2:00PM Water Cooler 7/25/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


Health Care

“Live coverage: Senate heads for dramatic healthcare repeal vote” [The Hill]. “[McConnnell] got a late boost of momentum after Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) signaled he would vote ‘yes’ (on the Motion to Proceed (MTP). I don’t know if Kentucky voters will punish Paul on policy; they haven’t before. But they might punish him for being a wuss. Anyhow, the MTP should happen “after lunch.”

On the “skinny plan” (see above) this (read from bottom up):

“Obamacare repeal vote still too close to call” [Politico]. “Though McCain’s return was being used as motivation for wavering senators, the vote count was unclear as of midday Tuesday.” Everybody assumes that McCain wouldn’t be coming back unless his vote would put McConnell’s count over the top. But nobody seems to be considering the idea that McConnell could have lied to McCain about what the count was, hoping to stampede the defectors with McCain’s return.

“And a majority [of mayors] doubt that President Trump, who made dismantling the signature policy of the previous administration one of his top campaign promises, has a clear plan to replace Obamacare if Congress manages to repeal it. If they had their way, most say they would prefer a single-payer plan” [Politico].


“Des Moines political consultant Troy Price was elected chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party on Saturday” [Des Moines Register]. “Price, a former executive director of the party and veteran of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaigns in Iowa, was chosen by the party’s state central committee.”

“Twenty-six months later, Sanders-backers have landed positions in Iowa’s county and state Democratic parties and are candidates in its governor’s race and, in D’Alessandro’s case, at least one congressional contest” [CNN]. But not, however, the Democrat Party chair…..


“Why Republicans should keep doing nothing” [The Week]. “In 2018, Republicans will be playing on home turf, with only eight Senate seats out of 33 to defend, six of them impregnably safe. And while the Democrats have an advantage in generic polling in the House, they probably need as much as a five-point lead to have a chance to take over the chamber. In the absence of either a raft of Republican retirements or a “wave” of Democratic enthusiasm, the Republicans can hang on by playing defensively. So why go on offense with a bold agenda? Trying to do things only gives the other party a target to shoot at.”

2016 Post Mortem

“As a poll released last week by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal shows, Trump remains fairly popular among Youngstown voters. The stories about meetings with Russians during the election really don’t resonate at all. These stories are latched onto by those who hate Trump because his election never made sense to them in the first place. Something corrupt must have happened; how else could Trump have, to their minds, fooled so many voters? Youngstown voters know they didn’t vote for Trump because Vladimir Putin wanted them to. They voted for Trump because he promised them jobs, and they believed him” [CNN]. Youngstown is in Mahoning County, which Trump flipped from Obama.

“Trump County Voters Aren’t Downtrodden, but They Are Being Left Behind” [NBC]. “The NBC News/WSJ poll looked at 439 counties in 16 states that Trump flipped from Barack Obama 2012 or where Trump beat 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s margin of victory by 20 points or more. The survey showed Trump’s support was better in those places than the rest of the nation — 50 percent in those counties approve of the president, compared to 40 percent who said the same in the most recent national NBC News/WSJ poll…. The real concern in the Trump counties is losing ground. In 2000, the average median household income in these places was about $7,000 below the national median. By 2015, the difference between those counties and the national figure was nearly $9,000.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Democrats don’t need ‘A Better Deal.’ They need Bernie Sanders” [The Week]. No. Reliance on one person is a recipe for disaster. What Democrats need is the Sanders program as opposed to the tepid “Better Deal.” More: “the message — and its accompanying slogan — is anodyne, focus-grouped, consultant-generated pablum.” If you’ve got to say it’s “bold,” it probably isn’t.

“The Democrats’ ‘Better Deal’ is a box-office dud” [MarketWatch]. “Typically for the Democrats, however, everything from the message to the messenger to the timing was off. Schumer’s enunciation of three fairly anodyne principles, and three specific but limited policies — with promises of more to come — fell with a dull thud on a day dominated by news of Jared Kushner’s testimony in the Senate on his Russian contacts…. Schumer has hinted that, in the Better Deal, Medicare for All will be ‘on the table.’ So why wait, why persist with this drip, drip, drip of policy prescriptions? Could it be they need a few more focus groups on these other policies?” My favorite part of Schumer’s “Better Deal” Times Op-Ed: Part of the social contract used to be that you could “… take a modest vacation every year….” “Modest vacation.” Aim high, Chuck! Shoot for the stars!

“This Left Challenger Is Showing How to Use Progressive Economics to Flip Trump Country” [In These Times]. Excellent article on Lancaster County, PA. It’s all good, but this on health care:

A wide variety of people here are being impacted personally because they have pre-existing conditions. Many were able to access health insurance for the first time through the ACA exchange and are at risk of that falling apart. So, you hear those personal stories from individuals. But also, when I talk to business owners, part of the challenge for them is inconsistency: not knowing what the rates are going to be next year, what the changes are going to be this next year, what they’re going to be able to afford and what their employees are going to be able to afford. When you look at single-payer systems in other developed countries that we can compare ourselves to, it’s actually good for business. Businesses can be clear about what to expect. I think people also see this as a common-sense issue, and that’s part of what’s shifting the narrative around moving toward extended Medicare or a single-payer system. What we have now is so expensive, so wasteful and leaving so many people behind. There’s a huge opportunity to be more efficient, more effective, cover more people and do more good.

“”Go back to school little girl” [Brittany B, Medium] Leave Joan Walsh a-l-o-o-o-o-o-n-e!!!!! “Now is a good time to remind everyone that these are democrats. Because I told Joan that I think her second wave feminism is toxic and dying, and she took it as a personal attack on her age (it wasn’t), she sent her followers to defend her honor. I guess I should have expected that would happen since I criticized a paid propagandist with a blue check. But, I need people to stop trying to say that democrats are better people than republicans; they aren’t. Having that D next to your name, isn’t some bullet-proof indication that you’re a good person.”

Stats Watch

Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index, July 2017: “expanded for the ninth consecutive month” “mostly on the back of increases in new orders and employment” [Econoday]. “[T]he Richmond Fed noted the entire series of the index has been revised and seasonal adjustment factors were recalculated to better reflect current economic trends.” But: “The Richmond Fed subcategories were mixed, This was a better report than last month – but still not excellent” [Econintersect].

Consumer Confidence, July 2017: “The consumer sentiment report is beginning to head south but not the consumer confidence report which is resuming its march to unusually strong levels” [Econoday]. “Details confirm the strength led by job assessments including the closely watched jobs-currently-hard-to-get reading which is at only 18.0 percent, down from a revised 18.4 percent in June and pointing to another strong employment report for July.” And: “‘Overall, consumers foresee the current economic expansion continuing well into the second half of this year,’ [said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board].”

Federal Housing Finance Agency House Price Index, May 2017: “Softest result since January and in line with similar readings in the Case-Shiller report which was also released this morning” [Econoday]. “[D]etails do confirm monthly weakness including a rare contraction, at minus 0.2 percent, for the Mountain region and a very sharp 0.5 percent contraction for the Mid-Atlantic…. Both FHFA and Case-Shiller have large sample sizes and rigorous methodology and though the data lag, they are closely watched as essential gauges of home prices.” And: “The national house-price index increased to a fresh record high, 3.2% above the previous peak seen in 2006. The index is also over 27% above the 2012 trough although the 20-city index remains 3.7% below record highs” [Economic Calendar]. “There will be further concerns that overall financing conditions are too loose, especially with overall price increases continuing to outstrip earnings and prices. Evidence of further acceleration in cities such as Seattle will also cause financial-stability concerns.”

