2:00PM Water Cooler 7/13/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


Health Care

I’ll look at the health care debate more in Links this evening when things have shaken out (here’s a summary of McConnell’s bill; note McConnnell is bribing Murkowski, and, if the story is correct and exhaustive, Murkowski alone, so the vote is still very close). But this is very important:

“But, here’s what else should worry Republicans, especially those up in 2018. The forces opposed to the legislation are outspending those supporting the bill $5.8 million to $354,000” [Cook Political Report]. More:

According to data supplied to the Cook Political Report from Kantar Media CMAG, a nonpartisan tracker of political TV advertising, there have been 26,713 ads run between May 23 and July 10 that mention the health care bill. Just over 25,000–or 94 percent–of those ads have been critical of the GOP plan. Note that these figures don’t represent digital or radio ad buys.

Take a look at Nevada, for example, where Sen. Dean Heller publicly came out as opposed to the Senate legislation in late June. Since May 23rd, a combination of four groups – AARP, Planned Parenthood, Save My Care, and the Community Catalyst Action Fund – have run almost 5,000 ads at a cost of approximately $1.6M, irging Heller to vote against the bill. On the other side, two ads (at a cost of $140), sponsored by the Trump campaign SuperPAC – America First Policies – urged Heller “to keep his promise” of repealing and replacing Obamacare. Those ads were pulled at the urging of Sen. McConnell.


Other GOP senators who have expressed hesitation about supporting the GOP bill – Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, have been bombarded with ads that criticize the bill and urge them to oppose it. In West Virginia there have been over 1,700 ads attacking the bill at a cost of approximately $245,000. In Alaska, outside groups have spent over $277,000 on 3,881 ads urging Murkowski to vote against the bill. As for advertising that supports the bill – or even urges these two swing Senators to support it: a big fat goose egg. Nada. Nothing.

If I’d had this information Tuesday, I would have added it to this post (but see this commment). Note again, however, that this gives an account for two defectors (Heller; Capito) but not all. And more from Cook:

Almost all the advertising defending the GOP bill came from one source, the American Action Network, a GOP nonprofit aligned with Speaker Paul Ryan. Of the $10.2M spent on pro-AHCA ads like this one in the spring, $7.7M –or 76 percent– came from AAN. Other stalwarts of the GOP outside money world that have spent millions attacking Obamacare and calling for its repeal, like the Koch Brothers-backed Freedom Partners, were silent. The Club for Growth aired just 30 pro-AHCA ads earlier this spring.

Those outside groups remain on the sidelines today. …

Wary incumbent Republicans should rightly wonder if the cavalry will be there to give them cover when the arrows from the anti-GOP health care side are raining down on them. As it looks today, they are on their own.

At this point, it seems like the Democrats did a better job servicing the health insurance oligarchs than the Republicans are doing. And at the end of the day, as we say in the Beltway, #SaveTheACA will still leave 25 million without coverage, many more millions denied care amd/or with crapified care, and citizens being sent to Happyville or Pain city at random (although, to be fair, ObamaCare is a jobs guarantee for credentialled gatekeepers, medical coders, etc. in the Democrat’s 10%-er base). Thanks, Obama!


“Sanders told the host of ‘Make It Plain with Mark Thompson’ that while it’s too early to make a definitive statement about whether he’ll run, he is ‘not taking it off the table.'” [Common Dreams]. If Biden isn’t too old, Sanders isn’t too old. But if the Democrats have a weak bench (as they do), how much weaker is the left’s bench (implying that Our Revolution’s focus on local and state races is absolutely the way to go).

Trump Transistion

Chuck Todd: “Trump’s big problem: ‘It’s a White House that doesn’t know what it’s doing. They have no idea how to make legislation happen. They have no idea how to work with Congress. They came in with no big plan, no big agenda'” [Axios]. “The White House right now: ‘We’re at a point where it’s every man and woman for themselves. It’s not a point where everyone is abiding by that, but it’s more and more every day.'” It’s noteworthy, though, that Trump did have a “big agenda,” but some of the big items were negative: (1) No TPP, (2) No war with Russia. The negative items didn’t require action by others, including Congress! And Gorsuch was easy (and solidifies the Christian right with Trump for the forseeable future. They’re not purists!). As far as The Wall? No. Immigration? Kinda. Infrastructure? Hell no. And I distrust all gossip about the workings of the White House on principle, absent documentation (like the Podesta emails, or Shattered). So, while Todd effectively encapsulates the conventional wisdom of the political class on its precious norms, it’s not clear to me what’s left when you factor out that point of view. Todd does say — and this is a prior of mine — that “Trump needs someone to help him calm the waters in Washington — like Howard Baker did for Ronald Reagan during the Iran-Contra affair” (or James Baker did). It’s hard to see who that person would be, and in some ways the gossip, the general hysteria, and above all warmongering by The Blob prevents that person from coming forward. It’s interesting to imagine what an “every man for himself” scenario would look like…


“Don’t Worry, America: Kid Rock Says He’s Running for Senate From Michigan” [The Wrap].

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “39 photos that show why everyone misses George W. Bush” [MSN]. W’s rehabilitation is one of the more amusing aspects of The Trump Era….


“Don’t Say Ivanka Is Bad for Women if You’re Gonna Be All Sexist About It” [Vice]. Joan Walsh demolishes the liberal version of feminism single-handedly…..

“How Did Berniecrats Claim the Jackson Mississippi Movement? Do They Want To Be Claimed? Should They?” [Black Agenda Report]. Not a good look…

“Democrats aim to block funding for Trump’s election commission” [USA Today]. “Rep. Cedric Richmond, R [sic! He’s a D]-La., chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said for many people, the right to vote ‘is their only voice in the democracy.'” I’m so torn on this. On the one hand, Trump’s Election Commission is horrid. On the other, this article starts by quoting the horrid Cory Booker, and goes on to quote the horrid CBC. And the worst of the worst on the Democrat side are getting funding to take on redistricting. I’m not sanguine…

Stats Watch

Producer Price Index (Final Demand)k, June 2017: “Inflation data, wherever one looks, are weak” [Econoday]. “However GDP or employment is moving, inflation is a fundamental indicator for general demand. These results will not move up expectations for tomorrow’s consumer price report where similar weakness is the unfortunate expectation.” But: “The Producer Price Index is now on a noticeable moderation cycle – with most components declining year-over-year. My only conclusion is that generally there is an overabundance of goods and services – despite the Fed’s insistence the USA is near full employment” [Econintersect].

