Links 10/18/17

Plastic-eating caterpillars could save the planet The Economist

Oyster farts help (humans) warm the world Deutsche Welle

How big is the risk of another Black Monday equities crash? FT

When is the Time to Wind Down? Handelsblatt

Central bankers have one job and they don’t know how to do it FT Alphaville

Wall Street found a parasite growing in the US economy that could spur the next recession Business Insider. Shorts looking at health care. On “parasites,” see NC. In 2013….

How Valuable Is a Unicorn? Maybe Not as Much as It Claims to Be Andrew Ross Sorkin, NYT (see NC here). When you’ve lost Andrew Ross Sorkin….

GM to test self-driving cars in N.Y. in early 2018: Gov. Cuomo Reuters (EM). The lead says “Fully autonomous mode,” which is Level 5. Further down, we read that the cars will be Level 4. At the best, sloppy reporting from Reuters. See NC here for an explanation of the levels.

Bitter differences over Nafta break into the open FT

Syraqistan

Iraqi forces seize Kirkuk governor’s office in push against Kurds AFP

Iraq – Thus Ends The Kurdish Independence Project Moon of Alabama

The War on ISIS Held the Middle East Together Defense One

North Korea

Seoul to host 3-way talks on North Korea Nikkei Asian Review

US talks with North Korea ‘not ruled out’, says United States official Agence France Presse (Furzy Mouse).

N.K. unlikely to talk until securing ICBM capability that levels playing field: Robert Gallucci Yon Hap News Agency

Trump and Kim Madmen? Not So Fast The American Conservative

China?

White House announces plans for Donald Trump’s visit to China with North Korean nuclear programme set to top the agenda South China Morning Post (and People’s Daily). And just when I thought things were dull. There’s nothing about this on the front pages of either the Times or WaPo, as of this writing (3:11AM today). I mean, pro-Trump or anti-Trump or anything else, isn’t this newsworthy?

A Wide-Ranging Agenda: What Trump’s First Asia-Pacific Tour Means The Diplomat

China’s Xi lays out vision for ‘new era’ led by ‘still stronger’ Communist Party Reuters

Expats send $20 billion to Philippines in 8 months Gulf News

Brexit

Brexit Talks Are Failing. Somebody Needs to Care. Bloomberg

Jeremy Corbyn: damned right we’re a threat to the economic order Boing Boing

New Cold War

Sweden Eyes Russia While Holding Its Own War Games Bloomberg

Weapons based on new physical principles tested at Kapustin Yar range — chief TASS

Weaponized Narrative Is the New Battlespace Defense One

The Legacy of Reagan’s Civilian ‘Psyops’ Robert Parry, Consortium News. Plus ça change

The Cultural Axis NYRB

Trump Transition

Trump on Gold Star families: ‘Did they ever think of calling me first?’ Duffel Blog

Lawrence Summers: Trump’s top economist’s tax analysis isn’t just wrong, it’s dishonest Lawrence Summers, WaPo

Internal White House documents allege manufacturing decline increases abortions, infertility, and spousal abuse WaPo. The headline is amusing since oddly, or not, both it and the lead omit mention of other key effects, especially a “rising mortality rate.” From further down: “The documents list what Navarro alleges are the problems that have resulted from a ‘weakened manufacturing base.’ Some of the consequences are economic, including ‘lost jobs,’ ‘depressed wages,’ and ‘closed factories.'” I’d speculate that somebody in the White House has discovered the Case-Deaton studies (see NC here), and is trying to figure out how to frame them for 2018 and 2020. This should concern liberal Democrats, but here what we get is: “[The documents] were presented without any data or information to back up the assertions.” Yes, the two-page document is PowerPoint-level talking points in bubbles, for pity’s sake; there’s plenty of data out there if Democrats want to look; thousands of excess “deaths of despair” a year in the deindustrialized flyover states.

War, relationships and placing blame: Trump topics at news conference McClatchy

The Mystery Of Wilbur Ross’ Missing Billions Forbes

2016 Post Mortem

How Hillary Clinton Still Can, and Should, Become President After the Trump-Russia Investigation Lawrence Lessig, Newsweek. Lessig’s thesis: Trump is removed because he was helped by “Mother Russia” (!), Pence “should” resign since he got the same help, Ryan steps in. “If Ryan becomes president, he should do the right thing and choose Clinton for vice president. Then he should resign.” This is where we are. Poor Larry. Such a shame.

The Danger of President Pence The New Yorker (GF).

Democrats in Disarray

Why Democrats Need Wall Street NYT (HM). From a Clinton pollster (1994-2000).

Maxine Waters’ campaign committee wrote-off $10,000 spent on Hamilton tickets as a fundraiser expense Washington Times

Cy Vance represents everything wrong with the justice system The Outline

Health Care

What Democrats and GOP Get in Bipartisan Health-Care Deal WSJ. Summary of the two-year deal: Democrats get: 1) Trump retracts his threat of future CSR cuts, and 2) $100 million in walking around money for their navigators from rescinded cuts. Republicans get: 1) More and quicker waivers, including increased charges for older customers, and 2) crapified “copper” catastrophic plans for those over 30. So Democrats get some temporary cash they might not even have lost anyhow, if their court challenges succeeded, and Republicans get two systemic changes, the second of which will make ObamaCare’s risk pool worse. I’d give the edge to Republicans in this transaction. I wrote that Trump cares about deals, period, and “great” surfaces. Here, he at least looks like he’s willing to deal. What’s the shiny surface? If you think about it, Schumer and company have just managed to undercut the key narrative that the Democrat establishment was been pushing for a year: That Trump, both Putin’s Puppet and Baby Hitler, is a crazed, senile dictator. After all, they sat down at the table with Mr. This Is Not Normal, didn’t they? And for all their yammering about “hostage taking,” they just rewarded it, didn’t they? And Trump gets that surface benefit even if the deal collapses (by which I mean if the Republican establishment causes it to collapse).

Another last-ditch effort to tackle Obamacare stalls within hours of its release WaPo

Bipartisan deal to fund insurer payments faces tough political slog Modern Health Care

Salvaging MACRA Implementation Through Medicare Advantage Health Affairs. (For more on MACRA, see NC here and here.)

Police State Watch

No Forfeiture-Database Backup With Millions on the Line, NYPD Admits Courthouse News (DK). DK: “Hello, I’d like to report a robbery…”

2016 Post Mortem

Comey Drafted Statement Ending Clinton Email Investigation Months Before Interviewing Her, FBI Confirms Newsweek. Wowsers.

Imperial Collapse Watch

Football fashion: Behind Air Force’s top-secret fighter jet uniforms EPSN

Class Warfare

A Philando Castile Memorial Fund Has Wiped Out All Student Lunch Debt in St. Paul Splinter. “Student lunch debt.” We’re training ’em early, aren’t we?

Haunted by Student Debt Past Age 50 NYT

New Federal Data Show a Student Loan Crisis for African American Borrowers CAP

Reimagining “right-to-work” The Minskys

How So-Called “Right to Work” Laws Aim to Silence Working People Demos

The Deep Unfairness of America’s All-Volunteer Force The American Conservative

How “Big Data” Went Bust Slate (Re Silc). “[T]he bigger problem is that the [Big Data] data you have are usually only a proxy for what you really want to know. Big data doesn’t solve that problem—it magnifies it.” And integrating multiple proxies is hard; witness the F-35 helmet debacle, which faced exactly that technical problem.

What is sleep, even? Quartz. I wish I knew!

South Africa: Train Surfers Risk Their Lives Without Fear of Metrorail’s Security All Africa

Antidote du jour:

Still working to level up my cat game….

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.

175 comments

  1. The Rev Kev

    Re: How Hillary Clinton Still Can, and Should, Become President After the Trump-Russia Investigation
    At first I thought that this was a piece from the Onion or perhaps even Cracked magazine but no, this was from a Harvard University constitutional law expert. After reading his ideas I thought of one that was much more likely. In the Tom Clancy novel “Debt of Honor” a pilot flies his Boeing 747 directly into the U.S. Capitol during a special joint session of Congress killing the president, as well as nearly the entire Congress, the Supreme Court, and many other members of the Federal Government and I find this a far more likely scenario than that outlined by the Professor. Sorry, but right from the get-go this idea sounds like a blend of fast-acting stupidity and sustained release wishful-thinking.

    Reply
    1. Tooearly

      By the way, did the Clinton Foundation Russian collusion story already get buried???
      Was mildly amused to see google news not having that front and center … and today no more links even here?

      Reply
      1. stevieweevie

        Was wondering how the Senate investigation was going to go, but maybe keeping a low profile is in order after what happened to the poor investigative reporter who broke the Panama Papers news.

        Reply
      2. Aumua

        They’re currently dangling other shiny objects in front our faces. They’ll come back to that soon enough, and it when they do, it will be the most important news story ever that we should never take our minds off of.

        Reply
  2. SpringTexan

    Totally hilarious about Larry Lessig! OMG. Talk about losing touch with reality!

    A guy that at one time a long time ago I respected, but he got off in his own little world . . .

    Reply
    1. Louis Fyne

      Lessig has become a crazy, get-of-my-lawn, old man and/or Trump Derangement Syndrome is real should be in the next DSM. ( Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders)

      Reply
    2. Craig H.

      Lessig is beginning to read like a person in need of an intervention. I will never forget that he is the first person I ever saw using a presentation slide font that I thought was great. It is a sans font that looks like an eccentric professor with anger issues slapping notes up on a chalkboard and every three minutes the chalk snaps. White letters on dark gray background. The one I have on my computer is named Frank the Architect although when I loaded it up there were a number of fonts out there with a similar style.

