2:00PM Water Cooler 4/11/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Readers, this is another travel day for me, and so I’m posting a bit early, hence no statistics, although plenty of other business news. But there’s plenty happening, and if these topics don’t do it for you, talk amongst yourselves! –lambert


“Is globalisation dead?” [Ann Pettifor, Prime]. “[C]ontrary to Hayek’s expectations, financial globalisation has proved that it is market fundamentalism, and not the regulatory state that is leading the world into an era of authoritarianism and totalitarianism – in the US, Eastern Europe, India and China. In the UK, average real wages are today lower than in 2008, no higher than they were in 2005, and in general we have to look back to Victorian times for such a stark period of stagnation. In the US, the position has been even more severe for huge numbers of working people. Median annual earnings in the Bretton Woods period rose steadily until just after 1970. Then throughout the age of ‘globalisation’ or financial deregulation, American male real wages have stagnated. This, I contend, explains the rise of Donald Trump. It is an explanation, not a defence of his authoritarianism or of his administration’s irrational protectionism.”




Sanders has never been good on foreign policy, and I don’t think this is good (although, to be fair, the war fever in the Beltway is just as crazypants as it was before Iraq; I mean, Democrats rehabilitated George W. Bush! So I can see Sanders getting caught up in the madness, and wishing to appear responsible). That said, this is a “self-own” by Sanders for two reasons: (1) It muddies the clarity of his message on voting against the Iraq War. Now he’s lying down with the Clintonite/neocon dogs of war, and he’s sure to get up with fleas. (2) There are Trump voters who are rightly very angry at Trump for flip-flopping on Syria, and I’m guessing some of them would be reachable with a hitherto by Sanders. Now he’s written them off. Sanders may think he’s being clever, since multilateral solutions are as far to the left as the Overton Window allows, and a multilateral solution isn’t visible anywhere, leaving Sanders free to be against whatever unilateral solution The Blob comes up with. But that’s 11-dimensional chess, and I don’t think we want or need that right now; Sanders should stick to one-dimensional chess — a solid and consistent message on policy, endlessly repeated — most especially because it’s worked for him. And I would argue that foreign policy realism ought to be part of his message. The American people can take it.

2016 Post Mortem

“Forthcoming research by Alexander Hertel-Fernandez of Columbia University suggests that limits on collective bargaining, which are mainly aimed at public-sector unions, made government workers in Indiana and Wisconsin less likely to take part in political campaigns, or to vote. In a study of 111 border counties in Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin, he also calculates that the right-to-work laws they introduced between 2012 and 2016 could account for two percentage points of Mrs Clinton’s underperformance in those states compared with Barack Obama in 2012. Given that Mr Trump’s victory in the electoral college was based on a combined total of 70,000 votes across Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, that could have cost her the presidency” [The Economist].

“Even if Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) had won last year’s Democratic presidential primary, he wouldn’t have defeated Donald Trump in the general election, says former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D)” [HuffPo]. “‘I don’t believe so,’ O’Malley speculated Friday on DC/BS, a political podcast hosted by Jon Allen and Peter Ogburn.” O’Malley 2020… The choice of a new generation!

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The coming constitutional convention train-wreck” [Alice Marshall, Medium]. Both the Koch Brothers and TYT’s Wolf PAC are pushing for a Constitutional convention, the latter with the goal of “getting money out of politics”:

The idea that you could open a Pandora’s box like a constitutional convention and confine it to getting money out of politics is delusional. When Louis XVI called the estates general he intended it to confine itself to solving the nation’s fiscal crisis, but as we all know, it overthrew the entire French ancien regime.

The difference between myself and Bernie Sanders is that Bernie thinks that we need a political revolution whereas I think that we are going to get one whether we want it or not. Our 18th Century constitution is coming apart at the seams.

We need to study the revolutions of Eastern Europe of 1989, we need to study the Philippines snap election, and the Costa Rican revolution of 1948. In short, we need to study every revolution that left people better off than they had been before and learn from their example. Above all, we need to put aside all illusions about our present situation.

GA-06: “The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) released a memo Monday detailing the group’s efforts in the district, noting that the number of paid staffers to help 30-year-old Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff has significantly grown, from eight staffers to more than 70 over the past month” [The Hill]. “The race, which President Trump won by only 1 percentage point, has become a center of Democratic efforts to show evidence of a growing anti-GOP wave.” Nonsense. The race is important to the Democrat Establishment (unlike Quist and Thompson) because if they can win a race with a vacuous no-message candidate who raises enormous amounts of money and appeals to suburban Republicans, especially women, then Clinton’s 2016 strategy was correct and nothing needs to change.

Stats Watch

Public Relations: Dragging a bloodied Asian guy off a plane isn’t a good look in China. More on the United United Express Flight 3411 debacle:

That’s unfortunate: “China is the second largest aviation market in the world and a key focus for United, which claims it ‘operates more nonstop US-China flights, and to more cities in China, than any other airline'” [CNN].

Public Relations: Here’s the first paragraph of the CEO’s letter to United Staff [Hong Kong Standard]:

Dear Team,

Like you, I was upset to see and hear about what happened last night aboard United Express Flight 3411 headed from Chicago to Louisville. While the facts and circumstances are still evolving, especially with respect to why this customer defied Chicago Aviation Security Officers the way he did, to give you a clearer picture of what transpired, I’ve included below a recap from the preliminary reports filed by our employees….


Leaving aside Oscar’s nauseating “Dear Team” verbiage — a team is the very last thing United is, as this comment by JerryDenim makes clear — notice: (1) “facts and circumstances” do not “evolve,” although our interpretations of them may, and (2) what clearly gets Oscar’s goat is a failure to comply (“defied”). Corporate America!

Public Relations: “United chief defends staff after screaming man dragged off flight” [Financial Times]. Nice headline! And about the cops that did the dragging:

The Chicago department of aviation, whose officers were involved in the incident, said in a statement that the handling of the situation was “not in accordance with our standard operating procedure” and was not condoned by the department.

“That officer has been placed on leave effective today pending a thorough review of the situation,” it said.

Where the heck does the “Chicago department of aviation” work out of? Homan Square? Somebody should ask Rahm about this, although not will never happen.

Public Relations: “A man wouldn’t leave an overbooked United flight. So he was dragged off, battered and limp” [WaPo]. Their wrap-up. For “battered,” read “bloodied.” Fixed it for ya. Democracy dies in darkness, ya know.

Public Relations: “A top public-relations outlet named United CEO ‘communicator of the year’ weeks before a passenger was dragged off a United flight” [Business Insider]. Oopsie.

Concentration: “‘We determined that variation in airline service quality related substantially to changes in the level of competition within airline markets,’ the DOT inspector-general’s report [here] concluded. ‘Specifically, reduced airline competition increased both the length of delays in some markets and the number of flight cancellations in others'” [Buzzfeed]. “Less competition means you don’t have to worry as much about annoying people with delays or overbooked flights. It also means you can make a lot more money. There’s less pressure to cut ticket prices — even when the price of oil, an airline’s biggest cost, is plummeting — and its easier to introduce ever-more obnoxious fees and charges.”

Concentration: “Now we find ourselves at a moment when nearly all the promises of the airline deregulators have clearly proved false. If you’re a member of the creative class who rarely does business in the nation’s industrial heartland or visits relatives there, you might not notice the magnitude of economic disruption being caused by lost airline service and skyrocketing fares. But if you are in the business of making and trading stuff beyond derivatives and concepts, you probably have to go to places like Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Memphis, St. Louis, or Minneapolis, and you know firsthand how hard it has become to do business these days in such major heartland cities, which are increasingly cut off from each other and from the global economy” [Washington Monthly]. In some ways, then, “BlueSession” has already taken place. And not in a good way.

Concentration: “After years of 15 percent growth, the craft sector is down to the single digits. Part of that is to be expected in a maturing part of any market — but it’s also a result of a pushback by a handful of gargantuan global brewers, aided by slack government antitrust oversight” [New York Times].

We have seen a dramatic consolidation in our industry in recent years. It started in 2008 when the Department of Justice approved the creation of a duopoly in the beer industry by greenlighting a joint venture between Molson Coors and SABMiller (creating MillerCoors) and, five months later, the merger of Anheuser Busch and InBev.

Overnight, about 90 percent of domestic beer production was in the hands of two brewing giants.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 37 Fear (previous close: 40, Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 46 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 10 at 4:56pm. Per note, quite early.

Health Care

“Another state is at risk of having only one Obamacare health insurer” [WaPo]. No death spiral here, no sireee bob.

“How Many Americans Will Die Needlessly Before Congress Finally Passes National Improved Medicare for All (NIMA)?” [Joe Firestone, Medium].

Class Warfare

“Service Employees International Union cutting headquarters staff” [The Hill]. “The Service Employees International Union is reportedly laying off staff at its headquarters after spending about $60 million on politics and lobbying and $19 million on the Fight for 15 movement in 2016.”

News of the Wired

“HG Wells made a series of utopian predictions 100 years ago and was right about nearly all of them” [Quartz]. And so did H.P. Lovecraft. So there!

“Terry Gilliam Reveals the Secrets of Monty Python Animations: A 1974 How-To Guide” [Open Culture]. This animation technique is really neat, and looks like it would be fun to learn and do.

* * *

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

DB writes: “Taken in Ireland last week, on a hike up a mountain in the Burren.” Reminds me of the Maine Coast…

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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. ChiGal in Carolina

    At least Bernie states in the clip we should NOT embark on another ME war.

    United – unbelievable. I hope Usians vote with their pocketbooks. I will never fly United.

    (Also, it’s Homan Square, and no, is not the CPD. Apparently airports are basically a law unto themselves – been researching for an upcoming trip to Oregon from whence I would love to bring back some edibles. All advice welcome!)

    1. markopher

      Just remove the edibles from the obvious packaging they come in and put them in a zip lock bag, or if you are paranoid, buy an edible that looks like one product, then buy that product and put the edible version in instead. Also put whatever edible you get into your carry-on and you’ll have no problem getting through security (so long as it isn’t a liquid of course).

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > if you are paranoid, buy an edible that looks like one product, then buy that product and put the edible version in instead.

        That’s impressively devious

    2. justanotherprogressive

      Send your edibles FedEx and buy yourself a first class ticket. That is the only way to guarantee both you and your food will arrive when you expect them to.
      Added perk of first class: You don’t get bounced off the plane (ever)……just be sure to dress like you belong there and and don’t look like one of the back of the bus, er back of the plane people, and never give up your seat to a soldier (god forbid that those people should sit with someone as lowly as a soldier for a couple of hours)….

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Thanks to the both of you. lol about flying first class – I am a social worker, I definitely don’t have the wardrobe ;-)

      2. nowhere

        Seems some people can get bumped From first-class.

