who supported Clinton, some were forlorn Sanders supporters, some were more traditional life time Democrats, some hated Clinton and Obama but were frightened of Trump, all of them were for single payer. I also know some who are indeed zombies who have uncritically drifted along with the Clinton neo-liberal third way.


              1. tegnost

                if they’re all for single payer as you say then the party has failed them miserably, no? As to divisiveness I would say be divisive if the alternative is to get in the veal pen, which is what is being requested of those of us who are opposed to the aca. Also, I’ve no problem with people supporting who they want to, I do have a problem with people who say I need to support what you support by supporting someone who doesn’t support me, i.e., the clinton faction of the democrats, who are as we speak are refusing to accept that they lost for cause and make no concessions themselves, indeed demand concessions from me, and I’m not giving them, and I’m not sorry about that. You know a range of clinton supporters, that’s great, she lost. Like the poster who claimed aca is too popular to get rid of, if it were so popular she wouldn’t have lost. Forget clinton supporters, she herself was for $12/hr min wage (see riot/parade) for globalisation and the attached protectionist trade deals, no single payer, still to this very day, and charter schools? ever heard of penny pritzger? You’re taking bernies talking points and saying that’s why I should support the people who unfairly and unwisely did him in. Sorry, no thanks.

                1. mpalomar

                  That was one pithy paragraph.

                  As you point out the Democrats, actually both parties, have failed, unless you have some hopes for Trump. If there was a way, parties should be abolished, some of the founders were quite rightly wary of them. That said and quickly dismissed as completely unrealistic, where does it go from here? Either to the barricades, or organize grass roots third parties or fight for policy within the Democrats, or a combination of the two approaches; Sanders is somewhat prototypical; we know what he has spent his career doing. Some say that over the years he perhaps should have focused more on building alliances.

                  Of the two parties, it’s likely only the Democrats can be pushed from the left, though there is actually common ground, given what we’ve seen with the Trump phenomenon. Offending and dismissing issue-aligned (single payer etc.) Clinton supporters as irredeemable is an unworkable political strategy, as it would be a mistake to exclude Trump supporters from a broad movement motivated in organizing around the Wall Street bail out. Demanding orthodoxy on every issue or non-cooperation is a recipe for splintering into small but pure, powerless factions.

                  I don’t understand your point on ACA and Clinton’s loss, her position on the minimum wage etc. Clearly she shouldn’t have been the candidate, she lost (the electoral college vote), it’s time to move on but where too? The ACA is a stop along the way, it’s the way politics works or doesn’t work. Expelling the entire spectrum of Clinton Democrats ( including single payer, public school advocates) as a prerequisite organizational strategy for whatever movement assembles itself going forward is a non-starter.

                  1. Deadl E Cheese

                    Hate to cut into your pathos, but the founders were doofy dogs who didn’t know of anything except how to bungle guerilla war, how to create pointless recessions, and how to diddle slaves. That they think it was possible at all not to have political parties shows that they either had a much more totalitarian vision of the United States government in mind than they’re credited for (don’t count this out; look at how John Adams and George Washington behaved in office) or, more likely, they’re just wine-addled poseurs who didn’t grasp even basic game theory and sociology. That their most functioning branch (the judiciary) is also the one they paid no attention to is ample evidence.

                    What they would have want is not only irrelevant, but considering their deep incompetence, actively harmful. I know that wasn’t the thrust of your argument, but seriously, leading with ‘the Founding Fathers would’ve wanted this’ is the equivalent of leading with ‘The love child of the Sun King and Caligula would’ve wanted this’.

                    1. mpalomar

                      The founders were mostly landed, slave holders or merchants, an aristocracy. Whatever their revolution was about, it did have to deal with whether to install a functioning democracy or otherwise,

                      At the time there weren’t any other democracies as far as I know except perhaps the Swiss Republic. Reviled from Plato to Aristotle to Hobbes, democracy was considered a noxious way to govern up to the American Revolution.

                      The English Civil War, the Magna Carta, the founders, all were, if you like, not worthy, still they were attempting democracy even if for just themselves; the levellers of the New Model Army were radicals; they believed not just white, male landowners should have a say. Didn’t work out for them then.

                      So as disturbing as the incursion of the real world may be upon our ideals within the context of where US democracy has arrived at in its florid Trumpism, there’s a line of events that we should pay attention to. So yeah, the founding fathers.
                      Still the question remains, where to from here?

                    2. Deadl E Cheese

                      So as disturbing as the incursion of the real world may be upon our ideals within the context of where US democracy has arrived at in its florid Trumpism, there’s a line of events that we should pay attention to. So yeah, the founding fathers.

                      You’re right. Like a serial killer dialing in random death threats, we’re forced to pay attention to these dorks. That said, they do have a lot of relevance to the human civilization project even to this day:
                      A.) As Goofuses in powdered wigs.
                      B.) As the shining example of how America’s creepy and neurotic nostalgia boners leads to terminal brain rot in whites, liberals, nerds, and especially white liberal nerds.
                      C.) As a dire warning to all engineers, social scientists, and ecologists on how you should always include a benign planned obsolescence or even self-destruct option for your social engineering project, because humans are risk-averse and mythological and will continue dry-humping a dead horse even after it has decomposed and started housing bees.

                      The one good idea Jefferson had was to include a clause to force the Constitution to dissolve and for America to convene a new one after a few decades. Well, it WOULD have been a good idea if it wasn’t for that whole ‘lol, we let a genocidal aristocracy take root, whoops’ thing, but can’t have everything, yes?

                    3. mpalomar

                      ” I know that wasn’t the thrust of your argument,”

                      Yes well why do you persist?

                      From within your own perfection considering the actual disturbing and profoundly complex nature of human affairs, far easier to rage at Clinton supporters who share some issues or the powdered wigs who screwed up the democracy a few centuries ago. I share the rage but not the contemptuous high ground you occupy.

                      Demcoracy is nearly extinguished not just here but elsewhere in the world. We’ll move on to something else, more absolutely perfect but first we’ll turn on each other in our rage.

            3. JustWendy

              Hmmm…..I was a Hillary supporter because I didn’t want Trump. Your description does not fit me. Stereotyping only makes it easier to vilify each other.

          2. readerOfTeaLeaves

            I’m still waiting for someone to report on who was actually marching at the Women’s Marches post-inaugural. Several of the women that I know who marched are breast cancer survivors (two of them, more than once 8^0 Several others are health care policy makers; people charged with making decisions about how hundreds of millions of dollars are spent.

            Meanwhile, anecdotally in Western Washington, docs are reporting high anxiety among patients, partly because of The Crazy’ (i.e., confusing, abrupt, irrational political and legal news). The high anxiety also seems to be stemming from genuine fear about what the repeal of Obamacare will mean for them — some patients are scared sh!tless that they will not have any kind of affordable coverage. Given their health histories, they’d be idiots not to be scared sh!tless about losing coverage they can afford.

            Circle back to those breast cancer survivors walking in the Women’s Marches – does anyone with functioning brain cells believe that insurers are going to easily renew those people’s coverage if they can possibly get away with non-renewal?

            IOW, while Lambert seems to think that these protestors or Town Hall attendees are ‘ those who can afford (transportation, time to engage in civic affairs)

            But that’s not what I’m hearing and seeing. What I’m hearing about are people who can’t afford not to attend these Town Halls — because they are completely flipped out about losing their health care, and/or losing the Obamacare requirements that their pre-existing conditions must be covered.

            They’re going to do ‘whatever it takes’ to show up a Town Hall and (1) register distress, and (2) try and figure out WTF is going on with their health care coverage, because it is literally existential for them. (As it is for all of us; they’re simply very clear about that fact, due to their health histories.)

            I think there are a lot of really important stories being missed. I wish that I could see one (one!!) MSM story going to even one (one!!) of these Town Halls to collect actual data on the health problems in the crowd, as well as to assess the likelihood that some of those attendees risk losing their health care if ‘Obamacare’ is demolished.

            I am seeking aggregate information about:
            (1) aggregate number and type of health problems in a Town Hall crowd,
            (2) aggregate totals for the amounts that households of attendees are paying in monthly insurance premiums,
            (3) aggregate totals of any kind of wellness or ‘health improvement’ programs available to attendees of those town halls (this would be key for ‘Trump red states’ because those states map in a very creepy way onto US maps of pre-diabetes and diabetes; IOW, these people have existing chronic conditions but probably have very little access to programs that can help them recover their health)

            Hell, any smart, enterprising party or public official would look at a Town Hall as a fabulous chance to do some decent data collection and analysis. (Yeah, I’m a dreamer…)

            And just to add to my ‘high anxiety’ theme: a single, smaller health care network in the Puget Sound area stands to lose over $200,000,000 — in 2017 alone — if Obamacare is repealed. Meanwhile, the truly good thing Obamacare did was to pay for patient health outcomes, rather than ‘fee for service’. This provider network has invested millions in moving to enhancing wellness visits, healthier resources, and measuring (and billing for) improved patient health.

            So health care was actually becoming more innovative.

            Then The Tweeter In Chief got elected along with a GOP Congress, and now the rug is being pulled out from millions of people?! I can’t civilly express the depth of my loathing and contempt for the DNC idiots who sabotaged Bernie Sanders. This is a cluster*ck on steroids.

            And just to continue my rant, I’d sure love to see someone do a really solid job of reporting — how many of those Town Hall attendees understand that both Pharma and HealthCos are monopolies protected under the law?

            Obama and the DNC Third Way corporatist Dems lacked the cajones to actually uproot Pharma and HealthCos by threatening to rip up their charters and dismantle them for failing to put public health foremost. Consequently, I have absolutely zero respect for the DNC. Instead of bitching about The Tweeter In Chief, they all need to take a good, long look in a mirror and think about their role in getting us to a place where breast cancer survivors and others with chronic illness are having to march in the streets, and be treated like trash at Town Halls just because they want to try and figure out whether they have health care coverage.

