2:00PM Water Cooler 4/4/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Readers, I was running errands yesterday so I can travel today. Since I’m leaving early, I’m going to do a pantry clear-out of links I had to blow past, because of the tyranny of the urgent. Adding, worse, owing to schedule slippage, I didn’t get to as much of The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade contemporary politics as I’d hope. My apologies, and talk amongst yourselves. –lambert


New Cold War

“Diplomats warn of Russia hysteria” [The Hill]. “Former U.S. ambassadors to Russia and Foreign Service diplomats are angered by what they view as a ‘witch-hunt’ pursuing Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, warning that ‘hysteria’ over Russia in Congress and the media will undermine U.S. interests abroad.” Ya think?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Chelsea Clinton praises Sanders for Zika op-ed” [The Hill]. Clinton III: “Thank you Sen. Sanders – we need to ensure equitable access to the Zika vaccine & all vaccines.” So what about #MedicareForAll?

Stats Watch

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 46 Neutral (previous close: 47, Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 29 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 3 at 5:30pm. Note the odd time. When I said I was leaving early, I meant it…

Health Care

We seem not to have heard much about this:

What kind of State manages to decrease the life expectancy of its citizens?

“Medical students rally in Philly for single-payer option” [Philadelphia Inquirer]. ”We’re willing to take this to the halls of our medical schools, our nursing schools, the halls of Congress, and the streets of our cities to say we’re not going to stand for corporate America taking over our health-care system and holding patients hostage,’ said Dr. Richard Bruno, 37, a founding member of [Students for a National Health Program (SNaHP)] who specializes in primary care and public health in Baltimore.”

“Bernie Sanders, Top Progressives Announce New ‘Medicare For All’ Push” [HuffPo]. Good overview. “During the debate over repeal, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) used some of his time during a Budget Committee hearing to note that if Trump wanted to follow through on his campaign promise to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something ‘terrific,’ he could fall back on an idea Trump himself endorsed in a 2000 book: single-payer.”

From The Department of Good, But Not Nearly Enough

“What politicians, those hardy folk, don’t understand about health care is how anxious it makes their constituents. Not suspicious, not obstinate, but anxious. Because unlike such policy questions as tax reform, health care can be an immediate life-or-death issue for you. It has to do with whether, when, and where you can get the chemo if you’re sick, and how long they’ll let you stay in the hospital when you have nobody, or nobody reliable and nearby, to care for you. To make it worse, the issue is all hopelessly complicated and complex and pits you as an individual against huge institutions—the insurance company that doesn’t answer the phone, the hospital that says “I’m afraid that’s not covered”—and you have to make the right decisions” [Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal]. “Politicians don’t understand all this, in part because they and their families are well-covered on a government insurance policy, and they have staff to put in the claim and argue with the insurance company, which, when it’s a congressman calling, answers the phone in one quick hurry. They don’t know it’s not easy for everyone else. Or rather they know on some abstract level but forget in the day-to-day, as one does with abstractions.” The amazing thing, here, is that Nooners has no policy advice to give. She concludes: “A proper White House reaction? Not anger, bluff and bluster, not finger-pointing or defensiveness but modesty and calm. And this: Offer to work with Democrats and moderate Republicans to create legislation that will help and can pass.” #MedicareForAll?

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Beyond the Hashtags” (PDF) [CMS Impact]. “Black Lives Matter (BLM)—ignited an urgent national conversation about police killings of unarmed Black citizens. Online tools have been anecdotally credited as critical in this effort, but researchers are only beginning to evaluate this claim. This research report examines the movement’s uses of online media in 2014 and 2015. To do so, we analyze three types of data: 40.8 million tweets, over 100,000 web links, and 40 interviews of BLM activists and allies.” Despite the horrid catchphrase “national conversation,” this is an interesting report.

Police State Watch

“Scores of NYPD cops have installed illegal flash-reflecting plastic covers on their personal-vehicle license plates that can thwart toll and traffic cameras — and officials said a crackdown is under way” [New York Post]. “A reporter also confronted the driver of an SUV displaying a placard for federal officers, and asked why he was ‘hiding’ his ­license plate. That officer slammed his door and refused to answer questions.” So it’s the Feds, too. The assumption of impunity is sickening.


“The headwater source areas of rivers are a huge component of overall water infrastructure systems, but historically, this natural infrastructure has gone unrecognized, to the detriment of rivers and water users downstream” [American Rivers]. If Since rivers are persons, I wonder how we (re-)conceptualize headwaters, catchment areas, etc.?


“The massive crack in the Antarctic ice shelf is hanging on by a 12-mile ‘thread'” [USA Today]. “[Scientists] also aren’t sure when the now 110-mile crack will finally break open the rest of the way, creating a massive iceberg larger than Rhode Island. “It is particularly hard to predict when it will occur,” said Adrian Luckman of Project MIDAS, a British Antarctic research project that’s keeping watch on the ever-growing crack.”

Just one word: Plastics.

Class Warfare

“More than 750,000 people die prematurely from dirty air every year that is generated by making goods in one location that will be sold elsewhere, about one-fifth of the 3.45 million premature deaths from air pollution. The study says 12 percent of those deaths, about 411,000 people, are a result of air pollution that has blown across national borders” [AP]. So we might ask what it is, exactly, that the “global supply chain” is supplying.

“The dark side of cities” [The Week]. This is an important post, and I speak as one who loves the crackle and sparkle of a world city.

Cities dominate American society like never before because of what they did right, these promoters say.

But actually, cities succeeded because of what the country did wrong.

A small number of liberal urban clusters certainly do dominate America’s economic output. Rates of productivity growth are higher in cities. And over the last few decades, rates of business and job creation during recoveries fell off a cliff in less-dense areas — but held stable in the most dense areas.

