2:00PM Water Cooler 7/28/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Readers, I’ll have more on the late night in the Senate in a bit; for now, I’ve added primary sources and some hot takes. Quite a night! –lambert


“United States trade with its North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners Canada and Mexico headed up 9.4% annually to $98.2 billion in May, the most recent month for which data is available, according to the Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS)” [Logistics Management]. “This represents the seventh consecutive month in which there has been an annual increase.”

“Steel tarriff threat cools down: President Donald Trump’s plans to hit steel and aluminum imports with tariffs and/or quotas will be put on ice for a while longer, according to House lawmakers briefed Thursday afternoon by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross” [Politico].

“R.I.P., border adjustment tax: White House and congressional leaders agreed to drop a controversial border adjustment tax proposal as they try to move forward with a broader tax reform effort. The proposal, which would have placed a blanket tax on all imports, had been an integral part of House Republicans’ tax reform blueprint as a way to pay for a corporate tax cut” [Politico].


Health Care

UPDATE As I keep saying: “ObamaCare is the worst possible Republican plan.” Now watch for a bipartisan group of conservatives and liberals to join together against the left to try and deep-six single payer yet again.

“How John McCain Saved Senate Republicans From Themselves” [NBC News]. The press l-o-o-o-v-e-s them some McCain, so it’s not surprising this headline captures the congealing conventional wisdom, which (happily for McCain) erases the role of the two women (Collins and Murkowksi) who stood staunch throughout the process (and didn’t fly back to DC to first personally fan the flames, and then douse them).

“Sen. Collins’ Statement on Health Care Vote” [Senate.gov].

“Murkowski Statement on Motion to Proceed Vote” (from July 25) [Senate.gov]


A charmless and graceless statement from McConnell:

Note how scared they all are of “single payer” (toward the end). Note also which venues focus on that, and which don’t. (Apparently, McConnell put the bill back on the Senate calendar. You know the zombie hand always thrusts up from the earth covering its grave…)

UPDATE “Schumer expresses hope for bipartisan ObamaCare fixes” [The Hill]. “‘I hope we can work together to make the system better in a bipartisan way,’ Schumer said at a press conference.” Of course, some conservatives are coming round to the idea of single payer, so one can only hope that those are the Republicans Schumer chooses to work with (who am I kidding?)

Trump’s reaction:

“Sanders Statement on Defeat of Republican Health Care Bill” [Senate.gov]. Video of Sanders on Capitol Hill immediately after the vote.

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Hot takes:

“Why The Senate’s Obamacare Repeal Failed” [FiveThirtyEight]. “I’m not sure which of these factors best explains what happened Friday. The particular way this health care bill failed, with a fairly conservative senator (McCain) deciding to vote it down, was perhaps just a kind of black swan event. McCain, if not a maverick, is a wild card. On the other hand, Senate Republican leaders — and Trump to some extent — built a bad foundation: an unpopular bill that was probably bad policy too and didn’t have any real constituency beyond the 49 senators who voted for it. Ultimately, that foundation cracked.” Plus Republicans, after 8 years in opposition, and umpty million votes to repeal ObamaCare, not having a plan teed up and ready to go that would pass? Honestly, what were they doing with their time? Clearly not preparing to become a serious governing party. (I forgot to say: I was pleased with FiveThirtyEight’s coverage of the drama. They used a short-form, dynamic format that was better than tweets, but more topically organized than a live blog.)

“GOP blame-game begins after Senate sinks health care drive” [AP]. “House leaders had no hesitation about blaming the Senate for the collapse of one of the GOP’s paramount priorities. In a statement, Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., pointedly said ‘the House delivered a bill’ and said he was ‘disappointed and frustrated.’ Nearly three months earlier, the House approved its health care package after several embarrassing setbacks.” Gridlock is our friend!

UPDATE “As for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, last night’s defeat is probably as low a moment as we can remember for him. Don’t be surprised if the health care process — no hearings, no subcommittee work, no regular order — cost him capital with his fellow Republican senators, who might demand more input in running the Senate GOP ship” [NBC News]. McConnell, with his strategy of massive resistance to all Democrat initiatives — which Obama, et al., were too weak, too complaisant, too arrogant, to, er, resist, and too much in fundamental agreement, as good neoliberals (assuming good faith) — was the architect behind the Republican capture of all three branches of the Federal goverment. But politics ain’t beanbag. “What have you done for me lately?

“GOP Health Care Drive Ends Not With a Bang But a Whimper” [Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine]. “If the GOP chooses to blame it all on three senators who refused to vote for a bill no one actually wanted to see enacted, their road back to relevance on health-care policy will be very long.” Ditto for Democrats bloviating about bipartisanship, but that has yet to play out. Obama managed to kick the single payer can down the road for eight years, to the great benefit of the donor class. Will the Democrat and Republican leadership combine to do the same again?

UPDATE Here’s a handy chart to help the bipartisan process along:

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE What Chris Arnade said (see the whole thread):

“PARTY UNITY IS FOR RUBES” [Current Affairs]. Well worth a read! This caught my eye:

Doesn’t this permanent internecine warfare render a party ineffective against its opponents? To answer that question one need only look to the Republicans. The Republican Party is an ideologically diverse coalition incorporating ethnonationalist populists, billionaire libertarians and family-values evangelical conservatives, and since the advent of the Tea Party its factional strife has been far deeper and more intense than the Democrats’. The Koch network and the Tea Party movement have been conducting what amounts to an incredibly well-financed all-out civil war with the Republican establishment, doing things like primarying Eric Cantor, felling John Boehner and forcing Republican Congressional leadership to drive the nation to the brink of default. (Imagine if the Sanders wing of the Democrats successfully primaried Nancy Pelosi or shut down the government over single-payer.) Yet if this has hurt the GOP electorally, it’s hard to see how; in the same timespan that this civil war has intensified, the Republicans have achieved a level of electoral dominance over their Democratic opponents not seen in a century.

Pragmatically, then, the left should intensify its battle for single payer, not moderate it.

“Better Deal” vs. “People’s Platform”:

Stay classy, DNC! “That People’s Platform includes Medicare for all, free college tuition, the raise the wage act for worker’s rights, automatic voter registration act, – Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act of 2017, a climate change bill for renewable energy, Justice is Not For Sale Act of 2017 for criminal justice reform and immigration rights, and and the Inclusive Prosperity Act to hold Wall Street accountable” [The Real News]. Much of it already embodied in legislation, unlike Schumer’s white paper with bullet points.

UPDATE “[T]he Our Revolution movement that grew out of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign, Democratic Socialists of America, Democracy for America, the Working Families Party, National Nurses United, Good Jobs Nation, and a dozen other groups have launched a “People’s Platform” that gets down to details” [The Nation]. “On Tuesday, the groups launched a “Summer of Progress” campaign that seeks ‘to move the Democratic Party to the left.’ The measures of progress are not rhetorical. They are legislative. Bills have been introduced—most of them authored and introduced, sponsored, and co-sponsored by members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.” This is very, very good. The press should really stop treating “A Better Deal” seriously until it’s embodied in legislation. For now, it’s just a white paper with bullet points (wrapped with some wishful thinking by policy wonks).

“Trump Rules by Gut, Not Brains” [Charles Cook, Cook Political Report]. “It’s ironic that what makes Donald Trump so authentic to his supporters is what is keeping him from being an effective president. His supporters love that he is not a career politician, that he hasn’t spent decades working in Washington, that he doesn’t think or behave the way ordinary politicians do.” More:

[T]he newness and freshness that Trump’s supporters like so much also means that he is learning about governing from scratch. How does the legislative process work? How does the federal budget process work? How does the national security decision-making process work? Repealing and replacing Obamacare is easy—you can do it in a matter of days, right? You mean it doesn’t work like a family business?

Through the campaign, his message resonated with Everyman and Everywoman because he approached issues like they do, straight from the gut, based on knowledge picked up watching cable television. Trump had not spent the last few decades going to symposia on these issues at think tanks in Washington and New York. He hadn’t whiled away his weekends reading Foreign Affairs. He peeked at The New York Times, but the New York tabloids satisfied his print needs. Trump connected with these voters because he knew the same things and reacted to events the same way.

Hold it right there, Charlie. First, if you look at the policy disasters since, say, 2000 — Iraq, an out-of-control surveillance state, the Crash, generic impunity for elites, and (for many) ObamaCare — they were initiated and managed by policy elites who went to (or presented to) “symposia MR SUBLIMINAL Damn! He knows the proper plural for symposium [displays deference] at think tanks in Washington and New York,” read (or wrote for) Foreign Affairs, and — [cough] Judy Miller — read (or wrote for) the New York Times. If they’re so smart, why are the results so bad? Second, if you look at Trump voters, the Republican suburbanites who form Trump’s base don’t get their news from cable, and many of their opinions are formed not merely by FOX, but by Cook’s symposia. And the Trump voters who voted for “hope and change” in 2008 and then flipped to “MAGA” in 2016 don’t need to watch [family-blogging] cable to know that the $12-an-hour job they have as a Walmart greeter isn’t nearly as good as the $35-dollar-an-hour union job they used to have before the lanyard class of symposia P.O.S. poseurs MR SUBLIMINAL Puns! attendees deindustrialized their communities and their friends, relatives, and children started dropping from “deaths from despair.” So don’t get me started.

2016 Post Mortem

“In an election that close, anything and everything could have changed the outcome. The question is: Why was it so close to begin with?” [The Week]. “And the answer is: Because Hillary Clinton was a deeply flawed candidate who ran an atrocious campaign and should never have been anointed as the presumptive nominee by the Democratic National Committee in the first place.”