      Reply
      1. Louis Fyne

        as an armchair font fan, I’m not familar w/the Frank the Architect font. Just looked at it and Good Lord—what an interesting choice to use on Powerpoint.

        it does *look* terse, tense, angry and pedantic! maybe the font designer once had an unfortunate run-in w/Frank Gehry.

        ymmv.

        Reply
        1. Craig H.

          It’s named for Frank Ching who wrote a number of iconic architecture texts.

          The one I hate is comic sans. It is the most common presentation font every place I have worked and I have to keep to myself that all these people who I know and like and respect use a font that makes me nauseous to look at it.

          Reply
          1. perpetualWAR

            Comic sans is not pleasant. Perhaps I will use that font in my next legal brief. Take THAT, you corrupt courts!

            Reply
    3. Grumpy Engineer

      Aye. I feel the same way, though more saddened than bemused. I used to respect Lawrence Lessig for his work on copyright law and free software, but his 2016 presidential campaign (where he initially promised to pass campaign finance reform and then immediately resign) was more than a little bizarre. And this latest proposed scenario for putting Hillary Clinton into the White House is utterly surreal. Honestly, I have no idea what thought process compels him to put forth these ideas.

      Reply
      1. kees_popinga

        Lessig had built awareness of copyright corruption, and then suddenly announced he was no longer going to opine on copyright but would tackle all forms of political corruption. Then he went to Harvard. Then he stopped representing Aaron Swartz as a lawyer when “my obligations to Harvard created a conflict” (source: Lessig’s tumblr, 2013). Lessig became a minor Ivy league flake and then suffered from Hillary derangement. Thus begins and ends the Larry Lessig story.

        Reply
        1. WheresOurTeddy

          did not know about the Swartz connection. Disappointing. Another name on the scrap heap of “establishment hacks that no longer need be heeded”.

          It’s been a prodigious 18 months for heap growth.

          Reply
    4. WheresOurTeddy

      As far as I can tell, the last 2 times a Republican did what they “should” do was Nixon resigning in ’74 and Eisenhower’s mea culpa farewell address about the military industrial complex in ’61.

      And to think just last week I was castigated by a friend for saying Ivy Leaguers should be barred from government because the vast majority live in a bubble unrelated to the reality the rest of us live in…will be forwarding this link to my uppity ‘friend’ with subject header “you were saying…?”

      Reply
  3. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Plastic-eating caterpillars could save the planet

    Right, just like importing cane toads solved all of Australia’s problems. Oh wait…

    The article concludes with:

    Even if the moths themselves are not the answer to the problem of plastic waste, some other animal out there might be.

    I suppose simply using less plastic is not an option for the Economist.

    Reply
    1. Juneau

      To be profitable the moth species will have to be GMO patented and I bet even GMO moths can fly.
      I guess these people never saw Jurassic Park. What happens if they these critters get hungry for gourmet cuisine and find a craving for all the crappy auto bodies out there? “Life, uh, finds a way!” (h/t, Jeff Bridges)

      Reply
        1. Christopher Fay

          JP V the chaos character is Jeff Bridges. V is the one where the scientists just let the dinosaurs run free. Bridges repeats the line as a wink wink reference.

          Reply
    2. ditto

      Exactly. This article was posted to a number of media outlets in April. More recent published studies (ie, this one) indicate there’s no evidence so far that polyethylene is actually digested by the caterpillars. Even if it did work imagine just how many larvae would be needed – perhaps they could be trained to carry our groceries home for us.

      Reply
      1. polecat

        Ok. … so how, in such a senario, does said caterpillar make its’ ‘release’ from a spun polyethylene cocoon ? .. does squirt some kind of acid for blood or something, to get free ?? … As if things aren’t bad enough …..

        Ok .. I’m writing mostly in jest …. mostly !

        Reply
    3. Charger01

      This reminds me of an article I read a few years ago, promoting the use of mushrooms to break down soil-bound contamination at Superfine sites. A fine narrative, but the research concluded that a few species of mushrooms did a modest job of mitigating some VOC/SVOC range chemicals and transferred some metals. But the title of the article was exaggerated “Mushrooms will save the world!”.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Too much water will kill you, as essential as it is.

        it’s some sort of parabolic usage-benefit curve.

        So, how many moths are we talking about, to get the job done?

        And will they sit quietly in the corner when they are not ‘working?’

        I can imagine when there were only 1 or 2 internal combustion engine-powered cars around in the whole of America, a lot of people said to themselves (and others), ‘Hey, we need more of them!!! They are pretty neat.”

        Reply
      2. JTMcPhee

        Charger, I guess your spell checker turns “Superfund” into “Superfine.” As a general rule, “Superfund” sites are less than “superfine.” I’m sure you know the difference, but for those too young to have been “exposed” to the sequels to Love Canal, here’s the Wiki take on the program: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superfund

        As an initiator and participant in US EPA’s efforts to do something about the externalized toxic crap that “industry” left in unruly heaps and dissolved in groundwater and mixed with and bound to soils and in the bodies of millions of Americans, I can offer that the “program” had all the endearing features of every Imperial bureaucracy: lost motion, bureaucratic empire building, incompetence, waste, fraud and other active and intentional forms of corruption, regulatory capture, and death by a thousand cuts starting during the Reagan Rule. Many sites achieved “de-listing” from the “National Priorities List” of “uncontrolled sites releasing or threatening to release hazardous substances [a list that by law does not includ petroleum and petroleum products], pollutants or contaminants” by a kind of “declare victory and go home” approach. Lots of earnest efforts by the people in the program who actually cared about “protecting human health and the environment” were diffused and defeated by the onslaught of neoliberal bosses and lobbying.

        Huge influx of money into the program early on. EPA’s “Superfund emergency response” office in Chicago came up on the end of the fiscal year with I think $5 million of their “zero-based budgeting” funds unspent. So every field person, 50 or so, got an Eddie Bower down parka, a swank aluminum footlocker for field gear, all new “personal protective equipment,” computers, and several large pickup trucks fitted out with custom bodies with lockers and cubbies and stuff for which more gear had to be bought to fill said cubbies and lockers.

        At one site, EPA paid CH2MHill several millions to conduct a “remedial investigation,” the predicate study to support a “remedial action,” the actual attempt to clean up. That study was supposed to define the soil profiles and groundwater surface and areas and extent of contamination. Hill subcontracted the field work to an outfit (i forget which) that drilled 3 test wells, only one of which went into the groundwater, took like 10 or 20 soil samples. And then, using a dazzling display of statistical legerdemain, generated a report full of iso drawings of the supposed piezometric surface of the groundwater at a 20 acre site, complete with nice charts of all the various contaminants and levels of contamination (the site owner/operator had been collecting “waste oil” and every kind of industrial liquid waste products in dozens of leaking tanks on site, and using the combined liquids as “road oil” and “dust control” all over northeast Ohio.) Hill reviewed the report (for a fee of course) and delivered it to EPA with a cover memo saying in effect that their subcontractor’s work product was a tissue of lies that they would not stand behind, and also an invoice for the full $2 million. Which, over my protest that Hill had grossly breached the terms of even the weak-tea contract EPA’s managers had signed and the federal procurement regulations and should not get a penny and in fact sued for non-performance and debarred from further contracts, the Regional office and EPA headquarters went ahead and paid. And gave CH2Mhill another $2 million, to do the study again.

        Getting organic and inorganic chemicals out of soil and ground- and surface water is a real technical challenge. Lots of things were tried, many of them wild-eyed crazy, but hey, there were billions of dollars floating around, and the Superfun law as written originally, made anyone, corporate or real, who contributed hazardous substances to a site from which there was a release or threat of release, “jointly, strictly and separately liable” for the entire cost of studies, cleanup and government legal costs. The teeth were there, but blunted and yanked as the K street types and the Reaganauts (and Clintonites, etc.) and those “legitimizers” in Congress worked their magic. The fungus initiative was one of many that, like so many crazed DARPA projects, got surfaced and funded due to “contractors” selling Tech to the ‘crats” who ran the program.

        I worked that beat for 12 years, initially using other authorities Congress dropped into the main environmental laws protecting (!) clean air and water, from before there ever was a Superfund, until other life issues and frustration at the blockade by TPTB of effective regulation sent me elsewhere. If I had just stayed on, worked my 25 years like my friends there managed to do, I too could have my nice defined-benefit pension and split my time between a nice house in a safe suburb and a condo on a Hawaiian Island or maybe a hacienda in Venezuela or Costa Rica… I knew at the time that I should have studied Spanish, not Latin and German and French, in high school and college…

        Reply
        1. CDT

          Have had 30 years of Superfund experience myself. God-awful amounts of money were wasted in the 80s and 90s, especially.

          Reply
    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Use less of everything when possible.

      For example, if you don’t have money for a brand new electric car, drive 50% less (when possible, I think I said that) with that old clunker.

      Or, instead of searching for enlightenment in the remote mountains of Tibet (unless you walk all the way), meditate at home.

      Reply
      1. Ken Murphy

        While visiting one of the museums in Christchurch, NZ, I saw an exhibit on recycling that expanded our usual ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ to include Repurpose and Refuse. I’ve always liked the latter.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          Christchurch was my favorite Big Smoke (ode to the old moniker for Sydney) in Enzed. We were there a few weeks before the big one that laid the city low, and there had been a 7.1 the previous year, and quite frankly we were surprised by how little damage there was considering the high Richter number-there were buildings red-tagged-but maybe only 50 in our wanderings, but it’s all about location location location. It was centered 25 miles out of ChCh.