        Suddenly it had more first-class passengers than it knew what to do with. So it turned to its “How to Screw Over Customers” handbook and determined that the one in higher standing — more miles flown, presumably — gets the seat and the other first-class passenger, even though he’s also a member of the frequent-flier program, gets the boot.

        “I understand you might bump people because a flight is full,” Fearns said. “But they didn’t say anything at the gate. I was already in the seat. And now they were telling me I had no choice. They said they’d put me in cuffs if they had to.”

  2. oho

    Any actual aviation law experts here? All the people who I’ve seen quoted in the media were not lawyers.

    Is this a basic issue of contract law (performance/consideration) once you’ve cleared security and boarded the plane? (and you’re not disruptive)

    From the carriage of contract (Rule 25); it’s implied that once the airline lets you board, you don’t have to leave (so long as you’re not a disruptive or a safety hazard—Rule 21).

    and ya, the PR firm (presumably) that wrote Munoz’s communiques are just laughably tone deaf. heckuva job.

    1. Romancing The Loan

      I’m not an aviation law specialist but certainly contract law is not in the guy’s favor – you can the sue the person breaking the contract (here United) for $ (and I believe there is a federal limit on damages of 3x cost of ticket) but almost never can you force specific performance of a contract (here flying him to his destination.)

      As far as this poor jobbing lawyer knows, United can choose to throw anyone they like off their plane (well, before takeoff anyway!) for any reason other than ones barred by equal protection (racial background, religion, sex). I expect this is all also in the tiny print when you buy your ticket.

      That said, they have the legal right to remove him but no right whatsoever to beat the shit out of him, and the people defending this (or smearing the poor doctor) are cracked. I hope he and everyone who witnessed it sues United (for $).

      1. Yves Smith

        I’m not so sure once they’ve given you a boarding pass and actually let you board. That’s the issue here. They can clearly make ALL passengers leave because the plane is not gonna fly or for the passengers’ comfort while it it being repaired but arbitrarily make an individual leave on flight that is departing?

        And the “you can’t make them perform” is with respect to “they may not be able to fly from A to B on time”. If the plane (flight #) on which you have a seat departs, they do bribe people to give up their seats, as in pay for a waiver of their contracts. They don’t bump people with confirmed seats without paying them to my knowledge.

        And the guy was Chinese, so he’s got a ready discrimination claim.

        Oh, see Uahsenaa below, s/he has the scoop.

        1. Romancing The Loan

          A true aviation expert weighs in! The reddit guy makes sense to me.

          But the passenger doesn’t have a ready discrimination claim if what’s being reported is true – that the algorithm used to decide he’s the one to go was based on the passenger’s value to United. At least, certainly not just because he’s Chinese.

          1. Romancing The Loan

            Although, come to think of it, nothing the reddit guy said would make any difference as to whether they can kick you off for no reason at all, just whether you’d win your lawsuit afterwards.

            Illegal? Fine, here’s your $. But breaking a contract (any contract) doesn’t give you possessory interest in their property such that you have the right to stay.

        2. Uahsenaa

          I imagine the airline will try to argue that he was resisting and thereby being disruptive, which is something you can get thrown off a plane for. Plus, cops have a lot of experience claiming resistance to what is otherwise a brutal takedown and in some cases straightforward beating. The reason why I think this is because the CEO’s initial statements all tried to characterize the victim as “defying” a seemingly lawful order. Of course, the order wasn’t lawful, and any decent lawyer will have a dozen deposed witnesses who all agree that security just walked onto the plane and immediately started yanking him off.

            1. bob

              The algo did it.

              Soon to come to cars too.

              No fault. It’s just math. In the case of a human vs an algo, the algo wins, every time, because it’s dispassionate, and only uses numbers to come to the Correct conclusion.

              You can’t argue with an aglo.

              It’s a very dangerous precedent.

          1. Alex Morfesis

            David sirota found a united air filing from sept 2014, where they made a representation to the govt in writing about NEVER throwing anyone off a flight who has a ticket…but they were obviously just kidding…what’s a little fib among friends and donees…

        3. Tom_Doak

          I was in a situation like this once, years ago, on a small regional flight. The flight had been delayed for hours and hours by storms and a mechanical problem, and after they finally boarded everyone, they came on and said they had weight and balance issues, and two passengers would have to “volunteer” to take a later flight. Several of the people were going to a wedding and were worried they would miss the ceremony entirely, so there were no volunteers.

          So Northwest Airlines resorted to procedure, which said the last two passengers to board [the top of the stack of boarding passes] had to be removed. They asked for Mr. Jones and Mr. Smith … and no one raised their hand :)

          I figured the day was shot anyway, so I volunteered at that point. But I also learned never to be the last person to board, if you need to get somewhere.

    2. Tim

      I think this will be resolved with a massive civil suit that makes United bear the burden of the whole incident even though it was not responsible for the methods of enforcement. They do deserve it, but I think the PR damage will still be more costly.

      1. different clue

        United called in the police to “handle it”. So United is enTIREly responsible for how its corporate lackey police decided to “handle it”.

        United should be driven into roach motel liquidation. Hopefully other airlines can expand to fill the gap left by a hopefully-deleted United. Anything less would fail to send a proper message to the rest of the industry.

        1. Yves Smith

          Um, United decided to remove the guy to have an employee fly. So they can’t escape responsibility. Remove = force. Plus the CEO doubled down with the e-mail backing all his employees. So he officially owns this.

    3. Uahsenaa

      I saw this on reddit (yes, I know), which seems like a fairly straightforward rundown that also notes a very salient point: that this is not, in fact, an overbooking situation, so those laws do not even apply. For those who are reddit averse:

      Lawyer here. This myth that passengers don’t have rights needs to go away, ASAP. You are dead wrong when saying that United legally kicked him off the plane.

      First of all, it’s airline spin to call this an overbooking. The statutory provision granting them the ability to deny boarding is about “OVERSALES”, specifically defines as booking more reserved confirmed seats than there are available. This is not what happened. They did not overbook the flight; they had a fully booked flight, and not only did everyone already have a reserved confirmed seat, they were all sitting in them. The law allowing them to denying boarding in the event of an oversale does not apply.

      Even if it did apply, the law is unambiguously clear that airlines have to give preference to everyone with reserved confirmed seats when choosing to involuntarily deny boarding. They have to always choose the solution that will affect the least amount of reserved confirmed seats. This rule is straightforward, and United makes very clear in their own contract of carriage that employees of their own or of other carriers may be denied boarding without compensation because they do not have reserved confirmed seats. On its face, it’s clear that what they did was illegal– they gave preference to their employees over people who had reserved confirmed seats, in violation of 14 CFR 250.2a.

      Furthermore, even if you try and twist this into a legal application of 250.2a and say that United had the right to deny him boarding in the event of an overbooking; they did NOT have the right to kick him off the plane. Their contract of carriage highlights there is a complete difference in rights after you’ve boarded and sat on the plane, and Rule 21 goes over the specific scenarios where you could get kicked off. NONE of them apply here. He did absolutely nothing wrong and shouldn’t have been targeted. He’s going to leave with a hefty settlement after this fiasco.

      1. Marina Bart

        This probably explains the repugnant info dump that morally deficient media organizations decided to promulgate about the doctor. I hope United at least bought them dinner first.

    4. YY

      Legality and technicality of whether it was really United or not aside, this is major damage to United treating customers worse than baggage. There is probably no major news outlet throughout the world that has not covered this. I watch the Australian (ABC/SBS) and Japanese (NHK) evening TV news daily, and both covered it thoroughly. Besides, security that can not remove this senior person of modest strength without blood and drama should seek jobs requiring less skills. And as to the boss of United, in other cultures he would now be handing in his resignation.

      1. R Smith

        Especially in the Pacific Rim Countries. The countries there are big on protocol and they have or will soon be aware of the legality and the legal implications of what happened. I have also seen a report questioning the legality of Airport Security boarding the aircraft. This will affect United dealings with the Governments and businesses for a long time. The incident itself is frowned on, even more so by the CEO of Eastern putting his foot in mouth to begin with as evidently Eastern lawyers were quick to point out to him. Fortunately I don’t have to fly Eastern any more. Being retired has advantages.

  3. fresno dan

    Sanders has never been good on foreign policy, and I don’t think this is good (although, to be fair, the war fever in the Beltway is just as crazypants as it was before Iraq; I mean, Democrats rehabilitated George W. Bush! So I can see Sanders getting caught up in the madness, and wishing to appear responsible). That said, this is a “self-own” by Sanders for two reasons: (1) It muddies the clarity of his message on voting against the Iraq War. Now he’s lying down with the Clintonite/neocon dogs of war, and he’s sure to get up with fleas. (2) There are Trump voters who are rightly very angry at Trump for flip-flopping on Syria, and I’m guessing some of them would be reachable with a hitherto by Sanders.

    Is BEING in congress SO important, that scarcely even 1 person can flat out definitively say it is wrong and unwise to get into ANOTHER mideast war after Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and that whole bunch we are droning without hemming, hawing and trying to split the difference by equivocating about process???
    Simply incredible to me, a mere 15 years after Iraq, we want more…

    1. craazyboy

      At this point we already know what the “Multinational Solution” would need to be. Firstly, the West would need to get Russia on board. Then we can go in, beat up Assad and whatever remaining terrorists we can find. (first we’ll allow them to retreat somewhere safe – Libya maybe, or Iraq or Againistan)

      Next, the missing ingredient so far – setup a 100 year NATO[+Russia] military dictatorship. How to properly divide up the spoils of war among oil companies and Russia will be up for endless debate.

      Meanwhile, the Syrian economy is destroyed and food and water will be airlifted in forever and Halliburton will be called on to build some houses and schools. And big military bases NATO and Russia can populate with their “excess” citizenry. It will be sold to public back home as a wonderful Snowflake diversity thing. Halliburton will post cardboard signs on all the restrooms declaring them transgender restrooms. Wapo and the NYT will fly in embedded journalists to take pictures.

      Meanwhile, Iran next door goes batshit crazy and invades and/or launches their nukes, if they have any.

      Or we finally invade Iran too. Next, the missing ingredient so far – setup a 100 year……..

    2. different clue

      Tulsi Gabbard is objecting to saying that Assad diddit without any evidence. So the entire Inner Democratic Party is now unified in trying to get Gabbard de-elected from Congress.

      Hopefully all the Berners and post-Berner change-seekers will give Gabbard all the support she needs in her next election so that her Mainstream Democrat opponent can be destroyed and erased from politics.

      1. philnc

        Lots of eloquent words could go here, but let’s cut to the chase: on this foreign policy issue Gabbard is right, and Bernie, along with his more militant colleagues, is wrong. What that should result in is a redirecting of campaign donations to Tulsi. If that means less for Bernie and those he supports, so be it. As we swing into the 2018 races I was expecting there would be a parting of the ways with Bernie & co. anyway due to the need to primary corporate Democrats, something I can’t see him going along with. This just advances the timetable slightly, and deals with what many of us agree has always been a weak plank in the Berniecrat platform (foreign policy).

