Links 9/13/17

After His Mother Rejected Him, Tiger Cub Ships Off To San Diego DCist

Wild dog packs count sneezes to vote democratically Quartz

Equifax CEO Richard Smith Apologizes for the ‘Most Humbling Moment in Our 118-Year History’ Fortune

Equifax, Before Breach, Lobbied to Limit Class-Action Damages National Law Journal

The Effects of Hedge Fund Interventions on Strategic Firm Behavior The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation

Another ‘breach of trust’ at STAT: patient who praised TV drug ads says pharma PR company asked her to write op-ed Health News Review (MT).

How to Protect a Drug Patent? Give it to a Native American Tribe NYT

Mining company plans to buy northern Maine mountain Portland Press-Herald. Uh oh. East-West Corridor here we come.

Syraqistan

Exclusive: Trump to weigh more aggressive U.S. strategy on Iran – sources Reuters

From the War on al Qaeda to a Humanitarian Catastrophe: How the U.S. Got Dragged Into Yemen Foreign Policy

Rand Paul’s Lonely AUMF Battle The American Conservative (Re Silc).

The State of Security in Africa CFR

Myanmar: Whole villages destroyed as satellite spots devastation from above News.com and Aung San Suu Kyi: The myth turns to dust Lowy Interpreter

China?

China Shows Capital Controls Might Be a Good Idea After All Bloomberg

China’s evolving approach to environmental and labour provisions in regional trade agreements International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development

Brexit

What’s next for the Brexit withdrawal bill FT. “On Monday night MPs voted, in principle, in favour of the greatest shift in power from legislature to executive in modern British constitutional history.”

Faststream: Brexit uncertainty creating London talent strain Splash 247

EXCLUSIVE: Evolve Politics were undercover inside Tory-youth group Activate from the very beginning [Part 1] Evolve Politics. Hmmm. Can UK readers comment?

Italian banks’ bad loans fall sharply as economy rebounds FT

Hurricane Alley

Irma Makes Its Mark in Weather Records Weather Underground

‘You go when you go’: the 70-year-old man who spent Irma in his pickup Guardian

After Hurricane Harvey, don’t empower the engineers. Please. Strong Towns (AA).

John Sharp, the State’s Fixer in Chief, Comes to the Rescue After Harvey Texas Monthly

What disaster news does to us The Week

Exxon Must Disclose Accounting Details in N.Y. Climate Probe Bloomberg

Trump Transition

Wall Street leaders voice support for Trump FT

Trump tests the waters for bipartisan tax reform with White House dinner Politico

The GOP Wants to Crack Down on Tax Evasion — Among the Working Poor New York Magazine

Trump’s Favorite Sheriffs: Part of a Growing Anti-Government Extremist Movement Rolling Stone

In Surprise Vote, House Passes Amendment to Restrict Asset Forfeiture The Intercept

1 big thing: Mueller haunts West Wing Axios

There’s Blood In The Water In Silicon Valley Buzzfeed and Conservatives, liberals unite against Silicon Valley Politico

Read Yelp’s full letter to the FTC accusing Google of violating its deal with the government Business Insider

2016 Post Mortem

Clinton Blames Herself, and Many Others Politico

Watch: Hillary Clinton explains What Happened Ezra Klein, Vox

Sally Quinn’s Next Act Washingtonian. “[Quinn] reveals that, in her less mellow days, she put hexes on three people who promptly wound up having their lives ruined, or ended.”

Health Care

Sanders will introduce universal health care, backed by 15 Democrats WaPo. No. Sanders is introducing single payer health care. Liberal Democrats were even claiming ObamaCare was universal, until it became obvious it wasn’t.

Democratic leaders keep distance from Sanders single-payer plan The Hill

Pelosi: Single-payer isn’t a litmus test for Democrats WaPo

Bernie’s Big Healthcare Solution Has a Major Flaw…and It’s an Open Invitation for Critics to Sabotage the Movement Alternet

Trump could help the Democrats fix Obamacare. Here’s what has to happen first CNBC

Five bipartisan steps toward stabilizing our health-care system WaPo

With funding slashed and no contracts in hand, ACA marketplace ‘navigators’ are shutting down Modern Health Care. The Trump administration draws a dull knife across the ACA’s windpipe. That said, you’ve got to wonder about a system whose complexity is so great there’s a whole layer of navigators hired to work it.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Billions of devices imperiled by new clickless Bluetooth attack Ars Technica

Senate Intel slips sentence into bill that could lead to spying on US citizens McClatchy

‘There Is Still Hope – Even for Me’ Der Spiegel. Interview with Edward Snowden.

Class Warfare

How Much the US Economy Has Recovered For Most Workers Ian Welsh

Median household income hits $59,039, rising for 2nd straight year USA Today

By the Numbers: Income and Poverty, 2016 EPI (MT).

Household Participation in Stock Market Varies Widely by State Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis

“Make White People Be Nice to Me!” Progressive Army. Fun!

Senior House at MIT Dies, and a Crisis Blooms at Colleges WIRED

Foul-mouthed mothers are causing problems for Mumsnet The Economist

How Bullwinkle Taught Kids Sophisticated Political Satire Smithsonian. Fun fact: “All the male Simpsons have Bullwinkle & Rocky’s middle initial ‘J.'”

Antidote du jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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

115 comments

    1. Anonymous2

      Yes, indeed.
      Hurrah!
      Re the UK, nothing on the undercover reporting story, but major developments afoot re Brexit. Negotiations have been postponed for a week and May is to make an important speech. Rumours abound as to what she will say. Will she confirm the UK wants to stay for a long period in the single market and customs union to allow time to prepare for its new future (which may never arrive). Or will she throw down the gauntlet and say the UK has talked to the EU long enough, will go off to create a Zone of Prosperity with the US with no further delay? I.e train crash Brexit and blame the EU?

      To my mind it could go either way or be a mixture. Confusion reigns but I expect the Government have been doing their Parliamentary arithmetic and decided what they can and cannot get through the House of Commons. The recent vote on the Great Reform Bill will probably have given them a pretty good steer.

      Reply
      1. windsock

        “will go off to create a Zone of Prosperity with the US”

        So we’ve “taken back control” just to give it up to Mr Trump? If she thinks she can pull that one off, especially after her disastrous election performance, she really needs help of the psychiatric kind.