            Meanwhile, several docs have conveyed, anecdotally, that they are now spending 50% of the patient appointments handing out Kleenex to weeping, terrified, patients. Then offering their patients FREE ‘mindful’ and ‘calming/soothing’ strategies to help them calm down and get focused enough on how to find ways to engage positively in ways that will improve their health. And for some patients, that may mean attending a Town Hall or some form of political engagement; for other patients, it may take the form of volunteering at a food bank.

            (FWIW, another untold story for some enterprising MSM reporter is reporting on how docs are becoming emotionally drained from having to calm down anxious, sometimes hysterical, weeping patients hour, after hour, after hour all day). As one said to me, “Well, at least I know that box of Kleenex isn’t going to cost my patients any more out of pocket. And if I recommend they watch soothing YouTube videos, that’s not going to cost them anything out of pocket, either.”

            So, sorry for the long comment, or perhaps it is a rant, but here’s what I’m seeing and hearing:
            — patients are panicked, anxious, not sleeping
            — docs are emotionally exhausted by trying to help patients calm down in ways that do not abuse pharmaceuticals, and are cost-free
            —- health care network managers, accountants, and execs are scrambling to try and figure out how to serve patients if they suddenly lose millions of dollars — and exasperated about all the money they spent moving to a ‘pay for health outcomes’ model under Obamacare.

            Here are a few quick, simple tips that docs that I know are recommending, in case anyone here would find them helpful or useful. All free, since everyone at NC has some kind of access to video:
            —- free meditation podcasts
            —- music, music, music
            —- youtube has lots of ‘calming’, ‘soothing’ music videos (just ignore ads)
            —- youtube yoga, tai chi, exercise videos
            —- yoga, walks, any form of simple easy movement
            —- there is a growing body of brain research about the cognitive benefits of drawing, which can include coloring books for adults
            —- making a pot of soup (smells nice, calming, healthy)
            —- spending time with your pets, hobbies, or a good book

            Sorry for the rant, but honestly Lambert, what I’m seeing and hearing is heart-rending.

            I would respectfully, kindly ask us all to consider that those among our fellow citizens who have the courage and determination to attend a Town Hall if they are driven there by fears about their health coverage be viewed with the utmost respect. You and I have no idea what is actually underlying these situations, but what I am hearing anecdotally, and seeing among family and friends, is simply heartbreaking and enraging.

            However, ultimately, because Obamacare left monopolies in place, I am deciding to view all of this commotion, conflict, panic, and anxiety as the kind of upheaval that can lead to something better down the way.

            1. marym

              Link to 5th in a WaPo series on “what social science can tell us about” the Women’s Marches. DC and elsewhere. Contains link to the other 4 and to a spreadsheet.

              Thanks for this comment. I’ve tried to identify real grassroots, and/or first time, and/or non-Dembot, etc. participation and potential in the marches and town halls. Been a little discouraged, but you comment helps get me back on track. I know it’s WaPo but it has some interesting findings, and now I think I’ll look at the other 4.

              1. readerOfTeaLeaves

                I think the WaPo did a decent job, except that I’m looking for aggregate stats on the health conditions of attendees, and clearly that didn’t occur to them to collect — OR it was too expensive/time consuming or complicated.

                I think their links to the spreadsheet, plus links to a map of locations of Women’s Marches, plus sizes, plus giving some broader context, was helpful.

                If the Dems got their act together and started collecting this kind of data at Town Halls, they might even be able to make better policy decisions, and it might open their eyes a bit to serving their voting constituents, as opposed to their ‘financiers’.

            2. Oregoncharles

              Youtube also has many videos of rain, the point being the sound. Some of them are hours long, just the thing to help you sleep. My wife swears by them.

              They’re a bit superfluous around here in the winter, but needed in the summer.

            3. Fiery Hunt

              All I can say to all those weepy twits is…

              So now you’re frightened..and panicky…and can’t sleep due to uncertainty and fear…wellll…

              Welcome to the party, gals. About 10 years late…

              Going on 10 years WITHOUT HEALTH INSURANCE.

                1. Fiery Hunt

                  Yes…except with real insurance, one can get care.

                  Just ask my sister-in-law and her union benefits.

            4. izziets

              I thank you for your long ranting post that at least offers a human perspective in contrast to some of the founding father bashing drivel I had to read through to get this far.

              Your point about important stories being missed is completely on target and exactly what’s missing from the so much of the analysis in this thread. There are real people with real problems out there trying to hold their elected officials accountable, whether it’s a mother with a college age son with a rare heart defect, whose fearful of said son losing under age 26 coverage and being un-insurable once that’s gone or everyday Americans unable to sleep at night when suddenly recognizing that what was thought to be over the top campaign rhetoric, impossible to implement and not worth worrying about, i.e. Muslim bans and mass deportation of latino populations is actually being implemented in the most jarring and unconstitutional way possible. Why implement policy in a steady thoughtful way when creating chaos at airports and stoking fear in immigrant communities has such a deeper insidious impact? People will think twice before trying to come here in the future. Unfortunately, time will show that wealthy “desirable” tourists from countries sharing our “customs and values” will also be thinking twice before subjecting themselves to a new chaotic entrance policy in order to shop at Saks, but I digress.

              I suspect that we have an administration that is purposely creating chaos and controversy, so while everyone is scrambling trying to fight on all these divisive fronts, they can silently implement policies siphoning ever more of the country’s wealth to the top 1%, in complete contradiction of the populist, “for the working man” campaign that got them elected. The only real concrete actions that have taken place, installation of oil exec as Secretary of State, EPA head in the pocket of oil & gas industry appointed to dismantle agency he’s in charge of and completion of the Keystone pipeline decreed, all point to the conclusion that America’s executive branch is now completely in the control of the oil and gas industry. Add in the unanswered questions re Russia (whose oil and gas interests align with and outmatch the players mentioned above) with the inexplicable behavior of the infallible one, and this all creates a feeling of deep unease in response to an out of control executive branch that holds itself accountable to no one. If all of this isn’t a reason to protest and demand that elected officials hold the executive branch accountable, I don’t know what is.

              1. readerOfTeaLeaves

                Thanks for your kind words.
                I tend to agree with your analysis of our Oil & Gas, Shock Doctrinaire current administration.

                Here’s hoping ‘the human factor’ will prevail over greed, spreadsheets, and tax havens.

          3. NotTimothyGeithner

            Ignorance shouldn’t be forgotten or overlooked. Hillary’s flaws as candidate were obvious and extreme, and now to see Hillary supporters trying to lead the “VealPenStance” (credit to Lambert and worthy of Atrios) still means questions need to be asked about intentions and goals of the Clinton supporters especially if they want support.

            Despite their fears of the Supreme Court being lost for a generation, Clinton voters couldn’t be bothered to put any thought into their vote last Spring. Let’s see their opening offer. If it’s just a couple of stunts and demands for loyalty to the same frauds, then that is a group of people who don’t share more lefty values, even if they have a bumper sticker that says they do.

            1. NYPaul

              The full frontal, primeval rage & hatred the Clintonites hurled at Sanders’ followers, actually any voters who wouldn’t, dutifully accept the inevitable coronation was nothing short of breathtaking.

              Nothing illustrated their contempt more in the final days of the campaign, as the race kept tightening, Trump mingling with the huge crowds drawn to his events, while Clinton slithered, like a thief in the night, from one $100,000 per, private fund raiser to another.

        3. JohnnyGL


          This is a fair and noteworthy point regarding ‘swing’ Clinton voters within the party. A look at exit polls from the Dem primaries reveal that Clinton’s perceived ‘electability’ was CENTRAL to the votes she got. Registered Dems wanted to beat Trump, first and foremost. A lot of those 10-20%ers that Lambert enjoys dishing snark at (rightfully so) would agree with the Sanders camp on policy issues. I think it’s a good thing to get them engaged (not just because engagement itself is a good thing, which it is, of course) but also, because a lot of those 10-20%ers have the same insecurities as those below them on the economic ladder and know that their status in this group is fairly precarious. I’m one of them. We’re only a job-loss away from joining the struggling masses.

          Now, onto a tangent to re-litigate the primary election again, but only to make a point about policy and support for it :)

          If the narrative was put out to ‘flip’ the electability argument….meaning only Sanders could win with a public hungry for ‘change’, then I think the results of the primary would have been very different. Again, based on exit polls, so grain of salt required.

          Let’s remember, Clinton won 54-46, in the end. That’s not massive, and that’s with ‘electability’ on her side. If you take even 1/2 of the ‘electability’ voters away from her, I suspect you have a Sanders win.

          I also think the primary calendar was key here, and that’s by design. Get the conservative, sourthern states in the books early, give Clinton a big lead, and let her coast to victory based on ‘inevitability’ and ‘electability’.

          It’s hard to disentangle policy preferences from candidate choice, but I suspect many 10-20%ers know what the right thing to do is from a policy perspective. Clinton’s loss is important because that base no longer believes that compromise is necessary to win, or even helps to win anymore. Maybe it did in the 90s, but no longer.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Yes, there has been decades worth of propaganda about Bill’s political genius, but it doesn’t require much effort to check the results.

            The “Electability” or “experience” argument always reminded me of the “national debt” excuse for Republicans. Tribal attachment is the primary motivator. It’s largely why elite Dems think Bernie’s list is a MacGuffin. They think Sanders primary voters have a tribal attachment much like their voters and can harness those resources with the right magic spell.

            Phony Saturday walks and town hall stunts are attempts at doing what the DFH’s want. Usually, they reveal themselves by noting how they will make sure people with two homes are registered in the best spot to maximize their vote. Talk about organizing.

