Links 7/19/2017

Patient readers: Those of you who attended yesterday evening’s San Francisco Meetup will have seen Yves wearing a fetching black eyepatch. While on the road, she scratched the cornea of her dominant eye, which resulted in (I hope I have this right) corneal edema, followed by a tour of consumer-level West Coast emergency rooms. She should be OK by the end of the week, but in the meantime she finds it difficult to read, let alone write, and so for the next few days you will be seeing a lot more of me, Jeri-Lynn, and Outis than you usually do. –lambert

Queen’s corgis earn their keep as dog gifts boost royal takings Telegraph

New breakthrough discovery: Every quantum particle travels backwards University of York

Satellite snafu masked true sea-level rise for decades Nature

Money, money, money: Silicon Valley speculation recalls dotcom mania FT

U.S. House panel to consider self-driving car legislation Reuters

Hackers Could Confuse Driverless Cars By Manipulating What They See Jalopnik

Robot ‘drowns’ in fountain mishap BBC (MR).

“Zero Day” for Violent Regime Change in Venezuela Moon of Alabama


Trump Recertifies Iran Nuclear Deal, but Only Reluctantly NYT

The other Gulf conflict: How the Qatar crisis is playing out in D.C. back rooms Salon


The Brexit Diaries: 5 – On briefcases, orchestras and Winnie the Pooh Deutsche Welle

The Remainers who now chair select committees will harry the government over Brexit British Politics and Policy, London School of Economics. Dense Inside Baseball Cricket, but useful.

Thatcher’s prized ‘rebate’ snags Brexit bill talks FT

Grenfell Tower fire: Government considering covering charred shell in tarpaulin Independent

The new £10 note featuring Jane Austen has been revealed by Mark Carney, but it has a big problem Telegraph. Meanwhile, the Telegraph confuses sarcasm and irony, not a good look when covering Austen. Maybe they can hire a few of the copy editors the New York Times sacked.

For EU reforms, watch Germany, not France Politico

Macron introduces massive austerity package for local government The National Interest (Re Silc).

IMF to announce Greece needs further debt-relief measures New Europe (MT). “Greek sovereign debt does not appear to be in a sustainable trajectory without an outright haircut., that is, a non-starter for European creditors.”


Top Chinese and US executives make urgent call to avoid trade war South China Morning Post

Sikkim stand-off could escalate into full-scale conflict, warns China Times of India

Health Care

Analysis: What can Republicans do if they can’t repeal Obamacare? Susan Page, USA Today. “A big tax bill? That should be easy.”

Why Obamacare Passed but the GOP Health Bill Failed WSJ

‘It’s an insane process’: How Trump and Republicans failed on their health-care bill WaPo

In Trump style, senators’ tweet dashed GOP health care hopes AP

Democrats giddy over GOP’s health care flop McClatchy

Trump threatens to gut Obamacare markets Politico

NBC News/WSJ Poll: Just 12% in Key Trump Counties Back GOP Health Care Effort NBC

John Kasich: The Way Forward on Health Care NYT

Some Americans Do Love Their Health Care (They’re Expats) Global Handelsblatt

How the nursing home lobby blocked reforms in Louisiana The Economist. Ka-ching.

Democrats in Disarray

Kamala Harris: The Democratic message is ‘telling the American public we see them’ Yahoo News. Next up: The sense of hearing.

Democrats Are Trying to Win the 2018 Midterms in All the Wrong Ways The Nation (Re Silc).

Jane Kleeb, Nebraska Democratic Party Chair, on How to Overcome the Rural-Urban Divide In These Times

New Cold War

Trump and ‘The Purloined Letter’ LRB. As coherent as anything else I’ve read on this topic, at least as far as the motives of the players go.

* * *

Ukraine separatist ‘Little Russia’ sparks concern over peace deal Deutsche Welle

Separatists proclaim new state to replace Ukraine Irish Independent

* * *

Mueller says Trump Jr, Manafort can testify publicly in Senate: Feinstein Reuters

Russian-American With ‘Colorful’ Past Attended 2016 Trump Tower Meeting NPR

Rinat Akhmetshin: Low-Hanging Fruit for Trump-Russia Investigators Just Security

The Trumps and the Truth WSJ. “Everything that is potentially damaging to the Trumps will come out, one way or another. Everything.”

Trump had undisclosed hour-long meeting with Putin at G-20 summit WaPo. At a G-20 dinner for all the leaders, apparently. Beginning with the dessert course…

If Loving Putin Is ‘Right,’ I Want to Be Wrong The American Conservative

When To Trust A Story That Uses Unnamed Sources FiveEightyEight. Urges that multiple sources are more trustworthy than single ones, which rules out the possibility that a cabal of sources is, er, colluding.

Trump Transition

Trump: The Profit Unarmed Corey Robin. Perceptive.

Trump’s poll numbers are in a flaming dumpster but Hillary Clinton’s are even WORSE Daily Mail

Fear of base voters keeps GOP lawmakers lined up with Trump McClatchy

Steve Bannon Reportedly Attacked Paul Ryan As ‘A Limp-D**k Motherf**ker’ HuffPo. Quite restrained, actually.

Homeland security adviser explains what Trump meant by ‘impenetrable Cyber Security unit’ CyberScoop

Why Republicans Want the 2020 Census to Fail Rolling Stone

Please Kill Me Now

Belfer Center Launches “Defending Digital Democracy” Project To Fight Cyber Attacks and Protect Integrity of Elections Belfer Center

The Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School launched a new, bipartisan initiative today called the “Defending Digital Democracy” (DDD) Project. Co-led by the former campaign managers for Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney and experts from the national security and technology communities, including Facebook and Google, the project aims to identify and recommend strategies, tools, and technology to protect democratic processes and systems from cyber and information attacks….

[T]he project will be run by Eric Rosenbach, Co-Director of the Belfer Center and former Assistant Secretary of Defense….

Rosenbach recruited Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign manager, and Matt Rhoades, Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign manager, to join DDD as Fellows and co-leaders.

“Entities.” Why do I think that hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public, won’t make it onto this group’s agenda? Good to see Robbie Mook’s got some cash coming in, though. He must need it.

Guillotine Watch

Dimon Says Being an American Abroad Is ‘Almost an Embarrassment’ Bloomberg

More citified ‘Main Streets’ coming to a suburb near you Philadelphia Inquirer

the mass defunding of higher education that’s yet to come anova. Yikes.

Class Warfare

To My Fellow Plutocrats: You Can Cure Trumpism Nick Hanauer, Politico. Must-read.

Are You Ready To Consider That Capitalism Is The Real Problem? Fast Company (!)

“Neoliberalism” isn’t an empty epithet. It’s a real, powerful set of ideas Vox

Labor’s Last Chance for Solidarity Jacobin

Stitched up by robots: the threat to emerging economies FT

EU Commission concerned about living standards for future generations New Europe (MT).

How could we cope if capitalism failed? Ask 26 Greek factory workers Guardian

Steps to Starting a Cooperative Grassroots Economic Organizing. From USDA Rural Development.

When is stress good for you? Aeon

Too Many Americans Live in a Mental Fog Bloomberg (Re Silc). Yeah, and they’re running the country!

Locate Your Representative/Senator In Hell Another Word for It. News you can use!

Finance Can Be a Noble Profession (Yes, Really) HBR

Antidote du jour (Samuel Conner):

Samuel Connor writes:

A Tiger Swallowtail nectaring in my blackberry lily patch. I was digging this afternoon (digging up quack-grass tubers — it has taken over part of my backyard and I still have veggies in pots that need to be planted, so I’m digging to clear for the planting) and this critter visited my wildflower patch. I took a break and broke out a cheap camera and took a dozen shots.

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

      I suspect it’s from a desperate need to associate themselves mentally with “a winner”.

    2. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Drusus.

      It’s not just Americans, but British and other continental (neo-)liberals, too, who have been conned by the empty suit.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Is he just an empty suit though? I must admit I find him potentially more interesting and complex than, say, Trudeau, who really is an empty (swim)suit. A bit of me holds out some hope that at least he will be a ‘grown up’ when dealing with EU issues and German ortho-economics. I suspect he might be moderately good for Europe, just terrible for France.

        Perhaps I’m too much of an optimist, but when faced with the choice between competent and rational neo-liberals and conservatives (i.e. Macron and Merkel and, arguably, Putin)) and grossly incompetent right wingers (Trump, May) or lying, fake liberals (Trudeau, Obama, HRC) in power, I tend to feel at least the former will do less overt damage.

        Of course, the other argument is that it is the Trumps and May’s of this world which will lead to a genuine change, but I’m not quite optimistic enough to believe that.

        1. MoiAussie

          I understand your view, but would still have preferred the experiment of having Mélenchon, Corbyn and Sanders calling the shots. Things would really have changed.

        2. vidimi

          i think macron will do remarkable damage to france. if you want a parallel, look to cameron in 2010, whose government embarked on a similarly idiotic austerity campaign that culminated in brexit. anti EU sentiment is bound to rise in france (therefore, not good for the EU) and le pen is likely to win in 2022. mélonchon is in with a shot thanks to not endorsing macron this year.

    3. Eustache de Saint Pierre

      As I was passing through the other day, I noticed a reference to Brexit in the sense of the UK having to maintain EU labour rights, or at least something to that effect.

      I could not help wondering what this might entail – after all if you look at the EU there appears to be a large divergence between the levels of protections for labour, which leaves me believing that there is no set standard or that it is not enforced.

      The Tories would probably prefer the Greek standard, closely followed by ” El Khomri “, which might be what we already have, although there is some waffle about austerity being abandoned. The EU proposing anything above those 2 examples would at best be hypocritical.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        In general, the TUC has seen EU Directives as strengthening UK labour rights. In general, EU Directives would prescribe much higher standards than the UK, and the UK was a laggard, both in terms of seeking exemptions, and in simply not implementing Directives properly.

        The EU has quite a comprehensive set of Directives on labour rights, mostly relating to working hours, health and safety, and equality issues. They apply equally from Sweden to Greece, but of course some countries are notoriously tardy in implementing them.

        This will be a major sticking point if the UK tries to weaken them significantly, not because the EU loves workers, but because German and northern European countries will be very anxious about the UK (or other countries) undercutting them by weakening labour rights.

        1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

          I was under the impression that the one time Troika & whatever they now call themselves had spent the last seven or so years undercutting those rights, especially in places like Greece as part of their creditor pleasing reforms & how does El Khomri fit within those rights ? Were the French labour laws on par with them, or were they above them & EK is just bringing them down to what is deemed acceptable according to those standards, which were perhaps much higher than those of the UK ?

          I find it hard to accept that a Neoliberal driven EU has NOW got the best interests of Labour at heart & a look through the minimum wage levels through Europe is I think a good sign of this. For Greece it has dropped over recent years to around half that of Germany’s, but is not yet at the level of Romania & other states that form part of the German version of Mexico, but give it more time & they too can soon be manufacturing car parts for BMW.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            I’m not sure I’d agree on the dynamic that the EU is new to having labours interest at heart. Labour laws have always been central to the EU for the very neoliberal idea that they wanted standardisation across the EU and northern European countries were very concerned about being undercut by weaker environmental and employment regulations in the south. France and some Scandinavian countries are outliers in having stricter employment regulations than required by Directives, but in the great majority of EU countries (UK included), the Directives resulted in standards for workers going up, not down. From an Irish perspective, almost every worker protection in this country is directly derived from an EU Directive and probably would not exist without it. Its also notably easier in Common Law jurisdictions to take legal action at EU level for breaches than at national level. The minimum wage was never covered by a Directive for I suppose the obvious reason is that living costs vary too much to allow agreement.

            Historically, the EU commission has seen enforcing stronger labour laws as a populist action (the same with environmental protection). Neoliberal they might be, but there has always been a much stronger political counterbalance to loosening worker protections in Europe than there has been in individual countries. This is one reason the EU is still very popular in Eastern Europe and the Med countries.

            1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

              I think you are hanging on to the days when the EU was largely progressive. Cutting workers wages does not strike me as being a good way of protecting workers rights, nor ripping the public sector to shreds or destroying collective bargaining.

              The UK’s minimum wage is around 10th highest in the world, so to supposedly worry about them undercutting the likes of Hungary & Greece is I think for the time being a non starter. France, Ireland, Holland & Germany are all higher, but especially in the latter’s case that is apparently fine as they can benefit from the cheaper labour of what is increasingly becoming a two tier Europe, that tin pot tax haven Luxembourg has the highest level. Obviously as you say MW is not the whole story, but I believe it tells it’s own tale.

              As for the TUC….as an Irish friend would probably put it….since the crisis they have been as much use as tits on a bull. Relying on the EU to do their job just about sums them up.

              The EU at one time probably would not have also been so keen on TTIP, CETA & ignoring evidence that glyphosate is carcinogenic.

              1. PlutoniumKun

                I agree that progress has ground to a halt in the EU, but I see that as a reflection of the wave of right wing governments in power in most of the key EU countries since the financial crisis. There is no influential country pressing for change. But that seems to me part of the normal political cycle, if more left wing governments come to power (for example, if Merkel loses), then the political balance changes.

                1. Clive

                  This goes to the heart of my beef with the EU. It sets it self up, or allows itself to be set up, as the instigator and protector of various rights such as labour treatments, civil liberties, competition in commerce, prevention of undue state encroachment on citizens lives and so on.

