Links 7/18/2017

Emojis are Proving a Hot Topic In and Out of the Courtroom ;) The Fashion Law

As Paperwork Goes Missing, Private Student Loan Debts May Be Wiped Away NYT (AF). AF: “If only they’d wiped out the mortgage debt.”

More Than 40% of Student Borrowers Aren’t Making Payments WSJ

New U.S. Subprime Boom, Same Old Sins: Auto Defaults Are Soaring Bloomberg

Treasury Reassures Markets About Secret Debt-Ceiling Plan Bloomberg. Mint the coin!

Big Four Audit Firms Enjoy a “Too Few to Fail” Regulatory Hall Pass Francine McKenna, Pro-Market

Plastic-Versus-Cash Battle Heats Up After Visa, Mastercard Deals Bloomberg

Resurrecting ‘A Comprehensive Charter of Economic Liberty’: The Latent Power of the Federal Trade Commission (PDF) University of Pennsylvania Journal of Business Law


Can Washington Prevent The Death Of The Gulf States? Moon of Alabama

Netanyahu: Israel Opposes Cease-fire Deal Reached by U.S. and Russia in Southern Syria Haaretz


PIN IT ON EM’ Theresa May urged to sack her testosterone-fuelled ‘donkey’ ministers after a series of damaging leaks targeting Philip Hammond The Sun

As London feuds, full Brexit negotiations open in Brussels Reuters

QUESTIONING THE BILL Britain launches ‘line by line’ challenge to huge divorce bill being demanded by the EU The Sun

Implementing Brexit: Immigration (PDF) Institute for Government. “The UK will need to provide EU nationals with the relevant documentation confirming residency in the UK, and member states will be responsible for doing the same for British citizens in the EU. The challenge for government is processing a possible three million applications with a system designed to manage a fraction of that. The Home Office needs either significant numbers of additional staff or a redesign of the process, or, better still, both.”

A Food Brexit: time to get real SPRU Science Policy Unit, University of Sussex. “The entire UK food system is dependent on migrant labour. UK food manufacturing is our largest manufacturing sector but one third of its workforce is migrant. UK horticulture has massive dependency on migrants to pick ‘British’ food UK consumers say they want. Technology will not replace the vast army of migrant labour who work in food service.”

Why a short-term transition deal is no easy Brexit solution FT

IMF hails ‘ambitious’ French reforms under Macron Agence France Presse

Jeremy Corbyn, Emmanuel Macron and the age of volatility New Statesman


The New Silk Road Will Go Through Syria Pepe Escobar, The Unz Review

In urban China, cash is rapidly becoming obsolete CNBC

New Cold War

Pussy Riot Founder Says American Liberals Scapegoat Putin To Distract From Democrats’ Problems David Sirota, International Business Times and Pussy Riot Founder & John Cusack On How Americans Wildly Misunderstand Putin (podcast) David Sirota, International Business Times. From Sirota’s mailer:

The founder of Pussy Riot asserts that America’s Democratic politicians and liberal media outlets are deliberately obsessing over and misportraying Vladimir Putin in order to distract from the Democratic Party’s electoral failure. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and her Pussy Riot bandmates generated international headlines in 2012 when they staged protests against Putin’s regime. They were subsequently jailed, and spent 21 months in prison. Tolokonnikova remains a staunch foe of Putin, but tells IBT/Newsweek that the Russian president is wildly misrepresented in the American political discourse.

The first link is a partial transcript of the podcast. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova’s views of Putin are interesting. As are the Saker’s views on Pussy Riot.

Trump Jr. attorney offers details about 8th person at meeting CNN

The Master of ‘Kompromat’ Believed to Be Behind Trump Jr.’s Meeting NYT. Yesterday’s headline “A Russian Developer Helps Out the Kremlin on Occasion. Was He a Conduit to Trump?” — note question mark — morphs into today’s “widely considered to have been the source of the incriminating information on Hillary Clinton that Donald Trump Jr. was promised.” I love the faux learnedness of “kompromat.” It makes anybody who uses it sound like a master of tradecraft!

Trump Jr.’s emails should have killed the president’s ‘fake news’ rants. Here’s why they won’t. Margaret Sullivan, WaPo.

South Carolina May Prove a Microcosm of U.S. Election Hacking Efforts WSJ

Health Care

I will have more on this topic in a post in a few hours.

Latest health care bill collapses following Moran, Lee defections CNN

Sen. Jerry Moran on healthcare: ‘We must now start fresh’ Kansas City Star

Utah’s Lee and others balk on health care bill, prompting McConnell to shift from replacing Obamacare to repealing it Salt Lake Tribune

McConnell Abandons Obamacare Repeal and Replace Effort Roll Call. But note the procedural machinery:

“So, in the coming days, the Senate will vote to take up the House bill with the first amendment in order being what a majority of the Senate has already supported in 2015 and that was vetoed by then-President Obama: a repeal of Obamacare with a two-year delay to provide for a stable transition period to a patient-centered health care system that gives Americans access to quality, affordable care,” McConnell said.

So, the Republican ObamaCare repeal kicks in after the next midterms? Governing is hard!

Senate GOP’s healthcare problem is not Trump McClatchy. Rather, it’s internal contradictions within the Republican Party itself (despite the wave of triumphalism we will shortly experience from the various Clintonite/Brockist AstroTurf “Resistance” “leaders”). Granted, a strong enough party head (which a President is) might be able to unify even a fractured party, but let’s remember that Bush in 2004, having just won a second term, was in a far stronger position than Trump today (“I earned capital in this campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it”) and yet Bush failed in his attempt to privatize Social Security, a project of equal scale. The President is not a dictator, as Obots were wont to say.

Quebec Expects $1.2 Billion in Savings With New Drug-Price Deal Bloomberg. Quebec population: 8.125 million. United States population: 321.4 million. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say we could be leaving real money on the table.

Trump Transition

Is Donald Trump simply the worst human being we can imagine? 14 experts weigh in Salon. “The two other people who consistently rate high on the TV Cheat Sheet hate-o-meter, perhaps offering Trump some competition, are Kim Jong-un and Justin Beiber.” I agree on Beiber. But have we jumped the shark, here? One can only hope…

Decaying infrastructure taking a toll on America Deutsche Welle

The Benefits of Private Financing for Public Works NYT. Ka-ching.

How Andrew Cuomo broke the New York subway The Week

Democrats in Disarray

With 2018 looming, Democrats divided on their core message AP. House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley: “That message is being worked on.” In the passive voice, yet!

With New D.C. Policy Group, Dems Continue to Rehabilitate and Unify With Bush-Era Neocons The Intercept

A Brief Thought: Running to Stand Still & the Democratic Party Nina Illingworth

This is Why the GOP House is Safe in 2018 The American Conservative. Interesting excerpts from interview with Chris Jankowski.

How ‘Neoliberalism’ Became the Left’s Favorite Insult of Liberals Jonathon Chait, New York Magazine. “[T]here is little reason to believe the Democratic Party has actually moved right on economic issues.”

Operation Bury Bernie: The Political Motive of the Jane Sanders Investigation Washington Monthly. Blames Trump as opposed to the liberal Democrats, when both are, well, I won’t use the word “colluding” because they’re acting in parallel….

An overdose, a young companion, drug-fueled parties: The secret life of USC med school dean Los Angeles Times. If you want a real college administrator scandal, this is what one looks like.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

What Happened To Black Lives Matter? Buzzfeed. “[T]his story has been updated to clarify… that Blackbird is a communications and tactical support firm, rather than a public relations firm.” Oh. Long form, well worth a read.

Eric Garner’s daughter blasts de Blasio’s talk of ‘progress’ on third anniversary of chokehold death NY Daily News

Shackled skeletons in mass grave could be rebel army that tried to take Athens 2,600 years ago International Business Times (Re Silc).

Our Famously Free Press

This Is How Your Fear and Outrage Are Being Sold for Profit Tobias Rose-Stockwell, Medium

Germany’s anti-fake news lab yields mixed results Politico (Furzy Mouse).

How can we stop algorithms telling lies? Cathy O’Neil, Guardian (Furzy Mouse).

How liars create the ‘illusion of truth’ BBC

Imperial Collapse Watch

Warplane faces ‘tech problems and cost blowout’ Sky News. This is a reworking of the Times story from yesterday’s Links, which is paywalled. Includes this gem: “[T]he F-35 cannot transmit data to British ships and older aircraft without giving away its position.”

Class Warfare

My Mother Wasn’t Trash This Appalachia Life. Must-read.

Average Americans Can No Longer Afford Average New Cars Gas2

An alarming number of Americans are worse off than their parents and we’re not talking about it enough Business Insider

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is about empowering people, not the rise of the machines World Economic Forum. Seems legit.

Back on his pedestal: the return of Friedrich Engels FT

The Burden of Taxation in the United States and Germany Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago (Re Silc).

Can Microbes Encourage Altruism? Scientific American. Perhaps class has a terroir….

‘Game of Thrones,’ Season 7, Episode 1 Review: “Dragonstone” WaPo. I think WaPo does the best GoT recaps. They would, wouldn’t they?

Experts on war, diplomacy and politics tell us how ‘Game of Thrones’ ends Mashable

What if Sex Is Just a Garbage Dump for Genetic Mutations? WIRED

Against home runs The Week

Antidote du jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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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. MoiAussie

    Breaking: Ukrainian separatists proclaim new state called Malorossiya

    Recognizing that Ukraine is a failed state on the verge of collapse, the breakaway Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk have today proclaimed its successor – Malorossiya (Little Russia). This harks back to the 18th century when a state with that name briefly existed in the region. Malorossiya is not just a fusion of the DPR and LPR, but takes in the entirety of Ukraine, excepting the former Crimea.

    Separatists in eastern Ukraine have proclaimed a new state that aspires to include not only the areas they control but also the rest of the country.

    The surprise announcement in the rebel stronghold of Donetsk casts further doubt on the 2015 ceasefire deal that was supposed to stop fighting in Ukraine’s industrial heartland and bring those areas back into Kiev’s fold while granting them wide autonomy.

    The Irish press seems to be the main non-russian media reporting on this.