        1. John k

          But she’s no progressive. Sad.
          Bernie still best. There simply are very few progressives. Sadder.

      2. Temporarily Sane

        Gabbard is a virulent anti-Muslim bigot who openly supports the sectarian Hindu proto-fascist party currently in power in India. Alas, another useless Democrat.

      3. Temporarily Sane

        Gabbard is a virulent anti-Muslim bigot who openly supports the sectarian Hindu proto-fascist party currently in power in India. Alas, another useless Democrat.

    3. polecat

      Not fleas, but ticks … big ones !

      Sanders should get a clue …. unfortunately he is not the left/progressive savior everyone wishes him to be. This, to me, just seals the deal !

      1. Arizona Slim

        Which is why I think that the Draft Bernie movement is full of hooey. It is time to get Bernie Sanders to start thinking about retirement.

        1. different clue

          That’s up to the people of Vermont. Not up to anyone else, and certainly not up to someone as far away from Vermont as Arizona is.

        2. Temporarily Sane

          I tend to agree. Sanders’ “socialist” credentials always were wildly exaggerated. His foreign policy proposals are shockingly…naive, to put it kindly, and he had no qualms about supporting war profiteers (Lockheed Martin or Boeing IIIRC) in his home state after they promised jobs.

          That being said he would have made a slightly “less worse” POTUS than HRC or the Chump. But his selling out to team Clinton and pledging fealty to the candidate whose policies and record he’d been passionately tearing apart for the previous two years speaks volumes about his character and commitment.

          Now when he opens his mouth, particularly when it comes to foreign policy issues, he is just an embarrassment. Go home Bernie. You had one chance to make a real difference and you blew it spectacularly.

          1. Aumua

            Haha, the guy has done a hell of a lot more towards making a real difference than you have, friend.

    4. Christopher Fay

      Hey, Rip van Winkle, since 1990. We have three decades of Iraq war. D. C. might have crabs, but it definitely has the Victory Disease. One success leads to more spins of the wheel until, oops, you meet a stronger force. That’s the Japanese history from the 1930s to 40s. We’re on the way to the same development.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Um, “victory”? You mean the kind of victory where we hand the country to our bitter sworn enemy (Iraq to Iran)? Or the kind of victory where we spend more than the Marshall Plan to rebuild to no visible effect (Afghanistan)?

    5. robnume

      You hit the nail on the head, F.D. The pro-remove Assad crap that Bernie is spewing is so he can keep his CONgressional seat. Politicians have no sense of shame. I was once on board with Bernie but I feel he sold us out in may little ways during the 2016 circus.

    6. Elizabeth Burton

      First, please note the source of the Tweet. Second, please go and read what the man actually said, because as always the corporate media pulled his words totally out of context to make him look like a sellout. This is, IMNSHO, a deliberate campaign to undermine Bernie with his crew and put the kibosh on the whole effort to move the party and the country back to sanity.

      What Bernie actually said was that Assad is a tyrant and does need to be replaced, but that this is not how to go about it. Chuck Todd specifically says Bernie was against the strike and asks him why, to which he replies, after noting the nastiness of Assad, which is not in question: “Our goal, long term, has got to work with countries around the world. We cannot do it unilaterally. We’ve got to work with countries around the world for a political* solution to get rid of this guy and to finally bring peace and stability to this country, which has been so decimated.”

      Todd then undertakes to trick him into saying something that could sound like he (Bernie) actually approves of the strike, interrupting him several times (which is a maneuver intended to disrupt one’s train of thought the MSM loves to use when they’re in attack mode), and he does not get the sound bite he clearly wanted. So, they edited what he did say to make it imply he doesn’t disapprove—which is not true

      *Emphasis mine

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Thank you. All you gotta do is listen to the clip above.

        And btw phil, Bernie already primaried a corporate Dem or two or three – remember DWS? I expect OR will continue to do so.

      2. Marina Bart

        Thank you for doing this. I have watched this phenomenon play out again and again in the past year, and yet I’m so on edge, it worked on me this time. I did assume Bernie had actually made mouth noises backing the air strike — perhaps under duress. I should have remembered that every word our glorious corporate media writes now is a lie, including “and” and “the.” (h/t Mary McCarthy)

  4. ChrisFromGeorgia

    Anyone else digging the irony of the US claiming that Russia is “covering up” the alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria, after we just hit the airbase where any planes that would have delivered said weapons originated from, thereby destroying potential evidence?

    Seems like a classic “gaslighting” tactic.

    1. justanotherprogressive

      It is even more “ironic” when you realize that Russian (and therefore Syria) were notified hours in advance of the airstrike and that 59 Tomahawk missiles (one failed) were sent to hit that base but to do minimal damage…..

      1. montanamaven

        The Saker and other Russian sources are saying that only 23 missiles hit and only hit one end of the airfield. Minimal . I still am waiting to see video of the actual chemical attack complete with dead animals in the house.

    2. Dead Dog

      reporting here in Australia that tests have confirmed sarin poisoning…

      I thought an expert said the bodies needed to be blue for the cause of death to be sarin. Guess we will need to get some more confirmation and assess the source

      1. MoiAussie

        All the stories I’m seeing here have headlines beginning or ending with “Turkey says”. Any confirmation coming out of Turkey should be considered dubious, or to lapse into extreme cynicism for a moment, if Turkey is so certain it’s probably because they supplied it.

        The important question here is not whether it was pure or home-brew sarin, chlorine, some other toxic chemical like a pesticide, or some mixture of things, but how was the toxic agent released and by whom.

    1. different clue

      Trains move way slower than planes so they are not much good for bussiness. But for vacationing, why don’t more people take the train? Do they not have long-enough vacation time?

        1. different clue

          Ahhh . . .well, I didn’t say “all” people. I said “more” people. By “more” people, I was referring to people moving around withIN the continent of North America. I wouldn’t have expected people going from Mainland to Hawaii and back again to try “taking the train”.

          Though one wonders how fast a very efficient and huge ship strictly devoted to moving people from Hawaii to Mainland to Hawaii could move. Sort of a “high class” Subway-on-the-Sea.

      1. DJPS

        Have you ever tried to book a cross country amtrak trip? EG PHX > Chicago. Go on their web site and try a few journeys. You will be blown away how slow and meandering they are. Mind-bogglingly impractical for trips < a month in duration.

        1. fresno dan

          April 11, 2017 at 3:49 pm

          I took the train from Washington DC to Miami once because I just love trains and had great experience in Great Britain and Europe. The American train trip was hell on earth.
          I also wanted to take the train from Sacramento to San Francisco – but the train from Sacramento doesn’t actually go to to SF – it stops on the other side of the bay and you have to take the bus from the train station to downtown SF….which at the time I was going meant that going over that bridge at rush hour meant that I got there at about the same time as taking a bus from Sacramento to begin with for twice the price….

      2. a different chris

        Not in America, at least the ones that can’t afford first class plane tickets.

      3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I once went to Sedona from LA. Left in the evening, arrived at around 5AM. No play time lost. Just a good night of sleep.

        You can probably go to Chicago in a day…leaving at night, moving the next day whole day through Colorado and Kansas, and getting to Chicago for lunch after another night of sleep to the soothing sound of spinning wheels.

        1. different clue

          Something that I and other living throwbacks working full time jobs in big legacy institutions still have.

        1. jrs

          So we’re losing train service and social security? Could Trump be any more terrible if he tried? Ok, ok don’t answer that, the wars could escalate yet more for one thing.

          So much for “infrastructure”, I guess “infrastructure” just means tax breaks for some oil companies private pipeline or something, not like you know the public transportation system. And again how many people are going to LOSE jobs to Trump (and his infrastructure, science, EPA etc. DISinvestment)? Make America 3rd world.

        2. different clue

          Well, if it was, its worth linking again.

          Trump can only PROpose. It is STILL the Congress which DISposes. I almost betcha that all or almost all of those 220 cities to lose service under the Trump budget are in Deplorable Country. We have seen that Sanders fills halls and gets a respectful hearing in Deplorable Country. Perhaps he and others of his movement(s) could tour each of the 220 cities scheduled for de-servicing under the Trump budget and point that fact out to the people there.
          Since the MSM fake news media won’t bother making much of a point of it.

      4. Octopii

        Train is great for short/medium distance city-to-city business, especially the Acela DC-NY :-) It is a much, much nicer experience than the plane, and it puts you right in to where you want to go (downtown). Even if the train costs more than the airfare (not uncommon in the Acela corridor when I was doing it) you have to factor in the time and expense getting to and from the airport, plus any time you have to leave for a cushion at the airport. On the train you can have an honest to goodness multi-person meeting complete with conference table in a group seat. Sure beats flying for productivity.

      5. Big River Bandido

        A huge percentage of the market is not within reasonable proximity to “functioning” (meaning “19-century”) train service. As an example: The most populous corridor in the state of Iowa follows I-80. A direct train that could connect Omaha and Chicago in 5-6 hours, going through Council Bluffs, Des Moines, Iowa City, and Davenport, would serve nearly a million riders, according to an Iowa DOT Feasibility Study that is now almost 10 years old.

        But of course, there *is* no passenger service along that corridor, and all the energy that might have gone into building such a line simply disintegrated after the Obama Administration’s half-hearted “stimulus” effort sputtered and died. Iowa’s only passenger rail line goes through the far-southern tier of the state, which is significantly less populated.

        If this situation is replicated nationwide, there are plenty of large population centers that have already been unserved by passenger rail.

      6. nowhere

        The duration is an important factor. I’ve looked into taking the train from the Bay Area to Seattle. The trip time is close to 24 hours and the fares are not significantly less than air travel.

        It is somewhat difficult to justify the time expense for a small increase in monetary expense. If I had more vacation time, I’d love to travel by rail more often.

    2. robnume

      I couldn’t understand why an airline would treat a passenger like that poor doctor was treated, then I saw that United now owns Continental.
      As a frequent flyer on Continental back in the 1980’s – 90’s I witnessed multiple incidents of flight attendants being extremely abusive/dismissive of its passengers and their individual needs, all of which I reported to that airlines corporate “responsibility” team.
      Appears as though United decided, for whatever reason, to keep the mal/mistreatment of its paying customers practiced by Continental as airline policy. Well done, United!

  5. footnote4

    Anyone else getting this from Russia Today TV

    “This channel is currently unavailable due to technical difficulties”

    1. different clue

      He also left a note saying he wanted his brain autopsied to find out what was wrong with him. I remember reading that after he was safely dead his brain was indeed autopsied. A tumor was found pressing on the Rage Center of his brain.

        1. different clue

          Outward every which way. Which is why he went up the tower. So he could reach out and touch the very most maximum number of random sons of bitches.

  6. m

    The comments on United Airline’s facebook page are too funny. That poor guy US is getting sicker everyday.