        Mind you, if she sells us as the land based advance aircraft carrier for the American military industrial complex, we will really have become Airstrip One and George Orwell will be rewritten for Big Sister. Oceania will have become founded and we can begin our perpetual war with Eurasia/Eastasia.

        As Johnny Rotten once taunted an audience: “Ever got the feeling you’ve been had?”

        Reply
  1. Stonedwino

    I love the links to the crucial info and oped commentaries, but I love the contributions of intelligent commenters. If there is any way that can be maintained without the BS, it is the key to Naked Capitalism. This is still the first place I come to every morning for news and information about my world. Thanks!!!

    Reply
  2. katiebird

    Happy Day!!

    Bernie’s Medicare for All Bill will be revealed and we’ve got comments back!!!! Thank you so much!!

    I just finished the Alternet story about the lack of funding details in Bernie’s bill…. even if true can that possibly be a bill-killing issue? Isn’t it wonderful to get an Expanded Medicare for All bill going in the Senate as well as the House?

    Reply
    1. aletheia33

      gov shumlin of vt betrayed his election promise to implement single payer, saying, “we can’t afford it.” when the nitty gritty of how to fund the program finally was addressed.

      according to the vt workers center, shumlin’s problem was he was not willing to ask the wealthiest residents (referred to as “his friends”) to pony up the shortfall when all funding sources were finally added up. and blithe assumptions had been made about funding sources that were not realistic/accurate.

      opponents of the legislation made it easier for him to destroy the single payer project, even after the state legislature had passed the law mandating it, by harping persistently over the years: “how are we going to pay for it?”

      strangely enough (or not), before obamacare was shoved down our throats, vt provided to those who needed it a fairer, less expensive health care plan, with solid coverage, for self-employed and low-income residents than obamacare is.

      perhaps the history of failure in vermont can ultimately be of some use if heeded. that could serve as a kind of consolation, i suppose. but it doesn’t make up for the premiums that are hurting me now.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        And Jon Gruber was brought in to administer the coup de grace.

        That said, single payer should be the responsibility of the currency issuer (i.e., be done at the Federal level). States, where taxes really do fund spending, need to cut spending in a downturn (which Pelosi, who thinks the states should experiment, either understands or doesn’t, and I don’t know which is worse).

        Reply
    2. ChiGal in Carolina

      Yes, and hello all!! That is kind of a strange piece, since if Sanders’ bill parallels HR 676, Gerald Friedman’s funding formula will be tweaked and very likely provide the framework.

      Friedman’s proposal is available through a link on the PNHP website: NO premiums, copays, or deductibles; 3% payroll tax on lower 40% of incomes; 6% on upper 60%, and another 6% surcharge on the top 5%. It would also tax ALL unearned income (rent) at 6%.
      And there would be a transaction tax on buying and selling of securities.

      According to Friedman’s numbers, only 5% (in 2013* when he came up with this those earning above $225k) will pay more. 95% will pay less and have access to “expanded and improved” Medicare that includes dental, vision, medications, long-term care WITHOUT any need for supplemental policies.

      This is unabashedly a transfer of resources from those who can AFFORD health care to those who NEED it!

      *I recently emailed him for an update and he said he hasn’t run the numbers again. Maybe now he will.

      And thank you, thank you for allowing comments today! I have really missed the wit and wisdom of so many…

      Reply
        1. katiebird

          This should be the actual document (a PDF), Funding HR 676: The Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act How we can a ord a national single-payer health plan

          Under the single-payer system created by HR 676, the U.S. could save an estimated $592 billion annually by slashing the administrative waste associated with the private insurance industry ($476 billion) and reducing pharmaceutical prices to European levels ($116 billion). In 2014, the savings would be enough to cover all 44 million uninsured and upgrade bene ts for everyone else. No other plan can achieve this magnitude of savings on health care.

          Specifically, the savings from a single-payer plan would be more than enough to fund $343 billion in improvements to the health system such as expanded coverage, improved bene ts, enhanced reimbursement of providers serving indigent patients, and the elimination of co-payments and deductibles in 2014. e savings would also fund $51 billion in transition costs such as retraining displaced workers and phasing out investor- owned, for-pro t delivery systems.

          Health care fi nancing in the U.S. is regressive, weighing heaviest on the poor, the working class, and the sick. With the progressive nancing plan outlined for HR 676 (below), 95% of all U.S. households would save money.

          Reply
          1. jsn

            How the displaced Insurance Industry is treated will be a key to success, they are a well funded opponent looking at an existential attack.

            Despite the predatory nature of the American model of making health care a financial product, there are lots of decent people in the industry who will need the same protections going forward as should have been provided for every worker displaced by NAFTA, WTO etc.

            Have we grown any wiser?

            Reply
            1. Biph

              Couldn’t a significant portion of them by brought in to working for what would be an expanded Medicare system?
              Some would be kept in their current jobs as health insurance companies move from being the insurer of first resort to insuring extra comforts like single occupancy hospital rooms or moving to the front of line for elective surgeries.
              This wouldn’t save everyone’s job, but could help to mitigate the problem to a large extent.

              Reply
              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                It has always seemed to me that the health insurance worker bees might collect data about health as opposed to data about payment.

                Call it “A Manhattan Project for a Healthy America,” and make it an adjunct to Medicare for All.

                Reply
    3. Elizabeth Burton

      If it helps, I’ve stopped using Alternet as a major source because it’s gotten increasingly anti-progressive since the election. If it’s not screaming about TRUMP!!! it’s criticizing Bernie for no good reason. So, anything there to be taken with the proverbial grain of (plastic-contaminated) salt.

      Reply
    4. djrichard

      I’m guessing the game at this point is to show Trump that the dems can eat into his constituency on this topic. Which forces Trump to game this out: can he afford to let that part of his constituency go? Or does he need to embrace this?

      At this point, looks like he’s taking the latter stance. Per http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/350502-white-house-rips-sanderss-horrible-single-payer-plan But I’m assuming that’s just fore-play.

      Time for the dems to up their game and do real outreach to the Trump constituency and make it plain to Trump what the risk is to him. Unfortunately, with all the antagonizing of the Trump constituency that’s been happening, there’s going to be a big hill to climb. Somebody who hasn’t been antagonizing that constituency is going to have to take the lead.