Yet the productivity growth rate and the GDP growth rate across the entire national economy slowed to near record lows as cities rose in prominence. Certainly, agglomeration effects and dense innovative cultural milieus have real economic value. But how much value compared to other forces is the question.

More to the point, rates of job and business creation in dense areas held stable as rural areas died. They didn’t increase to compensate. Economic vibrancy and opportunity didn’t move to the cities. They just drowned everywhere else, while cities became the economy’s only remaining life rafts.

Again, I think it’s useful to think of the flyover states as colonies (e.g., India), and the (blue) cities as the metropolitan center (e.g., London), make the politics of Blue Secession all the more inane.

“Jerks and the Start-Ups They Ruin” [New York Times]. Because capital allocation is never a problem, societally or systemically.

News of the Wired

“A Retiree Discovers an Elusive Math Proof—And Nobody Notices” [Wired]. Supports my pet theory that our current systems for organizing labor are immensely wasteful of human talent. Notice even the clickbaity headline: The point is not that the mathematician a “retiree,” i.e. no longer in the labor force; the point is that they are not seeking fame or leveraging professional networks to get heard.

“You Can Now Beg for Money on Facebook” [LifeHacker]. Yeah, who needs Medicare for All and free college when you can grovel to your “friends” for money on Mark Zuckerberg’s advertising platform?

“The Real Peril Of Crowdfunding Health Care” [Buzzfeed]. “Like millions of Americans, McFarland struggles in the margin between being ‘insured’ and actually being able to cover her health care costs. And while her story is tragic, when she first posted it, it wasn’t dramatic enough to go viral on crowdfunding sites filled with similar pleas for help. She’s young, but she’s not an adorable child; she’s extremely sick, but not with a disease that most people understand. Which isn’t to suggest that her story, or her life, isn’t worthy. But her situation highlights many of the underlying issues with a new-found reliance on crowdfunding as a social safety net.” Another way of saying this is that the so-called “safety net” — what are we all, trapeze artists? Wait, don’t answer that — is no subsitute for programs that provision universal benefits, as for example health care.

* * *

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 (PM):

PM: “First trillium this spring.”

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


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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. oho

    >> illegal flash-reflecting plastic covers

    I thought that those covers were gimmicks/scams per Mythbusters and common sense.

    1. human

      New York Vehicle and Traffic Law § 402.1b
      (b) Number plates shall be kept clean and in a condition so as to be easily readable and shall not be covered by glass or any plastic material, and shall not be knowingly covered or coated with any artificial or synthetic material or substance that conceals or obscures such number plates or that distorts a recorded or photographic image of such number plates

      Start upholding the law.

      1. SpringTexan

        Yeah, but it’s troubling we are all being tracked everywhere. And we are all supposed to help with this?

  2. RenoDino

    What kind of State manages to decrease the life expectancy of its citizens?

    The same kind of state that makes begging necessary on Facebook.

    The need for private fund raising for sick and disabled children and adults is the most egregious of all.

    1. wilroncanada

      Crowdfunding is just food banks, financialized. The poor pay, through their empathy to aid other poor people, so the rich can continue to ignore problems,and legitimate solutions.

  3. NotTimothyGeithner

    Crowd funding health care? People have been doing this for years. They hold bake sales and have tip jars at stores and restaurants with sad stories and send out chain emails.

    I’m glad “liberals” determined Facebook could solve this.

    1. craazyboy

      Maybe room for a public-private partnership too. Dairy corporations may be willing to rent milk bottle space for your pic and Paypal account deposit info. You and your plight will then have exposure in a refrigerated supermarket dairy case. With a little innovation, we can solve this!

      1. PKMKII

        You’re thinking too small. You need something hitting every household in America: Fund my Cure, the reality TV show. Every season, 12 contestants compete for the hearts and minds of American viewers to see who they will choose (call or text to vote!) to receive life-saving surgery, as provided by our wonderful sponsors. Whoever sells their sob story the best wins, and every week another contestant is voted off (assuming they don’t die in the interim).

          1. wilroncanada

            But Lambert, PKMKII, when he said hearts and minds, was perhaps assuming that those two parts were good as new, because unused, in a lot of viewers.

            1. wilroncanada

              I’m going to reply further to PKMKII, in addition to the snark for Lambert’s note:
              Reality TV sob stories are already going on in network television, and have for years. They’re called telethons. You’ve probably seen the graphics on many of these telethons showing the comparative pittance gifts phoned in by regular people, many of whom probably can’t afford it. The big splash is always at the end when the corporate “donors” bring in their six-figure cheques. Chances are they have raised most of the funds with which they can make their grand announcements off staff and and the same small donors as above.

              It irritates the hell out of me to be asked, when I go through the checkout,”Would you like to add a couple of dollars for out Timmy”s fund,” or some such. That money is collected by the corporation, nickel and diming it’s customers, so it can go on the telethon to make its grand announcement. The PR value is worth a hell of a lot more than the line of code that was added to the checkout software. In addition (though I don’t know this for a certainty) I suspect they are able to claim it as part of their “tax planning,” read tax scam.

              Several years ago when I lived on the East Coast of Canada, I did some journalism. I was asked to do a puff piece (It was a puff piece advertising/news paper) on the opening of a new Walmart store. At their grand opening, they were going to present the nearby elementary school with some new playground equipment. They raised the funds for this by “fining” their set-up staff–minimum wage $5.00–every time they stepped on a particular line, or any other foolproof scheme the new store manager could come up with, to part these saps from their loonies. 12 minutes worth of work shot to hell by some manager’s graft, over and over again, for the benefit of the corporation, it’s PR, and its tax planning.

        1. JohnnySacks

          Hey, look at the way we do veteran health care distribution – it’s almost Roman in it’s implementation. Stand before Caesar and state your need, let Caesar apply the patriotic litmus test to your case, if you win, go to the hospital, otherwise, lion food.