                  But these things are not some ethereal notions to be granted — or even potentially undermined — by the EU. These things are our birthrights.

                  Frankly, it gets me on my high horse whenever I’m presented with the EU being somehow essential to the safeguarding of these.

                  If they are to be guaranteed — and citizens protected — the buck must stop with the sovereign state where a citizen lives. Lady Hale, UK Supreme Court justice, gave a fairly convincing speech on this topic.

                  If sovereign states choose to, and the EU becomes, the replacement sovereign state and fully takes on all aspects of the original sovereign state then that’s different. The EU will be granted that responsibility. But thus far, that is a step which neither the EU nor the member states are currently prepared to take. It is presently a step too far for most. This may change. But it hasn’t yet.

                  Until it does, the EU needs to stop cloaking itself or allowing itself to be cloaked in the mantle of guarantor of human rights.

                2. witters

                  “There is no influential country pressing for change. But that seems to me part of the normal political cycle…”

                  Ah, the normal political cycle idea. I heard the same from my old supervisor 30 or more years ago about neo-liberalism…

        2. Procopius

          I believe the IMF requires Greece to “reform” their labor standards, which means to remove all and any protections, whether obstacles to firing at will or safety standards. It is interesting that the IMF’s research wing is widely praised for admitting that their policies were badly mistaken, while on the other hand the executive is still entirely devoted to austerity, privatization, deregulation, and unrestricted capital movement.

    4. Darius

      Unlike Obama, Macron appears to have an actual diabolical plan to ruin France. Obama just wanted to look and talk pretty and get patted on the head by billionaires but always seemed to be making it up as he went along.

      1. MoiAussie

        Actually, it’s a diabolical plan to ruin France for all except his backers. As was obvious from his history as Minister for Economy and Finance. So WhyTF did so many vote for him?

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Its pretty clear that his core support is not huge, maybe a fifth of the country. He won because the centre left and centre right imploded (of course, there are conspiracy theories that parts of the establishment sabotaged Fillon). And then the left failed to unite around one candidate, which allowed Le Pen in to challenge. Its that simple really. I don’t think the majority of French people are fooled, they just were not presented with a proper alternative.

          1. David

            Agreed. Macron was actually quite lucky to make it into the second round. He was probably put over the top by electors worried about a Fillon presidency, and so not wanting to vote for Mélenchon or one of the minor candidates, in case they got Fillon by mistake.
            Meanwhile, there’s a nice scandal brewing here, with the French Chief of Defense being forced to resign by Macron after delivering a few home truths to a closed session of Parliament about the French military’s financial and material problems. Somebody (presumably from Macron’s party) leaked the information and Macron publicly gave the Chief a dressing down. Nothing like this has happened in modern French history, so keep an eye on how the story develops.

            1. Colonel Smithers

              Merci, David.

              Just to spice up matters, General Pierre de Villiers is the brother of anti-EU politician and Viscount Philippe de Villiers.

              Macron is a joke. How does he think that a month’s military service / training will help relieve the burden on the professional military and re-establish the link between citizenry and populace? The infrastructure is no longer there, so that will cost billions, somewhat defeating his austerity drive. The empty suit should stick to making chocolate and counting his seven figure bonus from inversion M&A.

              1. David

                Yes, like a lot of the senior military, he identifies with the traditionalist Catholic wing of the political spectrum, though the French media (which has generally been sympathetic to him over the last couple of days) hasn’t said whether he shares all his brother’s views. But this was a silly thing for Macron to do, and at the very least he’s made enemies of people powerful in finance, the church, parts of the media and in some areas of politics. You really don’t want to make enemies of such people unless you have a good reason for doing so. He’s been replaced, interestingly, by Gen Frabcois Lecointre, former Head of the Prime Minister’s military office, but more importantly young (only 54) and a member of the Troupes de Marine, which was one of the only two professional units in the Army before the end of conscription, and had a bit of a lock on the top jobs. So there’ll be some intra-Army politics to add to the fun.

        2. visitor

          All right,

          1) he is relatively young;

          2) there was a sustained media campaign in his favour, carefully hiding his backers, photoshopping his curriculum, and obliterating his track record in the PS government; Macron was constantly hyped as the “outsider” who could “make change finally happen”;

          3) his main adversaries were so off-putting as barely needing the media offensive against them (Fillon: clueless and corrupt, Le Pen sleazy and shifty), were completely discredited as members of a despised PS government (Hamon), or were presented as a concoction of Chavez, Putin and Kim (Mélenchon).

          And actually, very few voted for him!

          a) In the second round of the presidential election:

          9% of voters did not get registered;
          23% abstained;
          8% put a blank ballot;
          20% voted Le Pen;
          40% voted Macron.

          b) In the second round of the legislative elections:

          6% did not get registered;
          54% abstained;
          4% put an empty ballot;
          15.5% voted for Macron’s party.

          Strictly by the numbers, the legitimacy of his government is very, very dubious. I wonder what will happen when the first announced austerity and “liberalization” measures start really biting.

          1. Colonel Smithers

            Thank you and well said, Visitor.

            I recall interviews with Melenchon. The interviewer would often raise the spectre of Venezuela. Venezuela / Chavismo is weaponised for use against the left outside Venezuela. Melenchon would get irritated and bat away the nonsense, but the damage was done.

            Corbyn got the same treatment, much of it faked by hacks, including the FT’s Simon Kuper, now matching Richard Luce as the Pink Un’s main neo-liberal cheerleader. It was worse for Corbyn as he has attended Venezuela solidarity meetings, is married to a Mexican and speaks Spanish, all highlighted by the MSM as evidence of being a menace.

          2. Ed

            You can look up the exact figures on Wikipedia, but Macron’s first round percentage was about 24%, and the top four finishers were within 6% of each other.

            With the legislative elections, his instant party, which I would argue is a the Blairte wing of the Socialist Party, got 28% in the first wound, with an allied centrist party getting 4% to 5%. So that is his support, with a sustained and pretty blatant media campaign behind him.

            The consensus in French politics, that everyone votes against the Front Nationale candidate if they make it to he second round, along with the run-off system, means that establishment party candidates can keep getting elected with lower and lower levels of first round support. This was evident as far back as Chirac’s re-election in 2002. Something like the dirty trick against Fillon becomes outlandishly effective in this environment, because otherwise it would have been him against Le Pen (Fillon got 20% in the first round). This is also why Hollande, with an approval rating of 10%, thought he had a chance for awhile and I don’t think he was crazy to think that.

            By the way, the problem here isn’t the electoral system, which is a good system. If I would offer any improvement to the electoral system, it would be to set a minimum first round percentage to get into the second round, incorporating the alternative ballot (or just using that) or running another round if needed. But its not the main problem here.

            The problem is the failure of the French establishment and voters to come to grips with the Front Nationale and the issues they raise, other than to have everyone combine against them in the second round no matter what. What winds up happening is that FN support keeps going up and the establishment offerings keep getting mediocre. They saw off the challenge of a fairly Stalinist Communist Party in the twentieth century, so they could deal with something like the FN, which also has been dropping their more odious positions.

            1. visitor

              You can look up the exact figures on Wikipedia, but Macron’s first round percentage was about 24%

              24.01% of those who did not vote blank, which were 97.45% of voters, which were 77.77% of those who did not abstain, which were 89.60% to 91% (I found 2 figures) of people with the right to vote.

              Total: Macron got 18.20% of votes of those voters who got actually registered, and about 16.30% to 16.56% of French people with the right to vote.

              In the first round, the difference between the 1st and 4rd best placed candidates was 3.36% of registered voters, and about 3% of potential voters.

              In the first round of the legislatives (I like your lapsus “first wound”), Macron’s party got 28.21% of with Bayrou’s 4.12% of the explicit votes, which where 97.78% of voters, which were 48.7% of registered voters, which were again about 94% of people with the right to vote. Ergo: 14.47%.

              The actual, explicit support of Macron (as well as the other politicians) is thus exceedingly low. But one must dig into the actual figures to realize how low it is…

            2. Oregoncharles

              No, the top-two runoff is a TERRIBLE system, for exactly the reasons you describe. All it does is transfer the “spoiler effect” to the first round, forcing people to try to vote strategically. That doesn’t work well, to start with, and defeats the purpose of voting, to end with.

              Instant Runoff or Ranked Choice Voting is much better, if only because it eliminates the spoiler effect and strategic voting. People vote for who they actually want, because they have a backup vote, or several. It certainly works in the places that use it.

              I gather there are other systems that would work well, but they’re harder to understand and I think harder to integrate with the present system.

        3. Colonel Smithers

          Merci, Aussie.

          He’s good looking, talks proper and dresses well. That counts for a lot, vide Obama, Cameron, Trudeau, Varadkar etc. This said, I am not sure about the shoes and socks worn by Trudeau and Varadkar and Barry’s old jeans.

          1. MoiAussie

            Merci, mon Colonel. NC is always an education – Varadkar was new to me.
            A touch of identity politics at work there too?

            1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

              Varadkar has decided to impersonate Macron to a certain extent in terms of his Versailles special congress, by holding a cabinet meeting in Ireland’s rather downmarket in comparison Celbridge house.

              ” If you got it flaunt it “.

            2. PlutoniumKun

              Oddly enough, given his reputation in the past as very conservative (he is working very hard to cultivate a more liberal vibe), identity politics has nothing to do with Varadkars appointment/election. Most Irish people weren’t aware he was half Indian until recently. The gay aspect is also pretty irrelevant – there is a long political tradition in Ireland of treating politicians private lives as off-limits, so his coming out* (just before the gay marriage referendum campaign) was a bit of a nothing burger for most Irish people, including religious conservatives.

              That said, he won his party leadership entirely due to the vote among sitting elected members – he has been relentlessly campaigning internally since he was first elected. But he got a very poor vote among ordinary party members, most of whom are more rural and conservative than their elected members.

              *Before coming out, he was associated with a campaign against legalising gay adoptions and was not visible in the gay marriage campaign. According to rumours, the reason he came out was to spike a newspaper story that he had been having an affair with a prominent political journalist, who had been writing numerous positive stories about him.

          2. vidimi

            while i find the city’s disdain for brown shoes loathsome and anachronistic, trudeau’s footwear choices really are dire.

            1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

              An interesting assessment on the effect of the Euro on the French economy from Jaques Sapir & why as Mark Blythe pointed out their only option is to squeeze the usual suspects & it appears avoid preventing large companies stashing cash elsewhere, while constantly giving them tax breaks :


          3. perpetualWAR

            Exactly why JFK won over Nixon. For the first time appearance became an influencer.

          4. clinical wasteman

            Apologies for yet another absent link — computer in its death throes still squirms against any attempt to navigate away from the page — but I highly recommend the “cautionary tale” Justin Trudeau and his Socks by Sam Kriss at The Baffler.

    5. sid_finster

      Did not Yves Smith say that for liberals, all problems can be solved with better PR?

      1. Huey Long

        Yes and no. I think Yves’ point was that the de facto solution for all liberal policy problems is better pr instead of new policies that provide direct material benefits and that this is absurd.

      2. Yves Smith

        Thank you for remembering! I said re Obama that he (and his Administration) thought that that the solution to any problem was better PR. I think this approach can be safely generalized to the Democratic party and no doubt applies to others.

        1. Oregoncharles

          It’s an echo of Reagan, and probably the reason Obama admired him. That’s exactly how Reagan governed (or somebody, since Reagan had Alzheimers’ most of the time.)

          1. Yves Smith

            No, that is a big misconstruction of the Reagan era. Unlike Obama, who was fixated on passing bills as a measure of accomplishment, when many of the bills did little, Reagan implemented a huge change in direction in policy, starting with his wealthy-favoring tax cuts and breaking the air controllers’ union, signaling that union-busting was now official policy. He also was much more aggressive about the economy, freaking out when unemployment rose and implementing the Plaza accord in 1985 with the then G-6 to drive the yen up and help US employment (although his action was at least as likely due to the massive loss in market share by the Big 3 when the dollar spiked after Volcker drove inflation down in the US).

            Reagan also said no to banks and implemented a serious investigation of the 1987 crash within days (the Brady Report, I have a copy) which was completed less than 2 months later. Nothing that remotely approached it after our crisis.

  1. skippy

    Having read “Democrats in Disarray” in links section, just before shut eye… I originally read it as “Democrats in Disneyland”.

    Disheveled…. I think I will leave it at that….

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Eustace.

      About 2008-9, Liberation published a map showing how indebted French localities were. Many were suckered by banks, local and international (including my current and former employers), into the complex financing solutions that suckered much of the US and Italy.

      It’s the same in the UK. My former employer had a unit called ESHLA (Education, Social Housing and Local Authorities) set up to do just that. The bombed out bank next door, formerly run by someone called Fred and David Cameron’s cousin, did the same.

      1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

        Thank you for yet more valuable information.

        The Grenfell tarpaulin would serve as a metaphor for much more of the general rot, than just that part which is impossible to sweep under the usual carpet.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Surprised the TARP has to already been applied — it’s what the cops do to the bodies at crime scenes and horrific traffic accidents and plane crashes…

          “In the end, sir/madam, have you no decency?”

          Are Christo and Jeanne-Claude (must remember there was a woman deeply involved in all those great works) still around? Great chance for a really telling “installation,” with Art appended:

          1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

            Yes – wrapped up in a gigantic version of ” Crime Scene Do Not Enter ” tape, would sum the whole thing up.