      The other big hill to climb is that Trump would have to herd cats on the GOP side. But that’s what the bully pulpit (and twitter) is for.

      Reply
    1. jsn

      Yes! They are a tremendous tool for checking my own interpretations of what I read here and elsewhere and an excellent self corrective for bias’s I have that I’m blind to.

      On the other hand I had a strangely productive last month…

      Reply
  3. Steve H.

    Nigerian scammers deliberitly put in misspelled words to select for victims with less intelligence.

    Equifax just did the same thing with 143 million Americans. 143 million Americans now have no protection against identity theft except a credit freeze. Equifax can only sell information of those without a freeze. So they now have a set of data to sell which is selected for people too stupid to do the freeze.

    Reply
      1. Steve H.

        They are in Indiana, thanks to Attorney General Greg Zoeller, I thinx. But when you go to the sites, they’re big with ‘you could be charged money!’, so I don’t think that’s everywhere. The weird thing is state by state differences, why isn’t it a federal requirement?

        Reply
        1. Mike

          Credit freezes are also free to apply in Pennsylvania, but rescinding one costs $10. While a credit freeze, as Lambert has said, will not stop theft, it will cost the ratings bureaus sales money, and if enough citizens march on DC to stop our “legislators” from having meetings with lobbyists, it may cause a more important action – the absolutely necessary elimination of private “bureaus” and the creation of one publicly audited organ that cannot sell info, ever.

          My questions are several –
          Why hasn’t Liz Warren screamed about this and called for such a response herself?
          What graft do Democrats get out of this current setup?
          Can we trust them to do anything different if they “reform” this reality?

          And, finally, a big thanks to our website leaders, who gave us time to pause and maybe rethink some stupid postings (and I count myself among the stupid, so no virtue posing here). Glad to have this forum back, and wary lest it get out of hand again. Eternal vigilance?

          Reply
      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        If it takes anyone time to request credit freezes (calling or doing it yourself on their websites), it’s not ‘free,’ as time is money.

        Reply
    1. polecat

      With regard to credit freeze, if I have to pay one red centavos to Equifax, or and other ‘credit rating grifter’, than it’s no mas for me … I’ll just have to be diligent in checking banking and other account statements for .. uh .. errors.
      To be frank, I’m at the point that I just don’t care anymore, as I’ve reached crapification overload … in all things !

      Reply
      1. Arizona Slim

        Speaking of errors, I just went nuts trying to reconcile a $27 discrepancy. Hmmm, what was that all about? Then I realized that I just ordered new checks and forgot to record the bank charge.

        Sorry, scammers, I can’t fire the blame cannons at you this time.

        Reply
        1. polecat

          I watched the RealNews Paul Jay interview of Bill Black over the weekend, and towards the end he (Black) suggested looking at one’s statements (monthly, or otherwise) for discrepencies … and not even bother using said credit @gencie$ ‘help’, in ANY fashion, being as they caused this mess from day one !

          Reply
    2. George B.

      My personal concern with this is that the credit freeze (which I immediately did) is only a band aid, not a real solution to this issue. The personal information that was stolen is enough to fully “identify” me for many important things, not just credit decisions.

      I really have no faith that “the system” will come up with any way to properly resolve this. I’m no expert, so I don’t know where to even start. Maybe we’ll have to go back to the days of actual physical presence in order to establish identity, as imperfect as it is.

      Reply
        1. ginnie nyc

          Flora: Thanks for this link. I’ve tried 4 or 5 times over the last week to access the Equifax site to see if my account was affected. After I enter my data and push the ‘continue’ button, I get a blank screen. Do you know why this would happen?

          Reply
          1. flora

            No, I don’t know. I can only guess they are having such high traffic volumes of people trying to get information that responses are being dropped or connections are lost. Per the Clark website, maybe wait a week and try again. (A week is an eternity in computer time so it’s not a reassuring answer. But it’s the best they’ve got as of now.)
            See this follow-on post.
            http://clark.com/personal-finance-credit/equifax-data-breach-frustrated-consumers-report-credit-freeze-problems/

            Reply
          2. aletheia33

            last i saw, over the weekend, the page on the equifax website to check whether you have been affected had been shown to be unreliable by a journalist (sorry, i forget who, it might have been techcrunch) who entered some tests of random and nonexistent ss numbers and names.

            most reliable journalists seem to be recommending assuming one has been affected and acting accordingly. the general understanding seems to be that a quite large majority of americans have been affected.

            you might also try the website of your state attorney general to see if they’ve posted any guidance.

            Reply
            1. Anon

              Yes. What I’ve gathered from reading much about this is: Don’t trust Equifax in ANY way. Not the website, not their mailings, not a phone conversation.

              These folks are blatant crooks!

              Reply
  4. Darius

    Re. the Politico article about bipartisan tax “reform”: working with Trump on neoliberal rewards for the rich and punishment for the poor will mean the blue dogs get hammered even worse. They won’t be rewarded.

    Reply
  5. The Rev Kev

    Re: Hurricane Alley
    I think that at this point it can be recognized that these monster hurricanes are going to be more frequent and even more powerful as the warmer waters in the Caribbean serve to fuel them up. Perhaps it is time to think of organizing a pan-Caribbean search & rescue organization on a permanent basis and yes, that will have to include Cuba. Stocks of emergency supplies can be pre-positioned and surplus military amphibious tracked landing craft can be used for both search & rescue and as well as the delivery of emergency supplies. The Snafu blog mentioned that the US has four hundred such surplus vehicles in storage which could be apportioned out to where they could be most needed.
    Sorry, but using the military as this force is not a good solution as their doctrine is too much into force protection which means that the needs of the military get priority over those that they are supposed to help. As an example of this in play, Royal Marines are now patrolling Tortola in the Caribbean and US military commentators are surprised that they are not patrolling with weapons, full body armour and helmets like happened in Haiti in 2010 or after hurricane Katrina. Natural disasters are a part of life so why try to re-invent the wheel when each ones strike? Time to organize something on a permanent footing whether like along the lines of a Peace Corps or a para-military organization like the Coast Guard but without being burdoned down with the combat missions. Such a force could even be tasked with helping out at other disasters such as floods, fires, tornadoes, etc. Might be something worth thinking about.

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      I would also like to see a Climate Corps. It would work on mitigating the effects of climate change and provide meaningful work. Think WPA and CCC — that is what I am driving at.