Stats Watch

GDP, Q2 2017 (advance): “The second quarter was healthy, growing at an as-expected 2.6 percent annualized rate” [Econoday]. “[T]he consumer spending component also healthy and as expected, at a 2.8 percent rate. Business investment, at 5.2 percent, was once again very strong and offset a bounce lower for residential investment which fell at a 6.8 percent rate. Inventories were slightly negative for the quarter while net exports improved and proved a slight positive. Government purchases added slightly to the quarter. Inflation was very weak, at only a 1.0 percent rate. The core is similar, at 1.1 percent and down from 2.4 percent in the first quarter.” Tailwind for Trump in 2018, if it keeps up. And but: “Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased at 2.8% annualized rate in Q2, up from 1.9% in Q1. Residential investment (RI) decreased at a 6.8% pace. Equipment investment increased at a 8.2% annualized rate, and investment in non-residential structures increased at a 5.2% pace” [Calculated Risk]. I think Obama finally used up the last of the goodwill FDR put on the Democrat balance sheet for being better on the economy. And: “The data overall is unlikely to trigger a major shift in expectations with a solid underlying expansion and little evidence of inflationary pressure” [Economic Calendar]. And but: “The consumer spending improved, but the real improvement came from using a lower inflation deflator. I am not a fan of quarter-over-quarter exaggerated method of measuring GDP – but my year-over-year preferred method showed moderate acceleration from last quarter” [Econintersect].

Employment Cost Index, Q2 2017: “Employer costs slowed in the second quarter, rising a quarter-on-quarter 0.5 percent vs an outsized 0.8 percent in the first quarter” [Econoday]. ” The year-on-year rate is steady at a moderate 2.4 percent. The split between wage & salary costs and benefit costs is balanced, at respective quarterly growth of 0.5 and 0.6 percent and respective yearly rates of 2.3 and 2.5 percent. Price readings on labor have been subdued this year and now include employer costs. Low wages are becoming an unwanted feature of the 2017 economy.” “Are becoming?” BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!! “Unwanted”? By whom?

Consumer Sentiment, July 2017 (final): “Consumer sentiment edged higher the last two weeks of this month… Still, the result is noticeably lower from June’s 95.1 and reflects weakening in expectations [Econoday]. “This report has been moving south in contrast to the consumer confidence report which has been holding firm.”

Retail: “Amazon is Working Around Brands to Obtain Stock—And It’s Legal” [Sourcing Journal]. “To boost its offerings, the Internet juggernaut recently contacted sellers that use its Fulfillment by Amazon service, alerting them that in some cases Amazon may want to purchase product from them that it will then resell.” And:

The issue is, Amazon is operating the way many Silicon Valley companies do.

There’s a saying that goes: it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission. And while it’s unlikely that Amazon will bother to seek the former, it’s definitely not going to wait for latter.

“There’s Internet business ethics, and then there’s other business ethics,” [Jeff Trexler, attorney and associate director of the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham Law School] said. You can see it at play with companies like Uber and Airbnb, which continue to run their businesses despite what local laws might dictate. Ultimately, he said, they see their businesses as providing a service that’s for the greater good. Trexler said they think ‘we have these archaic laws, so let’s smash them and have the rest of the world catch up to us. We are the future.’

While that rational might be ethical from an Internet business standpoint, brand owners are looking through a very different lens. For them, they have to protect their retail partners, maintain consumer trust and abide by compliance laws.’

The best course of action, according to Richardson is for brands to button up the legal documents they have with retailers.

“Despite what local laws might dictate.” Of course, in dreams, especially globalist elite dreams of utopia, there are no laws. That’s the point of a dream!

Shipping: “[Amazon’s] sales growth is a big contrast with financial reports from the big store-operating retailers, but Amazon also saw the costs of getting those online orders delivered soar” [Wall Street Journal]. “Shipping expenses rose 36% and fulfillment costs jumped 41%, measures that reflect both Amazon’s growing share of the retail market and its drive to control its own logistics and shipping operations. The retailer is plowing its cash back into product development, warehouse building and delivery infrastructure, as well as overseas expansion and video content. The logistics investment will continue as the company gets its fulfillment operation aligned with sales for the fourth quarter holiday rush, when Amazon’s promises of faster delivery times could push the company’s spending on shipping beyond $7 billion.” And the other side of the coin–

Shipping: “Parcel carriers have struggled to turn stronger shipping volumes from online sales into profits, and UPS last month detailed a new add-on fee aimed at the flood of shipments that rises in the period leading up to Christmas. Prices are holding up even without the fees: Average revenue per piece in UPS’s domestic package network rose 3%, and rose slightly more in the ground operations that carry most of the e-commerce shipments. The bottom line was a 9% gain in profit to $1.38 billion, but the 14.3% improvement in domestic operating margin may be more important in the long run” [Wall Street Journal]. All things considered, I prefer to have my parcels delivered by unionized UPS (or USPS), as opposed to non-union FedEx, and whatever combination of precariat, robots, and (one assumes, ultimately) scabs that Bezos concocts.

Shipping: “Politicians approve ‘Magna Carta’ for Filipino seafarers” [Splash 247]. “House Bill 5685 seeks to improve seafarers’ working conditions and terms of employment and career prospects and to uplift the socio-economic well-being of their families. The bill covers all Filipino seafarers engaged, employed, or working in any capacity onboard Philippine registered ships operating domestically or internationally, as well as those onboard foreign registered ships. The Philippines remains by a considerable margin the world’s largest provider of crews to the merchant fleet. Under the bill, seafarers shall have the right to a safe and secure workplace, as well as decent working and living conditions onboard a ship. Seafarers shall also be provided with medical care, welfare measures, and other forms of health and social protection….”

The Bezzle: “How to Tell the Truth” [Andreessen Horowitz]. Why now? One might ask… More: “The truth about telling the truth is that it does not come easy for anyone. It’s not natural or organic. The natural thing to do is tell people what they want to hear. That’s what makes everybody feel good . . . at least for the moment. Telling the truth, on the other hand, is hard work and requires skill.” All VCs are liars, eh?

The Bezzle: “̌In Dramatic Show Of Contrition, Ex-Execs Cover 0.3 Percent Of Deutsche Bank’s Post-Crisis Fines” [DealBreaker]. “this ritual isn’t designed to be material in an accounting sense. It’s a symbolic move, a sort of exorcism of bad juju designed to signal to shareholders that the old gods have been tamed and a new order of justice and probity now obtains. And lacking good news in substance, Deutsche shareholders can use all the symbolic victories they can get.”

Five Horsemen: “Facebook rockets on as the Fubar Four crumble.” [Hat tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen July 28

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 69 Greed (previous close: 73, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 73 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Jul 28 at 11:57am. Mr. Market thinks there’ll be no tax reform?

Class Warfare

“The New Working Class” [Dissent]. I like this a lot. Key passage:

To imagine that we should look for “class” and see hard-hats mistakes a particular historical manifestation—the industrial working class—for a general category whose ranks are always changing. But while the idea of a new working class is not yet widely accepted, its distinguishing features are, on their own terms, familiar. We can reduce them down roughly to feminization, racial diversification, and increasing precarity: care work, immigrant work, low-wage work, and the gig economy. There’s also a host of interlinked forces shaping working-class life from outside the workplace: policing and punishment; housing insecurity; indebtedness; the costs of education; and the difficulties of caring for the young, the disabled, the sick, the addicted, and the old. A set of shared experiences coheres here, and a potential set of shared enemies: landlord, lender, bill collector, manager, cop. Racialized and gendered unevenness in exposure to these forces is real, but that portion of experience that is shared appears, quite clearly, to be growing year by year at the intensifying intersection points of race, gender, and class. This, the growing stock of common experience, is the process called “class formation.”


Neoliberalism destroyed the old working class, transforming the Democratic Party into its accomplice as it did so. It also reorganized working-class experience in profound ways. When I made some commentary along these lines on Twitter, I suggested that socialists would need to learn about new forms of grievance and frustration in place of the old touchstones, and suggested understaffing, needlesticks, and depression as examples of new grist for conflict. None of my Twitter followers, it turns out, had heard of needlesticks—accidental injury by sharps in hospitals and nursing homes—despite the fact that they’re one of the main occupational hazards in the largest sector of the labor market. Can one imagine never having heard of black lung?

Excellent point on needlesticks. Can readers comment?

“Report: More than a third of California households have virtually no savings, are at risk of financial ruin” [San Jose Mercury News]. “More than 37 percent of California households have so little cash saved that they couldn’t live at the poverty level for even three months if they lost a job or suffered another significant loss of income.”

“Couple caught in ‘financial spiral’ jump to their deaths” [New York Post]. “‘Patricia and I had everything in life,’ the man’s note read. But it also touched on the couple’s ‘financial spiral’ and how ‘we can not live with’ the ‘financial reality,’ sources said.” And so they took it out on themselves. Others have not been so generous.

“̌The company that has operated a private prison in Estancia for nearly three decades has announced it will close the Torrance County Detention Facility and lay off more than 200 employees unless it can find 300 state or federal inmates to fill empty beds within the next 60 days, according to a statement issued Tuesday by county officials” [Sante Fe New Mexican].

News of the Wired

“Wasabi Fire Alarm Alerts the Deaf with the Power of Scent” [Inventor Spot]. Good idea?

“Asking the Tough Questions With an 18th-Century Debate Society” [Atlas Obscura]. “‘Then as now, New York’s original 18th-century social clubs were formed, in part, to enhance the social status of their members. At a time when few people had access to intensive education, young men of ambition started forming clubs to improve their minds and enhance their reputations as political and literary movers and shakers. /’Writing and publishing meant asserting their political worth in the new republic,’ writes Andrew L. Hargroder, a graduate student in history at Louisiana State University.”

“Was Graceland Elvis’ Greatest Aesthetic Masterpiece?” [JSTOR Daily].