S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index, May 2017: “Home prices in yesterday’s existing home sales report were very strong, in contrast to today’s reports from both Case-Shiller and FHFA where moderation is the theme” [Econoday]. “Emerging weakness is clear with 6 of 20 cities, for the second month in a row, posting contraction including sharp declines in May for New York, Boston and Chicago…. Home prices have perhaps been the leading strength of the economy but have, however, been holding down affordability and pushing first-time buyers out of the market. Moderation in prices may be a negative for immediate household wealth but is probably a positive for the housing sector.” And but: “Many pundits believe home prices are back in a bubble. Maybe, but the falling inventory of homes for sale keeps home prices relatively high. I continue to see this a situation of supply and demand. It is the affordability of the homes which is becoming an issue for the lower segments of consumers” [Econintersect].

Supply Chain: “Parcels logistics makes major breakthrough with harmonised international labelling system” [Lloyd’s Loading List]. “The recently approved Technical Specification (CEN/TS17073) for Postal services – Interfaces for cross-border parcels, is ready for publication by all European National Standardization Authorities as of 21 June.” If your dream is frictionless global e-commerce, this is a big deal.

Shipping: “Ultra large containerships look set to dominate Asia-northern Europe trade” [Lloyd’s Loading List]. “Boxships of 18,000 teu and above plying the Asia-northern Europe trade will become the vessels of choice by the end of next year, with the potential of around 61% of total capacity taken up by these industry behemoths, say analysts…. ‘[U]ltra large container vessels lead to an increase in massive bursts of containers to be handled at once, rather than being spread across the week,’ [said SeaIntel]. “This can pose a major challenge to ports and terminals.'”

State Street Investor Confidence Index, July 2017: “Continued improvements in global economic growth have reignited the risk appetite of institutional investors, as strong earnings growth expectations and optimism based on an improving economic outlook have taken precedence over the rising anticipation of central bank balance sheet reductions and a more hawkish tone” [Econoday]. “But Europe remains risk-off territory, State Street noted, despite strong corporate data and fading political headwinds. In Asia, concerns about the Trump administration’s global trade policies have taken a toll on institutional investor confidence.”

Shipping: “Blockchain: Friend or foe?” [Splash 247]. “Forbes notes that in a recent test of blockchain technology completed in collaboration between Maersk and IBM, the journey of a 40-foot RF containing flowers was tracked from its origin in Schneider Electric in Lyon, France, to the Schneider Electric facility in the US. From point A to B, it sounds simple enough, but consider that this shipment of flowers encountered numerous agencies along the way including Customs Administration of Netherlands, US Customs and Border Protection, US Department of Homeland Security, and this is not including the usual stopping points: warehouses, rail yards, container yards, trucking facilities, loading vessels, transhipment ports, transhipment vessels, and more. The implementation of blockchain technology would allow us to view all of these movements on a highly-secure, shared network, which will provide complete transparency to all essential players.”

The Bezzle: “A new survey from ReportLinker indicates that 53% of U.S. drivers would purchase a fully autonomous vehicle the next time they buy a car. Another 34% would purchase a partially autonomous vehicle, while just 13% want their next car to be just like their current car when it comes to self-driving capability. A year ago, 46% said they would purchase a fully autonomous car next time, while 46% said they would purchase a partially autonomous vehicle and 18% wanted no part of autonomous vehicles” [247 Wall Street]. So I suppose the trick will be to market Level 4 as if it were Level 5 (fully autonomous), since Level 5 is like 20 years away. Or we could spend a few trillions optimizing the roads for them. And by “the” roads, I mean some roads…. But from the same poll: “When asked if they would feel safe using a self-driving car, just 34% said they would while 67% said they would not.” Huh?

The Bezzle: “Uber Tried To Make Biglaw A Gig Economy. Biglaw Told Them To Cram It” [DealBreaker]. “[Being fired as a client] happens when the Ted Talk tactics of selling people on taking less to be in a ‘program’ that would, theoretically, pay off one day hits the reality of sophisticated professionals who just want their damn money, thank you very much. Frankly, it’s astounding that Quinn Emanuel participated in this program for four and a half years! But, as the email from Swedlow makes clear, Quinn kept expecting things to take off. They figured that big matter was right around the corner. It wasn’t.” Fun!

The Bezzle: “There’s a trillion-dollar global black market for fake “designer” chairs” [Quartz].

International Standards: “[In 1889] the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in Paris built an actual reference meter and kilogram” [JSTOR Daily]. “This is a great system if the prototypes are truly inert. However, evidence suggests that the prototypes do change. Despite cleaning, contaminants stick to their surface, and the kilogram is slowly losing mass…. The kilogram, however, remained stubbornly difficult to define; no good immutable physical standard unit of mass was readily available. The kilogram prototype remains in its Parisian vault to this day.” So perhaps I am too hard on The Trade Blob for not coming up with a glossary definition for “services”?

Five Horsemen: “Here’s why Amazon, Facebook and the gang are not going to take down this market” [MarketWatch]. “The earnings geyser is primed to gush out some big tech reports, after Tuesday’s run of household names gets out of the way.”

Five Horsemen: “In a reversal of fortunes, Apple soars while Alphabet sinks to meet it” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen July 25

The Fed: “This Week, The FOMC Is Gonna Be All WTF” [DealBreaker]. “There are additional reasons for Yellen and other Fed officials to keep their fingers firmly on the pause button until the early autumn, if not into the winter — though a key one falls under the central banking as art, not science, category. Historically, September and October are perilous months for markets, when the days begin to grow short and the problems that have built up in the economy are easier to see without the glare of the summer sun and the Hamptons hangover.”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 82 Extreme Greed (previous close: 72, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 62 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Jul 25 at 11:49am. Another big swing.

Crapification Watch

“Customer satisfaction declined to 74.3 on [the American Customer Satisfaction Index] 100-point scale, falling as a result of lower user satisfaction with internet news and search engines. The e-business segment includes three categories: social media, search engines and information websites, and news and opinion websites” [247 Wall Street]. All those anecdotes in the NC comment section add up, I guess.

“At its core, the Times’s internal transformation focuses on upending the paper’s copy desk. And while this might seem like a rather small innovation, it is poignant and fraught in a distinctively Timesian manner. For decades, the copy desk has been an all-seeing, all-powerful enforcer of Times standards and verbal peculiarities. As much as the reporters, writers, and editors, it’s what makes the Times the Times. The traditional desk structure allowed for multiple eyes to be placed on every story” [Vanity Fair]. “Someone intimately acquainted with the process boiled it down for me like this: in the old model, each story got two-and-a-half edits; in the new model, each story gets one-and-a-half edits, with more emphasis on a story’s digital presentation as opposed to its placement in the print edition. (Of course, highly sensitive stories will undergo more laborious roads to publication.)” Of course. So, first The Times picks up a ton of new subscriptions by openly becoming a partisan tool (ka-ching). It uses the money to, first, bring on a bunch of conservative columnists, and then targets ” a loyal underclass of newsroom employees” for firing. Oh, and they’re also reconfiguring their office space on the open plan, “leaving all but the highest of editors without private offices.” Liberals…

The 420

“People Are Now Getting Free Weed to Pick Up Trash” [Vice]. “Over the weekend, dozens of people in Gardiner, Maine, jumped at the chance to spend their Saturday picking up trash around the city, all for the opportunity to score some free weed, WCSH 6 reports. The innovative cleanup plan was launched by local dispensary Summit Medical Marijuana in an effort to make it easier for Mainers to get their hands on recreational weed.” Dirigo, baby!