    2. Sandler

      Was paying for lunch (NYC) and there were printouts stacked on the counter for a GoFundMe page for twins with a rare genetic disorder. $100k medical expenses need funding. Dystopia is here, folks, and this is a third world country.

      (My disdain is for the system and the parasites who benefit from it, not those seeking charity)

  4. fresno dan

    “Scores of NYPD cops have installed illegal flash-reflecting plastic covers on their personal-vehicle license plates that can thwart toll and traffic cameras — and officials said a crackdown is under way” [New York Post]. “A reporter also confronted the driver of an SUV displaying a placard for federal officers, and asked why he was ‘hiding’ his license plate. That officer slammed his door and refused to answer questions.” So it’s the Feds, too. The assumption of impunity is sickening.

    Funny – those who always say ‘if you haven’t done anything, what do you have to hide’ make such an effort to….hide…
    Maybe they know something about how just the process really is…

    1. Enquiring Mind

      Or they want to avoid more electronic footprints that would be traceable through license plate readers, cameras and similar Internet of Crapification tools. Why not both?

    1. polecat

      For the life of me, I cannot understand why that crowd weren’t tossing chairs after listening to her blabbering drivel !

      1. Portia

        security may be one reason. I once called her office to complain after she declared no one was going to be talking about single payer in Jan 2016 during the campaign. My email disappeared immediately–it was connected with my phone number, my ISP provider is a phone company–and it turned out that my email address had been altered subtly so I could not access it while, I presume, they investigated me for wanting single payer. I got it back after complaining to the provider for three days. they said it was weird, had never happened before, and could not explain it. Imagine what would happen it they tossed chairs, LOL

        1. Vatch

          Spooky! So does Nancy P. believe that leader of Boko Haram or The Islamic State is the mastermind behind the vast single payer conspiracy?

        2. Marina Bart

          I had this exact same experience. I mean, exact. Except that I have no awareness of any triggering email I might have sent that might have triggered this.

          Next time, I’ll think to review all recent messages. Do you mean that your initial note vanished from your Sent box, or something else?

          1. Vatch

            I may be misinterpreting what Portia said, but I don’t think she sent an email message to Pelosi’s office. She called the office using her phone. Her email account is linked to her telephone number’s account, and right after her phone call, she lost access to email for three days. She didn’t just lose an email message; she completely lost her email account.

            Portia, please correct me if I have misunderstood what happened.

    2. JohnnyGL

      That was an incredibly tactless side-stepping of the question that will fool precisely no one. I almost felt bad for her for a split second….then, I remembered who she was and what she was doing and wished for the questioner (or someone else to chime in) to press her further, and yell, “That’s not good enough, speaker! We don’t live in a tabula rasa and we need a solution RIGHT NOW for these problems!”

      1. Jeff W

        It was an entirely pointless answer. I would have said “It doesn’t matter if we’re a tabula rasa or not. Your job as our representative and as a leader (ha!) is to get us from where are now to what your constituents want.” And it sure helps if subsequent questioners follow up.

      2. Marco

        Watching that video makes me want to go hat in hand to far-right billionaires asking for $$ to destroy Team Blue from the left.

    3. Eclair

      Translation: No single payer because the elites have already claimed ownership and are busily sucking up all the profits. And they pay my re-election expenses.

      This is why we can’t have nice things.

  5. Tom Stone

    Police officers have superior rights ( “Police officers Bill of Rights”) and Sovereign immunity.
    Their job is to maintain public order.
    Those who decide what public order constitutes have determined that the police need tanks and machine guns and that the 4th Amendment is no longer needed.

    1. Anon

      …I’m sure that’s sarcasm. Right?

      Police officers have special training and responsibilities that allows them to perform certain official acts, but only when performing official duty. Sovereign immunity is vested in the state, not the officer.

  6. Lee

    “Chelsea Clinton praises Sanders for Zika op-ed” [The Hill]. Clinton III: “Thank you Sen. Sanders – we need to ensure equitable access to the Zika vaccine & all vaccines.” So what about #MedicareForAll?

    Moving at a glacial pace toward universal health care one disease at a time.

    “Daddy, what’s a glacier?”

    1. craazyboy

      Well, Little Dearest, glaciers kill dinosaurs and we don’t have glaciers anymore. Zika is why the doc says you have nearly no brain function. Daddy paid $200 to find that out. But you still can make sentences better than Nancy Pelosi. Go figure.

      1. Lee

        But you still can make sentences better than Nancy Pelosi. Go figure.

        Truly, her response was a word salad of stuttering incomprehensibility. “Culturally sensitive clinics” got tossed in there for the identitarians. Does that mean tiger penis and rhino horn, or the point and no touch method of diagnosing will be available?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          How many Democrats don’t speak in word salad or irrelevant banalities strung together with the occasional anecdote? Warren sometimes, Sanders, Ellison, Grayson, Raul Grijalva…Buehler? Buehler? Buehler?

          Besides, the Democrats are corrupt liars who hid behind Obama and his followers for eight years. The stenographer corp. ..the media protected them at every opportunity and is just as vapid. What can the Democrats really say? “Gosh, we sure did a bad job the last eight years. Give us money!”

          The best liars believe the lie, but when the lies build up and contradict other lies, problems start to arise. Nancy can’t keep her lies straight, and now the Dems can’t behind Obama or Hillary’s celebrity. The “Pussy hat” brigades and the Obama followers are fan clubs. They don’t care about Kaine or Gillibrand. If they bother to show up, they might demand accountability as the object of their affections won’t be on the stage anymore. These people won’t defend McCaskill from the “BernieBros”. Now the Democrats can’t point to how they work with “our commander in chief Obama” because it’s on them.

          They weren’t very good in 2006 either. When Murtha came out against the Iraq War, the Dems as a party had to take up the cause, but they droned on about “stronger Americas” and “smart wars” until then.