“Satirical maps of the world” [British Library]. Here’s a famous map from 1976, when the neoliberal dispensation had just gotten started (via):

Still true today! Although there needs to be a second one looking East from Silicon Valley.

Release of Ring 1.0 – « Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité » (a GNU package) [Ring]. “Ring is a free and universal communication platform which preserves the users’ privacy and freedoms.” Interesting! From Quebec, interestingly enough. Readers? So many, many times the next communication platform has turned out to be funded by shady “intelligence community” characters, and riddled with backdoors. It would be nice if this wasn’t.

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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:

Hollyhocks are out!

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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. Jim Haygood

    “Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased at 2.8% annualized rate in Q2, up from 1.9% in Q1.” — Calculated Risk

    This isn’t what the GDP release from the BEA says. Page 2/46:

    The PCE price index increased 0.3 percent, compared with an increase of 2.2 percent [in 1Q]. Excluding food and energy prices, the PCE price index increased 0.9 percent, compared with an increase of 1.8 percent [in 1Q] (appendix table A).


    On page 45/46 (Appendix A) Lines 19 and 20, in Column 2017 Q2, confirm the text in tabular form.

    It’s important because J-Yel has been projecting that PCE inflation will rise. Instead it dropped drastically during the 2nd quarter.

    Contrary to their “data dependent” claims, Fedsters are likely to simply invent a new speculative rationale, using some other more cooperative data series, to do what they were going to do anyway.

    Oh no — crude oil, copper and gold are going up. We have to ‘do something’ before prices boil over and hurt the People!

  2. Terry Flynn

    The couple jumping to their deaths is horrible. And it sort of links to the needlesticks/depression point.

    People are experiencing a loss of control over their lives and their destiny. Academic former friends of mine in (apparently) safe liberal arts degrees in the US (we’re talking some UK citizens here) don’t routinely relate to this phenomenon. They still cling to Clintonian mantras about minority rights, LGBT issues etc. (One person, in her trip back to the UK every year gets a load of NHS checkups done – something I’m not entirely sure she’s entitled to for free now she’s no longer resident.) But it all fits with a worldview (expressed explicitly by her, though she is too young to know if this really happened) that the ‘socialist agenda’ should not be about stagnant wages, restoring union rights (“because they were all about men last time we tried it”) that highlight things like the risks of being in a risky job in a care-home (with associated needlestick risks) but should be about LGBT things, full stop. As a gay man I shake my head – give people a meaningful job, restore the idea of pride in one’s job, and eliminate the kind of on-the-job risks that could turn your life upside down, and I think a lot of the ‘problems’ of stigma against minorities will naturally reduce. Just my view and possibly naive. But by expressing it I was classed as akin to the (possibly aprocryphal) union barons of the 1970s who didn’t care about women.

    Yet when I ask “could you afford not to work?” The answer is invariably “no” – in which case how can you argue feminism (the *choice* to work or be a home-maker) has been achieved? Women were brought into the workforce partly to keep real wages down. People don’t have to be “obviously in debt” to move close to the decision that “I don’t want to live in this world” – the ongoing, pervasive sense of insecurity takes its toll.

    1. Louis

      As a gay man I shake my head – give people a meaningful job, restore the idea of pride in one’s job, and eliminate the kind of on-the-job risks that could turn your life upside down, and I think a lot of the ‘problems’ of stigma against minorities will naturally reduce.

      I think something similar could be said about concern for climate change as well–people aren’t going to care about what might happen 100 years from now if unemployment could put them on the street or they are one medical diagnosis away from bankruptcy.

      1. jsn

        Yes! Secure, confident people are courageous and generous people.

        This is what the civil rights era taught the American right: never let majorities become secure and confident again.

        The Democrats signed on to this with Carter and here we are.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          That’s a reasonable proposition – secure, confident people are courageous and generous people.

          Does it mean insecure people are more likely to be not courageous?

          Perhaps yes for some and no for others.

          If a person was insecure and was therefore not courageous, through hard work or luck, became secure and thus courageous, how should he or she view those still insecure?

          “You are not courageous, not generous?”


          “Let’s all help you become and feel secure.”

          Which is more ego-satisfying, more virtue-signaling?

          Which makes the world a better place?

          Bigoted Deplorables are welcome to comment and help improve our understanding.

          Should we

          1. Get people work and decent health care


          2. never forgo the chance to say that there are too many moronic cowards in the world?

          1. Terry Flynn

            As usual you make us challenge our preconceptions. I might be putting words into the mouth of jsn but rather than “non-courageous” I would use the descriptor “fearful of the other”. I think that jobs and health-care would make people less “fearful of the other”. Of course there are intrinsic personality traits that come in here. For instance, the main (UK) personality disorder questionnaire has two dimensions of “narcissism” – one “internal” (how good you believe yourself to be compared to others) and a second “external” (to do with empathy for others’ plight). I score well on the 2nd (probably why I failed in academia – I didn’t screw over people but trusted my demonstrated abilities to get me to the top – wrong wrong wrong). I don’t score well on the first (i.e. I have a view of my abilities that may be incorrect and skewed toward thinking “it was all my hard graft”) – and indeed I’d hazard a guess that 99% of academics who want to make it to the top don’t either – we’re a somewhat arrogant bunch.

            I don’t know if good scores on the 2nd dimension have become less common than bad scores on the first. If so, it would certainly make it difficult to make ‘successful’ people realise that luck and a skewed playing field have hurt the ‘deplorables’….if that’s the case it may be difficult to make the world a better place – there’s a lack of empathy. But if people are just as empathic on average it bodes better for understanding the role of ‘bad luck’, a ‘skewed system’ etc in changing policy.

            1. jsn

              Thanks Terry, you pretty much captured my meaning.

              The post war boom saw the American white working class prosper. That same white working class then supported the Civil Rights legislation, extending its own rights to others. At next crisis, more or less inventing disaster capitalism, the Carter Administration inverted anti-trust enforcement and by abandoning any interest at the Federal level for real full employment, permanently decoupled wage gains from productivity gains. Reagan’s genius was to use the across the board insecurity Carter delivered him with these NeoLiberal policies to reverse the generosity of the white working class by appealing to all of its worst instincts thus cementing two generations of NeoLiberalism, so far.

              People made financially insecure are likely to be less financially generous. People made socially insecure are less likely to be socially generous. People made materially insecure are less likely to be materially generous. People who are worried about their ability to pay for an unscheduled emergency are unlikely to travel 500 miles to march for someone else’s right to not be lynched, for instance. People who are financially, socially and materially secure have the emotional and temporal resources to rise above themselves. While some desperate heros do, desperation makes all this a great deal less likely on aggregate as the last forty years attests.

              I think MLTPB is playing word games. Everyone who wants to work should have work, there is no shortage of useful work needing doing. And everyone so doing should be entitled to a good wage that affords a dignified existence. Everyone should be provided with a good education, the possibility of an affordable, healthy diet and affordable shelter over their heads. Everyone should be provided with medical care to the extent they need it.

              People treated this way, which is how the American white working class was treated in the post war era, will be more likely than people deprived of a living wage, medical care, affordable housing and good food, to see the benefits of such a society and elect, as the white working class did with the Civil Rights laws, to extend it.

              My simple statement is about people in general, as a society. With all societies at all times there are more and less worthy people, but good societies set up institutional constraints on such judgements and assume the best outside those institutional arrangements. Those societies that make the most of themselves are those that assume the best of their populations in general: this is what our now lost or fading “presumption of innocence”, “universal public education”, “right to privacy”, Civil Rights and Environmental legislation were all about.

              1. sierra7

                Insecurity is the means to the ends for the capitalist system. If not insecure in as many ways as possible, financial, health, education, future for children etc., etc….the system collapses. It is also the per-eminent factor in “control” of society by those, “in charge”. Too much security for example int he “markets” reduces the volatility and the ability of profiting from the “insecure” differences.
                Insecurity. The salve of the controllers.

                1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

                  This incident reminded me of this:

                  ” In April 1732, in London, a bankrupt bookbinder named Richard Smith decided to end it all. His business had crashed to ruin amid a trail of of unpaid invoices, leaving him with no prospect of relief. With a wife & a child to support, his responsibility was not only to himself. After having apparently discussed the matter with Mrs Smith, they smothered their small daughter & hanged themselves, leaving behind a short letter to their landlord, containing an entreaty to make provision for the dog & cat whose lives they had spared, & money for a porter to make delivery for two further enclosed documents.
                  One of these was to an associate, formally thanking him for his sustaining friendship, & expressing indignation at the opposite treatment Smith had received from another party. The second had been signed jointly by the husband & wife, & constituted the couple’s suicide note.
                  The Smith’s provided a painstaking explanation of their actions, in terms wholly free of rancour or accusation. Tobias Smollet, in whose panoramic History of England, written in the 1750’s, this story is retailed, comments that the suicide letter was ‘ altogether surprising for the calm resolution, the good humour, & the proprietry with which it was written’. In so ending their lives, the Smith’s wrote, they were releasing themselves from a worse & otherwise unavoidable fate, that of ‘ poverty & rags ‘. They prayed in witness their immediate neighbours, who would be able to attest to their conscientous efforts they had made to earn a living. As to the ghastly business of taking the life of an infant, they argued that, cruel as the act may seem, it constituted a far less callous recourse than leaving her alone & unprovided for in a life of ‘ ignorance & misery ‘. And while they were aware, God-fearing as they were , that suicide was against the holy canon, they refused to believe that the Almighty God, in whom they still placed their utmost trust, would visit any needless suffering on his creatures. They expressed their confidence that they could entrust their souls to him to for whatever arrangements he might make for them after their deaths. Smollet concludes by noting that, far from being a pair of reckless chancers, living on their criminal wits as so many in Georgian London did, the Smith’s ‘ had always been industrious & frugal, invincibly honest, & remarkable for conjugal affection ”

                  From the book ‘ Humanity – an emotional history ‘ by Stuart Walton.

