Links 4/1/17

Great-grandma survives five days in Colorado wilderness BBC

US hiker given warning for rescuing ‘abandoned’ bear cub BBC

Polar bears spotted in Scotland as animals flee melting Arctic ice cap Telegraph :-(

Jane Austen, a £400 painting and an art mystery Financial Times

Trump EPA Green Lights Pesticide Known to Damage Children’s Brains Chicago Tribune (furzy)

Multifunctional Landscapes Would Be a Boon to Rural Vitality for the Midwest Big Picture Agriculture


EU draws up tough stance on Brexit transition deal Financial Times. Quelle surprise! The EU did what it said it would do.

Outrage as Spain and EU accused of using Brexit to take back Gibraltar, as MPs say Britain will ‘not be bullied’ Telegraph. Someone noticed this in the FT comments section yesterday. This means this is a bargaining chip, as in the UK is expected to concede something to keep it. The EU is making it clear that Brexit is not going to come cheap.

First Minister’s Questions Scottish Parliament. Our Richard Smith gets a shout out, and a prominent one too! Congrats Richard!

Britain Demands That Twitter, Facebook, Google Tackle Extremism Fortune

Protesters set fire to Paraguay Congress after secret vote on presidential term DW

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Marble Framework WikiLeaks. Bill B: “‘Marble is used to hamper forensic investigators and anti-virus companies from attributing viruses, trojans and hacking attacks to the CIA.’ This is why attribution is a lost cause despite the assurances of security vendors and government spies. Operational signatures can be mimicked, attacks staged, and forensic artifacts forged. All to the greater glory of U.S. foreign policy objectives. Welcome to the wilderness of mirrors.”

WikiLeaks says CIA disguised hacking as Russian activity  Daily Mail Online (martha r)

WikiLeaks Assange’s fate hinging on close Ecuador election this Sunday Fox (furzy)

Two Middle Eastern airlines are loaning laptops and iPads following electronics ban Verge (resilc)

Russia and China Catch Security Council in a Devastating Lie Russia Insider

Trump Transition

Mistakes, He’s Made a Few Too Many Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal. Nooners is judicious, so for her, this is very strong stuff.

When the President Is Ignorant of His Own Ignorance New York Times

1 in 3 voters give President Trump a grade F McClatchy. Bob K: “But Republicans approve by 79-10 percent.”

Trump demands solution to US trade deficit with China Financial Times

U.S. Seeks Quick Action to Unblock Trump Immigration Order Bloomberg

Trump wants to cut U.N. funding — but peacekeeping saves money, as well as lives Washington Post (furzy)

As Trump Sputters, Democrats Press Their Advantage On Infrastructure Huffington Post. Dems calling for fiscal spending. Good. Let’s see how long it lasts.

The Daily 202: How Trump’s threats against the Freedom Caucus may backfire Washington Post

Behind Michael Flynn’s Turkish Lobbying Controversy, An Israeli Gas Pipeline Real News Network (Ulpanaylaylo)

Senate Intelligence Committee Denies Immunity To Michael Flynn In Russia Probe Huffington Post

In Rebuke to Trump Policy, GE Chief Says ‘Climate Change Is Real’ Wall Street Journal


Why Trump should embrace single-payer health care New York Post (martha r)

What the Free Market Does to Healthcare Esquire (resilc)

Bernie Sanders Wants to Expand Medicare to Everybody — Exactly What Its Architects Wanted Intercept (martha r)

Anthem likely to pull back from Obamacare markets in 2018: Jefferies Reuters (martha r)

American Healthcare – A Racket Of Rackets James Howard Kunstler (RR)

The Democrats Are Learning Something They Should Have Learned a Long Time Ago Charles Pierce, Esquire (resilc)

How the Freedom Caucus Is Undermining the G.O.P. New York Times


South Carolina U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford: Trump threatened to back primary challenger against me Post and Courier

The Anti-Trump Movement In North Carolina Has The Potential To Flip The South Huffington Post This piece is way over its skis. It’s not as if what happens in one state affects another. Mass state politics do not affect Maine, for instance. North Carolina is not Deep South. In any other Southern state advocating transgender bathroom rights would be political suicide (save Virginia which despite having been part of the Confederacy is not hard core South). And Alabama loves Trump.

California lawmakers release details on universal health care bill East Bay Times (martha r)

Official says interstate repairs to take months Washington Post (martha r). Wowsers.

Police State Watch

With Trump, Police Hope to Deploy Military Gear Banned Under Obama Wall Street Journal (furzy)

Fake News

This one is a real blooper and I cannot let it pass by Tyler Cowen (martha r)

Trump Says CNN Is Fake News — But That’s Where He Wants Surrogates BuzzFeed (furzy)

Trucker drives non-stop from Seattle to Mass. while high on drugs New York Daily News (martha r)

CalPERS’ Pension ‘Myths’ Busted California Political Review. Some of the counter-claims here are exaggerations or flat out false. The analysis attributed to “Stanford University” was made by grad students and has been criticized (but oddly not by CalPERS in any sort of rigorous manner, all the agency has attempted is a handwave). It also flagrantly misrepresents SB 400, which effectively applied only to “badges” as in police officers like state troopers, who are in jobs deemed hazardous and can retire in their 50s at full benefits. But it is 100% correct in depicting how cack-handed CalPERS has been in its use of the lame “Myth vs. Facts” and its other messaging efforts. We wrote about an earlier misrepresentation here.

Wall Street’s New Favorite Way to Swap Secrets Is Against the Rules Bloomberg

Amazon and Walmart are in an all-out price war that is terrifying America’s biggest brands Recode (martha r)

Guillotine Watch

How a Cruel Foreclosure Drove a Couple to the Brink of Death Dave Dayen, Vice (Steve). Today’s must read. Note that part of why this came about is that bankruptcy judges are Federal judges and way over the caliber of state court judges that handle foreclosures. And bankruptcy judges take very badly to violations of the bankruptcy stay.

What Caused the Downfall of New York City’s Glitziest Restaurant? Bloomberg. This piece is missing something. Le Cirque went out of its way to try to be a club for rich regulars, to the point of giving noticeably poor service to newbie diners, on the apparent assumption that they were out of town hicks. This was long established; I ate there once in the 1980s when I was on an expense account and resolved never to go there again.

Class Warfare

Penn Plaza Matters Memorial March Against Gentrification. “Pittsburghers call on the City to purchase Penn Plaza Apartments for long-term affordable housing and to adopt policies to prevent city-wide displacement.” Dunno why the e-mal for a march on April 1 at noon hit my inbox at 5:41 PM on Friday, but it you are in Pittsburgh and can participate on short notice, I hope you will. “March begins at the corner of Penn Ave and Centre Ave in East Liberty and will end with call to action at Penn Plaza Apartments near the corner of Penn Ave and Negley Ave ” Contacts Crystal Jennings: 412-335-7093; Randall Taylor: 412-537-2564,; Helen Gerhardt: 412-518-7387,

How pharmacy benefit managers morphed from processors to predators Dave Dayen, American Prospect (furzy)

WILL ROBOTS REPLACE HUMAN DOCTORS? JSTOR. This is nuts. Interaction with doctors has major placebo effects. And I would not consent to being treated by a robot.

Antidote du jour. Lawrence R, from Spring Ledge Farm,New London, NH which sent this via e-mail:

Even with all the white stuff falling from the sky, we will have the scheduled seed sowing workshop tomorrow, Saturday April 1st, from 10-3.

Why are we still having the workshop in a snowstorm, you ask? Here are some reasons, in no particular order:

-It’s April dammit.

-And then there’s denial…that’s in play for sure.

-Plus we’re farmers, who just have to deal with the weather every day of the year, so no big whoop.

-And possibly stubbornness plays a role, As yankees, we don’t like to see things change.

-Although it could be pride; yup, I’m not proud to admit that pride does play a role.

And the picture caption is: “Floppy & Joe enjoying an exotic ray of sunshine.”

cute lambs links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. Susan the other

      A very astute federal Judge, Judge Christopher Klein. I wish someone would file some federal argument to bring before him the whole clouded title fiasco – all across the country this problem will persist forever until someone addresses it.

      1. screen screamer

        It would seem that the title problems in this country could be summed up as fraud. Clearly BOA had Ms. Green sign off on paperwork long after she had expired and BOA had taken payment of her paupers insurance.
        The fact that, I believe, and correct me if I am wrong, that all States Attorney’s had signed off on an agreement amongst the large banks to settle claims against them relative to the foreclosures for a paltry $25 billion, meant that home owners are forced to run the gamut by themselves.
        Add on the insult to injury of not prosecuting these large firms gave them the green light to continue this behavior without remorse as pointed out in many instances by Mr. Black amongst others.
        With the mention of BOA wanting to appeal this decision means this nightmare is no longer over for these folks and hopefully they may be vindicated in the end. I would also mention that the article does not say anything about their credit score, which of course has been damaged brutally. Hopefully this has been addressed in this case.
        As an afterthought, I wonder what the credit score of say BOA might be and whether or not we should extend to them the same courtesy when they come groveling to us for their next installment of cash. Would they be worthy of consideration of a massive loan or should we act like a free market society, the kind of which we have never known in our lifetimes, and let them go belly up and revoke their charters to do business. Of course if that happens, we may even rid ourselves of the drug trade that runs rampant in our neighborhoods, but that is a completely different subject matter.

    2. DJG

      From the middle of the article by David Dayen:

      –This unusual candor hints at executive culpability for foreclosure fraud. “The judge signaled something very important here, which every regulator knows,” said Eric Mains, a former FDIC official who left the agency to fight his own foreclosure case. “This kind of corrupt culture can only be maintained with knowing approval from the top executives.”–

      And this paragraph encapsulates why I think that so much of the bloviating about Trump as the bad businessman is in bad faith. This paragraph shows how many businesspeeps in the U S of A operate. (Carla Fiorina spring to mind?) So much of the tantruming and fainting among the critics of Trump is a false front: American businesses are poorly managed because there has been so much to steal for so long. Trump isn’t all that exceptional.

  1. craazyman

    Polar Bears in Scotland Fleeing Melting Icecap? — You’ve been April Fooled! Check out what it actually says in the Link. God Forbid anybody thinks clearly about reality! LOL

    This is hilarious ” It’s not inconceivable, say scientists, that as the island becomes overcrowded, the bears could one day head south to Glasgow. Polar bears, the most carnivorous members of the bear family, would likely be able to survive by scavenging in the city’s bins for discarded haggis, kebabs and other meat products.”

    Also, the Ameritrade banner ads are taking over the browser window and completely blocking access to the NC web site (this is not NC’s doing, to be sure). It happened to me this a.m. on an iPad and in Explorer on a laptop. It’s probably not Ameritrade’s fault either — probably a tech glitch — but what a horribly apt metaphor for the entire financial services industry nonetheless.

    1. katiebird

      WOW: The Ameritrade Banner thing is annoying. I couldn’t get past it in Safari… Finally just now swithed to FireFoxand got in. Is AmeriTrade doing a cruel joke on you guys??

      Ps Should we email you when things like this happen? I don’t want to annoy you but things like this can’t be good.

      1. crittermom

        I, too, had trouble with that damn ad. Took over a half-dozen tries before I was able to read the site.