    1. different clue

      If the supporters of the Malorossiya concept wish to impose it on West Ukraine the same way that West Ukraine wants to impose its Banderastan concept on East Ukraine, the West Ukrainians will fight just as hard against such colonial rule mentality coming from East Ukraine as the East Ukrainians are now fighting that sort of colonial rule mentality coming from West Ukraine.

      Do the East Ukrainians really wish to run that experiment? I doubt a cautions and calculating Putin would lend them any support.

      1. MoiAussie

        While the details on how and why the Malorossiya concept was proposed are sketchy, it emerged from a congress involving participants from 19 regions of Ukraine, and does not appear to be an attempt to impose anything on anyone. To quote from a translation of a statement,

        the proclaimed Malorossiya will be a federal state featuring broad autonomy

        It’s closely aligned with the Minsk 2 agreements, and is proposed to be established on a 3 year timetable. Broadly speaking it seems to be an attempt to end the conflict in Ukraine. There is actually some support in other parts of Ukraine for the idea of replacing the Ukrainian state with a successor.

        WaPo reports: “We offer Ukrainian citizens a peaceful way out of the difficult situation, without the war,” Alexander Zakharchenko, leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, told reporters during a surprise announcement. “This is our last offer not only to the Ukrainians, but also to all countries that supported the civil war in Donbass.”

        As yet, Russia has offered no support, France and Germany have condemned the idea, and the US has only just started to report on it. Individuals involved in the Minsk process are unsurprisingly negative about it.

        I think you have to be a bit careful not to take this all at face value. I suspect this is more about Zakharchenko taking a political stance on ending the conflict rather than a serious attempt to declare a new state. New Ukrainian attacks on the separatist republics have been expected this summer.

        If you’re interested in more detail, I suggest you read the following articles at Fort Russ:
        We will not join Ukraine, but Ukraine can join Donbass – Zakharchenko interview
        Malorossiya: Information War Ploy or Real Revolution?
        Kremlin silent on the creation of ‘Malorossia’ in the Donetsk Republic

        Interestingly, the website, which is linked from Fort Russ, is inaccessible today, probably due to some kind of cyberattack/censorship.

  2. craazyboy

    Witty internet Of Things (WIoT)

    Been working on sketching out a brand new politico-industrial economy, because the news has been sooo boring and we obviously need one, soon.

    Got the beginnings worked out pretty good.

    Public acceptance of new everything at once is always dicey, so I worked out a way that should work. This should be thrashed out by Political Correctness Associates And Friends Of Associates. (PCAAFOA) Then Focus Grouped, with strict goal-seeking methadologies applied to verify our input theory and consequences.

    The CBO will be provided with a financial cost estimate to meet.

    So..the half-baked solution so far is to use comedians, give them Titles and Jobs (Sinecures), and this will serve to throw some light on how the economy should naturally organize. (Throw a Bone to the Libtards! Clever.)

    We will select historical, cream of the crop, Slapstick Comedians to serve as the Leaders in each econ Segment. We will release the news that this was suggested by our hand-picked PCAAFOA Peoples, and enthusiastically embraced by Focus Group.

    The First Cut of Comedians are listed here. There could be more?!

    Charlie Chaplin – Commander In General
    Flipper – Navy
    Red Skelton – Steath Auto-Flying Squadron
    Carrot Top – Nuke Tipped ICBM – Largest and Only Bomb Made, Evah!
    Marx brothers – Marines – Hand To hand Combat Group
    CloudStrike – Cyber Warfare Group – Counter, Anti-Counter And Cover Up Secret, Yet Leaky, Ops.
    Abbot and Costello – MI6 Joint Services
    Benny Goodman – Pentagon Procurement, Budgeting, Money Printing
    Benny Hill – One Man Parliment – Plays Bagpipes to filibuster himself.
    Bob Hope – Golf Course Maintenence and Light PC Entertainment
    Three Stooges – Joint Cheifs Of Staff
    Snoop Dog – Ala-bama Mud Soldiers
    Cheech & Chong – DeeCee Press Corps

    Joan Rivers – Honorary Congressional Figure Head to offer up commentary on the constitutional legality of Entering into Undeclared Wars.

      1. craazyboy

        Rodney Dangerfield – All Future Presidents Realize They Will Never Get Any Respect!

    1. newcatty

      Al Frankin. Not only is a genuiene professional Comedian, he already is a real politician. And, he already is a distinguished United States of America senator! Wit and on the job experience!

      Al Frankin- Secretary of new federal government department of Peace and Civility

      Remember: I am (we are) good enough. I am (we are) smart enough. And, by golly, I like me (us).

      No need to be exceptional…

      1. Christopher Fay

        Newcatty I failed to feel the snark in your recommendation of Al Franking. The last I saw his name he was either pumping for the New McCarthyism or his self titled Giant of the Swampit

        1. newcatty

          Christopher…in the context of the very serious responsibility of suggesting more Comedians to serve as leaders in the new political- industrial economy I admit I did not put the “s” at end of my comment. I guess I thought it would read as such. Also, perhaps a little bit of satire was included?

  3. ex-PFC Chuck

    Regarding the Democrat’s message for 2018. How about

    Democrats – No Change You Can Believe In

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      I figured they’d just go with the Nancy Pelosi refrain – when asked why we can’t have single payer health care:

      “We’re capitalists here.”

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Dems will want to incorporate complaints about their own potential voters such as, “you are too stupid to recognize our brilliance. Vote for us!”

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      ‘Change? Why? Did you pay me*?’

      *Imagine a world where people pay with cash.

  4. UserFriendly

    Adding insult to injury
    How bad policy decisions have amplified globalization’s costs for American workers.

    What this report finds: Globalization was always likely going to depress wage growth for the majority of American workers. But policy failures have significantly amplified these damaging effects, turning this from a manageable challenge into a deep economic wound for these workers—and into a political disaster for the country. These policy failures include:

    *Failing to secure any reasonable compensation for those on the losing end of globalization

    *Failing to address currency misalignments that have led to large trade deficits and hemorrhaging employment in manufacturing

    *Passing trade agreements that have consistently aimed to undercut workers’ economic leverage while carving out ample protections for corporate profits

    *The effects of globalization and our failed policy response to it are not just a problem for white manufacturing workers in the Rust Belt, but in fact affect the majority of workers and likely fall disproportionately on the wages of nonwhite workers.

    Why it matters: Intentional policy decisions have amplified the costs of globalization to American workers on its losing end. Globalization has been used as a tool to shift economic leverage and power away from low and middle-wage workers, and this has contributed to the anemic wage growth for this group.

    What can be done about it: To remedy the situation, the United States can:

    *Use domestic policy to compensate (offset the losses to) negatively affected workers—but the first step is acknowledging the large scale of these losses.

    *Stop pursuing new omnibus trade agreements that protect returns to capital while undercutting wages.

    *Reorient international policy away from regressive trade agreements and toward measures that will benefit workers in the U.S. and in other countries—addressing currency misalignments; developing international policies to enable countries to tax capital income, including clamping down on abusive tax havens; instituting an international financial transactions tax; and harmonizing national policies aimed at combating global climate change.

    1. HotFlash

      Gosh, it’s like the Great Famine all over again. Or Katrina. Or Sandy.

      God or Nature or Fate may cause a ill event, but it is politics that makes it a disaster.

  5. allan

    “[T]he F-35 cannot transmit data to British ships and older aircraft without giving away its position.”

    Potemkin villages at least looked like villages.

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      If it gives away its position, it is more likely to get shot down, which necessitates buying more of them.

      Self-licking ice cream cone

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Treasury Reassures Markets About Secret Debt-Ceiling Plan Bloomberg. Mint the coin!

        Coin for

        1. More F-35’s…likely.

        2. For Single-Payer Health Care…not if your life depends on it.

        “He chose…poorly,” says the knight.

    2. Bill Smith

      The F-35 seems to have lots of problems but…

      Is this because the Royal Navy Ships and older aircraft don’t have the Multi-Function Advanced Datalink (MADL) that the F-35 has? So in order to talk to them it has to use legacy communications systems?

      And what other older aircraft can communicate without giving away their positions? They all use Link 16 systems to share data? Which is detectable…?

  6. dk

    Blames Trump as opposed to the liberal Democrats, when both are, well, I won’t use the word “colluding” because they’re acting in parallel….

    Everyone looks for cooperation/collusion, and ignores convergence. Like minded actors with common goals do not need to coordinate prior to execution in order to amplify each other’s efforts/effects.

    It’s a successful and widely used strategic pattern throughout the biological range. Which suggests that one doesn’t have to be particularly “smart” to use it.

    Conspiracy theorists are prone to infer co-op/collude in instances of convergence. This may be one of the reasons contemporary discourse tends to veer away from it. But its reduced presence in consideration and calculation leads to poor predictors and failed strategies.

    Convergence is also significant in the strategic context because its end-state may be unstable, as when converging interests compete for or otherwise destabilize the goal.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Everyone looks for cooperation/collusion, and ignores convergence. Like minded actors with common goals do not need to coordinate prior to execution in order to amplify each other’s efforts/effects.

      “Emergent conspiracy.”

      1. flora

        Yep. Snopes says it’s a false story originating with a fake news site.

        “The Jackson Telegraph is not the online arm of a real newspaper, but merely a fake news site. One of the telltale signs of a fake news site is that the Jackson Telegraph‘s “contact” page provides no physical address, no telephone numbers, no listing of editorial or business staff (or other personnel) — it consists only of a generic e-mail form.”

  7. Colonel Smithers

    Further to Brexit, readers may find these of interest: Thatcher’s former economics adviser and leading Brexiteer, Professor Alan Minford, agrees and seems to think it’s a good idea. Many UK neo-liberals welcome the demise of manufacturing., The fatal divide for business in Brexit Britain. This should be read in conjunction with Simon Kuper’s recall from July 2016 of his days at Oxford with the likes of Thatcherite and Victorian vicar Jacob Rees-Mogg, now being tipped as a leadership candidate, if not PM. Jerri-Lynn Scofield and James Levy studied at Oxford and in London in the 1980s and may have come across these upper class types who appear to treat the business of government as a game., Britain is incapable of managing Brexit and calamity will follow. Yet more analysis that was echoed at a brilliant discussion over lunch, albeit about globalisation, in the City yesterday. It was interesting that so many City veterans appear to share the Corbyn and Sanders analysis and solutions, including one elderly gent who thought a French, if not Russian, solution should not be sniffed at as things are so bad. The only dissident was an American veteran who thought austerity had not gone far enough in the UK and US. No one LOLed, but we chuckled internally. It was heartening to observe, if perhaps off the record and under Chatham House rules, the City is far from a monolith.