“Uruguay pharmacies start selling cannabis straight to consumers” [Guardian].

Health Care

“Medicaid Expansion Reduced Unpaid Medical Debt And Increased Financial Satisfaction” [Health Affairs]. “[W]e examine how the expansion affected the share of individuals with any bills from a health care or medical service provider that are past due. Again, the expansion and non-expansion states start out in similar positions in 2012, with 47 percent of low-income adults reporting unpaid medical debt in non-expansion states compared with 43 percent in soon-to-expand states… In 2015, the share with medical debt fell 7 percentage points in non-expansion states, again perhaps reflecting an improving economy and falling uninsurance due to other mechanisms. In contrast, medical debt fell by almost twice as much, 13 percentage points, in expansion states.”

“When Health Law Isn’t Enough, the Desperate Line Up at Tents” [New York Times]. “Mr. McAuliffe, a Democrat, shook hands with Larry McKnight, 37, an out-of-work auto mechanic whose nerve-damaged shoulder makes it impossible to lift his 11-month-old baby. ‘I really think they don’t have any clue what’s going on,’ Mr. McKnight said of Washington politicians. ‘You watch the news and it’s two sides pitted against each other, which in turn makes them pitted against us, the normal person.’ ‘I really think the only thing that could truly help the country is single payer,’ he said.”

Imperial Collapse Watch

“My first ride on the Elizabeth line” [Ars Technica]. “This seven-carriage Class 345 train is the first of 70 that are being built for the Elizabeth line—the new train line, constructed by Crossrail, that will eventually stretch from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east, with some massive new tunnels below central London in the middle.” Meanwhile, here in The Greatest Country On Earth, we can’t dig a single train tunnel under the Hudson, even though we know the existing tunnel is failing, and when it does, the Acela Corridor will come to a grinding halt.

Class Warfare

“Low-income families are still unable to accrue enough savings to see themselves through a period of joblessness. Some 37% of those households are “liquid asset poor,” based on the latest U.S. Census Bureau data, meaning they don’t have enough money in their bank account or other assets to replace three months of income at the poverty level (that’s just $6,150 for a family of four)” [MarketWatch]. “‘This inability to save stems in part from the increasing number of jobs that don’t provide a reliable stream of income, leaving many working families vulnerable to jarring ups-and-downs in their take-home pay,’ the report [from the Washington, D.C.-based Prosperity Now] concluded. It also found that one-in-five households experienced ‘moderate to significant income volatility’ from month-to-month during the past year due to irregular jobs.” And if the global elites have their way, one-in-five will increase to (say) four-of-five.

“Revealed: the insidious creep of pseudo-public space in London” [Guardian]. “Pseudo-public space – squares and parks that seem public but are actually owned by corporations – has quietly spread across cities worldwide. As the Guardian maps its full extent in London for the first time, Jack Shenker reports on a new culture of secrecy and control, where private security guards can remove you for protesting, taking photos … or just looking scruffy.”

“How Kids See the World Depends a Lot on Genetics” [NIH]. “The findings come from experiments that tracked the eye movements of toddlers watching videos of other kids or adult caregivers. The experiments showed that identical twins—who share the same genes and the same home environment—spend almost precisely the same proportion of time looking at faces, even when watching different videos. And when identical twins watched the same video, they tended to look at the same thing at almost exactly the same time! In contrast, fraternal twins—who shared the same home environment, but, on average, shared just half of their genes—had patterns of eye movement that were far less similar.” Next: Put lead in the drinking water of just one twin, come back in a decade.

News of the Wired

“Ten Years of Worthless Side Projects” [Medium].


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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allegic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! 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. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (Chris):

Chris writes:

A few years ago, I was in Fiji and went to see Perry Mason’s old property near Nadi. He loved his orchids and the garden was a very special place. As you know, I am fortunate to, currently, live in part of the world where they can be grown. This is a picture of Jewel Orchid. The flowers open slowly and the top one has been flowering for about 2 weeks, still not fully open.

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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. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Consumer confidence highest since 2000.

      (Personally, I am not confident of the stat itself or of its value).

      1. Jim Haygood

        Multiple stats are more reliable. Consumer confidence is one of three series in Ed Yardeni’s fundamental indicator.

        While ConCon rose, the other two — industrial materials prices and unemployment claims (inverted) both dropped off a bit since the end of June, leaving Yardeni’s indicator down about 0.5% month to date.

        Scrap copper is a component of the industrial materials price index. The index may get a boost today from copper’s big rise, which in turn may enliven its other metallic components — lead scrap, steel scrap, zinc and tin.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Still, 17 years is a lot of years…so many years that many people asked on the survey were not eligible to be asked then.

          So, is this a case of

          1. it is real that many of us should be more confident than have been the past 17 years.


          2. There are many among us who have been not been fooled, not even once before, by a bubble, though life inevitably makes sure all of us will be, many times.

  1. marym

    Apologies if this has been posted before.

    Summer for Progress


    H.R. 676 Medicare for All Act
    H.R. 1880 College for All Act of 2017
    H.R. 15 Raise the Wage Act
    H.R. 771 Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance
    H.R. 2840 Automatic Voter Registration Act
    H.R. 3227 Justice is Not For Sale Act of 2017
    H.R. 1144 Inclusive Prosperity Act
    Coming soon: Climate Change Bill

    There’s a petition and a high-level schedule of organizing events.

    The platform list has links to the actual bills – some have summaries, others don’t. The petition has a few-words summary of each bill and a list of supporting organizations. Website says paid for by Our Revolution.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        No ‘Get Money Out of Politics’ either.

        Perhaps Big Money is boycotting that platform.

        1. jrs

          I don’t think that’s actually possible short of a constitutional amendment, basically because the F-ups on the supreme court have ruled otherwise. So it makes sense to focus on what is actually within congresses power.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            There is always the possibility that we get this, or that, now, so we don’t bother them. again, or not for a long time, about getting money out of politics.

      2. marym

        Strategy seems to be based on bills that Houses Dems were actually willing to introduce, rather than on specific (possibly more or different) demands of the various organizations, though I don’t know whether any are (yet) looking for a Debt Jubilee.

  2. NotTimothyGeithner

    Don’t underestimate how personally piqued McCain is over President Obama, taking McCain’s turn, when it comes time for a vote. McCain is a nasty man. Now that Herr Trump beat Hillary, even McCain might have done it.

    1. Pat

      Which only proves that McCain truly is an idiot, or doesn’t expect to live for another two or so years. Having a signature ‘achievement’ fail outright to be far more embarrassing than repealing it and having your version of healthcare, whatever it is, fail as badly or worse than ACA would, Especially since delusional folk will still think we would be in the best shape ever if only the big bad Republicans hadn’t repealed Barack Obama’s health reform plan. There is no such glittery unicorn if ACA continues and dies of its own weight.