            1. polecat

              You’all buyin into the idea of cell phones as a device of progress is laughable ! What’s not to crapify ?!

      2. Ian

        I switched from google to duckduckgo on my phone and that seemed to solve it. Dont know if its a bs rational but it worked for me.

        1. clinical wasteman

          In case it’s any use to anyone trying to pinpoint &/or bypass the problem, and by way of confirmation of what katiebird and Ian said: using a DuckDuckGo/Firefox combination as default settings (on desktop OS X 10.6), this has never happened.
          Then again I don’t think I’ve even seen that ad, so it could be a matter of geographical targeting (London — not Ontario, the other one — location), or an uncannily accurate cookies-trawl that concludes: “zero-assets basket case”.

          1. Dead Dog

            I think there is a mismatch between the technology being deployed to advertise, particularly using video, and the speed of the internet.

            I’m on fibre to house, 25MBS download, yet as soon as I go on a news site with the latest fandangled scripts running in their own windows, my fan boots in to help the processor. I then make a decision about whether the page is worth it and often just say no and close.

      3. different clue

        I had that same problem. I figured it was some kind of high level sabotage by people trying to destroy Naked Capitalism by poisoning access.

        If it was a particular ad and the people behind it who caused this, they should be subjected to a level of revenge that no one will ever forget . . . ideally by the systematic extermination of the company or companies involved from the face of the earth. It would take a readership of tens of millions to even try to make that happen, of course. But that should be the goal whenever something like this is caused to happen.

    2. makedoanmend

      The polar bear is not, I repeat, is NOT an April fools.

      There are purported sighting of the bear and Nessie stopping for photo ops this very a.m.

      On the other hand, haggis is definitely an April fools – but some people don’t get the joke, including my spouse, who actually eat it.

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      Sorry I’ve yelled at the ad service as of last night. No action. I’ve just pinged my WP guy, who is in CA and thus probably not in service yet. I’ll have him yank the ad code. Hopefully he sees my e-mail sooner rather than later.

      1. crittermom

        Thanks, Yves.
        Please note, that each of us responding did not give up in trying to access the site. You have loyal followers with tenacity and determination. No one will deny us our NC news!

      2. pricklyone

        Yves, I read here with box-stock Firefox, on a Windows machine. I have no ad-blocker add-ons.
        The only ad I have ever seen on your site is a small bar above the Links heading. (blank today).
        I must be holding my mouth right when I click, or something. It sure aint luck, cause I have none of that particular commodity. None.

    4. RabidGandhi

      Any way to divert the PBs away from working class Glasgow to posh Edinburgh? Maybe by showing them some of those kitschy Edinburgh airbnb listings?

    5. sleepy

      Though it’s an April fools joke, polar bear sightings in the outer Hebrides wouldn’t surprise me.

      I was in Newfoundland in May a few years ago–much of which is on the same latitude as northern Minnesota–and there were standard polar bear warnings in one of the provincial parks.
      Every year brings news of sightings close to towns, and even some break-ins at farm buildings.

      Apparently when the sea ice breaks up they get stranded on one of the ice sheets and float south until they hit the coast of Newfoundland where they scrounge around for food until they head back north or are airlifted out by the authorities.

  2. Jen

    Love the antidote from Lawrence R. Looking forward to stopping by Spring Ledge Farm when spring finally gets here. You never know where you’ll find another member of the NC commentariat!

    Since I’m an avid cross country skier, I’m one of the few of my acquaintance who is doing a happy dance as the white stuff piles up outside.

    1. petal

      Yes, I will be stopping by Spring Ledge as well next time I’m in New London and will make another trip down to pick strawberries. Very excited about supporting another NC reader. Already have seeds started or I’d have ventured down today for some fun. Jen, also doing a happy dance about the snow-my older brother thinks I’m crazy. Looking forward to taking some pictures outside. Lights have flickered a couple of times so who knows. Enjoy!

          1. Arizona Slim

            I agree! Would love to share that secret handshake with NC people who come to Tucson. And, of course, those who are already here.

  3. RabidGandhi

    The Paraguay Reichstag Fire is more complicated than what we get from the basic note from DW. First, it should be noted that the proposed term limit extensions were supported both by the current president and by the followers of the president his regime deposed, mildly leftist Fernando Lugo. So boiling this down to an Us Leftists vs Them Oligarchs ain’t gonna work here.

    Secondly, there is this from curent Minister of Interior Tadeo Rojas, who after trying to ‘splain why his security forces had fired on the crowd with rubber bullets, said the following:

    Security personnel from some congress members were the ones who started the provocation. Some members of congress came with the intent to start trouble. After the forces were repressed, they came forward with peace overatures, but at the outset, they were the ones who started it.

    Mandy Rice-Davies applies, but keeping in mind that the Right generally benefits from any democratic disruption, only a cynic would think yesterday’s events had much to do with term limits.

  4. RabidGandhi

    It’s a slippery slope; if the UK gives Spain back Gibraltar, then Spain will want back Torremolinos, then Benidorm… [canned laughter]

    Joking aside, the Gibraltar threat is a pretty paltry bargaining chip, mainly because no one will take it seriously. Whilst Treeza and her wingbats would love nothing more than to put on their Falklands paraphanelia and head to the situation room, it will take more than Prince Harry in fatigues to scare Brussels.

    1. Jim Haygood

      A more likely outcome is the good prince serving as the admiral of a massive sealift to return Gibraltar’s 30,001 souls to Blighty.

      Harry’s command ship, of course, will be the renowned HMS Boaty McBoatface.

      1. Clive

        The Duchess of Cornwall is, however, another matter. I was firmly put in my (rightfully subservient) place in a discussion about whole foods. They (the British government) should deploy her at once in a Task Force headed to Brussels. Followed by a panzer strike joining Princess Anne’s flank in Madrid.

        1. RabidGandhi

          You’re jumping the gun Clive. St Crispin’s day isn’t until October, although that would be best timing for the most favourable invasion winds and the post-season clearance sales.

          1. Steve H.

            Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
            And say, “These wounds I had on Crispin’s Day.”

            I’m reading Shapiro’s extraordinary account of 1599, and this speech is from ‘Henry the Fifth’ which was written as the musters were raising to quell the Irish uprising.

            I did not know that not only did Spenser write ‘The Fairie Queen’ but also the first zombie thriller. “Out of every corner of the woods and glens they came creeping forth upon their hands, for their legs could not bear them, they looked like anatomies of death, they spake like ghosts crying out of their graves, they did eat the dead carrions, happy where they could find them. Yea, and one another soon after, insomuch as the very carcasses they spared not to scrape out of their graves.”

        2. Arizona Slim

          I’m of Cornish descent. Which means that I have to jump in and say that the Duchess is English, not Cornish.

          1. Steve H.

            Oh, I don’t know. The Spenser quote above is from ‘A View of the Present State of Ireland” (1596). Having seen mass starvation at work, by 1598 he was advocating it as a policy against Eire.

            Too soon?

          2. clinical wasteman

            Except Argentina? (See above).
            Except in this case it’s not a competitive sport, more like an exquisite pincer movement.

    2. visitor

      Gibraltar will not be an issue with respect to reintegrating Spain, it will be an issue with respect to the free flow of goods and people with Spain — since Gibraltar is even more vitally dependent on that border remaining open than the UK itself with respect to the EU.

      The reason is simple: Ceuta and Melilla.

      As soon as the discussion about returning Gibraltar to Spain will come up, Morocco will immediately raise the issue of getting back those Spanish enclaves. And other countries will support Morocco in its claim — for who wants to allow a single country, even a NATO one, to hold both sides of the strategic Gibraltar straight? Besides, the Gibraltarians (?) might not want to become Spaniards.

      So yes, the EU will plainly threaten to isolate Gibraltar and let it wither if the UK does not relent on some other points — but it will never ask for Gibraltar back, for this leads to way too many complications.

      1. RabidGandhi

        Your point assumes a basic respect for logic that lamentably does not exist in the real world– or at least in the world of nationalist European diplomacy. To see this astounding ability to simultaneously hold two contradictory thoughts I invite you to find a Spaniard and discuss both Gibraltar and Ceuta/Melilla, as you will enter a new realm of cognitive dissonance. Secondly I suggest you ask a Cypriot how congenial the EU is to territorial claims, as it has now been two decades since we were promised that the beneficent EC would never stand a part of its sovereign territory to be occupied by a foreign power.

        It’s not that your logic is incorrect, but rather that you are looking for logic where none exists.

        1. visitor

          The deficiency of EU diplomats does not matter.

          As soon as a serious discussion on redrawing borders around the Gibraltar straight flares up, the other non-European permanent members of the UNO Security Council will weigh in right in the footsteps of Morocco.

          The Spaniards’ fancy notions of the national realm will not count, as the decisions to be taken will be way above their pay grade. And the remaining 26 EU countries will in the end decide that that Gibraltar affair is too bothersome, so screw Spain and let us postpone the matter to some indefinite future negotiation — just like for Cyprus…

          1. RabidGandhi

            The point is that it is whose territory that is being infringed upon by whom that matters, not appeals to some mythical subjective Westphalisan principles. Thus Spaniards infringing upon Moroccan territory is thoroughly acceptable, while the UK infringing upon Spanish territory is just as Westphalian: because of this accepted European hierarchy.

            Based on this utter contempt for rule of law by Europe, there is no reason to ever expect that respect for the EU and its lofty (/snark) principles may somehow trump longstanding European hierarchichal precedent.

            1. visitor

              I fully agree with your exposition of the territorial situation of UK vs. Spain vs. Morocco and the corresponding precedence of affirmed legitimacies.

              Nevertheless, I repeat my argument: the real world powers will not accept that one country physically controls both sides of the Gibraltar straight.

              Morocco’s demands of sovereignty against the remnants of the Spanish colonial past will serve as a perfect vector/conduit/justification with a nicely plausible “rule of international law” packaging for the USA, Russia and China to prevent that situation from happening.

              Then, whatever internal pecking order is in effect within the EU will simply not matter in that geo-strategic game.

            2. St Jacques

              AFAIK Gibraltar’s legal situation is still controlled by the Treaty of Utrecht (1713) that was signed at the end of the War of Spanish Succession. Remember, the Grand Coalition (which included the UK, Netherlands, Austria, Spanish Habsburg loyalists, et al) seized Gibraltar as a base for a (failed) attempt to replace the new Bourbon dynasty of Spain (represented by the grandson of Louis XIV) with the Austrian Habsburg pretender connected to the previous Spanish Habsburg line. In the end, the Bourbons got to keep their new Spanish throne and Gibraltar was offered to the British as a consolation prize to get out of the war. This is why Gib can not be legally made part of the UK, since any change in it’s status requires it to be handed back. Anyway, isn’t the Rock’s main industry money laundering for the global elite and corporations, no? I don’t see that in the case of Cueta/Melilla.

              1. St Jacques

                I forgot to make explicit the point that Gibraltar’s money laundering business is made possible by its special legal status, while Cueta and Melilla are legally just part of Spain and as such are under the same Spanish and EU laws as any other part of Spain. Hence, I get the sense that this gnashing of the teeth at Spanish perfidy really is driven in large part by those financial interests.