    COMMENT: Will there be a ticket option “Will not beat and drag you.” for an extra $25? This would be a great source of additional revenue.

    Getting into RT no problem, what browser & service provider are you using?

    1. RUKidding

      I think if the airlines are going to charge for a “Promise not to beat you senseless and drag you off the plane with your clothes falling off & your dignity gone” option, it’s gonna cost upwards of $50 a pop.

      Methinks they don’t want to give up that option too cheaply.

      Fly the friendly skies… Suckahs!

      1. Arizona Slim

        I don’t know if it’s true — I only saw it on the Faceborg — but there’s a Southwest Airlines meme that says, “We beat the competition, not you.”

        1. different clue

          If it isn’t true, it should be true. If somebody here knows somebody within Southwest, they should send that slogan on to Soutwest, so Southwest can set up bunches of deniable face-sources and twitter-sources repeating that very same self-same slogan.

      2. lambert strether

        I think a little market segmentation might be in order:

        Bronze Plan: dragged off, beaten, but not bloodied

        Silver: dragged off, but not beaten

        Gold: dragged off, not beaten, with free gift including trauma counseling

        Platinum: name your price for the seat

        1. aletheia33

          what is truly awful about this (very funny, too!) comment is that it accurately describes reality as it already is now.

          in the sense that people’s lives and ability to function are correspondingly harmed in each segment of the obamacare “market.”

          the commodities do not get to determine the going price for one of themselves.

    2. Code Name D

      Okay, I have booked you for the police beating section. Would you like to up-grade to the no-beating class?

    3. Markw

      Can I also purchase a “Will not smear you during a PR crisis” option? Because today I’m starting to see a blatant effort to sidetrack the discussion by publicizing the passenger’s checkered past.

      See this Associated Press article (courtesy of the Atlanta Journal Constitution): http://www.ajc.com/news/ceo-issues-new-apology-details-passenger-past-emerge/1DotOQcx8Lu6VVA1QxYHgM/

      His legal troubles started in 2003, when his medical license was suspended after an undercover sting operation at a Louisville motel for allegedly writing fraudulent prescriptions.

      According to the documents, the licensing board had learned that Dao had become sexually interested in a patient and hired the patient as his office manager. That man later said he quit his job because Dao “pursued him aggressively” and arranged to provide him with prescription drugs in exchange for sex.

      Dao was ultimately convicted in late 2004 of several counts of obtaining drugs by fraud or deceit and was placed on five years of supervised probation and surrendered his medical license.

      His longtime effort to get his license back finally succeeded in 2015, when the licensing board allowed him to practice medicine again.

      About a year after his medical license was suspended, Dao joined the professional poker circuit, according to his World Series of Poker profile . His biggest competitive win came in 2009 when he took home more than $117,000 from a tournament in Mississippi.

      Way to stay on topic with these relevant facts, AP!

  7. Indrid Cold

    re: Terry Gilliam

    I always wonder if Gilliam was inspired by the mad Beat film maker Harry Smith, who made similar animations. Very long ones. Long and tedious. But supposedly filled with hermetic references.

    1. Uahsenaa

      When I saw Gilliam speak here at the UI, he claimed it was born of necessity, that he didn’t have much of a budget and so went for what he could do on the cheap, at least for the Python animations.

  8. masterhceif_11

    I believe keeping up with current events and trying to play a part in reshaping a world for the better through voicing our opinions is lovely. However, it is apparent now that it is getting us nowhere. I find myself in a world today that is highly inefficient and unjust, the more I read about what is happening around me and the changes our leaders make on our behalf- whether on the state or county level- the more I feel sick about being a part of this society. If you visit naked-capitalism you are considered blessed, one for understanding what is said and two, for seeking knowledge that will help you push forward. I believe that all the dialogues have been spoken and all the arguments have been made. What more can you say in the face of this madness? To truly make a difference a special attention should be given to the younger generations, to prepare them for what they will face in their future, this attention should be shaped from a fresh perspective and not from one that has shaped the current world. Revise what it is we have become.

    1. jrs

      Sure raising and teaching and caretaking kids etc.. is important. But expecting future generations to solve all existing problems seems a cop out from taking responsibility while one is yet alive. What magic will they have that we don’t? Seems far more likely they will face the exact same problems we do (only maybe even worse by then) and the same crushing system we do.

      1. Massinissa

        I agree. The thing is, is that the Elites teach their children to be like them, usually much more effectively than the working class is able to do. So expecting the ‘next generation’ to fix things wont work unless the elites are removed, severely weakened, or somehow so thoroughly discredited that their own offspring reject them and their methods of exercising power. And none of those seem truly possible right now.

    2. Tim

      I couldn’t agree more. I’ve got two toddlers, I’m just at the stage of training them up psychologically to not become victims,. And somepoint I will need to train them consciously that the understanding of true right and wrong is very complex, so they need to be champions of critical thinking and and on that.

    3. Elizabeth Burton

      You stop talking and start doing, for starters. That’s one of the reasons we’re in this mess—people who see the problems and have workable solutions for at least some of them all sitting around sipping their beverage of choice and discussing.

      And before anyone gets on my case, I am definitely among that group—or was until very recently. Part of it was ignorance, part of it was not really being affected by most of the stuff that was going on (which accounts, I suspect, for the bulk of us Do-Nothings), and part was just inertia. So, voice opinions constantly, but find out where one’s talents can be best put to practical use and then apply them.

      1. lambert strether

        And post about your successes, do, please.

        I’ve written extensively about Maine landfill activism, and I’m sure many others are involved in similar efforts

        1. Ulysses

          My friend Bruce Reilly, among many others, has fought long and hard in Rhode Island, and elsewhere, to make it easier for convicted felons to become productive members of society.

          These efforts recently paid off here in Gotham City:


          ” The Fair Chance Act simply removes barriers to success for people who are qualified to work: not only does employment lower recidivism, but “banning the box” means employers get a broader range of candidates to consider. This bill will ensure that all public and private employers are considering applicants based on their skills, experience, and qualifications before weighing whether their conviction history is relevant.”

  9. different clue

    People of Naked Capitalism!

    I have JUST posted a comment over at Riverdaughter the Confluence’s most recent post-thread. My comment told the readers over there about Lambert Strether’s “Moving Beyond Liberal Narratives for What Motivates Trump Voters” blogpost. I gave them the link.

    I did all that at about 2:55 pm just earlier right now this afternoon. I will look back there in a while to see what sort of comments(if any) my comment received. If my comment is taken right down as soon as it is discovered, I will note that too.

    Right now, it is still up ( about 7 minutes after I put it up). Here is the link to the relevant Riverdaughter post and thread with my comment at the end of it. We will see what sort, if any, comments that the regular readership over there cares to leave in response.
    Here is the link.

      1. different clue

        I’m not testing you. I’m testing Riverdaughter The Confluence. And not in a pass-fail sense. Strictly in a data-gathering sense. People there will say whatever they think, or say nothing at all.
        We shall see.

        I decided to invoke the name of “Katiebird” to see if that would lead people to take the edge off of some of the nastiest replies I expect to get.

    1. Arizona Slim

      One of my friends is a retired USAF fighter pilot. He and his wife refuse to fly commercial. If they want to go somewhere, they drive.

  10. different clue

    I think every Bitter Berner should call/write/etc. various Bernie-contact points to politely disagree with Sanders “with all due respect”. We should point out in the most supportable ways our comfortable acceptance of the basic fact that the rebels did the gassing in order to bait Trump into getting America involved.

    Different Bitter Berners should all say their own thing to the Bernie contact points without any co-ordination of their viewpoints first. That way the Bernie officeworkers will know it is a bunch of different separately held opinions. Those who think they know enough about Colonel Lang’s Sic Semper Tyrannis blog might find a way to referrence that as a source for better truer narratives.

    Those who overtly prefer Assad to the Cannibal Liver Eating Jihadis might go right ahead and say so to whomever picks up the phone. Since that really is the binary choice in Syria. Either Assad rules or the Cannibal Liver Eating Jihadis rule. That’s the choice. Pick one.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      This regime change plus investigating Russian hacking…the positions don’t come out of nowhere.

      We have to look at his underlying framework.

      1. different clue

        I think his underlying framework is desperate ignorance of foreign affairs, leading to a pathetic level of deference to “foreign affairs experts”.

        Specifically his automatic buy-in to the Assad-diddit narrative, since he lost family in the Holocaust, he may be triggered by the words “poison gas”, “poison gas attack” etc. And may be unable to stay analytically dispassionate long enough to really examine who diddit.

        That is where Bitter Berners calling all his contact points can help out. By offering how to access what they know about what is written about who really diddit.

  11. different clue

    Well, this is how United operates. How many cities linked by United are also linked by other airlines? If people have an actual choice to fly some other airline from point A to point B, and yet they CHOOSE to fly United after what has been revealed about United’s basic core Customer Disservice philosophy, then such people deserve whatever happens to them.

    Just as people who take Uber deserve whatever happens to them.

    1. RUKidding

      Because of consolidations in the airline industry, you don’t always have a choice in which airline to fly. On some routes there may only be one airline or at least one airline flying at the time you need. So it’s not quite that simple, really.

      That said, I have done my best to avoid United Airlines at all costs for many years. They used to be a good airline. They ceased being good a long time ago. Lousy attitudes amongst nearly all their service personnel. Lousy customer service. Ugly attitudes. And now this. Color me unsurprised that it was United that jumped this particular shark.

      Sadly this probably won’t be the last time something like this happens.

      1. sleepy

        But if you are in the business of making and trading stuff beyond derivatives and concepts, you probably have to go to places like Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Memphis, St. Louis, or Minneapolis, and you know firsthand how hard it has become to do business these days in such major heartland cities, which are increasingly cut off from each other and from the global economy”

        Yes, consolidation. After Delta bought Northwest the number of flights out of Memphis went from 300 to 80.

        1. Randy

          Northwest was a sucky airline too.

          I am of the opinion that some pre-trip planning and a pair or two of walking shoes might be a good alternative to purchasing a ticket on UAL.

          If I was on the jury I could agree with $5000 for medical bills, cost of ticket, pain and suffering and $10,000,000 punitive damages.

          1. robnume

            Bring back PSA!! Anyone who ever flew on PSA has stories to tell; not bad ones, but how entertaining it was to fly on that airline, even on a puddle-jump such as LA to SF, which I did many times.
            PSA rocked as an airline and the humorous pilots and flight attendants were a gas! Always had a big smile on my face before, during and after their flights.

          2. human

            $5000 for medical bills? Are you delusional? If ths man is assigned to a ICU and trauma team his charges will likely be $20,000 plus for the first day.

    2. Left in Wisconsin

      I’m not sure there is another way from Chicago to Louisville. Maybe American.

      Speaking of which:
      But if you are in the business of making and trading stuff beyond derivatives and concepts OR POLITICAL COMMENTARY, you probably have to go to places like Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Memphis, St. Louis, or Minneapolis, and you know firsthand how hard it has become to do business these days in such major heartland cities, which are increasingly cut off from each other and from the global economy” [Washington Monthly].