      Reply
      1. Mike Mc

        ^x100. Combine with national service options and you have an infrastructure program, a jobs program, a civil defense program (National Guard units need to be battling floods, fires and other natural disasters HERE in the USA and not driving trucks etc. in Sandboxistan), maybe even a military option.

        The esprit de corps and general citizenship these kinds of programs produce is exactly what much if not most of America lacks. Putting poor rural young people and well-off if not rich urban young people together to improve their country? Why the hell not!

        Reply
      2. Democrita

        My fantasy is that some visionary chief executive (of the country ) incorporates climate threats into Homeland Security, so that over time scientists and agriculture & logistics experts replace more and more of the military and professional spooks in that esteemed bureaucracy.

        Eventually it might become a genuinely useful entity!

        Reply
  6. Violet's Mom

    Good Morning Commenters! So happy these are back on. I truly missed this online community – the only one I ever seek out.

    Reply
    1. Vatch

      Interesting. The organization that went after the “charity” is the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance. At the national level, this won’t happen in the near future, though, and the Koch brothers (and other billionaires) are anonymously funneling hundreds of millions of dollars to numerous advocacy groups.

      Sometimes, when a group like this is penalized, the group’s leaders simply refuse to pay the find. For an example, there’s the case of Betsy Devos and the organization All Children Matter, and their refuasl to pay the fine that was levied by the Ohio Elections Commission. As far as I know, the $5.3 million fine was never paid:

      http://www.politico.com/tipsheets/morning-education/2017/01/devos-paid-legal-fees-but-not-election-fine-for-ohio-school-choice-group-218375

      http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2017/01/should_betsy_devos_be_the_next.html

      Reply
    1. Wombat

      Flying is a resource intensive luxury enjoyed by very few (% of earth population) for a very brief period of human history. I enjoy the convenience that flying brings and would be willing to stand like a subway car for the whole flight if i could help reduce my share of extraction and emissions (of course the airlines would take the savings, and i wouldnt see a cheaper fair). I think this is truly a first world problem when people worldwide cram into cattle cars and on top of trains to move en masse from place to place.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Any possibility we use airships for short distance flights, like from LA to Las Vegas, or NY to DC?

        It seems to me it would cheaper and greener than high speed rail

        Reply
    1. Indrid Cold

      I have a correspondent who is wedded to the Russophile thing, so I wondered the same thing. But I’ve talked to actual Russians who evince bafflement, amusement or gape mouthed astonishment at it all. So it’s very possible Mr Nikonov is just “having a laugh”

      Reply
      1. dontknowitall

        I think Russia and Putin got quite a bump in prestige internationally as the people that fiddled with a US election and got away with it – regardless if it is complete fiction or not. It is fiction you can take to the bank. Putin is looking very strong now. First they take Snowden when no one else would touch him, not even China, and then they elected their very own American president. Complete fiction I believe but when you got lemons why not make some delicious fresh squeezed lemonade.

        Reply
  7. John Wright

    Re: Bullwinkle.

    It was not just the Bullwinkle show that made light of the US government.

    I remember a couple of Canadian comedians, Wayne and Shuster, on the Ed Sullivan show.

    They would impersonate communist Russians and sing “Nothing could be finer than to recognize Red China in the morning”.

    This was well before Nixon went to China.

    Now one can go to any US store and “recognize” China everywhere.

    But I don’t believe enough ridicule has ever been made of a long standing (since 1962) US embargo of a small foreign nation who, apparently, remains a great threat to the USA.

    Maybe the USA is afraid of imported Cuban cigars causing lung cancer if the embargo were completely lifted.

    Bullwinkle was always watched by my brother and me, while the graphics looks crude compared to today’s polished CGI, the writing was great.

    The shows of today could not have similar themes as they “would not be with the (governmental sponsored) program.”

    Reply
  8. Wombat

    Potential Senate dem 2020 hopefuls (Booker, Gillibrand, and Harris) all hopping on Medicare for all. Cant help but think its part of a strategy to cling close to Bernie so come debate season “Yea me too! I’m progressive”. Dont forget Booker just voted against allowing cheaper drugs from Canada or elsewhere just a few months ago!

    Reply
    1. John Wright

      In a moment of political frankness, Hillary Clinton helped voters understand political cynicism when she mentioned her “public position versus private position” on policy matters.

      Maybe an enterprising media will ask Booker, Gillibrand and Harris, “Is that your private position as well?”

      Reply
      1. perpetualWAR

        A reporter just wrote: “Is Kamala Harris’ Support for Medicare for All Pandering or Sincere?”

        Must have read your mind.

        Reply
        1. Wombat

          Let’s hope these inquiries continue. Easy to publically support a symbolic step, harder to prosecute a billionaire hastily foreclosing Californians from their homes.

          Reply
  9. petal

    Missed you guys. I hope everyone is well. It became such a habit to scroll through comments first thing in the morning that I was catching myself still trying. Addiction? Quite possibly. Cheers!

    Reply
  10. David

    I’m curious about the Economic Policy Institute. The article posted above (“By the Numbers”) purports to simply provide key numbers from a recent Census Bureau report. However, their median household income comparisons to past years report that this number still hasn’t reached prior highs (e.g., “still 2.3 percent lower than it was in 2000”), while other articles I read said it had reached a new high.

    I looked at the Census report and their table has the most recent number 0.8% higher than in 2000. It seems like the EPI is just mis-reporting the data. I have found some indications that there was a methodology change a few years ago, but no indication of any form of standard adjustment. Nor could I find a comment in the EPI article mentioning that they had adjusted the data.

    I had though the EPI was a respectable institution that provided data that some of our policy makers rely on. If that is true, blatant mis-reporting by them would be unsettling. Am I missing something?

    Reply
    1. Left in Wisconsin

      My experience is that EPI is extremely reliable with data. The issue is the restatement of the historical data, not the 2016 data. My guess is the discrepancy arises from this (taken from WaPo):

      While the median income reported in 2016 is the highest the Census Bureau has ever published, the agency changed its methodology in 2014. As a result, the agency says prior years’ figures may not be directly comparable.

      But you are right that EPI should explain why they differ with published reports. It would not surprise me if EPI’s data was more accurate.