          If you thought Jim Webb was bad, you should have seen the DLC candidate. The guy mostly went on about how he wished he had taken Mark Warner’s investment advice.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Strategically, that makes her subsequent criticisms of Sanders more credulous to her future voters.

      2. M

        Funny, just as bernie started really getting out there to meet and greet out pops hillary. Is she just trying to steal his thunder or fight trump. I wish all clintons would just go away

      3. Code Name D

        Chelsea is just bernishing her record in advance for running for office. Denocrats think that if you rub up against some one like Sanders, that relivence will some how rub off.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      What ever happened to the Zika and chemical/pesticide link?

      Take the vaccine and forget about the pesticide?

    3. Enquiring Mind

      Glacier, hmmm? I think that was once a national park that got renamed in honor of a sponsor sometime in the neo-holocene era.

      1. HotFlash

        Jeez, EMind, you scared me for a minute there. Glacier Nat Park is still called that, so far as I can tell, but when I looked it up I did find this:

        Park waters closed to all boating. Hand-powered vessels to be allowed this summer.
        Alert 1 , Severity, closure. Due to a detection of invasive mussel populations in central Montana, Glacier has closed all park waters to boating until May 15, 2017.

        Zebra mussels in CO???!!!???

        1. Jim Haygood

          Zebra mussels in CO???!!!???

          Last I heard, Glacier Natl Park is in Montana.

          If zebra mussels appear there, it gives a whole new meaning to “flyover country.” ;-)

  7. Roger Smith

    Update on my foray into the downward demographic trend of full time employment plus a part time job. I was just doing same basic numbers work and came up with some interesting figures that demonstrate the bleak decline of the United States:

    1) The part time Lowe’s position I have is 20 hours a week at $12.42. Sounds great compared to minimum wage right? Here is where Hillary Clinton’s $12 minimum wage effort (until the cameras appeared on her at the Fight for 15 rally where she took credit for legislation a state passed without her involvement) is fundamentally flawed and dead on arrival. Looking at this job in full time, an employee would still only be making $25,833 BEFORE TAX and Healthcare per year. That is not even close to being a economically sustainable wage. Even at $15/hr yearly income pre tax/HC is $31,200, which is still very shaky.

    Just last night my manager was telling me that they have a hard time keeping employees because everyone wants full time position (duh!). One of two prevailing arguments I hear about raising the minimum wage is that it will cause layoffs due to lack of employer funding because of the said increases in wage. Well the fundamental economic problem in our society is the hoarding of wealth at the upper crusts of citizenry. That money to pay for wage increases needs to come from those stockpiles. If that is not enough, than economy at large is simply not sustainable on service based models alone (which I highly suspect is the real problem).

    The other argument is that these low pay service jobs are somehow not worthy of financial compensation which is complete crap. Are you going to make your own burger and deal with customers like yourself? Retail is the worst. Please tell me how your financial analyst job is of more benefit and worthiness? Oh meritocracy, aristocracy, brain washed talking points? Okay.

    2) With this position I am now working 60 hours a week. I broke down my time per day… 12 hours of work, 6 hours of sleep, 3 hours before work, one hour between jobs, and two hours before bed. That does not account for driving time or whether or not I get out on time. Essentially I get 2 hours of free time per day. This kind of schedule is absurd and nobody should have to work it. What is the point of living? I don’t get to do anything and might as well be replaced with a robot since I am cognitively numb anyways.

    Two things could help my particular situation immediately, universal healthcare reform that cuts costs, student debt restructuring/forgiveness. Both of these seem easy and doable… if not for the people involved in signing off on those reforms.

    Sanders’ new education plan, based on his presser, seems totally inadequate in addressing the student loan debt crisis. Simply cutting interest rates is not going to do anything, ti is still a prison, even if you aren’t being buried in sand. We need at least partial forgiveness. There is also mixed messaging. “Cut the rates in half” and “government will not profit off students”… doesn’t that mean rates should be zero? Worst of all he is using the same vague Wall Street speculation argument which is highly unlikely to win any new support this bill as a package with free tuition would need.

    At this rate, the rising death rate might be a social relief benefit. Hey, less work!

    1. Roger Smith

      To add: It is also worth noting that I am in a much more secure economic position than many others who might be going through this. This and more is why I find it so infuriating and offensive when people like carcass Pelosi say that giving aid (38 billion) to Israel is “Sacred” or when other old bags like Clinton say demonstrated, tested, and more effective universal healthcare will “never, ever” happen (or Obama/Kamala Harris bank whores et al…). These people are the truly deplorable who deserve the worst.

      1. Jim Haygood

        … people like carcass Pelosi say that giving aid (38 billion) to Israel is “Sacred”

        This is a pristinely pure example of Big Money leveraging their campaign contributions for a 100:1 return.

        Not one of these pro-Israel contributors ever had to worry about their health care or financial security.

        As AIPAC [Apartheid Is Perfectly Acceptable & Commendable] is wont to say, “We’ve got ours, Jack!”

    2. cocomaan

      Roger, thanks for posting your current circumstances. I was listening to podcaster Dan Carlin talk about healthcare recently, and how we spend 17% of GDP on it, versus 11% in France. If we think of the 6% of GDP basically being pissed away, it’s hard to imagine how anyone can say, “Let’s just keep everything the same, change is too difficult”.

      I’m with you on student loans. I have no idea why Bernie isn’t advocating that they be discharged in bankruptcy. Boom. Done! If the economy does not support the students with their degrees, the creditors must pay. Fairest thing in the world to me.

      1. Roger Smith

        Carlin! I forgot that I had not heard that Common Sense yet! Thanks for the reminder.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Besides campaigning on discharging student loans is a subtle reminder that Joe Biden might have lost 49 states.

        It’s good politics, good policy, and a reminder of what POS Biden really is.