      Maybe I should appreciate WM trying to connect with us rubes out here in flyover. But if they ever got out here, they would learn that Minneapolis is a real “City of the Future”TM with good air service due to being a very large Delta hub (unlike Memphis and Detroit which are now very small Delta hubs). I believe the MPLS airport is actually at capacity. Maybe they meant Milwaukee?

      1. different clue

        Chicago to Louisville is possible to do by AmTrak. I know because I have done it. A Chinese visitor might not know that or might not have the time.

        Perhaps China might care to get revenge by denying United access to Chinese airspace if it has that access now. And refuse to pay the tickets of Chinese citizens flying United for some Chinese government purpose.

        The purpose should be to exterminate United as an entity to make an example of it.

    3. Yves Smith

      Per RU Kidding, I have to fly United later this month. First time in about 10 years. Only non-stop flight on the airport pair in question.

      1. Tvc15

        Good luck, not hoping this occurs, but I’d take the odds your flight is delayed. I’m a frequent flying UA hostage because I fly out of Portland ME and don’t really have a choice unless I want to drive 3 hours to Boston. Upthread, RU Kidding summed up nicely my thoughts as well about UA service after hundreds of thousands of miles with this shitty company that would be out of business in a real free market.

      2. RUKidding

        Make sure you pay the $50 for the Non-Beating Option. It’s the only way to avoid at least a certain amount of pain and suffering.

        In all seriousness: Good Luck.

        I mostly fly Southwest. While not perfect, I have to give them props for pretty good customer service. It’s a cattle car, but at least you’re treated with kindness, dignity, respect and sometimes some pretty good humor and/or songs!

      3. Kokuanani

        A friend just now [11 pm EDT] reported, upon getting off his United flight, that all personnel were in Super Nice mode.

        Hopefully this reaction of theirs to disaster will last until & through your trip, Yves.

  12. ProNewerDeal

    thanks for the excellent Joe Firestone editorial. Confirms what I’ve been stating, that the Corp politicians like 0bama, 356K USians in 0bama’s case, & their owner/funders kill orders of magnitude more USians than any T3r1st Boogeyman Du Jour TM could ever hope to.

    Perhaps intelligence-agency type methods could be used to introduce this Firestone editorial to Ivanka Trump, or a Ivanka close friend who would emotionally tell the story to Ivanka? Apparently Ivanka’s emotional pleas can change C0nManD0n’s policy, at least it is stated in influencing D0nnyTinyHandz’s sudden insane Syria bombing.

    PS Corp Ds, including 0bama & his 0bots, should drop the smugness about being science-orientated in policy, in contrast to the unlearned anti-science Rs on the climate change issue. Corp Ds are anti-science on this MedicareForAll issue.

  13. LT

    Re: GA-06

    The Democrats are so “resistant” to change to their values (meritocracy and neoliberalism) that I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to bring back Obama…say 2024ish.
    After all, this is the “United States of Amnesia.”

  14. nippersmom

    Also shared this on links, but I love this tweet from Merriam Webster (yes, the actual dictionary people):

    Merriam-Webster‏Verified account @MerriamWebster

    ?’Volunteer’ means “someone who does something without being forced to do it.”

    Apparently, they don’t appreciate United deciding to unilaterally re-define words.

  15. Musicismath

    Re: H. G. Wells. Future Wells biographer and sci-fi novelist/academic Adam Roberts is currently blogging his way through the Wells canon. Being Adam Roberts, the results are often idiosyncratic and left-field. But also, being Roberts, there’s the occasional flash of brilliance too. More here: http://wellsattheworldsend.blogspot.co.uk.

  16. NotTimothyGeithner

    If O’Malley was more popular, he might reach the same level of recognition as Jim Gilmore.

    1. Sam Adams

      I smell someone tossing some crap in the 2020 ring. O’Malley is just another neoliberal.

      1. Pat

        That and a whole lot of bitterness that Sanders actually got traction with the public and most people are still going Martin Who? Hell even after a debate with HRC and Sanders, I’d still bet most people have a better idea who Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb are than Martin O’Malley. But denial is not just a…I’m sure he also secretly tells himself that if he had snared the VP slot, Clinton would have won.

  17. mcanon

    Although there are certainly many valid concerns about what direction a Constitutional Convention would take, it is becoming more and more likely we will be facing one in the near future. If it is inevitable, the left should begin seizing it as an opportunity.

    The “leadership” in Washington and the “experts” put forth by the corporate media to address issue like the current international crises in Syria and North Korea and the continuing and rapid deterioration of the environment is placing us all at extreme risk. It is just another in a long line of reasons why we have to do everything we can to change the system. I don’t see how we can do it through the ballot box. The control of the oligarchy is much too entrenched for that to happen as quickly as we need to save us from the dire consequences of the stupidity and manipulation we are being forced to endure every day. I think the best solution being offered is through activism in the streets and the workplace to force a new Constitutional Convention. A convention controlled by the left.

    As Jefferson wrote, “I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and Constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”

    We are at a point that the failure of governmental institutions to act in the people’s interest has become criminal. We must act, and now with so much anger and frustration with the government and the ruling financial and corporate elites, this might just be the best time.

    1. David, by the lake

      Rolling back the concentrated power of the centralized imperial administrative state would be a good place to start. Term limits for Congress, a prohibition of unfunded mandates, proportional representation in the House, a mechanism for orderly secession, and a re-deliniation of the explicitly permitted powers of Congress would be things I’d vote for. Highly centralized complex systems are vulnerable to the very stresses that we are and will be facing. Decentralizing governance (and in the process, moving governance closer to the people) would be a good move and would improve the chances of some semblance of the Union surviving. Our present trajectory does not bode well in that regard.

      1. LT

        Speaking of term limits:
        Term limit the Supreme Court, otherwise proposed new constitution will be continue to be interpreted with the values of a 19th Century robber-baron.

    2. dcblogger

      If it is inevitable, the left should begin seizing it as an opportunity.

      seize it? with what? the left could not even muster the votes for DNC chair. how is the left, at this time, with its current strength, going to seize control of such a convention? we need to start building our support so that we are ready.

      1. mcanon

        The left doesn’t have any representation in the Democratic Party, so how could it possibly be able to muster votes within it? The left is building strength as we speak. Black Lives Matter is beginning to work with labor on the local level. Members of Occupy are still out there and working to bring people together. More and more rank and file unionists are beginning to challenge their useless bureaucratic leadership.

        Just because we are not seeing it through the eyes of the establishment of political parties and traditional “liberal” groups, doesn’t mean it is not happening. Actually, the fact that these grassroots movements are not allowing themselves to be controlled by the institutional “left” is all the better.

        1. Yves Smith

          Huh? The Berniecrats took over a lot of party apparatus in CA.

          The Democrats have become fixated on the Presidency due to all the Federal patronage. They are indifferent at best to most other races, including, shockingly, governorships. The party is vulnerable to a takeover from the bottom up.

          1. mcanon

            The question is –how much are the Berniecrats representative of the left. Many in the Black Lives Matter movement, the Democracy in the Workplace movement, the Occupy movement, the anti-war movement would argument not nearly enough.

            In his Presidential campaign Bernie promoted many good policies that would ameliorate some of the injustices of the system, but they were only adjustments to a corrupt system. How long would it take Berniecrats to even have much of an effect on a nationwide local level, not to mention the national level? In the last election, you would be hard pressed to identify a single progressive elected as a Democrat, and those Senators will be in office for the next six years. Just how much international tension will we be living through during that time and just how much further will the threat posed by climate change be allowed to exacerbate? We don’t have time for the current process as it now exists to work itself out. That is why I think a Constitutional Convention is our best hope for the type of change we so desperately need.

            1. Marina Bart

              I’m not up-to-date on the entire conversation here, but I think it would be wise to be leery of a Constitutional Convention, only because the Republicans currently have governing hegemony across the country at the state and federal level, and have been preparing for a convention for a while. I think it’s pretty clear that if they have any power left, the corporate Democrats will throw in their lot with the Kochs and ALEC before they allow citizens a voice and share of the nation’s wealth.

              I’m not saying it might not come down to that, or that the left might not win. (After all, stripped of tribal identity, the majority of the country wants social democracy; that might even matter, freed of the choke collar of our current system.) I just think it’s not an outcome to currently push for. At the very least, we could first focus on purging the corporatists out of the Democratic Party in 2018 and 2020. While that would be difficult, it’s not impossible right now. We have an opening. And that would make EVERYTHING easier. (Again, not easy, just easier.)

            2. different clue

              Those othercrats you mention could certainly try doing what the Berniecrats are trying to do. Every othercratic TAG ( Theory Action Group) trying to conquer territory within the Democratic Party at various levels. And see who conquers what and does what with it.

          2. Marina Bart

            “Took over” is probably a little too optimistically phrased, for people who don’t know how large state parties work. (I’m still learning it myself.)

            My understanding is that while we did take a majority of the elected seats — both the “Assembly Delegates” to the party convention and the Executive Committee that has a lot more power, we do not yet actually control the state party. There are, by design, a whole lot of positions that regular people don’t get to vote on — sort of like the Superdelegates. It’s the same basic idea. Party insiders designed the party apparatus to make it impossible for any insurgent campaign, no matter how passionate, to wrest control from them electorally. The name of this party gets more ironic by the minute.

            That is not to say the Berniecrats failed. They did incredibly well, particularly given the forces arrayed against them, both generally and in the specific circumstances and institutional obstacles of the party elections. I have heard via back channels that there are people who were not elected as Berniecrats who privately align with us and will work and vote with us. I missed out on a chance to physically meet with my delegates last month to get more clarification on this. Hopefully, I can next time.

            Basically, we haven’t won yet in California, but we did make enormous progress. And of course, once the left takes California, the corporate Democrats are finished. We’re their bodies and their funding base. You can’t have Vichy Dems without the Vichy part. That’s why I have always assumed that California would be the last stand. From that perspective, we’re ahead of schedule.

    3. jrs

      How do you imagine that Constitutional Convention will be of the left? The states are mostly Republican, even both branches of Congress are Republican now. That’s who would be needed to ratify any new amendment. Also imagining this actually unfolding it would be Republican states that called it (because the Dems do not control very many states now). Yes the near powerless Dems are not left, but neither do the Greens, the socialists etc. control almost any formal power. A Constitutional Convention does not just magically give power to the people in some direct democracy style, it still all goes through the existing power structure, that is the ballot box.

      If the point is raise heck in the streets to at least make the ruling class very very afraid, then I am sympathetic. But nothing good is going to come out of a Constitutional Convention until it does out of the ballot box. That’s just not how it has been set up to work.