      2. different clue

        If that is true, then the looming-unemployment specter and the bankruptcy-lurking-behind-every-diagnosis specter will have to be banished for real sometime in the next few years . . . while global dewarming action can still work if begun, follow-throughed and finished.

        Single Payer CanadaCare for all Americans might help with one. Full underemployment for all might help with the other. Full underemployment? If unemployment is 20%, that means that employment is still 80%. If every “full-time” job were reduced from 40 to 32 hours per week, all those unworked hours could be assigned to the 20 % unemployed people to give THEM 32 hour-per-week jobs as well. Survival security for everyone. The lifting of deadly fear of imminent death-by-paupery.

        Then people might feel safe to permit the addressing of the global warming problem . . . once they know that addressing it won’t kill randomly-selected ones-of-their-number for death by jobicide.

    2. jrs

      unions all men, uh no, well even in traditional female occupations like nursing and teaching there are some unions so no. In the early days of unions, the very labor movement itself, was often women’s labor on strike, making garments etc… I can see why you can’t convince your friend if the discussion turns to “women working lowers men wages”, but maybe just have her read Emma Goldman :)

      “give people a meaningful job, restore the idea of pride in one’s job, and eliminate the kind of on-the-job risks that could turn your life upside down, and I think a lot of the ‘problems’ of stigma against minorities will naturally reduce.”

      somewhat and maybe there has been a lot of social progress in people’s views that isn’t obvious because people are suffering so much economically (it is sometimes hard to tell, sure older people vote Trump but young people though maybe). But of course, one reason for skepticism is this isn’t the way it has worked historically. The racist roots of the U.S. do run deep.

      “Yet when I ask “could you afford not to work?” The answer is invariably “no” – in which case how can you argue feminism (the *choice* to work or be a home-maker) has been achieved?”

      Can most men afford not to work? Do single women have more career options? I think these questions answer themselves really! But yes feminism now would fight for paid maternal leave etc..

      “Women were brought into the workforce partly to keep real wages down.”

      Just emphasizing that part of it is extremely biased. Allowing more women in the work place allowed women to live. It allowed women a path to escape abusive relationships with men, to have some power over their lives etc.. No it’s not that capitalist exploitative labor is so wonderful, it is most certainly not, but neither is dependence. Capitalists will always find some way to keep labor costs down if they can, that isn’t even about women, but about capitalism. If one wants to argue a UBI instead of work as a means of getting money ok. And improving the shitty conditions of capitalist labor is also an entirely separate issue.

      1. Terry Flynn

        Thank you for that. Always welcome some constructive criticism and suggestions for more reading material!

    3. Marbles

      ” and I think a lot of the ‘problems’ of stigma against minorities will naturally reduce”

      Lol. The commentariat at NC always gives me a hearty chuckle when they delve out of financial matters. At every income/wealth/class level there are always problems of “stigma”. Like Cuba became some racial paradise.

      1. a different chris

        Yeah, you darn well know that there’s a very, VERY real difference between the “stigma” that

        “My daughter’s going to college and I don’t want your son dating her because I think something bad will come of that”

        and the capital-s Stigma:

        “I don’t have a job and I’m pissed and am looking to do violence to somebody I don’t know that doesn’t look like me and mine”

        Pretending that isn’t what we are talking about, pretending that we are utopians is a bit, um rich. People are a-holes, I’m an a-hole quite often, my tone in this post may well be a-holean, but it’s not what we are talking about.

        1. jsn

          Eli Wiesel’s “Night” should be required reading on what degrading physical and moral conditions do to the human psyche.

          Treating people badly, in aggregate, is a great way to bring out the worst in everyone. Individuals can overcome this, but harsh and obviously unfair conditioning makes it increasingly difficult.

          Conversely, James Fallon’s “Life as a Nonviolent Psychopath” is a great essay on how civilizing culture and education can make the best of even the potential worst>

          1. Spring Texan

            I’m a lesbian and I agree completely that favorable conditions for all minimize all sorts of bad things. Always marvel how anyone can limit their concern to LGBT or other stuff and ignore material conditions.

            Happy, secure people are overall nicer — but yes we’d still have bad stuff, but less, much less, of it.

            1. John D.

              I couldn’t agree more, Spring Texan. Like yourself & Terry Flynn, I’m gay (I’m a male in my mid-50’s), and I’ve been out of work for quite some time now. I’m on social assistance, am flat fucking broke, and if I were an American citizen actually living in the US, I have no doubt I’d have already been rendered homeless several years ago. Even so, it’s still a distinct possibility that I’m going to wind up living on the streets before I officially hit old age, and that’s a terrifying thought.

              And I don’t have a spouse or kids, so I don’t have anyone dependent on me. I can’t imagine how much worse it must be for people in my situation that also have loved ones whose fate rests on their ability to support them. At least I only have myself to worry about.

              I regularly read a few of the mainstream liberal/partisan Democratic sites for shared opinions and general venting – it’s not like I don’t hate Donald Trump; he’s an eminently hateful pig, after all – and it’s shocking at times to see the underlying, unspoken assumption in their comments sections that progressives (however you tend to define the term) don’t have to worry about economic matters because only straight, white reactionaries are negatively affected by neoliberalism. I live in a big city, and I see poverty all around me, and not just with Trump/Rob Ford/Chris Christie/Limbaugh types and their fans. I can’t imagine it’s much different in America’s coastal cities, either.

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                Democratic Partisans have a problem. They bet big on Obama having a master plan, saving the economy, and an ACA that was largely a fantasy of unicorns leaving rain bow droppings.

                What happens if America isn’t great? Or the “moderate suburban Republicans” aren’t going to rescue the Dems from irrelevancy? Or the minority wave doesn’t materialize in the six months after the next appropriate Friedman Unit?

                There is no bench. The activists of the 2006/8 wins are gone. The economy is such that there aren’t necessarily candidates or people who can simply walk away to run for public office. The famed Obama list is from 2008.

                Democratic partisans are holding out hope they will be rewarded for their blind loyalty which has largely brought them nothing. They’ve grasped on to every fantasy about Trump being removed whether it was the emoulments clause or the faithless electors.

                In the end, Dem partisans don’t want to acknowledge the state of the party, the country, and what needs to be done to fix it because it will require a good deal of hard work that can be solved by an App.

    4. montanamaven

      The article a few days ago on what not to ask a Frenchman is apropos here. They are not as concerned about a “meaningful job”. They want their leisure time in which to sit at cafes and discuss philosophy and art. The Wobblies struck for shorter work days so that in their leisure time they could invent things like the polka and shish kebob. Keynes thought we would get down to a 15 hour work week. A meaningful job is one that serves your community. In Papua New Guinea, the women grow food and take care of the kids all day while the men take their spears to the boundary with the other tribe and shake their spears at them all day. Or so it was told to me by a documentary film maker.

      1. Terry Flynn

        Good point. Which is why the main quality of life instrument I co-developed (the ICECAP-O) asks about “doing things that make you feel valued” rather than “having a job” or whatever. The (considerable) research my qualitative colleagues did was invaluable in constructing a question that (we hope) could transcend cultural norms about “work” etc.

    5. John A

      (One person, in her trip back to the UK every year gets a load of NHS checkups done – something I’m not entirely sure she’s entitled to for free now she’s no longer resident.

      The NHS is now clamping down on this. Unless she has a permanent residence in Britain, she will (or should) be charged. EU nationals are entitled to free emergency health cover in other EU countries when on a temporary visit on presentation of the relevant ID card for this, but once you are permanently resident in another EU country, you then need to contribute to the national health system in that country to be covered.
      The NHS has a problem with foreign health tourists such as pregnant women arriving and then absconding without paying for maternity care etc.

  3. Jim Haygood

    Excellent point on needlesticks. Can readers comment?

    My sister, an RN, picked up Hep C from a needle-stick. But I didn’t recognize the term with the omitted hyphen, which clarifies that the compound refers to an event, not specialized objects for banging tiny drums or some such.

    What’s next for Newspeak — ratehikes, realestate, dinnertable, coffeemug?

      1. Richard

        Passed a sign for an estate sale that was titled Manstuf. Too gender specifc, but I love the time saved by shaving that dumb f.

  4. Alex Morfesis

    Has there ever really been any law…or rule of law…maybe rule by law…or has it always been about power…a small window of what one might call americanism developed somewhat between 1934 & 1974…hard fought adjustments to some form of reasonableness…then converted to tribalistic consumerism…40 years up and 50 yrs sideways and then down…

    Not all things turn out as planned…

    the newyorker cover…

    no silicon valley…

    no seattle…

    no san francisco…

    no miami beach…

    The best laid plans of kings and fools are left to be found with toothbrushes by archeology students a million sunsets later…

  5. NotTimothyGeithner


    I wasn’t aware of the term “needlestick,” but I do remember this episode of Scrubs. I wonder if its like concussions in the NFL when they use (the phrase escapes me; lights being knocked out?) to explain guys who just had a major concussion. Perhaps its so common a scare healthcare workers don’t see it as a problem or think to acknowledge it as a potential risk except in the moment.

    1. different clue

      “Needlestick” is a word any pharmacy technician working in a hospital would recognize. Eventually it will become such a widespreadedly accepted word that this program won’t draw a red line under it any more.

        1. different clue

          Thank you for the kind words. Feel free to use ‘widespreadedly’ whenever you think appropriate. If enough people feel like doing the same, perhaps ‘widespreadedly’ will enter the language.

          Inventing new words like ‘widepreadedly’ is a perfectly cromulent way to embiggen the vocabulary . . . as I am sure Lisa Simpson would agree.