Beige Book, June 2017 (yesterday): “Wages are on the rise but only a modest-to-moderate rise, with economic growth described as slight-to-moderate across the Federal Reserve’s 12 districts. And a few of the districts are now saying that overall price pressures have eased. Consumer spending is rising in most districts but at a slower pace. Two districts, Cleveland and Philadelphia, are reporting slowing in overall growth. Two other districts, Atlanta and St. Louis, are reporting flat employment levels” [Econoday]. “Looking at the report on net and putting aside the word “slight”, modest-to-moderate is still the call across most regions and most economic readings. These results will not pull forward expectations for the next rate hike.” And: “The latest Beige Book compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City showed economic activity expanding across all twelve districts in June and expectations for modest to moderate gains in the months ahead” [Economic Calendar]. And but: “First ‘weak’ report in a long time. And not to forget the Fed sees it their role to manage expectations…” [Mosler Economics].

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of July 9, 2017: “In the least upbeat reading since January, consumer comfort fell a sharp 1.5 points” [Econoday]. “Consumer spending never did match this year’s extraordinarily high readings for confidence and the emerging confidence slump does not point to any spending strength.” So, surveys not being borne out by data yet again; this is starting to look like the norm. Can old hands in the readership reall a time when such a divergence was so sustained?

Jobless Claims, week of July 8, 2017: Little changed, slightly higher four-week rolling averages [Econoday]. And: “Overall confidence in the labour market will remain firm in the short term. Although there is evidence of a slight upward drift in the weekly data, overall claims remain at historically very low levels” [Economic Calendar].

Housing: “Less than 18 percent of young adults own a home in the greater L.A. metro area” [Dr. Housing Bubble]. “The greater L.A. area has the worst homeownership rate for younger buyers, even worse than tech drunk San Francisco. Why? Because in the Bay Area, even though home prices are insane so are salaries for young professionals. So even though the Bay Area is nuts and has a massive amount of tech froth, people do earn higher incomes. Here in SoCal especially in the greater L.A. metro area people don’t make high enough incomes to justify current home prices. Thus the low rate of ownership from younger buyers… According to the analysis, it would take the typical young L.A. couple 32 years to save for the standard 20 percent down payment. Hey, if you start at 30 you can buy when you are 62! Just around the time you can collect on your Social Security benefits.”

Real Estate: “Leading Index for Commercial Real Estate Increases in June” [Calculated Risk]. “According to Dodge, [the Dodge Momentum Index] leads ‘construction spending for nonresidential buildings by a full year.’ This suggests further increases in CRE spending over the next year.”

Shipping: “The Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported this week that its Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) headed up 2.2% from April to May, following two months of declines en route to its highest recording ever” [Logistics Management]. “he Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in freight shipments in ton-miles, which are then combined into one index. The index measures the output of the for-hire freight transportation industry and consists of data from for-hire trucking, rail, inland waterways, pipelines and air freight….. As for what drove May’s strong performance, BTS explained that it was broad based with gains in most modes, especially water and pipeline, while air freight and trucking were stable.”

Infrastructure: “The choices over U.S. infrastructure needs may be most acute at the country’s airports” [Wall Street Journal]. “The FAA sent $2.7 million to the Charleston, [W. VA] airport this week [vs. a “wish list” for $395 million] in new grants totaling $185 million to 40 airports. Those sites include the country’s biggest airports along with smaller, rural facilities that have a tough time making their case to federal planners.”

Commodities: “A looming global diamond shortage is driving extreme changes in the world’s supply chain for precious gems. A small band of adventurous miners is braving bone-chilling winds at the world’s highest mines to extract stones worth as much as 20 times the global average” [Wall Street Journal].

The Bezzle: “Once Again: Do Not Insider Trade While Posing As Your Own Mother” [DealBreaker]. Very funny with some useful tips, but the real story is the SEC devoting resources to this relatively trivial level of crookedness. “Ever since the SEC decided that its raison d’etre was rooting out every inside trader in existence, no matter how puny or inconsequential….”

The Bezzle: “Banks are beginning to admit a new rule on revenue recognition will have an impact” [Francine McKenna, MarketWatch]. For more complex businesses that use long-term contracts, such as global financial services firms but more typically defense and construction companies, the new guidance could significantly affect the amount and timing of reported revenue.”

The Bezzle: “50 Smartest Companies 2017” [MIT Technology Review]. Uber was #50 in 2015. “Smartest” was the tip-off I’d find it. To be fair, many of these companies are smart, for a definition of smart — “combine[s] innovative technology with an effective business model” – that includes ginormous monopolies like Amazon. Have fun with the list…

Five Horsemen: “Facebook gives Alphabet a run for the money, as Apple catches back up to the S&P index.” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen July 13

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 55 Neutral (previous close: 47, Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 44 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Jul 13 at 11:59am.


Obama’s chief of staff….

Dear Old Blighty


Imperial Collapse Watch

“Dr. Strangelove and the Los Alamos Nuclear Fiasco” [The American Conservative]. Handing our nukes over to Bechtel through privatization turned out to be problematic. What’s a conservative to do?

Class Warfare

“Rethinking the Marxist Conception of Revolution” [Hampton Institute]. “In brief, I’ll conclude that in order to make Marxism consistent with itself it is necessary to abandon the statist perspective to which Marx and Engels arguably were committed, and which they transmitted to most of their successors. It is necessary to conceive of revolution in a gradualist way, not as a sudden historical ‘rupture’ in which the working class or its representatives take over the national state and organize social reconstruction on the basis of a unitary political will (the proletarian dictatorship). According to a properly understood Marxism, even the early stages of the transition from capitalism to post-capitalism must take place over generations, and not in a planned way but unconsciously and rather ‘spontaneously,’ in a process slightly comparable to the transition from feudalism to capitalism. I will also argue that my revision can be the basis, finally, for a rapprochement between Marxists and anarchists.” And if the Jackpot happens first? (I wish somebody would invent a “Jackpot Index.” Unless they already have…)

News of the Wired

“Raytheon EMP weapon tested by Boeing, USAF Research Lab” [Military Embedded Systems (CM)]. We can build a death ray, but we can’t repair the track under Penn Station.

“‘Trap streets,’ [is] a collective term for cartographic fictions with the intent to deter copyists” [Cabinet Magazine]. “[Trap Streets] may not all be streets: any geographic alteration can be used, from the fabrication of a remote nonexistent town to the mislabeling of the elevation of a mountain range. The existence of such doctored locations is routinely denied in public statements by publishers, even when acknowledged in closed legal proceedings, and so the Ordnance Survey’s denials should be viewed with a certain circumspection.” What an interesting new term! (And what will happen to an autonomous vehicle that relies on a map with “trap streets”?

Gaming self-driving cars:

Like a lobster trap, isn’t it?

Because I must:

Browser Tab Clutter Is The New Hoarding” [JSTOR Daily]. With some useful tips on (Chrome) tab extensions. But it looks to me like there are enormous opportunities to improve the browser, which our genius developers in Silicon Valley are ignoring, because Juicero, Uber, etc….