      1. marym

        Yes. I have a similar comment about who will be at the convention in moderation. Also adding that if Congress or a convention pass amendments, ratification is required by 3/4 of state legislatures or state conventions. This means the same issues of participation, plus probably years of fighting about this at the state level.

      2. mcanon

        The opportunity a Constitutional Convention presents could be limitless. Just as with the Constitutional Convention called to rewrite the Articles of Confederation it could go anywhere. It doesn’t have to conform to any “rules” set forth in the current Constitution. That is both the beauty of it and what drives the fear that so many have about a new convention being formed.

        Revolutions don’t happen at the ballot box. And that is what we need now. The problems we face are not amenable to time. We just don’t have it.

        1. marym

          Are you proposing using Article V to call a convention which then disregards the purpose stipulated for the convention? This is a new twist. How, other than the ballot box, do you propose that delegates be selected?

          1. David, by the lake

            I’d argue that a plain reading of Article V says that once a convention is called, it can send whatever proposed amendments it desires to the states for consideration it wants to, save eliminating equal representation in the Senate. This conforms to precedent — recall that the original convention was directed to revise the Articles of Confederation, not draft an entirely new system.

    4. marym

      Most state governorships and legislatures are controlled by corporatist conservative anti-labor R’s and the rest by corporatist neoliberal anti-labor D’s; and R’s and D’S control the FEC, the primary and caucus process, and ballot access. The possibility of “the left” getting closer to this convention than a “free speech” zone in a neighboring state is zero.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Erdogan in Turkey is setting the standard for using the forms of nominal “democracy” to harden his grip. In a slightly less unphotogenic way, the Israelites have done much the same.

    5. robnume

      No one talks much about Jefferson anymore unless it is to tar him with the fact that he had children with his slave, Sally Hemmings.
      But for me, all that matters is what his monument in DC states, “I have sworn, on the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

  18. RenoDino

    If you have flown on private jets, you know this is clearly the dividing line between the elites and the masses. It’s goes way beyond the distinction between the upper and low decks because, at the very least, both classes are on the same ship. Commercial airliners are slave ships. The passengers have no rights and are poked and prodded and inspected like slaves. Commercial air services is the choke point for the elites to establish and reinforce their mental and physical control over the population. The message is clear: May we remind you, you are potentially dangerous if not controlled. Millions of Americans receive this message everyday, up close and personal, with physical searches while being demeaned psychologically by the complete invasion of their privacy. Any utterance that is deemed out of line is severely punished. Total compliance is required. You are technically under arrest until you are released from custody upon arrival. The goal is to establish a docile society willing to ultimately accept this enslavement in their everyday lives, for their own protection of course.

    Flying by private jet is to be in another world, a world of freedom from all the controls deemed necessary by the police state whose rules do not apply if you have power and money. You arrive when you want, fly when you want and are never inspected or asked an embarrassing question. Nothing more clearly defines the divide between the master/slave relationship of the ruling class to the governed more than this one perk.

    1. Tvc15

      Great comment and I agree.

      I made a mistake one time and was quickly reprimanded by two TSA employees because I mentioned under my breath to no one in particular my concerns with potential radiation exposure before entering the scanner like a good sheep. The elites in their private jets aren’t subjected to this non sense. Maybe another reason assholes like David Rockefeller live to 101 and the rest of the U.S. life expectancy is declining…or the numerous heart transplants or because meritocracy of course.

      1. Yves Smith

        1. In theory those back scatter machines are way less radiation than you get on a flight, but there is arguably an issue in actual use, since the aren’t retested after installation and use.

        2. I don’t get them on general principle (I get the patdowns) and make a point of saying, “My doctor says no”.

        1. RUKidding

          If you get TSA Pre status, you can avoid the radiation machines. I got TSA Pre somehow bc I fly a lot (I didn’t apply for or pay for it). It’s a nice perk, but when I was frog-marched up to the radiation machines before, I always asked for the pat-down. Depending on the airport, the TSA employee was either pleasant to me or a real nasty jerk.

          I understand that they’ve changed the rules now – in order to further humiliate and intimidate, no doubt – so that when you are pat down over “sensitive” areas, they no longer use the back of the hand, which did make it somewhat less invasive. NOW you get the front of the hand.

          Why? Because the Trump Admin wants you to know exactly how lowly you are and how much you deserve to be ground under. Ugh. Sick bastards.

          1. mrs. goebbels

            Regarding TSA pre-chek: I received it recently, at O’Hare, and I scanned the line: vast majority of Caucasian and Asian, a few African-American women. I didn’t see any AA men in this line. I know they have a screening method, but it seems that it has a class bias to it.

        2. MoiAussie

          In Australia, there is now no option to choose a pat down if selected for the body scanner. Usually you get the pat down for free if selected for the scan.

          Body scanners are used at Australian international airports to detect prohibited items worn or carried on your body. Use of a body scanner is random; you can be selected at any time. Refusing to be scanned means you will not be allowed to pass through the security screening point or board your flight.

          The only exception is a fully documented medical condition.

          If you are travelling and have a disability or medical condition which may affect how you undergo the screening process, you should bring supporting documentation with you such as a medical identification card or letter from your medical practitioner. If you require assistance, inform the security screening officer before you begin the screening process and be ready to provide your supporting documentation.

    2. clarky90

      Design and violence


      “….scientist Temple Grandin created the serpentine ramp to ensure the humane treatment of cattle…..Grandin designed the ramp so that it prevents cattle from being spooked by the workers or the abattoir up ahead. Semicircular turns take advantage of the movement cattle naturally make in groups. Walking nose to tail, the cows march their way through to the kill floor without the use of prods or noise, and without panicking and injuring themselves. Grandin observed cattle in pasture, in her vaccinating chutes, and in her designs for slaughter houses. By taking blood samples from cattle she was able to show that using her design meant that cortisol levels (a stress hormone) were comparable in all three locations.”


    3. RUKidding

      Totally spot on. Even if you’re lucky enough to fly business or first class, you’re still just another schlub to be kicked around either by TSA and/or the airlines and/or apparently randome police forces.

      Private jets are truly the dividing between the elites and the rest of the rubes.

    4. Toolate

      The extent ro which this is true would surprise many…
      Even getting waived throigh customs and immigration …

  19. NotTimothyGeithner

    “Worse than Hitler” is the new buzz phrase being bandied about by the Trumpettes today. My guess Is their International polling doesn’t look good and they’ve backed themselves into a corner.

    1. sid_finster

      The phrase is part of a meaningless ritual, magic words that must be said to justify any intervention.

      To hear the neocons talk, apparently Hitler was the equivalent of a particularly officious clerk at the DMV, at least compared to the real threats to world stability like Slobo Milosevic.

    2. justanotherprogressive

      I loved Sean Spicer today….

      ““We didn’t use chemical weapons in World War II,” Spicer said. “You know, you had a — someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.”



      I guess poor Sean is getting beat up pretty bad (again) on Twitter…..wonder when he’ll have to go……

      1. RUKidding

        Gee lessee. I have friends whose relatives died in Hitler’s “showers.” If those weren’t chemical weapons, then what the heck were they?? Just another wonderful day of ethnic cleansing?

        Good gawd. These people. I can’t even.

        1. Pat

          In a sense yes, they were a targeted means of execution in controlled genocide. Marching someone into the oven or into the pit to be shot while most certainly a war crime, despicable, horrific and sadistic is not exactly the same thing as weaponized use of choline or white phosphorous or sarin, or yes dropping a nuclear weapon on a city with random victims. I am not making a case for one being better or worse than the other, just noting that they are different, with different motivations and different desired outcomes.

        2. RMO

          The main reason chemical weapons (the working definition of which seems to be gas or airborne particles engineered to injure and kill animal life – since the people that matter don’t seem to count flammable chemicals, herbicides or weapons which have a secondary chemical effect when used and nor do they seem to consider the ostensibly non-lethal chemicals which so many governments regularly use against their own people) haven’t been used much is that they aren’t very effective and can easily backfire on those who use them. Even if I didn’t have the decades long track record of lies from the U.S. government and media to support my skepticism I would still seriously doubt that the Syrian government would use chemical weapons at this point. There would be nothing to gain and everything to lose by doing so.

        3. Gaianne


          In fact, chemical weapons were not used in combat by any of the sides in World War II–not by Germany, not by Russia, not by Britain, not by the US, not by Japan–in combat.

          In combat: That is the key phrase here, and the key issue, as we begin our run-up to a third global war.

          (Ethnic cleansing is not under discussion, because after a temporary verbal, universal agreement–after WW II–that genocide is bad, nearly all parties began doing it shortly thereafter, and the West as enthusiastically as anybody. For a quirky example that raises few emotions today, I mention the British in Kenya against the Kenyatta tribe in the 1950s. I don’t mention any of the current genocides to which people are emotionally attached–whether for or against.)

          And the key question is, why not?

          The answer is direct and simple: Many of the leaders during WW II–both civilian and military–had had personal experience with poison gas in WW I, and knew two things.

          1) It is horrific. You might think being shot or burned is horrific, but those who experienced it knew that gas represented a separate level of horror.

          2) It secured no military advantages. The temporary advantage of surprise was soon neutralized, and after that it offered no advantages at all. It did not win battles. It did not win wars.

          The people who knew these things aged, and are now gone. Their successors forget, especially here in the West.
          But some people remember. The Russians remember, which is why it is absurd on its face that they would oversee the Syrians using poison gas that is not a weapon of war and thereby undercut the strategic position the Syrians had in fact gained over the previous year using conventional weapons that work.

          However, there is also more direct evidence that the latest “Sarin” episode is a false-flag propaganda operation, on a par with the German Nazis staging an “attack” by “Polish soldiers” on a German Radio station near the German border as a justification for invading Poland.


    1. flora

      At first I was offended by Yahoo’s seeming to try and impeach the beaten, elderly doctor’s character. But, the more I consider this, the more I think Yahoo did a service by cutting off any attempt by UA to do the same. Thanks for the link.

      As for the doctor running back and re-boarding the plane, I know the one time I suffered a head injury (not serious, t.g.) I was dazed and confused and disoriented for several minutes afterward. Not to say that’s what was happening with the Dr.

    2. robnume

      I read Yahoo this morning and i am beyond livid that the doctor who was treated like a terrorist at Chicago yesterday now has “news organizations” looking into his background and skewering him! I don’t give a good goddamn what that man did or has done in his past and he is not the aggressor in this instance. No one who experienced what he had to yesterday should then be investigated by P.I.’s and shamed by the lamestream media. I am absolutely finished with Yahoo and I will never visit their pages again.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The Paste Magazine article is pretty explicit that the Dems seeking out Dreyfuss is an example of the kind of Democratic behavior that brought Trump to the White House. Democrats see Veep and see a President, not a comedienne in an overrated comedy. She does mark a few key boxes: no outward political views beyond generic (unlike say who Val Kilmer is an advocate for tribal concerns in New Mexico), rich (her father is Gérard Dreyfuss of the Dreyfuss Fund; she also is a successful actress on the side), and popular with the right sort (people who pay for premium cable).