        1. Marina Bart


          But also a reminder that Bernie is not god. He’s a pol. He’s not our savior. Push him. Push him, push Our Revolution, Push Brand New Congress, push your state Democratic Party. A debt jubilee, which I want, is not something we can get today. It requires a paradigm change in our thinking as a culture. But making student loans dischargeable in bankruptcy, in principle, should be doable. Why is this the only debt you can’t wipe away? The process is already there. Our current president filed for bankruptcy numerous times. Why can his businesses do it, but an entire generation of citizens cannot?

          Let’s go.

          Seriously. Let’s go.

            1. Marina Bart

              Right. But my point is, there is no DEFENDABLE reason, even within the neoliberal paradigm, for Donald Trump getting to declare bankruptcy numerous times, and students who took out loans to go to college — which is EXACTLY what the Democrats told them they needed to do to get a good job — cannot.

              We need to find ways to not fall into the Democrat trap of being lured into policy cul-de-sacs like the “public option,” while at the same time pushing for whatever we can force into the public discussion right NOW to help people who are desperately suffering RIGHT NOW. Explaining MMT to people is a big lift. Saying “my 28 year old son should have the same access to bankruptcy court the president had” is a much lighter lift.

              Debt peonage is a plague on this nation. Every one of us has a moral obligation to do what we can to remediate its injustices sooner rather than later. With all these town halls and protests going on, here’s something it would GREAT to force the Democrats to either work to end or go on record defending. Uncle Joe did his dirty work behind the curtain of media protection. Let’s pull it back.

          1. HopeLB

            And how much ofthe Banksters’ bad debts did the taxpayers/FED fund?
            I’m with you let’s go (!) ( and we don’t need Bernie for everything (although his lovely white wisps blow”in the wind and his little fists raised inthe air are certainly fortifying).

      3. Benedict@Large

        Curious that you mention the 17% figure fir healthcare spending, as others are noting that recent slowdown in healthcare spending as a sign of ObamaCare’s success. In fact, I’ve been predicting 17% (plus or minus) as the topping out point for US healthcare for some time; that point beyond which people on average simply cannot increase their healthcare expenses any more without collapsing other spending. It’s important to realize however that this does not indicate the prices will stop going up for healthcare. It merely says fewer and fewer people will be getting it. [Note the $5K deductibles, etc.]

    3. cnchal

      > I don’t get to do anything and might as well be replaced with a robot since I am cognitively numb anyways.

      That’s why we need an army of people that do nothing, paid for by reducing the army of people that kill for a living. Call it a jawb guarantee. The jawb is to do nothing, or as close to nothing as one can get.

      To get the economists on board, promise them a huge budget to figure out exactly what nothing is worth.

    4. HotFlash

      I live in Canada. I have “free” health *care*, and a living pension, even in my expensive, “world class” city, Toronto. It does not cripple our economy, we have better health outcomes for about 60% of what you pay, and that does not include lost time, let alone unnecessary pain, suffering and death, fighting with health “care” agencies and insurance companies for the coverage you are supposed to have. I cannot understand how it is the USians do not revolt.

      We have our problems in Canada, for sure — housing bubble, gentrification, pressures to privatize, why are we bombing Syria,m anyhow? etc, — but we see what is happening to you, and we are fighting. Why are you not?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Too many people haven’t realized how grossly rotten the Democratic Party is. Well meaning people otherwise believe they are fighting, but they don’t understand they are propping up their enemies.

        It’s a case of “a house divided can’t stand.” In Canada, what is your greatest obstacle? The answer is people who believe Trudeau Jr is his old man and give him a pass because of nostalgia.

        TruJu (Trudeau Junior) seems better than the average Democrat. I think too many people haven’t come to grips with how bad these Democrats really are. Oh sure, they are friendly and clean up well enough, they are so embarrassing the leading members of the Democratic party are Bernie Sanders, not a Democrat, and Liz Warren, a lifelong Republican.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Free health care?

        First, we have to be able to imagine it, visualize it.

        Then, we can strive to get it.

        Free Medicare-for-All, as in free.

        Free like Canada.

        “Life should not be a multiple-choice question. It is more like an essay. Actually, your teacher fails you if he/she just asks you to answer questions. You need to learn to ask your own questions, of your teacher and of everyone and everything in the world in general all the time.”

        So, because no one else has asked, you say, why not free Medicare-for-All?

        1. Rageon

          Not free. Paid for by higher taxes. The effective tax rate is probably close to ~50% for middle incomes and above (including federal and provincial taxes, plus sales taxes which in QC are 15%). But I’d rather pay higher taxes and not have to worry about medical bankruptcy or the stress of dealing with private insurance.

          It seems that Americans don’t get that their insurance premiums suck up just as much or more than if they just taxed themselves more, provided universal health care, and cut out the middle man parasite insurance companies. It would reduce costs (and stress!), improve health outcomes, and increase the much vaunted labor mobility that people are afraid to exercise when their health insurance is tied to their employer. But I guess the idea that someone (the poor) will benefit without paying their fair share is anathema to the good Christian nation.

          1. justanotherprogressive

            I’m one of the lucky ones. I got to take my healthcare with me when I retired and I only pay about $200/mo. This is FAR better than most people in my circumstances pay for health care. Would I care that if instead of paying that $200/mo, I paid $2400 more in taxes/yr so that everyone could get health care. Hell, NO!
            WHY is it so hard for everyone to understand that what you pay in increased taxes for Medicare for All won’t be any more than you now already pay?

            I think you must be right – can’t having those nasty poor people getting anything for free…..after all, they did it to themselves, didn’t they? One would think that all those people that lost manufacturing jobs would understand a little something about this…..but apparently they don’t…..

          2. marieann

            “But I guess the idea that someone (the poor) will benefit without paying their fair share is anathema to the good Christian nation.”