    Unfortunately, the FT articles are behind a paywall.

    1. MoiAussie

      Thanks for the links Colonel. FT articles are usually accessible from google news via a headline related search, e.g., “fatal divide” finds the first and “brexit calamity” the second.

      In cheerier news, Michael Matthews just won his second stage of the Tour.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Eustache.

      Mum is a former Whitehall civil servant, but works in local government now. Her cousin was also in Whitehall. Both report how many identity politics driven organisations are subsidised by the taxpayer, little control is exercised over that public money and unsavoury, if not worse, some of these organisations, or parasites, are. In some cases, the organisations, including literally one man bands, have been used to enforce communal control over women, family breakdowns, inheritances and voting. Labour is considered worse than the Tories in this race to the bottom.

      1. sid_finster

        And those identity politics organizations are ever quick to whip out the race/gender/religious discrimination card if anyone should complain, or, heaven forfend! cut funding.

      2. HotFlash

        Thank you, Col. Smithers. We have a similar, although not identical, situation in Canada. We don’t seem to have such good blogs in Canada, more’s the pity, but our politics do (sort of) rhyme with the UK and the US. So I ask, how is “Labour is considered worse than the Tories in this race to the bottom.” — I do not require a time-consuming answer, or indeed, any answer at all, but if you have a link or two, or a name or two, I will be happy to do the further research.

        We don’t have Labour here, we have the Liberals — supposedly lefty. And the NDP — supposedly leftier. If only it were so!

  8. nothing but the truth

    infrastructure in the US is just like healthcare, it has become extortion and unaffordable.

    that is why infrastructure is in a bad state. the unions had asked for a billion dollars to paint the queensboro bridge.

    pricing power in sectors is basically a govt gift. those who are given free trade are dead in the water. those who bribed politicos, like healthcare, defence, FIRE and unions, are making like bandits.

    speaking of ny and its overactive AG chasing russian collusion, has he investigated union extortion and corruption? HA.

    1. tegnost

      pretty sure union workers work for private contractors, no?….healthcare,defence, and FIRE, ok, but unions? That’s a tired old cliche’

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        One problem with links is that people actually read them. From the Noah Smith Bloomberg piece:

        But unions probably don’t help explain the yawning gap between the U.S. and other rich countries. The reason is that places like France have some of the strongest unions in the world. Strikes by rail workers are commonplace. Yet France’s trains cost much less.

        So take your anti-union blather and straw manning tactics elsewhere, or clever up.

      2. different clue

        Given that Huey Long asked you for specific evidence of your specific claim that “the unions had asked for a billion dollars to paint the queensboro bridge”, and given that you have not offered any trace of such specific evidence for that specific claim, and given that you try to trickbait the readers into defending themselves against the subject-changing accusation that “NC and its readers consider unions and MMT to resolve all issues on the planet” . . . I think it is fair to say that you realize that Huey Long has caught you lying, that you know you have been caught lying, and that you hope to minimize the number of readers who realize that Huey Long has caught you lying . . . by trying to change the subject as you retreat in a cloud of dust.

        Good luck. Maybe you will get away with it. Especially if nobody else repeats Huey Long’s request for specific evidence of your specific claim that ” the unions asked for a billion dollars to paint the queensboro bridge”.

        1. skippy

          I think the first hint was the “nothing but the truth” handle, after that it just goes down hill….

          1. different clue

            I hope “nothing but the truth” comes back for another try. Think of all the fun we’ll be missing if we don’t have “nothing but the truth” to kick around any more.

            1. skippy

              I hope they come back, but, abide by the sites rules…..

              Absolutely zero tolerance for Agnotology[.]

  9. MtnLife

    Re: the college scandal

    The article says he moved comfortably among prostitutes and drug users as well as Hollywood types. That has got to be one of the more redundant statements I’ve heard lately. So the guy worked hard, partied hard. Didn’t seem to affect his work – might have even been what made him good at it in that atmosphere. Seems the main sticking point of this “scandal” is that he did some of his substances with “teh poors”. Class no-no. Millionaires don’t do that.

    1. s.n.

      indeed. The other point is that someone this powerful repeatedly allowed himself to be photoed and filmed doing drugs, and allowed those photos and films to remain in the hands of some rather fragile vessels who any fool could see would put them to good use before very long….
      Either overweening arrogance on his part (only the little people do jailtime for drugs) or an aggressively reckless middle-finger extended to the entire status quo. If the latter then my hat’s off to him

    2. Arizona Slim

      Wait a minute. Didn’t the story also say that he grabbed and threatened a colleague?

    3. Eclair

      Doctors consider themselves gods; med school deans are the chief god.

      I worked, decades ago, at a prominent eastern university with a excellent med (and dental) school. The med school dean at that time occupied an enormous office … larger than the that of the university president. His desk perched on a raised dias at the far end of the room; one had to walk the length of the ‘throne room’ to approach and the compulsion to genuflect or to throw oneself face down on the floor was almost unbearable. Said dean went on to an even more prominent government position.

      I went on to work at USC but left after 2 years. High level administrators drove Mercedes Benz autos (the cheapest model) and competition for status was deadly. At that time, only Vice Presidents could have wood doors on their suite of offices. When one of the Directors was promoted to Assistant VP, he literally staged a hissy fit until two painters came and gave his door a fake-wood paint job.

      We routinely went for expense account lunches, including liberal amounts of alcohol. It’s where I was introduced to Long Island Iced Tea.

      So, while I read the LA Times report with much glee, I was not surprised.

  10. paul

    RE: How liars create the ‘illusion of truth’ BBC

    Nice of them to warn us against this.

    BBC ouput in the time of corbyn (The purnell/robinson/Kuenssberg /davis/dimbelby/ahmed/neil/humphreys hydra) has been unfailingly awful.

    BBC Scotland has been even worse,relentlessly anti SNP and shifting from right wing labour to the ruth davidson party (which if it was actually separate could have struck a nice deal a la DUP).

    I don’t really watch it now,except to see what the line is.

    1. MoiAussie

      Leaving aside UK politics, the BBC has been appallingly biased on world news, whether it’s Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Israel/Palestine, Russia, Ukraine, South America… Just a neocon propaganda outlet.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you and well said, Paul and Moi Aussie.

        It’s amazing where the anti-Trump bias manifests itself. The World Service has a science round up and regional updates about 5 – 6 am, London time. Even these bulletins and time of day are not immune. The usual trick is to find a high achieving immigrant / refugee and coax some identity politics and anti-Trump nonsense out of said obscure person. Goodness knows how and where the subjects are found.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, Carolinian and Timmy.

          Good spot by Carolinian. I had forgotten about Thompson.

          RTBF, the Walloon state broadcaster, gave the BBC a run for its money on Sunday lunchtime. It had a feature on Sputnik launching in the US and said that all alternative media are really pro-Russian media.

  11. paul

    Is ‘Kompromat’ uniquely russian,does only france have ‘entrepreneurs’ (trans eng (colloquial): middle men, chancers)?

    The longevity of george ‘ian duncan’ smith and Jeremy Richard Streynsham Hunt suggest otherwise.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Paul.

      I know some journalists at the Times and Wall Street Journal Europe. They told me about the safe full of such matter and how it was transferred from Fleet Street to Wapping and to the Shard. Some of the material is decades old, but one never knows when it will be used.

      I agree with you about Smith and Hunt. I gather that the latter is related to Harriet Harman, Kitty Usher, the late Lady Longford, Tristram Hunt and former power couple the Bottomleys.

      Smith’s in laws own an estate, with pub, in Buckinghamshire, where he often stays and can be found shopping locally. I wonder how someone of his background got into the (Scots) Guards and gentry.

      1. paul

        George is indeed mysterious, he’s like a joe lampton without the charisma,anguish or reflection, but one happly holding a few strategic negatives in a secure place.

        His,literally catastrophic, reign at the DWP seems to being airbrushed out of popular memory,if not experience, for his targets.
        Bedroom tax
        Universal credit
        Degrading the disabled.

        Strange to the think the broken would serve as steps to prosperity, but then I’m not a payday lender or a bookie.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, Paul.

          You are getting there with regard to the loan sharks. The intermediaries are certain constituents of George and some sharks from the fairest cape of all.

  12. RenoDino

    Pussy Riot Founder Says American Liberals Scapegoat Putin To Distract From Democrats’ Problems

    Thanks for this post. Great must read. She pokes the same liberals in the eye who were fawning all over her two years ago for standing up to Putin. Yeah, Putin is bad, but America is worse. And that’s coming from someone who spent 21 months in a Russian prison thanks to Putin.

    “All hypocritical things which been done by Western democracies doesn’t help. I think we would want to go there, but when we see a lot of hypocritical moves that America does, imprisonment, mass incarceration and worse, trying to establish your country as a world empire and world policemen. People don’t like it and they see it, even if they are in Russia. We are not dumb. ”

    We have made so many enemies that at the first sign of weakness, we are toast.

    1. Anonymous

      Pussy Riot is intended for Western consumption, hence their english name. They are a TLA asset intended to make anti-Putin attitudes chic amongst hipsters and feminists ( i.e liberals), just as TLAs have used artists to shape public opinion in the past.

      The fact that one of them is calling out the current Russia hysteria is curious. It may be the deep state voicing a concern about the idiocy of the current Russia witch hunts as a dead end and net loss. It may be that PR has lost their American funding under Trump somehow and a CYA move on their part. It may be one of the women going off script.

      Whatever it is, PR is not for Russians, and they do not take them seriously.

      1. ChrisPacific

        Some of it sounded quite plausible though, like the idea that Russian experience of neoliberalism has been disastrous and Putin therefore derives a lot of his power from opposing it (and uses it as an excuse for authoritarianism by conflating it with democracy).

        1. witters

          Conflating neoliberalism with deomcracy, after 40 years of neoliberalism? Either deomocracy is now neoliberalism, or it is long gone. (Of course, democracy might be, in Sheldon Wolin’s terms, always momentary and fugitive).