  6. Bittercup


    Washington (CNN)Senate Republicans tried to troll their Democratic colleagues into revealing an intra-party rift and casting potentially politically damaging votes for single-payer health insurance on Thursday.

    Democrats didn’t take the bait.

    What a wasted moment. Who cares that it’s a “troll” amendment, had the Democrats voted for it, they might have even been able to convince a couple of suckers out there that they actually do want single-payer someday. I mean, obviously they don’t have the numbers for it to pass, so why not at least pretend to perform some tiny modicum of enthusiasm for this policy?

    But, no. Can’t do something that might “embarrass the Democrats.” Of course.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I will be waiting with great interest for the moment Sanders introduces his bill.

      (And one lesson of the Republican debacle is that at the edgiest margins of policy, Senate comity matters. If Sanders gained a smidgeon of credit for the struggles to come by not feeding the trolls, I’m happy. Of course, we still have to “make him do it.”)

      1. clarky90

        Bernie Sanders: Trump is right, Australia’s healthcare system is better than ours – video

        “Donald Trump told the Australian prime minister in May, ‘You have better healthcare than we do’. As the US Senate votes on repealing the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act, Bernie Sanders has taken to the Senate floor to agree with Trump: ‘He’s not right very often, but on this issue he is.’ Australia has a universal healthcare system that costs less than half what the US spends per capita on healthcare and delivers much better outcomes”


        Wouldn’t it be good if big hearted Americans, of all political/ethnic/class…. persuasions (the 90% who are not sociopaths), joined together (like a family who love each other UNCONDITIONALLY, but never agree about anything!), and made a health care system like we have in NZ?

        Berniecrats working together with Trumparians and Libertarians etc… Why not? The Democrats and Republican Sociopaths? Unfortunately, surplus to present requirements.

        1. tony

          Americans love each other? You mean there wasn’t a celebration when Zimmerman got away with killing a kid for walking while black in the wrong neighbourhood? Or when OJ got away with murdering a woman of the wrong pigmentation? Or you could pick any liberal rag and see what they think of Trump supporters, or the other way around.

          The US is a hollow country, held together mostly by bureaucracy. But just because a bureaucrat tells you that those people are in the same administrative category (citizenship) as you, so you should care about them, does not actually mean you will sacrifice for them.

    2. Richard

      Bertie is the #1 best known advocate for single payer right now.
      This direction in policy is not some wildly maverick (sorry for the word choice) idea for which we are still canvassing and building support. It already has overwhelming support among independent and democratic voters, and substantial support among republican voters. The time is now, or could be. Hell, not only embarrass the dems who don’t vote the interests of their constituents, embarrass the freaking repubs TOO. It might hurt them more than you think.
      Oh, and maybe we need a new #1 best known single payer advocate. And then 10 more. And then Bernie. And no offense meant to the man, who is what he is.

  7. ScientistYouLike

    “Satirical maps of the world”
    The contemporaneous view [map?] from San Francisco exists. A Berkeley pizza joint I used to grab slices from in the 70’s had both on the wall next to the counter.

    1. Jim Haygood

      A present-day version could just leave out the City by the Bay, in favor of Menlo Park (Facebook), Mountain View (Google), and Cupertino (Apple), with the Atlantic Ocean and the tiny black dots of New York, Boston and DC a few inches behind the Sierra Nevada on the horizon.

  8. Oregoncharles

    “Now watch for a bipartisan group of conservatives and liberals join together against the left to try and deep-six single payer yet again.”

    They already did, repeatedly. The effect of the recent kayfabe is to simply leave the ACA in place, but declining. We won’t get single-payer as long as the Republicans control Congress, so they’ve got that taken care of.

    Are you talking about 2019? That could be a new Congress – very new, considering the optics at this point. So that’s when it could become an issue. I’d be surprised – I think they have the electoral system pretty well locked up. But Trump would probably go for it, if Congress did. He’s highly self-interested but arguably less crooked, ie less dependent on outside money, than they are.

    If the ACA collapses completely, which seems to be Trump’s plan, then there will finally be options. Only then does your prediction apply.

    1. edmondo

      The Republicans will increase their senate majority in the 2018 elections. They won’t need “The Maverick” to kill Medicaid. The late show was a way to turn out the GOP base in 2018 to make sure they do. “If we only had a few more senators….”

      They will repeal Ocare in 2019. Bet the ranch.

      1. different clue

        If that happens, then the Clintobamacrats will spend the next few years after that working their hardest to keep the Cone of Silence draped over Single Payer.

  9. Oregoncharles

    An update on the “Israel Anti-Boycott Act” and Ron Wyden: I have yet hear from him, despite having written to him twice about it (3 times, counting a letter from the party). At this point, it’s been over a week, about the time no-news becomes significant. I expected him to come up with some boilerplate he could send to everybody, but not so far. Anybody else have response from a senator, aside from Gillibrand?

    I think they were trying to slip it through under the radar, so Greenwald’s expose was a shock.

    1. JacobiteInTraining

      Despite wanting to go into full-on-neanderthal/berserker-rant-mode about my right to boycott any damn thing I please, without being bankrupted and stuck in a concrete cage by Fedcoat Persecutors, I went ahead and sent a very polite/respectful email to Maria Cantwell but got diddly in return,..not even boilerplate.

      Nada, crickets.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Good for you. Mine was pretty berserker, given that I was trying to be “polite,” so I thought that might be a reason. I think the silence is significant.

        Now I’ll see whether my letters to local papers get printed.

      2. Richard

        Hey Jacobite. I sent her a note too, she responded today! I will try to link it for you, but WARNING, linking things is not a skill I have yet. Need to give it a more careful read too. Okay, back in a bit.

      3. Richard

        Well, I can forward it to you if you’re interested. She says the bill is basically an extension of an old bill, from the 70’s, making it illegal to “comply” with the Arab League Boycott, and that it would also apply to such entities as the UN and the EU.
        I have no idea what is meant by comply. She stoutly denies that the bill in any way represents a restriction of speech, but, don’t many BDS efforts take place through public pensions? So their money can be speech/Citizens united, but our money in OUR pension funds, that can’t be speech as well? Or am I horribly misunderstanding something here?

  10. Ptolemy Philopater

    2016 Post Mortem

    “In an election that close, anything and everything could have changed the outcome. The question is: Why was it so close to begin with?” [The Week]. “And the answer is: Because Hillary Clinton was a deeply flawed candidate who ran an atrocious campaign and should never have been anointed as the presumptive nominee by the Democratic National Committee in the first place.”

    But she was reliably pro Wall Street and pro Israel, which is the only thing that seems to count with the Democratic establishment

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The Democratic Party is the other part of the equation. HIllary was merely Secretary of State during the last eight years. Her cabinet position didn’t lead to 2010, 2014, or the down ticket wipe out. Its possible the Democratic brand is so poor, it wasn’t just Hillary who was the problem.

      Cuomo, Booker, TerryMac, and (insert odious Democrat) here are making noises about running in 2020. In Timmy Kaine’s mind, once he puts 2018 behind him he’ll position himself as the Democratic savior. Who would have done better than Hillary? Sanders, not a Democrat. Warren, a lifelong Republican. These are two most popular Democrats. The Democrats did nothing for eight years. No one built legislative accomplishments.

      Biden? Iraq, Bankruptcy, Anita Hill…after a while he rides the train schtick would wear thin.This is a political party that has been around since Jackson in an organized form, and its a party of clowns. Tester seems to believe he can be the “anti-single payer” candidate. On what planet, does he even believe its a good idea. At least lie or have issues to muddy the waters.

      Hillary wasn’t merely annoited by the DNC. Almost every elected Democrat was behind her. Hillary wasn’t on the ballot when Ossoff lost, but they both saw noticeable drops among youth and minority voters compared to Obama in 2008.

    2. Art Eclectic

      I disagree. Sure Hillary had flaws, but up against any other Republican who threw their hat into the 2016 ring, she would have won handily. The thing that threw the election was that an outsider ran, an outsider who promised to drain the swamp and reverse decades of job and wage decay, an outsider who represented the only hope people had of breaking a system that clearly was not working in their favor.

      Hillary lost against an outsider, not a Republican. Trump’s fan base hates Republicans. The elimination of Priebus (and Sessions to follow) makes it clear that the Trump White House had declared war on the Republican Establishment. And his base cheers on.

      1. Knifecatcher

        I honestly believe any other Republican would have wiped the floor with Hillary. She’s the most widely hated politician in the country, and she earned much (though obviously not all) of that enmity.

        Donald Trump was the only candidate Hillary Clinton could have defeated – the “Pied Piper” strategy revealed in e-mail, while widely mocked now, was probably her best bet. And Hillary Clinton was the only candidate Donald Trump could have defeated. And this is why I was in such a foul mood on election day, knowing one of these cretins was about to become president.

          1. Pat

            Another voice here, Cruz is about them only Republican who could have made me consider voting for Clinton. And before the election I believed it would be a toss up if he got the nomination.

            Now, knowing how incompetent she and her campaign were, there is no doubt in my mind that we would have President Cruz. Think about it, they were told they were close or losing in states they had to win and they blew it off. They would have spent even less time in them, just expecting to win because the Democrat always does.

            It wasn’t just that she was the wrong candidate from the beginning. She was arrogant, clueless, tone deaf and lazy. And her team was equally bad.

      2. different clue

        I don’t believe Sessions will go anywhere. The Republican Senators will support him too strongly. And the Steve Bannon right will work with the Senate Republicans in keeping Sessions on as AG because Sessions strongly aligns with Bannon’s White National Grievance Agenda.

        But you may be right about Hillary versus any Brand Name Republican. If the GOP had nominated any of its Hideous Mainstream Gargoyles, I would have voted for Clinton. The Trump nomination is what freed me up to vote for not-Clinton. And then Clinton herself enfeared and loathified me into voting for Trump.