      This behavior of the Democrats is no different than their behavior over these upcoming special elections.

      1. Plenue

        Is Veep overrated? I don’t pay attention to accolades. Overrated or not, I would say it’s a much better political drama than House of Cards, which many people seem to think in anyway reflects the reality of how DC operates. Veep shows politicians to be fundamentally idiot children, constantly micromanaged by their army of aids/handlers trying to ensure they don’t do the equivalent of sticking a fork in a power outlet.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I find it to be a punch down show too often, and I tend to find comedies that rely on foul language to generally not be very good. Standards can help comedy because writers will start to laugh at one mildly funny raunchy joke and proceed to tell more similar jokes and wind up having to shoot and all they have is the same lousy joke. “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” (the characters on Veep are compared to the Paddy’s Gang) on the other hand is hysterical show dealing with certain standards of basic cable that provide a level of focus on humor that is often lost in bad language or situations that become too raunchy. How many “what do you call this act? The aristocrats” jokes can one tell?

          Humor is obviously subjective. I just don’t think Veep is very funny or particularly intelligent. I don’t particularly like punching down and generally find it lazy. “Haha look at those stupid rednecks who are now upset about subsidies because they are widows after their sheep died. Oh god, now they are dressed in camouflage. Do they think they are invisible?” On the next episode of Veep! Kill me now.

          If you want to die laughing, watch “Better Call Saul.” The scene of Jimmy (the future Saul) describing a “Squat Cobbler” or “Boston Creme Splat” ,which is not illegal and would be classified as a fetishes video, to the police on behalf of his client is why Professor Farnsworth invented his magic talking box. Last night’s season premiere was not a funny episode and is representative of the show coming to the “Breaking Bad” Era.

          1. Carolinian

            Hate to disagree NotTim but Veep was a very funny show in its early seasons. The show is pure farce and doesn’t have any discernible political viewpoint other than to suggest that DC is full of boobs.

            A documentary in other words.

            I would agree that the most recent season was mostly not as good. The original showrunner had moved on.

            1. montanamaven

              Agree with you Carolinian and Plenue. The first 3 season of VEEP were genius. They showed that there was basically no rhyme or reason for what goes on in DC since it is, as you say, filled with boobs and idiot children. It is a place of constant chaos ala the Keystone cops and making stuff up as they go along. No thought, no planning. Only surviving to the next day all in one piece. Much better than “House of Cards”. DC is a farce not a drama. And she is a brilliant physical comedienne. It’s too bad she decided to start giving political speeches about immigrants. I was very disappointed.

        2. Marina Bart

          The Thick of It is political satire with some bite. I think it’s still streaming on Hulu. That was Ianucci’s show before Veep, set in Britain. I haven’t watched Veep. I just assumed HBO would make him tone it down, and he wouldn’t get the differences between US and Brit politics. (There are some.)

          I watched the first couple of episodes of the American House of Cards on an airplane and thought the performances were plummy fun, but the adapter didn’t seem to understand American politics at all. But he did seem to be getting it wrong in exactly the way someone hermetically sealed in Hollywood would, so I guess that explains the adulation.

    2. robnume

      Color me not surprised. Anyone here google Louis-Dreyfuss? I did, many years ago. This family is, quietly, one of the richest families on the planet. They are yuge neolibcon supporters from way back and…well, you know how to google, dontcha? Just put your lips together and blow…

  20. Plenue

    >The coming constitutional convention train-wreck” [Alice Marshall, Medium]

    Somehow it doesn’t surprise me that Cenk Uygur and his TYT group lack a fundamental understanding of the forces at play. It’s interesting to watch the continuing drift between them and Jimmy Dore post-election. Still, they seem to be taking an anti-war position over the cruise missile strike, so good for them on that.

    1. justanotherprogressive

      Ahhh, but Cenk is hedging his bets – he also has TYT Politics, starring Jordan Chariton, which is far more progressive than his main group is….

  21. oho

    one last post about United….

    Do gate agents really have a random number generator at their workstation for situations like this (doesn’t pass my smell test)……or did the gate agent just pick 4 people who looked like they wouldn’t cause a fuss?

    Uber only costs $0.90 per mile from Chicago. 300 miles to SDF. Two Ubers + a very generous tip for the deadheading drivers would’ve solved everything.

    But I guess autonomy/discretional authority is only given to those w/MBA at the end of their name.

  22. Andrew

    HG Wells was a great writer, I love War Of The Worlds (has there ever been a better opening paragraph than the one contained in that novel?) but by today’s standards he was definitely a racist and had rather a dim view of those we, the British, once colonised. Yet at the time he was considered one of the preeminent thinkers of his day. Times change an’ all..

      1. robnume

        If we’re nominating for opening sentences, I vote for Dostoevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov.” But then, I’m a Russian stooge!

        1. Fiery Hunt

          I nominate Stephen King’s The Gunslinger for best opening sentence :

          “The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed.”

          1. Marina Bart

            This is one of my favorite games.

            Opening sentence of 1984 is the obvious choice for this group (and it is fabulous). My personal favorite — other than Anna K. — is Pride and Prejudice. There really aren’t very many successful novels with such a barbed narrative voice. And it’s about money and power.

            “Only connect!” is my favorite sentence in all of literature, for a lot of reasons. But man, Forster sure was a manipulative snob in real life.

      2. witters

        Can I suggest Anthony Burgess, “Earthly Powers”?

        “It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me.”

  23. Stephen Gardner

    Public Relations: “A top public-relations outlet named United CEO ‘communicator of the year’ weeks before a passenger was dragged off a United flight” [Business Insider]. Oopsie.

    As we all know awards like “communicator of the year” or “Business Leader of the Year” are just how the 1%ers high-five each other like fans at a football game watching their side score a touchdown. And they have no more meaning then those high-fives. They are the adult 1%er equivalent of the everybody wins a trophy culture. I’m not surprised that poor communicators win these prizes when it is “their turn”.

    1. petal

      Wow. Before I moved to NH 6.5 years ago I would take the train(Lakeshore Limited) from Boston to Rochester and back and it was always full. A lot of students used it, too. This means the freight trains will have full use of the rails-no dealing with the passenger trains coming through on the same tracks-not that the freight trains ever had to get out of the way for the passenger trains. It was always the opposite-I remember sitting for hour(s) on side rails waiting for the freight trains to pass.

  24. AbateMagicThinking but Not money

    Airlines have adopted “Just Culture” on the technical side to keep ‘planes from crashing, as that is very bad for business. It is fascinating that the same mindset has not carried over to the customer facing aspects of the whole shebang. If an organization can keep tons of metal and plastic (plus humans) in the sky on a regular basis through a change in corporate culture, surely it can keep a few seats free for autopilot support operatives?

    The whole passenger (surely they mean customer?) extraction debacle sets me off on the public versus private thought process. The private ethos is touted as better than the public, because corporations have some kind of plans to keep their customers happy, otherwise they wouldn’t survive. Anybody with any contact with modern business ethos very quickly recieves a nasty education in that regard. Abrogation of responsibility is the name of the game. Outsource, securitize and franchise – it all amounts to the same ethos – that of the Bart Simpson “I didn’t do it” kid.

    The leader – corporate or political, sets the cultural/organisational tone. Currently the volume of “communications” (public relations etc) is up to Spinal Tap’s eleven, but the tone control knobs seem to have gone missing from the corporate and political machine.

    If “Just Culture” is necessary for airlines – why not adopt it for the rest of society?

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      Keep in mind the second part of Bart’s protest: “I didn’t do it, nobody saw me, you can’t prove anything.” Except these days, when people ignore the demand they shut off their phones until the absolute last minute, it can turn out that everybody sees. The question is: How do we start taking advantage of this as an educational tool?

      Right now, it’s all too Wild West, and since the MSM are complicit with the corporations the straight facts are already being rewritten before the bodies are cold. One of the independent video news sources needs to set up to handle this kind of incident and make the most of it.

  25. allan

    DeVos Undoes Obama Student Loan Protections [Bloomberg]

    Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday rolled back an Obama administration attempt to reform how student loan servicers collect debt.

    Obama issued a pair (PDF) of memorandums (PDF) last year requiring that the government’s Federal Student Aid office, which services $1.1 trillion in government-owned student loans, do more to help borrowers manage, or even discharge, their debt. But in a memorandum (PDF) to the department’s student aid office, DeVos formally withdrew the Obama memos. …

    Obama’s team also sought to reduce the possibility that new contracts would be given to companies that mislead or otherwise harm debtors. The current round of contracts will terminate in 2019, and among three finalists for a new contract is Navient Corp. In January, state attorneys general in Illinois and Washington, along with the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, sued Navient over allegations the company abused borrowers by taking shortcuts to boost its own bottom line. Navient has denied the allegations.

    The withdrawal of the Obama administration guidelines could make Navient a more likely contender for that contract, government officials said. Navient shares moved higher after the government released DeVos’s decision around 11:30 a.m. New York time. Navient stock ended up almost 2 percent. …

    Another solid for the back row kids.
    But a small price to pay for disengaging from foreign interventio … oh, never mind.

    1. Marina Bart

      Another solid for the back row kids.

      Could we not use this frame? I know Lambert quotes it, but at least he uses it in a sympathetic way.

      People voted for Trump because they were either a) tribal Republicans or b) willing to give Trump a chance because they are suffering, he was saying he’d try to help, and Clinton was a known evil who was clearly saying she would NOT help.

      People aren’t poor because they’re stupid. There’s no evidence that huge numbers of voters voted for Trump because they were deluded. They took a risk, generally with very good reasons. And now we are all being screwed good and hard by entrenched power interests pressuring Trump, rather than Trump himself. Let’s not forget that Cory Booker was closer to Betsy DeVos prior to the election than Donald Trump was. Hillary Clinton was the one demanding a Syrian and Russian War.

      We are still better off as a nation and a planet because Hillary Clinton was blocked from her intended ascension, even though the situation is nonetheless bad. I remember how it felt to realize how deeply Barack Obama and the Democratic Party had betrayed me. I’m not interested in popping metaphorical popcorn and crowing about how we now have proof even a billionaire can’t fight off the CIA/MIC/corporate nexus.

      None of this is funny, and none of it is because of “back row kids.” It is once again the front row kids breaking the world. It makes me ashamed I ever sat in any front row of any classroom ever.

      1. allan

        That tag line, which I like to use as an annoyance, is not a comment on the voters.
        I realize that many (not all) of DJT’s supporters voted for him out of desperation and from having been serially scr*wed by the last several administrations.
        My snark is instead a comment on the fraudsters who claimed, channeling Bill Clinton, that they felt the voters’ pain and were going to help them. Other than killing TPP ( a biggie – credit where credit is due),
        few actions taken since Jan. 20 are going to help them, and many will be very damaging.