      Reply
      1. David

        Thanks for your reply. I actually found a graph on Twitter that has a footnote saying they adjusted past data by the ratio of the results the two different methods gave for 2013. Apparently, the Census Bureau administered both surveys that year. Probably not an unreasonable correction – but it should be disclosed in each article in which the data is presented.

        Reply
  11. Bob

    https://thebaffler.com/salvos/lords-of-misrule-stoller
    Matt Stoller article in The Baffler (subtitled) “How the legal profession became Wall Street’s helpmeet”

    “It’s abundantly clear, in other words, that the decision to refrain from prosecuting important actors in the corporate world was Obama White House policy, and this policy was part of an overall ideological shift away from allegiance to democracy itself, to rule by the people. What the administration did was so profoundly cynical that in 2016, when Wells Fargo was shown to have opened millions of fraudulent accounts, Loretta Lynch brought no charges—and Rich Cordray, the vaunted Consumer Financial Protection Bureau chief, instituted no penalties against Wells Fargo executives. Indeed, Cordray—someone who, like White, you could mess with at will if you possessed the right C-suite title—wouldn’t even say whether he recommended criminal penalties. And the real scandal in all this was that no one even noticed: that’s how inured Democrats have grown to swallowing the lies of a leadership caste that has no professional or material interest in pursuing anything resembling justice.”

    Reply
    1. marym

      WaPo had a prequel story on the Sanders bill last night. It’s paywalled now, but when I read it in the early am the comments were also positive and civil. Responses to anti-Sanders or anti-“vanity bill” comments were well-informed references to costs, systems in other countries, and the like.

      Reply
  12. cripes

    Democratic presidential hopefuls like Kamala Harris and Cory Booker jump on the single payer bandwagon. Wasn’t it just 10 months ago that “never, ever” Hillary said it can’t happen? They are holding their fingers to the wind, and if past results are any prediction, will do an about face once an election is over, or their owners demand it. But it really does show how easily Hillary (or bernie) would have won had she had just catered to the voters, instead of her doners.

    But, noooo, so certain were they of her victory, she didn’t even pretend. Campaigning like she was already in office and giving the finger to the people who quickly abandoned her at the polls.

    What a bunch of jerks.

    But there is a momentum for single payer, if people organize, the deep pockets of medical industry can be neutralized and the spineless politicians strong-armed to enact health care policy that is 70 years overdue.

    Reply
      1. dontknowitall

        Recently*, I saw an article referenced on NC that the DNC was suggesting to a candidate in a particularly tough election fight that they would ignore it if he misrepresented his position on Medicare for All in the interested of winning the election. Is this sudden rush to support Sanders views on healthcare more of the same? If they win and then go back on their word the DNC or the newspapers would not say a thing. Looking over the tax changes for the proposal I can see it will be hand to hand political combat so wishy-washy support is of little worth. Sadly, I am deeply suspicious of sudden conversions on the road to Damascus to say the least.

        I do agree that having the jerks humiliate themselves to such an extent is good and it is an opportunity. But…but the conversion to solid support is the magic trick that needs to happen.

        * Apologies but I can’t seem to find the particular article

        Reply
      2. JohnnyGL

        As a kind of “How did we get here?” I think there’s several factors at play:

        1) Dem Establishment weakness. Obama and Clinton let the party rot for years. Now, reeling from Clinton loss, Dem disarray. Additionally, their back up plan, their major solution, “blame Putin” has basically flopped and is being quietly abandoned. I think the Ossoff loss shouldn’t be discounted here. They spent a fortune on that race, in a winnable seat, and UNDER-performed Clinton. Establishment CANNOT get their voters to vote for them and CANNOT get Republicans to come over to their side. They’re out of ideas, donors getting rowdy after throwing away tons of money on grifters/consultants.

        2) Rowdy Voters. Lots of town halls with congressmen from BOTH parties getting questions about single-payer from a broad spectrum. The Repeal-Replace debate seems to have opened a Pandora’s Box for the overall political establishment and opened the door to change the narrative. The clips are all over youtube. Too many to brush off. You can also throw in the FB and twitter wars against all the discredited, dishonest pundits.

        3) We have an insider to make the inside/outside strategy work. It’s Bernie Sanders. He’s politically stronger than ever and easily the most popular politician in the country. Activism works MUCH better when there’s insiders to help carry the flag and the message.

        4) In addition to items 2 and 3, or perhaps BECAUSE of them, public opinion is now moving decisively in the direction of single-payer. The tiff over Kamala Harris’s fundraiser in the Hamptons shows how insecure the establishment feels. Harris herself seems to feel that it’s time to get ON the Medicare-for-All bus rather than UNDER it, if she wants a real shot at 2020.

        5) State level fight in CA. Even though Speaker Rendon buried the bill, he paid a political price to take one for the team. Nurses Union have been high profile in this fight. They’ve forced the issue into the public sphere and forced politicians to take a stand.

        6) The context is also key. Americans are much more open to radical change than they once were on health care, say, a decade ago. It seems like almost everyone has crappy insurance from their employers, except those that work for states, Federal Govt, or a lot of universities. ACA solved very little and was too limited in scope while the contradictions of health insurance markets have been biting down harder as the years go by.

        Reply
        1. Lord Koos

          I think that politicians like Kamala Harris get on board because the thing probably has little chance of passing, but Dems can still look good by sponsoring it or saying they’re for it. Then if it does actually did come to some sort of close vote (unlikely) a few Democrats who aren’t up for reelection in the next cycle will take hits for the team and vote to defeat it. This happens over and over with both parties.

          Reply
  13. Brian

    Moose and Squirrel v. Boris and Natasha were my political education. RIP June Foray, Who was a pioneer that blew open the doors for women.
    and welcome back all! No site has better links, or better comments that always include excellent links.

    Reply
  14. hush / hush

    Bernie Sander’s official statement has details on how he would pay for the plan in his senate healthcare bill here.

    From the official statement:

    How much will it cost?

    This plan has been estimated to cost $1.38 trillion per year.

    The plan would be fully paid for by:

    A 6.2 percent income-based health care premium paid by employers.
    Revenue raised: $630 billion per year.

    A 2.2 percent income-based premium paid by households.
    Revenue raised: $210 billion per year.This year, a family of four taking the standard deduction can have income up to $28,800 and not pay this tax under this plan.A family of four making $50,000 a year taking the standard deduction would only pay $466 this year.