  11. Altandmain

    Were Trump intelligent, he would attempt to allow Obamacare to collapse under its own weight and try to accelerate the process.

    1. Premiums are rising anywhere from 10-60% depending on what state
    2. There are other rapidly rising expenses in many areas, most notably rent
    3. Jobs sure don’t pay 10-60% more per year because of rising insurance costs
    4. Most new jobs suck. They are temporary, low pay, part time, and often unstable.
    5. Actually for many people their incomes are falling. That means even less disposable income.

    The end result is a collapse. If Trump were smart, he’d tie that to Obama and the Democrats who have sold this Obamacare program as the ultimate solution.

    Then he would pass universal healthcare, which ironically he alluded to during the campaign. His other transgressions would be forgiven and he’d be remembered very positively.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Politics is about promises and the perception of whether they were broken or kept and who to blame for broken promises and which promises matter.

      The GOP has promised to repeal ACA and made it a centerpiece of their opposition, and Trump has been perceived to have promised to upend how Washington, considered to be out of touch and not responsive, works. Even if he wanted to keep ACA for his own reasons, he has to make it look like he is going after it.

      ACA is the Obama era. Its a big deal and will have political ramifications for years. The failure to produce results led to the 2010 defeat. Public Blue Dogs were excised as youth and minority voters didn’t vote for them, and their grand plans to win “moderate Republicans” failed to come to fruition. The Republicans have to be perceived as acting to hold their voters, who are crazy, they are Republican voters after all.

    2. Carolinian

      Be assured that should the ACA go under the Mighty Wurlitzer will find away to blame it on Trump. In fact I think Trump said the other day that should the Senate vote fail he would make sure ACA failed and was called a monster or some such. Trump is the dog that eats the Democrats’ homework.

      1. different clue

        In which case, the Clintobamacrats will nominate a Clintobamacrat who will run on “Restore Obamacare!”. If that Clintobamacratic nominee adds enough other DLC Third Way Democrat items like Moar Free Trade Agreements! and Punish Russia for 2016! . . . then I will vote for Trump all over again.

    3. a different chris

      How in God’s name is Trump going to pass “universal healthcare” under a Republican House and Senate? Or even one of the two? First he would need somebody, and a Republican somebody, to write it, who would that be?

      Seriously I don’t understand this particular line of thought.

      1. Altandmain

        By tieing it to his populist appeal.

        The Republicans will be under immense pressure from the their own constitutions because they will be truly desperate for alternatives.

        It would also force the Democratic Establishment to make difficult decisions. They will unlock the full public fury if they are against a true universal healthcare system.

        The other reason is that universal healthcare is gaining increasing appeal even amongst Republicans.

      2. Oregoncharles

        the bill exists, but it came from a liberal Democrat. Or several.

        If it happens, it would be after changes in Congress in 2018.

    4. Elizabeth Burton

      The problem with fighting for single-payer over “saving the ACA” is that the percentage of people who (a) were finally able to get insurance and (b) can afford high premiums, copays and deductibles are ripe fields for the mantra we have to keep the mess we have. As a result, they also tend to embrace the idea that single-payer just isn’t feasible “right now.” As someone remarked to me yesterday “we need to keep it while we work on something better.” It never occurs to them that work will never happen.

      Many of them are also not aware of the increasing number of their cohort who are still not getting care because the copays and deductibles are more than they can afford.

      So, I’ve simply started telling them they’d better face reality, that the ACA was passed containing a time bomb to blow it up simply because it kept operations in the hands of the insurance companies that are free to raise prices as they see fit and abandon “markets” ditto. In other words, that it’s going to go no matter how hard they fight for it, and that their time and effort is better spent fighting for single-payer.

      The response? “How can we do that now?”

      It isn’t enough to holler for single-payer because the happy-with-Obamacare people are not listening. All they can see is the GOP is attacking something they needed and got and want to hang on to, for obvious reasons. They think it can be fixed with just a little tweaking because that’s what they want to hear, and because the concept of “health insurance as a means of paying” is so deeply rooted in the US psyche it will take time and education to get them to understand the ACA is not sustainable.

      Think of it as being on the brink of starving and suddenly having access to food. Yes, you have to pay to get in and pay some more to actually get food, and you can’t be sure the restaurant will still be there tomorrow; but today, you eat. And if some of the other people sitting there with you are making ketchup soup, well, as long as no one brings it to your attention there’s no problem because you’re busy eating.

      “I’ve got mine” is deeply embedded in the US mindset, thanks to generations of being brainwashed about bootstraps and rugged individualism and personal responsibility. Even people who are otherwise very caring can have a blind spot about this issue.

      1. Eureka Springs

        Name the bill, H.R.676 – Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act. Roughly 20 pages in printed length.

        People who say – “we need to keep it while we work on something better.”

        I recently read in NC comments Germany established universal care in the 1880’s! The British just after WWII. So next time, ask them, just how long should we the exceptional wait? We are already 80 to 125 years behind!

      2. different clue

        If you are correct, and Obamacare is on a hopeless glide path to Buffalo Jump; then there should be no objection to making futile fixes to Obamacare. Eventually they will all fail, it will fly itself into the side of the mountain, and then all the disinsured people will be ready to support Single Payer . . . as long as a few lonely Liberadicals are keeping it alive on the fringes of the House and Senate until its time has come.

    5. marym

      His campaign reference to single payer was intriguing at the time, though he soon retracted it and had Republican boilerplate (like buy insurance across state lines) on his campaign website.

      He has neither proposed policies nor appointed people with histories that show concern for the common good. He appears not to have the slightest idea how health insurance works, let alone the specifics of existing programs or recent Republican bills. He and his HHS are fine with using executive powers to make the ACA worse, regardless of harm to people.

      That he would care about health care even for his “base” is unlikely; let alone for the people against whom he’s fostering hate and encouraging violence.

    6. Oregoncharles

      At this point, that is exactly what Trump, at least, is doing. He might not be so dumb.

    7. Art Eclectic

      How on earth will Trump ever get universal healthcare through a GOP controlled House and Senate?

      Any collapse of the health care insurance system is now owned by Republicans. They swore they would fix it and failed to deliver.

      1. Yves Smith

        After 2018 if he holds out that long. It’s clear the Dems are trying to bait him into obstruction of justice, even though he would be completely within his rights to fire Sessions and Mueller (they are both members of the Administration, not special prosecutors appointed by Congress, and serve at the pleasure of the President, despite the “independent” title for Mueller). The Rs will lose seats and maybe one of the houses of Congress.

        But that assumes he recognizes the opportunity, as opposed to this just being another random Trump utterance.

  12. Samuel Conner

    old-economy needlestick: sewing needle through a fingernail (and often finger) was an occupational hazard in the needle trades, now nearly all off-shored. The industrial sewing machines operated at high speed and one had to keep a firm grip on the work to form the seam properly; it was easy to get a finger drawn into the needle path along with the fabric.

    1. carycat

      yes indeed. not so fond memories of getting a needle through the finger nail courtesy of a buttoning machine (specialized cousin of the sewing machines that attaches buttons, which you position with your finger. the button hole making machine is even scarier as it has both a blade that plunges in to create the opening and a needle to sew the sides back up) in a NYC lower east side sweat shop in the 60’s. fortunately, that was only a summer job. at least back in the day, a teenage can still get a paying summer job.

  13. Altandmain

    Senators buck Sessions, move to protect state medical marijuana laws

    The Washington Post wants more war
    For those who watch Jimmy Dore, his latest is pretty good.

    Poverty in the small towns

    I don’t like citing the Washington Post (just watch Dore’s video as to why not), but this is an interesting read.

    Norway and the left

    I don’t like the title Bernie Bros, but still interesting to read.

    Suicide over healthcare costs

    DNC Scandal

    Just deeper and deeper ….

    Welcome to my world of job searching

    Yeah this job market is ugly.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      “Bernie Bros” was coined by the Clinton campaign as a means of denigrating Sanders supporters. It’s continued use by the establishment media is intended to exacerbate that in an effort to turn off people who aren’t familiar with the background. Indeed, so pervasive was the misinformation that even Bernie was forced to publicly denounce them.

      How many of them actually existed remains unclear. Also how many of them were paid Clinton employees hired to troll as Sanders supporters.

    2. Spring Texan

      My sympathies . . . job-hunting is horrible. I’ve been employed 10 years now and worked my way back up, lucky me (I was unemployed in my mid-50s, so I know how damn lucky I finally was) but I still cringe when I turn up old resumes, applications, and cover letters, and it’s only gotten worse with automated keyword screening and such :-(

      Good luck to you, I hope that you do eventually have luck as I at last did.

  14. Jim Haygood

    Today the Dow Industrials eked out a new record of 21,830, though other indexes didn’t. “Gridlock is our friend!” as our host exulted above.

    Crude oil gained 8.6% for the week, almost back to $50/bbl, as Venezuela’s bitterly contested vote on Sunday raises the possibility of US sanctions, a national strike, or a coup that could shut down oil shipments.

    Speaking of chaos, if today’s “skinny repeal” debacle turns out to be the model for the debt ceiling debate this autumn, it’s going to be a kick to watch the giant dynamo of government shudder to a halt as “legends in their own mind” from the Senate and the White House hurl personally-engraved silver spanners into its gears.

    Exploding egos in the night
    Mix like sticks of dynamite

    — Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Power of Equality

  15. Carolinian

    Moon of Alabama explains Venezuela to the NYT/WaPo (and to some around here).