        2. Arizona Slim

          I have doubts about the tarp. What will happen when it rains? Or when the winds pick up?

          1. polecat

            Toss up and spread a ‘sack-o-seeds’, then after a few months watch A.G. Sessions run arou d with his hair on fire !!

            Call a green roof ….. ‘;]

  2. Saddam Smith

    Re. “Are You Ready To Consider That Capitalism Is The Real Problem?”

    Can anyone anywhere reasonably dispute these sorts of descriptions about capitalism:

    [T]here’s something fundamentally flawed about a system that has a prime directive to churn nature and humans into capital, and do it more and more each year, regardless of the costs to human well-being and to the environment we depend on.

    What becomes clear here is that ours is a system that is programmed to subordinate life to the imperative of profit.

    I’m not interested in pseudo ad hominem attacks of the variety that such critiques are rooted in socialism/marxism and thus not worthy of our attention. I mean: Does anyone disagree that capitalism is about perpetual growth of property-based wealth at its root?

    If there is such an opinion out there, I’d like to see how it is justified.

        1. jawbone

          Thnx for posting this link — I caught it on the side postings of popular Guardian articles in the US..

          Shudder…the Koch reality…it burns.

      1. Saddam Smith

        Thanks Carla, I kind of skimmed it. It seems to be more evidence in support of the article I quote from above. What amazes me is that this observation about capitalism’s ‘addiction’ to economic growth is (apparently) uncontested, and yet capitalism remains the only game in town.

        It confuses me greatly. Except of course that vested interests are the institutional and otherwise powerful secretions of centuries of capitalism. Shit like that don’t go away without a fight.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Maybe capitalism is the worst of all choices, except all of the others, and that it just needs some of the traditional reins re-applied? I’m thinking of the tax code for trillionaires, anti-trust law, some kind of law to keep corps from leveraging up only to buy back their stock. Toss in a minimum wage law and tell health insurers they must provide a set of basic services at fixed cost and then compete on add-ons and customer service?
          (Right after that you can repeal the edicts that expanded the Fed’s mandate, trim it back to “bank liquidity” not “bank solvency” and remove the bits about “price stability” and “full employment” which are impossible to measure, let alone “control”).

      2. Left in Wisconsin

        I just stumbled on the book Monbiot is writing about, “Democracy in Chains,” by Nancy MacLean, generally speaking a biography of James Buchanan, architect of public choice theory (a neoclassical economic theory of politics), based upon her stumbling over his papers at George Mason.

        She apparently has a good track record (in previous books) as a respected academic historian but the Koch-ers and libertarians (lots of overlap but not complete) are going berserk and accusing her of writing fiction. There is a huge battle underway, for example, in the reviews on Bezos Co bookseller. She also happens to be at Duke, which is also home to a number of public choice academics sympathetic TSTL to Buchanan and basically accusing her of academic misconduct.

        As far as I can tell, her narrative fits the neoliberal playbook as outlined by Mirowski, et al.: Buchanan never speaks of an explicit political program, has deniability about his direct involvement with Pinochet’s Chile (like Friedman, he only went there for a week, and not at the direct invitation of Pinochet), does all his work in scrupulously academic garb (despite loads of funding from the Kochs) yet somehow always arrives at the same answer, was awarded the economics fake Nobel by the neoliberals who run the Swedish central bank, etc.

        1. Vatch

          I bought the book a couple of weeks ago, but I haven’t had a chance to read it. A superficial glance at a few random pages seem to indicate that the book resembles Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, by Jane Mayer. Nancy MacLean’s book is a little more specific in that it focuses on a single academic beneficiary of the Kochs, whereas Mayer’s book ranges widely over the whole spectrum of right wing billionaire interference in U.S. politics over the past couple of generations. A third book in the same genre is Invisible Hands: The Businessmen’s Crusade Against the New Deal, by Kim Phillips-Fein.

    1. funemployed

      I don’t disagree with anything you said, but since you asked for potentially contrary opinions, I do tend to avoid the capitalism/socialism/communism framing lately in favor of full-throated advocacy of authentic democracy (which I define broadly as any process by which the people affected by decisions of relevance to the common good of have coequal authority in making those decisions).

      In one sense, capitalism, socialism, and communism can be understood as value-laden ideologies, but in that sense, things tend to get murky pretty quickly as people struggle to agree on precisely what the values inherent in each are, and stumble into heated semantic arguments that neglect specific policies. So when I do use those terms, I try to restrict it them to the technical sense. Specifically, the laws and norms in any given community that govern who gets to make decisions regarding the use and alienation of means and products of production.

      I think there are few who would argue that all decisions about the use and alienation of the means and products of production should be made either privately by individuals or collectively by groups, and I think any arguments along those lines are bound to run into intractable contradictions.

      By reframing policy debates in terms of democracy – that is, by who holds what power to make decisions related to the common good – I find I can use the same heuristic to critique failed experiments in communism (the USSR), socialism (many countries in Latin America and elsewhere), and capitalism (the current unsustainable, violent, hegemonic world-order). I also find that epistemic space opens up to consider what products and means of production ought to be individually held and what goods ought to be collectively held.

      Basically, I don’t think the major social problems of our age are ever, at their core, “capitalism,” “socialism,” or “communism” as ideologies, but rather inequitable distribution of decision making power re: the use and alienation of the means and products of production. In that sense, I think democracy is inherently socialist, as the right of the public to make any decision about the use and alienation of means and products of production is implicit and inalienable, but that sort of “socialist” democracy might still have significant space for private ownership, and collective ownership of different kinds of things at different levels of social organization, ultimately producing a large diversity of possibilities for social and economic organization best adapted to different cultures and contexts.

      tl;dr I prefer to talk about democracy and power when discussing who should have what rights to make decisions to use and alienate the means and products of production.

      1. Roger Smith

        If I am reading this right, it sounds like you are getting at what I have been mulling around too. Looking at the traditional, finite socioeconomic infrastructure types (or whatever you want to call them), I feel that capitalism best works (although I share ideologies with communism). Not because capitalism is in itself a virtuous, well rewarding practice, but because it operates (at least in the contemporary world) on sort of a blank slate, where regulations, or lack there-of, can push and pull it in various directions; its malleable or our method of practice makes it so.

        If we were to utilize this more nuanced control and drop finite ideological battles, instead focusing as you said on democracy and decision making for the welfare of all, it would work. We need to adopt the best practices and ideas for all, for any given particular moment, rather than pray to the market gods and act as if it is all out of our control. The endless drive for more in capitalism is something I do not understand. This regulated and balanced control is what I think we need to get to a place where say manufacturing is severely automated, but the products created and sold/exported fund the citizens of the state/country, rather than accumulate worthless wealth for some slobbering, technocrat, corporatist billionaire.

        1. funemployed

          That’s pretty much what I was getting at. I think capitalism, of a sort, works for some things pretty well (e.g. making the best tv or the safest, most fuel efficient-car), and others quite poorly (e.g. infrastructure, healthcare, basic research). I also think the capitalism/socialism dichotomy forecloses too many possibilities. A corporation may be socialist in it’s internal structure (e.g. workers, not shareholders, get voting rights), but produce products for a capitalist market. Does it really matter if we call that “capitalism” or “socialism?” To me, that’s a semantic argument with little bearing on the specific social organization that is most effective to the building of a just, flourishing, sustainable, peaceful society, and one that decontextualizes policy debates that must stay rooted in the material world to be productive.

          1. vidimi

            yes, capitalism works when a certain set of conditions is met: abundant, accessible and de facto unlimited resources, low barrier of entry, and free consumer choice. if the business doesn’t meet those conditions then it is a utility and should be publicly owned.

            1. JTMcPhee

              And while people discuss and debate and try to get their collective minds and hands around “the problem,” the one that kills large numbers of us and filthy-enriches and -empowers a very tiny few of us, and “we” generate the “Sixth Great Species Die-Off” and crap in our own nests, and all the other Bad Stuff that’s going on — while all that is happening, under whatever nominal “system” within whatever legal-political-economic boundaries one wants to choose, why does it always work out that those very few people, focused on self-interest and the pleasures of the flesh and domination of others and all that, always end up with the mostly complete control of the levers of power and the “right” that might gives them to set and enforce the “policies” that dominate and crush the ones that us mopes debate and contend for? Contend for so meekly and weakly in favor of our interests, often in favor of just “more for me than thee?” With darn little notion of comity and commensalism, let alone mutualism, with little “tolerance” (not that tepid sh!t that “the Left” agonizes about) and deep ignorance as principal drivers of behavior?

              Mike Royko, chronicler of all the interesting and bad things about Chicago, noted that the city’s unofficial motto is “Ubi Est Mea,” which he rendered as “Where’s Mine?” Rahm Emanuel understands.

              Garrison Keillor posited that the motto of Lake Wobegon, that fairly typical town, is “Sumus Quod Sumus,” which he says scans as “We are what we are.” (How that works out in the real world:

              Hard to argue with that.

              1. Saddam Smith

                why does it always work out that those very few people, focused on self-interest and the pleasures of the flesh and domination of others and all that, always end up with the mostly complete control of the levers of power and the “right” that might gives them to set and enforce the “policies” that dominate and crush the ones that us mopes debate and contend for?

                Surely because accumulated power, right? Surely because thousands of years honing and refining the propaganda arts via such things as myth making and, nowadays, money systems? Freud’s nephew Bernays is very honest about this in his book on propaganda. And school systems across the planet are part of the programme too. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

                We humans are extremely suggestible via the back door of our unconscious desires and fears. This is kept as openly secret as possible. Appeals to reason are weak. Appeals to our inner reptile far less so. The mighty know this and use it extremely well.

          2. Katniss Everdeen

            Shouldn’t government, by definition, always be considered “socialist” in that it has the responsibility for establishing and regulating conditions that affect all citizens–health, education, fair labor practices, banking, transportation and defense to name a few?

            The conflict seems to have come primarily from government’s willingness to allow “capitalists” to exploit the urgency and ubiquity of these responsibilities for profit in return for campaign “contributions”, and defending this sellout by villifying anyone who objects as “anti-capitalist” or “socialist” or “communist.”

            1. funemployed

              Yup, democratic government anyhow. I think that’s why nothing terrifies elites more than a government that’s actually responsive to the majority.

          3. jrs

            “I think capitalism, of a sort, works for some things pretty well (e.g. making the best tv or the safest, most fuel efficient-car)”

            capitalism of a sort SORT OF works for this if you completely ignore the conditions under which things are produced (and maybe externalities as well). The iphone may be fairly well made and meet consumer demand (let’s just say so for the sake of argument ok, clearly many people think so), but if workers who make them are throwing themselves off of buildings THAT IS NOT WORKING. Maybe capitalism with strong safety net and productions for workers or strong workers movement kind of works (but it seems to have an inherent tendency to destroy these things)

          4. mpalomar

            “capitalism, of a sort, works for some things pretty well (e.g. making the best tv or the safest, most fuel efficient-car”

            Though in fact the internal combustion automobile and the road highway system spawned by it at the expense of mass transit is likely going to kill the planet one way or another. Mobile phones and TVs and super gizmos are now non-repairable, disposable planned for obsolescence, techno opiates filling the world with toxic junk. Actually I think if we thought about it at a societal level capitalism produces very bad outcomes at the consumer goods level too.

      2. Saddam Smith

        So when I do use those terms, I try to restrict it them to the technical sense.

        funemployed, does your technical definition of capitalism include perpetual growth at all? If not, why not?

        1. funemployed

          Depends on the audience, but as i view perpetual growth as patently absurd, i generally don’t bother with it except to reject it as self-evidently impossible. I do agree that it is generally assumed essential to capitalism, but there’s no reason a communist or socialist society couldn’t also develop a nonsensical growth fetish

          1. Saddam Smith

            For the record, I’m not for socialism or communism for a number of reasons, some of which you touched on in your response to me. But capitalism dominates the global scene and is, as far as I can tell, systemically addicted to perpetual growth. And apparently, there is no alternative, so it deserves our focus. It is certainly true that the big C has been growth addicted up until now, and I see nothing to suggest it could be otherwise and still be capitalism. So, I’m not ideologically against capitalism, I’m logically against perpetual growth as patently absurd and therefore against capitalism and any other ism that requires it.

            If, as I suspect, there is no coherent argument out there to suggest capitalism is not growth based, this flaw should be front and centre, no? I do not believe that arguing for a narrow, “technical” definition of capitalism – or any other ism – that avoids unnecessary semantics gets around this. Nor would it be likely to avoid semantics. Defining words is notoriously difficult.

            1. funemployed

              This argument makes a lot of sense to me. And I do agree that the capitalist systems we use fall apart without the perpetual growth assumption. Previous protestations to the contrary, I do critique capitalism in that sense, and tend to use whatever definitions of whatever words that my audience will listen to.

              Mainly, I use my admittedly incomplete and limited technical definitions as a means to focus discussion on the material, legal, and normative aspects of economic activity over time on a finite planet with finite resources and a delicate ecological balance. My goal is to shift discussions from abstract arguments about the best “ism” to concrete discussions of stuff and behaviors. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.

              1. Saddam Smith

                Exactly. The most obvious evidence that our system is growth addicted is that recessions and depressions are bad / disruptive / to be avoided at all costs.