  5. Jim Haygood

    Craazyman Fund had a good month, while its benchmark (a traditional 50/50 mix of S&P 500 stocks and the Bloomberg Barclays Aggregate Bond index) was flat in March.

    Since inception 13 months ago, Craazyman Fund has returned 18.05% vs an 11.52% gain for the benchmark. Chart:

    Craazyman Fund consists of 50% junk bonds, 30% emerging market stocks, and 20% gold bullion.

    1. craazyman

      I should have bought it when I had the chance! If I buy it now it will go down starting the next day.

      That’s what I should do. Start a hedge fund, but the deal would be whatever trades I make, the fund takes the opposite side of the trade with double leverage. It should be a 10-bagger for my investors! If I raise enough money, maybe my 2 and 20 fee can offset the losses on my own portfolio.

    2. Clive

      Take profits now I say. It can’t last! I’m calling the top of the market. Yes, I know, again, just like I do every month.

    1. UserFriendly

      Once again quality writing from places you’d least expect it. The whole dystopian series there is rather good.

    2. Bugs Bunny

      I didn’t know that MTV had an editorial line until now. I thought their politics was “anything that young people will click”.

      Then again, maybe “dystopia” is what young people will click :(

  6. timbers

    I see a pattern.

    1). Britain Demands That Twitter, Facebook, Google Tackle Extremism Fortune (Links today 04/01/2017)

    2). “Russians used ‘Bernie Bros’ as ‘unwitting agents’ in disinformation campaign: Senate Intel witness” [Raw Story]. (Links yesterday 03/31/2017)

    Granted it’s two different governments but it’s not hard to see this getting to Bernie Bros were unwitting agents of the “encrypted extremism” promoted by Russia and therefore must be banned and suppressed by the government, Twitter, Facebook, Google.

    1. LT

      Well, fear mongering is the number 1 weapons sales tactic.
      Once that article popped up naming websites, the one that sounded like it was written by Joe McCarthy’s ghost, it put their blame shifting goal into focus.

  7. RenoDino

    What Caused the Downfall of New York City’s Glitziest Restaurant? Bloomberg.

    Totally self-serving piece by Bloomberg in defense of why the restaurant failed. This was a meeting club and watering hole for the city’s elite. Being seen and recognized by the staff and your fellow diners was more important than what’s on the menu. For decades, the oligarchs who rule New York found fellowship there and Bloomy ended that great tradition when he raised Le Cirque’s rent after their lease expired and kicked them to the curb. It was his building and he had other plans for that space. Since then, he’s been hearing about it from his peers. The fact is, they won’t shut up about it, so we have this hit piece two years later about Le Cirque’s demise justified on the basis that they were out of step with the times and their food and service were marginal at best. Bloomy put a whole in the heart of the his mega-rich pals and this article will not mollify them. Le Cirque was where you took your wife on your anniversary and where you took your new wife to meet your friends. Nothing has come along since in New York to replace that warm and wonderful ambience for the .01%.

      1. PhilM

        Damn right. While we’re at it, let’s clap our hands when the humane farmers go bankrupt, because it’s only the poor rich guys who would miss that stuff anyway.

  8. Carolinian

    Le Cirque….isn’t that where Truman Capote and Lee Radziwill used to hang out? Sad!

    Around here we trade gossip and quips over the fine dining offered by the local Burger King.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Our local pizza joint is sponsoring a bikini motorcycle wash in June. It’s doubtful that any customer of Le Cirque ever arrived on two wheels other than the late Malcolm Forbes, whose motorcycle club was called the Capitalist Tools [priapic reference no doubt intentional].

      Wikipedia: Donald Trump, in his 1990 memoir Trump: Surviving at the Top, alleged that his temporary removal from the Forbes 400 in the year Forbes died was due to a feud that had arisen after Trump didn’t allow Forbes to bring “two young men who appeared to be well under the legal drinking age” into the bar at the Plaza Hotel. Trump stated that Forbes “lived openly as a homosexual … but expected the media and his famous friends to cover for him.”

      Two wheels good, four wheels b-b-b-b-a-a-a-a-d-d-d-d. ;-)

      1. Carolinian

        There’s still the Twenty One Club where Burt Lancaster uttered the immortal words “match me, Sidney” to Tony Curtis in Sweet Smell of Success. Chelsea Clinton has her own personal wine pick stocked in their cellars.

        1. Bugs Bunny

          I just watched Sweet Smell of Success last week. Such a devastating movie. It’s odd how the 21 looks so much like my parents’ basement (and I’m old).

      2. fresno dan

        Jim Haygood
        April 1, 2017 at 9:44 am

        Astounding wit!!!! A+++++++++++
        Best thing I’ve read so far this year.

  9. Edna M.

    “How a Cruel Foreclosure Drove a Couple to the Brink of Death”
    In the Judge’s words, “Franz Kafka lives… he works at Bank of America.” It is good to know there are some honorable and bold judges out there. It gives one some faith in the judicial system, which is good at times like these when we have little faith in our institutions.

    1. crittermom

      I think judge Christopher Klein is my new hero, but it would have to happen a million times over for me to have any faith in our judicial system ever again.

      1. justanotherprogressive

        Maybe Klein’s actions will inspire the growth of a backbone in other judges hearing these cases because the Sundquists aren’t the only ones dealing with this. Read David Dayen’s book, “Chain of Title” if you really want to be depressed.

        1. Susan the other

          That could be a federal case, and might have been already had it not been for Obama’s interference. Aiding and abetting the banksters.

          1. crittermom

            “…had it not been for Obama’s interference. Aiding and abetting the banksters.”
            Totally agree.

        2. crittermom

          “Maybe Klein’s actions will inspire the growth of a backbone in other judges…”

          Maybe if what you say had happened a decade ago, we wouldn’t still be spinning from the Greatest Financial Fraud in the History of Mankind.

  10. Keenan

    RE: American Healthcare:

    Karl Denninger proposes a plan of actionable items to permanently fix the healthcare problem. The essence of the plan is contained in the bold-font bullet points headlining the first dozen short paragraphs of his article:

    with the balance of his essay further elaborating on the details.

    I suggest that the fundamental logic of Denninger’s thesis might be denied only by those of whom Upton Sinclair wrote: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

    1. Pat

      And I suggest the fundamental lack of logic in Denninger’s thesis might be expressed by the same thing.

      I give him credit for at least taking the market based healthcare to its logical conclusion if you consider health care a market, i.e. it has to have the same rules as a book store, with some penalties for trying to game it. But for those of us who think of health care as both a right AND a public good there are some distinct issues with the whole how do you afford health care if you are not considered poor in a society that has vastly low poverty levels. Nor does it even consider the ability of our for profit medical community to commune on price fixing, and not to mention having some dicey medical statistics to support its right to punish people because you don’t like their lifestyle.

      IOW, it is past time to jettison any idea of health care as a market. This plan included.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Denninger’s had a bug up his ass about carbs and diabetics since he got health religion several years ago. There’s no one he likes to dump on more than those wanton diabetics who refuse to convert to his church of the formerly unhealthy eaters, except possibly illegals who partake of the generous gift of american healthcare for free.

        Here’s an alternative to his “whereas and shall not plan.”

        Every provider charges the same price for the same service–the Medicare price. You can have your “free market competition” based on service and results, and adjust your business expenditures accordingly. Nobody has more money to spend than anybody else. If you feel better having an insurance company ration your coverage and write the checks for you, you can pay them for the service, but they can’t pay any more than any other plan.

        Drug companies can’t charge any more than the lowest price they accept for the same drug anywhere on the planet. The lowest price. Let the drug companies, pharmacy benefit managers and any other hangers on fight it out on how the “profits” are distributed. Not my problem.

        Strip the ama of its stranglehold on credentialing providers and specifying who can do what. Emphasize primary care specific to local conditions and problems, and put an end to the price-setting by over-abundant, preening specialists deciding how much their services are worth.

        End all medical / pharmaceutical direct-to-consumer advertising without delay or exception.

        That ought to shake things up a bit.

        1. cripes


          I like how you think.

          For too long, even reformers and single payer advocates have been trapped in acceptance of the fundamental structure of the American health racket. The incessant gaming and brutal wealth extraction of the american health “consumer” must be broken. We pay more than any country for insane drug prices.

          A planetary price base for pharmaceuticals is a good start.

      2. jrs

        it’s a mixed bag, certainly some of the ideas there seem desirable (I do wish it was easier to get simple blood tests and to get medical records, and who can object to lower drug prices). Others would be awful.

      3. Keenan

        Pat – You might not like his thesis, but you can’t claim it to be without logic.

        RE: your comment – there are some distinct issues with the whole how do you afford health care if you are not considered poor in a society that has vastly low poverty levels.

        If perhaps you didn’t read his essay completely, take a few moments to review the final section which begins: “Now on to some personal examples of expected financial outcomes….”

      4. Carla

        For just a moment, let’s set aside health care as a “right.”

        Why isn’t health care as a “public good” fully enough? Is THAT the question we have forgotten to ask?

        1. Dead Dog

          The public good of a healthy population is true, until you look at the food, shelter and other stuff they consume before they die /s

          I think the questions about greed and ethics need to be directed to the clinicians, as some of the greediest people I have ever met (aside lawyers) are the doctors and dentists. Right up there with everyone else who has been stealing from our pockets in plain sight.

    2. marym

      How about the person “covered” through their employment, which is most of the population? Your employer would see thousands of dollars a year in cost reduction, and even more in his liability insurance premiums would disappear. For the average family of four the premiums covered by your employer are likely close to $10,000 a year. That is salary that you will receive.


  11. Toshiro_Mifune

    Re: Walmart vs. Amazon. Is this a fight Walmart can possibly win? I’ve been watching Walmart “refocus” on ecommerce sales for at least a decade now each time with the declaration that “this time we’re serious”. The strategy always seems to be the same; free shipping on in store pick ups! Which ignores the fact that I don’t want to go to Walmart in the first place which is why I’m ordering online.
    You don’t necessarily shop from Amazon because it has the lowest prices. You shop from Amazon because they make it incredibly convenient. I can do it from home, from work, on the bus commute, in the middle of a conference call.
    As an online retailer Amazon really has the “first place to go to” space locked up. I don’t see how Walmart can beat that especially given the perception and actuality of their stores being just really depressing places to be.
    Couple that with; Amazon isn’t even a retailer, they’re a logistics company. A really good logistics company. Anyone who has shopped online a lot has to have noticed how many other e-retailers ship from Amazon warehouses. So they have multiple revenue streams other than pure retail to rely on not including their hosting services.
    How can Walmart compete against that?
    I’m not saying this to laude Amazon. We all know their problems with warehouse employees and their drive to automate every last position they can. But… as crappy as Walmart jobs are, at least they’re jobs. If Walmart succumbs to Amazon how many more unemployed do we then have with no prospect for them of getting something better to replace it? Copy and paste for Amazon vs Macy’s or Sears or the malls in general.
    It seems this is a dire situation with impending death of a large number of physical retailers and I have no idea on how they’re supposed to compete much less come out on top.
    God help us all of Amazon decides to go all out on selling something like autos and pushes that sector off a cliff as well.
    Sorry for the rambling and lack of coherence.

    1. a different chris

      >in the middle of a conference call.