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AB writes: “Man with hoe views sunflowers” (the allusion (?)).

NOTE Readers, if you want your handle to appear as a credit, please put it in the subject line. Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. Thank you!

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. jo6pac

    How Did Berniecrats Claim the Jackson Mississippi Movement? Do They Want To Be Claimed? Should They?” [Black Agenda Report]. Not a good look…

    A must read and truly evil gatekeepers.

    1. Uahsenaa

      On the one hand, yes, it’s rather pathetic that many (not all) of the people backing and in some cases pushing Sanders’ case are basically blind when it comes to militarism. On the other hand, it’s worth noting that the DSA played a huge role in Lumumba’s election and get exactly no mention in Dixon’s piece. I don’t want to get too conspiratorial, but it might have something to do with the DSA’s ability to actually do the organizing and campaigning that the Greens are always so terrible at. Nevertheless, the Green party always seems to get the BAR’s backing, despite doing little to nothing practically speaking. Sure, their candidates tend to be better on the issues, but they also don’t do nearly enough to actually get into power.

      In other words, Ford and Dixon deserve a great deal of respect for their cogent analysis over the years. But diminishing the work of real allies isn’t a good look either.

        1. hunkerdown

          Bruce Dixon is a Georgia Green Party state committee co-chair. It’s BAR’s blind spot. I figure I’ll just correct for it rather than hold my breath.

        2. WeakenedSquire

          Counterpunch writers jealous much? It’s not just David Cobb; recently Julian Assange took to Twitter to promote Caitlin Johnstone. And she’s also been on Jimmy Dore.

          I didn’t realize that before turning to fulminations against the deep state and the MSM, Johnstone was an astrology writer! Regardless, she’s hit a nerve. The establishment is so little trusted that many people are willing to believe anything now as long as it doesn’t come from the credentialed class (which it seems to me most Counterpunch folks are a part of). One can hardly blame the perpetual-loser Greens for glomming on to a popular movement.

        3. Oregoncharles

          That’s a remarkably bad article. Joshua Frank is taking reckless advantage of being co-editor.

          I know nothing about either Cernovich or Johnstone, but I’ve met David Cobb and know why he’s still important in the Green Party: he’s an astonishing orator and organizer. It’s perfectly possible he’s made some serious mistakes (2004 being probably one of them.).

          All I know about the others is what Frank has told us, and I’m deeply unimpressed. It’s rather likely his characterization of Cernovich is correct, but the quotes he selected certainly don’t prove it, so all we really have is a straw man. One point especially griped me: he opposes Johnstone’s conception of the “Deep State” to ” tangible issues like capitalism, class dynamics, imperialism or the environment”. Every one of those is almost exactly as “tangible” as the “Deep State” – the environment just a bit more tangible. He fails a basic test of logic.

          Furthermore, all his quotes from Cernovich are defensible, examples of cranky overreaching rather than racism. For instance, “Islamist terrorism” has nothing to do with race; claiming that it does is making a straw man of the worst sort. Frank made that up out of whole cloth. Again, logic sacrificed to passion, leading to dishonesty.

          Should Cernovich be handled as if radioactive? Quite likely. But Frank doesn’t establish that, nor does he show the slightest connection between Cernovich and either Cobb or the Green Party. Since I haven’t heard of the whole thing, I think this is a tempest in a teapot masquerading as a hurricane.

          Whether it makes sense to work with bad people on particular issues where we happen to agree is an important issue, and I hate to see it treated with so much heat and so little light. In general, it’s a fundamental principle of effective organizing. Hell, we just worked with the Democratic Party to pass Ranked Choice Voting (IRV) in my county. If we can work with them…

          Where do you draw the line? Case by case. If Cernovich is as evil as Frank seems to feel (not much thinking going on in that article), then it would be unwise.

          In all seriousness, that article has nothing to do with the Green Party.

      1. funemployed

        don’t see how it’s a diminishment. I, for one, welcome the anti-militarist/imperialist critique and think it’s well placed. How impotent have such critiques proven when directed at the democripublicans over the years? At least Berniecrats who have blind spots on that front might ultimately prove receptive and willing to change course.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        On the one day, something is better than nothing(except in Zen meditation) and someone is better than no one (even when going to prom or to the prom).

        On the other hand, if we have time to lower our blood pressures by talking about cat cuteness, I think we can afford longing for something or some one better (during those moments when it’s not up to all of us).

    2. Jess

      It is, as Lambert is fond of saying, wonderfully clarifying when you realize that as good as Bernie is in relation to everyone else, he’s still so lacking in terms of wider measurements of activism and reform. When’s he is as deficient as he is in so many critical areas, and he’s still the best on the scene by a mile, that’s depressing.

      1. Arizona Slim

        I still think that placing so much emphasis on Bernie is a bad idea. Look, his campaign is over and it’s not coming back. Time has come to develop new leaders. Like the new mayor of Jackson, for example.

        1. Code Name D

          It certanly dosn’t help when he keeps getting back in line when ordered to by theestablishemeent. And just the other day I heard he is calling for sanctions against Russia now for blocking Hillarie’s assention. (face vault)

      2. sid_finster

        Until the Deep State is eradicated root and branch, it matters not who is nominally president.

          1. gepay

            If you mean the Illuminati or the Elders of Zion, they do not exist except in various people’s imagination.However if you think there aren’t people who are not elected. are terribly rich and powerful who really conspire in secret to run the world we live in. then you are terribly naive. They are not monolithic – Soros has different interests than the Koch Bros or Biill Gates or Queen Elizabeth. Do you really think that Henry Kissinger worked solely for the US government in the 70s and 80s? Why do all the governments of the world give the Knights of Malta and the employees of International Bank of Settlements diplomat status? Who are the families that own the Federal Reserve? What is the number of people that control the top international Corporations? Why would the governor of a small Southern state get invited to a Bilderbergers meeting even before he is running for President (and succeeds when only getting 43% of the vote.)? You don’t think the inner ring of groups like the Council of Foreign Relations don’t have an outsize influence over the policies of the US government?. You don’t believe there is an Anglo-American Zionist group of people who conjured up the War on Terror and made it happen? A new Pearl Harbor just happened by coincidence? That the NeoCons whose policies have turned the Middle East into an area of misery aren’t a visible tentacle of this? So you really believe the government’s conspiracy theory of 9/11? That a fellow in the caves of Tora Bora outwitted all the intelligence agencies in the West and caused steel framed skyscrapers to collapse from fire – An operation which needed the capacities of a major intelligence agency to pull off along with years of preparation and the cooperation of elements of the US military.