    Progressive income tax rates.
    Revenue raised: $110 billion a year.Under this plan the marginal income tax rate would be:
    37 percent on income between $250,000 and $500,000.
    43 percent on income between $500,000 and $2 million.
    48 percent on income between $2 million and $10 million. (In 2013, only 113,000 households, the top 0.08 percent of taxpayers, had income between $2 million and $10 million.)
    52 percent on income above $10 million. (In 2013, only 13,000 households, just 0.01 percent of taxpayers, had income exceeding $10 million.)

    Taxing capital gains and dividends the same as income from work.
    Revenue raised: $92 billion per year.Warren Buffett, the second wealthiest American in the country, has said that he pays a lower effective tax rate than his secretary. The reason is that he receives most of his income from capital gains and dividends, which are taxed at a much lower rate than income from work. This plan will end the special tax break for capital gains and dividends on household income above $250,000.

    Limit tax deductions for rich.
    Revenue raised: $15 billion per year. Under Bernie’s plan, households making over $250,000 would no longer be able to save more than 28 cents in taxes from every dollar in tax deductions. This limit would replace more complicated and less effective limits on tax breaks for the rich including the AMT, the personal exemption phase-out and the limit on itemized deductions.

    The Responsible Estate Tax.
    Revenue raised: $21 billion per year.This provision would tax the estates of the wealthiest 0.3 percent (three-tenths of 1 percent) of Americans who inherit over $3.5 million at progressive rates and close loopholes in the estate tax.

    Savings from health tax expenditures.
    Revenue raised: $310 billion per year. Several tax breaks that subsidize health care (health-related “tax expenditures”) would become obsolete and disappear under a single-payer health care system, saving $310 billion per year.Most importantly, health care provided by employers is compensation that is not subject to payroll taxes or income taxes under current law. This is a significant tax break that would effectively disappear under this plan because all Americans would receive health care through the new single-payer program instead of employer-based health care.

    Reply
    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      This is from when he was running. The hope of folks who support HR 676 (PNHP, Health Over Profit (Dr. Margaret Flowers)) is that he has since modified his proposal to bring it closer in line with 676.

      There was a piece linked here a few days ago where she said a meeting with his staff had been reassuring, but there is something now on ThinkProgress (they claim to have received an executive summary) that makes me wonder.

      In any case, funding will depend on what, finally, the bill covers.

      Reply
    2. marym

      I posted the link to his current “white paper” on paying at Watercolor. It’s on his Senate website. He’s holding an event now.

      Reply
    1. David

      Welcome back comments: life is worth living again.
      The Guardian story is interesting not for what it says, which is known to most specialists and has been exhaustively documented by journalists like Pierre Péan, but for the fact that the Anglo-Saxon liberal media is now coming round to a more balanced (not necessarily “pro-Hutu”) version of those terrible events. Just a pity the writer can’t get rid of “ethnicity” as a motivation, when it was a lot more complicated than that. This development is partly a generational thing I suppose, but nonetheless welcome. When you’ve lost the Grauniad …..

      Reply
  15. Foppe

    On “Aung San Suu Kyi”: I’d say we’re well overdue in acknowledging that the NPP only goes to actually deserving candidates for the purpose of muddying the water / to reflect positively on the NPP, while most are given to people for furthering causes near and dear to Lockean liberals of any stripe.

    Reply
  16. Cripes

    We could have dilapidated roads with bandits manning toll booths every few miles to accost travelers and pick their pockets. Or. We could have nice roads paid for by all, and fast, safe journeys the entire length.

    That, in a nutshell is our choice for health care.

    Reply
  17. justanotherprogressive

    Re: that USA Today report on median income:

    I’m wondering if this isn’t just one more “fun with numbers” analyses….

    For example, USA Today reports: “The number of Americans living in poverty fell to 40.6 million from 43.1 million, lowering the poverty rate to 12.7% from 13.5% and placing it just marginally above the prerecession level.”

    But…..inflation in this country from 2015 to now has been about 3%, but the Federal Income Poverty levels for a family of 4 has changed in that time about 1.44% – it’s different for different family levels, but never near 3%…. So is the reported drop in the poverty rate due to the fact that the official poverty rate is not keeping up with inflation – and has nothing to do with real poverty?

    I’m also noting from their numbers that they show a 0.9% drop in poverty, whereas I calculate a 0.6% drop….so I’m curious about how they calculated these numbers…….

    Since I’ve been taking these data science classes, I know there are ways to play with the “median” and get results to look the way you want them to look, without any real changes in the actual economics, but unfortunately I’m just a beginner and don’t have the skills to do a comprehensive analysis just yet. Hopefully, someone does……I’ll be looking for that……

    Reply
    1. fresno dan

      justanotherprogressive
      September 13, 2017 at 12:21 pm

      “Since I’ve been taking these data science classes, I know there are ways to play with the “median” and get results to look the way you want them to look…”
      I agree.

      ==============================
      https://mishtalk.com/2017/09/12/male-wages-stagnate-median-household-income-improvement-entirely-due-to-rising-female-earnings/

      Real, inflation adjusted, earnings of men are below where they were in 1973.
      For income, there were statistically significant differences for many key measures between the redesigned and traditional questions. For example, median household income calculated by using the redesigned questions was 3.2 percent higher than the median income found using the traditional questions.”
      ============================
      Considering how most men have been screwed for about 50 years, one would think the country was run by women…but I would say the salient point is that some men (i.e., the 0.1%) are doing very, very well and they screw people without regard to race, creed, OR sex…. so, so noble that they don’t discriminate…..

      Reply
  18. JerryDenim

    Loved the African Wild Dog sneezing story. I have a seven year old Boxer who is a habitual sneezer that sneezes just a little bit more every year. The frequency and intensity of his sneezes vary with his excitement level, but typically his sneezes are the most intense first thing after he wakes up in the morning, and in response to questions put to him regarding walking or “going”.

    It all makes so much sense now! He’s voting “YES!” Walk-hunt-Go!

    Welcome back all. Thanks to Yves, Lambert and Co. for all of your hard work keeping the comments section civil and valuable to everyone. I second all of the motions for periodic “circuit breakers” and comment holidays. You guys really deserve it.