      Ah yes you have meetings like that too I see.

      1. Clive

        Over the past few years I developed a strategy that I never accept conference call meeting invites (if I did, my calendar would be booked out from nine o’clock to five o’clock pretty much solid) and let the default Outlook response — my TBTF is, natch, a MS Exchange shop — of “tentative” sit there. The vast majority of the time, I’m not missed at all.

        On the odd occasions I seem to have actually been needed, I get an email with the usually straightforward question that only I can answer. It takes 5 minutes of my time instead of sitting there on mute half paying attention for half an hour or even, shudder, an hour.

        This approach allows me to (cough) “add value” by doing some proper work. Now, the value I add is fairly meagre. But then again, at least I am not value-destructive like most people I have to work with.

        1. RabidGandhi

          I’m confused. Where are we supposed to find time for NC if we eliminate conference calls?

    2. justanotherprogressive

      Walmart isn’t doing much to help its case, either. Have you been to a Walmart lately? My Walmart is cutting down on cashiers trying to get everyone to use the self-service kiosks. But those self-service kiosks are crammed together, there is no room to put all your groceries and purchases up so you basically have to get yourself another cart and transfer goods from one cart to the other. But they don’t really allow room for two carts – one of your carts will have to block another kiosk. So basically there are kiosks that can’t be used, especially when Walmart is busiest. Since you are bagging yourself, it takes longer, the scanner doesn’t recognize mark-downs, and in general, it is a pretty crappy experience. Soooo….you can wait in line to get to a human or you can wait in line to get to a kiosk…..
      I’ve always wanted to ask someone in Walmart’s hierarchy why they think that completely bad service like this will in any way give them an edge over Amazon……

      1. Dead Dog

        My local Woolworths, one cashier is the floor. When that banks up, they will reluctantly bring out another. I think, what c…ts, who the f…k gave them the license to do this to our communities.

        I will not queue for a robot. I don’t know, I just don’t like the way they look at me

    3. HotFlash

      April 1, 2017 at 11:17 am

      Have I been in a Walmart lately? No. Maybe twice in my life, that was before I figured out what they were about. Amazon? Maybe half a dozen times, ditto reason. Now I use them for the reviews, then buy local (after much research, I bought an induction hotplate ystrdy from my local hardware store, love it!). For books, Powell’s — they are union, although a coop would be better.

      They only let us vote for reps every 2-4 years, but I can vote with my dollars And I do.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          I love reading the reviews on amazon, particularly the ones that give something 5 stars because it was “almost” the same color as the reviewer thought it was going to be.

          I don’t know what’s been crapified more–the actual products or customers’ expectations. “I only gave it 4 stars because it wasn’t really what I expected but it’s too much trouble to return so I’m keeping it.”

          amazon isn’t “shopping,” it’s buying. There’s a difference.

          1. bronco

            Amazon gave 5 stars to hellary clinton’s books. All guaranteed bestsellers (all sales went to the Clinton Foundation) . Seems to me L Ron Hubbard sold millions of books the same way (Scientology’s 11teenth commandment “thou Shaft purchase all his books”)

            Scientology and Clintontology two peas in a pod

            1. kareninca

              Not all Amazon reviews are fake. You can paste the Amazon product name into this site and see if the seller is faking a bunch of their reviews: Okay, I don’t know that it works, but it matches what I seem to see.

      1. mareiann

        April 1, 2017
        “I can vote with my dollars”
        It’s heartening to hear another person say this. I have been doing it for years. I know it probably won’t make a difference in the great scheme of things but it makes me feel good.
        I shop local at every opportunity and buy local whenever possible.
        When we bought our last Ford car, we wanted one made in Canada…which wasn’t possible, the one we wanted was made in Mexico, we were ready to walk away till they found us one made in Flatrock, Michigan….close enough.

        1. timotheus

          And even better: using actual dollars instead of plastic. They’re anonymous and fun.

        2. marym

          I shop local and online. In both cases nearly everything I’ve bought (and I did some replenishing and redecorating a few years ago) is made in US. It’s an interesting experience searching for what’s available. I’m skeptical that appliances were much more than assembled here, though.

        3. Toshiro_Mifune

          I’d be happy to buy from a mom and pop store, but there’s just none left other than restaurants.
          Barnes and Noble crushed all of the small bookstores in the early 90s. Home Depot and Lowe’s did the same for hardware. All of the small family run appliance stores are long gone. The small electronic places were killed buy Best Buy and Circuit City. The closest thing to a family run camera store for me would be B&H, which is taking Amazon as its queue for warehouse employees. Hell, Meridian has slowly consumed most of the local health care on top of it. There really just aren’t many options at all.
          Add in to this; where do I find the time? I’ve got 3 hrs worth of commuting each day which doesn’t leave much room for any shopping. Especially since there is almost nothing by my job.
          So the default is, Amazon. Even if I know what they’re employment practices are like.

          1. marieann

            I am lucky in that I am retired and do have time to check around. I do remember how hard it was to shop ethically when I worked. All I could do back then was be a non consumer (also known as cheap) we never went into debt except for the big things like mortgages and car payments. I can’t even imagine a 3hr commute, it must be hell.

            I also know I’m lucky that I live in Canada where the social safety net is a given.
            I’m also a boomer…so when I started out there was no big box stores or wallmart and credit was not as easily obtained, so consumer spending was not as easy as it is today.
            I think the world today is made just to spend and shop, and that’s the way the big money wants it.

            We do have small bookstore,it is part of a chain, but it is a Canadian one and I do have to order online sometimes….but it’s not amazon

        1. Toshiro_Mifune

          Yeah, I had seen that. What are the chances Walmart corporate meddles enough to kill any chance Jet has of competing.

    4. lyman alpha blob

      I find it fascinating that both these companies are run by multi-billionaires and yet the only way they can think of to stay in business is to put the screws to their suppliers which means more crapification and lower wages for everybody if the suppliers relent.

      Funny that it never seems to occur to them they they could also offer lower prices by decreasing their own compensation.

      1. HBE

        My god are you insane. That would mean fewer jobs in all those tax havens and for the wealth managers of the world.

        And that would mean less disposable income for buying propagan… I mean newspapers. /S

        While they are at it maybe instead of forcing suppliers to decimate and attack their workers they could start paying their own employees a living wage.

        Currently they are eating themselves alive, what happens to almighty growth when you exploit so much of the global population that no one can afford to buy your cheap garbage.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Isn’t it interesting that this comes of the day Bezos is anointed as the 2nd richest man in the world.
          Teddy Roosevelt knew how pernicious monopoly trusts were, today we seem to think their owners are nice, well-meaning heroes and cultural icons, not carpetbagging predators.
          And how very sad, having destroyed Main Street brick and mortar, Amazon is now launching…Main Street brick and mortar. Only instead of the money going to Mom and Pop it goes straight offshore, just another zero in a multi-billionaire’s accounts, and to fund the owner’s preference for the Democrat version of corporo-fascism over anything else, through his personal blog Washington Post.

          1. Dead Dog

            When are ‘we’ going to be more vocal toward Bezos and ilk. There’s not nearly enough societal pressure on them to employ their capital ethically in giving people good jobs in the communities in which they operate.

    5. alopex

      Only if I really need some item and cannot find it in a local store (except Walmart and some others), do I order online. Last month it was a vaccum cleaner attachment, which Amazon Prime advertised at $15.31. I ordered it directly from Amazon’s “partner”, $11.99 with free shipping. This was my second online purchase this year, and the first was a similar experience. Guess why I avoid Amazon, apart from principles.

      1. juliania

        If you are poor, you probably don’t have this kind of choice any longer. You shop where you can get to with public transportation, and that is most likely a Walmart. Or if you really want to and can take a whole day, you take a train to a larger city that has still some mom and pop stores. But even so, it’s possible to have your say at these big megastores that have monopolized the landscape. You can still shop organic only, and don’t ever use the automatic tellers because people need jobs! Even crappy ones.

        And poor people don’t shop online. Ever.

    6. alex morfesis

      yup, sears & woolworth & spiegels are…oops…walmart and amazon are unstoppable…being # 1 means never having to worry about…sinclair, tandy, commodore, texas instruments, atari…heathkit, magnavox, emerson, coleco, osborne, kaypro, elektronika(oops…sorry volodya…)

    7. Carla

      @Toshiro_Mifune — I’m so confused. Given your thoroughly thought out and well-expressed comment, how can you AFFORD to shop at Amazon? I know I can’t.

      In fact, in the long run it’s cheaper for me to pay more to a local small business, because by doing so I am supporting part of the infrastructure of a functioning community. While by buying from Amazon, I would be supporting the annihilation of that community and a very important part of all I really hold dear. So the prices at Amazon are astronomical for me. The question is, why are they within the realm of reason for you?

    8. curlydan

      I think Walmart is in trouble with their battle with Amazon, BUT they have drastically expanded their free shipping to most items. I ordered 2 basketball backboards from them…free shipping, just as good of a price as Amazon or better. And I could return them to the store (and unpleasant as that is) for free. They are attacking Amazon without the $80-$100 per year Prime cost. Where Walmart likely will fail is that its stock price already has long-standing profits priced in. Amazon and its shareholders are more content to skirt by on little profits or losses

      1. cnchal

        > Where Walmart likely will fail is that its stock price already has long-standing profits priced in. Amazon and its shareholders are more content to skirt by on little profits or losses

        It seems to me, that the greater risk of either stawk cratering is Amazon.

        From the linked article:

        One piece of the battle, executives say, is an Amazon algorithm that works to match or beat prices from other websites and stores. Former Amazon employees say it finds the lowest price per unit or per ounce for a given product — even if it’s in a huge bulk-size pack at Costco — and applies it across the same type of good on Amazon, even when the pack size is much smaller.

        So let’s imagine Costco is selling a pack of 10 bags of Doritos for $10 — or $1 per bag. Amazon’s algorithm notes that one bag is $1 at Costco and, in turn, lowers the price on Amazon of a single bag of Doritos to $1.

        That is a great deal for customers — something that is likely driving the decision at Amazon, where an obsession with customer value dominates its strategy.

        But now, Amazon is selling individual items at Costco prices while not getting the same wholesale price that Costco enjoys. In short, it’s going to be really hard for Amazon to turn a profit on those goods.
        . . . . .

        In some instances, Amazon is willing to lose money for some period of time on a product it feels it has to have. Jeff Bezos’s company knows, after all, that it has to continue to increase its selection in non-perishable grocery goods if it is going to really challenge Walmart in the $800 billion category.

        But, more so than in the past, Amazon is ratcheting up the pressure on manufacturers of goods that the online retailer is unable to sell for a profit, executives say. Separate from the algorithm, brands are also facing the realization that their products that are sold profitably in stores may become unprofitable online when shipping costs are factored in.

        Unprofitable items are known inside Amazon as CRaP products — the acronym stands for “Can’t Realize a Profit.” And Amazon is not afraid to kick off big and small brands alike.

        A new name for business idiocy, Amazon CRaP

    9. different clue

      Well . . . people who want their favorite analog meatspace stores to survive will do their shopping at those stores. If enough people keep shopping at those stores, inSTEAD of shopping at Amazon then maybe those stores will survive.