    3. diptherio

      The real issue here, regardless of anybody’s agenda, is that the actual information about how you can go about taking political control — from the “left” — in a deeply conservative area is not being shared. Bernie failed to take power, Lumumbas I and II both succeeded. As Dixon rightly points out, MXGM and Cooperation Jackson both had a lot to do with that.

      So rather than rip on people who are largely allied with us (the Berniecrats), I think I’ll repost this link to Kali Akuno, one of the main organizers and spokespeople for Cooperation Jackson, talking about what the rest of us can learn from events in Jackson. Get a cup of joe, this one is important:


      1. diptherio

        Spoiler: One of Akuno’s main take-aways from their experience in Jackson, was that if they had to do it over again, they would have started with building their economic base — i.e. creating worker co-ops — and done their organizing for political power after that.

      2. jo6pac

        Thanks I’ll watch it in the morning coffee time because right now it’s whine time;)

    4. EricT

      It was an obvious hit piece to drive a wedge into the left. The article did a great job in giving the history and background on Chokwe Antar Lumumba, but then somehow started ripping into the Bernie movement, without any quotes, no policies, nothing. They mocked Nina Turner’s response to militarism in regards to the US government, but no quotes, just a lot of invective.
      This is exactly how the Hillary side of the party attacked Bernie’s supporters during the primary, all say, no facts. And if you give credence to it, you are just supporting propaganda. Bernie’s movement is about people asserting their right to a government that supports people and not corporations, that is what democracy is all about. They don’t co-opt anything or anyone.

      1. different clue

        It probably has to do with BAR’s nasty personal spite over Bernie not being the sheepdog FOR THEM that they wanted Bernie to be FOR THEM and FOR NOTHING.

        If the BARs want to be a major political force, let them do it themselves. If they keep demanding that various Berniecrats sheepdog all their supporters into BARs pet little projects and pet little ideologies, the proper response might well be: “fuck you, we gave at the office.”

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      See the link provided to the post, at the end. Obviously not like tenured professors, but clearly in the “symbol manipulators” bucket (a la the creative class that was going to save the Democrats, per Richard Florida).

      1. diptherio

        Medical coders as part of the “creative class”….maybe that’s why our health outcomes in this country are so poor….

        1. Procopius

          I majored in Accounting at college. In the Freshman year everything seemed so clear. I loved it. Everything fit into a clearly defined account. As I progressed to higher grades and started learning about Generally Accepted Accounting Procedures I came to realize that Accounting is just another branch of Creative Writing. I’m quite sure Medical Coding is similar in the coder making subjective judgements. Maybe sometimes the judgement is made for them and they make up justifications for it to earn their salary. Maybe. Bwahahahahahah…

      2. different clue

        I am just an old analog refugee in this new digital world. So I don’t know exactly what a “medical coder” really is.

        But I envision a “medical coder” to be some kind of data-inputter . . . inputting diagnosis-code-numbers into the database along with patient names and insurance providers and other stuff. If I am correct, then a “medical coder” strikes me as being more a keyboard-donkey than a creative anything.
        And if I am correct, then perhaps “medical coders” might be ready to join other keyboard-donkeys in considering themselves to be a sort of “digitariat”.

        1. Huey Long

          If I am correct, then a “medical coder” strikes me as being more a keyboard-donkey than a creative anything.

          They’re creative insofar as they create additional charges by up-coding procedures and tacking on BS codes to legitimate procedures.

          They may not be Van Gogh, but these guys are pros at turning $1000 medical bills into $2000 medical bills.


          1. Procopius

            The real creativity is creating the justifications for the often counterintuitive decisions they make as to which code to select.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Maine is a very poor state. I gave the right link on symbol manipulation, and the wrong link on credentialism. From the right link:


        When I was researching this article, I searched on “medical coding.” Most of the first page of Google’s search results was taken up ads for medical coding training. From MB-Guide.org:

        Considering a career change? Have you thought about the medical billing and coding field?

        These industries helps millions of medical professionals and patients each year, and offer secure employment.

        Medical billers and coders handle the complicated world of insurance claims for healthcare professionals. Without a constant stream of insurance claim revenue, healthcare facilities would quickly stop working. Billers and coders play a vital role in keeping things ticking.

        Salary data:

        Salary data from AAPC reveals that the more AAPC credentials an individual carries, the higher their annual salary. The average annual salary in 2015 of members with:

        1 credential (any credential) was $46,899

        2+ credentials (any credentials) was $58,399

        3+ credentials (any credentials) was $65,643

        And it’s interesting what there are credentials for, and what there are not credentials for:

        The little-known field of medical-billing [patient] advocacy remains in its infancy, largely because there are no specific certifications or schooling necessary. MBAA offers in-home study courses and Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y., offers a masters program in health advocacy — there are even courses to learn the special coding necessary for medical billing — but just about anyone can hang a shingle and say he or she is an advocate.

        Probably because it’s better to become a single payer advocate than a medical billing advocate.

      2. different clue


        I wish I had read your comment before writing my own. At $32K, a medical coder is definitely a keyboard donkey, and would certainly be eligible for membership in the Digitariat, if there were such a self-consciously self-aware thing, and if it were recruiting members.

      1. jrs

        Haha, yea get some credential from a for-profit college (not *even* a degree from a for profit-college) OR maybe some training at the city college and you are now “credentialed class”. Maybe the barista working as Starbucks is as well, barista is a fancy sounding title, and you never know what degrees they might have! Your hairdresser probably also needed a license and probably went to a beauty school (but maybe wouldn’t if Matt Yglesias ran the world) so they too are credentialed class.

      2. jrs

        medical coding is what for-profit colleges advertise: “get training in 9 months” for. That is what is is considered credentialed and elite now?

      3. jrs

        elsewhere it has been argued that those in the credentialed elite have some power and thus some moral responsibility over the direction of society etc.. Well power is relative and in one sense you could argue everyone has some as a human being, in another sense you could argue no wage earners do as they must sell their labor. But I don’t think high degrees of power (or being elite) should be assigned to basically working class, at best LOWER middle class jobs. It was debated whether a database developer has power, not much, but that is at least considered a professional job with all the middle class trappings, it’s completely absurd to think low level clerical workers have such power. At that point one is arguing the system sucks because of the proles are so sucky pretty much.

  2. Fiery Hunt

    Interesting little story…

    Seems the identity warriors have missed the point again; the State Attorney wasn’t pulled over because she’s black…she was pulled over because cops are now randomly running tags whenever the mood strikes because license plate readers make surreptitious inquiries soooo easy. Cop readily and honestly says so in the video.

    No need to demand “Papers, please” anymore.

    1. Marbles

      Right, Florida cops were just merely running tags on every SINGLE car that passed them by. And she just happened to get caught up in generalized state overreach. Race had nothing to do with it.