          And we were in a little town called Five Rivers a few hundred miles away when the 6.3 temblor came calling in February 2011, and we felt it, and upon arriving in Queenstown, the motel clerk told me it was quite a jolt there, as well. It was centered just a couple of miles from Lyttleton-the port, and 6 miles from the city center, and a shallow quake.

          Reply
    5. justanotherprogressive

      And what terrible insecticide will we all be exposed to when those plastic eating caterpillars get loose into the environment as they eventually will….

      Reply
    6. Edward E

      Over in India they’re building roads with waste plastics. Something comes along and eats the roads? oh brother. Just wish something would eat kudzu, tuber and all.

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        PEOPLE eat kudzu, as do livestock. In Japan, where it comes from, they feed the tops to livestock and make starch from the tubers. I suspect they’re amused by the South’s problems with it.

        OTOH, the similar invasive here is English Ivy, which is poisonous. It is guaranteed employment for landscapers, though. A truly endless job.

        Reply
        1. polecat

          Honey bees LOVE Ivy blooms …
          And nobody’s died of the honey produced from it .. neither bee, nor humon.

          of course, maybe that’s because it hasn’t been geneered yet to produce … PLASTIC ! … or whatever thang some private equity scumbag needs to be created, or destroyed.

          Reply
  4. Corbin Dallas

    Isn’t it time to change the “Trump Transition” header to something else, like “Trump’s America” or “The New Normal”? Some things actually shift, and the word transition implies he’s still on the outs. All his failures, movements, bloviations and racist outbursts are no longer “in transition” they are here to stay and have infected every stratum of everyday life (especially w/r/t ICE’s ramping up of presence in my daily life here in Brooklyn’s courthouse blocks).

    Reply
  5. Tom Stone

    Interesting, as was the article at “The Hill” regarding the Rosatom/Uranium one deals.
    There have been calls for HRC to “Just STFU and go away” with the midterms coming,is this a little nudge?

    Reply
    1. Montanamaven

      If you listen to right wing radio talk shows like Breitbart, Hannity, Wilkow, etc, they have been on the Russian Uranium story for months. Mostly since they covered the Peter Schweitzer book “Clinton Cash” which first mentioned the uranium deal. But when I checked Factchecker etc, they dismissed it. So I filed it away under “still should keep an eye on it cuz Clinton Foundation”.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        To torture my wife, sometimes i’ll find Hannity on the radio dial when i’m driving with her ensconced in the passenger seat, and after about 15 minutes of the usual malarkey, she threatens to defenestrate her right to partake, and I have to lock the car windows, lest she follow through on her threat.

        Reply
  6. Pat

    Could Harvard use this most recent Lessig article as evidence of delusion and mental illness and remove him from his position? Or would the fact that it was printed in a mainstream publication offset the lack of touch with reality?

    And should we wonder about the mental state and future employment of the publisher and editors of Newsweek for publishing it? I know if I held any stake in it I would want their resignations.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The bit about Paul Ryan is out there. It reads like a rejected Lawrence O’Donnell West Wing script (he wrote just the worst of a terrible show).

      Reply
      1. Pat

        I would say the bit about Pence is out there as in remotely possible if with lottery level odds since there may be reasons and ways where a Trump failure would also lead to Pence having to pull a Nixon. Still short of legal problems there is no way he would resign, especially with his backers. The bit about Ryan is pure unadulterated fantasy, he would no more give up the Presidency than Clinton would. I realize the term is ‘should’, but that doesn’t really negate the delusional nature of the fantasy.

        (I do admit to a weakness for certain episodes and characters of The West Wing, but even at the time it was clearly a fantasy version of Washington.)

        Reply
        1. diptherio

          Republicans are going to impeach their own president, then have two of their number resign the top post in the land so that the position can be delivered to a Democrat….I don’t see why everyone thinks that’s so unlikely….

          Reply
          1. polecat

            Well, if one assumes they’re all on the $ame team (R’s & D’s), then yeah, it’s a plausible senario I suppose.

            Reply
  7. SpringTexan

    DuffelBlog is apparently a parody site, like The Onion. Hard to tell the parody from the real thing nowadays, with so much surreality in the news!

    Reply
  8. Pat

    The latest healthcare deal reminds me of the last election and its aftermath, mostly because it strikes me as yet another of those illuminating things about our system and the Democrats in particular Lambert kept pointing out.
    Let’s see strategically stupid, benefits far less than they tout, and ultimately damaging to their supposed base. Yup more of the same from the brain trust that gave us ACA and lost state houses, governorships and Congress.

    Reply
    1. John k

      Twofers are efficient.
      Dems and reps have been working for a generation to push down wages and benefits because donors. If a worse outcome for workers is the result of a deal they make, it is logical that was the intention, not incompetence, notwithstanding the last election.

      Reply
  9. Alex

    Re The Deep Unfairness of America’s All-Volunteer Force

    I agree with many points made in this article. It’s strange how the professional army is celebrated as a modern achievement whereas in the past the widening gap between the society’s general population and its military almost invariably resulted in crises and sometimes destruction of those very societies (think Rome and its Germanic mercenaries, Arab Caliphate and Turks, Byzantine and assorted professionals serving in its army, medieval Italian states and their condottieri, really I could go on and on).
    I’m not denying the inherent problems of the universal conscription, when one way or the other a large proportion of the population are forced to be part of a coercive institution. However it seems that historically such systems have been more robust, so probably some kind of middle ground should be found

    Reply
    1. TK421

      Our problem isn’t a volunteer military, but the fact that American voters robotically pull the lever for warmongers like Hillary Clinton just because they have a “D” after their name.

      Reply
      1. justanotherprogressive

        One of the reasons Americans are willing to vote for warmongers is that they don’t have to do the fighting – they can just send the “mercenaries” and the “mercenaries” will put on a show for them. If everyone had to sacrifice for our wars instead of being entertained by them, perhaps they wouldn’t be so willing to vote for warmongers….

        In Rome, it was quite fun to go see the gladiators – but it wasn’t that much fun being a gladiator, was it?

        Reply
        1. WheresOurTeddy

          One of the reasons Americans are willing to vote for warmongers is that the last non-warmonger to run was James Carter in 1976 and 1980.

          Reply
        2. Oregoncharles

          The Vietnam War went on for a long, long time with draftees.

          Granted, the draft was one driver of the resistance to it (my Republican father changed his tune quickly once my brother was drafted – I dodged it). However, re-instituting involuntary servitude just to (theoretically) increase war resistance would be trading a certain evil for an uncertain good. For one thing, the same people would still be going; the privileged were always able to avoid the draft, as I did.

          Reply
      2. Alex

        Yea but one of the reasons they do is that they are shielded from the effects of their choice – no skin in the game. I’m pretty sure that a country with universal draft would be less likely to go to war (holding everything else equal of course)

        Reply
      3. diptherio

        Which of the two candidates (who’s name appeared on every ballot in the nation) was not a war-monger? Actually, Trump got a good bit of mileage out of being the more anti-interventionist of the two candidates. I agree that a sadly large numbers of people are willing to vote for war-mongers, but it’s not like we’re given much of a choice. Anyway, who actually believes that who the voters pull the lever for has any effect on Washington policy? Haven’t we all read Gilens and Page at this point?

        Reply
        1. Alex

          The whole point is to have those who make the decisions bear some responsibility and have skin in the game. So if the elites’ children had to serve in the army alongside everyone else that would presumably impact the policy

          Reply
          1. Henry Moon Pie

            And just what kind of fair and just country do you think this is?

            “So if the elites’ children had to serve in the army alongside everyone else”

            It didn’t happen when we had a draft, and it will never happen under this system.

            The only thing a draft does is force a horrible choice upon those without the connections to avoid it.

            Reply
            1. justanotherprogressive

              I think the 70’s proved to us that when you give people choices they can’t live with, they finally do something about it. Our politicians won’t make that mistake again…….so, no I don’t expect the draft to ever return.

              I only wish it would so that Americans would actually feel some responsibility for what our leaders are doing in our name. Americans don’t even want to pay taxes to keep these wars going; they want their entertainment for free….. let the kids pay for it….

              Sooner or later, this will end and not well…….and the ‘woulda, shoulda, coulda’s will start…..

              Reply
            2. WheresOurTeddy

              “The only thing a draft does is force a horrible choice upon those without the connections to avoid it.”

              Clinton, Bush 43, Cheney, Trump…

              …while the poor’s bones have been buried in Vietnamese mud for 40 years.

              Reply
      4. Harold

        I agree that a mercenary army is not desirable and the conventional wisdom is that they do not work. But I read recently that he Venetian Republic successfully relied on a mercenary army for many, many centuries. I imagine this would have been more like a navy, though.

        Reply
        1. barefoot charley

          Venice was already an oligarchy.

          Vietnam was a draft disaster because it just wasn’t a big enough war. We used only a third of the available cannon fodder to fight it, that’s why it was so easy for the privileged to opt out–it was a ‘Selective’ Service. Universal service of various kinds–military, CCC, vocational, firefighting, social service?, whatever–from all 18- to 20-year-olds male, female and unbinaried, would give us many benefits, including many more tattletales in the military like we had in Vietnam. We need every hope we can give ourselves.