      Perhaps the higher prices and time-taken inconvenience of buying things at the analog meatspace stores is the price of having a decent society.

  12. Charles Myers

    They will hire actors to act like doctors and have robots looking in from the camera in the patients room.

    Actors will be paid by their bedside manner. They will install the Uber 5 star system.

    No mention of what will happen to all the pen pushers.

  13. CRS

    With them it was always the dollars, always the effin dollars.

    In regards to the California universal healthcare bill, progressives should push for dynamic scoring — not on the revenue side but on the cost side.

    1. Cujo359

      After labor unions had spent all that effort recalling Gov. Walker, the Wisconsin Democrats nominated the same anti-union candidate who had lost to him two years earlier. Whether it’s symbolic because they just couldn’t find any pro-union candidates prominent enough to run, or because that was really an indication of how little the Democrats in Wisconsin thought of their union support, that decision showed me they were no longer capable of representing the interests of anyone but themselves.

      1. Marina Bart

        And then the union bosses showed how little they cared about their membership by backing Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. I realize not all of them did, but far too many chose their own status over those they are paid to serve. Instead, they served them up.

        I know they would claim they did it to keep from making things worse, but if you’re in union leadership and you still honestly believe that, you’re useless and should be removed from power. And I would hope Clinton vs. Trump has finally demonstrated the falseness of that argument. If the Democrats do succeed in returning to power via a Red Scare, I doubt the union movement will benefit.

        1. Cujo359

          There’s no doubt that union bosses, among other progressive interests, have made their own beds. That could be part of the reason Wisconsin went the way it did. Certainly, at the national level the unions have been willing to put up with just about anything the Democrats were willing to do to them. As long as conventional wisdom is that you “work with” Democrats, union leaders aren’t going to risk their jobs by trying to punish the Dems when they screw working people.

          This is one of the reasons I keep emphasizing that if progressives are ever going to get what we want, we need to get over the idea that supporting one party no matter what is the way to gain the changes we want.

          1. Marina Bart


            I don’t know if it’s possible to get enough people to understand that. I’ve been dragged into online fights with idiots over this just in the last 24 hours. I don’t think they’re Brock hires. I think they’re just deluded civvies. I don’t even get mad anymore at the agnotology they spread. It bores me.

            As a practical matter, it’s likely the Dems will take some seats in 2018 — structural forces, history of mid-terms, etc. That would be bad because it would keep the donor money flowing, and slow down any path to progress. I’m guessing as things get closer, the left will need to find some way to stop the Ds from taking those stray flippable seats. I’m not a political pro, so I’m not sure how to manage that. But it needs to happen, even if those seats go to utter whack jobs on the right — that right wing policy gets executed regardless. Removing the obstacle of corporate Democrats so the left can finally fight without its hands tied behind its back seems to me to be the ONLY solution.

            1. Carla

              The corporate Dems ain’t going anywhere. The only way is a long, hard road: starting another party. Its slogan could be: “What this country needs is a 2nd party. So vote for us.”

              1. Marina Bart

                The obstacles to a successful third party are possibly worse than purging out the corporatist Dems. I like your slogan, though. Use it!

                I’m going to keep repeating this until either Yves tells me to stop or I start seeing other people pointing this out: all roads run through weakening the corporate Democrats. As long as activists work against them, they are helping the future — whether you work on a third party, or changing the Dems at the grassroots organizational level, or back a primary challenger. The only thing we need to agree on is to never, ever vote for ANY corporatist Democrat at ANY level of government, at EVERY stage of the process. Not merely in the primaries.

                They’re already very weak. We don’t need that many more scalps to make it clear to the donors they’re wasting their money. These are parasites that will do anything for money and status. We just need to take that away from them.

                1. JohnnyGL

                  Don’t cease the seething hatred for corp Dems. They’re the enemy. Based on the war for public opinion, a Sanders-voter couldn’t be happier with the way things have gone since the election. TPP dead and buried, Republican health care plan dead and buried.

                  Bizarrely, electing Trump seems to have energized the Dem base to abuse their congressional reps into growing a spine and walking their talk.

                  Trump’s election also has corporate Dems in such a psychological crisis that they’re locked in this ridiculous and deeply unpopular Russia-related witch hunt. It’s brought Dems close to their worst unfavorability ratings in four years.


                  The round-the-clock Trump hate hasn’t shown any upside for the Dems.

                  On the other hand, Bernie himself is breaking out to new highs!


  14. LT

    Re: Huffpo…Dems on Infrastructure

    I’m afraid Pelosi was correct about the infrastructure plan from Trump/Pence/Ryan. It will be tax cuts and taxpayer subsidies for their friends and toll roads and fees for those friends to rip current and successive generations.
    But the Freedom Caucus may hold it up over any oversight of the funds from government. They’ll whine like babies. They like their welfare with no strings attached.

    1. jo6pac

      Yep, she’s right until she can get some friends and di-fi hubby some free money. It the demodog way.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Actually, no. They are proposing tax equity credits. The market for that is small and the deals are very much bespoke, which = time consuming. So not much would get done, ergo correspondingly not much in giveaways.

  15. From Cold Mountain

    On “The Anti-Trump Movement In North Carolina Has The Potential To Flip The South”;

    This is pure neoliberal self praise and delusion. I live in Chapel Hill, NC (for 17 years) and the separation of wealth here is disgusting. People here call themselves progressives but are fine with developers building “luxury apartments” to solve the housing crisis. Those apartments are going for $1600 for one bedroom. They only care about social issues, but not the poor.

    The Research Triangle Park is in two bubbles; one is a neoliberal bubble and the other is a debt funded college bubble. When the second bubble bursts, and it will, it is going to be deviating here.

    Note that Julia Craven, the author, was a student at UNC Chapel Hill, graduated in 2014. So I can only assume she is trying to keep the neoliberal dream alive to help pay off her debt.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      One bedroom apartments for $1600?

      Who rents those?

      What is essential?

      Food, including safe drinking water.

      Health Care.


      Those should be free before free college tuition.

      The college bubble (debt funded or not,, because robots, H1B visas and job outsourcing) benefits not the students, but those getting paid now via the bubble, with promised money (yes, think of the fantastic careers after graduation) for the students tomorrow.

      1. Marina Bart

        One bedrooms in my formerly middle-class neighborhood go for much more than that. But the generic small houses with no yards around here now go for $2 million+, so I think the only real alternatives are two hour commutes to barren wastelands with no community services. (Think the season of Arrested Development when Michael was camped out in a failed development with no water, cell service or postal delivery.)

        That’s how they get cha.

  16. RenoDino

    Lovable Aunt Peggy Nooners can’t quite bring herself to clutch her pearls over Trump’s madcap first 70 days, but she’s definitely concerned about what she sees. She’s still looking for her dear Ronnie to make a surprise entrance stage right at any moment. Very sweet and sentimental of her to read into Trump the promise of that golden time. There was so much wisdom on display back in those days in the White House and so little wisdom coming out of it today that it may be time to take a deep breath and make friends instead of enemies. She still has the highest hopes for our Lord of Chaos (my words, not hers).
    I wish she could serve tea and cookies to the whole country.

  17. LT

    Re: WalMart/Amazon price war…

    The biggest corporations will survive. They’ll make deals that smaller companies can’t afford.

    The music biz, just pre-MP3, was already falling victim to WalMarts and Targets using music as a loss leader to drive traffic to their stores. It was where one baught the cheapest CDs, but the selection was from the major label distributors. It had the effect of making life damn near impossible for independent or small chain record retailers.

  18. allan

    Why old-fashioned highway rest stops are disappearing [USA Today]

    For more than half a century, old-fashioned, no-frills highway rest stops have welcomed motorists looking for a break from the road, a bathroom or a picnic table where they can eat lunch.

    But in some states, these roadside areas are disappearing.

    Cash-strapped transportation agencies are shuttering the old ones to save money, or because they don’t attract enough traffic or are in such bad shape that renovating them is too costly. Or, the stops have been overtaken by tourist information centers, service plazas that take in revenue from gasoline and food sales, or commercial strips off interstate exits. …

    But advocates of maintaining traditional rest areas say even if motorists are offered flashier options for pit stops, the ones that sprung up as highways did are still needed for driver safety and convenience. Some view them as a tranquil, environmentally friendly alternative to crowded service plazas and commercial strips. …

    Tranquil? Environmentally friendly? Who are these people? Don’t they know that we were put on this Earth for our three score and ten (plus or minus) to contribute to the GDP?

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      This is a travesty.

      As an experienced road-tripper, I can state, without equivocation, that there are no better restrooms than those one finds at rest stops. I will endure and have endured unspeakable agony to get to one. And in my experience, there are plenty of others who feel the same way.

      I can pack my own snacks and drinks in a cooler for a lot less money and a whole lot better nutrition, but you’ll have to pry those clean, fresh air flooded restrooms with tons of available stalls, plenty of soap and hand dryers, and friendly fellow travelers out of my cold, dead hands.

      This is most definitely NOT snark. Is nothing sacred?

      1. cocomaan

        I have some great memories of wooded rest stops from when I was a kid. My brother and I would run around in the woods and stretch our legs while my parents rested. Then we’d eat cheese sandwiches. One time my brother got chased by a goose at a rest stop, if memory serves. Good times.

        1. Linda

          More good times:

          A fond memory from my youth is stopping at a roadside rest stop on a Texas to California road trip. Yes, good bathrooms. We had plenty of non- perishables packed and had dinner. Fell asleep on a beautiful lawn and were rudely awakened when automatic sprinklers went on! :) Scrambling and laughing. Such a good trip.

    2. Darius

      More environmentally friendly than building a new interchange to encourage new gas stations, big boxes, fast food drive-thrus, secondary commercial roads, green field subdivisions and other subsidized sprawl. None of it generates enough tax money to pay for the infrastructure or its maintenance and eventual replacement. See the Strong Towns blog.

    3. RabidGandhi

      While it’s sickening to watch the US shed all of the civilised trappings that once set it apart from from the Third World (and which so many of us Thirdworlders gaped at in admiration and envy), even more sickening is the obliviousness of the US population to what they have lost. Much of it is stripped away in slow enough motion that most do not even see the horrid collapse. Furthermore so much of the populace has been geniously kept distracted working three jobs, divorced from intergenerational community, and/or otherwise struggling for subsistence that they cannot see the transformation. But those of us on the outside do.

      1. JustAnObserver

        They paved paradise
        And put up a parking lot
        With a pink hotel, a boutique
        And a swinging hot spot

        Don’t it always seem to go
        That you don’t know what you’ve got til its gone
        They paved paradise
        And put up a parking lot

        Joni Mitchell – Big Yellow taxi

        The decay of the “Last, Best, Hope” has been a long time in the making.

      2. screen screamer

        This is an event that has not gone unnoticed. It’s on a scale that seems incomprehensible. Baltimore has turned into a hell hole with barely standing hovels in which people live. Frankly, I don’t know if the people pay rent there or just live in these places to keep themselves from the elements.
        And you are right, the family has taken the brunt of the trauma through health care schemes, asset strip mining via inheritance taxes and progressive tax schemes that are vague to the point of being absolutely confounding to professional accountants.
        I am surprised that there has not been torches and pitch forks at state houses across the land to address this skim.