      2. Procopius

        Sorry to display my ignorance, but what’s a TLA when it’s at home? I checked Acronym Finder but it comes up with thirty or forty possibilities. The most likely seems to be Two Letter Abbreviation, but Trial Lawyers Association is an intriguing possibility.

      1. allan

        The officer has now extended his condolences:

        Noor “extends his condolences to the family and anyone else who has been touched by this event. He takes their loss seriously and keeps them in his daily thoughts and prayers,” his attorney said in a statement.

        The racial aspect makes this into a Rorshach test.
        It will be interesting to see how the Blue Lives Matter crowd deals with it.
        Probably about the same as how the NRA dealt with Philando Castile,
        which is to say, silence.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          Actually, his attorney extended the condolences for him.

          He’s probably still recovering from being put in fear for his life by the scary, skinny blonde in her pajamas with the funny accent.

          “Sorry for your loss.”

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I have no idea what the victim looked like, but if she was a skinny blonde, the other Rorshach test would be if a blonde’s life is worth more, when she is worth no less than anyone, but equally as precious as anyone else (though, if she was a young person with a bright future ahead of her, many would mourn the future that was robbed), despite Hollywood and Madison Avenue propaganda.

        2. Kurt Sperry

          I guess murdering African-Americans and going scott-free with it is just too easy nowadays so they’ve decided to see how far they can go and still get away with it. If this murder of a conventionally attractive blonde woman goes unpunished, that pretty much means they can kill anyone, anytime for any reason without any fear of accountability.

          1. different clue

            If people decide to seek their own accountability for these incidents through civilian-vigilante methods, then society will have begun fraying even further.

    1. katiebird

      I don’t understand how or why the shooter shot across his partner and through the door to kill her. Couldn’t he kill his partner as easily as her … or more easily?

      1. Optimader

        I dont know the details but this could very easily have been a negligent discharge now that handguns eithout safeties areused by police
        The standard is (should be) dont pull a sidearm unless there is an intention of firing it. This is regularly flaunted, i see it all the tome in the city with armored car flunkies. Theywill have a gun in their hand pointed straight down.

        root cause why was the sidearm removed from holster?
        Sounds likemanslaughter by the shooter. If they were civilians, I believe the other person in the car would be prosecuted also.

        Fire both for not having cameras turned on

    2. fresno dan

      July 18, 2017 at 9:08 am

      After a series of controversial police shootings, public outrage and pressure from elected officials resulted in the widespread adoption of body cameras for patrol officers. The intention was to allow for an objective review of the circumstances for all complaints about police, and in some cases the policies have worked as intended. It helps, however, to have the cameras turned on — and no one’s quite sure why the body cams for two police officers in a Minneapolis shooting stayed off even after the shooting that took an unarmed woman’s life.
      While that may seem like a classic case of asking to close the barn door after the horse has bolted, it makes a difference with police body cams. The devices are never turned entirely off; they record a continuous 30-second loop until activated. This allows for an immediate activation to capture at least some of what preceded it. Had one or both officers activated the cameras immediately after the shooting, there may have been some record of what led to the decision to use deadly force.

      What isn’t understood is that the police are actively TRYING not to have the truth revealed in many, many instances. And just as the Laquan McDonald case showed, the higher ups often aren’t any more interested in the truth than the police involved most times…

      1. UserFriendly

        What a smart feature and what a stupidly short time frame for it. The shooting happened while both officers were in the car and the rules don’t require that they have the camera’s going till they are out and I could see myself being a bit freaked out and not thinking ‘turn on the body cam, it has a 30 sec delay’ right after I finished shooting. Not that I am excusing what he did, but that is what he’ll say. The default should be that it records the last 5 min. Or if they are worried about privacy they should have two buttons, one for start now and one for start 5 min ago. 30 seconds is not enough time.

        1. HotFlash

          Hmm. I occasionally need to rent a small truck/van, most times it has a rear-view camera to help me back and park and stuff. Surely this could happen with police cars? Autonomous police cars? Autonomous vests? I always figure that if there’s a will there’s a way. And the corollary, of there’s no way, that means there is no will.

          Public cams are all the time. Police cams should be on all the time, too. After all, if they have done nothing wrong, they have nothing to fear.

    3. UserFriendly

      Notice how differently this is getting covered since it was a pretty young white woman who got shot by a Somali cop. The video of the son is interesting. “These cops need to get trained different.” It’s sad but I would put money on this being the first high profile cop murder that ends with the cop behind bars; an outcome that I seriously doubt would happen if the victim were black. On the bright side it might be the catalyst for actual reform of police escalation procedure.

      1. HotFlash

        It’s sad but I would put money on this being the first high profile cop murder that ends with the cop behind bars; an outcome that I seriously doubt would happen if the victim were black.

        Or the cop were white.

    4. CanCyn

      First, I’d like to know when we’re going to start calling out these trigger happy cops as the cowards that they are??! Second, when I read about police officers shooting unarmed citizens within seconds of their arrival on the scene I wonder when we’re going to start calling BS on their “fear for their lives” claims. How do they even know what’s going on, never mind figure out that their lives are in danger? I am reminded of the killing of Sammy Yatim by Toronto police officer James Forcillo: He was on a streetcar, empty of passengers – 3 cops inside and at least a dozen more outside and they couldn’t subdue a skinny kid with a switchblade??!! I still marvel at the 9 shots, 6 of which were fired after Sammy fell and a taser in there somewhere. What were those crazy cops thinking? How could trained officers panic so badly? In a shocking turn of events Forcillo was found guitly of attempted murder (yes attempted, read the article) but I think there is appeal process going on.

      Why the hell aren’t we demanding that these cops and/or their supervisors lose their jobs – if we can’t find them guilty of murder, surely we can find them guilty of gross incompetence!
      If the cop who shot that woman in her pajamas while he was still in the car, endangering his partner in the act, doesn’t lose his job, well, I don’t know what to say!
      Maybe we should all start turning our backs on the cops whenever we see them after these crazy shootings. They need to start feeling our disdain and complete lack of respect for their cowardly and bullying methods.
      If I ran the world, cops would partner with a social worker not another cop, in an attempt to change that shoot first scenario to ask questions first, shoot only as a last resort.

        1. witters

          Poor woman thought she was still in Australia, “Someone is in trouble, I’ve called the cops and here they are, hurrah!” …

          1. skippy

            She walked right up to the police car – at nigh – after a 911 call about some violence….

            disheveled…. the officers would have been keyed….

  13. Darius

    Won’t vote for Andrew Cuomo under any circumstances. He’s the Democrat Trump. I can see his slogan. Cuomo: not 3/4 as bad as Trump. Only 72 percent as bad.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I prefer “If you thought Hillary was too good…”

      I have noticed Timmy Kaine hasn’t been name dropped.

    2. different clue

      Cuomo is yet another potential Democrat nominee who would get me to vote for Trump again.

  14. semiconscious

    ‘Game of Thrones,’ Season 7, Episode 1 Review: “Dragonstone”

    is it wrong of me to really wish that, along with ‘game of thrones’, lambert & yves had also gotten into ‘the walking dead’? or is it that they have done, but prefer not discussing it? :) …

    1. TK421

      I’m sorry to see that they’ve gotten into it. I remember when Yves railed against it as the nihilistic, ultimately meaningless trash that it is. Ah well, yet another subject where I’ll have to be a lone voice.

      1. Elizabeth Burton

        I’m with “craazyboy.” I read the books, and was becoming increasingly bored by what to me was clearly the author’s intent to keep making things more and more convoluted so it would take more and more books to resolve all the plot threads (cf. The Wheel of Time). That the time between installments kept getting longer and longer suggested to me he was getting bored with the whole mess but was under pressure from his publisher to drag it out as long as possible because $$$$.

        Then I watched the first episode of the series all of my SF/F friends were hyperventilating about, noted that it had been given the standard HBO unnecessary levels of naked bodies and graphic sex, including what amounted to a rape scene, and lost all interest. And now, it appears, Mr. Martin has abandoned the writing of the novels in favor of resolving things via the series (although he swears the next book will be out…sometime), which I consider a mark of supreme contempt for his readers.

        1. Jen

          Haven’t watched a single episode, and the books, in addition to convoluted plot mechanisms, spend way too much time describing food.

      2. HotFlash

        Yeah, I gotta say that I find GoT, desp the new, totally numbing. Cue up Little Witch Academy! I can’t actually recommend it, just currently the least bad of a very, very bad season, therefore no link.

    2. paul

      Take it from a gravelly voiced hearthtob

      His favourite film, Martin, is ignored by wiki,why? opiods?

      The walking dead? The walking dead?

      George Romero died last week.
      He created the zombie, and spawned a terrible genre.
      All the copies/retreads/homages never got close

      Most of his movies were ,genuinely disruptive,generally bootstrapped by his own vision, were here and completely out there simultaneously.

      Post apocalyptic soap operas are like hogweed.

      1. paul

        Apologise for the jumbling
        Romero’s professed favourite was ‘Martin’.

        I have no idea what Lovejoy’s was.

        Though watching as exaggerated as a production as ‘American Gods’, I think the latter would go for that.

      1. HotFlash

        The vampire and walking dead memes struck me as a dream of society, as in Royal Road to the Unconscious. If you are adventurous, there are many more references, I leave it to you to find them as you might find them too way ‘out there’. At least for now.

        But, at whatever your level of belief/understanding, if you consider that popular culture (movies, songs, yada) might be manifestations of popular feelings, at whatever deep level, you might want to consider them as the dreams of society, that is, the populus.

        I think that the current obsession with zombies, cannibals, vampires, etc. reflect our understanding that we as a society are being eaten alive and then being made to still function as if we were still living.

        But hey, that’s just me! :).

  15. Carolinian

    Re This Is How Your Fear and Outrage Are Being Sold for Profit

    The crux of this talky article is its fundamental premise that is barely talked about at all.

    During the lead up to World War I, unchecked propaganda from all sides reached a fever-pitch, with every belligerent participating in a massive fight for public opinion. By the end of the war it was clear that information warfare was a powerful weapon — it could raise armies, incite violent mobs, and destabilize whole nations.

    In response to this systematic manipulation of the truth, there was a concerted effort to create an institution of fact-driven journalism beginning in the 1920’s.