      That’s obviously the more plausible reason, not the continual over-policing of minorities in this country. Not rampant and entrenched racism in the culture expressing itself through agents of the state. Never that. I mean Florida, it’s a person of color’s paradise.

      1. The Rev Kev

        The cop who pulled her car over also said that the dark window tinting on her cars also problematical to him as well although they were actually legal. Someone made the funny comment that perhaps the ‘dark tinting’ for the windows was not the actual problem but for the actual driver.

        Anybody remember when a black, woman banker was pulled over in New York driving a BMW (http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/kamilah-brock-nypd-bmw_us_55f2c9aae4b063ecbfa3e60d) not that long ago. They impounded her car and when she went to get it, they threw her in the funny farm for over a week and drugged her up to the gills.

        To be released, they demanded that she say that she did not own the BMW, that she was not a professional banker, and that President Barack Obama did not follow her on Twitter (he did). When they realized their mistake, they gave her a $13,000 medical bill when they cut her loose! I think the lawsuit is still going through for that one.

        Even the movie “Men in Black II” had a part where the main character said that the artificial car driver they used in an automatic car had to be changed for a white one as the black one kept on being pulled over (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTeRrlLNuqU) so common must this be.

  3. MartyH

    “We can build a death ray, but we can’t repair the track under Penn Station.” … just guessing, but for the cost of the Death Ray (EMP Weapon) program, we could have rebuilt Penn Station and all its trackage … probably dug new tunnels too.

    1. Sam Adams

      Of course the US could repair the tracks under Penn station, the powers that be CHOOSE not to fix the. Or as Lambert would say, “that’s a feature, not a bug.”

      1. Huey Long

        Am I the only one here entertained by the failure of the Acela class to fund the maintenance on the tracks the Acela train runs on?

        The “Summer of Hell” in NY Penn station is just the tip of the iceberg; the entire northeast corridor rail line between NY and Washington is all 1930’s infrastructure that is long overdue for serious overhaul work. The portion of the line going from NY to Boston was electrified even earlier (at least to New Haven) and is also due for work, especially some of the bridges.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Maybe some massive “tragedy”, killing and damaging scores to hundreds of the Acela mob, or maybe several such “tragedies,” might at least result in fixing the infrastructure the Parasites use to facilitate the looting. Not that such repairs and construction would have a snowballs chance of getting extended to the wider polity…

          And THAAD is showing some real promise at knocking down incoming ICBMs, https://www.mda.mil/news/17news0007.html, inviting first strikers to take a shot, and of course there will be those EMP bombs building on Operation Starfish Prime, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starfish_Prime, and 7,000 US Imperial warheads, and all those generals expecting to get Raptured, and maybe an unlucky end to the long series of fund-luck fortuities that have kept Armageddon from happening, http://www.planetdolan.com/15-times-world-war-3-nearly-started/, so maybe it has been fiscally responsible not to waste government money on repairing and improving pre-rubble…

        2. different clue

          Interesting. Your comment has me seeing the delicious irony of it. Let the Acela Corridor line decay to the functionality of the Trans Siberian Railroad. Let the Acelacrats deal with THAT, ha ha ha ha.

        3. bob

          I’m a fan of trains, but this just isn’t your decision.

          The RR’s wrote the law in this country. If it isn’t there now, and it will cost them money (lost capacity for construction), it’s not going to happen. Even if gov, at whatever level coughs up the cash, the RR’s are NOTORIOUS for taking decades to make decisions, and then a few more to act on them.

          Because they can….

          The whole Rails to Trails lobby (an actual charitable group) was set up to allow the RR’s to extend their ROW’s without even having to pay for upkeep.

          It’s green, yanno?

  4. Louis Fyne

    —The greater L.A. area has the worst homeownership rate for younger buyers, even worse than tech drunk San Francisco..—

    If Cali. Dems wants to help the middle class and home ownership/affordability, he should be spending billions on urban transit and suburban-city commuter rail/buses.

    Not $50+ billion on a SF to LA train.

    More transit options makes it more easier to find affordable(er) housing while still being able commute to work in a reasonable time.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      When an American city dweller has to move from one apartment to another, in his/her desperate resistance to greedier and greedier landlords, he or she should be classified as a local migrant, rather than as an international, long-distance migrant.

    2. Jess

      First, it’s not a SF to LA train. It’s a Bakersfield to Modesto train. Second, $50 bil won’t even dent the surface. The official estimate is already in the $60 bil range and that’s certain to skyrocket. The words you are looking for to describe this project are:


      1. Jim Haygood

        $60 billion … compared to a $111.3 billion unfunded liability at Calpers as of June 30, 2015.

        Maybe Cali’s destitute pensioners can be put to work on the train as conductors.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I think that $60 billion is to lay down rail-tracks, install signals, build overpasses, etc, not to run it.

          The pensioners will want to take a course in how Chinese workers on the TransContinental Railroad got things done in baskets.

      2. different clue

        Which means that beyond being a Boodoggle and a Fiasco, it is also arson and vandalism against some of California’s richest farmland.

    3. jrs

      I’m kind of scratching my head about how this addresses the issue. I’m fairly pro public transit. But people are already commuting a long way, yea by cars and so L.A. traffic. But the kind of public transit needed to get where housing is actually affordable would be say San Bernadino to L.A. (about 60 miles), Antelope Valley to L.A. (about 80 miles).

      Because that’s how far you have to go out for prices to not be high. Lower paid people can’t even afford to RENT AN APARTMENT in the San Fernando Valley at this point it’s gotten so bad (hardly the most expensive part of L.A.), middle class people will do ok somewhere like that. The problem is lots of people in the L.A. area don’t earn a middle class income.

      1. jrs

        Although maybe we’re not even addressing the same issue, I guess you are concerned about middle class homeowners having options to commute to work, and I’m worried about the housing affordability crisis in L.A. that has gotten to the point where lower income people who work in L.A. can’t afford to rent an apartment to live there anywhere remotely in the area.

    1. Dan

      This is a nice shakedown opportunity for the dems who haven’t been tasting enough of that sweet, sweet defense contractor cash for a while. Get out the checkbooks folks.

  5. Cujo359

    re: “Raytheon EMP weapon tested by Boeing, USAF Research Lab”. Of course, it’s all just fun and games until one of those missiles lands within reach of one of our adversaries, at which point we’ll be having to figure out how we can harden every important electronics system in America.

    There are days when I really wonder if we think beyond the next move when it comes to defense..

    We can build a death ray, but we can’t repair the track under Penn Station.

    I’ve been watching a PBS series called Nazi Mega Weapons recently, which, as the name implies, is about all the remarkable engineering projects the Germans and Japanese were up to during WWII. It’s been reminding me of what both they and the major Allied countries, including the US, USSR, and UK managed to do when they stopped worrying about how they could “pay for” whatever it is they needed. No objections of the “Mein Fuhrer, we don’t have enough Marks in the war budget to build this!” It was all “Do we have enough engineers, workers, and concrete? OK, I want an Atlantic Wall.”