    4. Carl

      You need to try a few down here in Texas. Whatever the faults of the state (and there are many) we know how to do a rest stop right. I’m thinking right now of the one just outside Seguin on the way from San Antonio to Houston. It’s the best one I’ve ever visited, hands down. There’s a nature trail, kids playground, a tiny museum, and wood beams and twenty foot high ceilings in the main building. It’s almost like a destination in itself. I mean, we do believe in driving quite a bit here, so it has a certain logic to it.

  19. JTMcPhee

    “Meet the New Drone, Same as the Old Drone– How to manage Trump’s remote self-control?”

    Why are there no peace marches, or anti-DoD-swallowing-Everything marches? And why the steady increase in the power of the Imperial Overlord?

    “What makes that such a difficult task is average citizens being deliberately insulated from the effects of militarism. As Daniel May recently wrote in The Nation, ”We don’t want to pay for missions that lack a clear rationale, so the money is borrowed from future generations. We refuse to allow our soldiers to be killed, so the government attacks its enemies with flying robots and outsources much of the fieldwork to private contractors. We don’t want to face the cost of our foreign entanglements, so a smaller percentage of our country is asked to serve, and serve longer.”

    The horror of Trump’s foreign policy won’t be as immediately obvious to Americans as his domestic failures. And yet any successful resistance to his administration will necessarily have to address it alongside all the other more proximate grievances. The only viable defense against his overreach is a dramatic rebalancing of governmental power. Resistance will mean changing the presidency as it currently functions. Simply being “anti-Trump” isn’t enough.”

    Note that DeFazio has submitted a “joint resolution” that would at least restore the simulacrum of Congressional control over war-making and commitments of troops —

    I don’t see this kind of issue on any of the radar screens of the “Stop Trump” efforts that seem all personalilty and little policy except “preserve the status quo and my little corner of the place.”

    1. RabidGandhi

      Plus ça change.

      By 1964 the United States had for all intents and purposes completed the destruction of South Vietnam, obliterating the agricultural countryside and installing a thoroughly compliant puppet regime. In those pre-“Vietnam Syndrome” days (when the US was not so “inhibited” against boots on the ground overseas), there was no covert war as there would be in Central America a decade later; the US obliteration of Indochina was published openly on the pages of the New York Times. There was no antiwar movement because the children of those New York Times readers were not yet in danger of being drafted into what would later be deemed a “mistake” or an “excess of American goodwill”.

      And when an antiwar movement did eventually arise years later, the problem was not the massacre of over 3 million human southeast Asians; rather the main demand was to save “our boys” from a senseless war.

      So to the issue of Donald Trump’s reprehensible foreign policy: of course there are not going to be any complaints from the élite, be they red or blue. Because they have solved the problem of the Vietnam Syndrome: maintain the previous destruction of impoverished people abroad without involving the ruling classes at home. Sure we will see copious Kabuki regarding anything El Donaldo does, but just as one does not expect figs from a briar bush, don’t let’s expect resistance from the #Resistance.

      1. Katharine

        There was an antiwar movement in 1964, and it was about the wrong of what this country was doing to others. The movement you refer to evolved after the draft law changed: I’d never seen so many newly minted “radicals” in my life.

        1. RabidGandhi

          Katharine, please talk more about this, because the “newly minted radicals” you mention have now become the heroes in the dominantly accepted history, Meanwhile, here’s Chomsky who early on was actually there too:

          It was not until 1964 when there were the beginnings of real, large-scale escalation that I started trying to talk about it. And it was very hard. I’d give talks in somebody’s living room let’s say, or maybe in a church where there were four people you know, the minister, the organizer, somebody who wanted to kill me, and a drunk who came in off the streets. And this, here, right here, at MIT, if we wanted, there was small group of students interested, we wanted to have a meeting on Vietnam, it would have to be on Vietnam, and ten other topics you know, in the hope, of maybe bringing, filling half a classroom. And it went on like that for a while. In 1965, a friend, and a artist friend and I be trying to organize a national tax-resistant movement, which we did, but we couldn’t get a lot of participation. And a year later, in 1966, more active resistance began, support for draft resistance, other kinds of resistance, and went on from there. By 1967, ’68 it had built up into a substantial movement. But remember, that’s after five, or six years of invasion.

          To those watching how today’s Liberals jump in front of parades, this should be nauseatingly familiar.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Today’s crowd is about virtue signalling and “resistance” of the latte-sipping, re-tweeting and Instagram-viewing sort, no real sacrifice or passion or actual courage of convictions required to get your “peacenik” badge and show it off to everybody. Back in the day it was about head breaking, wear a motorcycle helmet to the rally and bring a baseball bat, who cares if your employer fires you because this is much more important, after all we’re talking the entire future of humanity here. Chicago ’68 or Kent State are the last things this crowd is capable of, but those are what it took to stop the war…so the answer is they’re really perfectly OK with the war and are just looking for some easy feelgood points to score with no blood sacrifice required.

            1. different clue

              Those people had the luxury of not having to care if their employer fired them because they knew another employer would hire them. Nobody knows that today.

              Then too, it was mainly the North Vietnamese who stopped the war. And they stopped it by winning it.

            2. gepay

              The Vietnam war was my awakening into – the government lies to us. It is true that there wasn’t a mass resistance till enough middle class boys came home to towns all over America in body bags. Also it was after Johnson ( I can still hear him on radio saying “I’m not going to bog our boys down in a landwar in SE Asia), sent 500,000 troops after the false flag Gulf of Tonkin incident. The US government stopped the war when “they” wanted it to stop. The N. Vietnamese held until that happened. By that time, as Chomsky said, they had trashed Vietnam to the point that a communist alternative would not be a successful alternative for 3rd world countries. Another objective was achieved. The military industrial complex having revived itself with the Korean conflict ratcheted itself up another notch. different clue is quite correct – you don’t hear country singers singing “Take this job and shove it.” today.

        2. JTMcPhee

          And as an early participant in the “peace movement,” who idiotically got all Boy Scout patriotic, and actually enlisted to go take part in that industrialized conflict, how well one remembers that all that “radicalism” sort of evaporated when the draft ended, and our Rulers finally decided that enough wealth had been transferred, and enough bodies counted, and all responsibility and accountability had been dissipated and extinguished…

          The “resistance” is targeting all the wrong memes and points of weakness, what a surprise…

          One scene in “Catch-22” (actually several) is the ceremony of the military parade and mass formation — where the General dismisses the troops to barracks and duties only after a predetermined number of GIs have fainted in the heat and prolonged standing “at attention…” The chief proponent being an officer named Scheisskopf, “sh!thead” for you non-Germanics, who rose from a meager aduterous lieutenant to full 3-star General mostly by virtue of his adeptness at marching and parading the troops. A fella who was frustrated that the Pentagon would not go along with his plan to implant eye-screws in the outer thighs of all GIs, to which wire loops would be attached, with the other ends connected to screw eyes in the troops’ wrists, to limit the swing of the troops’ arms to the regulation 6 inches to the front, 6 inches to the rear as they marched…

          We actually live on a very large island, don’t we? With a (shrinking) pile of resources to loot and externalize into? And we are so well trained by the Bernaysians, and so deeply and maybe irretrievably into our own gluttony, and sloth, and deceit, all 323,549,844 (per the instantaneous US population clock at the moment I typed this, that characterize us Nacerimas…

    2. HopeLB

      There is also this;

      //{“congress”%3A”115″%2C”source”%3A”legislation”%2C”search”%3A”Whr 1666”}&searchResultViewType=expanded

    3. Ignim Brites

      “Why are there no peace marches, or anti-DoD-swallowing-Everything marches? And why the steady increase in the power of the Imperial Overlord?” Well because the old Imperial Overlord was a guy named Obama. Seem pretty obvious. However, an anti-war movement is the most likely vehicle for uniting and empowering the rage against the new Imperial Overlord precisely because the US has no national security interests underpinning its military policy. Spending trillions for what is completely incomprehensible cannot be sustained politically. It leads to Benghazi type events.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Obama knows all about how hard it is being president.

      Regular vacations in Hawaii were needed, for him.

      1. Cheryl B

        Back in the day, when there were actual newspapers, my favorite place to read was the letters to the editor section. Now, I have NC. I find I enjoy the comments as much or sometimes more than the actual articles. And then: this speed bump comment. And all I can say in reply to this is: Mar-a-Lago. Every weekend.

  20. Lee

    US hiker given warning for rescuing ‘abandoned’ bear cub BBC

    The hiker in the story seems to have done the right thing. No healthy mother bear would leave her cub alone in the open on a trail. However, as a rule, one should stay well away from bear cubs.

    As a callow young man in Yosemite I tossed apples to a pair of black bear cubs and got run up a tree by mama bear. It being an apple tree, I continued picking and tossing apples to the bears. Mama was finally assuaged. They gobbled up the apples and went on their way.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Wasn’t​ the DC Metro designed​ so that there are no routes​ to Georgetown? And wasn’t this an effort to keep the riffraff out?

  21. McWatt

    Walmart is stupid. Amazon is stupider. How much sense does it make to have 5-7 delivery
    trucks, from all the different delivery companies, coming to almost every block, almost everyday?
    God save the Planet!

    1. RabidGandhi

      Yeah, that’s a good question. How expensive is it to switch the underpaid middle managers from “lobby for an expensive dollar” to “lobby for tax and regulation exemptions”? Maybe we could get Malaysian lobbyists to do it online for cheaper?

  22. Portia

    anyone else notice that trump surrounds himself with aryan-type blond women in military-type uniforms in that photo from the “grade f” link? It’s like a movie I once saw, what was it, like cartoonish Bond villains?

    and from the Atlanta highway fire:

    Amelia Ford, who lives in Atlanta, opted to find another route to work by car Friday said it took her 45 minutes to travel 3 miles from her home to the nearest open interstate exit.

    aren’t there surface streets any more??? I am so happy I no longer drive and have adjusted to the logistics of not driving.

    1. Katharine

      I am guessing that the surface streets were full to overflowing with cars that would normally have been doing that stretch on the interstate. Only think what your neighborhood would look like if there suddenly thousands of extra cars driving through it!

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Cul-de-sacs. There really is only one way to get anywhere in many parts of the country.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Urban planning was virtually non existent in America’s rapidly growing cities of the last thirty years. Charlotte, Houston, Washington metro, newer areas of the West Coast, and Florida can join Atlanta as just planning disasters.

      Localities made crazy concessions to attract businesses, obsessed with short term profits.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Here, they always have money to make sure goods from abroad can be unloaded and shipped to the rest of the country as smoothly as possible.

        I understand the freeways leading north from key entry cities along the south border are modern, wide and super nice.

        Other cities have nice sports stadiums, if not good urban planning.

        For good urban planning, the cities would need living, and not starving taxpayers to tax. Not enough of them around, it would seem.

    3. juliania

      To Portia

      It’s very freeing, isn’t it? My only problem is that currently the NM MVD is refusing to renew my expired ID card because I am a naturalized citizen and have had my ‘case’ shunted to the Department of Homeland Security. It’s a brave new world out there. It’s been a month, and it IS a hardship. I don’t know who to blame, but I do blame someone!

      1. Portia

        Dear Juliania, I am wishing you all the best and a good fairy to go hit DHS upside the head!