          Reply
          1. WheresOurTeddy

            and for those of us for whom carrying a shield and spear is in direct contravention of our pursuit of ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’? Am I to be coerced into your killing machine?

            Unity be damned, I’d rather live free in a city-state than unified in your empire.

            Reply
  10. B1whois

    That Business Insider article regarding shorts on the healthcare industry takes a very disingenuous swipe at Bernie Sanders health care plan. It only mentions Bernie Sanders very very briefly right here:

    Now, perhaps you’re saying to yourself, “Linette, Bernie Sanders has a plan.”

    Let me stop you right there. Bernie Sanders has a political pipe dream at best (a political litmus test at worse) that won’t pass one chamber of Congress, let alone two. There is no plan.

    I have bolded “no plan”, because it was a hyperlink to another Business Insider article. The reader could be forgiven for thinking that there will be an analysis of Bernie Sanders plan at that article. Nope! There is no mention of Bernie Sanders’ name or Medicare For All . The only mention of healthcare is this:

    Healthcare costs will continue to gobble up 1/6th of the economy because we have no plan to rein them in.

    Saying that Bernie Sanders has no plan is completely different than saying that the plan is not politically palatable at this moment. Further, to say that Bernie’s plan is a pipe dream at worst and a litmus test at best, is to get it completely backwards. Bernie’s plan is at its best a litmus test that allows voters to throw out those who will not abide it, and allows people to run who will champion it
    It’s a shame to see this kind of crappy reporting that does nothing more than draw the reader to another article with an implied promise of more information, while at the same time disparaging the only answer to the problem that spurned the first article in the first place!
    Other than that, the articles scared the bejesus out of me. Time to sell out my stocks and buy real estate. In Uruguay.

    Reply
    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      this kind of obfuscation in rampant in the media

      there is a plan to reign them in even more Bernie’s btw. HR 676 uses global budgets (rather than fee for service) to contain costs. that said, Bernie’s will save $ by negotiating prices with providers and pharma and through a reduction in administrative costs (I am still researching the actual numbers on that, having recently discovered that the 2% figure used in all our M4A materials (mostly from PNHP) probably understates as the figure is closer to 5%. I for one am not up for fighting propaganda with propaganda. but I have a second knee surgery coming up next week and there is only so much i can take on).

      btw on a personal note, the bad news is my decision to have a second knee done a mere 6 mos after the first is being driven by $ not health factors; the good news is that the first already maxed me out on my annual out-of-pocket limit (7k) so this one is entirely paid for by the insurance–surgery, rehab, meds and all!

      Reply
      1. marym

        Good luck with your surgery and recovery. Thanks for the alert about administrative costs. I’ll look around a bit too. It would be interesting to see the basis for higher estimates.

        It would also be interesting to see an analysis of administrative costs resulting from complications/privatizations (like Medicare Advantage, separate drug insurance, dual-eligibles, assorted supplement and extra help provisions) that would be eliminated with a universal M4All.

        Reply
    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Imagine the bigger pipe dream accusation if Sanders had brought up MMT and written the bill without the 4% tax on income above poverty.

      But then, if you opposed that bill’s 4% tax, would you be letting the perfect be the enemy of the good?

      You wanted the perfect last time. Do you want the perfect this time?

      Reply
  11. cocomaan

    Trump goes to China!

    Worth mentioning that the Winter Olympics are going to be in Seoul this coming February. My guess is that all the histrionics are in preparation for that event. Should be fun.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Trump at the Great Wall: “Did it keep the Manchus out?”

      Chinese Long March veteran: “It didn’t stop the Japanese north of Beijing, but the sons of Tenno didn’t take Shaanxi.”

      Trump: “Yes, but Los Angeles will be not the new Shanghai, with a Chinese Concession, a Japanese Concession, a Korean Concession, etc. And China will not demand open trade in America, like the powers did demanding open trade in Qing dynasty China.”

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Chinese Fantenyl merchants: “We want Hawaii as the new Hong Kong. We demand open access.”

        Trump: “You think Xi’s Doctrine as equivalent to our Monroe Doctrine? We’re morally obligated to be involved in the South China Sea problem.”

        Reply
          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            More likely.

            Xi: “Ganbei to your Maotai.”

            Trump: “I don’t drink. Any ketchup with my great American steak?”

            Reply
  12. Alex Morfesis

    Wilbur Ross deflected billions…Forbed…he probably just gave up the power of direction in the trusts where the corpu$/a$$et$ he could control (as in a structure somewhat resembling a revocable or irrevocable proxy) yet did not own…

    Should not trigger a taxable event…since directing the trust, if properly structured, should not lead to a ruling depicting ownership for tax nor estate law purposes…

    Hard to imagine mr. ross would not have an iron clad set of trust documents which would leave no room for anyone to interpret in an adversarial and negative tax manner…

    Reply
  13. Ed

    I hesitate to click on New Yorker links, and I stopped subscribing to the magazine, because the pro-Hillary and pro-neocon bias in the articles became too much to deal with.

    That in mind, I recommend clicking on the Pence article:

    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/10/23/the-danger-of-president-pence

    Its actually a fair article that manages to stay away from Russia bashing until the last few paragraphs. And the part right before that gives an explanation of why the Trump Administration often seems like the Koch brothers administration, despite the clear contradiction with Trump’s rhetoric while campaigning and sometimes afterwards.. Its because Koch Industries provided most of the personnel! Pence is literally financially dependent on the Koches, he doesn’t have much money of his own. Chris Christie, for all his faults, isn’t. Once Pence replaced Christie as head of the transition team the Koch brothers literally took over the administration. This directly explains some of the weirder appointments, such as for Education Secretary and CIA Director.

    Something similar has been happening with every presidential administration, Trump just heightened the contradictions, and the main culprit is a law preventing candidates from offering people jobs in their administrations before they are elected. Its why we don’t know who is going to be in the cabinet until after the election. This is what prevents an incoming government coming in, ready to go, within 24 hours of the election as happens in countries with Westminster modeled systems. Combined with the overly large number of direct presidential appointments, and the ridiculous government vetting process, it means that every incoming President winds up outsourcing large swathes of personnel to the usual lobbyist suspects.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      I’ve been reading the New Yorker forever, but rarely finish an issue as it’s a pick and choose gig, and NYC matters mean little to me and the obvious HRC bias is a bit disconcerting, but so enjoy the off kilter pieces on this that and whatever.

      An issue is $8.99 @ cover price, but I pay about 14% of list price.

      What if all retail purchases for everything you bought worked out that way?

      A brand new car with a MSRP of $25,000, you were able to scoop up for $3,500?

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        The car would have ads all over it. In fact, that deal is (or was – haven’t seen one for a while) available, at least in prime markets. If you’re willing to drive an ad.

        Reply
  14. Wukchumni

    Adolf is an easy comparison to our glorious leader, but doesn’t fit the narrative, as it wasn’t like there was 200 years of prior Nazi history, whereas a couple of Roman emperors from the long lived empire fit nicely…

    GWB: Commodus

    from Wiki:

    “was marked by political strife and the increasingly arbitrary and capricious behavior of the emperor himself. In the view of Dio Cassius, a contemporary observer of the period, his accession marked the descent “from a kingdom of gold to one of iron and rust”– a famous comment which has led some historians, notably Edward Gibbon, to take Commodus’ reign as the beginning of the decline of the Roman Empire”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commodus
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    DJT: Caligula

    From Wiki:

    “it is known that during his brief reign, Caligula worked to increase the unconstrained personal power of the emperor, as opposed to countervailing powers within the principate. He directed much of his attention to ambitious construction projects and luxurious dwellings for himself.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caligula

    Reply
  15. Garrett Pace

    Train surfing is nothing. Check out Brazil.

    I’ve seen this on crowded buses coming back from the beach at the end of a holiday, and I saw one where the group on the outside of the bus was bigger than what’s inside.

    Reply
  16. Wukchumni

    How Valuable Is a Unicorn? Maybe Not as Much as It Claims to Be Andrew Ross Sorkin, NYT (see NC here). When you’ve lost Andrew Ross Sorkin….
    ~~~~~~~~~~~

    2, 4, 6, 8
    I’ve never seen
    A Wall*Street scheme
    Andrew Ross Sorkin didn’t celebrate!

    Go dough team~

    Reply
    1. WheresOurTeddy

      I sometimes imagine a scene, hundreds of years from now, long after our cities have gone silent, where some alien archaelogical team discovers the ruins of our collapsed civilization, realizes we had rudimentary telecommunications and data storage techniques, and then pieces together how we destroyed ourselves.

      “Their capacity for deceiving and defrauding each other was astonishing, perhaps only exceeded by their apparent need to deceive themselves.”

      Gonna go watch some Star Trek Next Gen episodes with Q now. Pilot still one of my fave episodes of TV ever. Too bad the new Star Trek show sucks.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        A older friend that’s long since passed, worked on the original Star Trek tv series, and one of his jobs was along with another fellow, to
        manually open the seeing eye-doors with precise timing-using a rope on each end, that were in every portal of the Enterprise. They anticipated the future well in that way, but you notice how giant the computers blinking all the time are?

        Reply
  17. freedeomny

    Healthcare costs re next recession article….I believe this from what I am seeing in my own solidly middle-class neighborhood. One family practitioner MD acquaintance said that her patients for the most part are “boiling” angry about the cost of healthcare. Two other friends of mine who have Anthem Blue Cross are independent contractors who pay for their own insurance. Apparently Blue Cross is leaving NY State for individual insurance policies. They need to find new insurance for next year and the going rate is…1,200 a month and I believe that is not even for the best plan. These are both single people….who are expected to pay 1,200 a month for health insurance. I find this completely outrageous.