    Fact based journalism–as eventually exemplified by Cronkite’s statement that the only thing news organizations have to sell is their “credibility”–may have become an aspirational goal. However the degree to which that actually happened is debatable. Indeed it was during Cronkite’s Vietnam heyday that news organizations were forced to acknowledge the gap between the “facts” they were reporting and the reality on the ground. Perhaps the old Front Page style of cynical journalism had it right all along. As long ago journalist Claud Cockburn put it: “believe nothing until it has been officially denied.”

    Here’s suggesting that the “threat” posed by the internet as rumor mill is greatly exaggerated. Indeed the popularity of the internet as news source is a direct result of the credibility failures of those respected mainstream news organizations who have sold out–for economic reasons to be sure–but also because they have their own agendas to push. And one could argue that a similar process is happening in politics. Trump became president not just because of all the attention he was getting but because the credibility of the political mainstream was shot. And who knows? In his bumbling way he may yet save us from the dangerous hysteria of the respectable classes–the people getting their information from their own tailored facebook page called the New York Times.

    1. sid_finster

      “News is information that someone wants to keep secret.

      Everything else is publicity.”

      -some British newspaper baron

  16. visitor

    I shook my head while reading the article on “Decaying infrastructure taking a toll on America” (Deutsche Welle).

    First there are statements such as:

    Electricity grids, gas and oil pipelines, ports, freight rail and internet broadband are all infrastructure that require constant maintenance, yet they are privately owned and well kept.

    It is the infrastructure that falls under government watch that is failing.

    Privately owned pipelines and electricity grids in the USA are well-kept? That’s news to me.

    But the clou is that a Germany-based media organ discusses how worn out and brittle public infrastructure in the USA has become (which is perfectly true), without even mentioning that Germany is plagued by precisely the same issue.

    North Americans probably have the impression that Germans enjoy the benefits of a strong infrastructure built with up-to-date German technology, according to exacting German quality standards and kept ship-shape thanks to meticulous German attention for engineering perfection.

    In fact, in the past half-a-dozen years or so, the decay of German public infrastructure has been making headlines. Roads, bridges, telecommunication networks, schools, swimming pools are outdated and require huge sums to be renovated.

    It is a topic rarely discussed in the North American press. I only found German articles — for which I have translated the headlines.

    Marode Infrastruktur schwächt Standort Deutschland Decrepit infrastructure weakens Germany as a place to do business.

    Marode Brücken, Straßen und Netze Deutsche Infrastruktur braucht 120 Milliarden Euro Crumbling bridges, roads and networks: German infrastructure requires 120bn €.

    Deutschlands Brücken vor dem Kollaps Germany’s bridges about to collapse.

    Marode Schulen: Unterricht in Ruinen
    Dilapidated schools: teaching in ruins.

    Straßen, Kitas, Wohnungen: Trotz Flüchtlingen wäre Geld da: Gemeinden vernachlässigen Infrastruktur Roads, day nurseries, tenements; despite refugees, there would be money: municipalities neglect infrastructure.

    Fun fact: substantial parts of the German infrastructure had to be (re-)built during a fairly short period after WWII (about 1948-1968), which means that they are aging and must be replaced simultaneously — which does not make things easier.

    One reason why Germany failed to invest in maintenance was the so-called “debt brake” (Schuldenbremse), a constitutional amendment that requires that both the federal government and the states (Länder) must balance their budget without taking new credits. There is an exception for exceptional circumstances (such as natural disasters or strong economic cycles). The federal government may take new credits within a limit of 0.35% of GDP — but not the federal states.

    The effect has been very pronounced at the level of municipalities, which have had difficulties to maintain their local assets. Worse, when the federal state makes available special funds to help them, they are unable to use them. Because of personnel reductions, they no longer have enough qualified people to manage projects, and those who could have been diverted to emergencies like handling the refugee crisis.

    1. Huey Long

      There’s also a ton of stuff built in the former GDR that’s due for replacement too, no?

      The eastern bloc wasn’t exactly famous for their build quality you know…

      1. visitor

        In the former GDR, a large overhaul took place in the 1990s already. It was not so much the build quality that was a problem, more the fact that since the early 1970s, the GDR had been incapable of investing enough to maintain its infrastructure — which it had not managed to renovate fully after WWII anyway.

        By 1989, public infrastructure and productive equipment were completely worn out, some of it dating from pre-WWII days and patched up ever since, the one built during post-WWII reconstruction years barely maintained in the last couple decades of the GDR.

        1. Arizona Slim

          Are the Ossies and the Wessies still bickering with each other re: whose infrastructure is better? Or is it all lousy now?

        2. Huey Long

          Visitor, thanks for this. I LOVE that the commenteriat here makes me smarter, a true rarity in today’s troll infested environment.

        3. HotFlash

          Thank you, Gast; this confirms some things I heard abt 5 yrs ago from a German visitor for whom I did some work. Once again, anecdotal evidence from a real person proves true. OK, maybe just ‘true-ish’, stilll need more info, but ‘truer’ than MSM. Definitely a heads-up.

    2. Enquiring Mind

      Deferred maintenance is a silent problem that gets scant attention, usually when some utterly preventable issue causes injuries or deaths. Infrastructure studies by various groups show that the default approach of running some machine or reactor, using a bridge or what-have-you until something breaks turns out to be horrendously expensive. Contrast that with some thoughtful ongoing investment in repair and maintenance plan. On a simple consumer level, would you run your car’s engine until it seized up, or would you change the oil periodically to keep things running smoothly?

      In this era of refined financial engineering, use of selective, even curated, low discount rates may be used to rationalize the shifting of costs out years, decades or forever. Life-cycle costing, remember that, now may have an infinite life, or at least until one’s equity is earned out or the project sold to the next pigeon.

      The motto seems to be “Why invest now when there is seemingly no penalty, at least not on your watch?” Is it any wonder that ill-conceived public-private partnerships are likely to be harbingers of disaster?

    3. VK

      The downside isn’t in the ageing infrastructure alone. Regrettably this also presents more than enough opportunities to put the blame on states and to propagandize privatization. Selling off infrastructure to private ‘inverstors’ seems to be one of the very much appreciated ‘sideffects’.

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Germany and America are alike:

      1. Germany has money for the New Silk Road to allow trains from China to do business there.

      2. America has money for very good roads coming in from our NAFTA neighbors, and from across the Pacific, to make sure Deplorables in the Rust Belt stay deplorable.

      You can be sure if containers fail to show up on time in any of our online merchant’s distribution centers in the heartland of America or Europe, there will be h*ll to pay.

  17. jfleni

    RE: Plastic-Versus-Cash Battle Heats Up After Visa, Mastercard Deals.

    The screaming starts here: GIMME! No value for value received, just a plutocrat conviction that they want it ALL! Pay cash if you want, and make sure the nitwit Guvmint allows that. Look to INDIA and the EU for the naked swindling you will get otherwise!

  18. timbers

    More Than 40% of Student Borrowers Aren’t Making Payments WSJ

    Wow. And no one talks about this. It would be a goldmine of votes if some party or politician addressed this in a populist way, and plus the auto loan situation makes you wonder how can Fed statistics still tell us “everything is (relatively) awesome.”

    But sorry to digress – as clearly the 40% non payment rate is Russia’s fault. Last night I watched an episode of the 1960’s “The Avengers” with Diana Rigg and Patrick Macnee. They infiltrated a high end cat charity and rescue center that was placing microchips in cats and placing them in homes of top British citizens. At the appropriate moment, the microchip is activated taking control of the pussy’s brain and making it as primitively ferrocous as a tiger and killing it’s owner.

    So it’s not hard to see the 40% non payment rate is Putin’s fault. He’s planted devices forcing students to make bad decisions.

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Speer: Our entire rocket manufacturing industry is dependent on slave labor.

    The entire UK food system is dependent on migrant labour.

    – U. of Sussex.

    Where do we or they get migrants from? People from defeated (economically or otherwise) nations, like the Warsaw Pact, the USSR, etc, and from thoroughly exploited former colonies?

    Is the supply permanent, as in permanent war?

    As we chant world peace, do we assume the supply of migrants to be permanent?

    1. Anonymous2

      In the case of UK food I think it is mostly Eastern Europeans. It is claimed that the English will not do the work. I could give quite a lot of credence to that – many English people are very unfit, would struggle to do a full day’s labour in the fields.

      If the Eastern Europeans did not do it, what then? I suspect a switch to a different type of agriculture, less labour-intensive. Though there has been talk of bringing people in from the Indian sub-continent

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The same argument, I believe, was offered in the antebellum South.

        “We need those people, first the Caribs, then, Incas, and when locals refused to subsist, from the Dark Continent.”

      2. HotFlash

        many English people are very unfit, would struggle to do a full day’s labour in the fields.

        Absolutely! We need those swarthy labourers who will toil for little, ideally just room and board. Well, and some clothing, if really needed.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The Democratic sugar daddy of Colorado launched a public tirade in late 2014 at a rally against then Senator Udall, now former Senator, with similar complaints. Hillary had the political standing of a President running for reelection, none of the major donors were going to go against her. Like the Republicans who waste money on Ted Cruz, there are plenty of Democratic donors who are believers in positions which might be based in belief and values versus class interest.

      The Team Blue courtier class, the Begalas and Brazilles, of the world were painted as “strategists” who could deliver for so long they gobbled up money and potential donors who were “serious” about winning before getting back to their lives. I suspect a good number of donors feel they have been swindled over the years.

      1. JohnnyGL

        It would be nice to see if a ‘revolt of the donor class’ became a thing.

        The Clinton machine had a LOT riding on ‘inevitability’ and on being ‘proven winners’ in elections. This is how the party has maintained discipline among the various party factions for the last decade-plus. It’s going to take years to grasp the full value of Trump having smashed that veneer of ‘inevitability’ to bits.

        It’s going to take years to get a grip on what it means to have major media outlets having their credibility smashed to bits, also. They’re really struggling….and failing to manufacture consensus.

    2. different clue

      As long as this megadonor remains the lone bizarre exception, his sentiments will have no effect. As long as all the other donors give money specifically to see to it that Berniecrats are never allowed onto any ticket anywhere in any election ever, and as long as the Clintonites can keep the Berniecrats off of every single ticket, then the donors will keep giving the Clintonites money.