  23. Matt

    “Environmental activists were incensed about the outcome Wednesday, saying that Pruitt had ignored substantial evidence of potential harms.”

    Very nice oxymoron used in this article about Pruitt letting farmers continue to use a pesticide. Love it!

    By the way, how did the MSM not cover this story below?

    Where did the kids come from? Were the kids ever reconnected with their parents? Who were the heros that rescued these children? Why does MSM ignore massive pedophile busts? Isn’t this bigger news than one rich girl going missing?

    1. kareninca

      I tried to find out more about this massive “human trafficking sting” of late January (reported Feb. 1st). I’m finding the same very short article all over the place. No details, no follow-up. I guess the six corporations who own 90 percent of the media think this is not something we need to know about.

  24. Toolate

    Not one comment about Bernie in Boston?
    Is that because he defied all of those here who said he would not call for Medicare for all?

    1. Irredeemable Deplorable

      Comrades! Fellow KGB Agents unite:

      “It is becoming increasingly clear that Bernie’s diehard supporters, those who became avowed Hillary haters, were influenced by #Russia.

      — Peter Daou (@peterdaou) March 31, 2017”

      As an official KGB Agent, since 1961, I am pleased to welcome all Bernie supporters to our glorious Global Soviet Socialist Revolution! Agent Trumpski is dedicated to our cause! Agent Sanderski is a valuable asset to our Team of Peasant-Workers!

      As Our Glorious Founder, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, famously said in 1917: “Comrades! In 100 Years We Conquer World!” – it is now 2017, and We Have Conquered World! Throw Party! Drink much wodka, and eat much borscht!

        1. Irredeemable Deplorable

          “Hello! You have reach Russian Embassy. Some of menu new option now changes:

          To arrange a call from a Russian diplomat to your political opponent, press 1,
          To use the services of Russian hackers, press 2.
          To request election interference, press 3 and wait until the next election campaign.

          To speak to a live FSB associate about immediate election interference, press 5.
          For all other type of interference, press 6.
          To file a comment or complaint about past interference, Press 7.

          To leave a message for Mr Putin, press 8.”

          “This call will definitely be recored for training, blackmail, and interference purposes.
          NSA and CIA will have a backup copy on file.”

          “Thank you, and have nice day.”

    2. Ulysses

      “Sanders brought up familiar themes. He said billionaires should pay their fair share. He also said he plans to introduce legislation for free tuition at public colleges and universities and for universal healthcare.
      Sanders also said the Democratic Party needs to learn from the presidential election.
      “It wasn’t that Donald Trump won the election. It was that the Democratic Party lost the election,” Sanders said. “We need a Democratic Party which is not the party of the liberal elite but a party of the working class of this country.”

      1. kimsarah

        Good point, Bernie. But really, we won because of Trump making sure the Bushes and Clintons were put out to pasture.

  25. allan

    New York drug case opens window on dark period for Honduras [Albany Times Union]

    A case unfolding in a lower Manhattan courtroom has caused political tremors in Honduras, seeming to confirm long-held suspicions that corruption at the highest levels of government helped turn the Central American country into a violent epicenter of the drug trade at the start of this decade.

    Fabio Porfirio Lobo, the son of the Honduran president in 2010-2013, is preparing to go before a federal judge for sentencing after pleading guilty to his role in a drug-trafficking ring involving members of Honduras’ national police. But it is the details of the conspiracy that emerged in testimony and newly released court documents which have captivated people back home by tying his father and a brother of the current president directly to traffickers. …

    Hmmm. And how did Senor Lobo’s father happen to become president in 2010?
    Doing her homework since 1947 2009.

  26. Observer

    Perhaps “Trump Transition” should be re-named “Trump Trainwreck” in the links listing.

  27. Oregoncharles

    “President’s Growing Trade Gap: A Gulf Between Talk and Action”:

    A thought: Trump’s first few weeks in office were marked by visible eagerness to keep his campaign promises – refreshing, really, even if some of them were bad. It didn’t work out too well, so now he’s backing down on many of them.

    The article goes into the (rather speculative) infighting in the administration on this topic – some things might change abruptly once they make it to the President’s desk. Partly, a lot of this is a direct result of a chief executive with no government experience: he has to recruit experienced people who quite likely disagree with him on key policies. I sympathize, to a degree; the same kiind of thing happened to Syriza in Greece.

    It’s possible the not-so-new trade proposals are coming from embedded Obama people in the trade office, but they could also be traditional Republican values breaking through. We shall see.

    1. Susan the other

      It stands to reason that Trump will not make inroads into the trade gap until he funds, literally fronts the money, to rebuild an infra of high tech industries to mfg things other countries need to buy – things to do with environmental clean up and etc.

      1. different clue

        We wouldn’t have to sell things to other countries if we didn’t buy things from other countries. So maybe we should rebuild here those industries which could make here the things which we here would buy here to use here.

        If we could get our imports near zero, we could let our exports fall to near zero. We could become a Non Trading Nation.

  28. Susan the other

    About RNN’s Michael Flynn being a cutout lobbyist for Israeli natgas. If Israel recently discovered its own massive gas field within it’s own territorial waters and is now lobbying for its development… how does this affect Quatar’s natgas pipeline through SA, ostensibly the reason for the whole war now with Syria? And how does this affect Russia’s pipeline thru Turkey? Is this a game changer being kept secret? The Iran connection is interesting too. And just curious: is it possible to horizontally drill for nat gas from offshore Israel all the way to offshore Gaza? Just wondering. It all sounds unexplained. To the max, especially considering that Flynn was just denied immunity by the Senate.

  29. RMO

    Will doctors be replaced with robots? Well, if it’s Carlos Wu’s nanotech autodoc from the Known Universe stories I’m all for it. Anything short of that machine and you can count me out:-)

  30. George Lane

    Yves, please do not link to the dailymail article on Wikileaks. Neither Wikileaks nor Assange ever said that CIA disguised the hack as Russian, just that the CIA has the capability to disguise hacks, through its Marble program. Now, speaking personally, I’d say this is probably the case, but the Mail is a sensationalist rag and it misrepresents WL and Assange for click-bait headlines.

    The Vault 7 releases, of which only a very small percentage are released thus far, are extremely important, and it would be better to link directly to WL’s press releases on and to more reputable sources commenting on the releases. Assange’s press conferences and interviews would also be good to link to; I have personally learned a great deal from watching them.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      We did link to the Wikileaks release, that’s our first link. And that is what the release said. The longer version of the headline contains a direct quote from Wikileaks: Latest WikiLeaks release shows how the CIA uses computer code to hide the origins of its hacking attacks and ‘disguise them as Russian or Chinese activity'”.

  31. Tertium Squid

    Antidote reminds me of this, by John Clare

    Young Lambs
    The spring is coming by a many signs;
    The trays are up, the hedges broken down,
    That fenced the haystack, and the remnant shines
    Like some old antique fragment weathered brown.
    And where suns peep, in every sheltered place,
    The little early buttercups unfold
    A glittering star or two–till many trace
    The edges of the blackthorn clumps in gold.
    And then a little lamb bolts up behind
    The hill and wags his tail to meet the yoe,
    And then another, sheltered from the wind,
    Lies all his length as dead–and lets me go
    Close bye and never stirs but baking lies,
    With legs stretched out as though he could not rise.

  32. dontknowitall

    About “WILL ROBOTS REPLACE HUMAN DOCTORS? JSTOR. This is nuts. Interaction with doctors has major placebo effects. And I would not consent to being treated by a robot”

    Today I went to the funeral of a friend who was mistreated by a human doctor. Eventually we will come to see human doctoring with the same horror as medieval bleeding practices. Just as children today easily transfer human attributes to their robots we adults will eventually and imperceptibly do the same as the machines learn to be us.

    1. Cujo359

      In many places, American medicine is so transaction-oriented these days it might as well be done by robots. When doctors don’t have the time to listen to patients and get to know them, you’ve essentially reduced practicing medicine to a decision tree anyhow. AI? Heck, old-fashioned procedural programming could accomplish that.

    2. nihil obstet

      I don’t find major placebo effects from any encounter with the medical industry. To the doctor as well as to the rest of the players, I’m primarily a source of profit. I do not have the information to protect myself; after all, not knowing the problem is why I’m seeing the doctor. In some cases, I get what seems to me the best care. In most cases, I hope it is. And in some cases, I’ve seen that I was being pushed into simply the most expensive care that imposed time, money, and anxiety costs on me. But for all, the emotional effect is bad.

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      The fact that medicine is a medieval art and there is no scientific research behind many if not most procedures does not change the fact that interacting with a live human being about your ailments is in and of itself therapeutic.

      And one of my mother’s good friends, himself an MD, died of a hip replacement. Got an infection they could not control.

      1. Marina Bart

        Also, touch is healing. There’s quite a bit of science to back that up. Modern human society has siloed how, when and why humans get to touch each other in ways that are very detrimental to human physical and mental health.

        We are social animals. We need to physically interact with one another to be happy. The fact that this innate drive has been channeled by imperial cultures into men only getting to touch other men when they’re fighting or competing, and with women in power imbalanced, transactional sexual encounters fuels so much destructive behavior.

        If we had a jobs guarantee, we could improve citizen health just by having people offer hugs and handholding to other citizens. That’s part of what the pet obsession is about. There’s all this need to nurture and touch that gets channeled into creatures one can control.

    4. rdu

      I talked with an actual doctor, unlike the people who write these kinds of articles. They said the hardest part of the job is that it is a lot like being a detective. Knowing the right questions to ask in order to get the right information — a lot of which involves observing and responding to nonverbal social queues. We are nowhere close to having a computer or robot being able to replicate that.

    5. Mark P.

      And yet AI is already dramatically better at diagnosis than human doctors.

      We’re going to see an expansion of the role of nurse-practitioners. But I don’t see why anybody would want or think the human component in medical treatment could or should be entirely removed. It’s one of the last industries where employment is growing in the developed world and it should continue to be — if there’s not a global civilizational crash by 2100, the global medical-industrial complex could conceivably reach 20-30 percent of planetary GDP.

      I hang around the biotech/therapeutics crowd from time to time, and it’s moving very fast. For just one instance, regenerative medicine or directed organogenesis — growing new organs — is already enough of a thing that people are taking the cell engineering technologies developed there and starting companies that apply the same tech to what’s called the post-animal bioeconomy — synthesizing meat. Point is, if regenerative medicine comes on line, by 2035 we’ll see the developed world’s population of centenarians rising; fast forward to 2100 and it’s quite possible that there’ll be hundreds of millions of people one-hundred years or older.

      This will be at the same time as, short of some magic geoengineering solution, people will be fleeing the equatorial regions of the world because some of them will have become too hot to inhabit and coastlines everywhere will be flooding over. Pace Bill Gibson, not only is the future unevenly distributed, it’s going to become even more so.

  33. voteforno6

    Re: The Democrats Are Learning Something They Should Have Learned a Long Time Ago

    I’ve had my issues with Charles Pierce in the past, what with him being a little too deferential to the Democratic Party, but he does know how to turn a phrase:

    Of course, as is often the case among Democratic senators, the usual suspects are rounding up themselves.