    Reply
    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      yup, that’s what I’ll be paying in NC. just got a letter from BCBS-NC and they say they “factored in” the CSRs being taken away in establishing rate hikes of 17% so no further raise.

      Now that the CSRs have been reinstated, think they’ll reduce the premiums…?

      Reply
    1. Lee

      This reality outdoes Kafka’s worst nightmare.

      If you have people in your life whom you trust, name them, with their acknowledged consent, as your legal guardian in the event of your incapacity. It’s not a guarantee that all will go exactly as you might wish, but at least you will probably avoid the most hellish aspects of the fate of those described in the article.

      Thanks for posting this.

      Reply
    2. WheresOurTeddy

      forwarded this to my 60-something mother-in-law.

      “We need to get something in writing because they’ll never find the April Parks that tries to take YOUR house, mom…”

      Reply
  18. The Rev Kev

    Football fashion: Behind Air Force’s top-secret fighter jet uniforms
    The Air Force’s football team are modelling uniforms inspired by the F-35 fighter? The one who had it’s tailed waxed by a 1970s era fighter plane in a combat test flight last year? How about adding hachimaki headbands then. Even if you do not know the name, you have all seen them. They are the headscarves that Japanese kamikaze pilots wrapped around their heads back in WW2 before going into combat and would be in keeping with the spirit of this plane. They could be made in the national colours of the eight countries buying this plane. They would look really cool!

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      My favorite uniforms would have to be the ones Tricky Dick wanted his Praetorian Guard in the white house decked out in, circa 1970.
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      “However, almost no one liked the new uniforms. People made comments such as:

      “they look like extras from a Lithuanian movie”

      “Late Weimar Republic”

      “Nazi uniforms”

      “like a palace guard of toy soldiers”

      “will they be goose-stepping, or what?”

      “falls somewhere between early high school band and late palace guard.”

      “They look like old-time movie ushers.”

      Chicago Tribune columnist Walter Trohan complained they were a “frank borrowing from decadent European monarchies, which is abhorrent to this country’s democratic tradition.”

      http://www.weirduniverse.net/blog/comments/nixon_palace_guard

      Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          I was in Sequoia NP when Elvis died, and at the public campfire that night, the expressing of grief was interesting to a 15 year old that had only known the bloated version who most definitely wasn’t cool compared to say the Beatles. 35-45 year olds were bawling their eyes out, while older people weren’t affected much by his passing.

          Alrighty then, ever see anybody bowling with a tie on?

          http://static.messynessychic.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/us-president-richard-nixon-bowling-everett.jpg

          Reply
    2. Brian

      There is a story this morning about an Israeli F-35 being downed by a pair of storks overnight in Syria. Or it was a Syrian MIG, or perhaps deus ex machina? I don’t want to link because the story will mutate like the pentagon emails wanting to make it appear as though they are helping Puerto Rico when they are discussing how they are not. All the world is a stooge.

      Reply
    3. JTMcPhee

      We romanticize the Flying Tigers, I sure did, as a testosterone-poisoned youth. Got to love that nasty-a$$ shark mouth complementing the shape of the P-40 Warhawk, that meme that is all over the place since the US mercenaries went to work for the “Nationalist” (sic) government of Generalissimo and Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, starting in 1937 (early warmups for the main innings of the Great Game WW II). A reading from a website devoted (several meanings) to the history and mythology of that bunch, established by FDR himself over objections of the Generals, with nudges from “friends of (Kuomintang) China” working the West Wing power games: http://flyingtigersavg.com/avg-history/

      A good choice for an emblem of “our” Air Power Team… serving in substance as mercenaries for several other shall we say not so “democratic” or even “liberal” national governments, and operators and turnover generators for “our” great national (sic) military industries?

      Reply
      1. Susan the other

        “We romanticize the Flying Tigers..” Spooky. I logged on to NC this morning after reading another blog on the CIA’s JFK files being declassified and I lapsed into a whole mental saga of all my reading about the real reason we were in Vietnam. I remembered Stillwell and asked myself, ‘What exactly was Stillwell doing then in southern China?’ and I thought about the dreadful Burma Road and flying over the hump and then the Flying Tigers. And I thought, wow, we really romanticized those guys! And I thought again, ‘So just exactly what were the Flying Tigers doing?’ I went back mentally and pieced together FDRs love for China and the close friendship between the rookie LBJ an the veteran FDR; I contemplated the secrecy China itself still imposes on some interesting thins like the old French Railroad from Laos into the Shan States. And much more. My brain was buzzing. And then I kinda stopped and wondered, ‘Why am I going over all this stuff?’ All the things we will never be told.

        Reply
      2. Wukchumni

        They call it the day it rained P-40’s on Kings Canyon…

        In 1941, 5 pilots bailed out of their P-40’s after running into a blizzard, whoops.

        About 15 years ago the ranger @ Bearpaw Meadow shared with me a 50 bullet link of 50 caliber machine gun bullets, that had come from some boy scouts that found them off-trail somewhere in Deadman’s Canyon, and they told her there was so much and their packs so heavy already, along with the risk of carrying old live ordnance, so that’s all they took to her. From one of the P-40’s no doubt.
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        “Meteorology wasn’t great in those days, and while the forecasters called for worsening conditions with icing above 9000 feet, they missed the fact that a major early winter storm system from the northwest was moving in over the Sierra range. Hughes was the only one who had charts and only a couple of the flight leaders…”

        https://pacaeropress.websitetoolbox.com/post/the-day-it-rained-p40s-5882870

        Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          Yeah, pilots had it tough in those days. They used dead reckoning for navigation because if you didn’t reckon it right, you were dead – literally. I recall one incident later in the war when I think about 70 P-51 Mustangs on their way to Japan were socked in by bad weather and were lost as a result as they could not find their way back home. That must have been a very bad day.

          Reply
    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s exercising one’s freedom of speech to play football for the Air Force in one’s birthday suit-uniform.

      Public exposure laws are thus unconstitutional.

      “I am naked to expose injustice.”

      Reply
  19. fresno dan

    https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-10-17/why-weinstein-held-on-for-so-long-and-fell-so-fast

    In his path-breaking 1995 book “Private Truths, Public Lies: The Social Consequences of Preference Falsification,” Kuran examined how individuals’ decisions to disguise their true feelings can sustain political regimes and social norms that most people don’t like — and how those seemingly permanent institutions can collapse unexpectedly.
    ==================================================
    I am not as interested in Weinstein as I am in how he survived in a world that supposedly revered independent, talented women, and than how he utterly collapsed. How this world methodically and purposefully was able to hide the professed beliefs so ablely versus the sordid reality.

    It reminds me so much of the 17 republican nominees of 2016….as well as Hillary Clinton. It just seems to me that so much that I see that is “politically correct” or conventional wisdom (and I certainly believe the repubs are just as “politically correct” as the dems, just on different issues, e.g., balanced budget, the best military in the world – – that can’t win against cave dwelling nomads after 17 years, free markets except when Wall street needs trillions, etc.) that the modern world is almost 100% divorced from reality – the whole construct is maintained to advance the interests of the few at the expense of the many.

    Reply
    1. JohnnyGL

      Wow….shades of David Einhorn during the Lehman decline and fall….”no matter how bad you think it is, it’s worse”

      Reply
  20. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Bipartisan deal to fund insurer payments faces tough political slog Modern Health Care

    Without the cost-sharing reduction payments, projected to total $7 billion this year and $10 billion next year, insurers will face big financial losses for the last three months of 2017 and will have to raise premiums sharply in 2018.

    I have been confused about what these csr payments actually are for awhile now.

    They are generally represented as federal assistance to low-income insureds for paying deductibles and copays required by insurance policies purchased through obamacare. Meeting the deductibles puts the insurance companies on the hook for paying “healthcare” claims submitted by these insureds.

    Here is the definition of csr from the healthcare.gov glossary page:

    A discount that lowers the amount you have to pay for deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance. In the Health Insurance Marketplace, cost-sharing reductions are often called “extra savings.” If you qualify, you must enroll in a plan in the Silver category to get the extra savings.

    When you fill out a Marketplace application, you’ll find out if you qualify for premium tax credits and extra savings. You can use a premium tax credit for a plan in any metal category. But if you qualify for extra savings too, you’ll get those savings only if you pick a Silver plan.

    If you qualify for cost-sharing reductions, you also have a lower out-of-pocket maximum — the total amount you’d have to pay for covered medical services per year. When you reach your out-of-pocket maximum, your insurance plan covers 100% of all covered services.

    So why are these payments made to the insurance companies?

    It appears that, despite claims that these payments are assistance to the “poor,” the system works like this:

    –Insurance companies construct plans and set premiums.
    –Taxpayers subsidize the premium payments to insurance companies.
    –Taxpayers satisfy the required deductibles for some insureds triggering insurance company liability.
    –Taxpayers reimburse insurance companies for the cost of the “healthcare” they contracted to provide when they sold the policy in the first place.

    If this is, in fact, the way obamacare works, it’s hard to see how Trump is wrong in calling the “law” an insurance company bailout.

    Reply
    1. Jim Haygood

      So why are these payments made to the insurance companies?

      Cuz they wrote the law. Specifically, former WellPoint VP Elizabeth Fowler drafted Obamacare for Sen. Max Baucus.