    Not an original thought, of course, but I sure wish we could apply such determination to fixing the problems we face, instead of pretending to be “fiscally responsible”.

    1. Baby Gerald

      ‘No objections of the “Mein Fuhrer, we don’t have enough Marks in the war budget to build this!” It was all “Do we have enough engineers, workers, and concrete? OK, I want an Atlantic Wall.”’

      More like: ‘How many slave laborers do we need to deploy? How many Jews do we need to dispossess to pay for these things?’

      As great as those Nazi mega-engineering projects were, nearly everything came at an inexcusable human cost. POWs, foreign conscripts from conquered territories, and concentration camp prisoners did most of the building of the Reich from 1940 until the end of the war. Tens to hundreds of thousands died in the process.

      1. Cujo359

        Yes, I know. That’s why I mentioned the Allies as well. While slave labor certainly gave the Nazis a logistical advantage, it wasn’t the only thing that enabled those projects. The US built half a million aircraft in the years 1937 to 1945, 25 aircraft carriers, and hundreds of other ships. Doing that required building or expanding a whole host of manufacturing and transportation facilities. The Soviets built hundreds of thousands of tanks and aircraft as well, despite having to relocate much of their industries east of the Caucuses (although it must be noted that they used a lot of slave labor, also).

        Even in the US and UK, which didn’t use enough slave labor to matter much so far as I’m aware (both used POWs as labor, though they didn’t work them to death), industrial output of weapons and logistical needs like food soared. One of the main reasons was that no one worried about balancing budgets – it was “hang the expense, we’re doing this”.

        1. Carolinian

          Don’t forget the US being able to assemble a Liberty ship from modules and launch in three days. Supposedly when Hitler was shown the figures for US aircraft production he refused to believe it.

          “Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” –Samuel Johnson

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Slave masters vs. Serf masters.

          The latter is less, I don’t know, shocking perhaps is the word.

          It’s the same mind trick that makes us believe that confining a person to a prison cell is less damaging than corporal punishment.

          “I don’t see no blood.”

          The emotional damage of being locked up takes longer to accomplished, usually. It’s like ocean waves however gentle most of the time, can erode a coast…it’s like the yin conquering the yang…as was pointed out over 2,000 years ago. But today, we are still more impressed by the immediate, the visible, more than their counterparts.

          So, instant killing of 100,000 people 10 years short of their expected life expectancy is robbing a total of 1,000.000 (10×100,000) man-years.

          Slowly shortening the lives of 10,000,000 people by 1 year each would equate to 10,000,000 man-years, deprived, via, say, toxic water.

          Which one is more noticed? (I was going to ask which one was worse, but in human-life-math, one life = 1,000 lives, as each is infinitely precious).

  6. allan

    Ordered by court to disclose his Russia contacts, Sessions releases [mostly] blank sheet of paper [Think Progress]

    In response to a court order directing Attorney General Jeff Sessions to disclose the part of his security clearance form detailing his Russia contacts, the Department of Justice released a mostly blank page of paper. …

    In the margin of the single-page disclosure released on Thursday, Sessions cites two statutory justifications for not disclosing information about his meetings with Russians. Both of them claim disclosure “would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”

    The irony burns:

    … Throughout his confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee and his written responses to additional questions from lawmakers, Sessions made a number of troubling statements. He said he would support legislation to enable a privacy-invasive Rapid DNA system. He refused to definitively commit not to put journalists in jail for doing their job. He dodged questions about Justice Department policies on Stingrays, and wouldn’t commit to publish guidelines on how federal law enforcement uses government hacking. He called it “critical” that law enforcement be able to “overcome” encryption.

    His Senate record on surveillance is also disturbing. Sessions helped to derail reform to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act in the Senate. He also opposed the USA FREEDOM Act, a set of moderate reforms to the NSA’s mass collection of information about Americans’ domestic phone calls. In 2015, he went so far as to pen an alarmist op-ed against the bill, in which he claimed that the bulk phone records collection was “subject to extraordinary oversight” and warned the bill “would make it vastly more difficult for the NSA to stop a terrorist than it is to stop a tax cheat.” …

    Privacy for me but not for thee.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I see it as setting a precedent for thee…or all of us.

      That is not so bad.

  7. optimader

    Using salt circle runes to trap an A.I. car is possibly the most cyberpunk thing ever.

    And good for the environment! YAYYY!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Why a ‘No Entry’ and not a ‘No Exit’ sign?

      A Buddha-self-driving-car would have realized that ‘You have already arrived*. No need to enter anywhere.”

      *Tathagata, or Rulai (in Chinese) means One who has thus come, in Palli.

  8. Kurt Sperry

    “Like a lobster trap, isn’t it?”

    Except it’s really just a video of a guy driving a car into the salt drawing and throwing it into park. A fact hidden deep in the audio, after you’ve watched it believing it to be what was implied.

  9. dcblogger

    At some point we will need a place to put all the climate change refugees, I vote we use eminent domain to seize the property of all the corporate management of the fossil fuel industry and the principal investors. those who profited from the catastrophe should be made to pay for its reckoning.

  10. Huey Long

    RE: Rich People Have It Harder

    This Cabrera character is really something. Check out what he had to say after losing the Democratic primary race for state senate a few years back:

    The liberal media did him in.

    That was the opinion of Councilman Fernando Cabrera, a socially conservative pastor, who failed to unseat State Senator Gustavo Rivera in the Bronx yesterday.

    “He had the mayor, he had the borough president, he had county, he had all the unions, he had liberal media, he had the LGBT community–what was left?” Mr. Cabera told the Observer at City Hall today. “It was absolutely unfair. I think [the media] was very biased. It was clear, every time we tried to put our message out, it was not being put forth correctly or misrepresented.”

    Mr. Rivera, a fellow Democrat who is socially liberal, beat Mr. Cabrera by about 20 points. The pastor drew fire from the political establishment for his links to various conservative causes and his apparent praise of a Ugandan anti-gay law. Multiple colleagues of Mr. Cabrera angrily denounced his views–he is pro-life and opposed to gay marriage–at a recent press conference. On Election Day, Mr. Cabrera even had trouble voting.


    Thankfully the city council has term limits, and this guy can’t run for re-election in this year. Hopefully his latest gaff will provide sufficient oppo to keep him out of the state assembly or senate, although he’d still be irrelevant due to New York’s “3 men in a room” system of governance.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      But for those clever, rich people, life may be harder, for they can live, sorry, suffer longer*. Wait, does it mean they need to be compensated more?