            2. EricT

              And how will you accommodate those that haven’t been born. Economies grow regardless of whether you want it to or not. It’s what has allowed the human species to dominate every corner of the earth and hopefully we can grow beyond that for the sake of our future. The issue that troubles me, and I think a good portion of the people in this world, is whether that future growth will be distributed equitably, as to allow all humans to live and grow to their full potential. Since the 70’s we haven’t seen improvements in productivity distributed equitably, and since the 2008 recession, the recovery only benefited a small well connected group. We have to break out of the dogma that is crammed down our throats that what we have now is as good as it gets. Stagnation is death for any species. And I’m sure my forefathers never accepted the status quo, and we shouldn’t either.

              1. Odysseus

                “Economies grow regardless of whether you want it to or not.”

                Except that they don’t always. Japan has had a birthrate below replacement rate for more than a decade. What does the economy do when you don’t need so many schools and houses? What does the economy do when you don’t need so much food, or other personal services?

                It’s not hard at all to conceive of situations in which it’s ridiculous to expect nominal economic numbers to rise.

              1. Saddam Smith

                Thank you, witters!

                I know, it is sad. I keep coming back to this issue at various forums. It seems like such a no-brainer to me, but hardly anyone appears to want to take the perpetual-growth problem seriously. Perhaps the implications are just too huge…

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Even perpetual knowledge growth can be problematic, in that, we humans, scientists or not, can’t seem to refrain from applying whatever the latest partial knowledge (todays’ best scientific explanations, to be replaced later) we have glimpsed, especially if it rewards like a new toy does.

          It’s one thing to know aspects of the interconnecting world, but it’s quite another to meddle with Nature without comprehending fully the consequences.

          1. Saddam Smith

            I think this is a very important point, MLTPB. Agreeing with you and suitably humbled by the realisation that anything approaching certainty is impossible, I want to propose experimentation of various solutions in the form of a wide number of societal pilots. The weakness of that sort of proposal is that it’s hard/impossible to live seriously and with full conviction in a pilot project.

            This leaves us with a messy vector ahead of us as necessity mothers invention out of our collective struggles. With a ton of luck we might come up with something better this time…

      3. Pookah Harvey

        Your arguments echo what Richard Wolff, Marxist economist at U. Mass Amherst has been working on. He believes that the current definition of Capitalism and Socialism are wrong. Essentially the current definition is just private capitalism vs public capitalism in that all economic decisions are made by a ruling elite, either corporate boards of directors or government bureaucrats.

        From a 2013 article he wrote for Truthout:

        How should we now differentiate capitalism from other economic systems? Marx’s work helps by defining capitalism in terms of its organization of production, the internal structure of enterprises (factories, offices and stores). Capitalist enterprises exclude most workers from key decisions: what, how and where to produce and how to use net revenues (in Marx’s terms, the enterprise’s “surplus value”). Capitalist enterprise decision-makers include only enterprise owners (e.g., major shareholders) and the boards of directors they select.

        For this definition, capitalism can exist whether the enterprise is owned privately or publicly and whether it distributes its outputs by market exchanges or a state plan. In short, capitalism defined as a particular organization of production exhibits different forms: private and state and market and planned.

        For this definition, a new socialist alternative to capitalism entails democratically transformed enterprises. All the workers have become the board of directors. They collectively employ themselves. They democratically decide what, how and where to produce and how to use net revenues. They do that together with the similarly organized residential communities they interact with. In this new definition, socialism too would exhibit different forms: workers’ self-directed enterprises publicly or privately owned and with planning or markets. Socialist societies would debate and decide among possible forms.

        1. Saddam Smith

          Sounds reasonable. But I would be with funemployed here and prefer no labels such that we simply strive towards directly democratic processes that are just, efficient, fun where possible, and effective, but perhaps above all governed by steady-state considerations within broader steady-state economic principles.

        2. funemployed

          Thanks! I like Wolff’s definition very much – and it definitely mirrors my understanding of democracy, generally. If only more people would grasp his definition of socialism, converting the unconverted would probably be a lot easier. As Saddam alluded to, once you use the term, you’re dealing with all manner of definitions and understandings in an attempt to communicate. It’s those difficulties that cause me to pragmatically avoid the labels, mainly.

    2. Enquiring Mind

      I would be interested in some type of critique that provided some way of seeing clearly what is left out (e.g., externalities), what is assumed (e.g., perfect knowledge, can openers, etc), and what is really the net result (people know a lot less than they let on).

      What is really known versus implied or asserted.

      What, if anything, has an R-squared closer to 1.0 than 0.0, and why.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        Left out of what? Externalities is a term from neoclassical economics, a fictionalized version of an ideal economy with no power relations and lots of other untenable assumptions. There is a political connection between this idealized economy and the real world phenomenon we call capitalism but very little empirical connection. As just the most obvious example, the idealized neoclassical economy envisions multiple producers in every economic market perpetually (but instantly!) pushing markets toward lower profits and greater competition, whereas real-world capitalism is primarily about maximizing profits from control of market niches where profits can be guaranteed and protected.

    3. zer0

      Anytime the talks move toward modes of government, I find that people love to rant about the deficiencies and efficiencies of the various forms. Yet the question remains, have humans changed at all over the last ten-thousand years?

      To anyone who has an inkling of the time spans needed for massive evolutionary/genetic change, the answer is a resounding ‘No’ – we are creatures of habit, and our habits are mainly exploitation and consumption, among others.

      Because we haven’t changed, or at least, haven’t changed enough to become a new species, why does everyone think that government has changed? Culture has changed, of course, for it is an accumulation of the times throughout history, as they are looked upon at present. But the underlying pinnings of modern day society – resource extraction, wealth accumulation, exploitation – have not changed since ancient times. We still fight wars over resources. We still give special privileges to those with power and wealth. We still allow those same people to dictate our laws, and we still enforce those laws with threat of physical violence & incarceration.

      This is why I always found it strange, that where the biggest strides we’ve made, in human rights, equality, freedom of expression, always seems to come back to the forefront. Yet where we have made no strides at all, is always pushed aside.

      So is capitalism bad? No, its pretty much the same old march just to a slightly different step. Once again, any human being, given unfettered power or control, will eventually pervert themselves and the system. Yet still, to this day, we find the need to promote people in power to more power. Never ever has a president in the US come from meager beginnings – yet from slums to riches is the hallmark of the American Dream.

      And if you haven’t heard, it’s dead or dying.

      1. Saddam Smith

        There are human groups/societies out there who do not fit your description of the default human. We are suggestible and flexible first and foremost.

        1. inhibi

          Its hard to say what we are first and foremost. Diamond and others have all postulated about the main drives of humans through an anthropological lens.

          If we look to Aboriginal tribes in New Guinea, of which we have extensive firsthand accounts, we see a life that is so brutal as to give rise to cannibalism due to nutrient deficiency among other factors.

          Whatever it is that we are, I would say we are quite brutal overall. We are short term thinkers, never thinking beyond the lives of our immediate progeny, if even that. We love stuff – we are hoarders by our very nature. Our love is narrow, and our hate is broad. We divide along every kind of line imaginable – sex, skin color, race, religion, etc.

          I’d like to think we are flexible, but in what sense exactly? We can adapt, yes, but usually in times of need only. Few adapt willingly.

          We are suggestible for sure. Maybe overly so, but once again, usually only when we see gain. Religion promised the afterlife, immortality, ascension, etc – all for praying and believing the words of another man. The King promised land and peace. Trump promised wage increases and a jumpstart to the smokestack economy. Once again, we believe when we see gain, distrust when we see loss.

          1. Saddam Smith

            Again, I disagree strongly with your views here.

            Like all living creatures, we have a survival instinct. Environmental conditions determine how we express it. For example, right now I am not being brutal, and neither is anyone else at this forum. We are behaving in accordance with this forum’s well-established conditions of polite and reasoned discussion. Indeed, I don’t think I’ve been brutal once in my life. Not that I have anything against brutality, that would be stupid. I don’t remotely see brutality as a problem.

            And what I mean here by first and formest is in the context of this discussion. What stands between humanity and establishing a different social system is not human nature first and foremost but cultural inertia. It’s a slightly redundant assertion though for two reasons. One, cultural inertia represents a very daunting challenge to radical change, and two, cultural inertia is a consequence of human nature. How could it not be? That said, I take issue with all flavours of “greedy by nature” arguments because they are slightly wrong and misleading. There is some hope in my view, but it is slight.

            Your perspective is what you would probably take to be coldly realistic, takes clear account of the so-called “hard facts”. It’s a negative take though, jaded, disillusioned. If it were flatly true, why does it feel negative to us, to you? I argue because humans are also empathic, that love and belonging, fairness and justice are vital to our sense of well-being. Yes there’s brutality, and that’s a good thing, but we thrive and find deep and lasting health in fair and equitable societies. There’s plenty of research backing this idea up, and it makes simple sense too, don’t you think? The antidote du jour almost always tugs at my heartstrings…

    4. John

      Re: I mean: Does anyone disagree that capitalism is about perpetual growth of property-based wealth at its root?

      No. But the problem isn’t capitalism. Capitalism what results went there’s no other alternative that is believable to a majority of humans.

      Figure out a believable alternative and that “system” might result. But, the highly-evolved smart-n-savvy predators like the current system we’ve got now.

      (btw, the correct name for the system we have now is: “The one where the smart-n-savvy predators win”. A good name would be better. Unfortunately, it seems like neo-liberal isn’t working very well as that name tho…)

      1. inhibi

        “Does anyone disagree that capitalism is about perpetual growth of property-based wealth at its root?”

        “Figure out a believable alternative and that “system” might result. But, the highly-evolved smart-n-savvy predators like the current system we’ve got now.”

        Your literally describing the intrinsic qualities of human nature at a macroscopic level: we want stuff (wealth), we want a home (land), we want growth (as in a ‘better life’), and we want the answer to our problems (science/religion).

        Ive yet to see a form of rule that isn’t centered around these tenets. Name me one if you can. I don’t take Buddhist monks or Janists as serious answers: no large society can run off of those doctrines without eventual collapse, because the world has neighbors that don’t share your beliefs, and will see any form of non-violence as weakness – a weakness to exploit for their gain.

        Let’s be honest: has capitalism really changed any underlying tenets? Obviously not. Instead of enslavement or the peasantry, we use debt and scarce labor. Instead of royal families we have wealthy families. Instead of dukedoms, we have corporations.

        In actuality, we have many more gatekeepers keeping the peasantry at bay today than ever before.

        You want to go to college? Youll need to pay for these tests. You cant pay for college? Youll need to apply for these loans. You want a job? Psyche, we forgot to tell you youll need a car. You want a car? You’ll need a loan. You want to drive your car? You’ll need insurance. You cant afford a house you say? You’ll need an apt. You want to live in your apt? Youll need renters insurance.

        Its actually somewhat disgusting how controlling capitalism is. I find that to be its worst feature: the commoditization of all goods and services, whether actually helpful or not, and through law, forcibly making people pay astronomical sums to simply live, let alone get healthcare and enjoy life

    5. Yves Smith

      I think you need to consider an unpleasant issue.

      Men compete for women based in large measure on their ability to be good providers. That means take care of their wives materially (at a minimum when they are physically vulnerable during the later stages of pregnancy and tied down by childrearing). That has always to at least a degree depended on the man’s prospects as an “earner” as in food and shelter provider and physical protector.

      Humans raise children in couples. Yes, in many societies the extended family helps a lot, but marriage and childrearing are the foundation of society.

      Having significant numbers of young men who don’t have prospects of mating due to limited resources like being badly positions in a no-growth economy results in them being dodgy marital prospects is a prescription for social instability.

      In other words, there are deep social drivers for the growth fixation. It prevents other potential big problems from surfacing.

      1. Saddam Smith

        Believe me, I have considered that, and in more depth than you appear to have done.

        As to your rather standard view of human mating, there are sounder interpretations set out in e.g., Sex at Dawn. I do not agree that marriage is the foundation of all forms of society. Childrearing of course, marriage no. Humans are NOT pair bonders. Divorce rates are one piece of evidence for that. Pornography is another. Yes, we have raised children in nuclear families for a few thousand years. But prior to the emergence of civilisation that was not the case. There is plenty of evidence to support what I say here.

        In other words, I don’t think human nature is the issue. It’s cultural inertia that stands in the way.

        That said, I agree with your broader point about deep drivers for growth. But that does not mean humanity can grow economically forever. In my opinion, what is required – and I say this more for the sake of discussion and disclosure than from a conviction that it’s possible in the time available to us – is a shift towards qualitative growth. To a large degree, humanity has solved the economic problem technically speaking. To put together whatever is required for a steady-state system will in part entail this sort of shift of emphasis towards quality and away from quantity. How we derive our sense of contribution, self-worth and belonging is going to have to come from more subtle measures of value than price. That doesn’t mean we can manage it, only that steady-state would require that, among many other things.

        So far our track record is civilisational collapse every time. Only the speed and depth of the collapse is uncertain.

        1. inhibi

          “In other words, I don’t think human nature is the issue. It’s cultural inertia that stands in the way.”
          How can you so easily extricate human nature from culture? Its simply impossible!

          “But that does not mean humanity can grow economically forever”
          Actually, humanity can grow economically forever as economics is a man made science and is thus arbitrarily derived. We like the look of gold, gold becomes highly valued. We like scrunchy faces, we breed dogs and get Pugs.