      Why run valuable cash flow through mopes who may default, when your company can directly suck in billions of gov’t checks from an insurer-friendly HHS?

      That high deductibles discourage some victims consumers who HAVE coverage from using it is just icing on da cake — “multiple streams of income,” as ol’ Robert G Allen used to call it.

      We need a racket like this.

      Reply
      1. Katniss Everdeen

        I remember vividly when I was first introduced to the concept of “the float” as an ultra short term “investment” vehicle for insurance companies. It was used to explain the delay in reimbursing providers for legitimately incurred “healthcare” claims in a timely manner.

        Apparently there’s a lot of money to be made “investing” huge gobs of cash for even two or three days.

        Reply
      2. Wukchumni

        Sorry, Gang Green has spread throughout the body politic and into the corrupted arteries of the financial system. That smell is indicative of flesh literally rotting off the bone, but the idea of lopping off anything is for the time being, repugnant.

        Reply
    2. ChiGal in Carolina

      absolutely the ACA was a big giveaway to the insurance companies; not sure anyone reading here would dispute that. and yes, the CSRs are subsidies given to INSURANCE COMPANIES to keep them in the game despite “losses” (more like reduction in profits) caused by not enough healthy people signing up.

      the CSRs were meant to be temporary as it was fantasized (see Ezekiel J. Emanuel) that within a few years so many would be on the exchanges that prices would be falling, not going up. obviously, that hasn’t happened because whatever cost controls were baked in (% to be spent on care vs admin etc.) clearly have been circumvented.

      under the Obama administration, the consequences of withholding CSRs would I believe have been that the following year insurers would likely have raised premiums or dropped out. under the Trump administration HHS is allowing insurers to revise their plans for THIS year, though it is past the deadline.

      Reply
      1. Katniss Everdeen

        There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth on msnbs when the csr payments were curtailed. Premium increases for several states were relentlessly compared with and without the csr payments.

        For one state, Georgia I think, the increases would be “only” 31% with the payments and 54% without.

        As if a 31% increase was eminently doable. No one thought to mention that at a 31% annual increase, the premium would double in a little over 2 years.

        Reply
        1. Aileen

          @Katniss, the CSR payments actually do help “the poor.” Fifteen months ago my husband was diagnosed with stage iv cancer, qualified for disability but because he had worked half a year we were stuck with paying the full OOP maximum amount of $6,100 for the year (on top of premiums, of course). This year, I quit working so that we could qualify for a Silver plan with CSR which lowered our OOP maximum to $2,000.. So we went from spending over 30% of our meager income on direct health expenses to about 20%, which means the difference between being homeless and not. For those who ask why I didn’t work more: if I did, every penny of it would go to paying premiums and other health expenses, and I would not be able to take my husband to his many medical appointments. So we opted tighten our belts so that we could spend what time we have left together, instead of making money to just to hand over to the insurance criminals. I guess we’re being parasites, but g-d it I don’t really care.

          Reply
          1. marym

            For-profit insurance companies are required to pay out in benefits only 80-85% of premiums. This is true for private insurance and privatized public programs such as Medicaid managed care. No other developed country has a healthcare access system that allows this. There’s no reason in the world people should have to make the difficult financial choices such as you face.

            People who need healthcare aren’t the parasites in this picture. It’s good to know that you found a path through this flawed system that provides at least some degree of benefit for you and your husband in this difficult time.

            Reply
          2. wilroncanada

            In my view, this buy-partisan (spelling deliberate) plan to give temporary reprieve to some small part of RomObUmp Care is a buy-partisan game thought up by (im)moderate Republicans and Blue-Dog/Turd-Way Democrats to completely bury any momentum of single payer health care for all.
            The Blue Dogs can claim in 2018 to have saved Obamacare, while the so-called Moderate Republicans can claim that if they are re-elected they will be able to finish the job after 2018.
            It’s all just politics as usual–CYA.

            Reply
  21. Wukchumni

    We’re coming upon the sesquicentennial of this event happening here, where about 2,000 giant sequoias of considerable age were swept down like so many lincoln logs…
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    “During the early part of the winter of 1867-1868, the southern Sierra endured a period of prolonged and intense wet weather. An early snowpack developed, rivers rose, and the mountain soils became saturated. On the evening of December 20th, a landslide began near the summit of Dennison Mountain, above what we now know as the Garfield Grove of the giant sequoias.

    Water-saturated soil, trees and all, peeled off the bedrock and roared downward into the darkness. The heavy mix of earth, snow, and trees accelerated and grew as it descended, scraping yet more earth from the steep mountainside. The now huge debris flow, ultimately several thousand feet wide, roared down through the Garfield Grove, uprooting or snapping off full-sized giant sequoia trees.

    Moving with incredible power, the swiftly moving mass came to an abrupt halt when it reached the bottom of the canyon of the South Fork of the Kaweah River. There, it created a debris dam about 400 feet high.

    First, in the darkness, South Fork rancher Joseph Palmer heard an enormous rumbling roar; later that night, the river stopped flowing. The debris dam lasted about 24 hours, giving way in the middle of the following night. A wall of water and debris forty feet high came down the canyon in the darkness. Palmer barely escaped by running up the mountainside. When the flood reached Visalia, the leading edge of the water was still 5-6 feet deep. As the waters moved on toward Tulare Lake, huge shattered pieces of giant sequoia wood settled into the mud around Visalia’s valley oak trees.

    In his ranger days, Fry also carefully studied the slide zone, which after 1890 was within Sequoia National Park. He estimated that the debris flow destroyed about one-third of the Garfield Grove and swept away about the 350 million board feet of standing timber.”
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    James Garfield would’ve made for an interesting President, that is if he hadn’t died from that bullet wound, certifying eventually the title of assassin for Guiteau…

    From a contemporary account:

    “He was also ambidextrous. Stories emerged to the effect that Garfield would entertain his friends by having them ask him questions, and then writing the answer in Latin with one hand while simultaneously writing the answer in Greek with the other.”

    And this is what Garfield had to say about QE of his era:

    “It would convert the Treasury of the United States into a manufactory of paper money. It makes the House of Representatives and the Senate, or the caucus of the party which happens to be in the majority, the absolute dictator of the financial and business affairs of this country. This scheme surpasses all the centralism and all the Caesarism that were ever charged upon the Republican party in the wildest days of the war or in the events growing out of the war.”

    Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        There was essentially hardly anybody living here @ the time, so details are scant at best aside from Mr. Palmer’s (Palmer cave in the NP is named after him) eyewitness account.

        I lifted that passage from a link that’s no longer on the internet, and that was it in entirety.

        Sequoia trees were pretty useless in terms of the wood, aside from making fence posts, grape stakes and roof shingles, and from what i’ve read, the log largess was a feast for early settlers to the area, for trees as wide as 15 feet were delivered for free, and most every fence post was constructed from them, a number of which you still see, as giant sequoia wood takes forever to decompose. When we’re long gone a few thousand years from now, this cemetery of stumps will look similar to how it does now. And giant sequoia wood doesn’t burn all that well, as an added protection.

        https://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/0b/ab/d3/f5/stump-meadow.jpg

        Reply
    1. Jim Haygood

      Garfield would have found it impossible to imagine the US as a global empire. The Spanish-American war which kicked off the US drive for offshore empire happened 17 years after his death.

      Permanent war requires permanent war finance. That’s what the Federal Reserve does. All the blind PhDs comically (but confidently) describing the unseen economic elephant are just an entertaining sideshow, diverting attention from the real mission.

      Asset prices are running out of control here in Fiatnam (Dow 23,137!). The sorcerer’s apprentice can’t be stopped until the QE supernova burns itself out in a global fireworks show followed by an eerie quiet darkness.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        It’s all freaky timing…

        Everybody was obsessing about Kaiser Wilhelm the other day, most oblivious that only for pacifist Kaiser Friedrich III dying after only a few months on the throne, Wilhelm is just another princeling you’ve never heard about.

        Another one is GHWB, whose Avenger plane got shot down and he parachuted out, and luckily the current took him out away from Chichijima, so he was ‘late’ for dinner, and was picked up by a sub, and you know have youtube has everything?

        Here’s his rescue, in color!

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_ovbnRg4RE

        No GHWB, no GWB.
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        “Chichijima was also the subject of a book by James Bradley entitled Flyboys: A True Story of Courage, a factual account of the lives of a group of young World War II pilots, including George H. W. Bush. The book tells the story of United States Navy pilots who bombed the island’s two radio stations, and details the stories of the US pilots who were captured, tortured, executed, and in some cases, partially eaten in February 1945”

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chichijima

        Reply
  22. Grumpy Engineer

    The American Progress article, “Student Loan Crisis for African American Borrowers“, needs a new headline. Because the default rate for all ethnic groups is too high. A 21% default rate for white students is too high. A 36% default rate for Hispanic students is much too high. And a 49% default rate for African American students is catastrophically too high. And these default rates were for the smaller loans issued back in 2003 thru 2007. Default rates for the larger loans being issued today will almost certainly be even worse for all ethnic groups.

    The student loan crisis is everybody’s crisis. Will we ever have the political will to say “no” to the educational-industrial complex and stop lending ever-growing amounts of money to young people who aren’t ready to handle the debt?

    Reply
    1. justanotherprogressive

      “Will we ever have the political will to say “no” to the educational-industrial complex and stop lending ever-growing amounts of money to young people who aren’t ready to handle the debt?”