      *Apparently, clever people live longer. It’s counter intuitive to me. Clever people should be able to see the futility, the meaninglessness of life, after pondering over the meaning of it deeply, or most ponderously.

  11. clarky90

    This just in from an anonymous Russian Blue Kitty Cat!

    Donald Jr./ Russia narrative DESTROYED! Obama is a Criminal. (Proof)
    The Truth Factory


    “Here are the documents that show falsified DNS documents………..

    Thanks 4Chan
    This means Obama was illegally spying and this whole thing was a set up.”

  12. hemeantwell

    Re ““Rethinking the Marxist Conception of Revolution” [Hampton Institute].” I’m glad to see someone with anarchist or anarcho-syndicalist politics trying to think about Marxism in a way that doesn’t recall the sterile dismissiveness of Bakunin et al. But the gradualist premise leaves me wondering. The supplantation, mostly, of feudalism by capitalism occurred piecemeal over a long period against an horizon of unlimited growth possibilities, particularly with respect to the environment. My coarse take on things now is that the profit regime is going to have to be either dumped, or face-lifted beyond recognition, in an historically very short time span. It will take a state to impose the new order, at least in the sense that the reformulation of goals and production incentives will be imposed in a way that allows some coordination of production and doesn’t piss too many people with a lot of guns off. Capital is very willing to promote Malthusian solutions to crises, and it will need to be stopped from doing so.

    1. PKMKII

      It’s a bit of a rock and a hard place situation, an economics that needs to be shifted quickly, but a populace that, like all populaces across time, cannot be quickly shifted. The changes are gradual because quick change is too destabilizing to society. This is what Lenin learned upon the revolution, and why they had to adopt state capitalism instead. What Marx failed to realize is that while it is true that the ruling class constructs a historical mythos to justify and deify their system, the idea of revolution itself is part of that mythos. If you’re going to depict your system as greatly superior to what preceded it, you need to construct a history wherein all traces of the old were swept away, otherwise you’d have to admit that your current system contains pieces of the old.

      1. john

        Marx don’t stand a chance as long as the intellectuals keep using the word “neo-liberal” when addressing “da-masses”.

  13. Jim Haygood

    Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 55 Neutral (previous close: 47, Neutral)

    Today the Dow Industrials set a record of high of 21,553, while the S&P 500 closed less than 5 points below its June 19th record high.

    Still no greed? It’s like waiting for Godot.

    The short-seller beatings will continue until morale improves. ;-)

  14. Lee

    There are two allusions in today’s plantidote: Mille’t’s Man with Hoe and Van Gogh’s Sunflowers and his peasant drawings. We might also note that today’s man with hoe is probably better off, at least for now, than Millet’s subject or peasants depicted by Van Gogh.


    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The antidote also challenges us to compare it to a typical Chinese landscape painting, where humans appear insignificant before huge mountains, as a reminder of the grandeur or awesomeness of nature.

      Here, in the antidote, our man is almost, though not quite, as tall as the sunflower plants…as if Man could get that close to the Sun, the moon, and other stars, without melting. This, thus, represents a different school of thought, a different perspective on life, perhaps.

      It’s quite an esoteric composition. Who knows, maybe even anti-West…

  15. allan

    Trump Lawyer Marc Kasowitz Threatens Stranger in Emails: ‘Watch Your Back , [Family Blog]’

    Marc Kasowitz, President Trump’s personal attorney on the Russia case, threatened a stranger in a string of profanity-laden emails Wednesday night.

    The man, a retired public relations professional in the western United States who asked not to be identified, read ProPublica’s story this week on Kasowitz and sent the lawyer an email with the subject line: “Resign Now.’’

    Kasowitz replied with series of angry messages sent between 9:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. Eastern time. One read: “I’m on you now. You are fucking with me now Let’s see who you are Watch your back , [I-Can’t-type-it-but-it-rhymes-with-rich].”

    In another email, Kasowitz wrote: “Call me. Don’t be afraid, you piece of [family blog]. Stand up. If you don’t call, you’re just afraid.” And later: “I already know where you live, I’m on you. You might as well call me. You will see me. I promise. Bro.” …

    Seems nice.

    When your lawyer needs a lawyer, or a filter, you’ve got a problem.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Not nice, but in fact rude and crude.

      The suave, smooth-talking, orating lawyers, saviors and sales persons are the ones to watch out for though.

      1. allan

        Rude and crude, or incompetent? Marcy Wheeler yesterday on Democracy Now:

        One subtext to this whole thing is that Jared Kushner has very competent lawyers: Jamie Gorelick, who used to work at DOJ, Abbe Lowell, who’s one of the best defense attorneys in the country. And as you said, Don Jr. and the rest of the Trump family keep lawyering up with mob lawyers, who are totally inappropriate to this task and also aren’t doing what Kushner’s lawyers seem to be doing, which is getting ahead of the issues. So, it’ll be interesting to see how the tensions in the White House play out, as Kushner follows a very competent legal strategy and Trump and his father just take to Twitter and start hurting their case on Twitter. …

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Touche, about suave, competent, efficient, cold blooded lawyers, vs. less competent, rude, emotional ones.

          Let’s all be careful of smooth talking ones.

    2. Allegorio

      Not to forget that President der Trumpf’s mentor was the infamous Roy Cohn. The cult of ruthlessness lives on.

  16. ewmayer

    Today I’m again reminded why I dearly wish “Stats Watch” would be split into 2 categories, with the addition of “Fake Stats Watch”. Official inflation and unemployment data would naturally go into the latter.

    Re. Gaming self-driving cars — I foresee a burgeoning guerrilla movement based on creative use of compact ‘self-inking’ 4″-wide paint rollers. Much as depicted in the old Pepe LePew cartoons, but not involving unfortunate cats getting white-striped down the back and so triggering amorous urges in French-lover skunks. (Aside: To see the real-life – if human movie character can be considered such – inspiration for the cartoon Pepe, watch the classic 30s film Algiers. Now you know where Pepe’s “come vees me to ze Casbah” came from. “Ooh, she ees a shy one, no?”)

  17. NotTimothyGeithner

    The W rehabilitation is particularly strange. Do his newly revealed supporters believe aligning themselves with Shrub helps their image? Jeb lost to Trump in “Bush country” after trashing W just five minutes ago. Is this a case of the Kremlin having replaced the denizens of DC with gold fish who can’t remember 10 seconds ago?

    1. Carolinian

      The DC goldfish supported Dubya when he was invading Iraq. Why would they not support him now? Plus Michelle gave him a big hug.

      If Trump would find some appropriate country to invade they’d probably love him too. Note how they cooed when he sent those missiles into Syria.

      1. different clue

        I believe I remember Ian Welsh running a copy of that Michelle-hugs-Dubya photograph over the caption ” War criminals. I see war criminals.”