      All we can do is keep defeating those Clintonites every single time in hopes that the pro-Clintonite anti-Berniecrat donors eventually burn so much money that they reach a money-depletion pain threshhold.

  20. DJG

    I have been thinking quite a bit about Lambert’s posting yesterday of the article by John Laurits about the efficacy of physical protests and demonstrations. Because I always keep in mind Vaclav Havel’s concept and admonition of the power of the powerless, I am skeptical of writings about how physical protests and demonstrations do not matter (anymore). (More paranoically, I think that Lambert posts these articles on occasion to provoke me, but that’s a separate psychological swamp.)

    Having been to any number of demonstrations, with the highlights beging taking over Michigan Avenue in Chicago in antiwar protests, I still believe that physical presence has a certain moderating effect on those in power. (Contrariwise, let’s write off e-petitions as the waste of electrons that they are.)

    President Obama was always going on about “make me do it” (typical Obamanian pissyness), but the point is what stakes will force issues that the citizenry want? Certain kinds of protests have obviously frightened the powerful: The response to Occupy is telling.

    So the citizenry may have to raise the stakes: Occupying things helps. The problem is that occupying things isn’t a form of middle-class protest (let alone the upper-middle class, which isn’t likely to be protesting anything, although the Women’s March had an off-flavor of upper-middle-class-ness).

    So in a country that is dominated by property and money, I’d say that the stakes have to go up from demonstrations in which people wave signs that they consider witty (and engage in selfies) to occupy, boycott, and strikes. Occupy Wall Street taught many lessons, and it was a success. The suppression of it was an ironic success–it showed again what politicians fear.

    With regard to boycotts, they usually fizzle. I’d venture that a boycott that bankrupted a company would draw attention. (And likely more laws against boycotts.)

    Strikes: Hmmm, I wonder why there has been so much bipartisan suppression of unions. The teacher’s strike in Chicago forced Rahm to shift tactics. It didn’t finish him off, but then we are dealing with hydra-headed neolibs here. We have to invent a form of generalized / civilian strikes–the unions are in a hard place here and cannot lead. But strikes and economic boycotts undermine our monetarized lives and that fly-and-buy mentality of the powerful.

    So rather than belittling protest, because we don’t know what protests may work (and I note Pussy Riot up in the links), I say to raise the stakes. But raising the stakes means making the middle class (the people of law and order) uncomfortable.

    Comments? I’m going to place a condition: You have to mention the last protest that you went to. (Because I have already seen enough comments about how demonstrations are useless and it’s better to stay home, pout, watch TV, and eat Doritos.)

    1. Eureka Springs

      If you define success as garnering contempt and a violent response than yes I think occupy and anti-war protests over the last 25 years (both of which I participated) then I would agree.

      Moderating effect on war, or class war 99%? Ha!

      After large anti-war protest in San Fran. ’91. the SF Chamber of Commerce bought a full page ad in the NYT apologizing for the protests. And we are still there (and many other places for no good reason) 26 years later. So no, not even close to a moderating effect.

      The largest boycott (also mentioned yesterday in water cooler comments) is the 90 million who did not vote and yet even among places like this their silence is denied the landslide delegitimizers they are.

      I don’t recall in recent memory hearing a casual conversation in which someone uses a term like class war or 1 percent or 99 percent. SO no, occupy didn’t score a minuscule lasting point, much less actionable moderation.

      I do recall the very large latino strikes during Bush Jrs second term and just how surprised I was at how little the police state confronted them compared to anti-war demos and later Occupy. But did anything come of it?

    2. JohnnyGL

      Okay, I’ll play ball, DJG….

      Last protest? An anti-nat gas pipeline (and compressor station) protest for a pipeline that was/is supposed to go through my hometown. I even brought my daughter (who was 5 years old).

      I think Laurits is asking way too much of protests and issuing a cursory dismissal because they didn’t have IMMEDIATE results that met the demands of protestors. No one should expect a protest to result in some instantaneous reversal of whatever plans the elites have been hatching for years.

      I’d say that protests are most visibly effective when there are splits in the elite around crucial votes, like, say, the current health care bill. Susan Collins and Dean Heller both said they’ve gotten a lot of constituent calls. If organizers had(have?) done a march to the office of their senators, that might have helped pile on the pressure.

      Laurits’ examples of the Iraq War or on nuclear weapons are situations where there’s very little elite opposition. Defense/foreign policy tends to be where the executive branch has tons of discretion. Cheney was famously good at organizing and pursuing the Iraq War and there was little that was going to stop him, short of a congressional revolt which cut off funding for the war and impeachment proceedings for Bush/Cheney. Cheney even steamrolled internal opposition in the Pentagon.

      Regarding nuclear weapons…well, we don’t know how many nuclear weapons were NOT built because of the protests. But Reagan was determined to build up defense capacity and there wasn’t a ton of congressional opposition. In fact, the protestors were probably among the ONLY opponents. That’s not a winning formula.

    3. flora

      I’ve been thinking about the Laurits’ article, too. One bit that stands out is his statement that politicians, for some time, have been mostly listening only to what the 1% want (really, the 0.01%). So current militarized policing, decaying infrastructure, deregulated finance, unenforced worker safely rules, degraded public education are the world this listen-only-to-the-1% has created. It seems to me the 1% (really the 0.01%) are growing afraid in this new world they have created. Why else militarize the police? Why else the co-ordinated police crackdown on Occupy? Then I remember the now-infamous 2014 letter to the WSJ from Tom Perkins.

      ‘By now you’ve probably heard about Perkins’s infamous letter to The Wall Street Journal (whose editorial page is the rich man’s Pravda of class warfare) in which he wrote, “I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its ‘one percent,’ namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the ‘rich…’ This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendant ‘progressive’ radicalism unthinkable now?” ‘

      Maybe politicians should think about the costs of listening only to the 0.01%. Maybe they are starting to realize they need to consider the rest of us. (We still have the vote. In Kansas it’s already made a big difference.) In that respect, making our voices and our presence heard and seen, whether by writing or peaceful protesting, is necessary. Even Larry Summers is rethinking his earlier economic position.
      ‘In Summers’s recent writings, this sombre conclusion has often been paired with a surprising political goal: advocating for a “responsible nationalism”. Now he argues that politicians must recognise that “the basic responsibility of government is to maximise the welfare of citizens, not to pursue some abstract concept of the global good”.’

      I think all the efforts by so many – including writing, joining Occupy, or other efforts, pointing out the current economic conditions have failed most, are important.

    4. JohnnyGL


      The NY State ban on fracking is the clearest, most successful example of a sustained, well-organized protest campaign that worked really well. They focused exclusively on Governor Cuomo and were relentless.

      The protestors harassed Cuomo everywhere he went and he started doing fewer public appearances because of it. After 4 years of trench warfare, Cuomo eventually gave in and pushed for the total ban.

      1. John k

        Interesting… sustained harping on a single issue against a single pol can be effective…
        Took four years…
        Medicare for all or anti warare popular, but no single official controls.

      2. HBE

        No it wasn’t a success. They just externalized fracking to the Midwest, and then called it a day.

      3. Richard

        this is an oldie, but the Central American solidarity movements in the 80s definitely played a part, imnsho, in keeping the US from a wider, military involvement there.

      1. DJG

        Astute comments, although I don’t agree with Eureka Springs and ES’s sense of defeat. I subscribe to this motto:

        William of Orange
        One need not hope to undertake, nor succeed to persevere.

        That is: One protests because one exists. “Hope” is a theological virtue that does not enter.

        As to occupying terrain, I suspect that in this time when virtuality and digitalization are in the ascendant, we have to have “analogue” protest. I am seeing in this arts. Theater still beats Twitter. Painting still beats Instagram. Poetry is at the top of the hill that “meme” thinks that it is climbing.

        1. Eureka Springs

          William of Orange
          One need not hope to undertake, nor succeed to persevere.

          If you think I was saying anything which would disagree with the quote, you misunderstood me. I never meant to suggest not trying, but I don’t think the things you or I mentioned (occupy-occupations, anti-war protesting, various boycotts) has been effective in my lifetime on major class or murderous issues. Although amazingly, idpol GLBTqxy issues persevered.

          I agree with you as well when it comes to ether net petitions, paper ones for that matter as well. I’ll keep trying as long as it doesn’t seem like failed repetitive head-banging on a wall. We should admit failure, stop repeating failure and try another tack.

          ***Interesting, most successes mentioned were local. My community led a fight and won against a major electric utility co. which wanted to cut a several hundred mile swath through the Ozark mountains for transmission lines nobody needed.

    5. different clue

      Figure out how to organize extermicotts ( boycotts designed to exterminate the target) in such a way that no visible traces of organization can be found. If it can’t be shown to have been an organized boycott, then it can’t be persecuted under the future anti-boycott laws you are predicting.

      How to achieve a state of ongoing real-time Vulcan mass-mind-meld among millions without an org chart or a visible leadership?

  21. justanotherprogressive

    Re: The Healthcare Bill
    According to Jerry Moran: “We must now start afresh…..”

    Yep, the Republicans “starting afresh” once again……

    Maybe I’m just behind the times. Apparently “starting afresh” has a new meaning in this country…….

    Perhaps “starting afresh” shouldn’t mean just recycling the same old same old…….

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In a Buddhist country, starting afresh could mean reincarnation.

      “Better luck your next life. Your good karma – especially when you refused to be a politician, to run for the senate – ensures you’re not be a factory-farm animal.”

  22. s.n.

    Don’t know if this one got a mention.
    I’m so used to seeing Southern Poverty Law Center cited in reverential tones that I was unaware that it was not in fact a Civil Rights era stalwart (founded in 1971), had nothing to do with Southern Poverty or Poverty Law, and was the brainchild of an award-winning King of Direct Mail Marketing, and is to this day a wildly successful moneymaker. Only discovered all this in the past two months (admittedly while skimming some rather outré sources, which led me to the Montgomery Advertiser series, short-listed for a Pulitzer which SPLC successfully lobbied hard against). Most recently mainstream conservatives (National Review) began to raise questions – and now Politico….

    Has a Civil Rights Stalwart Lost Its Way?
    The Southern Poverty Law Center—led by charismatic, swashbuckling founder Morris Dees—is making the most of the Trump era. But is it overstepping its bounds?