      I’d paraphrase your statement to say: “Will we ever have the political will to say “no” to those people preying on our children?”

      Reply
    2. neo-realist

      I would say “Will we ever have the political will to either create free or reduced cost college or free or low cost skills training and career opportunities for young people to enable them to better their lives without going into massive debt?”

      Reply
    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I’ll use your comment to complain not just about student loans but about what to me is the crass way some colleges and universities treat their students. My daughter attended part of one semester at Temple University in Pennsylvania. She didn’t take out any loans. I paid every single one of the expenses she accrued and seemed strongly encouraged to accrue by TEMPLE University during her brief stay at TEMPLE — remember the name TEMPLE — in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As things turned out she dropped out before completing even ONE SEMESTER of her studies. After verifying with her that she had dropped all her classes I insisted she must go to the cashier’s office and make certain all monies owed were paid [I should have also insisted on a signed and dated receipt to that effect! … but trusted too, too, … much too much.]

      Several months after my daughter checked out of Temple — a bill arrived — sent to my daughter — from a collection agency demanding FOUR HUNDRED and some dollars and change. I’ll repeat this for emphasis — sent from A COLLECTION AGENCY. This — THIS! in spite of my having paid all my daughters bills from the very same address and while residing at that address and NEVER NEVER receiving any bills or statements … or anything what-so-ever from Temple University after almost six months! Of course I contested the charges and requested clarification from the collection agency. Some time later they responded with a statement from one page of Temple’s accounting along with NO clarifications and NO attribution of debts to the $400++ demanded. I let them hang.

      This collection agency sold the debt — I assume at a considerable discount — past that Temple must already have tendered to them — to another collection agency. This new collection agency sent another debt collection notice to my daughter at my address. [My daughter was very upset by the first collection agency’s contacts which fortunately came to me first.] This new collection agency now demanded payment of $200++ — I’m not sure what lead to forgiveness of $200 since I wasn’t sure how to read or interpret Temple’s accounting as it was sent to me after contesting the demands of the first collection agency. I contested this new demand and told them to send an accounting so I could know what exactly the debt related to. They sent me a replica of the original accounting sheet which I had received from the first collection agency. I studied this accounting but couldn’t find where ~$200 had been forgiven and couldn’t figure out how the collection agency’s demand related to the accounting I was sent. I refuse to pay unless I might know what I’m paying for — especially when the demand comes from a collections agency. I’m reluctant to pay even a demand I could justify in the accounting since I have no way to verify that any given collection agency has a legal right to the demand and will show the demand paid once they receive payment.

      I believe the debt was discounted and sold again and once more a demand was sent to my daughter at my address — exactly the same address I had all the time she attended Temple amd since. I again contested the demand and again attempted to work through the accounting — but this time I looked more carefully at the dates and determined that Temple University had crafted charges — a few months after the fact, after my daughter was gone — and never bothered to request payment for those charges at the address on record for my daughter, my address and an address where I still resided and received mail including the demands from the chain of collection agencies. After this amd yet another review of the accounting I identified charges supporting the $200+ demanded by the collection agency — all charges I would have most hotly contested with Temple University — had I been given the opportunity. After finally figuring out — without any help from Temple or the collections agencies demanding payment — what exactly the payments covered. My daughter can barely and often does not manage to support herself and her credit rating seems quite unimportant to me and should be so to heror so I thought. [After Equifax I am surprised credit ratings retain any meaning what-so-ever.] None of the collection agencies ever followed up the sheets of Temple accounting with further demands or with clarifications … so again I ignored them. I will NOT pay for something without knowing what it is!

      Concluding this tale of woe — My daughter applied to the CUNY system of Community Colleges in New York to take a few classes there. I do not know all the details of who said what but at the end of the transactions — to the best of my knowledge — my daughter paid the $200+ to free her non-completion transcripts from Temple so she could complete her applications to CUNY.

      I suppose having Bill Cosby as a formerly illustrious alumni is a most fitting and appropriate epithet for Temple University, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. However — if anyone is desirous of an “interesting” experience I might suggest that Temple University, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania would accommodate them.

      These are my opinions and observations based on such evidence as I accrued. From what I could evaluate of the curriculum at Temple — based on my daughter’s reading list and based on what I read in the class descriptions — the material covered was appropriate, well-chosen and reflected well upon the faculty at Temple. My opinions intend no defamation of Temple University, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania but do report to my best ability events as they transpired.

      Reply
    1. olga

      “Knew” is not quite accurate… they instigated the prolonged coup d’etat and its embassy supplied the kill lists. Unfortunately, this bloody chapter is little known today in the US.

      Reply
  23. Ned

    About that healthcare parasite in the U.S. economy…

    If everyone in the U.S. ate organic food, the parasite would shrivel and die at many stages of disease prevention and the other savings to the environment would more than make up for the small extra cost of this dietary change.

    Organic food has more minerals, enzymes and nutrition, therefore tastes better and you eat less of it, so it’s actually cheaper to the individual than conventional junk food that you need to eat more of to partially satisfy your body’s craving for what it needs as you load up on pesticide residues.

    Are your children “Roundup Ready”? If so, then continue to feed them pesticide residues and pay the price in higher healthcare expenses later.

    Reply
    1. polecat

      Soooo, tell me … just how is one to PAY for that, mostly, over-priced ‘organic’ grub ?? … because if my local downtown farmers market is any indication, the only people able and willing to buy such goods are the ever dwindling middle and upper classes .

      Reply
      1. Ned

        Figure out the cost of blood thinners and other pharma “solutions” to poor eating, plus the deductibles for your “health care” visits necessitated by eating biocides and you will be coming out ahead eating “expensive food.”
        http://www.pan-uk.org/health-effects-of-pesticides/
        It’s a zero sum game. Look at all the costs.
        Plus it tastes better; unless you are trained to eat sugar and grease. There’s organic junk food too, avoid that as well.

        Reply
        1. polecat

          Look .. I grow, and process/preserve as much food as is possible on a single city lot, expending much of my time doing what I can so my family has at least some truly organic, nutritious food …. but, again, unless you have the bucks, it is difficult to eat entirely ‘organic’ if purchased from growers, markets, etc . ..
          Also, what are these ‘health care visits’ of which you speakith ??

          Reply
            1. GlobalMisanthrope

              From the USDA May 2013:

              “However, unlike many pesticides, there aren’t speci c tolerance levels in the USDA organic regulations for GMOs.”

              You’ll want to catch up. USDA’s main purpose is to function as a shield from liability.

              Reply
        2. GlobalMisanthrope

          The ubiquity of said chemicals is the problem. It renders individual consumption “choices” meaningless as well as frankly making the entire organics industry a scam.

          Not that all the farmers are grifters, just that the game is totally rigged in favor of the large producers who take advantage of enormous loopholes.

          Here’s the USDA organics link: ams.usda.gov

          Read it and weep. We’re all in a lot more trouble than you think.

          Reply
      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Cost control, the same with medicine.

        Then, free organic food (never after free college – here is looking at you, New York).

        Reply
    2. Lee

      Can organic agriculture raise enough food? If it could, what would it cost? Would the savings from healthcare costs cover additional costs of organic food? Are their data on this. I buy mostly organic produce but I’m not poor and I live in California where organic products are relatively abundant.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The related question is this: Have we reproduced too much, beyond the number that can be sustained by organic farming?

        Reply
        1. Lee

          I’m guessing yes. There’s a study by Pimentel et al., albeit from some years ago, that estimated 70% overall crop losses absent pest control. Some crops species more, some less. Before WW2 most farming didn’t use substances and methods now used. But global population was about a third of what it is now.

          Reply
  24. Wukchumni

    SUPRIIIIIIZE! PAAAAAARTY!

    Yeah, we just thought we’d drop in!
    Where’s your considered thoughts?
    Where’s the free lunch?
    Ew, house-a-tosis!

    Who’s to blame when parties really get out of hand?
    Who’s to blame when they get poorly planned?
    Hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoooo-ooooooooo.

    Healthcare plans get bombed, McConnell makes a mess.
    Ya know sometimes they’ll even ruin the worst of the best
    Invasion plans not getting bombed. (Who’s to blame?)
    Can you pull it back in line?
    Can you salvage it in time?

    What can you do to save a party?
    Filibusters? obstruction charades? A spur-of-the-moment
    Tax scavenger hunt, or just stay in denial? (WOOOOOOOOOOH!)
    Who turned out the lights! (WOOOOOOOOOOH!)

    Bombed, President wants to get it bombed
    Every last Nork bombed, bombed, bombed, bombed, well who’s to blame?
    Who’s to blame when situations degenerate?
    Disgusting things you’d never anticipate?
    Hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoooo-ooooooooo.

    People get scared, they play the fear game
    Ya know, somebody is to blame
    North Korea gettin’ bombed. (Who’s to blame?)
    Can you pull it back in line?
    Can you salvage it in time?

    WOOOOOOOOOOOH!
    It shouldn’t be difficult!
    Try hard to condemn!
    O.K. Who ordered nukes?
    Please be tactful when ordering the nukes
    Be tactful when ordering the nukes
    and maybeee you can save a parteeee.