    We can conclude that the upcoming violence in Venezuela is not a spontaneous action of the opposition but the implementation of a plan that has been around since at least May 2016. It is likely to follow the color revolution by force script the U.S. developed and implemented in several countries over the last decade. Weapon supply and mercenary support for the opposition will come in from and through the neighboring countries the CIA head visited.[…]

    The Venezuelan government is supported by a far larger constituency than the U.S. aligned right-wing opposition. The military has shown no sign of disloyalty to the government. Unless there is some unforeseeable event any attempt to overthrow the government will fail.

    The U.S. can further hurt Venezuela by closing down oil imports from the country. But this will likely increase U.S. gas prices. It would create a some short term inconvenience for Venezuela, but oil is fungible and other customers will be available.

    To overthrow the Venezuelan government has been tried since the first election of a somewhat socialist government in 1999. The U.S. instigated coup in 2002 failed when the people and the military stood up against the blatant interference. The “regime change” methods have since changed with the added support of a militant “democratic opposition” fed from the outside. The use of that tool had negative outcomes in Libya and Ukraine and it failed in Syria. I am confident that the government of Venezuela has analyzed those cases and prepared its own plans to counter a similar attempt.

    Trump does seem to have a bee in his bonnet about Venezuela. No word on whether there are any failed hotels or golf courses to account for this. Of course the “opposition” have the same aims as those Cuban exiles in Miami–bring back those happy oligarchical days of yore. Our own oligarchy feels their pain.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Hes not Nancy and hes not a Republican. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

      Besides that Jaffee is an employment attorney, not too bad. I know we have plenty of lawyers, but here is one who definitely helps people.

  16. Gumbo

    Here is what I got.

    Dear Mr. gumbo,

    Thank you for contacting me regarding the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S. 720). I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.

    I understand there is confusion over what this bill actually does. First, there is nothing in the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S. 720) or current law that restricts Constitutionally-protected First Amendment rights or limits criticism of Israel or its policies. Individuals are free to speak in favor of boycott, divestment or sanctions (BDS) activities or to voluntarily engage in boycott activities of their own will.

    No U.S. law forces anyone to do business with Israel or penalizes them for their personal decision to avoid doing business with Israel – this bill would not change that. Individuals and organizations can choose to avoid doing business with Israel based on their own personal or political beliefs. Any allegation that this bill creates potential criminal or civil liability for individuals or organizations refusing to do business with Israel for these reasons is incorrect.

    To be clear, this bill does not limit the rights of American citizens or organizations to express their views on Israeli or American foreign policy in any form. I am a strong supporter of free speech rights and would not be supporting a bill that restricts those rights.

    In 1948, the Arab League established a formal boycott against Israel and companies and entities that do business with Israel. In 1977, the U.S. Congress passed legislation that was enacted into law making it illegal to comply with the Arab League Boycott. Under current law that has been on the books for 40 years, it is unlawful for U.S. companies to knowingly comply with unsanctioned foreign boycotts imposed by foreign countries.

    The Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S. 720) would apply to other unsanctioned foreign boycotts imposed by international organizations such as the United Nations or the European Union.

    Thank you again for contacting me to share your thoughts on this matter. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of further assistance.

    Maria Cantwell
    United States Senator

      1. Jim Haygood

        S.720 is drafted in standard Lawyerspeak gibberish, amending referenced bits and pieces of existing law, such that the meaning and effect is concealed in plain sight unless one looks up all the references.


        Nevertheless, it ain’t that hard. About three-fourths of the way down in the link, one finds:

        Violations Of Section 8(a).—Section 11 of the Export Administration Act of 1979 (50 U.S.C. 4610) … is amended—

        (1) in subsection (a), by inserting “or (j)” after “subsection (b)”; and
        (2) by adding at the end the following:

        “(j) Violations Of Section 8(a).—Whoever knowingly violates or conspires to or attempts to violate any provision of section 8(a) or any regulation, order, or license issued thereunder shall be fined in accordance with section 206 of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1705).

        Following the hyperlink to 50 U.S.C. 1705 yields this text:

        §1705. Penalties
        (a) Unlawful acts
        It shall be unlawful for a person to violate, attempt to violate, conspire to violate, or cause a violation of any license, order, regulation, or prohibition issued under this chapter.
        (b) Civil penalty
        A civil penalty may be imposed on any person who commits an unlawful act described in subsection (a) in an amount not to exceed the greater of-
        (1) $250,000; or
        (2) an amount that is twice the amount of the transaction that is the basis of the violation with respect to which the penalty is imposed.
        (c ) Criminal penalty
        A person who willfully commits, willfully attempts to commit, or willfully conspires to commit, or aids or abets in the commission of, an unlawful act described in subsection (a) shall, upon conviction, be fined not more than $1,000,000, or if a natural person, may be imprisoned for not more than 20 years, or both.
        ( Pub. L. 95–223, title II, §206, Dec. 28, 1977, 91 Stat. 1628 …)

        Evidently the opaque language [as opposed to showing strikethroughs and additions to the original text, to help the reader understand] confuses Kongressklowns as badly as lay people. When bills are drafted by lobbyists such as AIPAC, such obfuscation is by design.

        That’s why Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md) didn’t have a clue that the bill contains savage criminal penalties. They’re incorporated by reference to Public Law 95-223.

        Cantwell’s intepretation appears to be flat wrong, by the way. She’s not a lawyer, hasn’t read the bill, and doesn’t know what the frick she’s talking about. Amateur.

  17. Optic7

    The debate society mentioned above reminded me of another kind of debate club that started in the 19th and ended in the 20th that I just recently heard about: The Long Beach Spit ‘n’ Argue Club. http://articles.latimes.com/print/2010/feb/07/local/la-me-then7-2010feb07

    Sounds entertaining and probably enlightening. How could something this interesting have ended? Right, it was accused of being a den of “communists”, among other undesirable things.

  18. MIchael

    It may have been said upthread, but I echo Lambert’s take on the manbot McCain.

    “McCain… erases the role of the two women (Collins and Murkowksi)…”

    Typical grandstanding, ala Comey et al, by a man who surely believes that adulation is the message of his fellow Senators, when they are actually cheering his imminent departure.

    May “Keating 5 plus a (gold star)” adorn his legacy. Hated this man more than Nixon!

    1. edmondo

      They took a page out of the Dem’s “rotating villain” playbook. Kicking 25 million people off of Medicaid would have backfired in 2018. McCain’s vote was just a chance for Capito, Flake and Heller to be team players to the GOP base and enhance their re-election prospects. It’s all a big show and you are the audience.

      This vote guarantees there will be no Democratic wave in 2018.

    2. Arizona Slim

      I’ve had my feet firmly planted in Tucson during the entire McCain illness reporting. Know what I’m not seeing here? A massive outpouring of sympathy for him. Matter of fact, you could probably measure the local level of sympathy on the nano scale.

      On a personal note, I was at a Wednesday event that was also attended by a former Congressional candidate. I asked her is she was going to try for McCain’s seat in 2018. Answer: No. So, I’m crossing her off my Senatorial watch list.

      OTOH, there’s quite a Democratic pileup in the race to unseat Rep. Martha McSally in CD-2. Five Ds in the race now, with at least that many who are rumored to be interested.

    3. sierra7

      Leading the local news in my area (Sacramento KCRA 5PM News) is all about the heroic vote by Senator John McCain….NO mention of either Collins or Murkowski…..I wanted to put my foot to the tv but in a more sane moment just turned the damned thing off.

    4. Alex Morfesis

      Tail-gunner john is too funny…and his not ready for prime time republican players too…

      Browder…how is it we have lindsay graham having a conversation with mister magnitsky act…on the record in congress…

      Has not the browder family done enough damage to this country ??

      Grandpa browder gave tail-gunner joe McCarthy the ammunition he needed to help the china lobby…and now grandson is once again helping make a mess of this country…

      Who is this family ??

  19. Jess

    Breaking news: Priebus out as WH CoS. Replaced by John Kelly, currently Secretary of Homeland Security.

    How does this affect Bannon? Is it a sign he could be next, or did he just win a round?

    Any thoughts on the Friday afternoon timing? A news dump move, or gives Kelly a weekend to transition?

    1. Steve H.

      It appears that the six-month watch for who was fired was premature. Since the 20th, Chief Mouthpiece, Legal Counsel, Chief of Staff…

      Embrace the churn.

    2. Carolinian

      Interesting in light of the New Yorker story in this morning’s Links. Scaramucci claimed Priebus or his staff members were the ones doing all the leaking. Now if Trump would just fire Nikki Haley…..

      1. Art Eclectic

        Frankly, I totally believe that because I’ve always believed the rumor that the GOP Establishment would attempt find a way to push Trump out in favor of Pence. I’m all-in on the idea that Priebus had an agenda that included destroying Trump from within. He was doing a good job of it, aided by a lot of own-goals on the other side.

      2. different clue

        Well . . . who would leak these things TO Priebus or his staff members in the first place? Priebus or his staff members were not cleared to receive this information so far as I know . . . so someone who WAS cleared was the somebody who leaked it to Priebus or his staff members . . . if indeed Priebus or the staffmembers were responsible for further leaking the leaked leaks.

    3. Annotherone

      “Analysis: Trump cutting Republicans loose”, by Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington


      “It’s clear, in tweets and comments, that Mr Trump believes the Republican Party does not have his best interests in mind. Now he’s cutting the party loose.
      By all accounts Priebus’s successor, John Kelly, is a well liked, highly respected man. His selection is yet another example of Mr Trump’s preference for military brass in positions of authority.
      His managerial skills will be sorely tested, however, by a White House staff that has been wracked by internal strife. Leading an army into battle may seem easy by comparison.”

      Some sources say Priebus resigned yesterday – wonder why we didn’t hear of that until late Friday? Plenty of time for onliners to have fun with Scaramucci’s rants about Priebus – fodder for SNL.They’ll not be able to do a lot with General Kelly – or will they?