          2. Oregoncharles

            The “electability” argument was hogwash from the start, and was completely disproven by the polls, so I guess I agree with you.

            However, I’m not sure it was made in good faith, even by voters.

      2. montanamaven

        Last night on Sirius Progress radio show “Make It Plain”, a woman called in a proudly declared that she was NOT paid to go to the Town Hall in Colorado. That she had paid over a $1000 to attend the Woman’s March in D.C. That she had paid over $350 to attend the town hall in Colorado and that she was willing to spend much more. The host asked her if this was her first time as an activist and she replied, “Yes”. Then said, “Oh, I protested against the war in the 70’s.” Host said, “But not recently. But a long time ago.”
        “Yes, she said. Then without irony she said with her voice raised, “THIS IS WAR! We need boots on the ground.”
        “I like that,” said the Host.
        Thankfully I reached the watering hole and turned off the radio and went in for a stiff one.

      1. montanamaven

        In my experience, most of the 2nd Home people do not want the same thing as the true left. They want the status quo. They send their kids to private schools and they don’t worry about paying for healthcare. They don’t worry about Social Security. They are nice people who are very tolerant and support environmental causes especially clean rivers that their 2nd homes sit on. Not so concerned about public transportation which my town sorely needs. Not concerned with a living wage. They do not want political change from Clinton Third Way. It’s working for them.

      2. Binky

        Do you want the change or don’t you? How bad do you want change?

        If you have to work with people you don’t like or approve of, will it be worth it even if you don’t get all of the things you wanted? Better dead than to associate with upper middle class people?

        Otherwise it is a Russian joke along the lines of “beat me half to death.”

        1. Yves Smith

          Huh? This is not a matter of “not approving”. Diptherio is saying that he has found that these people DO NOT WANT CHANGE. Their don’t want to work with people who want real economic change and will oppose them.

          Now you might contend that that isn’t true, but I suspect that as a generalization it’s accurate.

          1. Isolato


            Just as we finish our second home…let me offer my hope and support for real and fundamental change in our country. For a society that nurtures its children, not indentures them, for a country that thinks twice about all the pink mist, for a country that believes the common good is greater than the the individual good. Every year I try and address many of these issues in my community with effort, money, and encouragement. I realize it is easy to demonize the wealthy (of which I am one). It just isn’t always true. I might not be there on the barricades (at age 66), but my spirit will be.

            1. Aumua

              Why do you need 2 houses tho? I’m not trying to be a smartass here, I’m genuinely curious what your answer is to that question.

              1. Isolato

                Our first house is an “off-the grid” beauty here in the PNW but it is exposed to brutal winter storms, accessible only by rowboat, and w/pop. 4…sometimes a bit spare. So we want to hop over to the nearest ferry served island for a less rugged winter. The first house is about 1000 sq. ft. the second about 1500. Not McMansions!

            2. Fiery Hunt

              And pray tell, Isolato, how ever did you lead such a profitable life, 2nd house and all? Perhaps your good works are just an extension of your career…or perhaps not.

              My point (and please, Isolato, do not think of this as an attack on you personally…I know nothing about you.) is that 2nd housers got theirs in a system that crushes others.

              What’s the quote…?

              “Behind every great fortune is a great crime.”

              1. Isolato


                I AM the heir to a “great crime”, Ironically. My mother’s family are the Pews, of the Pew Charitable Trusts (i have nothing to do w/them). That said, I also invested wisely in the stock market, withdrew my money at the height of the madness, profited ridiculously from the Bush Tax cuts. The tar sands oil my forebears developed is about to start flowing by tanker from Vancouver, B.C. about 5 miles passed my house! Now that would be ironic punishment! So…yes, but I attempt to direct my good fortune to good works.

            3. Massinissa

              A lot of people don’t have a single house, and its becoming harder and harder to afford even one home for most of the country. Having 2 homes strikes me as environmentally and economically wasteful.

              1. Isolato

                I hope my special circumstances help explain. One of the houses is a cabin reachable only by rowboat. That said, I have lived here for 15 years.

            4. aab

              I’m not interested in demonizing Isolato or any other wealthy person. Some people of great wealth are allies, at least to a degree.

              This is yet another situation where focusing on policy and practice specifics is really useful. This does not allow Clintonian moderates to virtue-signal evasively, and helps build solidarity with people who really do want change but haven’t breached the barricades of approved language for it yet.

              So my question for you, Isolato, is this: Do you support the following policies that would best deliver the values stated in your comment:

              – No more charter schools, privatization, corporate take-overs of schools, testing, curriculum.

              — Free public college and a student debt jubilee. (Also: require that all schools with large endowments that also get any federal money institute economic diversity in admissions in proportion to current trends.) Elimination of for-profit colleges.

              — The removal of all leadership in the Democratic Party from power who endorsed Hillary Clinton in the primary and/or espouse neoliberal policies. Voting against all such corporate Democrats in the next election, even if that means guaranteeing a Republican is elected. (This should be easy, since there is no way the Ds will return to power in 2018.)

              — Universal health care.

              — Lifting the cap on Social Security, lowering the starting age for full benefits to 55 or 60, and increasing the benefit payments to citizens so that all retirees can live in dignity on Social Security alone.

              Do you align with the left on any of these policies? Most importantly, will you refuse to give corporate Democrats your money or your vote if they do not espouse these positions?

              If you do, you’re an ally, and you have my thanks. If not, what positions and and strategies do you espouse to make things better?

              1. Fiery Hunt

                Damn, aab, if I weren’t madly in love with my girl… :)

                It really is just this straightforward, isn’t it? If someone can’t denounce the BS Democorporatecrat BS that has lead us here, regardless of their “good intentions”, what good are they?

                1. aab

                  Isolato, I really want to read your reply, and I won’t be popping in this weekend as often as I usually do. if it does gets posted and you notice, I would be grateful if you’d give me a heads up in either Links or Water Cooler, so I’ll know to come back here.

                  (Also, thanks for the compliment, Fiery Hunt.)

      3. Abigail Caplovitz Field

        yes it is. But here’s the local deal:

        The town board is 100% R, and 80% Trumpian. The local electorate is pro-Trump. The electorate that focuses on Presidential races only generally skews slightly D, for Congress it’s swing.

        If NYC Democrats start voting locally–races here are won by hundreds of votes–that changes the composition of the town board and local enviro offices called Trustees who protect the shoreline the Rs are just letting get privatized/damaged. That’s what I really was talking about. I don’t know that having NYC Democrats vote out here will change the congressional race outcome, because the western part of the district is denser/more votes and I don’t know if the same dynamic is happening there.

        I was mostly trying to report on what seems to be happening at/in association with efforts to get our Trump R Congressman to do a town hall. And when I say Trump R, I mean it:

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Every single one of these u. s. representatives and one third of the senators were just elected / re-elected on 11/8/2016–less that four months ago.

      The 115th congress began on 1/3/2017–roughly seven weeks ago, and Donald Trump was inaugurated on 1/20/2017–thirtysomething days ago.

      If all of this noise signified anything substantial, I would have expected it to have manifested at the ballot box, which it did not. It’s not like Trump, and pretty much all the other republicans, kept their feelings about obamacare a secret. Instead, it strikes me as extreme sore-loserism, which is rapidly becoming chronic, mindless complaining pathology.

      Wake me up when the “protesters” demonstrate a modicum of understanding of the situation–that defending a system in which you get yours while others get nothing–guarantees that your position is always perilous. Until the demand is for Medicare-for-all, it’s all just pointless blah, blah, blah to me.

      By the way, did debbie wasserman-schultz have a townhall meeting? Wonder how that went.

      1. izziets

        I think it didn’t manifest itself at the ballot box because a) no one other than the must gung-ho Trump supporters, really thought that Trump would win, based on polling, and b) there were two awful candidates running. Many people stayed home out of mortification at the choices or anger about how their candidate (looking at you, Bernie Sander’s supporters) was treated by the establishment. Just as many who voted for Trump did so as a protest against the status quo or against the perceived, rightly or wrongly, corruption that Hillary’s candidacy represented, and NOT in support of the hateful divisive policies being put into effect now.

        Now that Trump has won and the reality of what that means has set in and been displayed, it has a whole lot of people who wouldn’t normally pay much attention to politics, marching in the street and showing up to town hall meetings. At least that’s my take and I’m actually one of them.

        I have to say, and this is not in response to Katniss in particular, but to many in this thread, I’m surprised by all this generalization about “Clinton” voters being rich second home owners wanting the status quo. Some people voted for her, not because she was so wonderful, but because they considered Trump’s divisive, anti-immigrant, racist, pussy grabbing tendencies to be off-putting and now that he’s actually in, they will do everything in their power to keep him from implementing his hateful policies. That’s the camp me and my friends belong to, and yes, I voted for Clinton reluctantly, but I was a Bernie supporter and didn’t consider Trump qualified or an actual viable candidate for my vote for president.

        In retrospect, if Trump being elected results in more people paying attention and wanting to make a difference and engage in the political debate and feel for the first time that their voice in opposition to him will actually make a difference in shaping the policies that effect their lives, so much the better. Maybe Susan Sarandon was onto something.

        This much I know, dismissing the protesters as “paid activists”, “Clinton supporting sore losers”, or “defenders of the status quo” is a huge mistake, but one I hope that Republicans continue to make.

        1. Yves Smith

          You are missing a distinction Lambert has repeatedly made: all of the official statements about the women’s protests, as in the official apparatus, is in fact advancing only the goals of 10% women, and the women who spoke were similarly elite or “elite approved”. No Cynthia McKinneys, for instance. That does not meant the protestors themselves were all or even a majority were 10% women.

          And the reason that matters is that the Dems are very good at co-opting grass roots movements and making them extensions of the party or else kneecapping them.

          1. izziets

            No one was at the women’s march to listen to those who spoke. 99.9% didn’t know there would be speakers nor were within earshot of the speakers or even knew anything was said until they saw the speakers on TV after the fact.