            I think this is a big part of it. I have heard it from many in the US….why should I pay for those who are lazy. Even my family in the US have said those things.
            I also think many are brainwashed about the “death panels”. They really think health care is rationed and denied to older folks.
            I also think there is a real hatred of raising taxes…..not that anyone likes to pay taxes. But to have a fair and compassionate society for all , the money has to come from somewhere.

          3. John k

            From the economy’s perspective, reducing overall cost, say from 17% to 11%, means we are in toto paying less. How the costs are allocated, and/or whether gov picks up part, is only important for fairness. First get rid of insurance, then bargain with pharma.

  8. Portia

    bro culture exists everywhere, it’s just called “bro culture” now. I worked in payroll in a company that made ship parts for military contracts. my boss (the HR head) hired young girls who wore low-rise jeans with thongs with “whale tails” decorations sticking out, and one who had slit the butt cheek of her pants so that when she walked it showed through. He hired me because people wanted their paychecks to be correct. The boss and engineers were all in their 50s and made daily bets which “whale tail” each girl would be wearing. they actually knew the womens’ underwear collection. they went to hooters right down the road. the only difference is in economic scale perhaps

    1. oho

      Man (or woman) lectures woman on appropriate office attire, she’s a retro, opressive prude.

      Can’t win w/today’s avant-garde feminism. (but not excusing whale tale betting or victim blaming, or exposing your male or female knickers).

      1. Portia

        and not excusing the fact that the boss hired women because of their youth and for the way they dressed, unless lack of experience and accuracy would get him in trouble

    2. TK421

      Hey, if those women are going to dress like strippers, why shouldn’t people ogle them?

      1. JTFaraday

        I think there were multiple lines of critique in that comment. Oy gevalt.

        Frankly, I don’t get all these complaints about dress codes. Yes, there’s a dress code.

        I once worked with not one but 2 office managers in succession who came in to work everyday (half an hour + late– at 10:30) in their dirty gym sweats.

        Not okay.


    3. Jim Haygood

      Never heard the term “whale tail” before reading your post. Thanks.

      Got to get up to speed on contemporary womens underwear. ;-)

      1. Massinissa

        I hadn’t heard it either. It has its own Wikipedia page. The American Dialect Society selected it as the “Most Creative Word of 2005”, apparently.

  9. Jim A.

    …That brings back memories, some friends were in a production of Marat-Sade back in college.

  10. shinola

    Ks. Medicaid expansion vetoed by Gov. Brownback; House fails to muster enough votes to override.

    So much for doing the right thing,,,

      1. Code Name D

        And it is no small gesture. Keep in mind that this is a Republican majority here, with dems mostly token. It was Republican moderates who pushed for this. The Republican party is changing.

        I suspected we will see Republican progressive long before we see them in the democrats.

  11. Ahmed

    I wish more people would take 10 minutes out of their day to read the 2:00PM Water Cooler.

  12. Lee

    “The Real Peril Of Crowdfunding Health Care” [Buzzfeed]

    Half of people age 65 and above don’t use the internet so that crowd funding is not an option. This matters for those on Medicare because shopping for the right Part D plan and supplements to help with copays is quite complicated even with internet access. I would have found it impossibly difficult without it. Frankly, speaking as an older person and I suppose I’m hardly unique in this regard, I would find appeals from younger people more compelling than those from persons of my own age. There is, for the time being at least, the ice floe option.

    1. crittermom

      You bring up an excellent point. You must be a techy to navigate your healthcare. Ridiculous.
      More confirmation that we are just expected to continue to die off even younger? (That program successful)

      Crowdfunding is the citizens taking care of each other since the govt fails to.
      How sad this is needed for healthcare! (So tell me again why we need the govt? sarc/)

      I remember last year when SS implemented a shiny new program to access your account that required you must have a smartphone.
      They had to walk that one back rather quickly when they ‘discovered’ not everyone has one. Duh?
      Another prime example of the govt being F-A-R removed from many of its citizens.

      I have the impression that if we attended h.s. while using a typewriter, we’re already supposed to have died off.

      1. Lee

        I and two of my buddies took a typing class in 8th grade to meet girls. It worked! Still typing after all these years.

        I just called the local senior center to volunteer to help fellow seniors navigate their health care options. Evidently, they currently offer a class on internet use but was referred to someone else to see if they offer one-on-one assistance. Left voicemail, await reply.

        Now I’m thinking, I live in a relatively prosperous town, so maybe I should volunteer in one of the nearby poorer communities.

        1. HotFlash

          I and two of my buddies took a typing class in 8th grade to meet girls. It worked!

          Mr. Lee, I gotta ask — which worked, the typing or the meeting girls?

        2. BobW

          I could not get into mechanical drawing class (full, besides – now obsolete) so took typing. No luck on the girl front, but we had state-of-the-art IBM Selectrics! Looky that type ball move!

    1. Roger Smith

      How many of these “we established” news sources will recall the “moderate” groups that just recently poisoned a city’s water supply?

    2. sid_finster

      The usual suspects wasted no time blaming Assad.

      For some reason, these “regime chemical attacks” always seem to happen after (and never before) a regime success, such as Tillerson’s comment that regime change is no longer a top priority.

      Odd, don’t you think?

        1. justanotherprogressive

          Errr…..truth doesn’t matter – it’s the propaganda value that counts…..

    3. JohnnyGL

      This further reinforces what a masterstroke it was for Russia-Assad to get rid of chem weapons voluntarily.

      ONLY the rebels can pull it off, with their kitchen-sarin that they got from Turkey, as per Sy Hersh’s excellent stories.

      Unless there’s an argument that Syria had secret stashes of the weapons and Russia double-crossed us. Oh wait….that’s exactly what they’ll say.

      1. JohnnyGL


        “Russia has insisted that it had no military role in the strike. But the State Department official, who briefed reporters on Tuesday, said that Russian officials were trying to evade their responsibility because Russia and Iran were guarantors of the Assad government’s commitment to adhere to a cease-fire in the peace talks the Kremlin helped organized in Astana, Kazakhstan, this year.”