          You then write: “To a large degree, humanity has solved the economic problem”. I don’t even know what that means. I guess we solved the problem we created?

          That being said, there will be no steady state achieved. Nature wont allow it. Entropy is literally a fundamental law of this universe and so is time. Between the two, no system will ever last forever, it is a utterly foolish line of thinking.

          1. Saddam Smith

            I strongly disagree with your thinking here.

            The economic problem is that of distributing scarce goods and services, a problem we kind of perceived into existence when we started on the property track. But what’s wrong with solving problems we create? I do it every day.

            And to argue that we can indeed grow forever economically by redefining economic growth is a bit redundant, don’t you think?

            Nature allows steady state in other systems. Why not in human systems? Several aboriginal peoples have achieved it. So that’s an odd assertion. Steady state is not “last forever”. This is straw-manning.

      2. DH

        The rise of professional women making good incomes in stable careers over the past 30 years has meant that marriage is now optional for them. They have no interest in men who don’t interest them. I am seeing this in many millenials, including my own daughters. This is especially true in the above-median income brackets.

        Even below median income, women are often out-competing in the lower end service industry jobs since they don’t require male brawn.So for many men, that means they now need to compete for women with more than just the ability to provide food and shelter, because many of these women have the viable option of “no”. Many men are not succeeding in this competition or have no interest in playing as getting married is no longer the status provider and expectation it once was. It is different from Jane Austen’s time when women had to be focused on winning a husband for a chance at future success.

        1. Saddam Smith

          Yup. Change is the only constant.

          That said, I think you and Yves are using a too narrow idea of competition based on the Neodarwinian paradigm. There is also cooperation. In my view it is as if not more fundamental than competition, which is, when you think about it, a subset of cooperation.

  3. MoiAussie

    EU Commission concerned about living standards for future generations

    This short, poorly edited article doesn’t say a lot.

    Despite the better economic news, the risk remains that the younger generations will have less well (sic) than their parents, finds the European Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs Marianne Thyssen.

    The annual report clearly shows the inequality between generations, as the young people benefit a lot less from the steady improvement in the standard of living within the bloc, as it is still harder for them to find a job and often have to settle for part-time and temporary contracts as permanent solutions.

    What it does reveal, however, is a fundamental difference between the EU and the anglophone developed world. Where in the US or UK would you find someone like a “Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs” – a servant of the state – reporting, however restrainedly, on the economic problems facing young people today?

    Why do the US and UK governments seem to lack this kind of focus on things that matter?

    1. Ignacio

      The problem here is that once the Commissioner identifies this “intergenerational divide” then she comes with the usual “solutions”: delay retirement age, reduce pensions. Marianne’s voice says exactly the same as de IMF, for instance. Bullshit Commissioner for Social Affairs.

    2. Clive

      To be fair, the dying days of the last New Labour administration passed a law which gave a statutory responsibility to improve social mobility and “outlawed” child poverty.

      And thus, we have the “Social Mobility Commission” which produces a great many worthy reports and Action Plans.

      And as for policy responses? Fugedaboutit.

      (fade out to the sounds of hollow laughter)

      1. Mel

        I think it was in Prof. Mitchell’s blog I saw mention of a “Low Pay Commission”. I didn’t recognize any of the people in it, but I don’t know many people. Is it the same kind of thing?

          1. clinical wasteman

            “Low Pay Commission” was at least an inadvertently forthright name. “New Labour” (another one, if read correctly as “yet more toil”) had a knack for these: my personal favourite was the office of “Police and Crime Commissioner” (emphasis added), for which solemn elections were held a couple of times earlier this century.

  4. Ignacio

    “Too Many Americans Live in a Mental Fog Bloomberg”

    The problem with opioids is that… labor productivity is reduced!
    That was my “kill me now” moment of the day.

    1. Alex Morfesis

      “She’ll go running for the shelter of her mothers little helper”…

      nothing to see here people…
      keep moving…
      yeah yeah it all rhymes…

      Darts at Kelly’s later…??

      See you then…

    2. clinical wasteman

      Also obnoxious (and dangerous when it informs public policy) is the confusion of the immediate effects of an addictive drug on an occasional user with those of addiction itself. If the writer of the article engaged in a bit of ‘immersive’ research, s/he may well have experienced ‘mental fog’ on contact with some opoid or other. But any past or present long-term user could have explained that once real dependence on the substance sets in, the user feels next to nothing while ‘on’ the drug: the only ‘altered state’ is the extremely unpleasant experience of physical withdrawal (which, incidentally, is not comparable to the anguish of an “internet addict”, “sex addict” or any other figurative “addict” deprived of a psychological comforter). The mind and body of a physical addict in withdrawal are not ‘fogged’ but feverish with perfectly coherent purpose, i.e. the need to obtain more of the substance and interrupt the withdrawal. Unproductive at work for sure, but not for the reasons Bloomberg thinks. The difference matters not just because the indiscriminate “treatment” of physical and psychological addiction alike with abrupt, coerced abstinence plus psychotherapy is grotesquely unsuited to physical substance-dependence, but above all because the combination of physical need for a substance with economic and legal restriction of its availability explains almost all the socially destructive effects of most physical addictions. The only obvious part-exception in the case of opoids is the overdose death rate, which also has a lot to do with wildly fluctuating strength of active ingredients and toxicity of ‘inactive’ ones in ‘street drugs’, and with more regular but ridiculously high ‘active’ dosages per unit — and, again, toxic ‘inactive’ elements — in prescription products, eg. fentanyl. Combine these factors with desperation on the user’s part to use, and of course they become lethal. (And the only physically addictive substances I know of that depart from the pattern described here in that users repeatedly do become destructive while ‘under the influence’ are crack (see Cockburn/St. Clair and Gary Webb on that marketing success story) and — at last, something persistently ‘foggy’! — alcohol. I don’t doubt that people will have true and upsetting anecdotes about other substances, but I do think the difference between intoxication and addiction is crucial, and I’m appalled every time I see it obfuscated by crusading Experts who simply wouldn’t know.

  5. katiebird

    Yves, I am so sorry about your accident and scratched cornea. (A tour of ERs??!!)

    I hope it really is much better in a week.

      1. tegnost

        hear hear…ack, a tour of retail medical facilities in Cali could only be a nightmare.

        1. Synoia

          Which raise the question of US drug Emporia.

          Why are the Cigarettes at the front of the Emporium and the drugs at the back?

      1. Jim Haygood

        Likely Sen. McCain will be sporting an eye patch when he emerges from the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, after his craniotomy under the left eyebrow.

        Yves and Johnny both wearing eye patches … mere coincidence?

        Since it’s the heighth [sic] of fashion, I’m looking for a black silk one with an illuminati seeing eye pyramid on it … a better conversation starter than a cute dog!

    1. DJG

      All the best. Here’s to some good eyedrops from the ophthalmologist after the Grand Tour of emergency rooms.

      1. cocomaan

        Unfortunately, if she goes on Harry Shearer’s Le Show, the patch’s presence doesn’t exactly come through on the radio.

    2. Jess

      Having been through this once myself (sawdust in the eye on a construction project) I know how aggravating and debilitating this condition can be. Take your time, get well, and when fully recovered I look forward to being regaled by your account — probably scathing, certainly entertaining — of the medical facilities nightmare.

    3. Edward E

      Hope it heals quickly, don’t worry about the dapple because you’ll always be the apple of our eyes!

  6. The Rev Kev

    Re: Government considering covering charred shell in tarpaulin. This is both ridiculous and ugly. Fortunately I have the ideal solution. I happen to know that there are stacks of second-hand plastic building cladding panels coming onto the market. I’m sure that the Grenfell Response Team should be able to snap up more than enough to cover the whole building. That way the wealthy residents will not have to look at London’s new Monument to Modern Neoliberalism.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Some artist should be commissioned to turn the tower shell into a monument to Modern Neoliberalism. Instead of hiding the tower turn it into a statement. The plastic might be used in the art project but not to hide the tower — to draw the eye and flag its black heart like the black heart of Neoliberalism.

  7. RenoDino

    To My Fellow Plutocrats: You Can Cure Trumpism Nick Hanauer, Politico.

    Let me sum it for you. Pay the Servant Class more money. Good help is hard to find. If we don’t pay them more, they will start stealing from us. If you’re rich, this is about self preservation. The cost is chump change. Bonus: This will defeat Trump. It’s the least we can do.

    I’m sure this rich cat means well and he is addressing other rich cats with a line of reasoning that will appeal to them. It is illuminating to know how they think and rationalize paying people more money.

    Failing that, he may be buying himself some insurance when the riots he forecasts start.

    1. John k

      I wish I’d made a similar investment… what’s wrong with being lucky? I got lucky with little oils twelve years ago… better to be lucky than not.

      Pretty well written, at first thought it was tongue in cheek, there are no progressive plutocrats, here’s the exception that proves the rule.
      Unions are dead with globalism and automation that’s been going on for centuries, not enough mfg jobs left, fewer worldwide every day, pretty soon all service. And anyway high min wage for all better than for just a few insiders.
      Add Medicare for all, end ME wars, spend the money on infra…
      anyway, high min wage a good start.

      If Bernie doesn’t run again maybe a rich progressive will… we’ve been doing worse for decades.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        Theodore and Franklin Delano Roosevelt were both rich. Square Deal. New Deal. Second Bill of Rights. We can dream. I think that is all the Bernie supporters wanted; a little more FDR.

  8. Terry Flynn

    re: mass defunding of higher education.

    I feel profoundly conflicted about the issue how of big higher education should be. This also links to the story in the last couple of days that NC covered regarding misconduct by senior academics. In 19 years in academia I saw a very malign change in the ethos. When in academia I saw no obviously unlawful behaviour but I did see repeated, and increasing, examples of ‘pushing the boundaries’ when it came to ethics. There’s no need to join the tinfoil hat brigade to recognise that senior people have simply exploited increasing opportunities to game the system to their advantage, and turn younger academics, who should be ‘progressive’ into Hillarybots who live in a bubble and concentrate on identity politics rather than basic economic issues to further their career. I have been forced to use Twitter’s feature to not show postings of a number of former colleagues who I can’t really unfollow (without opening cans of worms and fights I can do without) because they share posts that sites like NC have debunked.

    I do understand that there’s a funding crunch and people do what’s necessary to get promoted/tenure (where it still exists – pretty much only the USA). But these people are not helping themselves in the long-term, nor the disenfranchised in society who they claim to be fighting for. I can’t help thinking that a lot of people who should be doing something more practical in life (some 21st century equivalent of apprenticeships in a specific area) are being convinced that they should be in higher education…when the system means their work merely perpetuates the kind of disjoint between the ‘third way’ Labour/Democrat policy agenda and what the people left behind really want and need. Their work takes as read mistaken tropes that NC and other sites have debunked and (if I wanted to be rude), would describe as ‘very pedestrian’ in nature and not requiring/displaying the originality of thought that academia used to require.

    Indeed someone I know in a related field (with one parent in industry and another in academia) told me both parents have agreed that the industry sponsored reviews/systematic reviews are (counter-intuitively) typically of a higher standard than academic ones (because they have to be seen to be good). Academic groups now routinely get away with airbrushing out of the history those inconvenient competitors who have raised important philosophical/conceptual/theoretical issues. The proliferation of journals has facilitated this, with editors no longer having the broader knowledge of the field necessary to choose referees who will be ‘firm but fair’.

    The problems then become self-reinforcing, with funding bodies relying upon poor academic reviews when they decide on priority-areas for new funding, choosing who to be on boards etc. Getting ‘your group’ in control over professional organisations in your field gives you unparalleled soft power in setting the agenda and an advantage when it comes to national calls for proposals.

    I generally hesitate to write about my own experiences (being anecdotal) but increasing numbers of former colleagues are saying the same thing….and when some people better than I are wanting out for reasons similar to my exit, you really have to wonder if there’s a systemic problem here.

    1. cocomaan

      What’s amazing to me about the higher education system is how fragile it is even with the massive amounts of money flowing in from private sources and Dept of Ed, plus the ridiculous loan guarantee provided by the bankruptcy law. All over the place there are higher ed institutions hemorrhaging money and crowing for more funds. They’ve got contingent faculty to the gills, they’re abusing grad and even undergrad students for their labor, and somehow, they still barely balance the budget.

      Yet if you look at the rags, the Chronicle of Higher Ed and Inside Higher Ed, most of the time it’s about Title IV disputes over campus rape or the complaints you refer to above about identity politics.

      Only today did IHE cover private nonprofit colleges closing their doors. Much of the funding issue is demographic, but the administrations are unable to handle the demographics.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It seems to me to be a giant failure, if not complicity in perpetuating all the problems highlighted here, to ask for free-college-tuition, to be funded with more public money, without demanding some reform on all those issues (not just one).

        May even be political pandering.

        1. cocomaan

          I think you’re right about addressing some of the ills in the system through that funding. The only problem there is that the riders attached to federal funding for schools are already political footballs: look at how Title IV was weaponized by the Obama administration and the howling over DeVos’s idiotic comments about it.

          And I also agree that it’s probably pandering to a class of higher ed professionals. Having been part of that group and working in its circles, I know that they vote Democrat.