    Reply
    1. nihil obstet

      The wild dog sneezing story is going to drive me crazy. My therapy dog and I visit rehab facilities/nursing homes. Her trick that gets the best response from the residents is to make a verbal noise on a “say” cue, so I can tell her to “Say hello”, “Say thank you (for a treat I give the resident to give her)”, whatever. Sometimes she gets into sneezing instead of “Auuurgh”ing. I had heard that sneezing was a dog’s laughing, but I couldn’t think of anything in the situation that she might find funny. Now I wonder if she’s sneezing to say, “I don’t feel like working any more. Let’s get the dickens out of here.”

      Reply
  19. Altandmain

    Anyone see this?

    https://theintercept.com/2017/09/13/pharma-ceo-worries-americans-will-say-enough-is-enough-and-embrace-bernie-sanders-single-payer-plan/

    Between how big pharmaceutical companies are milking people for drugs in their pricing and how this Equifax data breach scandal is being handled, I think that I speak for everyone when I say, ordinary folks are ticked off at the direction of the biggest corporations.

    The tragedy is that there are many Epipen like swindlers. They are not as prominent as the Epipen affordability crisis in terms of their media coverage, but across the world, many have to choose between the costs of living and their medical needs. Equally outrageously many of these drugs were developed with taxpayer money.

    On Equifax and the drug companies, I bet that nobody at the senior management level is going to be held responsible for the damage done to the world.

    Reply
    1. JohnnyGL

      Thanks for that link. The CEO talks EXACTLY like an establishment corporate Democrat.

      He says, ‘the fringe’ of the party is detached from ‘what is possible’ and that they need to ‘get practical’.

      My question is: who’s providing the talking points and narrative for whom?

      Reply
  20. Jess

    Just finished reading the revised comments policy and have one question: What exactly is “jail-breaking” in this context? Tried der Google but all I got was stuff about to jailbreak an iPhone.

    Thanks. Don’t want to accidentally break a rule I don’t understand.

    Reply
    1. Outis Philalithopoulos

      Without getting into too many details, it refers to people getting angry with comment moderation policy (typically as applied to them personally) and trying intentionally to create problems.

      Reply
        1. Outis Philalithopoulos

          That isn’t quite the meaning of the term – but don’t worry about it, it doesn’t refer to anything you’re likely to engage in by accident.

          Reply
      1. flora

        Ah, well, intentionally causing problems as an angry response to moderation sounds rather like a calculated attempt to destroy comment threads out of spite. That’s very different from sharply but cogently disagreeing on a particular point, I think. Just my 2¢.

        Reply
  21. Jess

    Couple of questions about Bernie’s bill:

    If it retains health insurance companies for the 20% not covered by primary coverage, is it really still single payer? I mean, the government pays 80% directly and you pay the other 20% through premiums, deductibles, co-pays, how is that “single payer”?

    Second, as for paying for it: I recall seeing some GIFs and articles over the past year or two which claimed that between what the government pays now in Medicare, Medicaid, and the VA, we already spend more than true single payer would cost. Anyone have any input on whether this claim is valid, what (if any) assumptions or exclusions are at work, etc?

    Reply
    1. marym

      From what he’s said so far, the Sanders bill, like the House bill HR 676, would cover 100%, not the 80/20% of current Medicare. Private insurance would be only for care not included at all in the bill (examples are usually cosmetic surgery, private rooms).

      Here’s a link (PDF) to an old (2002) study saying that 60% of healthcare is already publicly financed and would be enough to pay for all under a universal public system.

      Reply
  22. Juliania

    Thank You for the adorable Sumatran tiger story. Forgive me for dwelling on the headline, but as he’s yet unnamed, maybe Huck would be a good moniker.

    Or, as I have just read Paul Horgan’s tale “Main Line West” about a mother and child train traveling during the beginning of the first World War (highly recommend) maybe Dan would do.

    Reply
    1. Anon

      …maybe “Dan” is a bit too Anglo. It is a Sumatran Tiger, after all. Something exotic like say, “Sundra”. (The Sundra Island is the latest habitat for this tiger spp.)

      Reply
  23. Tenar

    So glad that comments are back on!

    For those interested in French politics, the “rentrée” is heating up in France with protests against Macron’s labor law reforms.

    The first of several protests took place yesterday and had comparable turnout to the first protest against last year’s labor law reforms.
    Yesterday: 223,000 according to the police vs. more than 400,000 according to the CGT – France’s second largest union.
    March 2016: 224,000 according to the police vs. between 450,000 – 500,000 according to the CGT.

    Macron didn’t do himself any favors with a recent unforced error, which received a lot of coverage in France, saying that he won’t give in to “the lazy, the cynics or the extremes” by changing the soon to be adopted laws.

    For more background information, Jacobin has a pretty concise article that gives the general layout of the labor law reforms and the protests against them.

    https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/09/macron-labor-reforms-strike-unions

    Reply
  24. Lee

    https://qz.com/1070828/wild-dog-packs-count-sneezes-to-vote-democratically-on-whether-to-go-hunting/

    My Staffordshire Terrier does the sneezes in approval I now infer when she knows I’m heading for the kitchen to feed her, pick up her leash for a walk or as a means of encouraging me to get up and follow her because a squirrel has invaded our yard.

    It looks like democracy was in the evolutionary gene pool long before anatomically humans ever existed.

    Reply
  25. lyman alpha blob

    RE: After Hurricane Harvey, don’t empower the engineers. Please.

    Thanks for this one. Last week as hurricanes were destroying US coastlines, my coastal Maine town decided to fight the new FEMA flood maps so that fewer properties will be listed in flood zones, which seems incredibly shortsighted and stupid. Some local consulting firm has a computer model they’ve designed that says FEMA’s model is wrong (as if hurricanes look at models before deciding which cities to swamp) and wants to dispute the FEMA maps but of course they can’t make any $$$ doing so unless enough gullible municipalities fall for their sales pitch and sign on with them, and mine bought it hook, line and sinker. They were rightfully chastised for their shortsightedness in the local paper today: http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/13/our-view-ignoring-higher-risk-of-floods-wont-make-them-less-likely/

    The town’s argument is that if flood insurance is required and people need to pay more money for their homes, then property values will fall, and everyone else’s taxes will go up as a result so the town must spend taxpayer dollars to help out a few waterfront property owners, a cohort who probably need government assistance the least among all of the town’s residents. I find this to be a dubious argument at best and definitely a tired one. If the Federal government did not provide this heavily subsidized insurance, the waterfront property would have no value whatsoever right now as private insurers don’t provide flood insurance as it’s a huge money loser and banks aren’t going to lend against uninsured property in a freaking flood zone. Either that, or only the fabulously wealthy with more money than good sense who don’t require a mortgage would be able to own this waterfront property. I wouldn’t call this a desirable outcome, but the property would definitely not be worthless.