            The idea that there were “leaders” or an official apparatus is a myth. Turnout was more driven by local Facebook groups of likeminded individuals. I’m a member of three such groups and they are getting bigger every day. I doubt the vast majority of those who participated even know that there were any “official statements”. I certainly didn’t and haven’t read them. This was the statement I was interested in, seen on a sign at the march: “If I incorporate my uterus, will ya’ll stop regulating it?” I’d post the picture of it, if I could. I’d venture to guess that freedom to control ones own body is a message supported by many more than 10% of women in America.

        2. Ed Miller

          I am not seeing people state what I consider to be the real issue that resulted in Trump winning, at least not focused enough. People are desperate, and the status quo is raping them financially.

          The best writeup I have seen on this is Jeremy Grantham’s quarterly newsletter. Read the whole report. His newsletter is the second at this link:

          His Post Script nails the reason for Trump’s win:

          The Republican Administration seems to feel that it received a broad mandate and perhaps it did. But my guess is that this poll provides the real mandate that waits to be addressed. And it is a narrow, focused one: Save me, oh leaders, from the rich and powerful! It looks so far as if this point has been largely missed. If it has been, there will likely be powerful and sustained pushback from the poor and not yet quite powerless.

          Let me emphasize: Save me, oh leaders, from the rich and powerful!

          That means status quo! Status Quo = Hillary. Trump is rolling the dice, but what else can they do?

          The Democrats will destroy themselves even further if they don’t re-invent themselves and a people’s party. My apologies for the corporate-speak lingo but it fits IMHO.

          On last point IMHO – the core element of today’s status quo in Washington is corruption.

      2. Fiery Hunt

        Wake me up when the “protesters” demonstrate a modicum of understanding of the situation–that defending a system in which you get yours while others get nothing–guarantees that your position is always perilous.

        Well said, Katniss.

  2. sleepy

    From the Arizona state senate, this is ominous:

    Claiming people are being paid to riot, Republican state senators voted Wednesday to give police new power to arrest anyone who is involved in a peaceful demonstration that may turn bad — even before anything actually happened.

    SB1142 expands the state’s racketeering laws, now aimed at organized crime, to also include rioting. And it redefines what constitutes rioting to include actions that result in damage to the property of others.

    But the real heart of the legislation is what Democrats say is the guilt by association — and giving the government the right to criminally prosecute and seize the assets of everyone who planned a protest and everyone who participated. And what’s worse, said Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, is that the person who may have broken a window, triggering the claim there was a riot, might actually not be a member of the group but someone from the other side.

    1. Deadl E Cheese

      The liberal-conservative consensus needs to tread lightly with this shit. When they pass their Ryan Budget 2.0 and repeal the ACA (like they show all plans of doing) and unemployment spikes to 10+% in a year, it’s not going to be hippies and pinkos smashing windows.

      Income inequality right now is at Herbert Hoover levels. This is not sustainable in the short-term, centrists.

    2. DorothyT

      Ominous isn’t even strong enough. Wondered if this AZ State legislation would make it to NC today. As I read this earlier today, I felt that was the (perhaps) subtle moment that I will always remember from this time as emblematic of America’s brokenness.

    3. allan

      “criminally prosecute and seize the assets”

      Nice incentive system. Just like for asset forfeiture.
      The bill should be renamed the Undercover Officer and Confidential Informant Full Employment Act of 2017.

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Are all protesters paid protesters? No. Are there some paid protesters at all protests? Maybe not.

      They have picked a good state – not too big and not too small – to leverage their domestic color revolution money, with paid protesters.

      Sure enough, now one of them on the other team over-reacts. And the spotlight is on the extreme over reaction.

      “Be aggressive, forceful, hit hard and get them to make a mistake” – a football coach at the half time of an important game.

    5. Arizona Slim

      Steve Farley and I go back a long way. He’s one of the sharpest guys in our legislature, and he’s thinking about running for governor.

      Farley doesn’t have a lot of name recognition outside of southern Arizona, which would make a gubernatorial campaign into a real challenge. But, knowing him the way I do, I don’t think he’ll be deterred.

      I’ll keep the NC community informed.

      1. Katharine

        Thanks. He sounds good. His comment about the person breaking the window made me think about the Haymarket affair, which we probably ought to teach, and review ourselves occasionally, a lot more thoroughly than we do.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Interesting article; thanks.

        Written at the nadir of the housing bust, it repeatedly labels the state as “bankrupt” and “insolvent,” while claiming that “taxes are too low.”

        As we now know with seven years of hindsight, the states in deepest fiscal trouble are Illinois and New Jersey, along with the territory of Puerto Rico. Arizona is slightly above average in long-term funding outlook for public pensions. But why let mere facts interfere with a “more taxes for good government” narrative?

    6. nippersmom

      In other words, in Arizona there will no longer even be a pretense that citizens have first Amendment rights.

      1. Massinissa

        At least their 2nd amendment rights are protected! That’s clearly the important thing for Arizonans!

        Apparently the other rights are at best 2nd place concerns.

  3. Polly Puppy

    Question for town halls is whether Rs are impacted by them. From DC health advocate vantage point doesn’t seem to be the case yet. They are moving forward full steam ahead. Biggest trip up will be medicaid expansion – that divides R caucus most.

    I am all for civic engagement as well, glad it’s happening. But as McConnel said losers don’t make policy.

    Health reform is coming question is what form. Procedural rules are in long term advantage of cutting. Reconciliation means 50 (plus pence) votes to reform, but you need 60 to get it back to spending dollars. So if they cap Medicaid it could take some time to get it back, Dems would need supermajority again in Senate, have the House and presidency- barring other changes like governors coming back demanding dollars and reversion. Don’t see that happening yet maybe next decade.

    1. dpfaef

      Question for McConnell what if the losers are your constituents? The hubris and arrogance is beyond the pale!

  4. PlutoniumKun


    The left’s Brexit dilemma Stumbling and Mumbling

    sample quote:

    Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to accept the “will of the people” on Brexit has been forcefully attacked, for example by Ed Vulliamy – with some justification. I fear, however, that we are perhaps under-estimating the extent to which the left faces a genuine dilemma here.

    I think this is way-overthinking it. I like Corbyn and I’m delighted the Blairites have been routed, but I’ve been horrified by Labours reaction to Brexit. The Conservatives handed Labour and the left a big, juicy present with Brexit. The Conservatives shot themselves in both feet. And what did Corbyn do? Ask for a lend of the gun and shot Labours feet off too.

    Its pretty simple. Brexit is the very definition of a clusterf**k, and the Tories own it. All Labour had to do was say ‘You wanted it, its all yours’. And watched as the Tories self immolated. Power would have been left lying on the street for anyone to pick up. But they’ve blown it because of some stupid notion that they might be outflanked by UKIP. They’ve pretty much guaranteed that no matter how bad things get because of Brexit, May will easily win the next election, simply because they haven’t given people a choice.

    1. paul

      The blairites are still working away:

      “Why do you want to just walk away and pass the title deeds of this great party over to someone like Jeremy Corbyn? I don’t want to, I resent it, and I work every single day in some small way to bring forward the end of his tenure in office.” – Baron Mandelson.

      “We have a leader who, unlike the vast majority of Labour members including many of those who joined up in order to support him, has never been a European true believer. ” – Baron Liddle

      I agree that he should have left the tories holding this steaming pile, but the ‘will of the people’ (more reasonably their misdirected anger) is a strong hand to play against.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The original rumor was that Corbyn is a Euroskeptic from the position he doesn’t believe in the Greater German Co-prosperity sphere as opposed to claims of liberty, equality, fraternity.

        Where is the potential for reform in the EU? The next scheduled election is in 2020.

        With the EU, there is a crisis of confidence and no meaningful discussion of how reform might be achieved or politicians of standing. The next French President is guaranteed to be a weak figure. The Social Dems are polling better in Germany, and the leader of the party turns around and wants to let refugees just vote. We will see how long this lead lasts.

        The PIIGS are still an issue, and there is still the political fallout of resetting refugees in poorer areas during austerity regimes.

        Mandates aside, I’m not sure how much effort can reasonably be directed towards fixing the EU when the situation might be fait accompli by 2020.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Corbyn was definitely part of the eurosceptic branch of the Labour party left, but that was always a minority view, even I think among the hard left.

          Reform of the EU will only happen I believe if there is a change to SDP in Germany, not that I’d have high hopes for them. Its always difficult to tell from the outside, but my feeling is that there is a sense within the broader EU bureacracy that deep reforms are needed, especially for the eurozone, but without a German lead nothing will be done.

          The problem is, they’ve successfully kicked the can down the street for nearly a decade now, I think its become an ingrained habit that they can continue to operate in crisis management mode without addressing fundamental issues. The problem is, that when a true crisis occurs, it will be too late.

    2. Kurt Sperry

      Exactly. Whatever the ideological merits of Corbyn’s Euroskepticism, his failure to put the impending economic trainwreck of Brexit squarely on the Tories’ shoulders was an incalculably huge strategic error. Inexcusable, really. This was the chance of a generation (or two) to put the boot to the Conservative Party.

        1. Kurt Sperry

          Well there’s the small detail that if you want to actually wield power rather than pointlessly and uselessly sniping in a self satisfied manner from the sidelines, you need to take every opportunity to smash your only significant opponent. And pinning Brexit on the Tories–who’ve been stupid enough to embrace it and own it–is a once in a lifetime path to power. And there’s also the detail that an utterly shambolic Brexit will be an unambiguous economic disaster for the UK, there’s that too. The stupid necessary to fumble and miss this golden opportunity is almost unimaginable.

  5. Paper Mac

    “Arrow was a fine prose stylist, and not a mathy obscurantist.”