    2. Allegorio

      I think talk of war crimes tribunals are worrying some. How to keep out of that bullet proof glass box? The war criminal is being pre-emptively humanized.

  18. Anonymous

    Opera is superior to Chrome in just about every way, especially battery life and privacy. The occasional website doesn’t render properly so I keep Chrome for that, but that is rare.

  19. bob


    “NEW YORK — The corruption conviction of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was overturned Thursday by a federal appeals court that found sufficient evidence but flawed jury instructions in light of a recent Supreme Court ruling narrowing the definition of what it takes to convict a public official. Prosecutors vowed to retry him.”


    Remember him? Sent away. It was a good day. Albany was washed clean of corruption. Now, The Supreme Court has “narrowed” the definition of corruption. Apparently, trading bodies is too broad.

    He didn’t even spend ONE FUCKING DAY IN PRISON!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Allegorio

      The ethnically privileged are above conviction, don’t you know? It’s a close knit little club, and you’re not in it.

  20. Carolinian

    More on Magnitsky.


    The story eventually attracted the attention of Russian filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov, who a known critic of President Vladimir Putin. Nekrasov decided to produce a docu-drama that would present Browder’s narrative to a wider public. Nekrasov even said he hoped that he might recruit Browder as the narrator of the tale.

    However, the project took an unexpected turn when Nekrasov’s research kept turning up contradictions to Browder’s storyline, which began to look more and more like a corporate cover story. Nekrasov discovered that a woman working in Browder’s company was the actual whistleblower and that Magnitsky – rather than a crusading lawyer – was an accountant who was implicated in the scheme.[…]

    After the Newseum presentation, a Washington Post editorial branded Nekrasov’s documentary Russian “agit-prop” and sought to discredit Nekrasov without addressing his many documented examples of Browder’s misrepresenting both big and small facts in the case. Instead, the Post accused Nekrasov of using “facts highly selectively” and insinuated that he was merely a pawn in the Kremlin’s “campaign to discredit Mr. Browder and the Magnitsky Act.”[…]

    The Post’s satisfaction that Nekrasov’s documentary would not draw a large audience represents what is becoming a new paradigm in U.S. mainstream journalism, the idea that it is the media’s duty to protect the American people from seeing divergent narratives on sensitive geopolitical issues.[…]

    Over the past year, we have seen a growing hysteria about “Russian propaganda” and “fake news” with The New York Times and other major news outlets eagerly awaiting algorithms that can be unleashed on the Internet to eradicate information that groups like Google’s First Draft Coalition deem “false.”

    First Draft consists of the Times, the Post, other mainstream outlets, and establishment-approved online news sites, such as Bellingcat with links to the pro-NATO think tank, Atlantic Council. First Draft’s job will be to serve as a kind of Ministry of Truth and thus shield the public from information that is deemed propaganda or untrue.

    So to sum up: a wealthy hedge fund manager named Browder gets Congress to pass a law supporting his alleged grievances against the Russian government, a filmmaker finds the underlying story to be dodgy, the resulting documentary is largely suppressed in Europe and America and the Times/Post are pushing a “fake news” meme to discredit any pushback against their version of foreign news.

    Is it really the bumbling Trump we should be afraid of?

    1. jo6pac

      That Russian/Putin business a really good business model until it isn’t. Then sadly that seems to be like long time off.

      Conn-sul-tants making the big $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

      Everythingy is on schedule please move along

  21. DJG

    The article in The American Conservative is, of course, conflicted, because valiant free enterprise is supposed to triumph pluckily over adversity, but the last few paragraph are problematical, and they remind me how much of the self-righteous huffing and puffing by white-collar types about Trump is pure bad faith. It takes a village of grifters to ruin the Los Alamos Labs:

    Mello points out that without stronger government oversight, a change in the lazy, pass-the-buck culture, and a true ‘free market’ approach that breaks up the small number of contractors’ grip on the industry and makes them truly accountable, the status quo will remain.

    “In the absence of such a profound self-examination the only conclusion we can make is that Los Alamos cannot be reformed, it’s just going to be a mess,” he said. “And it will be just a matter of time before there’s more accidents, more project management failures, hundreds if not billions wasted.”

    The article says that current management fees charged to the Feds by Bechtel come to $80 million / year.

    I could ruin a nuclear program for less!

    1. jo6pac

      I agree with running all govt. programs for less my fee would half of the former fee but sadly I’m working from my little room in Calli and their working in the beltway

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Mello points out that without stronger government oversight…

      Mello is right.

      Also right is the fact without stronger citizen oversight, we don’t have a stronger government oversight.

      The ultimate source of progress resides in the private sector*.

      *For a republic or a democracy. For a monarchy, a stronger government oversight goes hand in hand with a stronger king (who is not in the private sector).

  22. Livius Drusus

    Re: lackluster consumer spending, are people not spending as much as expected due to fear of another recession being around the corner? Many of the people I talk to seem to think we are due for another recession soon. Maybe not as big as 2008 but definitely a downturn.

    1. Livius Drusus

      I assume that the coding boot camp bubble will burst soon much like the rest of the for-profit education industry.

  23. allan

    NPR Faces Possible SAG-AFTRA Strike as Contract Expiration Looms [Variety]

    SAG-AFTRA employees of National Public Radio have warned that they could move toward a strike when the current contract expires Friday night.

    The union, which reps about 400 NPR employees, has a launched a “We Make NPR” web site with a countdown clock at the top and the headline, “The future of NPR is at stake.” Talks have been taking place in Washington D.C., with a federal mediator. …

    The union is objecting to proposal to set up a separate pay scale for newcomers: “Equal pay for equal work. We do not want a two-tier pay system for employees who do the same job.”

    Sullivan said that NPR management reasons for the necessity of a two-tier wage scale have been murky.

    “It’s been a mystery,” she added. “They have told us that they [need] flexibility in case there’s a recession down the line.” …

    Two-tier wage scales have always worked out well in the past, improving morale, customer service
    and productivity, not to mention justifying executive bonuses, so what’s the problem?

  24. akaPaul LaFargue

    “Jackpot Index.”

    Those who presume to expound on world history w/o a historical worldview worth its weight in musclemass should not emerge from the sandbox. Yes, “Jackpot” – those who presume a Bernsteinian unfolding of socio-political change seem to have not opened a morning newspaper recently. Or to update this reference – have missed their morning reading of NC’s links.

  25. Procopius

    Debbie Stabenow is one of my Senator’s right now. I have to hope the dollar doesn’t fall too much over the next year, because I’m on a fixed income and will have to contribute to her campaign next year. If Kid Rock runs against her I’ll have to contribute more. My lord, what a wacko-bird. Although it’s nice he does some actual good in Detroit.

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