    I will definitely be forwarding this to my city councilors and continue to raise a stink.

    Reply
  26. fresno dan

    I hope you will excuse the out of date comment, but comments weren’t on a few days ago.
    But I think the point I make is critical enough in this era of “high tech” that it is imperative that I share my own sad experiences of when technology and finance combine, as a warning to others that only sorry can follow when man tries to create nature…..
    =================
    https://nypost.com/2017/09/11/hackers-could-program-sex-robots-to-kill/

    With sex robots becoming increasingly popular and sophisticated, cybersecurity lecturer Dr. Nick Patterson revealed that the lifelike dolls could end up going all “Terminator” on us.

    However, in the case of sex robots, the danger isn’t that the love dolls will end up developing minds of their own, “Westworld”-style.

    Instead, the risk is that hackers could breach the realistic robots’ inner defenses and catch their owners with their pants down.
    ================================
    No, no, NO!!! The real problem is that my sex doll, serial number # t.i.T.s 4u has been hacked by spammers and now all my sex has more commercials than an NFL game – all she ever talks about to me is wouldn’t it be nice if we got this or that, e.g., for me to buy the expensive, artisanal lubricant that is suppose to increase satisfaction, reduce maintenance, and extent the warranty on reciprocating ….uh, er….couplings.

    I’m beginning to think technology isn’t all its cracked up to be…..

    Reply
  27. Tom_Doak

    Alternative headline for the WaPo note about Pelosi’s position on health care:

    Pelosi Fails Litmus Test on Health Care

    Reply
  28. Anon48

    Great article on Bullwinkle…never realized the carryover influence of that old cartoon show.

    Well if could Rocket J & Bullwinkle J could have been that much of an influence on Homer & Bart, I gotta believe that the raised eyebrow/ side of the mouth quips directed at the cartoon camera from Bugs B could have been the original seed for Kevin Spacey’s Frank Underwood sidebar soliloquies.

    Reply
  29. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    From ‘From The Myth Turns To Dust:’

    The real lesson we should take from the crumbling of the Suu Kyi myth is to consider how and why we turn leaders into symbols in the first place. As Andrew Selth, a Myanmar expert at the Griffith Asia Institute, put it recently, ‘If Suu Kyi had so far to fall, it is because the international community raised her so high’.

    It is for that reason I wonder why we don’t just go with something like HR.676, even though that sounds very impersonal, bureaucratic maybe, and we talk about ‘Bernie’s bill.’

    It’s up to all of us to get a “Everyone’s Bill’ passed so we can have universal health care.

    Reply
  30. cripes

    Oh, I must remember to add to the chorus how pleased I am to see the comments and commenters back. Thanks all, Yves, Lambert

    Best forum bar none.

    Reply
  31. Plenue

    Regarding Syraqistan:

    There have been major developments in the war, mostly happening during the blackout period for comments. Basically, the war is over, at least as far as ISIS goes. The Islamic State is completely disintegrating. The Syrian Army cleared one of two pockets they had created in central Syria and it was expected they would clear the second one before pushing east to break the three year long siege of Deir Ezor. Instead they rushed east, leaving the second pocket as a backwater theater. They reached the city shockingly fast. ISIS simply can’t hold in open desert. They broke the siege of the city proper around the 5th, and then reached the also besieged airport a few days later. They’ve since been securing more territory in all directions, including rapidly recapturing the key Tardah mountain that the US ‘accidentally’ bombed last year. They’ve reach the Euphrates in several locations, and Russian bridging equipment has been brought up.

    The US-backed Kurds on the other side of the river have recently started up a blitz offensive towards Deir Ezzor, and it’s really hard to escape the conclusion that the US is simply being petty and trying to deny the Syrian government control of valuable oil and gas sites in eastern Syria. Regardless, ISIS is being pressed on both sides of the river and it seems hundreds of the less committed fighters are trying to cut and run. They’ve lost Deir Ezzor, are doomed to lose Raqqa, and were recently cleared out of one of their two remaining pockets in Iraq. About the only thing significant they still control is the city (large town, really) of Al Mayadin, their new capital (they moved all of their important infrastructure out of Raqqa before it was surrounded), south down the road a ways from Deir Ezzor.

    Oh, and as for that second pocket in central Syria, there are apparently 500 fighters left in it, willing to fight to the death. It might have been possible that a deal could have been negotiated with them to allow them to retreat from the pocket, probably transported to Deir Ezor province. The Syrian government has used this strategy effectively for years with the AQ ‘rebels’, and this is what Hezbollah was able to do with the ISIS pocket that was recently liberated on the Lebanese-Syrian border. But the US interfered with that convoy, threatening to bomb it (despite the fact it was also carrying hundreds of civilians; the families of the ISIS fighters). So now it’s clear to ISIS that even if the Syrian government and its allies can (probably) be trusted to honor a retreat deal, there’s no guarantee the US won’t bomb their transport buses anyway. So the 500 fighters in central Syria will fight to the death.

    In the end the convoy wasn’t bombed, but there was a lot of hemming and hawing from the Iraqi government about how it wouldn’t accept ISIS being transported to its border, and it seems some sort of directive was sent out to various media propagandists like ISIS ‘expert’ Michael Weiss to portray the affair as Hezbollah and Assad helping ISIS out, or even giving them free transport to Iraq.

    Aside from that, the various other groups in the ‘opposition’ continue to kill each other, Turkey continues to be landlocked in northern Syria, Israel has been throwing a giant hissyfit (including bombing a Syrian military site from Lebanese airspace a week ago), and the US controlled pocket in the south has been being slowly nibbled away at by the Syrian army and seems doomed to ultimately be completely abandoned by the US alliance, the rebels left to die or flee. The British have already pulled their support for the endeavor.

    Once they’re done with ISIS the Syrian army will turn their attention to the various other jihaddist riffraff, especially in Idlib province.

    Reply

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