    It seems to me that whatever the quality of prose used to advance general equilibrium theory, the most salient features for anyone trying to determine whether or not it’s a useful theory or an absurd fig leaf used to justify the rapacious appetites of the corporate world were actively obscured by Arrow and its other primary exponents. They had to have been, because any halfway honest and clear account of the theory would have revealed the patent injustice of destroying society after society in service of a ridiculous model that is only mathematically tractable because it carefully brackets out actually-existing humans, markets, polities, goods, and transactions.

  6. Clive

    Re: Big Banks Declare War on Venmo

    When will they learn? From the Bloomberg piece:

    Zelle was built by Early Warning, a bank-owned company that also runs the clearXchange payment system. It’s no easy task to build an app that syncs with 19 large banks, four payment processors, and two card networks. Each has its own legacy technology, and many already have person-to-person payment tools, such as Chase’s QuickPay, that are popular with some customers.

    To launch the new app without disrupting the old systems, Zelle is being rolled out in phases. In the first, under way now, bank payment apps will incorporate Zelle’s options and basic design without any Zelle branding. Banks can add these features whenever they’re ready. Later, bank apps will tout Zelle branding, and, sometime in the first half of the year, a standalone app will be launched.

    No easy task? No easy task??? Slapping new layers onto legacy layers just adds to the existing maintainability nightmare that is the Payment System.

    And as for “banks can add … features when they’re ready”, that’s a posh way of saying we’re doing a heck of a lot of can kicking. And that the user experience is, erm, very varied because you’re never quite sure what your bank supports, what the corresponding bank supports and how to navigate the gaps in the feature sets. Talk about a tax on time. Remind me again what is so wrong with taking a couple of twenties out of your wallet..?

    And when did it become acceptable to treat your user base as a giant beta testing community ?

    1. PKMKII

      And as for “banks can add … features when they’re ready”, that’s a posh way of saying we’re doing a heck of a lot of can kicking.

      Also screams of a piecemeal approach, in which instead of rolling out a finished product they’ll slowly add features, many of which won’t make sense outside of the finished product. So user experiences will be horrible and inconvenient, functions won’t be there that they need. Suspect the whole thing goes down in flames, with Early Warning sneaking off with a treasure chest of fees.

  7. fresno dan

    Democratic divisions on display at DNC debate CNN. “After Perez sought to avoid directly answering the question — saying the party had lost trust in its voters and created a ‘crisis of relevance’ — long-shot candidate Sam Ronan, an Air Force veteran from Ohio, jumped in to call the contest rigged and say Sanders’ supporters felt excluded at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia. Buttigieg said Democrats don’t want to make the mistake of reliving the 2016 race.” Look forward and not back….

    “Buttigieg said Democrats don’t want to make the mistake of reliving the 2016 race.” [[because they want to do it again???]]
    LOOK FORWARD and NOT back….”

    My bête noire

    1. shinola

      Somehow, I find this disturbing:

      “After Perez sought to avoid directly answering the question — saying the party had lost trust in its voters…”

      Perez has it wrongheadedly backwards – it’s the voters who lost trust in the party.

      1. jsn

        Some party hack decreed that the people
        had lost the government’s confidence
        and could only regain it with redoubled effort.
        If that is the case, would it not be simpler,
        If the government simply dissolved the people
        And elected another?

        Plus ca change…

    2. Anne

      And here I was – me and I-don’t-know-how-many-millions of others – thinking that it was the voters who have lost trust in the party that is the problem, not that the party had lost faith in the voters…

      Also, I am growing impatient with the notion being perpetuated that the problem is about people’s hurt feelings – it’s not. What happened at the convention and in the months that preceded it was an ongoing, deliberate, calculated effort to subvert a process in order to control the outcome – which disenfranchised voters every bit as much as if they’d gone to the voting booth and found that no matter which box they checked or lever they pulled, the candidate they did not want to vote for was awarded those votes.

      Until there can be acknowledgment and admission by the party that this was engineered from within, the crisis in confidence and lack of trust in the party management that clearly exists will continue to bubble and fester and those who left the party will not be coming back to it.

      The DNC is very much on the verge of making it very clear that not only did they not learn any lessons from the losses of 2016, they can’t even determine what lessons those were. Someone needs to help me out here and tell me why I would want to support the organization, those running it, the decisions they make up, down and across the board, if the best conclusion they can come to is that we need to get with their program, not the other way around.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Is the DNC vote a popular vote of all Democrats, or is it going to be undemocratic and lacking legitimacy?

      1. montanamaven

        Ha! Ha! The DNC is one of the most undemocratic institutions around. State party central committees vote for the national chair. These committees are made up of old time party bosses. The state party positions are often dynastic. Here is Montana we’ve had the same State Committee Chair Woman for over 15 years. And her Daddy before her. Nice lady and a “progressive” who helped elect Howard Dean instead of the party favorite. But wouldn’t dream of doing anything really revolutionary. I no longer am involved with the Dems here having been thoroughly disgusted with them. But I guess I could inquire as to who they are voting for.
        The DNC is a private institution or more accurately a club with club rules about who can vote and who can’t. That’s why all the wailing about hacking or leaking their e-mail is so stupid. They are not part of the government. They are a private club.

        1. Knot Galt

          Same thing in Oregon. You have to be told the secret handshake before you can have any influence within the local DNC office. Walking into an office is sometimes like coming across a circle of Calistogas with gun barrels pointed directly at you; when you are/were known as someone who supported Sanders.

          And “Clintonista” antennae are hardwired to detect any of the funny, unworkable, impractical ideas that Sanders had campaigned on. It is ‘as-if’ the spirit of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz has become the seed of the original Body Snatcher?

  8. rjs

    re: BREAKING: Exxon to Leave Up to 3.6 Billion Barrels of Tar Sands/Oil Sands in the Ground

    environmentalists call the stuff tar sands, while the industry pushes the use of “oil sands”

    i propose we call it “hockey puck sands”, because that’s what a chunk of bitumen would look like to a canadian…it has to be heated and mixed with light oil to pipe it…

    1. Pwelder

      That Exxon link – a piece of silly wishful thinking – is misleading and a disservice to readers.

      SEC rules require that booked reserves are capable of being produced at a profit within the next five years, at the average commodity price that prevailed over the trailing twelve months. The oil price was artificially depressed during that time by the Saudis’ attempt (abandoned in November) to kill off the US shale producers.

      So Exxon – with an eye to the SEC and to Schneiderman – de-booked a chunk of their reserves.. Next year, when trailing twelve-month average prices will be significantly higher, they will add them back. It’s offsetting accounting entries – nothing has happened in the real world.

      Sorry about that.

      1. Ignacio

        Disagree. Something has happened. Canada finally is introducing a Carbon Cap and a levy. That helps to make the tar sands uneconomical. I though they wouldn’d but they did and this is good news. Whether the cap and the levy have been designed to slow down growth or reduce production (and if they will change in the future) is not clear from the article but it seems Canada did not sign COP21 in vain.

        This is a piece of good news.

        Also bear in mind that tar sands projects aren’t developed in a minute. They need lots of investments and a long development time while your artificially depressed oil prices continue for… who knows how long?

        1. Pwelder

          No question there have been positive developments here and there. I criticized the link, which does a lousy job of reporting..

          Exxon revised downward some numbers relating to booked reserves, which can and will be revised upward as prices rise.. Period. No change in production plans.

          And the headline – “Exxon to Leave Up to 3.6 Billion Barrels of Tar Sands/Oil Sands in the Ground” – is a daydream, with no connection to the accounting change.

  9. Darius

    Buttigieg is the establishment’s ace in the hole. Obama’s got better strategic sense than I thought to have this plan B. Buttigieg is an even bigger Obama clone than Perez. And he’s gay! Check that idpol box. The comment about not relitigating 2016 tells all you need to know. He backed Obama in 2008 and Hillary in 2012. It was nice, Dems. Not really. You’ll look good in the rear view mirror.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      It’s even better than that! You check the idpol box with the gayness, and you give the Steve Israel’s and Rahm’s of this world a reacharound cause he’s military.

      Genius defense in depth. If only the Democrat Establishment were good at anything other than being dogs in the manger….

  10. RenoDino

    Just a heads up. Trump has abdicated his role of President beyond our borders. The adults are now in charge. Nothing is going to change regarding the our foreign policy in effect for the past 30 years. Whether by choice or for his own survival, he acquiesced all of his executive power to the neocons in his administration to manage foreign affairs. The Flynn firing was the catalyst that allowed for the peaceful transfer of power to those who know better. Henceforth, all trade and military arrangements will be handled as before Trump came to power, although he did manage to scuttle the TPP before the soft coup. His occasional outburst will have less and less relevance as his minders correct the official record with their respective counterparts among our allies and enemies.

    For now, he will be allowed to dabble in local affairs, much like a Provincial Governor of these United States. Immigration will be his key topic. It gives him a profile on the world stage and appeals to his base without altering the foreign policy of the status quo.

    He will allowed to rubber-stamp then sell the modifications to the ACA and the overhauled tax plan.
    Both of the these, if passed will have disastrous consequences to the vast majority of Americans, but when has that ever mattered?

    He will remain a hate magnet. The people really in power in his adminstration who are making these changes to downgrade the public welfare will appreciate his sacrifice. He will be the neocons’ lightning rod, attracting all the criticism and blame when things go wrong.

    He has surrounded himself with generals for protection. He quickly learned the lesson of past emperors that the Pretorian guard ultimately determines who stays in office. He will do as they say.

    He will play more golf than Obama ever dreamed of and stage rallies as theuraputic interludes for his loss of face.

    The other day I saw a Charlie Rose interview of Trump done in 1992. It was startling to see him then and now. It’s like seeing two different people, mentally and physically. Like him or not, the cruelty of aging is on full display.