    That line is so good, I might have to use it myself.

  34. cripes


    “There was no antiwar movement (in 1964) because the children of those New York Times readers were not yet in danger of being drafted”

    It gained greater size and momentum by 1967, but that’s not exactly true.

    At age six with my commie parents I carried an anti-Vietnam War sign, dragging at my feet, up 1st ave in front of the United Nations. I still remember the lunatic faces outside the police barricades screaming “Die, you commie scum” as we marched. The Progressive Labor Party and Young Socialists organized this as the May 2nd Movement.

    In March, 1965 the Vietnam Day Committee at Berkeley, California, brings out 100,000 people to participate in draft card burning.

    By 1967, a majority in polls opposed the war and thought it was a losing proposition (assuming the pollers asked if USA would “win”), likely due to the antiwar movement efforts.

    By 1968 hundreds of thousands were turning out in California, New York, DC, and taking over campuses: Berkley, Columbia, where I also participated at age 10.

    I’m not romanticising the 1960’s. The war dragged on until the 1973 “withdrawal” and ended with the 1975 fall of Saigon. Colin Powell and others committed grave war crimes and destroyed three countries in the process.

    The wonder is that Vietnamese patriots never exacted revenge at American malls and transport facilities.

    Anyway, the anitwar started small and quickly grew to challenge the entire War effort. More than we ever saw with the destruction of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and now Yemen.

    Would that we had that level of organizing today.


      1. Oregoncharles

        I lived with one of the organizers in Portland, OR. My contribution was to take his messages all day and show up at the occasional demonstration. He’d spend hours on the phone. He looked a lot like a teddy bear and was usually holding up his pajamas.

        Became some sort of professor, I think, like a lot of our classmates.

  35. David Carl Grimes

    For once in a long long time, Bill Maher got it right: Hillary should go back to the woods. You’ve got to admire the Clintons for their spunk and resilience.She must realize by now that if she, the most prepared presidential candidate in history, lost to the most buffoonish candidate in history, despite having over a billion dollars at her disposal, she must really be the worst presidential candidate in history. Lesser mortals would have crawled under a rock and died of shame. But no, she’s like a cockroach. She keeps coming back.

    1. Marina Bart

      You’ve got to admire the Clintons for their spunk and resilience.


      I don’t think it’s accurate to refer to grifting predators like the Clintons as either “spunky” or resilient. Would you call Jason from the Halloween movies that?

      I agree about the rest.

    2. Mark P.

      ‘…she, the most prepared presidential candidate in history, lost to the most buffoonish candidate in history, despite having over a billion dollars at her disposal.’

      Eh. Reliable word is that she and Bill encouraged Trump to run in the Republican primaries, because they thought Trump would split the Republican base and forestall a more politically viable Republican candidate — as the Clintons understand political viability — emerging.

      So, that makes Trump only the second-most buffoonish presidential candidate in history, doesn’t it?

      Truth is, from Hillary’s incompetent attempt at healthcare reform in 1993 — and Bill’s nauseating ‘you get two for the price of one’ line — to her incompetent stint as State Secretary when she blew up Syria and caused the deaths of a half-million people just so it would look good on her resume when she ran for president, she has been disastrously incompetent at everything she’s ever done, except grifting. And even there she keeps getting caught.

  36. VietnamVet

    Yesterday, reading Dmitry Orlov’s blog he cited this YouTube video of a Summit with John Michael Greer, James Howard Kunstler, Chris Martenson, Frank Morris, all together, discussing the present and future:

    Watched the first 30 minutes. Now that I finished Naked Capitalism for today, time to watch the rest.

    1. reslez

      I saw this linked before. It would be nice if there were someone in the room who understood what debt or money was, which is making me hesitate.

      1. VietnamVet

        I found the discussion fascinating. I relate with old men trying to figure out what the hell is going on. Money, wealth and a finite earth were discussed. At the end, they said that “progress” is America’s religion. This makes it extremely difficult to discuss the future with the Empire in decline. The financial crash of 2008 was barely papered over. There will be another crash. The next time ATMs probably will jam up. An easy transformation to a more equitable and energy efficient society seems slim if our government is headed in the exact opposite direction.

  37. ewmayer

    o “Trump wants to cut U.N. funding — but peacekeeping saves money, as well as lives Washington Post (furzy)” — Just ignore the fact that much of that peacekeeping is deeply intertwined with the US-led imperialist warmongering project. Much like the “Peacekeepers” in the classic SciFi series Farscape, interestingly enough. A la Orwell, the folks pushing such agendas have a penchant to name things after their opposites.

    o “The Democrats Are Learning Something They Should Have Learned a Long Time Ago Charles Pierce, Esquire (resilc)” — Rest assured that any lessons the Dems are pretending to have learned will be forgotten the instant the party is back in power.

    o “Official says interstate repairs to take months Washington Post (martha r). Wowsers.” — Oooh, “months” – scary! Given that we’ve been “fixing” Afghanistan for over 15 years now will the full-throated support of WaPo, you’ll pardon me if I find the alarmism over the timeframe here to be a wee bit overblown.

  38. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    CalPERS’ Pension ‘Myths’ Busted California Political Review.

    From the article:

    The average full-career pension for a CalPERS retiree is actually $71,402, Ring showed.

    From a Motley Fool article, May 1, 2016:

    Income Category 2013 AGI
    Top 1% > $428,712
    Top 5% > $179,759
    Top 10% > $127,694
    Top 25% > $74,954
    Top 50% > $36,840
    Bottom 50% < $36,840

    So, the question is that: Is that $71,402 correct?

    A retired person, hopefully mortgage fully paid, children all grown up, and especially if covered by Medicare already, has more money per year in retirement than approximately 75% of the earners in the nation?

    If that figure is correct, we need huge wage inflation for wage earners to catch up with those who no longer need to earn wages.

    And for private sector retirees, triple or quadruple their current Social Security payments (I think I am projected to receive about $1,500* a month when I retire in 10 years…if I am lucky enough to be able to afford that).

    *Not enough for $1,600 one bedroom apartment today, in some places (many places?). Time for “Free Senior Apartment” Will our over-80 senators give that a thought?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Even if the figure is accurate, it’s seriously misleading because….how many people stay in a job for their entire working life to get full benefits? The state troopers are the most likely ones.

      Also, government employees now on average are more highly educated than private sector employees, so you’d expect correspondingly higher retirement pay.

      Moreover, these pension benefits were explicitly traded against wages. Until the post crisis era (and let us not forget a lot of municipal and state employees were fired in the wake of the crisis, back to my full benefits point), everyone understood what the deal was: you could go into a private sector job and get more pay, but with more risk. The gap between what MDs in university hospitals and lawyers working as judges, prosecutors, or in state/local legal jobs versus their private sector counterparts is ginormous.

      So basically these people voted for low risk, their bet paid off, and everyone is mad at them.

      1. Jess

        The huge difference here in CA is that back in the 1990’s the state, under pressure from the unions, unilaterally made a retroactive increase in the pension formula from 2% of final salary times years worked to 3%. Initially is was only for law enforcement, but soon pressure from the unions saw it expanded to many more classes of workers. Immediately, pensions increased by 50%. A $40K pension overnight became a $60K pension. At higher pay levels it was even more obscene: $100K pensions became $150K. And, of course, there was no going back to have jurisdictions retroactively put more money into the funds.

        In addition, up until a couple of years ago when the voters passed a pension reform measure, imminent retirees could scam the system in all kinds of ways. Massive overtime was a favorite, esp. among law enforcement, because it boosted the final year salary figure on which the pension was calculated. We currently have sergeants and regular officers in our local PD who earn as much annually in overtime as they do in base pay. The next city over had 3 meter maids who make $140K a year.

        Same for unused vacation pay. Say you were entitled to 3 weeks vacation at $2K per week. You skip the vacation, work and get paid for those three weeks, then have the $6K you didn’t take added to your pension formula.

        Then there’s the COLA adjustments, which found some retirees, after a few years, taking home more in a pension than they earned while working. And more than a few jurisdictions entered into sweetheart deals with unions where they also paid the employee’s AND employer’s contributions to SS, resulting in an average additional $19K/yr for those retirees.

        And to top it off, until outlawed by the aforementioned pension reform measure, workers were retiring on Friday and coming right back to work on Monday as independent contractors doing the same job and getting both their regular wages and their retirement. Others retired, collected their pension, and went to work for related departments in other jurisdictions. And all of these things that are no longer permitted cannot be retroactively changed, so the damage done before is still eating into budgets every month and every year.

        My mother retired after 25 years with a modest CalPers pension plus SS from her previous work in the private sector. She went batshit crazy in her later years over what she considered the scandalous manipulation of the retirement system.

    2. Inode_buddha

      … and yet you can *buy* a decent 3 bed, 1 bath home in Buffalo for less than $400/mo, very easily

  39. bob

    2 Questions that have not been answered in the Atlanta mess-

    1) whose pipe was it? Who owned the pipe?

    2) who owned the land? Was there a rental agreement with whomever owned the pipe?

    This could be just another example of externalizing storage costs. Don’t want all that pipe in your construction yard? Insurance won’t cover it because that much of anything is a hazard? Stick it on some publicly owned land, rent free. If that land happens to be under an overpass- bonus! It’s dry, ith easy access to the highway. No one will care, until something happens….like a fire.

    I saw that 3 people have been charged with arson and trespassing. If the land was public, how is the trespass charge valid? Will the owners of the pipe also be charged with trespass, for putting it there?

    I’ve been looking around for a while now and still haven’t found anything resembling an answer to those 2 very basic questions.

    1. bob

      Googling around the area via street view shows the some yellow pipe under the highway with access via a locked gate onto Piedmont Ave. There’s a sign on the gate, but it’s not readable.

      Its an interesting area that could have a bunch of Overlapping land jurisdictions. Ineterstate, local road. There’s also a train yard just to the west, which joins with an RR Row if some sort just to the north.

      2119 Piedmont Rd NE Atanta, GA is the address.

    2. bob

      I also expect to see 911 truthers crawling all over this obvious false flag- Concrete and steel don’t melt in a fire! There was black smoke!

      Why isn’t this being livestreamed, they could be covering it all up. :)

      1. witters

        All I know about 911 is that I, like the poor bastards who did the official report, don’t know the full truth. Then there are deniers and denier deniers who do.

    3. Oregoncharles

      FWIW, news reports said it was a Dept. of Transportation (state) storage facility. They would control the land under the freeway. The pipe was HDPE, used as conduit for electrical and data wires. If there was also machinery stored, there would have been fuel, besides the pipe.

      Some people have been charged for setting the fire; I wonder how they got in?

    1. kareninca

      That was a truly amazing video. And, as someone in the youtube comment section asked – how many human bodies have been buried that way? The Benny Hill soundtrack was a bonus.

  40. Oregoncharles

    Both Britain and the EU should be required to watch “The War of the Roses,” with Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas, a 1989 movie about a divorce gone really, really bad. Hilarious, but not if you have to live through it.

  41. BenX

    I would not consent to being treated by a robot.

    Then you will settle for substandard medical treatment. The near future beckons technology to step in to fallible human diagnosis and treatment. People respond emotionally to computer programs that even poorly mimics sympathy – so even the “human touch” can be synthesized.

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