          One thing I will say is that, like Medicare-for-all, tuition-for-all would balance the budgets itself by eliminating a few departments almost instantly:

          * Financial aid/tuition administration

          * Scholarships overhead

          * Some of the Development/Fundraising

          Medicare for All would similarly eliminate the middleman insurance companies. It pays for itself!

          1. Anon

            In many European countries (e.g., Sweden), while tuition is free room and board are not and students basically are on their own. Living in a European city like Stockholm can be quite expensive. So not exactly free.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              I think perhaps we try Admissions-For-All (Including C- students), to even the most elite universities.

            2. jrs

              no moving out on one’s own even if a place is shared can often necessitate a full time job and going to night school if one wants a degree it seems to me even if college was fully funded. That is unless one took out debt. It’s all wonderful if you live at home or the ‘rents pay room and board, but not so wonderful otherwise given the costs of a rental (yes even just a room in a rental) these days.

      2. Grumpy Engineer

        Yep. The size of the “Generation Z” that is attending college after the millennials is smaller:

        There are fewer college-bound kids because there are fewer kids. College administrators have had 15+ years to plan for this inevitability, but apparently many failed to do so. And because many colleges borrowed lots of money with the expectation that things would “grow forever”, they got pinched when enrollments fell. Whoops.

        It is indeed amazing to watch our colleges and university blow through such awe-inspiring amounts of student loan money. And then still need to borrow more. Good grief.

    2. Benedict@Large

      RE: the mass defunding of higher education that’s yet to come | anova

      I don’t see why this should be any surprise to anyone. Some 5-8 years back as I was slumming the (very low end of) right political websites, I happened across are article by a nobody complaining about how college was completely useless. It was obviously garbage, but as has been their format, the right first slips a meme out at this low end, and the massages it over time up to the more credible voices (well, at least their more credible voices). Being a believer in higher ed, it tracked this along, and as to form, it did indeed work it’s way out and up, where we’re starting to see a good bit of it, even from members of Congress, who all, regardless of party, should seriously know better. (Not to even mention Trumps idea on trade schools … what’s trades, I wonder. Butler? Yacht Steward?)

      So yes, we should be serious about this, but surprised? Hell no. They’ve been telegraphing this for a long time.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          With money, there is often times a price to pay.

          The Pentagon, the CIA, almost all corporations give, hoping for something ‘innovative’ in return.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        As always, watch what they do with their own kids. When the stop sending their own kids to college, then we will know they are making a serious and not purely political argument.

        In my experience, what the neoliberals with academia, as with government, is not “less” but “privatized” (which often implies “more”). The real intent is to auction off more of our public resources, preferably at bargain basement prices.

        Also, in my experience, the defenders of academia are defending a mostly (but not entirely) bankrupt status quo that is willing to wink at encroaching privatization (when they don’t actively support it for “bringing in more sorely needed resources”) so long as their pet fiefdoms are left untouched. Which, of course, they will be until they won’t be. At which point it will be too late.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        To some, college is completely useless. Many dotcom millionaires skipped it.

        For others, its attraction is the promise of making you a more appealing serf than your fellow workers, with that shining credential certificate.

        That would starting off one’s life’s journey with the wrong foot, I feel, though there is no shame in putting food on the table doing it that way…under the current system.

        1. justanotherprogressive

          I suggest that education is far more than just being trained to be a serf that and college level education is supposed to expose students to new ideas, ideas they may not be aware of, so that they don’t have to “reinvent the wheel” when and if they begin thinking….

          Who exactly are those dotcom millionaires who skipped college? Most of them attended college, but did not graduate – they just quit when they were exposed to a money-making concept in some college course…..of course, Jobs is the exception, but he had Wozniak as his brains and Wozniak had attended college (and gotten kicked out) before he met Jobs….

    3. Anonymous

      In my PhD (2012) and postdoc experience I saw the same thing: the safest way to a career was to publish lots of papers that did not offend the wrong people. Established researchers and professors who wrote controversial papers were few and far between, and had more funding difficulties. Pointing out the emperor’s interesting choice of apparel was a gateway to non-academic career path to grad students who didn’t play the game.

  9. PlutoniumKun

    Re: Brexit.

    Interesting graph heavy presentation here from the Irish governments Treasury Management Agency (which, among other things, sells government bonds) to foreign investors. Part 3 has some interesting things to say on Brexit – it seems Dublin is winning the race for most relocations from London, but they are not anticipating very large staff moves. Also, Irish banks are vulnerable to a drop in Sterling (note that it emphasises Irish bank increasing profitability, but doesn’t mention their very low ratings in EU stress tests). Its also interesting that it highlights that rising Irish property prices are not been driven by debt – it seems there are a lot of cash buyers around.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I’ve not heard anything, but I suspect that when its bought it will be kept very quiet. Its a very discreet building and grounds, I think any buyer would be the sort who likes privacy (even among Georgian architecture buffs, its almost unknown). I suspect it would make a good bolt-hole for some Gulf Prince, its just down the road from some very fine stud farms and well away from prying eyes.

    1. Quentin

      Ireland = English speaking. Not hard to figure why the London people would want to relocate there. Maybe Ireland will then even become the sixth eye in the Anglo-American constellation of goons.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      BTW, I should state that I’m referring to the pdf presentation linked on that page, not the video, which is just a standard intro.

  10. fresno dan

    I can’t process a rant like this coming from one of Trump’s most ardent apologists in conservative media. It feels like a time capsule from 2012, when the worst thing you could be on the populist right was a big-government Republican. RINOs versus “true conservatives,” remember that? We had a referendum on that in 2016 and the RINO stomped the “true conservative.” The guy who’s sitting in the Oval Office today made promises galore on the campaign trail that he wouldn’t touch entitlements, including Medicaid. Now here come Collins, Murkowski, and Capito refusing to go along with a bill that would roll ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion waaaaay back and they’re the ones who’ve betrayed the GOP? They’re closer to the populist Trumpian vision than Rand Paul and Mike Lee are. In fact, I’d remind you that when the House bill was stuck in the mud a few months ago, one of Trump’s friends in right-wing media encouraged him to ditch Paul Ryan’s conservative health-care program and be true to his campaign message by pushing a bigger-government populist plan potentially involving an “upgraded Medicaid system to become the country’s blanket insurer for the uninsured.” Collins et al. are more Trumpist than Trump in this case, and yet, because they’re a thorn in his side politically by obstructing clean repeal, they’re getting killed for it even among pro-Trump media. That goes to show you that “Trumpism” is really more about whether Trump personally wins or loses than whether his preferred vision of government does.
    Rush Limbaugh, given a pass by the liberal media and soft on crime leftists for his drug abuse…anything is OK if its in opposition to “leftists” and “liberals”

  11. witters

    “I generally hesitate to write about my own experiences (being anecdotal) but increasing numbers of former colleagues are saying the same thing….and when some people better than I are wanting out for reasons similar to my exit, you really have to wonder if there’s a systemic problem here.”

    Well, it isn’t pretty, that’s for sure.

  12. Shafinaz nachiar

    As I was passing through the other day, I noticed a reference to Brexit in the sense of the UK having to maintain EU labour rights, informasi judi online or at least something to that effect.

    Unfortunately plenty of American liberals seem to have fallen in love with Macron. I guess they see him as the French version of Obama.

  13. sinbad66

    Some Americans Do Love Their Health Care (They’re Expats)

    This reminds me of my experience in Germany. I had an eye allergy and I had went to a clinic in Worms. They asked me if I had an insurance card. I said no and proceeded to take out my wallet. The woman at the desk told me in English “This is not America. Put your wallet away.” I was taken aback by this. She then said they will treat me as if I had private insurance. I then took my seat and waited. A few minutes later, they called my name. They examined me, then took a blood, urine and stool sample. Afterwards, they sent me home with a prescription for a topical cream. For this, I paid the equivalent of $5.

    A couple of weeks later, I got a bill in the mail. It was for about DM 65 (at that time, about $40). So, for everything (including the prescription), it ran me about $45 total. Now, granted, this was in the late 90s, but even then, if you went to a doctor in the US with no insurance, they would have wanted at least $80 -100 up front. When I tell people this story, they just shake their heads, some in disbelief. Others would say “well, the health care could not have been that good”. To which I said “every bit as good as it is here, if not better in some ways”. I found it telling when Germans say “you spend all of this money to have the biggest military in the world, but claim to have no money to provide health care for all of your citizens”.

    Preaching to the choir, baby. Preaching to the choir…..

    1. PlutoniumKun

      An elderly Australian friend who’s been travelling the world on his retirement fell ill in France. He was taken to hospital and diagnosed with a form of aggressive leukemia. They only asked for his address – he gave the address of some French friends. They put him through 2 months of intensive treatment and did not send him a single bill or question his right to the treatment (he probably was not entitled to it, but the medical staff were not interested in asking that question). He is now fully recovered.

      His wife is a nurse – and formerly worked in oncology in Sydney. She told me the treatment he had was state of the art, as good as she had seen in the best hospitals in Sydney, he would almost certainly have died in his native Queensland (which she said has significantly worse healthcare than the wealthier parts of Australia).

      1. andyb

        Other countries have considerably better health care and costs, most simply because their politicians are not on the Big Pharma/Big Insurer teat. No politician should be allowed to vote on a health care issue if he/she has accepted such blatant bribery.

    2. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Sinbad.

      American friends and colleagues in the UK and Belgium rave similarly – and waste no opportunity in telling the rellies and friends back home. #Make America Great Britain Again!

    3. sid_finster

      “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” as the MBAs say, and by any objective measure, the United States spends astronomical sums on health care and achieves suboptimal results.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Measure, manage.

        They can measure physical injuries.

        But injuries from confinement in a prison cell are harder. Pronto, more acceptable.

        Or nagging someone for 40 years.

        Or consumerism propaganda all your life.

        It’s a case of sophistry and subtlety in all forms getting ahead, absolutely and relatively…the schooled triumphing over the less schooled, the coasts lording over the heartland.

  14. allan

    Ryan nips the bipartisan AUMF repeal effort in the bud:

    Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) blasted Speaker Paul Ryan early Thursday, saying the Wisconsin Republican “stripped” her Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) repeal amendment in the “dead of night.” …

    Lee had previously feared her provision forcing Congress to vote on a new AUMF would be stripped out of the House Appropriations defense spending bill.

    She had offered an amendment to revoke a 2001 AUMF in eight months.

    The measure was surprisingly backed by both Republicans and Democrats when it was voted into the House defense spending bill in late June. …

    Unlike destroying Medicaid, Ryan has no interest in stopping the Forever War.

  15. craazyboy

    Krugman: Capitalism’s America And It’s Way Forward In The 21st Centuries

    Krugman is deeply concerned about preliminary, forward looking data, that indicates Capitalism may be slowing to 4%, sometime in the unforeseen future.

    To this end, and always, he has been nurturing closer ties with the Dalic Space Alien Race, ever since Krugman had that little Spat with Time Lord, Dr. Who, over Edward Green Shoes and whether Capitalism should pick the traditional style or the more contemporary Chelsea style as the winner.

    Dr. Who was a campaign supporter (Financial Fiat Money Creator) of GWB’s Second Term.

    Krugman asserted, vehemently, that this violated The Russian Voting Act.

    Krugman believes Capitalism could increase by 10-15% margin points if they would change over to a Slavery Labor Pool Model. The Dalics agree, and their Diplomatic Emissary added, “We thought that was the way it worked, everywhere?”

    Krugman recognizes Humans may misunderstand The Dalic Race, because they generally arrive from outer space in a big swarm, descend to a height of 20 ft., then point that toilet plunger thingy and beam death rays around, vaporizing anything in sight while screaming, “Exterminate…EXTERMINAAAATE!!!!!!”.”

    Ok, then.

    He suggested to the Dalic CEO that they need a covert Alliance with subservient Human Elites in order to work with Humans towards their goals and finally vaporize the Human Race.

    The Dalic CEO agreed, signaling said agreement saying, “That’s the Bees Knees!”, a phase he learned from 1950s episodes from the original Dr. Who.

    Krugman went on to explain the messed up political situation with Dalic Admirer, Hillary Clinton and Family, explaining how Hillary needs to jump start her “Resistance Movement From The Bowels Of Hell Mouth”, adding, Hillary has cute Cankles, too!

    With this Resistance Group and Hillary Leading With And From Behind, they can take control.

    What is more terrifying than a million, marching, Militant, Screaming Lezbos – wearing Pink Pussy Hats and causing Russian Pussy Riots? A shitload of screaming, hovering Dalics milling about at 20-30 ft. altitude!


    This also will provide an Investor Friendly, Permanent Genealogy Roadmap for Corporate governance and management leadership succession, because Chelsea. Also Babies.

    Elsewhere, this timely event really happened.

    Kalil, Father of Superman, Chief Science Editor of the Late Planet Krypton:

    “I must pass down all my knowledge to Superman. Know of anywhere cool where we will have Time?”

    Queen Of The Late Krypton, Wife To Kalil, Mother To Superman, Newly Elected Senator of Voting District #1, North Pole:

    “Will you pass down the important stuff? I would like a pretty Princess and an Heir to my Throne.”

    Kalil, Husband To The Queen, etc,,,,:

    “I was hoping for a boy. A Super Engineer. They really need a few on this Planet. Humans really suck at it!”


    “Yes, they do. Ok, then.”