    1. tegnost

      The ACA was a disasterous consequence for the vast majority of americans , and it mattered in the past election, also getting rid of TPP is great, also for the vast majority, and immigration is a real problem, also for the vast majority. The rest is just crystal ball gazing, except, yes, old people are older than they once were, I know I am.

      1. Toolate

        Really? Tell that to millions who gained insurance coverage through Medicaid expansion.
        Should it have been Medicare for all? Of course.

        1. tegnost

          sorry but I am no more able to see a doctor today than I was before the aca, insurance is not healthcare. Dentist? fuhgettaboutit. The ACA was a bailout for insurance companies and the wealthy people who actually go to the doctor by finding a way to force people to pay for a service they won’t get in order to keep the actual users from having to bear the cost. It was also a boon to the banksters considering how health care stocks (you know, where companies ability to make loads of cash for themselves and their shareholders is reflected) skyrocketed after it’s passage. And let’s also not forget that medicaid provides lots of unimportant people as guinea pigs for drugs, those I know have been cajoled to “take this pill, you’ll be happier” so not the benevolent scheme you would like for it to be portrayed as. The democrat Party does not support Medicare for All, so your dismissive rejoinder makes no sense to me. Do you have a view on TPP or immigration?

    2. RUKidding

      That’s pretty much the way it seems to me, as well. That means that the Trump Presidency will be a horror show, rather than a breath of fresh air. He did scuttle TPP, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it comes back to haunt us in a slightly revised format. I think Trump has been tamed, and that’s the end of it. He can tweet up a storm, but I think that’s about it.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        If that is so, he has been tamed, will the next outsider do any better?

        When the Russian interference charge was lodged, did any future reform politicians come to his aid, or did they pile on and ask for investigation of foreign interference in the last election?

        And the time he tweeted ‘the media (mainstream) is the enemy,’ again, did any progressives who themselves had been victims of media, did they testify on his behalf?

        How will it be different the next time?

    3. dontknowitall

      This is rank nonsense. Did you see him in an impromptu meeting with the Japanese prime minister at Mar-a-Lago over the surprise North Korean missile launch? Where were these other so-called adults? I agree Pence and Priebus and Mattis are working overtime interpreting Trump’s tweets for the ‘cousins’ but that is a far cry from a nutty concept of ‘adults taking charge’…your slip is showing…There is no substitute for the President’s signature in military and foreign policy everything flows through it.

      Trump is in charge and he made no secret during the election that his priority was the country not the foreign policy so no new wars, no TPP, redo NFTA, rethink immigration and healthcare reform and ask foreign partners to pay a fair share of their own defense. That may give the impression he’s giving up control of that to Pence and Friends but that is only an impression. If that domestic focus results in some policy shop guy thinking he’s going to be the adult in the room he will be looking at a quick dismissal and Pence would quickly find out, like LBJ did, that the the vice-presidency is not worth a bucket of warm spit. And I have news for you all of us look worse as we age, so what.

      This meme is just yet another attempt to cause dissension in the ranks in a long line of bull that started with the ‘tiny hands’ meme, on to Bannon upstaging Trump and now the tired ‘adults-in-the-room’ bs.

  11. Leigh

    “If Heaven Has a Gate, a Wall and Extreme Vetting, Why Can’t America?” panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday.

    Our hubris has now gone beyond the stratosphere, we are now on equal footing with God.
    I am horrified by this.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Let’s dump Trump so we can get to president pence. Then what happens at cpac won’t have to stay at cpac.

  12. Teleportnow

    I think the town hall protests are much less “pro-Obamacare”, “Just call me an outraged Clintonite” as they are genuinely concerned citizens who are terrified of repeal without replacement. Defend Trumpers all you like. At the end of the day as bad as Obamacare is Republicans have never offered anything better.

    1. Vatch

      I think one reason the Republicans are having trouble offering a replacement for Obamacare is that Obamacare really is a Republican plan. It’s based on Romneycare, which was based on a plan devised by the conservative Heritage Foundation.

      You describe yourself as an outraged Clintonite; if you voted for Clinton in the primary, you helped to elect Trump. I voted for Sanders in the primary, and I’m very outraged about Trump, but I’m no Clintonite.

      1. marym

        To be fair I think the quotation marks indicate that Teleportnow is contesting merely “outraged Clintonite” as a description of the protesters, something I’ve been trying to do too, though I’m less and less inclined to see much of this activism as anything but defending the pre-Trump status quo.

      2. Teleportnow

        No. I did not vote for Clinton. Or describe myself as a Clintonite. I said the protesters at town halls were less “outraged Clintonite’s” as Lambert indicated and more genuinely concerned citizens wondering what happens when Obamacare is repealed without replacement.

      3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Obamacare is an Obama plan.

        It’s not like Obama couldn’t speak up for himself ,or couldn’t mentally come up with that plan.

        1. Massinissa

          Its not an Obama plan because Obama didn’t make it himself. He chose it, but he basically stole it from Romney. Its still on his shoulders, but its not as if he was its mastermind.

      4. Dave

        Maybe instead of a Guillotine Party, or a Pitchfork Party, what this country needs is a
        “Healthcare Party”.

        Imagine every American citizen without affordable healthcare going on a general strike for one week.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      The Republicans offered Obamacare in 1993 and 2008. It’s why it’s so awful. I guess the Democratic plan to embarrass Republicans by taking their position in 2009 will come to fruition at some point.

      How do these “protests” increase turnout in say Detroit (Hillary did worse than Kerry in Michigan after all)? At the end of the day, the key to winning for Democrats is voter trust and GOTV/registering. These aren’t secrets.

      1. dcrane


        At the end of the day, the key to winning for Democrats is voter trust and GOTV/registering. These aren’t secrets.

        And yet they’re still all-in with the “lesser of two evils” strategy. The Trump Administration will collapse like the phyical impossibility they always knew it had to be (and would have been if it weren’t for Comey and Putin!), and the voters will respond accordingly by voting in the Democrats next time, change or no change. Or that’s about how the thinking goes I suspect.

        To me, the fact that large sets of voters in both parties ignored campaigns that emphasized character attacks (over policy) is the silver lining of the past election. Oh, that and Bernie funding himself into competitiveness without corporate donors.

    3. nippersmom

      Why should Republicans offer anything better? Obamacare is a Republican program. The failure is on the part of the Democrats to have offered anything better.

      1. feox

        Let’s analyze your question. You’re asking why the Republican should either maintain Obamacare or replace it with something better. That is asking why Republicans should also behave like adults. And, by implication, you’re asking why the American electorate voted for a party that would not act like adults. Is it really the question to ask?

        1. Yves Smith

          That is a politically ignorant remark. And you are insulting a reader, which is against out house policies.

          Did you not hear of the Tea Party? Or the general hostility to government spending which has been successfully sold via well-orchestrated right wing propaganda (see ECONNED for details)? Many Americans don’t trust government.

          As a result of gerrymandering, which certain groups promoted to create minority-majority districts (it’s a Big Lie that the Republicans drove this all by themselves, minority groups like La Raza pushed hard to create minority-majority districts, and Republicans were all too happy to go along), there are many close to lily white House districts. In those, the Republicans are vulnerable in primaries, not the general election. Those districts have wound up in most cases electing further and further right wing candidates because the more extreme position is what has sold (or been able to be sold) well. More radical messages appeal to specific interest groups, like the evangelicals and the tax haters and small business people, and those can be mobilized to turn out in high numbers, as Karl Rove has demonstrated. And many of those groups are firmly opposed to progressive goals.

    4. Eureka Springs

      For someone in my situation as well as many friends, family members and acquaintances repeal (particularly of the mandate) would be much, much better.

      Close to 5k in premiums, 5k in deductibles to get 40 percent off anything over ten k per year. Half that would still be insane!

      How on earth neoliberalcons can spew free market drivel out of one side of their mouth while legally compelling so many to believe and participate in such a bad deal never ceases to amaze.

    5. dcblogger

      I think the town hall protests are much less “pro-Obamacare”, “Just call me an outraged Clintonite” as they are genuinely concerned citizens who are terrified of repeal without replacement. Defend Trumpers all you like. At the end of the day as bad as Obamacare is Republicans have never offered anything better.

      so good, it had to be repeated

    6. Lord Koos

      I think it’s quite presumptuous to assume that town hall protesters are mostly Clintonites — quite the opposite I think. Many working and unemployed or under-employed people are showing up at these meetings I’d wager, as well as Bernie supporters, who are more accustomed to protest actions. Lambert, have you actually been to any meetings? If not it seems iffy to speculate.

  13. TomDority

    “Trade Developments in 2016: Policy Uncertainty Weighs on World Trade” – World trade bank
    Ridiculous advertisement for WTO – IMHO – it should be renamed:
    World Trade Weighs on Policy Uncertainty

    They definitely put the cart before the horse

  14. a different chris

    “NASA’s Longshot Bet”: This is hilarious. Chang-Diaz is an enviably accomplished and truly brilliant guy, and I hope he gets the breakthrough he’s trying for, but he literally does not know how a car works:

    “It’s like shifting gears in a car,” Chang-Díaz explained. “The engine doesn’t change. But if you want to climb a hill, you put more of your engine power into torque and less into rpm, so you climb the hill, slowly, but you’re able to climb”

    1. Jeotsu

      I give some slack to someone who is trying to spin a comprehensible metaphore for a variable specific impulse magnetoplasma rocket.

      Once you wander into the world of actual rocket science, most folks have no starting reference point from which to make comparisons.

      “Low gear” (low specific impulse, high-thrust) can be really important when doing maneuvers in and around planetary bodies, especially if you’re going for slingshot-assist type maneuvers. High specific impulse / low-thrust is great during the long “cruise” phases between worlds. Even a minuscule amount of thrust can really pack on the delta-V given time.