      (I should note that for those us not under the media induced delusion of McCain as mavericky upstanding moral leader McCain being a vindicative idiot is very old news.)

      1. Arizona Slim

        One of my neighbors has this to say about McCain:

        “I worked for American Continental. So I know what kind of a crook he is!”

        Said neighbor is also of the “McCain was a traitor while in North Vietnamese custody!” school.

  3. kurtismayfield

    “Why Republicans should keep doing nothing”

    Remember, the biggest fear for a Republican Congress member is not their Democratic opponent, it is being primaried. They ran on repealing Obamacare, and they can’t do nothing when they control everything in Washington.

  4. Lambert Strether Post author

    The Republicans are back from lunch, “tight-lipped,” and have begun to vote on the MTP.

    Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkoswki (Alaska) voted against the motion to proceed. If all other Republicans vote yes, Vice President Mike Pence will cast the deciding vote to break the tie.


    Sens. Dean Heller (Nev.) and Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.) said they would back their party on the procedural motion minutes before the vote was to begin.

    Separately, an Ohio newspaper reported that fellow GOP centrist Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio) would also vote “yes.”

    The three votes mean Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) almost certainly has the 50 votes he needs to begin debate.

    What is unclear is what will emerge from the effort.

    1. Pat


      Mind you they are between a rock and a hard place. I suppose the question really is which is more suicidal – doing nothing or passing any semblance of the various iterations of ACA reform the House and Senate brain trusts have come up with so far. I still think they had a better chance of riding out doing nothing than going deeper into most people can no longer afford to go to the doctor without going into serious debt abyss.
      I’m shocked that McConnell can hand out enough goodies to even make this happen.

      (Whatever will emerge will still be a stinking mile high pile of manure, I suppose we could take bets on how high and how noxious the odor.)

    2. JohnnyGL

      McCain comes back from getting health care to help make sure others don’t get health care. That’s nice.

      1. Tim

        I noticed that irony too, I don’t see how anybody in the public would NOT notice that irony, since it is a well known fact that congress gets their own health care guaranteed.

        1. Roger Smith

          Maybe if they have brain cancer they wouldn’t notice…. oh.

          One would have though McCain’s incessant pounding on the war drums would have been enough to turn people off. I can’t understand how he is so eager to send people off to repeat what happened to him.

        2. Vatch

          It probably doesn’t matter whether Arizonans notice or not. McCain isn’t up for reelection until 2022, so even if he survives longer than the average person with his type of cancer, in 2022 he’ll still probably be dead or too weak to campaign for another term.

          1. Arizona Slim

            And he keeps getting weak opponents on the D side of the ballot.

            In 2016, it was Ann Kirkpatrick. To this day, I can’t figure out why she was so compelling to the Arizona Democratic Party establishment.

            Oh, in 2010, you’re gonna love this: Rodney Glassman. Guy didn’t even complete a single term on the Tucson City Council, but he thinks he can go up against one of the best-known names in American politics. Epic fail.

            1. Oregoncharles

              We get the same thing against the big name Dems here, although the Repubs did manage to elect a Sec. of State last year. They simply don’t get serious opponents – but that’s because it’s such a blue state and it would be an uphill battle. We can’t even run spoiler campaigns, eg against Wyden, because the Republican opponents are so weak.

      2. RUKidding

        But but but it makes Trump supporters so very happy, whether they are losing their health care or not.
        McCain very clearly demonstrated who he is and who he actually works for when he chose Tundra Trash as his running mate.
        The end.

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          McCain very clearly demonstrated who he is and who he actually works for when he chose Tundra Trash as his running mate.

          You give him too much credit (for thinking, conspiring, planning). I’m convinced he was taking orders from his johnson when he picked her.

        2. Oregoncharles

          I’m convinced it was revenge because he knew he’d gotten a consolation prize, an unwinnable nomination – worse, one they had no intention of seriously contesting because it was the Dems’ turn.
          Note that the pattern is still holding, even with Trump running.

      3. polecat

        What would one expect from the ‘Br-ainus’ ?? …. or ANYONE in the Senate OR the House … I mean, THEY GOT THEIRS’ … right ?!!

        I hate them all … a virus has more compassion than any of these creeps !

        1. Edward E

          Unfortunately they have plenty enough tin foil to wrap any food they bring home from this luncheon so it shouldn’t spoil.

  5. JimTan

    “And a majority doubt that President Trump ……….has a clear plan to replace Obamacare if Congress manages to repeal it.”

    Congress is obviously determined to replace Obamacare this year, without a viable alternative, and I think lobbying from hedge funds may be one of their motivations.

    Hedge funds are compensated for their investment services using the standard 2 an 20 model, which means a management fee of 2% of all assets under management, and a performance fee of 20% of profits over a predetermined benchmark. Annual performance fees depend on how well the fund invests; low or no performance means no performance fee. This performance fee is classified by hedge funds as Carried Interest, which is a tax loophole that allows them to pay a low tax rate on these profits. Annual management fees are independent of performance, and are always large numbers calculated as 2% of their multi-billion dollar assets under management. This management fee is commonly used to fund an offshore ‘reinsurance company’, because another tax loophole allows profits invested in these offshore insurance companies to be deferred indefinitely. Apparently the 2008 bank bailout ( Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 ) closed this loophole and gave hedge funds until April 2018 to pay taxes on all these management fees they have been deferring in these offshore companies. On July 20th, the Wall Street Journal and CNBC estimated hedge fund managers collectively owe between $25-$100 billion in taxes on this money. According to the article some hedge-fund managers face personal tax bills of over $100 million including Steven Cohen ( formerly SAC Capital ), David Einhorn ( Greenlight Capital ), and Daniel Loeb ( Third Point LLC ). The article also says these deferred fees lower a hedge funds compensation costs, which suggests that many high level employees have past bonuses tied up in these offshore entities which are about to be taxed. To avoid some of these impending taxes, there is apparently an exodus of hedge funds moving to Florida which has no state income tax.

    All this comes back to the mystifying need in congress to enact a new healthcare bill this year that basically just removes a few key components of Obamacare. One of those key components is the Net Investment Income Surtax, which is a 3.8% tax on investment income that is used to increase Medicaid’s coverage of people with low incomes. Is it possible that the urgency to pass a new healthcare bill this year is primarily related to its removal of a tax which helps calculate the $25-$100 billion that hedge funds will owe the government next year? If so, my guess is this will also have some influence on any tax cuts included in next years budget.

    1. IowanX

      Hmmm. Tim Kaine was gushing on NPR yesterday about if the D’s and R’s worked together, what are the “fixes” and he’s got a bill for “re-insurance”–but I don’t know the details. Favorable tax treatment (I would guess) is almost certainly part of the bill.

  6. Tim

    “When asked if they would feel safe using a self-driving car, just 34% said they would while 67% said they would not.” Huh?

    Lambert, I think what is going on is driving used to be fun when there weren’t very many cars on the road, now driving is so congested and commutes are so long that it is not only not fun, it is extremely stressful, so people are willing to take a hear no evil see no evil approach to driving just so they don’t have the stress of doing the driving themselves.