    1. Vatch

      The SPLC has been tricking decent people into donating money for decades. They had assets of more than $350 million at the end of fiscal year 2015. They don’t need any more money, and they aren’t spending enough of their money on their programs Much of what they spend if for fundraising. For more information, see:

      Here’s a letter from 2007 that briefly summarizes the SPLC’s operations:

      The SPLC is a precursor of the Clinton Foundation. Bill and Hillary probably figured that if Morris Dees can make millions by doing very little good, they could do that same.

      1. jrs

        no only the most important issues people face on a day to day basis, like worker powerlessness on the job and in society. But noone said unions were the answer to say the 6th great extinction and climate change, which are certainly big enough of issues. But the issues people face on a daily basis, yes maybe.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Was it trapped by a ‘No Entry’ glyph at the public fountain, in which case, it could be murder or work-related death, and not suicide?

  23. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The New Silk Road Will Go Through Syria Pepe Escobar, The Unz Review

    One branch of the Old Silk Road also went through Syria, and ended in Baalbek.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you.

      HSBC’s chief economist, Stephen D. King, not that SK, has useful and interesting insights on that, much better than the rubbish on the week-end talk shows.

    2. different clue

      Does this mean that China will impose and keep a Pax Sinica over the Middle East?

      1. PlutoniumKun

        The pattern so far is that China will lend money to local interests to build the infrastructure they want. As, inevitably, the infrastructure will not generate sufficient income to cover the repayments, the Chinese will offer debt for equity deals, along with local ‘concessions’ (e.g. land for free trade zones to be dominated by the Chinese) in exchange for the debt. This will lead to increasing sinicization of the region. I doubt they have any interest in a Pax Sinica, that would cost too much, they will be happy to let others fight, they will pick up the pieces later, as they are doing in Syria.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      I’m not sure anything ended in Baalbek – that city was very much created for religious reasons, its not in a particularly strategic area. The Silk Road caravans would have generally ended up at the nearest port, it was always cheaper to move things by water when you got the chance.

  24. UserFriendly

    RE: As Paperwork Goes Missing, Private Student Loan Debts May Be Wiped Away NYT (AF). AF: “If only they’d wiped out the mortgage debt.”

    I need some advice, I currently have private student loans ‘Owned’ by “NAVIENT/JAMESTOWN” as well as “CITZ BANK OF PA” and I am barely feeding myself. Is there a way I can check to see if my paperwork is in order? or do I have to default first? If I do default is there anything I should do? Like should I open an escrow account? Or is that just crazy.

    1. perpetualWAR

      Take a look at the new Intercept article exposing how Federal Reserve finds that student debt is reducing home ownership.

      The courts will grant to eliminate student debt for they want these students to become debt slaves with mortgage debt.

      Perhaps the students with massive unsupportable debt will join forces with homeowners who’ve lost their homes and perhaps we can have a real life revolution in the making.

      1. UserFriendly

        Believe me, whatever the opposite of patriotic is I have that in spades. Anything from political revolution to actual revolution including custom fit guillotines for everyone that voted for the 2005 bankruptcy bill count me in.

        1. JacobiteInTraining

          Keep your powder dry, Senor.

          In a previous comment was mentioned: “… I’d say that the stakes have to go up from demonstrations in which people wave signs that they consider witty (and engage in selfies) to occupy, boycott, and strikes. Occupy Wall Street taught many lessons, and it was a success. The suppression of it was an ironic success–it showed again what politicians fear….”

          …and this is so true. For demonstrations to have an impact they must be messy, they must block, and eventually *hold*, terrain or areas that have value to TPTB, they must be creative and not just ‘symbolic’ as-in…protesters MUST confront and do whatever is possible within the bounds of non-violent civil disobedience to face down, monkey wrench, and generally stymie the riot police that will inevitably be called down to beat them, tase them, pepper spray them, and then ultimately imprison them.

          The sad thing is, given the police state we have emboldened since 9/11 and before, is that (almost inevitably although i do not wish it) there *will* be an event that occurs at some point…maybe several occurrences…wherein the riot police ‘in fear for their lives’ start shooting and gun down a block or so of protesters…killing and wounding many young kids, old grannies, and others. When that happens, neither your stylish ‘pussy hat’ , nor your patriotic American Flag will save you.

          Its GOING to happen, and at that point you must decide – am I FOR that kind of governmental response…or am I AGAINST it.

          Once you have made your decision, act accordingly and with resolute actions….up to and including open rebellion…because that is the end state TPTB truly fear.

      1. UserFriendly

        Not an option for private loans and because I have private loans too it made that option not viable for my public ones.

    2. Alex Morfesis

      About questionable student loan ownership…depends on which state you live in…some states do not give innocent debtors a pass if they make payments to the wrong party…you might start by asking for a “payoff” letter…from there you can start to inquire how the proceeds from the payoff will be disbursed and then you can ask for them to produce releases from every party who has owned or claimed an interest in your instrument…

      remember it is YOUR instrument…

      YOU are the maker by signing to make future payments…

      if they are the proper party who has had care and custody of the record of payment and distributions then they should have the capacity to deliver releases signed by parties from each entity with the “capacity to bind” the entities…

      not some pizza delivery guy robo signing as mystery “power of attorney” for some entity claiming to have the capacity to be a “power of attorney”…

      corporations CAN NOT be a “power of attorney”…& employees or agents of corporations do not have the capacity to do something for an entity that does not have the capacity…

      in certain circumstances a licensed banking entity with specific trustee capacities in most cases, can dance around the POA problem…but a “servicer” subsidiary is NOT the entity and does not have that capacity…

      No matter how much I think I can, this 5’8″ human does not have the “capacity” to slam dunk over shaq O’Neal…

      capacity…the key to unraveling the “dogs 8 the note” argument…

      Just because you ask for a payoff letter does not require you to actually pay it off and you have a right to inspect draft release documents prior to sending in a lump sum payment…

      If they refuse to cooperate, you can file complaints with various govt entities that regulate their right to actually be servicers…a well documented sequence is useful when filing a complaint…

      sounding like some hysterical bag lady who forgot to take her meds or some fallen off the barstool bully whose dog moved fast before he could kick it in the morning and now wants to rant at some govt worker will probably not get too far…

  25. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Average Americans Can No Longer Afford Average New Cars Gas2

    “This issue of affordability isn’t just about the price of cars. It’s about the stagnation of wages,” Bell said. “Car costs are not rising all that quickly over time, but things like health care and college costs are going up and wages aren’t [keeping up]. Budgets are being stretched.”

    Well. Duh.

    1. Pat

      Funny how Bell seems to have noticed that wage increases have not kept up, but has missed that they have largely been non-existent or that in many ways workers have seen their incomes decrease.

      And while I do mean that many workers are doing the same job for less what with the new work hours and such, it isn’t just that. I know I’m an outlier, but changes to the health benefits and retirement benefits count. I believe if health care coverage went from having a small co-pay to having a large deductible and a co-pay twice to three times the original, it isn’t just a cost increase, it is a wage decrease because the employer is no longer providing the same benefit.

      I don’t know how we can get retirement benefits where they should be, but a switch to real single payer, enhanced medicare for all, does now seem possible. And some of it is that whole industries are looking at extinction because people got no money…

  26. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Average Americans Can No Longer Afford Average New Cars Gas2

    Apparently, people in Song dynasty China had to equip themselves when they fought the Jurchens from the north, as the heroine did in the famous story of the female general, Mulan.

    Can average Americans afford their own flags, Kevlar helmets and vests?

    1. Alex Morfesis

      Got my cross classic century and can do a fairly convincing drunken monkey…no kevlar required…

  27. voteforno6

    Re: Against Home Runs

    I agree, up to a point. Nothing can be more exciting than a walk-off home run. But, if there’s already a lot that have been hit, that last one does lose a little bit of that luster – too much of a good thing, and all that. The most memorable one that I’ve seen, in person, made the score 2-1 (it also helped that it was a playoff game). That was almost as exciting as seeing a no-hitter (which should’ve been a perfect game) in person. Yes, baseball can be boring, but it is a game that rewards patience and careful observation. For my money, it’s the best of the spectator sports to attend in person.

  28. Carolinian

    This old Stephen Cohen link was linked up inside one of yesterday’s links. Worth a look.

    Most specialists no longer asked, even in the light of the human tragedies that followed in the 1990s, if a reforming Soviet Union might have been the best hope for the post-communist future of Russia. Nor have mainstream commentators asked if its survival would have been better for world affairs. On the contrary, they concluded that everything Soviet had to be discarded by “the razing of the entire edifice of political and economic relations”. Such certitudes are now, of course, the only politically correct ones in US (and most European) policy, media and academic circles.

    The gist is that if you think Putin is the problem then history shows that he is still more blowback from America’s misguided foreign policy–a policy which often sees much touted democratization as the last thing it is interested in. More:

  29. cocomaan

    “The message is being worked on”.

    Gives the reader the impression of a message on an operating table, a group of surgeons clipping and scrubbing and vacuuming, blood everywhere.

      1. Vatch

        You made me think of Homer Simpson rhapsodizing “Mmmmmm, Doughnuts”. In Peter Thiel’s case, it would be “Mmmmmmm, Blooood”.

    1. Carolinian

      Zombies seem to be the theme of our era….zombie ideologies most of all. Romero way ahead of his time.

    2. Anonymous

      Dawn of the Dead is such a wonderful essay on 70’s mall culture. The malls were filled with zombies then. Now the malls are becoming zombies themselves.

  30. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: How ‘Neoliberalism’ Became the Left’s Favorite Insult of Liberals Jonathon Chait, New York Magazine.

    A lot of blah, blah, blah, but I can’t disagree with this:

    Today the left holds up Medicare as a shining example of health-care policy designed by social democrats, before it was corrupted by the modern Obama-era party and its suborning of the insurance industry. In reality, powerful financial interests deeply influenced the design of Medicare. The law’s sponsors had hoped to achieve universal health insurance, but retreated from that ambitious goal in large part because insurers wanted to keep non-elderly customers. (They were happy to pawn the oldster market off on Uncle Sam.) Likewise, the law defanged opposition by the powerful American Medical Association by agreeing to fee-for-service rules that wound up massively enriching doctors and hospitals. And the creation of Medicaid as a separate program for the poor relegated them to a shabbier and more politically vulnerable category.