    2. Kurt Sperry

      The automotive torque/power pseudoparadox is as old as bench racing. If the rpm refers to the wheels rather than the crankshaft (it is unspecified in the quote), the sentence kinda makes sense.

  15. cocomaan

    Honeybees are immensely local creatures. So the commercial operations mentioned in the article are a problem. Hives use local tree resins in order to produce one of their first line immune responses, called propolis (greek for defense of the city). It’s a tacky, caulky substance coating everything inside the hive body. It’s also chock full of terpenes and flavanoids that act as a microbial barrier against disease.

    If you’re moving bees several times in a year from one food desert to another – these almond and fruit orchards tend to be monocrops – you’re going to be ripping the bees out of their original environment and putting them someplace else. The commercial beekeepers will say that their bees would starve without the move, which is certain, but it’s still a problem not addressed there. The bees need to relearn the propolis gathering techniques and will suffer from a really pitiful diet. Many of these commercial keepers end up feeding sugar solution for lack of forage.

    In my opinion, the commercial beekeepers are seeing these collapses not only because of the emergent threats, but also because the insects aren’t meant to be itinerant. CCD doesn’t happen to local keepers. Combine that with pesticides, the varroa mite and related medications, as well as normal viral, fungal, and bacterial load, and you’ve got dead hives. It’s just too much for the girls.

    Beekeeping is sorely in need of a rethinking, but the European honeybee may not survive that change. There are too many globalized threats to it to handle at the moment. Threats are on the horizon too, including another vampiric mite from E Asia, the Asian Giant Hornet, again from E Asia, and an idiotic EPA. Right now, the world is ruled by apis mellifera, but we may end up keeping apis cerana in fifty years instead.

      1. Dead Dog

        Yes, my thanks too.

        The impact of man, pesticides and so on, to our bees has been a regular feature in the links and water cooler. It has raised my awareness of how fragile our food security is in a world without bees.

        Rarely see a big fat honeybee now, they were very common as I grew up. Some of the small, Australian, native bees have a hive in one of my exterior walls. The painter wanted to pour paint down their entrance. No way, I said thinking of all the plants in my own yard that get pollinated by these amazing creatures.

        1. cocomaan

          Glad you both enjoyed reading.

          Honeybees are great, but as you are implying, they are only half the equation. The other half are the native bees, also influenced by the pesticides and globalized diseases. However they are not nearly as social as honeybees, they don’t produce honey, and thus aren’t as apt to be “saved”. But they are probably just as critical to our food supply, if not more.

  16. allan

    The revolution will not be televised commented:

    Google Cousin Develops Technology to Flag Toxic Online Comments
    … Google’s parent company, Alphabet, says it plans to apply machine learning technology to promote more civil discourse on the internet and make comment sections on sites a little less awful.

    Jigsaw, a technology incubator within Alphabet, says it has developed a new tool for web publishers to identify toxic comments that can undermine a civil exchange of ideas. Starting Thursday, publishers can start applying for access to use Jigsaw’s software, called Perspective, without charge. …

    1. cocomaan

      The most enormous band aid in the world. God forbid we try to figure out how people can flourish better.

      AIs are made in the image of their creator. Whatever prejudices we hold, they hold. And I refuse to believe that Alphabet is free of prejudices.

    2. Kurt Sperry

      No more insidious than whatever algorithm is used here to decide what goes to the mod queue or is simply discarded, though really, is it? The question is, “How effective is it?”

  17. frosty zoom

    i call it “tennessee winter”.. (i live north of 42ºN)

    Mostly Cloudy
    °C °F
    Observed at:
    mysteryville Airport
    10:29 AM EST Thursday 23 February 2017
    Mostly Cloudy
    100.5 kPa
    Dew point:
    S 26 km/h
    13 km

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      Madison WI has just had 5 straight days in the 60s F in FEBRUARY!! I know weather isn’t climate change but come on. Lake Geneva (or Geneva Lake to locals), which was a major source of ice for Chicago a century ago is completely ice-free this winter.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        The NOAA site had a posting — I just noticed today — []
        “Unprecedented Arctic weather has scientists on edge
        Sea ice on track for lowest maximum amount on record”. I don’t think of NOAA as especially alarmist making this brief article troubling.

  18. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Waiting for the Supremes: High Court’s Decision in Gloucester County to Determine Validity of ACA Section 1557 Gender Identity and Transgender Services Rules C&M Health Law.

    Heard on msnbs this morning:

    According to a UCLA Law School study, 150,000 teenagers nationwide identify as transgender.

    150,000 in a nation of 320 million people with a list of problems as long as your arm, not the least of which is that the public education system is a failure of epic proportions. In a country that, apparently, believes that “education” is the key that unlocks every door.

    The energy being expended on this issue is way out of proportion to the scope of the “problem.”

    1. Barry Interesting

      It affects few people, therefore costs little, and it stirs the outrage pot both ways.

      A perfect issue for our elites to kick to the top of the national discourse.

    2. Sammy Maudlin

      According to a UCLA Law School study, 150,000 teenagers nationwide identify as transgender.

      What we have here is an example of the results of a study being reported as hard fact when it is not. First, the Williams Institute at UCLA Law School identifies itself as “a think tank on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy, is dedicated to conducting rigorous, independent research with real-world relevance.” Sounds an awful lot like an advocacy group to me, but lets move on.

      The study to which MSNBS (sic?) referred this morning is here. I’m no statistician, so I can’t thoroughly analyze the study’s findings. But what I can note is that the numbers found in the study are estimates based on another study that based its estimated numbers on optional questions.

      By reporting these estimates as hard fact, MSNBS creates the impression that one think tank’s estimated numbers based upon another think tank’s estimated numbers are sufficiently vetted and accurate to be a driving force in determining federal government policy.

      Well, I personally think that this is a set of numbers sufficiently valid and scary enough to be a driving force of federal government policy, and that MSNBS or whoever else would be better serving the public reporting on them instead.

      1. Dave

        Probably 140,000 of them do it because it’s trendy, like shaving the side of your head in a head-lice haircut or getting a tat.

        I will bet that at least 500,000 Americans self identify as Transpecies, from the sisters of Bilitis that monopolize animal control jobs, to the crazy old cat ladies, with quite a few males joining the club.

        Should we give them restroom accommodations, or just tell them to go outside against a tree?

    3. bronco

      How many transgenders feel really strongly and then don’t ? If its 150,000 at the moment will it decline to 20,000 by age 25? Is it higher than the number of women in their 40’s with lower back tattoos ( seemed like a great idea at the time) , old dudes with pony tails ( seeing a lot lately but never okay) , goth kids , how about bellbottoms ? ( not a myth that really happened)

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I’m not certain anyone would want to be transgender given the actual consequences even in their crazy youth. But look at you…bell bottoms and male on tails…what is the world coming to?

        If you find being “transgendered” to be an attractive lifestyle in any fashion that kids are merely dabbling in, you might try a therapist.

        150,000 isn’t very many. Seriously, growing up is terrible for straight kids. Why would they want to not fit in by attaching a potential stigma? The only people who would see LGBT types as just having a bit of fun must be dangerously repressed individuals.

    4. River

      The funny thing is most real transsexuals, as in the ones with development or genetic problems that affected their biology want to be recognized as male or female not “trans”.

      It seems that the ones whining about it are all the products of needing to virtue signal or the need to feel special. Almost all are products of the ridiculous nonsense coming out of gender study courses. They’d be more accurately called transvestites. Sadly for them not many people would care, Eddie Izzard, Jamie Farr, almost every rock band in the 1980’s for example.

      Hell, a transsexual name Tula posed in Playboy in the 1980’s. Not many people cared when she did, or would even remember that now.

    5. djrichard

      I feel it when anybody who gets the short end of the stick. A) nobody deserves it, and B) instead of focusing on who’s turn it is to lose, we should be focusing on making everybody winners.

      Really B is what people were hoping for in electing Trump. Instead he’s decided to wield sticks. smh.

    1. Cat's paw

      It remains to be seen. One can hope Lang is right, but…

      Lambert, there should be a trigger warning for that Atlantic link. Quotes Robert Kagan extensively in the first 100 words. Kagan—what piece of work that guy is. According to him the FP establishment has done a bang up job over the last 20 years. I suppose he’s right if one ascribes to the notion that mayhem, chaos, and murder in every 3rd Muslim country on the map is a favorable outcome for humanity…just shoot me.

    2. Judith

      The state of play does keep changing. Some common sense would be nice. I notice that Lang uses the term agitprop to describe what he calls: the campaign being run by the Clinton and Obama inspired forces regarding the Russians. Agitprop is the perfect word to use; glad to see it resurrected here.

  19. TheBellTolling

    “That is, the “protesters” skew 10%, Clinton’s base.”

    What short-sightedness. I don’t see how you can get this impression. I see the one woman asking Tom Cotton is he going to deliver a plan better than her current $29 premium, clearly older, clearly a husband with a lot of complications and I doubt she’s in the “10%”.

    Maybe people are actually concerned about their care and are fighting to keep it. You shouldn’t be deriding that. Instead we should be offering the better plan that will cover her and everybody else, “Medicare for All”.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      You feel, then, that “I see one woman” is really an on-point response to “skew”? I point out structural factors with the movement. I do grant that I should have said the desperate (who can go, i.e., are not on the nightshift, can arrange transport and childcare, and are accustomed to public speaking*, will tend to self-select).

      * Occupy, sadly, had exactly the same problem.

  20. Vatch

    Simultaneously funny and sad:

    Senator Joe Manchin is the Vice Chairman of the Policy and Communications Committee of the Senate Democrats. Most people who have been paying attention would be skeptical that he should even be considered a Democrat at all. His daughter, Heather Bresch, the notorious CEO of the notorious Mylan, must be very proud.

    There’s also a typo: he’s from WV, not WA.