    “They also have this bizarre compulsion to murder themselves, even politically savvy ones. Worse yet, they always want to try it using “Jet Airplanes?!”

    “How stoopid is that. A ridiculous way to Fly. Just do it! Unless you are grounded because Krypton Emissions are too high?”

    crackle, crackle….the live stream was interrupted by unknown causes. Techs are investigating from their Mom’s basement couch. They weigh 400 lbs, according to Russian Sleeper Agent, Orange Trump.

    Ouy Vai, Krugman expertly kevetches. Krugman is certain Russians did it. They control the Internet, afterall.

    More on this when I make it up……

  16. RGF

    “. . . hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public. . .”

    The counting need be televised LIVE from every voting precinct.

    1. Terry Flynn

      UK broadcasters don’t quite do this but are present in all counts considered even remotely competitive – thus simple observations of sizes of piles of voting slips often tell us which way the wind is blowing long before the final declaration.

      Of course the USA is much larger geographically so the cost to do this would be a lot higher.

      1. tegnost

        maybe we should just take the money the networks make from political advocacy commercials and shift it to ballot watch tv, as I think the networks make a killing off of the current system

      2. Alex Morfesis

        Right…because you have to hook up that jvc video camera to the vcr and then go to a duplication house and then mail them out to…

        or we can notice it is a few years past y2k and the rectangular dick tracy wrist watch with that built in camera…what do we call that thingee…oh yeah…a smart phone…and the sorta kinda free built in video system…

        and that other sorta kinda darpa leftover free al gore invention…no not the marketing and monetizing of green talk…that free internet thingee…

        Having been at more than a few chicago after voting “tabulations”…
        the last thing anyone wants to see is how the sausage is made…what you might imagine happens…multiply it by a factor of 8…not so much the slight of hand…just the general lack of training, professionalism or care taken…

        We wont get simple paper ballots with clear acrylic boxes and visually recorded counting since stalins lecture on “who counts the ballots” is a lesson well learned by americans trained and versed by stalins favorite and best kgb agents…

        ayn rand;
        daddy Fred koch and sons;
        & earl russell browder and his grandson bill “magnitsky” browder…

        Reality…what a precept…

    2. Roger Smith

      If only we had the technological advancements to manage feat of this magnitude…

    3. Carla

      At least in Ohio, votes are not counted at the precinct level. I believe all ballots are taken to the county boards of elections and votes are tallied there. Your point about live television coverage of course, still holds true, and actually would be much easier: in Ohio, there are 88 counties, but thousands of wards and precincts.

      As Lambert says, “Hand-marked paper ballots, counted in public” must be our constant refrain. There was a prominent elections integrity person who was also a top-notch computer scientist who said it was the only way that would approach being tamper-proof. Does anyone recall who that was? He may have been at a university in Maryland…

      1. Brian

        There are some states that still use paper ballots hand counted. The sad part is that it is a minority. The other bizarre thing is that many states have no means for their citizens to petition their government for new laws. In these states, democracy really has no representation.

      2. Jess

        Sadly, the counting has to be done at the precinct level. Whenever the ballot boxes get transferred to a central counting location, usually by local cops, you lose visual chain-of-custody. That’s the classic way that ballot boxes and votes go missing in Cook County and other areas governed by machine politics.

  17. Jim A.

    Re: The census. I actually think that while we should work hard and spend the money to get a good count of people for the census, that we should base districting and representation on the actual count, not on an adjusted estimate for the population. It’s not like we couldn’t come up with more accurate estimates of the count. But those estimates would be fought over in the courts for the next 10 years. The census is one of those thing were a timely answer is at least as important as an accurate one. In the fight over gerrymandering we need to agree on the numbers before we argue on what to do with them.

    Re: funding for higher education. Of course there are parts of the financial world where they are hugely in favor of reducing funding for higher ed. A higher percentage of costs paid by tuition, combined with more students going to for profit/vocational schools just means more interest and penalties for the debt-pushers.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The new £10 note featuring Jane Austen has been revealed by Mark Carney, but it has a big problem Telegraph. Meanwhile, the Telegraph confuses sarcasm and irony, not a good look when covering Austen. Maybe they can hire a few of the copy editors the New York Times sacked.

    It’s ironical, maybe, that they are introducing a new £10 note, just when they also are about to ban cash.

    Perhaps, subconsciously, they want to ban Jane Austen. Why? I don’t know.

    1. Enquiring Mind

      Where will the £10 poms be able to travel now? At one time, our earth had more places to relocate. Virgin Galactic ticket prices are likely quite elevated, and not payable in cash. ;p

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    the mass defunding of higher education that’s yet to come anova. Yikes.

    Somehow, one feels that medical school deans are likely to make as much as before.

    “This fat will not be trimmed.”

  20. nippersmom

    ” “Neoliberalism’ isn’t an empty epithet. It’s a real, powerful set of ideals.”

    I agree with most of the author’s points, but this sentence from the opening jumped out at me:
    A careful consideration of the term can help us grasp a lot of what is going on in the world, especially as the Democratic Party looks to change.

    The Democratic Party has made it abundantly clear it is not looking to change.

  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Trump had undisclosed hour-long meeting with Putin at G-20 summit WaPo. At a G-20 dinner for all the leaders, apparently. Beginning with the dessert course…

    As Jeff Sessions admitted under press torture, it’s not how many people at the meeting that matters, but that he failed to disclose his presence in the vicinity of a Russian official (in this case, Putin), along with other G-20 leaders.

    So, by the same logic or the same transparency requirement, Trump should recuse himself from further discussions with Russia from now on.

    Perhaps, even an Independent Dealmaker should be appointed to handle Moscow. Hillary is a great candidate for that job.

  22. Craig H.

    Money, money, money: Silicon Valley speculation recalls dotcom mania

    I don’t subscribe to FT and the digging around for something like a google cache version of the article does not always work where I am connected but this time I got through and it isn’t bad. From the article:

    It’s a bubble that is different — but the same — as the last time. In 2000, start-ups like were able to go public and jack up share prices even as they were losing hundreds of millions of dollars. The digital ecosystem has since grown, changed and deepened. Today it is harder for companies to receive funding just by sticking “.com” behind their names.

    But now, as then, you do not necessarily need profits or paying customers to draw investor interest but rather “users” in a hot market niche.

    This time it’s different! She actually writes that. People are amazing. Yesterday I made a comment that I thought google (alphabet) was bubbled up and the person I was talking to acted like I had said that I don’t support the troops or something totally insane like that.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      1. Going public and jacking up shares – going public is just moving money from one place (the public) to another (the dot com), but jacking up shares is creating money, if you pledge those shares to take out a loan from your bank.

      2. Losing hundreds of millions – that’s hiring workers, dining at fancy eateries, partying with medical school deans, etc. We’re talking about economic stimulus.

      In summary, we see

      A. Money creation
      B. Economy stimulus

      Basically, your private sector usurping of government sovereignty is taking place here.

      The ‘We are spending to help you” virtue-signalling is especially egregious here.

      At least, no wasting of money on drones or F-35s.

    2. Alex Morfesis

      The problem with share prices and valuations running way ahead of current realities comes about when the founders refuse to convert the share ratios into acquisition currency…instead of buying the systems, relationships and distribution funnels, they convince themselves “they” can do it better and or perhaps they realize they don’t have the capacity and human capital to execute on anything or in anything beyond slogans and marketing campaigns…

      Even after a “corporate revolution”, someone still has to drive the bus in the morning…

      Action makes money…but the victory is in the details…

  23. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Health Care…Politician, heal thyself (of campaign contribution addiction).

    Then, maybe, American Health Care can provide healing for all Americans.

    ‘It’s an insane process’: How Trump and Republicans failed on their health-care bill WaPo

  24. Jim Haygood

    For the New Cold War and Class Warfare departments (hard to decide which):

    The Republican-led House released its budget blueprint Tuesday that calls for a steep increase in military spending. The House Budget Committee resolution would authorize $621.5 billion in defense spending—$72.5 billion higher than the $549 billion limit dictated by the Budget Control Act of 2011.

    To pass the budget as is, lawmakers have to either permanently repeal the BCA or temporarily increase the caps for fiscal year 2018. Any change would require support from Democrats.

    And its corollary:

    It calls for turning this year’s projected $700 billion-or-so deficit into a tiny $9 billion surplus by 2027. It would do so by slashing $5.4 trillion over the coming decade, including almost $500 billion from Medicare, $1.5 trillion from Medicaid and the Obama health law, along with enormous cuts to benefits such as federal employee pensions, food stamps, and tax credits for the working poor.

    Now the Sovietization of America nears completion. Homeless camps and seniors on cat food can draw sustenance from heartwarming parades of gleaming missiles proclaiming our global dominance.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Chair Diane Black (R-TN) has a rant posted on the House Budget Committee site proclaiming that [her bolding] “mandatory spending must be addressed in this budget resolution and in budget resolutions to come.

      Yet, in a breathtaking demonstration of believing two impossible things at once, Diane Black wants to lift the restraints of the Budget Control Act of 2011 so military spending can soar to the skies.

      R-party hypocrisy: so rich and fulfilling, it doesn’t even need whipped cream and a cherry on top.

      Diane Black’s personal site describes her as (I am not making this up) a “U.S. Congressman.” My stance, therefore, is that we must respect her views as a conservative transsexual.

      1. jawbone

        Will the Soylent Green reception areas and factories be privately funded? Or just public/private?

  25. DJG

    From the Fredrik De Boer article at his web site ANOVA (= Analysis of Variance):

    “our political divide is increasingly bound up in a set of class associations and signals that have little to do with conspicuous consumption and everything to do with a style of self-performance that few people ever talk about but everyone understands. It is the ability to give such a performance convincingly that, in part, people buy with their tuition dollars.”

    De Boer’s whole post is worth reading.

    The article / profile of Jane Kleeb is also revealing in that Jane Kleeb is talking about the same issue: Many “liberals” can’t figure out that they have natural allies in small-town and rural U S of A. Maybe it is my background as a resident of one of the Great Lakes States, but it is more or less taken for granted, despite local rivalries (Indiana! Yikes!), that the small towns of the Great Lakes States just aren’t all that reactionary. And the profile will also reveal to you someone (Kleeb) who should be on the national stage.

    And Hanauer on Plutocrats: The same problems of delusion come up (and he cites chapter and verse in his long article):

    “Yet, when I make this case to my wealthy friends, even the progressive ones, the reaction is almost universal: You look down at your shoes, or start talking about “messaging” or “narrative”—or charter schools. When I urge you to focus your energy and resources on the kinds of direct action that can actually make a real difference to working people—like, for instance, a state or city minimum wage campaign—you roll your eyes, or prevaricate. You insist that the only way to fight Trumpism is to fight Trump. But you couldn’t be more wrong. The only effective way to fight Trumpism is to address its cause by ensuring that the middle and working class do better.”

    Charter schools?

  26. Svejk

    I posted this on Politico about the Hanauer article:

    These are crocodile tears and empty virtue signalling. Nick Hanauer is a “plutocrat” largely because he made an early investment in Amazon, which pays the vast majority of its workers barely subsistence wages and actively works to prevent unionization, feverishly works to eliminate human labor through robotization, predicates it’s business model on circumventing/avoiding taxation, drives many more labor intensive businesses out of the market through price gouging and other anti-competetive behavior…I could go on but don’t want to exhaust you. His earlier source of wealth is a family owned down bedding and clothing products company that offshore most of its production.

    Hanauer’s arrogance recently led him to pledge financing to support a tax initative to “fight homelessness” in Seattle. Who would pay that tax? Not Nick Hanauer. He doesn’t live in Seattle.

    The plutocratic class proposes only solutions that don’t substantrially affect their economic interests. But nothing will be fixed until their greed is stymied by law.

  27. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Kamala Harris: The Democratic message is ‘telling the American public we see them’ Yahoo News

    Just when I thought no one could be as relentlessly vapid and vague as hrc, along comes kamala harris.

    I’d nominate any story that references her in any way for permanent “Kill Me Now” status.

    If I have to listen to two years of campaigning for the presidency premised on her co-sponsoring of legislation “to ban the practice of shackling pregnant inmates” as evidence of a legitimate claim on the hearts and minds of ordinary americans, well, I may have to travel to Minneapolis and call 911 for relief.

    1. jrs

      it’s pretty pathetic public service too, she just now gets elected as Senator and she’s already only thinking about advancing her own career and moving beyond that (granted Dems in the Senate can’t do much right now anyway). We are so luckily in California to get the wonderful Senators we do /s

    2. Benedict@Large

      I’m not the biggest fan of Warren, but to push an untested nobody with zero national experience right over her has got to be the height of hubris from the now completely toxic Soros crowd. Kamala Harris might as well be handling snakes.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        The similarities to barack hussein are almost too obvious to mention.

        I can only hope those who would push her over the top do not feel the need to start a war with Russia so that she can vote against it.

      1. clinical wasteman

        Complete agreement on the smarm of Harris and the gall of her sponsors, but unshackling pregnant inmates — and inmates at large, i.e. just releasing the vast majority of them — would be an unequivocally good thing. Mass incarceration is top-down class warfare, not just an IdPol hobby-horse.

        (N.B. For some reason the screen says I’m writing this comment on “July 19 6562 at 3:00 pm”, so it may be a while before you see it. I hope the prisons are empty by then anyway.)