    The simple truth is that both Medicaid and Medicare must be defended in order to protect the “healthcare” establishment in general, and the insurance industry in particular. There’s nothing “altruistic” about it.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    1. Carolinian

      Perhaps one could make the case that the explosion in medical costs is because of Medicare due to the very compromises you cite.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Could be.

        A group, dominated by specialists, sets Medicare reimbursements what, annually? Their recommendations are rarely challenged, if I recall. I seriously doubt that there are ever recommendations for decreases or even no changes. Primary care docs are underrepresented and easily slighted.

        There was an article here recently that stated that when insurance companies negotiate reimbursements with providers for their insureds, they do it as “multiples” of Medicare rates–2.4 x what Medicare pays for a particular procedure, for example.

        So, it would seem entirely possible that Medicare rates are set by the docs to reflect their own personal assessments of their “value,” private insurance agrees to pay more, and the next year the higher private pay rates are used to justify higher Medicare rates. And on and on.

        I wonder how much of the “economy” they intend to claim for themselves before someone puts a stop to it. 20% is already a sizable enough chunk in my opinion. Especially for doing such a shitty job overall.

  31. MoiAussie

    “There is little reason to believe the Democratic Party has actually moved right on economic issues.”

    Because they’ve actually moved wrong on economic issues?

    More likely coz they were so far to the right already, they couldn’t practically move further.

  32. Altandmain

    An anti-tax evasion scheme from Canada and several other nations

    Hopefully there are real penalties …

    NAFTA Talks

    Democrats Can Win In 2018 If They Embrace “New Deal” Politics

    As if that is happening. The Democrats in the Establishment can’t upset their donors. They want to retire rich.

    Denmark and Happiness

    Denmark isn’t perfect, but it sure is better than life in the US and for many, Canada.

    People think their bosses are overpaid ….

    As a 2016 nationwide survey reveals, 74 percent of Americans believe that top corporate executives are overpaid. This public dismay with CEO compensation exists despite the fact that Americans drastically underestimate what top corporate executives are paid every year. In fact, the survey found that CEO compensation at Fortune 500 companies was approximately ten times what the typical American thought it was.

    Yep, the CEOs are overpaid.

    Give Jamie Dimon a big fine

  33. Uahsenaa

    So, it’s interesting to me that socialists in particular are chided by their liberal/leftish brethren for economic reductionism, but then I read the Buzzfeed article on the woes within BLM and over half of it seems to be about “distribution of resources,” i.e. explicitly economic concerns. It seems pretty clear to me that activism of that sort is untenable if you are fundamentally insecure in your material needs, housing and food foremost, so why then all this shade cast on people who happen to point out this readily observable fact? It seems to me that universal healthcare and a jobs guarantee would actually make one’s life as an advocate against police violence a lot easier and would prevent people from having to take money from the very wealthy donors that make them so uneasy.

    Or am I missing something?

  34. Craig H.

    The New Silk Road Will Go Through Syria Pepe Escobar

    1. Their map does not have the road going through Syria although they don’t have borders on it so the mismatch is obscure. It’s Iran -> Turkey leaving Syria and Iraq on wayside.

    2. Do the Chinese and the Israeli governments talk much?

    1. paul

      2: Poker table chat, maybe:

      I recollect a young man putting the same question to Eddie the Dude. “Son,” Eddie told him, “all you paid was the looking price. Lessons are extra.”

      You’re good, Kid. But as long as I’m around, you’re second best. And you might as well learn to live with it.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      “2. Do the Chinese and the Israeli governments talk much?”

      The strength of the Israel lobby is based on emotion here in the U.S. In the end, Israel is a crummy desert country with hokey shrines and a huge prison population. What could the Chinese offer to the Israelis who are largely condemned by the countries the Chinese are trying to foster relations with whether in Africa, Eurasia, or South America?

      The geopolitical calculus is countries aligned with the U.S. don’t simply want to replace Washington with Beijing especially Asian countries, so they need an arbiter strong enough to stand up to China or reason with China without upsetting a mutual arrangement. Enter Russia and Iran which are both in many ways self sufficient or can be unlike say France or the UK, America’s Security Council puppets. The best relations between China and Vietnam were when the Czar’s ambassador to Beijing doubled as Vietnam’s ambassador to China. If Russia can guarantee Syria’s integrity and safety from Washington, it can speak on behalf of countries in a relationship with China over trade disputes and legal snafus.

  35. Oregoncharles

    From “Resurrecting ‘A Comprehensive Charter of Economic Liberty’: The Latent Power of the Federal Trade Commission”: “On the contrary, it is the result of conscious policy choices initiated in the late 1970s and 1980s that succeeded in focusing antitrust law on the narrow concept of economic efficiency and establishing legal standards friendly to powerful businesses. ”

    This is a fundamental problem with existing anti-trust law: it depends on administrative judgement about what constitutes a violation worth pursuing. Since increasing monopolization is an inherent feature of market processes, which proceed in large part by elimination, maintaining a functioning market system (which we don’t have, for the most part) would require a more automatic system that responds simply to the size of companies.

    I’ve suggested a sharply graduated, hyperbolic corporate tax for that, forcing companies to “grow” by selling off pieces. Of course, that would require actually collecting taxes from corporations.

  36. Elizabeth

    “My Mother Wasn’t Trash” by Joshua Wilkey. That was a searing essay, written from the heart. I’ve never read “Hillbilly Elegy” mainly because of the criticism that the writer blames the poor for their own plight. The message by Wilkey is that people need to be listened to – not fixed. Wilkey gives the people of Appalachia a sense of dignity and pride. I wonder if these people the hard-working American families that Nancy Pelosi so often refers to?

    1. zer0

      Yeah, Hillbilly Elegy was written (by a Harvard grad I think) for the city liberal so no surprise that it talks about poverty as being a condition of choice.

      In the same vein, look at this gem in the ‘Avg. Americans Cant Afford an Average Car’ article:
      ““People fall in love with cars they can’t afford, and that’s how they get in trouble,” said John Gajkowski, a certified financial planner and co-founder of Money Managers Financial Group.”

      Yeah, that’s how they get into trouble. Its not, you know, the $500/month they need to pay in HC they don’t use, the $50k they owe in student loans, the crippling credit card debt that accompanies those impoverished, the huge increases in food costs year over year, etc. OR the promises made by Uber that roped lots of jobless to buy a new, fancy car, that they can barely afford (the entirety of the Kalanick/Uber-driver fiasco).

      America has become a complete joke, along with a large part of the modern world. We currently have a massive divergence between multiple realities: those of the rich/financially stable and those barely scrapping by.

      America used to have many realities, don’t get me wrong, the rich always live in the land of delusion (its part of their business – making others appear to be less intelligent than themselves), but currently, the reality of a stable middle class is gone.

      And it disappeared almost completely in a decade. A single decade.

  37. Oregoncharles

    “QUESTIONING THE BILL Britain launches ‘line by line’ challenge to huge divorce bill being demanded by the EU The Sun”

    Demanding an itemization seems only sensible. Last week, there was a lengthy discussion of the basis of that bill among commenters here on NC, some of them pro-EU. None could make sense of it. Evidently it’s, ahem, a bargaining position.

  38. zer0

    On the Plastic vs. Cash:

    So America, after bailing out TBTF, Too Few to Fail, allowing debt to be written off when large corps are concerned, billing their masses 5 times their yearly avg. wage for crap education, allowing HC to likewise be insured by the government & raising premiums fraudulently (i.e. raising them for the very reason that they simply can), and altogether getting rid of any semblance of a free market/competitive market, will now double down on their stupid and think that America will except, hands down, a 1% tax on all purchases to be given to the likes of Visa and MasterCard for what exactly? For once again doing nothing other than regulatory capture apparently?

    They need to keep this up. The sooner a civil war happens the better – we already have the guns necessary.

    They should ban cash, merge every industry into lets say 3 mega-corps, kick up some more QE (this time, they may as well put it in Jamie Dimon’s bank account directly), allow Blackstone or w/e to buy up every available lot on the market, make everyone not in the top 5% a permanent renter (and require renters insurance!), raise HC premiums some more just for the hell of it, maybe just dump the entire education budget on the Pentagon cause, you know, we need more protection from the Kremlin, give the police some tanks to fight their war on drugs cause, you know, they need the protection from those damn stoners, setup on online site where you can buy senators for a price, and then create a few more loopholes in the tax code, because the current 1238 aren’t quite enough.

    Can they just go ahead and please get this era over with, or am I and everyone else going to have to suffer years of their underhanded subtleties that will undoubtedly lead to generations of dent slaves?

  39. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Is Donald Trump simply the worst human being we can imagine? 14 experts weigh in Salon. “

    All politics is local.

    I thought the worst human being was always one’s ex-spouse/mistress/domestic partner?

    1. different clue

      Donald Trump is just an unstylish short-fingered vulgarian. There are plenty much-worse people I can think of. But they probably have better style and longer fingers. So they don’t occur to this Salon panel of experts.

  40. giantsquid

    Re: Can Microbes Encourage Altruism?

    While the article presents a fascinating, as yet untested, hypothesis that suggests that altruistic behavior might be the result of parasitic manipulation, this cannot explain why many species of bacteria also display a kind of altruistic behavior. Under duress, such as near starvation or the presence of antibiotics, programmed cell death is induced, resulting in the death of most cells in the population but leaving the small minority that survive with the resources required to once again thrive.

    It’s interesting that one of the species of parasitic manipulations specifically cited in the opening paragraph – Dicrocoelium dendriticum, a liver fluke also known as a ‘brain worm’ – also displays altruistic behavior during its life cycle. When an ant accidentally ingests the juvenile flukes while replenishing itself with snail slime – the brain worm spends a portion of its life cycle in snails – most go off to form a thick walled cyst in the haemocoel, but one of them heads for the subesophogael ganglion where it is able to control (some of) the ant’s behavior. This heroic worm dies with the ant when the ant gets eaten. The remainder get a shot at becoming full grown liver flukes. I suppose a parasite could be controlling the altruistic brain worm’s behavior, still doesn’t explain the altruistic bacteria.

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