    Party gone out of bounds!
    Gone out of bounds!
    Party gone out of bounds!
    Gone out of bounds!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNX1knUjZl4

    Reply
  25. John k

    Off topic.
    Dreamers.
    Reps don’t like any plan that is a path to citizenship because of logical fear they will vote dem, plus it then allows them to bring in other family members.
    Green card is path to citizenship.
    How about a blue card…
    Same as green except not a path to citizenship, plus if convicted of certain major felonies can lose status and be deported.
    Dems might not like because they love the issue, and of course want Hispanic voters… but most could not vote against this. Some reps have lots of hispanics (Fl, tx, Il, Nj), would support. Hispanics would like it…
    And trump wants a deal.
    And so does Bernie… he and some rep might propose it…

    Reply
    1. Romancing The Loan

      Green card holders are already routinely deported if convicted of many crimes (not just major felonies).

      A “blue card” sounds like a permanent second-class citizen status that does nothing to solve any part of the immigration issue.

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Ted Kennedy, McCain, and Bush (these people) supported similar plans from 2006. If they aren’t citizens, they aren’t receiving trials which means they will be deported as soon as there is a whiff of organizing or whistle blowing. There is far too much room for abuse. Oh, I’m sure the local police will find pot which signifies the deportees were just cartel members with union cards. It would create a permanent underclass of laborers who would be used against local labor.

        Reply
  26. Juan Tootreego

    Regarding the article on GM to begin testing self-driving cars in NY: It seems to me that the “five-levels-of-autonomy” model is misleading to say the least, as it doesn’t really address the likelihood of the human monitor/driver to actually be on the alert in levels 1 thru 4. So I’d like to propose a more operationally oriented model of three levels:

    Level 1: the autonomous vehicle is operating in a cooperative environment. This is where we are now, with alert test drivers, restricted routing, and etc.

    Level 2: the autonomous vehicle is operating in a neutral environment that neither favors nor attacks the vehicle. Drivers may or may not be paying attention, the route may or may not be known to the car’s computer, the programming is likely to contain active bugs or glitches, etc. Inter-operativity between different brands of vehicles will not be 100%. We are nowhere near to deployment on this level.

    Level 3: the vehicle is operating in a hostile or potentially hostile environment, or in other words, a natural environment. Hostility can range from rock falls and wash-outs to such things as teen-agers switching signs around or repainting highway marker lines (think Wile E. Coyote painting a tunnel on a cliff-side) to hackers- there will always be hackers- breaking in, reprogramming and/or taking over vehicles for fun or profit, to police departments or governments who will have the ability to electronically stop any or all vehicles in their legal territory, to manufacturers going out of business, leaving owners stranded, etc.

    A quick trip to any hacker hangout leaves serious doubt that “autonomous” vehicles (just how autonomous will they actually be?) will ever be able to operate safely in the natural/hostile world.

    Reply
  27. djrichard

    Regarding Weaponized Narrative Is the New Battlespace — Defense One

    Some thoughts:

    – neo-liberalism simply only needing to cloak itself in democracy to perpetuate itself is no longer sufficient. Obviously, they’re going to have to do more work to win hearts and minds. Boo hoo.

    – Unless of course the powers that be can suppress the competition. Which would be easier in the older days. Nowadays …

    – nowadays, the genie is out of the bottle.

    – I thought this was pretty insightful: “It [weaponized narrative] attacks our group identity – our sense of who we are, our privilege of not being identified as “other.””. And there’s an admission there: that what gets baked into our identity is our privilege, in particular our privilege of not being the other. Without which, campaigns for “war-on-x” wouldn’t be tenable. Because then if we identified with the “other”, or at least acknowledged their humanity, that would undermine a “war-on-x” where the other is thrown under the bus. But if it’s our privilege that has primacy, well then the “other” is entirely expendable, and they’re easy fodder for any “war-on-x” campaign. Whether it be the terrorists, the poor, the drug users, the deplorables, evil-doers in general. Which makes me suspect that any neo-liberal-based democracy has to make privileges not only a center-piece of what they’re about, but vice versa, make sure that there are losers on the short-end of the stick who don’t get said privileges.

    Reply
  28. Terry Flynn

    re big data.

    A lot of the problems are due to the classic fallacy of composition: assuming that what holds at a more aggregated level hold at the disaggregated level. Better data from individuals on things like personality types, how easily attitudes can be exploited or manipulated to make a purchase etc are needed (playing devil’s advocate here).

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      A couple other examples of fallacy of composition.

      Every mother to daughter: “You can be the president of America.”

      Every father to son: “You can run a major Hollywood studio.”

      Maybe be true for one or two families, but not, for the whole country.

      Reply
    2. flora

      re: “classic fallacy of composition”

      I’ll add that point to my general critique of the claims made for AI’s sure future “infallibility” .

      Reply
    1. meeps

      It was grocery-errand day for me today. The store exit was flanked by uniformed boy scouts too shy to pitch their fundraiser wares, so one of the big boys (presumably a dad) tried to tempt me with an assortment of meat sticks. I politely declined, adding that no one in my household eats meat, to which he replied, “These are pork.”

      I didn’t know how to respond, but I thought, “Well, at least we’ve established the baseline for a conversation about animal agriculture and environmental pollution.”

      Reply
  29. Darthbobber

    To the extent the Weaponized Narrative article is more than a hysterical assemblage of word salad, it would mean that others are catching up to a set of long-used (but generally unacknowledged) set of tchniques developed precisely in the United States and the parliamentary structures of Europe.

    The part that breathlessly talks about this as a “new”, better method of authoritarian rule in the villain states simply reprises, with pejorative terminology, the use of limited choices within a controlled, limited discourse (which has a central narrative partly controlled by the gatekeepers) that is familiar as a central technique for the management of consent in the west to any casual reader of Chomsky or a dozen others. There is nothing new about it, except the use of social media, which actually dilutes the impact compared to previous communication technologies.

    And even a cursory glance at American politics shows a ton of stuff constantly being produced that fits this “weaponized narrative” description pretty tightly. The drawing of lines, identifying “others”. (and more could be said about that, because any actual politics has a “them” and an “us”. Something that doesn’t is usually a religion or a philosophy rather than a politics.) And the effort to shut down narratives that drift outside the “acceptable.”

    What do the authors think a “wedge issue” even is, for God’s sake? And what is beltway-driven political “organizing” about, if not segmenting into smaller and smaller fractions, and marketing to the fractions?

    And the fakeness is by no means an innovation. The inernet and the advertising pages are absolutely littered with things that pretend to be organizations of the citizenry but are in fact simply fronts for something else altogether. How are we “behind” anybody in such crapola? Its an invention of Good ol’ Yankee ingenuity.

    The eventual (and unspoken) implication of such articles is to justify alleged “countermeasures” which identify our own society as the “battlefield” and to use the known techniques of manipulation and suppression even more widely than is already the case in waging this alleged battle.

    And there are enough of he alleged liberals aboard this train for their own reasons that one can only marvel at how far they’ve traveled from Mills’ “free marketplace of ideas.”

    Reply
  30. Mike G

    Re: Comey Drafted Statement Ending Clinton Email Investigation Months Before Interviewing Her, FBI Confirms

    “Midyear exam” sounds less like an investigation than sorta similar to how grocers use to pay the mob for “protection.” Whatever was going on here, it doesn’t seem like police work.

    Reply
  31. ewmayer

    Jeebus, lots of lying and misleading headlines today – let’s just take the worst offenders:

    o “Central bankers have one job and they don’t know how to do it | FT Alphaville” — Disagree, CBers know that their one and only real mandate is to enrich the Big Financial players, and they’ve been doing that splendidly.

    o “Wall Street found a parasite growing in the US economy that could spur the next recession | Business Insider.” — Correction, Wall Street *is* a parasite growing in the US economy that *will* spur the next recession. And get further enriched as a reward for doing so, as lied-about-via-omission in the preceding headline.

    o “How Valuable Is a Unicorn? Maybe Not as Much as It Claims to Be Andrew Ross Sorkin | NYT” — Memo to Sorkin: being wildly overvalued is a key part of the *definition* of a unicorn.

    o “The War on ISIS Held the Middle East Together | Defense One” — D1 appears to have a very curious definition of “held together”.

    o “White House announces plans for Donald Trump’s visit to China with North Korean nuclear programme set to top the agenda | South China Morning Post (and People’s Daily). And just when I thought things were dull. There’s nothing about this on the front pages of either the Times or WaPo, as of this writing (3:11AM today). I mean, pro-Trump or anti-Trump or anything else, isn’t this newsworthy?” — Oh, it’s clearly newsworthy, but what has that to do with appearing on page 1 of the WaPo or NYT? Those rags-of-record only care if it’s propaganda-worthy, and the above story alas contains little that can be distorted into hysterical Trump-bashing or warmongering headlines for millions of Facebook zombies to circulate, perhaps in the vain hope that one of their link-forwardees will actually bother to read the piece and let them know just how deplorable the administration is being.

    o “Lawrence Summers: Trump’s top economist’s tax analysis isn’t just wrong, it’s dishonest Lawrence Summers | WaPo” — And if anyone knows dishonest when he sees it, it’s professional top-flight grifter, upward-failer and all-around pompous-douchenozzle-of-Harvey-Weinsteinian-proportions Larry Summers.

    And na even ga touch the Larry “Lessig is moron” op-ed, since Lambert’s takedown of that one is already aptly brutal.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Hard to disagree with your assessments.
      Just to be a little disagreeable — so as to retain the essence of my persona — how are today’s headlines special in their mendaciousness?

      Reply
    1. Jeremy Grimm

      UGH! Vasili Arkhipov
      I am tormented with misspellings resulting from not repeating consonants or repeating them when I shouldn’t!

      Reply

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