    The move to self driving cars is about safety at a society and government level, but at the individual level it is just about de-stressing and saving your concentration for other tasks.

    I live 5 miles from work in a fully built out part of San Diego with good road infrastructure, so driving is still fun for me and I drive a stick shift, but I can see the guy stuck in LA traffic for 2-3 hours every day wanting to disconnect from that driving experience as soon as possible even if it may be less safe.

    1. ChrisPacific

      What’s going on is that the poll is completely useless. I would like my next car to be autonomous. If it can fly, run without fuel, and transform into a magic fairy that cooks dinner and does the dishes, I’d like that too. Am I willing to entrust my safety to the current models on offer from the likes of Google and Uber (or their near term evolutions) knowing what I know about them and about their respective attitudes to regulatory and safety compliance? That’s a totally different question.

      What was the methodology for the survey? Who funded it? Where is the raw data? Providing disclosure on these points is standard surveying best practice. None of them are answered. The embedded links go to reportlinker.com which is a for-profit organization that produces business analytics. Who was their client in this case? I couldn’t find that answer either.

      I would file this one under advertising if I’m being kind, or propaganda otherwise.

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      Will our self driving cars be powered by the hydrogen economy?

      Is SDC all unicorn feed, or is there some real tech being spun? I find everything bewildering about SDC evaporates when, like a fortune cookie, you add “on a battlefield” to the end.

  7. Lambert Strether Post author


    Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote, clearing the procedural motion and allowing the Senate to begin debating an ObamaCare repeal.

    On to the skinny bill, and then to the conference? But wait! Under reconciliation, there’s the vote-o-rama to come:e

    Those rules, defined by law, include allowing only 20 hours for debate but it also includes a process called “vote-a-rama,” in which amendments may be proposed and must be voted on before the final passage of the bill. That’s where Levin’s idea comes in: He proposed introducing tens of thousands of amendments that would need to be voted on before the Senate’s bill could be passed. In theory, Levin figured, Democrats could introduce enough amendments to shut down the Senate for a year.

    It would be hilarious if Sanders introduced his single payer bill in the form of an amendment to the Republican bill. I don’t know if that’s possible under the rules, but why putz around with 1000s of little amendments?

      1. IowanX

        +++++++100! Perfect. I think such an amendment would entirely be “in order”. Lambert, you are a genius, and also a funny, funny man.

    1. Cujo359

      I don’t know what the rules allow, either, but you’d think that re-writing the House Medicare for All bill (HR 676) to be an amendment wouldn’t take long. Neither the OC Repeal bill nor M4All is all that complex..

    2. polecat

      I think it’s All hilarious …. NOT !
      Many people are going to suffer needless pain and die an early death, all because these ratfucks on both sides of the aisle refuse, I’ll say again .. REFUSE to do what’s moral and humane, just so they can one-up one another, while getting the very best medical care grifting can buy … so yeah, real hilarious …

      Fuck them all .. with a MOAB ! They deserve it.

  8. MikeW_CA

    “Why Republicans should keep doing nothing” is a brilliant recommendation as far as I’m concerned, but at some point, don’t even Republicans have to do something to deliver the goods their clients are paying for? What’s the point of holding out for 2018 when you already have what should be the power to do whatever you want?

    1. Allegorio

      The point is that whatever they do will be to screw over the common man in favor of the elites and they fear a backlash in the 2018 Congressional elections. Holding onto power and funding is more important than legislative achievement.

  9. Jim Haygood

    Trump on Sessions this afternoon, to the WSJ, adding to his morning tweetstorm:

    “I’m just looking at it,” the president said when asked how long he could continue to criticize Mr. Sessions without firing him. “I’ll just see. It’s a very important thing.”

    A president repeatedly trashing a cabinet member in the press is sending an unmistakable message: resign now. His target Ku Klux Jeff seems to be a bit hard of hearing.

    1. PKMKII

      Tinfoil hat mode: What if Trump is selecting the worst of the worst of congressional Republicans for his cabinet positions, just so he can force them out of their representative or senate seat? Fire them a few months down the line, and their replacement is a novice with no political capital to stand up to him, and selected via a special election that carries little “will of the people” clout.

      1. johnnygl

        Or maybe trump wants an AG who will go catch big fish like the clintons and like amazon…and Mr. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III just wants to lock up black people carrying dime bags???

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          Sessions is like that twisted bitter 1000 year old hag next door’s little snippy chihuahua that must be 1000 years old that always somehow gets loose when you’re going out and tries to bite you on the ankle every fricking day so one day you snap and kick the thing into the wall and the next night it comes back as a zombie chihuahua white walker dog. That is Sessions.

          1. Arizona Slim

            Yeah, he does remind me of my neighbors’ herd of yappers. Much sound and fury, signifying nothing. Except an ongoing disturbance of the neighborhood peace.

        2. Art Eclectic

          My guess is that Trump knows firing Mueller would be a bad move, so he’s taking his rage out on Sessions for creating this problem for him in the first place by recusing himself.

      2. kj1313

        Haha I’ll join you. With all of his actions, half the time I think Trump is an Accelerationist (or Blanquist) who’s goals are to eventually lead us to some form of Socialism.

        Though I just think he’s a craven grifter.

      3. Edward E

        Well, if he’s going to be chronically miserable about his cabinet maybe it’s just time for him to quit.

    2. different clue

      Sessions will not resign. He wants to carry out his legal-ideological mission at Justice. He will stay there until he is fired.

      I think Trump wants Sessions replaced with a yes-man AG who will fire Mueller and every superior between Mueller and the AG in the DoJ chain of command. That way Trump thinks he will make the Russia Investigation go away. As long as Trump is afraid of what firing Sessions would look like, he won’t dare to fire Sessions. And Sessions will stay at Justice to pursue his legal ideological goals until Trump finally bites the PR bullet and fires Sessions no matter how bad it will look.

    3. Ptolemy Philopater

      I think that Trump has realized he has more to worry about from the Christian right in terms of impeachment than the Democrats. The Christian right despise President Serial Marriage Pu**y Grabber. They love Vice President Pence and his agenda. With Trump’s incompetence and Twitter frenzies holding up the Christian fascist agenda, they would love to sideline Trump and install Pence.

      The fact that Sessions just strengthened the civil forfeiture laws must be especially worrying to Trump. Trump may be stupid, but he is cunning and smells a coupe in the works. Pence was always impeachment insurance for Trump as far as the Democrats are concerned. The fact that Sessions is not resigning gracefully may mean that his work is not yet done, namely undoing Trump in favor of the the Christian Right’s man Vice President Pence, for instance cornering the Democrats into supporting impeachment with what independent counsel Mueller turns up.

      Likewise the political greed monkeys are latching onto cannabis legalization as a big tax revenue play, even bigger than gambling. Government granted monopolies for big money, what’s not to like? The possibilities for graft are limitless. Sessions stands in the way of that. Trust me there is more to Trump turning on Sessions than just his recusing himself.

      1. different clue

        If Trump thought Pence was Impeachment Insurance, Trump was mistaken. The Clintonite Obamacrats would prefer a President Pence over a President Trump. Pence is a foreign policy and Free Market Sovereignty Clintonite. His only difference from the Clintobamacrats is in the Culture War matters which also matter to the Pink Kitty Kap brigades.