    1. Vatch

      From the start of the article:

      Claiming people are being paid to riot, Republican state senators voted Wednesday to give police new power to arrest anyone who is involved in a peaceful demonstration that may turn bad — even before anything actually happened.

      SB1142 expands the state’s racketeering laws, now aimed at organized crime, to also include rioting. And it redefines what constitutes rioting to include actions that result in damage to the property of others.

      But the real heart of the legislation is what Democrats say is the guilt by association — and giving the government the right to criminally prosecute and seize the assets of everyone who planned a protest and everyone who participated. And what’s worse, said Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, is that the person who may have broken a window, triggering the claim there was a riot, might actually not be a member of the group but someone from the other side.

      The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

      Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

      And from the European Convention on Human Rights:

      Article 11 – Freedom of assembly and association

      1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

      2. No restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. This article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on the exercise of these rights by members of the armed forces, of the police or of the administration of the State.

      If this bill becomes law, welcome to the Arizona police state.

      1. Lord Koos

        This meme of paid protestors disrupting town halls is being spread around nationally, not just in AZ. Several congress-critters have accused TH protesters of being paid professionals. This will lead to some of these people being beaten up I’m sure.

  21. DakotabornKansan

    Town hall scenes from Kansas, where voters showed up, but GOP Senators Roberts and Moran, and GOP Congressman Yoder and Congresswoman Jenkins were no-shows @

    I was one of several hundred Kansans who attended an Indivisible Kansas Constituent Health Care Town Hall last night.

    Its program proclaimed “If you mess with our health care, you meet with our resistance.”

    Also, “Indivisible KC is a grassroots movement inspired by the “Indivisible Guide.” We are a multi-partisan, issues-focused organization.”

    “Resistance” hmmmm.

    Indivisible of the “Indivisible Guide” is described as a group of progressive activists. What is the background of Indivisible? Who is funding the organization? I’ve read that at least three of the group’s five principals as well as others have direct ties to organizations funded by George Soros.

    Yesterday, the Kansas House approved an amendment to expand eligibility for Medicaid statewide. This endorsement of Medicaid expansion would deliver health care services to at least 150,000 Kansans. However, it faces an uphill battle in the Republican-dominated Senate and a likely veto by Governor Brownback, who has repeatedly denounced proposals for broadening Medicaid offerings in Kansas under the Affordable Care Act.

    Two guest speakers identified current problems being experienced under KanCare (privatized Kansas Medicaid) and related their struggles to improve and expand KanCare.

    There were many heartbreaking stories last night. They are ignored by our heartless state politicians looking to roll back the ACA and Medicaid. For shame!

    Save the ACA was the principle focus of this town meeting. Not Medicare-For-All. In fact, I don’t believe it was ever mentioned.

    I share Lambert’s skepticism.

    Just another day in Brownbackistan.

      1. dontknowitall

        They do mention ‘healthcare for all’ in the handbook for whatever that is worth. Mostly IdPol. However, their document seems to be a useful guide to dealing with congresspeople in general (I just ignore the silly and kind of fascistic ‘Indivisible’ cult agitprop).

  22. David Carl Grimes

    I am highly confident that Eric Holder will get to the bottom of what’s happening in Uber, just like he did in the banking system

    1. Vatch

      Hilarious! Remember this from early 2015?

      Attorney General Eric Holder wants a Wall Street scalp.

      After years of pressure from some lawmakers, civic leaders and Occupy Wall Street protesters, the country’s No. 1 law enforcer said Tuesday he has instructed many of his 93 federal prosecutors to review any residential mortgage fraud case they have brought against a financial institution stemming from the 2008 financial crisis to see if any executive could be held accountable for the company’s actions.

      Both civil and criminal cases will be on the table, Holder said.

      The prosecutors have been given three months to report their findings to Washington.

      What a farce!

  23. allan

    Infrastructure? What infrastructure?

    The Capitol Hill calendar is way overstuffed — a Supreme Court nomination, plus Obamacare repeal legislation; tax reform; and budget, spending and debt-ceiling fights, including a possible showdown over a government shutdown.

    So Republican sources tell us that a backup plan is emerging for one of Trump’s top priorities:

    The plan: Push off until next year any consideration of the massive infrastructure plan Trump wants to push for roads, airports and other big projects, giving Republican lawmakers more breathing room amid a crowd of issues that’ll require massive effort, time and political capital….

    A shocker, I know. And another solid for the back row kids.

    Edit: And love the lack of agency in `a backup plan is emerging’.

    1. Tim

      Like the democrats did with ACA, Trump/Republicans will spend all their political capital before they get around to immigration too.

      I really wonder if that can will ever stop being kicked by congress?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The Praetorian Guard could be formed in a day, maybe, but for sure Rome was not built overnight.

        We are quick to point out he’s a low-approval rated president. And our demand is that he performs like a Messiah.

    2. a different chris

      Well, that’s the beauty of the whole thing – Republicans can’t govern. I don’t even think it rises to the level of “anti-government”, at this stage they are just too stupid to accomplish anything.

      It’s really bad, but even given that infrastructure is something the R’s are amazingly only capable of making worse (lots of pavement in Red areas for lots of cars with enough skimming to make it twice what doing it right would cost and yet will be nothing but potholes in 10 years)

      I can’t believe my only response to everything is “best to do nothing than what these clowns would get up to”… especially since I’m an enviro-nazi and those necessary changes can’t wait. But there it is.

  24. Mark Alexander

    Re: NPR has created a team devoted to covering President Trump’s conflicts of interest

    This article simply highlights the hypocrisy at the Nice Polite Republicans. For a year and half they’ve already had a team devoted to Trump coverage, period. During the primaries they would spend many minutes each morning blabbing about Trump, yet could not even find a few measly seconds to mention Sanders, even after he won primaries or held rallies with tens of thousands of attendees.

    It got so bad that each morning my spouse and I would play a game in the morning before turning on the radio, where we’d bet how many seconds it would take for Trump to be mentioned. Sometimes NPR would make my bet of “10 seconds” look shamefully conservative by taking less than a second to say “Trump”.

    And then there’s this gem from the article: ” We all could see we would be entering a new world in terms of ethics and conflicts of interest.” A “new world”? This is the same organization that barely mentioned a word about Clinton’s huge ethics problems during election season.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      As long as Trump is made to look bad, it seems, nothing else matters, including setbacks for the people.

  25. Oregoncharles

    “A Bee Mogul Confronts the Crisis in His Field NYT”
    “Industrial-scale beekeeping” may be precisely the problem. It stresses the hell out of the bees, leaves them malnourished, and exposes them to heavy doses of pesticides.

    I know my neighbors’ bees are doing just fine – they have over a dozen hives, some of them at our place. (A good deal: we get free honey out of it.) They do have to battle mites, which are a pervasive problem, but nobody sprays much around here, there’s no industrial-scale farming in reach, and there are vast amounts of blackberries, an excellent nectar plant. (And a pest that bribes us to let it live. I spend a lot of time chopping and digging blackberries.) We also have a row of large black locust trees, another good nectar plant that blooms early – and smells heavenly.

    So there’s some good news, and a clue.

    1. Synapsid


      If those are marionberries, try goats. Reach in and pick what you can, then send in the goats. After they’ve eaten in a ways, go in and pick as far in as you can. Then send in the goats…

      1. Oregoncharles

        I’m scared of goats, because they eat fruit trees. Not just the fruit – the tree. As bad as deer, which we have anyway. That’s a clever use of them, though.

        I find that chopped blackberries (they’re mostly Himalayans, but marionberries are similar) compost quite well. I know how to manage the remaining bushes for easy picking, but don’t always get around to it.

  26. Oregoncharles

    ” Readers, have any of you attended a town hall? If so, what happened?”
    I did, pretty much the opposite side of the coin but might prove the point. It was Sen. Ron Wyden’s, 11 AM, very blue town in a very blue state. (He’s probably getting different reactions in more rural parts of the state.) HUGE turnout, probably a thousand people. I’ve never seen so many at one of these. And the questions were adulatory.

    Personally, I’ve gone to Wyden’s town halls with a sign reading “Wyden: Betrayer,” and got positive remarks from the steelworkers also attending. But that was over Fast Track. I think he’s an arrogant slime, really terrible on both health care and “free trade” – so, crooked. But he was in his element this time. The health care question sounded like a setup to both me and my wife (and I just heard his answer) – somebody totally dependent on Heritage-Care. Several “questions” amounted to “what can we do” – call your congress-weasel, mostly. (Personally, I like weasels, but not in human form.)

    The bad news, which I emphasized before: the crowd was baying for Russian blood, and Wyden was loving it. He’s on the “Intelligence” committee, so he knows what really happened, but he was in full throat for going to war – no, he didn’t say that, just encouraged the hysteria. I imagine he thinks he can control it. I hope so.

    Liberals were historically very imperialistic and militarist. That was very obvious in that town hall. And this is a very sophisticated audience – a university town, and on campus. The guy next to me didn’t applaud much, and there was a Republican (?) who yelled out a couple of times, but it wasn’t an audience where I felt comfortable asking a gotcha question. (My wife’s big issue is BDS, and Wyden co-sponsored an anti-BDS bill, meaning he cares more about Israel’s occupation than Americans’ rights. She had a sign about it, and people were at least curious, but…)

    Conclusion: right-wing Dems are benefiting from all this.

  27. Zane Zodrow

    I just attended a town hall with U.S. Rep. Tim Walz (D) – MN. At least 500 people there in Rochester, MN, population 115,000. Crowd looked pretty much like any large gathering area around here, but with very few children, and maybe skewed a bit older. ACA was a big topic. Crowd called Walz out on some things and cheered against him, also agreed on lots of points. Little mention of the orange menace, or ‘THE RUSSIANS’, or ‘fake news’. Mention of Keith Ellison got big cheers.

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