        State Dept Official…..was it one of those who dissented in that famous letter to Kerry and itched for MOAR WAR!!!!?!?!!?

        There’s other quotes from Spicer talking like it’s Assad’s fault and taking potshots at Obama for not solving the problem.

        Well done Trump, you missed a wonderful opportunity to hold back from the blame-game and let a full investigation see who really did it. What a pity, because it would have earned you some points with the American public for being ‘calm, measured’ in the face of crisis.

    4. Izziets

      Yet one more thing for the infallible one to blame on former President Obama. The laundry list of issues that our current President takes no ownership of, responsibility for or genuine interest in just keeps growing and growing and growing… He doesn’t need any Russian ties to be proven in order to go down as the most incompetent person ever to be the so-called “leader of the free world”. What a joke. I shudder to think of what our country and the rest of the world will look like before he’s out of office.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Not just letting the most impotent implode on his own seems to be even more incompetent, which is only further confirmed by the need to feed us incompetent news nonstop.

    5. fajensen

      The Swedish news anchor just asked the local reporter, straight up “Why would Assad poison his own people?” and the dum-dum on the other end looked startled and started confabulating to come up with an answer rather than asking “How do we know Assad did it?”.

      Typically Swedish, they cannot deal with things like a straight-up lie right in their face, people with zero shame does well here!

      All our news come ready-made with all the correct details made up from some server in Langley, Virginia!

  13. robnume

    Thank you, Mr. Horan, for unlocking access to that Pando article. Dan Lyons is most certainly a jerk. Apparently an unapologetic jerk. But the take on Silicon Valley is spot on. That being said, too bad he couldn’t “mea culpa.” regarding his own bad personal behavior. No time or inclination for introspection in the tech world.

  14. ewmayer

    “A small number of liberal urban clusters certainly do dominate America’s economic output. Rates of productivity growth are higher in cities.” — Yeah, but is that real productivity or FIRE-and-Gig-Economy-sector ‘productivity’, formerly known as economic parasitism?

  15. dcrane

    Re: “Free college”

    I think it make senses to avoid this phrase. Instead we should imagine and communicate a system in which basic college is more like primary and secondary school. We don’t speak of “free high school” any more than we do “free roads”, because we know that these are paid for by taxes, which all working people pay – and if the “free college” idea yields results then more of us will go on to earn wages and pay those taxes.

    Calling it “free college” makes the idea seem more like a giveaway and less like a part of the machine created by a civil society to maximize everyone’s welfare.

    Not sure yet what phrase I would use, however…

    1. Octopii

      It would be nice if we could use “Public Colleges and Universities” just like we do with your other school examples, and as was intended when public land grant institutions (for example) were founded. But like so many other things, people in charge smelled money.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Maybe if college is mandatory like primary and secondary school, where all benefit from it.

      Moreover, college is attend by people over 18. It is not the case that all will go to school before 18. So, only a few will go before adulthood.

      Then there is the question if graduate school should also be free and mandatory for all, where, for example, everyone is a Ph.D. Or do we stop at high school?

    3. marieann

      I think when one of the requirements of finding gainful employment is a university degree, then the education to obtain the degree should be paid for by the state…..if a Ph.D becomes necessary then that should be paid for also.

  16. Elizabeth Burton

    I didn’t get to as much of The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade contemporary politics as I’d hope.

    Nice knowing I’m not the only one to catch the resemblance. ;-)

  17. Jeff W

    We seem not to have heard much about this [Nancy Pelosi’s town hall and demands for single payer]:

    Local public radio station KQED had something on it and said:

    If the two Democrats thought they’d find an adoring crowd that came to thank them for helping to defeat the health care bill, they were wrong. Much of the energy in the audience seemed focused on pushing them to support a single-payer health system like the ones in England and Canada.

    The first audience question was more of a long argument for a socialized health system that some are calling “Medicare for all,” which would eliminate insurance companies.

    Pelosi, unruffled by the at times unruly crowd, noted: “I supported single payer since before you were born.”

    Pelosi supports it, of course, but “refuses to co-sponsor single payer legislation in the House (HR 676) or to organize to build support for it,” as Russell Mokhiber, who runs Single Payer Action, pointed out in Counterpunch.

    Conservative media (Breitbart, The Blaze, etc.—no, I won’t link to them) had stories that referred to the KQED account. Since Gallup polling in 2016 found that 41% of Republicans support “federally-funded healthcare providing insurance to all Americans” (and I’d assume that, after the recent GOP healthcare debacle, if anything, that number is now higher), it’s not clear to me how at least some of their readers would regard these stories.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      If she’s supported It that long and failed to deliver, is it fair to say Pelosi admitted to gross incompetence?

      1. Jeff W

        My thoughts exactly! I wouldn’t take it as a sterling example of her legislative prowess.

      2. John k

        No, no, she’s pretended to support it when pressed, but she knows the insurance donors won’t allow it, so her real job is to keep it ever, ever coming up for a vote… not that it would pass, but people voting against have to explain… so embarrassing.

        So actukaay very competent, just like big o and all the rest dem elites in gov and MSM.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Pelosi: “I supported single payer since before you were born.”

      And we don’t have it, do we? Also, I thought youth were supposed to be part of the Obama Coalition? Guess not.

      1. Marina Bart

        I suspect she believes children should be seen and not heard.

        She’s a rich old lady, after all.

    1. Ian

      Thank you, been reading Chomsky since my early teens and always very grounding to hear his perspective on things. I particularly liked how he describes the Powell Memorandum as kinda being the equivalent of a 3 year old who wants it all and throws a tantrum when a piece of candy is taken from them. I think that parallel largely holds up with todays business and political community today.