        I’m not claiming HRC (who I did not vote for) would have been better.
        But politicians should be held accountable and hypocrisy is a valid issue.

        In particular, empowering Navient to further abuse people who are desperately trying to make a go of it in this economy by getting a certificate from a beauty school or a technical college
        is not doing a solid for the back row kids.

        1. Marina Bart

          We’re on the same page politically, then. And I appreciate your reminder that a lot of these “college” loans aren’t for actual colleges.

          But it’s also worth remembering that Obama was just nibbling at the edges of our brutalizing student debt slavery system that his vice president is materially responsible for.

          I don’t think your use of “back row kids” is coming off the way you intend. But maybe it would be better to have this conversation when Lambert can join in.

          Who’d you vote for? (I voted for Bernie.)

  26. chicagogal

    Not to continue the United beat down, but wasn’t the reason those employees just had to be on that particular flight was because they were the crew for a different flight leaving Louisville and that other flight would be cancelled if they couldn’t get seats? Hate to be logical about this, but has anyone heard if that other flight ended up being cancelled since this flight left several hours later? Having been subjected to this sort of delay (waiting for a flight crew to arrive from a different destination) withUnited, I have to wonder why their employees don’t live in the cities they fly out of instead of having to be flown in from other locations!

    Also, from my reading today, the gentleman who was dragged off the plane was not Chinese, he is a Vietnamese-American doctor who lives in Louisville.

    1. Angie Neer

      Well, I for one still haven’t had my fill of beating down United. Not to dump on you, chicagogal, but I find his heritage, place of residence, or occupation totally irrelevant. I’ve been irritated from the start of this mess that so many people supporting his grievance find it necessary to mention that he’s a doctor. Nobody should be required to display a status badge like that to get the respect due to any human. And then the wackos feel it is important to tell “the other side of the story,” trying to assassinate his character. Again, totally irrelevant.

      Plain and simple he was told that it was his responsibility to make up for the airline’s cock-up, and he MUST COMPLY. And the highest price the airline could conceive of paying for that, even to avoid a much higher cost in ripple effects from delayed crew members, was $1000 per victim…even though Mr. Great Communicator studiously refers to them as customers, not passengers, to show that their commercial relationship is paramount.

      1. PhilM

        I say the following even though I hate United with as much energy as one should reasonably commit to hating a soulless corporation. When you’re on board a vessel, the captain and the flight crew have pretty much absolute authority. If someone suffers as a result of complying with that authority, they can take it up by using the court system.

        In this case, United made a call; seems like a bad call to me, but I don’t know all the facts. When the passenger did not comply with crew instructions, he made an even more serious mistake than they did. Irrespective of the rights and wrongs, one simply does not argue with, or even talk back to, police or crew: let the lawyers do that. Here’s what you say: “I intend to comply with all of your instructions, because the safety and convenience of myself and my fellow passengers is my top priority, just as it is yours.” Then you do what they say. You just do it, or prepare for violence if you have decided it’s worth dying for–as on flight 93, the poor souls.

        Crew followed procedure for passenger defiance; they called security. The real cause of harm occurred at the level of security, which used force inappropriately, or ineptly. Canadians probably would have just tasered him. United’s liability in the case would have to do with its failure to meet its obligations as a carrier, not for beating the man. That one is on the security company, and I hope their insurance company has deep pockets.

        I have refused to fly on American legacy carriers for years. Continental and United came first on that list, years ago; then Delta, finally American. I fly JetBlue and Southwest without any difficulties. I strongly recommend enrolling in pre-check, Global Entry, or Nexus. Nexus is the most economical way to go for anyone near Canada.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Only United (I don’t think the crew were involved) had no right to order him off. He was in the right, and they’re going to pay through the nose for it – as will the agency those cops work(ed)for. It has already disavowed their actions.

        2. Gaianne


          You are wrong on this, because although the captain’s authority is real, it applies to anything, but only those things, which are a hazard or threat to safety.

          The passenger was in the right, and nobody’s safety was at stake. Police who give an illegal order should not expect compliance–nor do they have a right to it. One of the things going wrong in this country is the idea that police should not act reasonably in a situation, but just give orders and demand compliance with force. This is how you occupy a conquered country (badly), not how you police a nation of citizens.

          The high importance of the deadhead crew should have been match by the airlines willingness to compensate those it was going to inconvenience for its own unforced mistake. Remember, the airline did not have to mis-schedule: They willingly chose to neglect their own need to get the deadhead crew to its destination in a proper fashion. The offer of $800 dollars is close to insulting when you realize a passenger could easily spend that much improvising travel alternatives–and in the case of the doctor, he had obligations to meet making money secondary.


  27. VietnamVet

    The Chinese suffered a loss of face when the USA attacked Syria during the formal dinner with Xi Jinping. Then an old Oriental man who had to stay on the airplane was bloodied and dragged off because his English was poor. “Foreign Barbarians” must have been the response millions of times in Asia as a result. This is an appropriate epitaph for Western Rulers who are rushing headlong into a World War with Russia and Iran which will inevitably include China. In the face of such barbarity; in particular, the West’s support of head chopping Jihadists, these three nations cannot, will not, back down.

  28. allan

    Agent 86 to the black courtesy shoe phone:

    Classified docs contradict Nunes surveillance claims, GOP and Dem sources say [CNN]
    (warning: auto-launch video)

    After a review of the same intelligence reports brought to light by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, both Republican and Democratic lawmakers and aides have so far found no evidence that Obama administration officials did anything unusual or illegal, multiple sources in both parties tell CNN.

    Their private assessment contradicts President Donald Trump’s allegations that former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice broke the law by requesting the “unmasking” of US individuals’ identities. Trump had claimed the matter was a “massive story.”
    However, over the last week, several members and staff of the House and Senate intelligence committees have reviewed intelligence reports related to those requests at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland.

    One congressional intelligence source described the requests made by Rice as “normal and appropriate” for officials who serve in that role to the president. …

    But of course for those who believe in One Blob to Rule Them All,
    this will just be further proof of a coverup. Massive coverup.

  29. kareninca

    I wonder if it has occurred to the morons at United that they have permanently lost a particular subset of passengers. Care to guess what that subset is? Not the general population; people will probably move on to another boycott soon enough. They have, unless they come up with an unbelievably strong apology and remedy, permanently lost doctors as passengers. All of the doctors I know respect themselves, respect other doctors, respect what they do for a living. And they assume that if they say that they need to get back to a patient, someone will listen and honor that. They also have very good memories. They will NOT fly United, ever again.

    So the next time you are on a United flight, and someone has a heart attack (maybe you?) and they ask if there is a doctor is on board, I am guessing that what will be heard will be . . . crickets. Enjoy your flight.

    1. PhilM

      Doctors, at least, none of those I have worked with, do not think in those terms, which are, at bottom, merely spiteful. The first time they thought like that, maybe after 36 hours on call when their better nature was clouded, they went to sleep thinking about the blameless person who suffered because of their spite.

      To help a fellow in distress is a fundamental moral duty. “Punishing the airline to stand up for your professional class” is not.

      1. Gaianne


        It is not that they won’t help as needed; they will.

        It is that if they are thinking of their own patients’ wellbeing, they won’t fly this airline.


  30. Jerry Denim

    Very sharp catch on the Republic Airlines bankruptcy Lambert. I left a follow up comment on that topic over on yesterday’s water cooler thread. Republic is an absolutely fascinating case study of airline dysfunction and horrible neoliberal capitalism at it’s contorted, legalese worst.

    1. allan

      Congratulations to the Kansas Democratic Party and the DCCC for pulling this off:

      …Thompson’s profile, and that of the Kansas race, has remained low. He has received little national press of note aside from a dust-up with officials from the Kansas Democratic Party, who last week refused Thompson’s request for cash from its coffers to help with the campaign.

      While the state party said publicly that it denied the Thompson campaign’s $20,000 request because it simply didn’t have the money after an expensive 2016 election cycle, the likelihood (or unlikelihood) of his victory also factored in. A cash-strapped party in a red state won’t throw money at a race it can’t win.

      John Gibson, a patent attorney who heads the state party, insists that the party will continue to support the campaign, and calls the tug of war over money a distraction from what has otherwise been a heartening endeavor for the Democrats. …

      Heartening endeavor. Can these people hear themselves?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Yes, they can hear themselves. After this disaster (and it was a disaster because winning was possible), no Democrat in the state of Kansas should tolerate a member of the state party board from even attending a JJ dinner. This is about protecting their personal fiefs or in certain cases friends, no matter how small they might seem.

        When Taliban Bob became governor of Virginia, I was chewing out the local chair of the party about mindless strategery and why candidates weren’t focused on turnout but swaying voters in Republican areas and asked him what he is going to do about the state chair. The Dems were smoked in the legislature too. He assured me that the staff at the State Party would be fired for doing a poor job of carrying out the strategy as if I would be impressed. He believed the state party chair was his friend.

        1. Code Name D

          Thompson ran a very by-the-book campaign. Taking no risks, and breaking no rules. And when you live by the book, you die by the book. He ran a campaign that ran on his personal integrity. Estes ran an 11th hour media blitts attacking that integrity and panicked the conservatives. In this case (typical) Estes went with the “secret pro-abortion” trope.

          Thompson, following the play book, never staked out a clear position on abortion. And he likely sent most of his campaign early on in the race, leaving few if any resources to react to an inevitable 11th hour smear. Which would explain his appear to the state party for additional campaign funds.

          Estes also got support from the top, all the way to Trump who offered a phone message. Thompson – from the beginning, was on his own. Why, because he was destined to lose – so why bother trying.

          Even though Thompson lost, Democrats are still declaring victory because of just how close the election was. See, the Republican collapse is underway, and the Dems do-nothing strategy is working.

  31. Tom Denman

    From fist link under Politics

    “Sanders may think he’s being clever, since multilateral solutions are as far to the left as the Overton Window allows, and a multilateral solution isn’t visible anywhere.”

    Seems like that damned Overton Window keeps getting smaller and smaller and smaller…….

  32. Matt

    I love this website, but got to call BS when I see it.

    So Donald Trump is an authoritarian?

    You must be saying this because when federal judges revoked his travel ban, Trump ignored them and continued with the travel ban. Oh wait, Trump did not do that. He obeyed their decision. Unlike the previous president who actually defied supreme court decisions on a regular basis.

    You must be saying this because he got caught spying and harassing journalists that are publishing negative things about his administration. Oh wait, nope, that was the previous president.

    You must be saying this because he is trying to pass multilateral trade agreements and bypass the necesssary congressional approval required by naming it a partnership instead of a trade agreement. Oh wait, nope that was the previous president. And this president had the opportunity to take TPP change it how ever he wanted and make it his own, but he said no. He just killed the unconstitutional deal entirely.

    The only authoritarians in our government are the military industrial complex and the main stream media that continues to promote their war mongering agenda.

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