        The Clintobamacrats will pretend to fear and dislike Pence in order to keep their Pink Kitty Kap base-members fooled. The Clintobamacrats will let the Christian Right Teapublicans do all the heavy lifting on Impeachment. But if the Teapublicans can get Impeachment voted on and moved to a trial in the Senate, the Clintobamacrat Senators will all vote to Convict and Remove Trump. They will thereby reveal that Pence is the sort of Big Club Member Conservative that the Clintobamacrats can live with.

        Its a Big Club. And you ain’t in it. You are not in the Big Club. ( And neither am I, to be sure).

        So if we don’t want a President Pence, the only battlefield we have for saving President Trump is the House. Impeachment will have to be prevented there, if anywhere.

  10. Jim Haygood

    Record closes today for the S&P 500 (at 2,477) and Nasdaq Composite.

    This puts the “round number strange attractor” into effect: 2,500 or bust.

  11. Dead Dog

    Thank you, Lambert. Haven’t posted a comment for a few days. Timing thing…

    Lots of news and links, but it feels less suspenseful at the mo – ie after the last 18 months or so – elections (US, UK, France), Brexit, Trump, Sanders, Corbyn, North Korean, the Russians, Yemen, Qatar and on, and on…

    Probably a good thing, I get more things done.

    My home town of Cairns ticks along, same as. Well, as long as those pesky tourists keep coming (damn you Barrier Reef).

    And, at least in my pub, the locals pay no attention whatsoever to anything happening south of Gordonvale (about 20k away). No, we are sophisticated. No politics, geo, neo, or whatever, or you have no friends. So, we sit there and take the piss out of everyone and we focus on footy, golf, the price of beer, cars, bikes, boats, fishing, camping and gossip.

    I mean, why be curious like me? Nothing they can do to change things. And, as my partner says, I just don’t want to know about that stuff (eg climate change, politics).


    One of the hidden news stories here in Oz is that a growing number of politicians (two Greens Senators, incl the QLD leader) have had to resign because of dual citizenship. ie you must be an Australian, and only an Australian (in our Constitution). (For example, I never renounced my UK citizenship (Anfield Boy) and would need to if I were to nominate to enter an election (not gonna happen).

    The latest is our Resources Minister, Matt Canavan – who has resigned from the Parliament, after being told by his mother he was Italian, as well as Australian. See https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2017/07/dual-citizenship-claims-canavan/

    You can’t make this up, eh? Hope they make him pay back the salary he has received during the years since he was elected.

    To use the local venacular, Gold, pure Gold…

    6 am, still dark, cold, like about 17 degrees…

    Have a great day everyone

    1. The Rev Kev

      This story is hilarious. The ruling conservatives tore the Greens a new one last week over how they showed “extraordinary negligence” and “incredible sloppiness” over not checking that if their people had dual citizenship. Now it has come back to bite them hard and I heard that there may be about two dozen others from both major parties in the same boat.
      Most people here say if you don’t want to give up your other citizenship to serve another country in government, then don’t bother putting your name in.The local ‘intelligentsia'(?) are making noises that this is wrong and we should abolish that clause in our constitution. This clause does stop a country from flying in a bunch of carpetbaggers, err, technocrats and making them citizens on the spot to serve in government (I’m looking at you Ukraine).
      Apparently countries like the US have no real problem with dual citizens serving in government (http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/homeland-security/240572-when-dual-citizenship-becomes-conflict-of-interest) but at the end of the day, you have to wonder who they are actually serving at time. Could you imagine how it would look if, on CNN, if the members of the Senate and House of Reps were asked to put their hands up in the air if they were also citizens of another country? Not a good look I would imagine.

      1. Dead Dog

        Thank you, Kev, as you say, hilarious.

        Now that the LNP have been caught being as sloppy as the greens, they’ve tried to argue that Canavan knew nothing, it was a staffer’s fault, so he should be fine.

        If you are right and this is start of a few more, then the make up of the Senate and the power therein could change in a bielection. Australians unlikely to vote in a party’s replacement candidate – just the way we see things.

        I didn’t know the law officer… ha ha

        And, pay the family blog money back. Have to sell a few IPs?

        Too sad…

    2. Synoia

      So, we sit there and take the piss out of everyone and we focus on footy, golf, the price of beer, cars, bikes, boats, fishing, camping and gossip.

      All male group? No discussion of women? Or by women?

      1. Dead Dog

        Thank you, Synoia. I was talking about the women

        No, mostly men, but my partner and others also come along from time to time.

        My soccer days are over and in a new town, the local pub is the place, for me, to find friends – as I prefer like minded (working class) people

    3. witters

      “who has resigned from the Parliament” – no, only from the Ministry – unlike the others with dual citizenship (rules are only for the Greens).

      1. Dead Dog

        Thank you, witters. You are correct.

        Whereas the Greens Senators admitted their mistake and resigned, Cavanan has resigned his Ministry, but not his seat. If Turnbull had any, he’d sack him regardless – the law is the law…

        Yet, he claims he was unaware that his mother applied for his citizenship in 2006. As if

        Handy little bolthole (all the EU) to have when the SHTF

    4. Allegorio

      What a great idea, banning dual citizenship for office holders. Just think of the wars that could have been averted if that were policy in the US. I really think it should be instituted in the US.

  12. clarky90

    “The Democrats’ ‘Better Deal’ is a box-office dud”

    The cute, sad eyed puppy (The Democrats), that we brought home has grown up to be a thuggish Pit Bull Terrier. If it would only stop mauling the local children! So embarrassing. We must stare intensely at this dog with love- using positive affirmations. Then our Pit Bull will magically turn into a Labrador? (I don’t think so.)

    IMO, the democrats are hopeless. It is better to start a new party, or join the Republicans and influence that party? (Can I say this?)

    The Dems are no longer the party of FDR. The Dems were pro slavery in the 1800s. Lincoln’s Party was the Republicans.

    “Anitya, anitya, anitya” (Impermanence). Everything changes. IMO, the Democrats are “a dead horse”. Horse whispering will not work. Whipping will not work. Stand back and let time turn the carcass back into soil.

  13. diptherio

    Venezuela Constituent Assembly YES! Interference NO!

    The U.S. State Department, the oligarchy and the Venezuelan right, together with the regional and European right have not let up in their attempt to destroy the enormous achievements accomplished by the Bolivarian Revolution of Venezuela and the Government of Nicolas Maduro.

    The main objective that drives them, constantly and permanently, is to put into practice various methods of war in order to take control of the vast natural resources of the country, especially oil. Since Chavez, all those resources have been put in the hands and stewardship of the Venezuelan people.

    It is the first time in two hundred years of history that this has happened, thanks to the emancipatory and anti-imperialist efforts of Commander Hugo Chávez – a direction continued by the Government of Maduro. The oil income is now at the disposal of huge projects aimed at benefiting those who were always forgotten and humiliated; the people, workers, farmers, blacks and native people.

    Also for the first time in the history of Venezuela, illiteracy has been eradicated; more than 1,500,000 affordable homes have been built, education, culture and sports now reaches every corner and mountain top of the country and is no longer just a privilege to be enjoyed by the rich. Women have recaptured their dignity and today they occupy important positions at all levels of the life of the country, including the armed forces. Social missions have been multiplied to give a roof, work and land to those who never had anything….