  18. IDontKnow


    Isobutyl alcohol is considered an attractive alternative to ethanol as a gasoline component. It has a higher energy density and is less sensitive to moisture than ethanol. Isobutyl alcohol is also used as a solvent and chemical intermediate. …

    ….A patent infringement suit between Butamax and Gevo, which has its own fermentation process for making isobutyl alcohol, slowed progress for both companies. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, where in 2015 Gevo won a favorable ruling. Later that year, the two firms agreed to cross license technology and end legal proceedings. …

    James Evangelow, head of the consulting firm Chemical Strategies, says the prospects for isobutyl alcohol aren’t as bright today as they were in the late 2000s when Butamax and Gevo were founded. “You are dealing with an environment where oil is half the price it was when they first thought about this,” he says.

    Das Capital strikes again.

  19. Swamp Yankee

    Re: blue cities, the colonies, and the Celtic Fringe

    I couldn’t agree more. The comparison of the seasonal invasion of places like Cape Cod, Maine, the Berkshires to seasonal but still real colonialism has been a hobbyhorse of mine for a while now.

    I was remarking to my friend a ways back — he’s an honest-to-God radical theologian who teaches in San Quentin — right after the HBO documentary on heroin here on the littoral of Cape Cod Bay came out, that the way that the metropolitan media covers the USA is this:

    — the hard-up towns of the Central Valley of California are written about the way the BBC and UK establishment media like the Guardian, Times, etc, treated and treat India, or the Deep South the way they relate to the West Indies or Kenya;

    — areas comparatively proximate to the metropolitan centers, but culturally quite different — small-town New England, upstate New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania come to mind — are treated the way both the “Celtic Fringe” (Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Cornwall) as well as provincial England (say, East Anglia or Yorkshire or the West Country) are by British Establishment media.

    — the colonized zone and populations go up next to, adjacent to, indeed inside, the metropolitan core (Roxbury, the South Side of Chicago, Bed-Stuy, etc.) Fishermen from Hull plying off Nantasket Roads and Jersey boats off Sandy Hook to feed the aristocrats of Boston and New York City in their fine restaurants, bus drivers in Randolph and Queens keeping the transit system going, nursing assistants giving essential human care all over — the net’s flung far and wide.

    — Thus, I told my friend who teaches in San Quentin — the idea that rural Vacation-Country (seasonal colonialism, I’ve been saying for decades!) of stout clam diggers and cranberry farmers — the idea that this place is collapsing in a way (c. 2,000 opium deaths last year in MA! ) they associate with Watts or American Indian Reservations in the West — this has proven extremely frightening for the denizens of the Metropole. The Empire has come home, and the realization that these metropolitan elites have lost not only the far colonies abroad, but the near rustics at home — I believe this accounts for a lot of the spluttering rage and incomprehension we see in places like The Grauniad and MSNBC and the NYT.

    “The chickens are coming home to roost!”

      1. Swamp Yankee

        Absolutely — Dubois, King’s connection of Ghana’s independence and America’s Civil Rights Movement. Numerous more examples. Excellent point.

  20. justanotherprogressive

    Oh, this one is just too juicy to pass by:
    or for the shorter version:

    After he gets done with the usual pat on the back (see I earned my bonus) crap:
    “We solved too-big-to fail” – yea, right.
    “Banks must be a bulwark against market panic” – say what? Oh, yea, banks had absolutely NOTHING to do with what happened in 2007-2008…….
    “Banks have too much capital” doncha know? And too much operational risk capital too!
    And it keeps getting better….
    He then starts talking about the “problems” in the US….
    And wouldn’t you know? His solution? Double down on neoliberalism- cause we just haven’t done enough!!!

    Perhaps this should be filed under Guillotine Watch?

    1. inode_buddha

      I liked the part where he says we have to have trust. I would suggest to Mr dimon that perhaps it would be a good idea if institutions were to behave in a trustworthy manner. oh, and I would also suggest to him to stfu

  21. JustAnObserver

    Is any coincidence that the level of RUSSIA! hysteria seems to be increasing in direct proportion to the increased attention being given at to single-payer/Medicare-for-all ?

    Correlation != Causation and all that but still …

  22. LT

    Re: Start Ups and the Jerks Who Run Them (NYTimes)

    I got dejavu reading this. I remembered the bro financial players of the 80s, Wall St behavior reported and into 21st century. The NY Times article almost makes the connection. The tech boys have adopted the wilder and sexist behavior of the finance world where they go to raise money. And the NY Times thinks the investors are going to rein them in. Wild boys blowing big money isn’t anything new to them and with the Fed as their over-indulgent nanny, it won’t happen soon. You’d think they would have learned around 2000.
    They’ll pay big money to PR firm for image makeovers.

  23. allan

    Gig economy creates ripples in Australia’s A$2.1 trillion pension pool [Reuters]

    … Mobile or online platforms are at the forefront of a boon in casual work for individuals who are seeking greater flexibility for less security – many of them are giving up benefits such as sick leave, life insurance and pension fund savings.

    In Australia, this sea change is putting a strain on the country’s much-admired A$2.1 trillion ($1.60 trillion) system of retirement savings – the world’s fourth largest – which relies on mandated contributions by employers. …

    Australia is one of the few countries to have a mandatory retirement system, also known as superannuations or supers, whereby employers pay a contribution of 9.5 percent on top of the employees’ wages.

    But digital companies including Uber, Deliveroo, Airtasker and Foodora, which employ independent contractors are not obliged to contribute to superannuations as the workers are seen as self employed. …

    Are seen as. Whenever you hear the passive voice, firmly grab your wallet.

  24. Oregoncharles

    I was fortunate enough to experience “Marat/Sade” live on Broadway (it ended with a psychological attack on the audience.) It was mind-boggling, probably the supreme theater experience of my life.

    there’s a reason it has mythic status.

  25. WheresOurTeddy

    People in France in 1789 knew what to do with people like Pelosi.

    Wish we had the same fire in our guts they did back then.

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