    3. PlutoniumKun

      There is a nice reference to Kamala Harris in this unusually good (for the Guardian) take-down of Clinton and her deluded supporters.

      Even so, the Democratic establishment appears to not be learning any lessons. Kamala Harris, the first-term California senator rumored to be a frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, recently mingled with top Clinton donors and supporters in the Hamptons. Apparently tying rising talent to the infrastructure of a politician less popular than Trump is the game plan for moving forward.

  28. Ed

    On the Census, there are two possible fixes, both pretty simple, and neither likely to happen.

    The first, as with medicine, holding elections, and a whole host of other matters, is to look at what other countries do and just imitate them. The United States is pretty much the only country in the world unable to count its own population accurately.

    The second is to separate out the constitutionally mandated part of the Census, which is simply a count of who lives where at a particular moment for purposes of determining representation, with the whole hose of statistical data that the Census Bureau collects which is not constitutionally mandated. Set up a separate agency to collect the statistical data -the federal government should have one central statistical agency anyway, again like in other countries- and have the Census Bureau concentrate on the head count. There will be much more compliance from the population, including the part that wants to remain unseen by the authorities, for a simple headcount than for all the questions about income, how many bathrooms you have, race, etc.

    However, as a clue how likely either of these ideas are to be adopted, its worth recalling that Congress flat out refused to conduct the constitutionally mandated re-apportionment of federal representatives between the states after the 1920 Census. There is no reason something like this couldn’t happen again. If you are not serious about doing something, then its not going to get done.

  29. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Rinat Akhmetshin: Low-Hanging Fruit for Trump-Russia Investigators Just Security

    So, if we’re looking for someone to waterboard for the “truth,” why not start with rob goldstone, the only chunk of blubber who seems to be nowhere to be found in all this, and whose “agent of the Russian government” email started this whole thing?

    Seems to me it’s the same playbook as the Crowdstrike / dnc “matter,” in which the instigator gets a pass, and everyone else is called to account.

  30. gepay

    Satellite snafu masked true sea-level rise for decades – One does have to wonder that every adjustment made to observed data shows rising levels of sea level (or temperature warming – what are the odds?) observed data: “The Aqua Monitor shows that, around the world between 1985 and 2015, about 173 000 km2, an area about the size of Washington State, has been transformed into land. At the same time, an area of 115 000 km2 has been transformed into water. ” Tide gauges are affected by more than sea levels – subsidence for example.

  31. Down2Long

    Re: Slimin’: I think the copy editor at Bloomberg meant to say “In a surprising act of Introspection, Dimon says it’s almost an embarrassment to be an American abroad. I mean, if America had a working justice system, I would be rotting in jail on where I belong.”

    The chutzpah of this man is breathtaking. in his report to shareholders that “something is deeply wrong with America” the reason was, of course, “Because I — and all my colleagues — should be in jail, cleaning toilets, and we’re not.”

    I have found that any time Slimin’ opens his pie-hole, one’s response must be “Because you’re not disgraced and in jail where you belong.” Works every time

  32. steelhead

    Take it easy and don’t try to resume your normal schedule too soon. I am interested in your emergency room experiences and how it compares to my SF emergency room visit in 2008.

  33. Altandmain

    Al Gore Calls For Single-Payer Health Care

    The question is if the Democrats in power have the guts to follow through. Judging by California … no.

    Here’s Jimmy Dore on this one:

    New Orleans Charter Schools Are Punishing Students for Being Poor

    YEt another nail in the Charter school coffin.

    Bernie Sanders: If Trump “Wants To Blame Me For Killing Obamacare Repeal Bill, I Accept That Responsibility Completely”

    Why Net Neutrality Is a Working-Class Issue

    These Obama voters snubbed Hillary Clinton — and ‘they don’t regret what they did’

  34. allan

    Republican senator hopes to kill class-action rule within weeks [Reuters]

    The U.S. Congress could act within weeks to kill a new rule that bars financial companies from blocking consumers who wish to file class-action lawsuits, according to a key Republican senator.

    Senator Tom Cotton, a member of the Senate Banking Committee writing legislation to tackle the rule, said Wednesday he was optimistic that Congress could pass a resolution revoking the new regulation authored by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) within weeks. …

    Cotton is drafting legislation that would repeal the CFPB’s new ban on mandatory arbitration clauses often found in financial contracts. Under the Congressional Review Act, Congress can pass legislation repealing any new regulations with a simple majority. …

    If you want a picture of the future,
    imagine a boot binding arbitration agreement stamping on a human face.

  35. Jake

    The more I think about the USA, the more it reminds me of the tv series “boardwalk empire” – people in power who dont give a toss about others but themselves and satiating their excessive greed.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Just a guess (I don’t watch cable TV), but that TV series was produced in America, by (mostly, I presume) Americans.

  36. coboarts

    It was an immense pleasure to meet Yves in San Francisco last night. Even after the insult to her cornea, that she still came and offered everyone the benefit of her wisdom and the joy of her company – she is just such an incredible human being. It was an honor to meet her. I may have missed a day or two, but I’ve always gone back through the articles and links, so I can say that since I found NC I have not missed one day of her work. Thank you Lambert, Jeri-Lynn, and Outis for being on her team and keeping her high standards in all that you do. It’s getting pretty close to ten years now, and it means a lot to me !!!
    Carlo Colombo

  37. reslez

    Democrats Are Trying to Win the 2018 Midterms in All the Wrong Ways The Nation

    What happened in Florida is that large numbers of whites who sat out 2012 rallied to Trump’s racial-solidarity appeals and came out in significantly larger numbers.

    Maybe a bunch of whites sat out 2012 because they correctly perceived Obama to be a corporatist sellout foreclosing on their homes — but let’s go ahead and tar an entire demographic as racist because it makes the writer feel better about himself.

    [T]he only proper response to what is happening in America is unapologetically fighting back by every means available—pushing for impeachment, conducting sit-ins to block the buses deporting people, and issuing full-throated denunciations of a judicial system that sanctions the police murders of unarmed black people.

    None of these things, including “full-throated denunciations”, are going to materially improve the lives of anybody whatsoever. What a loser ideology. Pushing for impeachment might make the writer feel better about himself but it’s never gonna happen in a Republican-controlled Congress, and it’s not going to win back Congress, and the Democrats have zero credibility since they refused to impeach GW Bush. So why not table that and push for actual policies and legislation that will excite voters and alienate a few billionaire donors? Because it’s way, way easier to push for something that will never happen.

    What a stupid and insulting analysis.

    1. Swamp Yankee

      Well and truly put, Reselz. Phillips’s argument is internally contradictory: he gets to smear, as you say, a whole demographic for not doing as they’re told and voting for Slay Queen. But if white votes increased over 2012, on the theory that Trump offered more than Romney, black votes decreased, on the assumption that Hillary offered less than Obama. When Obama pretended to offer actual hope and change in 2008, both black and white votes increased.

      Phillips is just playing the same game the American ruling class has since Bacon’s Rebellion: above all, keep the black and white working classes divided and at one another’s throats. The threat of armed, free, and angry workers of both European and African background literally sent Old Virginia’s rulers fleeing. And since that day, our rulers have “made a desert and declared it peace”, blaming the dryness and horror thereof not on themselves, who were truly guilty, but variously on “the Negroes” or “the Crackers”, or both, depending upon which ruling class we’re talking about. Contemporary liberals really cannot accept the abject and miserable character of the world they have made for everyone but themselves lo these last four or five decades.

      Meanwhile, Phillips’ “prescriptions” — simply risible.

      It’s almost as though they don’t want a program of economic, political, and social democracy that would distribute the Common Wealth equitably regardless of color, station, creed, religion, or any other identitarian category. I wonder why that is….

      Simply pathetic.

      But no matter! We are winning! The future belongs to Bernie, to Jeremy Corbyn MP — to us!

      “Rise like lions after slumber!”

      1. Swamp Yankee

        In other words, even by Phillips’ own self-serving and specious analysis, it can’t just be those deplorable hillbillies switching to Trump or coming out for Trump, it was just as equally minorities for whom Phillips professes himself tender so long as they do as they’re told refusing to vote for Clinton. He himself admits this, without seeming to realize it, when he points to the decreased African-American turnout in Milwaukee as the pivotal factor in Wisconsin.

        1. Swamp Yankee

          It really has been a clarifying couple of years — you see the things Democrats would rather have than social democracy — Trump, nuclear war with Russia, perpetual racial division — and then watch them splutter with outraged wonder that people don’t flock to their vapid colors and standards.

          Funnily enough, this all makes me optimistic. The jig is up for the Phillipses and Tandens of the world. “You think you see us? Uh-unh: We can see you, [redacted]!”

  38. John

    Re: “Neoliberalism” isn’t an empty epithet. It’s a real, powerful set of ideas Vox

    Too bad no “normal people” know what the hell the word means.

    (I do admit those with severe Political OCD know what it means, but – well – we’re not exactly “normal”)

    1. ChrisPacific

      I tend to summarize it by rephrasing Lambert’s two points as follows:

      1. Every problem can be solved by markets
      2. Markets are more important than people

      The correct formulation of #1 is actually “Every problem that is worth solving can be solved by markets,” the converse of which is that if a problem can’t be solved by markets, it’s not worth solving. Poverty and inequality are good examples.

      This is also why governments are reluctant to intervene in cases of pathological market behavior, such as speculative bubbles. Because they arise naturally from the action of free markets, they are held to be good and right and proper even if they damage the economy, destroy wealth and put millions out of work (rule #2).

  39. steelhead23

    Here’s a wish for Yves to get well soon. Even if it’s a struggle to read, I believe she would enjoy Senator Warren’s view of Jamie Dimon’s claim to expertise and the sexism that dominates finance. I note that when I deal with my insurance agency, Mary, the agent’s assistant is always there and helpful, while our well-paid agent is off playing golf. Methinks Liz and Yves have more than gender in common.

  40. Oregoncharles

    Oh, damn! A corneal scratch is really, really miserable, but I do know from experience that they eventually heal. You just have to suffer in the meantime. A patch, or even just sunglasses, help because air movement makes it hurt more. Take care, Yves, give it some rest, and it will get better..

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Yes, Yves, take care.

      While I’m no Bill Clinton (no, I’m really not), I do feel your pain, just thinking about it.

    2. Crestwing

      Having scratched my right eye too, I feel Yves pain too.

      Take care of yourself, Yves, and get well soon.

    1. Huey Long

      She is a deadhead after all. Perhaps this refelects young Ann’s time wandering through shakedown street.

  41. skippy

    Whats up with you pranging yourself of late Yves, early Luke Skywalker syndrome methinks.

    Same drama with mental Ram and HD at work for me sometimes, got to watch the partition ratios depending on what I’m doing. Per say two story’s up on a single plank working on the outside of some building vs. ground floor doing prep work.

    Conversely I remember after spending over a month in Costa Rica how much of a shock to the senses it was to land in Houston TX and be hit by the – BUS – that is the difference between the two realities.

    Disheveled…. tho with the down time you might make a great Elle Driver in a community reproduction of Kill Bill… marsupial looks tentatively at walking stick – ready to hop…

  42. ewmayer

    “The new £10 note featuring Jane Austen has been revealed by Mark Carney, but it has a big problem Telegraph. Meanwhile, the Telegraph confuses sarcasm and irony, not a good look when covering Austen.” — From my Mac dictionary app:

    o irony: the expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.

    o sarcasm: the use of irony to mock or convey contempt.

    Call me “confused” as well, then.

  43. DH

    Re: citified Main Streets in suburbs

    In upstate NY, suburbs basically grew between the larger cities and connected with the old villages a few miles away form the old cities. The villages typically date from the mid-1800s and are quite quaint. Most houses are older than WW II vintage, and so are quite small and inexpensive – in our area few cost more than $100k. The villages are very walkable with sidewalks.

    However, the villages are hell for developers. The villages don’t want anything to resemble the second half of the 20th century, so many developers get micro-managed on their plans with many outright rejections. However, the village boundaries are fairly tight around the center and the surrounding town jurisdictions have the suburbs (or are still farmland). The towns are much more developer friendly, so if they want to do something big, like these citified developer villages, they get put in the town jurisdiction, not the villages. More and more developers are looking at their communities more from a walkable and sustainability perspective, so I expect to see this as a growing trend, effectively with new “villages” popping up in between the actual villages.

      1. Edward E

        Or that new jobs package, MAGA, Make Attorneys Great Again

        It’s reported that Don Jr is miserable and wishes his pa’s presidency was over already. Now he knows how we mostly feel.

  44. JP

    A couple of site performance ideas: FB is all up in this site. I was investigating why the page wasn’t finishing loading, and found that the code for the fb share icon downloads about 300K for remarkably little functionality. It also means FB gets to track your readers across the web, unless they choose to browse in a private window.

    Also, the beacon.js at is taking about 12.5s to load for me here in Seattle. That means (that since it’s javascript) users see a page-loading icon for that long, which is distracting. Would you consider removing both of these ‘features’ from the pages? I’d even do it for you for free. :-)

  45. Fransisca

    As I was passing through the other day, I noticed a reference to Brexit in the sense of the UK having to maintain EU labour rights, Agen Judo Togel or at least something to that effect.

    Unfortunately plenty of American liberals seem to have fallen in love with Macron. I guess they see him as the French version of Obama.

Comments are closed.