    Imperialism just could not stand what was happening.
    So they plotted and invented a humanitarian crisis, by urging the Venezuelan right and the oligarchy to hide and destroy food and medicine while the imperialists themselves prevented shipments of these vital items. They gave cover to the cowardly terrorist imperialist right who have systematically refused to engage in dialogue while failing to organize even one “peaceful demonstration” that even remotely matched the size that the legitimate government of Maduro has been able to bring together.
    Instead they have resorted to the most inhumane extreme tactics by funding, providing and sponsoring mercenaries that kill in the most horrendous ways any young man who looks like they could be a supporter of Chavez. Many times the color of their skin is enough to be set on fire.


  14. curlydan

    Maybe I’m the old hag. Anytime I read a summary of a Twitter fight (e.g. Joan Walsh), I get nauseous.

  15. clarky90

    Did South Park invent the alt-right?

    “South Park turns 20 years old this summer….The show celebrated this existential crisis-inducing fact last year with a tongue-in-cheek ad, depicting South Park as a sort of benevolent guarantor keeping reliable watch over a girl from infancy until her first trip to college. It was a typically self-effacing joke, but it’s true: Our world is now filled with people for whom South Park has always been there, a cultural influence that, in some cases, is completely foundational to their point of view. The ad doesn’t end with the girl logging onto Twitter to complain that social justice warriors are ruining the world, but otherwise, spot on.”

    1. polecat

      You could say the same for, say, SNL … no?
      ….. comedy of a different face, but still …

      1. ambrit

        Yes, but, at least South Park has been funny in a consistent manner. SNL now, well, “Could it be…. Satan?”

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Should I not have quit watching TV?

      The quoted passage sounds quite foreign to me.

      1. ambrit

        No, quitting “official” TV was, and still is, a superior life choice. You can ‘catch up’ on the better bits online.
        If the “average” ‘watchers’ are proto-Morlocks, those a little ‘further out,’ in which category I provisionally include many here, are proto-Shoggoths. Anyone encounter a “program” called “Tekeli Li” yet?

    3. Richard

      I used to frequent AV Club religiously, until they lost most of their best, veteran writers in what seemed like a purge a few years ago. Whenever I peeked in in ’16, it seemed like Team Blue Central, shoehorning every feature into a critique of Trump, stupid conservatives, ignorant deplorables, etc.
      That said, Sean O’Neill (a holdover from that earlier period) is an awesome writer, who has always had a penchant for holding elites (mostly cultural elites) up to well deserved ridicule in his news updates. And this is a fine piece. I wouldn’t go as far as the title suggests, and neither does O’Neill actually; he backs down a bit in his conclusion.
      I have real respect for South Park. Its writers have always understood an essential component of satire that liberal darlings (on the same network!) like the Daily Show and the Colbert Report tended to miss: you have to be merciless, and you can’t make nice afterwards. You need to keep your distance.
      It’s possible the South Park and NC are a match made in heaven even! Co-creator Matt Stone’s comment, ” I hate conservatives, but I really (family blogging) hate liberals!”

      1. Richard

        Yeah, I didn’t agree with that headline; O’Neill actually backs away from it in his conclusion.
        But pop cultural products aren’t supposed to be foundational are they? I’ve always understood and experienced them as something closer to a background, from which you read and interpret through your own filters. Or perhaps that was what you meant to imply?

      2. Charger01

        South Park is firmly all USA satire. We have nothing else like it. Not Private Eye or Charlie Hebdo, or other forms of biting satire. They’re pretty much the only one left standing. They are not left or right, only what is worth mocking. Usually the weird, silly, and absurd in our culture.

      3. Richard

        Wow, I misunderstood and sorry Daryl! I see now that O’Neill offered “foundational” first, and you were just responding to that.

  16. ewmayer

    “At its core, the Times’s internal transformation focuses on upending the paper’s copy desk … blah blah blah” [Vanity Fair] — VF writer expends much digital ink fretting over the Verwandlung of the NYT, somehow omits the “and it’s *still* an elite establishment propaganda rag which for the good of humankind would best be taken out into the alley and shot” bit.

  17. Pat

    OMG, the comedy just writes itself. McCain gets up after the vote to proceed and announces he won’t vote for the bill itself because it is a shell of a bill. And then begs his fellow senators to work together. While it isn’t quite Hillary Clinton giving an impassioned speech noting all the reasons NOT to vote for AUMF before voting for it, it is still pretty high up on the ‘have it both ways’ thing. And the bargaining begins.

    McConnell better have lots left in that slush fund.


  18. Mad Pear

    A better bad deal is still a bad deal. America doesn’t need a better bad deal. America needs a good deal.

  19. Steely Glint

    2018, what is needed is a full throated roar of money is not speech, except in the “Market” and politics do NOT belong in the market sphere. That is why Bernie’s message resonated, and why his list is so important! The 90 percent will be heard. And until the ” little” people who are waiting for this to happen get a response, important matters like health insurance, demise of monopolies in agriculture “Red State” fly over country matter a great deal. Want to know why consumer spending on new cars are falling? Look no farther than the gig economy, where today’s paycheck may be gone tomorrow, due to H1B visas, or what ever trade agreements have locked us into. Sorry, mic drop.

  20. Oregoncharles

    ” an out-of-work auto mechanic whose nerve-damaged shoulder makes it impossible to lift his 11-month-old baby. ” Or work.

    Good luck to him. When my shoulder was damaged (admittedly, by doing something dumb), medical care was considerably worse than useless. Nerve damage? I know of nothing that will help that.

  21. 3.14e-9

    OT question for NC readers familiar with auto lending:

    I recently got an auto loan from my credit union (awesome deal on a hybrid SUV on eBay, but that’s another story). At the signing last month, I had to provide proof of insurance meeting minimum requirements, standard for auto loans: comprehensive and collision, max $1,000 deductible, with credit union listed as lienholder. I had it all set up beforehand, the loan officer approved it, so far, so good.

    Then, in yesterday’s mail, I received a letter saying that the credit union had received “evidence of insurance,” but was “unable to fully accept this policy,” because it didn’t include comprehensive or collision coverage. I’m like, WTF? My policy actually exceeds the requirements, with $500 deductible C&C, plus an added premium for the balance to be paid to the lender in case something happens to the car before the loan is paid off.

    I emailed the loan officer, and here’s where it gets interesting. She apologized for the inconvenience and said it likely was because the credit union recently partnered with a third party for their insurance paperwork. She called it Allied Insurance, but a quick search showed that it’s actually Allied Solutions LLC, which is a subsidiary of Securian. I’m not exactly sure what they do or why the credit union partnered with them, but alarm bells are going off in my head, starting with what they’re doing with my private information.

    After a few exchanges with the loan officer, I’m told that the proof-of-insurance form I signed authorized the credit union to provide its “Insurance Service Center” with the necessary information to verify coverage. Why they would need verification when they had the policy right in front of them is beyond me. More to the point, though, it doesn’t say “third-party” insurance center. The average borrower/CU member could be excused for thinking this was an internal department.