  20. Synoia

    SUBLIMINAL Damn! He knows the proper plural for symposium



    and so it follows



    If Symposium is a second declension Latin noun.

    Howeva, I’m convinced Bella is more popula in Washinta. Especially the Accusative plural version.

  21. dontknowitall

    Gridlock is our friend! as Lambert says but it is also Trump’s friend from his comments post-vote. Apparently during the election he was in favor of waiting until to 2018 to visit healthcare reform and he appears to still favor waiting which is why he says “wait until it collapses then deal”.

    Double digit increases projected for insurance payments on an yearly basis are not sustainable so gridlock will bring down the system as surely as if the the Republicans had passed the bill last night. Not complaining, a catastrophic collapse is more likely to bring single payer than not. Let’s not forget Trump has mentioned very positively the Canadian system and NHS without using the Democrats’ eternal caveats of yes but not possible here.

    1. marym

      As I commented above @5:00 pm he doesn’t understand how insurance works, doesn’t have ideas on how to make it work differently or better, and doesn’t care about people. That’s an opinion, but his attitude toward single payer is documented.


      Then, early in the 2016 campaign, he again praised the single-payer systems in Scotland and Canada — while also arguing that the United States needed to have a private system.

      Asked on “Morning Joe” whether he supported single-payer, he said: “No, but it’s certainly something that in certain countries works. It actually works incredibly well in Scotland. Some people think it really works in Canada. But not here, I don’t think it would work as well here.”

      He said two days later at a GOP debate: “As far as single-payer, it works in Canada. It works incredibly well in Scotland. It could have worked in a different age, which is the age you’re talking about here.”

      Later on, Trump would repeatedly push for universal health care without specifically subscribing to the words “single-payer.”
      Then Trump told The Washington Post mere days before his inauguration, “We’re going to have insurance for everybody.” He clarified: “I don’t want single-payer. What I do want is to be able to take care of people.”

      1. dontknowitall

        Trump has spoken about single payer over the months and including recently, so who knows where he stands exactly today on single payer. And God forbid I should doubt a Trump quote from Wapoo. But he praised single payer which is something only now some Dem senators are talking about.

        All the wonderful understanding of insurance schemes dripping from Democrats and Republicans have gotten us exactly where we are today. Obama covered up his lack of understanding by lying with gusto. Remember “you can keep your physician if you want to” ? We had all the wonderfully knowlegeable technicians in the Obama admin who gave us a system that doesn’t work and is about to crash. We need a disruption agent which describes Trump to tee. I do not believe he would go for single payer on his own, but he’s less wedded to “never ever” than those who claim to know more.

        I am now hearing from a number of republican physicians that support of single payer would not be a bridge too far for them which is quite something to hear.

        That said, I understand your concerns and agree a caring president would be great to have but here we are, after sixteen years of Bush and Obama.

    2. John k

      How bout in 2020? No, no.
      Not just not possible now, but never, ever… and that’s a long time.
      Time for a meteor to take out the Dino’s.

    3. different clue

      The problem with whatever Trump says or said or will say is that he means what he is saying at this very moment. And when he said the exact opposite 5 minutes ago . . . he meant it when he was saying it 5 minutes ago. And if he says something different 5 minutes from now, he will mean that too, when he says it 5 minutes from now. And then he will mean something else in 7 minutes, 9 minutes, an hour, a day, a week . . . from whenever.

      Analysing and/or predicting Trump will be very challenging.

  22. The Rev Kev

    Anybody else here have read that the Russians are finally taking action for Obama throwing out Russian diplomats at Christmas time as well as seizing private property (https://www.rt.com/news/397809-russia-us-diplomats-sanctions/)? Payback is a bitch.
    The Russian have announced that they are reducing the number of US embassy staff to 455 people – the same number of people that the Russians have in the US but will mean several hundred people being ousted. In addition, the US will lose warehouses that it keeps for the embassy in Moscow as well as a cottage that the US embassy uses to relax at.
    Like the dog that did not bark, I found it interesting that there is no mention of it on the Google news front page, not for the Australian, U.K. or U.S. versions though you would think that this is a big deal. You have to go looking for it in Google news to find this story. If you had asked me 10, no, 5 years ago whether I would ever find myself reading Russians news sites to get a better idea of what is happening in the world I would have looked at you in disbelief. And yet here I am having to read sites like RT and Fort Russ. I certainly would not have believed that my country would be shipping uranium to a country – Ukraine – in the middle of a civil war and yet I had to find out that tidbit on RT.

    1. different clue

      I wish the RussiaGov would have waited long enough to see if Trump would sign or veto the Senate’s new sanctions bill first.

      Doing this ahead of the bill having reached Trump for signing will make it harder for Trump to veto it if that is what he would have wanted to have done.

  23. Antoine LeBear

    Savoir Faire Linux seems legit and out of government/intelligence capital. They’re a big OSS consulting company, won a case against QC gov (RRQ, the agency managing public sector pensions – and everybody’s disability and parental leaves (1 year to share between both parents!)) for not having an open public offering for their software replacement, and I know of a couple of medium companies I worked for who had contracts here and there with SFL for training and installation of OSS. They were competent.
    They have a couple partnership with universities and that may be where some shady money is hiding (see TOR), you would have to dig here.

    That being said, thanks for mentionning Ring, I had no idea they were unto something like that, I’ll investigate.

  24. Livius Drusus

    I have doubts about whether we will ever get anything like true health care reform. The reason we keep fighting over Republican and Democratic versions of the same Rube Goldberg-like programs is because any viable health care reform has to maintain incomes for wealthy interests. Any reform that is truly universal and keeps costs down will mean financial haircuts for the insurance industry, hospitals, the pharmaceutical industry and doctors. Good luck defeating all of those interests.

    I still believe that Obama’s biggest mistake was making health care reform his big goal and not public sector job creation and increasing worker bargaining power by passing EFCA. The Republicans took advantage of the situation and presented Obamacare as an attack on Medicare and a giveaway to the poor. Americans who were struggling but not poor enough to benefit from Obamacare saw it as a giveaway to the poor and that killed the Democrats in 2010. Liberals and other people on the left have to realize that Americans have an anti-welfare, producerist mentality. You could get away with a big jobs program because it could be classified as getting Americans back to work which is seen as virtuous but Obamacare was characterized as welfare and Americans hate welfare unless they are receiving it.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Obama was a servant of the wealthy. He had no interest in helping people.

      Healthcare reform would be great for the economy. People who might want to work less could leave their jobs. People in better positions to start businesses could start them without fear of getting sick or a family member becoming sick. This would have an upward pressure on wages and be very similar to a jobs program in real terms.

      Chucky Schumer pushed the bs that the Democrats should have focused on the economy before healthcare. News flash, its the same thing.

      Guess what the problem in 2010 wasn’t the give away to the poor. It was the poor and young people, also poor, not voting because they weren’t seeing material improvements and were being told to shut up by the Dems and clap.

      No, Republican voters didn’t deliver Obama or the Democrats majorities. It was convincing poor and young people to vote. When the Democrats betrayed them, they didn’t vote, and the “moderate Republicans” hate Democrats.

      Republican voters hate welfare and call virtually every government program welfare. Obama could have repeated Newt Gingrich’s greatest hits, and Republicans would still hate Obama.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Those same people who weren’t poor but still struggling. Guess what, they saw their premiums go up,up, up! Some were forced off their employer based insurance onto exchanges, where they now get terrible coverage.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Besides my mod hell comment, I would also add Obama dismantled the DNC field operation built since 2005 as he had he wanted. Never forget Tim Kaine’s role in the destruction of the Democratic Party. Democrats took hits in areas where they needed high turnout.

      2. Livius Drusus

        Yeah it was a disaster. Another example of technocratic liberalism making a mess of things. Health care is a huge mess because we didn’t win single-payer back when you actually had old school liberals among Democrats and even Republicans and the plutocratic interests were not as strong as they are today. Senator Jacob Javits, a liberal Republican from New York, introduced a bill for Medicare for All back in 1970. But even then you had interest groups that opposed universal health care.

        One thing that perplexes me is why most of the business community doesn’t break with the insurance companies, the hospitals, pharma and anti-universal health care physicians and support single-payer since it would relieve them of responsibility for providing employee health insurance and make them more competitive with firms from countries with real universal health care.

        My guess is that American companies know that employer-provided health care keeps many workers tied to their jobs and docile. Workers are less likely to risk organizing if they know that they can be fired and lose their health care coverage. Like so much else it boils down to the issue of bargaining power between labor and capital, which is always the heart of the matter under capitalism.

    3. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Is it really going to take people another 5, 10, 20, 50 years to figure out that the entire “2-party” system is designed and operates against their most basic interests, and always will?

      So to answer a question I’m asked, “which reform candidates do you support” my answer everywhere and always is NONE, EVER, NO ONE, NOT EVER.

      It’s the equivalent of asking me ‘who is your favorite member of the Nazi Party?”

      What do I support? A brick flying through the air. Hate to tell you folks but it’s the ONLY thing that works.

    4. witters

      “Liberals and other people on the left have to realize that Americans have an anti-welfare, producerist mentality. ”

      Like American Bankers.

    5. different clue

      The first step towards defeating “all those interests” is naming “all those interests” by name.

      The second step towards defeating “all those interests” is making it clear that we ( you. YOU!) could have nice things but “they” won’t let you. “They”? Who is “they”? Why, “they” is “all those interests”. That’s who won’t let you have nice things. “All those interests”.

  25. marym

    Tweet from CBS reporter with screen shot of letter from Pelosi to Ryan and McConnell

    Rebecca Shabad‏Verified account @RebeccaShabad 3h3 hours ago
    JUST IN: @NancyPelosi sends letter to Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell saying House Dems could support some elements consistent with BCRA

    Because markets.

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