    I looked back over the letter I received last night. Nowhere does it identify the sender as Allied Solutions – not even on the outside of the envelope – and in fact it has my credit union’s logo in the upper left-hand corner. It is signed simply, “Insurance Service Center.” Further, it said I could have my insurance company forward a copy of my policy or, “for [my] convenience,” I could verify the information online by accessing “my account” on myinsuranceinfo.com, or my insurance company could do it. Deafening alarm bell.

    The letter not only was threatening (“You don’t have the proper insurance on your car!”), but it essentially was accusing me of changing my insurance policy after the fact, since the loan officer had already approved it. Meanwhile, the loan officer is telling me I gave the credit union permission to share my insurance information with this company, even though they aren’t named on the insurance paperwork or even identified as a generic “third party,” and didn’t identify themselves as such on their correspondence. Does this just “border on” fraud, or is it outright fraud?

    The loan officer also sent me a copy of the CU’s privacy policy saying they can legally share personal information for “everyday business purposes.” Is the average bank/CU customer supposed to somehow just assume this means their auto insurance policy can be shared with third parties? And that they don’t have to be notified about how that third party will use their private information?

    In fact, the “terms of service” page on myinsuranceinfo.com says that any information you give them in feedback, comments, and the like, becomes theirs to use as they please. They collect personal information about visitors to the site only for statistical purposes, blahblah, unless you give them your personal information. Here’s the exact language:

    Allied Solutions will not obtain personally-identifying information about you when you visit our site, unless you choose to provide such information to us, nor will such information be sold or otherwise transferred to unaffiliated third parties without the approval of the user at the time of collection.

    Well, now, how do you sign into “your account” and verify your insurance without providing them your personal information? I don’t know, because I didn’t even consider signing in.

    I did a little more research and found a few credit union sites that link to myinsuranceinfo as a “service” to their members. From what I can tell, Allied offers the same service to banks.

    In addition to the above questions, can any NC readers in financial services explain what’s really going on here? Or maybe this is normal, and I should hop back on the turnip truck? Of course, that’s not all Allied does. It looks to me like maybe they buy and sell auto loans, but I concede that I never understood that whole process, so I could be mistaken. What I do know – well, from what I’ve read in comments on NC – is that there’s some weird activity going on lately with auto loans. Does the situation I describe fit into that in any way?


    1. Jean

      I wish I could help. Commiseration count? It’s almost like a sci-fi plot – the mind-fuck of it.

    2. Mr. Vandalay

      On the face of it, this sound like garden variety error vs. anything intentionally nefarious.

      Financial institutions are entitled to share your information with unaffiliated 3rd party service providers (subcontractors) who perform functions related to the delivery of financial services such as insurance verification without notice to you. See the FTC guidance here: in particular, the exceptions to notice and opt-out.

      Consistent with a running theme here, the lender will likely have outsourced this function to a low bidder, and the low bidder will run its operation in a manner that supports being low bidder, i.e., crapified services. So I’d start with the point of view that there’s a paperwork error and you need to re-submit proof; the service provider either did not receive, or lost your policy, or they want a double-check. Typically I ask my insurance agent to provide validation of policy to lenders and then it’s off my list.

      Good luck.

        1. 3.14e-9

          Thanks, Mr. V. Your link actually worked in the first post. FWIW, you have something like 4 minutes after posting to make changes.

          Anyway, the link was moderately helpful. I write “moderately,” because the conditions, definitions, and exceptions are so convoluted that someone without expertise in this area can only guess which ones apply.

          To be clear, I understand that there was an error, but not by the loan officer or the credit union. The problem was with the non-affiliate, Allied. And I have to disagree with you about their nefarious purpose. They sent a letter without identifying themselves – indeed, masquerading as the credit union itself – and directed me to THEIR website, not the credit union’s, to VOLUNTARILY give up my personal information. If I understand their website terms & conditions (emphasis on “if”), they’ll claim that providing them with that information expressly grants them permission to use it.

          Goddess only knows what they do with it. Apparently, they share it with their affiliates. There are 30 of them listed on their website, which boasts that their network is what makes them so successful. Among the affiliates is the parent company, and it has its own list of affiliates. No doubt, there is an endless list of affiliates of affiliates of affiliates.

          And, BTW, this was not an isolated case. As I was typing the website into the search field on Google, a list of previous queries popped up, including, “Is this site legit,” “Is this a scam,” etc. One person said they got the letter after taking out an auto loan from Wells Fargo.

          I hope you can see that my complaint isn’t simply that the credit union shared information with a third party. Their written privacy policy says they do this, and it states that members can’t legally opt out of certain kinds of information sharing. But how can members know what the affiliates of the affiliates, ad infinitum, are doing with their private information? And, at what point is one of those affiliates going to use it for marketing purposes?

          My credit union’s privacy policy says they NEVER share members’ information for marketing. But so far, I’ve found no information about whether they place restrictions on how the non-affiliates use their members’ data or with whom they can share it. So what if the law says a financial institution can do only such and such with it? Who’s going to call them out on it if consumers themselves don’t even know who’s got their personal info and what they’re using it for?

          This is among the key points in a complaint letter I’m writing to the credit union board of directors. There’s also the issue of subcontracting with a company that automatically assumes delinquency by a member in good standing. As Lambert often writes, it’s a feature, not a bug.

            1. 3.14e-9

              Thanks, UserFriendly. It’s good to know there’s someplace to go if I don’t get anywhere with the CU board of directors.

  22. Altandmain

    Chlorinated chicken? Yes, we really can have too much trade

    Quite alarming if you think about US food standards.

    Democrats Don’t Know the First Thing About “Chasing” Rural Voters

    More policing, less spent on social programs

  23. alex morfesis

    This day which will live in infamy…lost behind the Trumpcare kabuki of john mccain & the declaration of war against russia, iran & 1dumbsun (419-3…ww3 here we come…)…as the queen bee has previously pointed out…litigation futures of darkoynz…bit and ether and lite et al…

    sec comes out with report suggesting ico nonsense…is actionable…


    although “no action” for some reason on this german firm…they go beyond just the indiviual
    coynz themselves and insist the “exchanges” must also register as a National Securities Exchange…

    wow…know a handful of securities attorneys who could probably clean up and fix the ico messes…

    but how many firms have actually worked on the being registered as an exchange side of things…heck how many tall building law firms can even suggest they can do it…


    and in all the risk factors…suspect not even one ICO had the sec favored language of:

    a high-risk investment in undeveloped and unproven

    although…this could get somewhat interesting…if the sec allows a flood of these ico national security exchanges, it will possibly open up the scenario of local stock exchanges or “angel” exchanges…much like in the days prior to the “big bang”…

    but the queen bee was spot on…

    most of these ico things will probably need to do roll ups and merge just to sustain the costs involved…even if they go ahead and have a nice healthy carl icahn “end of the world” 2 inch thick litigation proof set of potential risk disclosures…it will be interesting

    sorry about the bold here….tried to cut and paste and redo and could not figure out how to make it go away..

    1. ambrit

      Phyl suggested, when told of McCains perfidy, that it sounds like the Cancer is winning. McCain is actually doing the Cancers’ bidding, ie. supplying millions of new ‘helpless’ hosts for Cancers’ tender ministrations. Talk about being ‘captive’ to a special interest!

  24. Darn

    ‘What Democrats need is the Sanders *program* as opposed to the tepid “Better Deal.”’


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