Links 6/6/18

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JetBlue tightens policy on emotional support animals CNN

Junior High Teacher Charged Criminally After Feeding Puppy To Snapping Turtle In Class Jonathan Turley. EeeeW!

Guatemala volcano: Nearly 200 missing and 75 dead BBC

Before I Forget: the video game that tackles dementia Guardian (UserFriendly)


US presses airlines to resist China over Taiwan Financial Times

North Korea

What will be the outcome of Trump and Kim Jong-un’s nuclear summit? Guardian

Trump Wants Kim to Commit to Disarmament Timetable in Singapore Bloomberg

To sweeten summit pill, Moon offers Kim a peace treaty. So what? Asia Times

EU army looms? Merkel backs Macron’s European Defense Force initiative RT (UserFriendly)


Italy’s new PM Giuseppe Conte’s inaugural speech vows radical change DW

Interviewed by Vanity Fair Italia on the new 5S-Lega government – Read the original Q&A in English Yanis Varoufakis. Correctly critical of the right wing elements of the program,but still hopeful re weakening the austerity vise.


Only 17 massive new problems with Brexit discovered today Daily Mash

Brexit: End of free movement risks collapse of UK social care, report warns Independent

UK military secondments to EU to cease after Brexit Financial Times

Labour backs soft Brexit and keeping ‘full access’ to the single market after Britain leaves the EU Daily Mail. You cannot make this stuff up.

Government loses more than £2bn of taxpayers’ money selling off RBS shares despite warnings Independent


Staying the Course: the Long March of Middle East Destruction Counterpunch

Iran Moves to Lift Its Nuclear Enrichment Capacity New York Times (UserFriendly)

Slavoj Zizek: The secret of how to defeat Trump lies in Europe RT (Chuck L)

Swift shows impact of Iran dispute on international business Financial Times. Key section:

Mr Trump reactivated the US sanctions against Iran last month when he pulled Washington out of the landmark 2015 nuclear accord with Tehran. Unless Swift wins an exemption, it will be required by the US to cut off targeted Iranian banks from its network by early November or face possible countermeasures against both its board members and the financial institutions that employ them.

These could include asset freezes and US travel bans for the individuals, and restrictions on banks’ ability to do business in the US.

Imperial Collapse Watch

The Empire Strikes Out Counterpunch

John Bolton Wants No Deal With North Korea Or Iran – But Is There Any Other Choice? Moon of Alabama

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

With a swipe at Facebook, Apple’s Safari opens up a chasm in tech Wired (Kevin W)

There Is No Justification for What Mark Zuckerberg Did to WhatsApp Slate. By Felix Salmon!

Facebook security officer: Not all speech is “created equal” WSWS

Facebook reveals data-sharing deals with Huawei, other Chinese tech makers Politico

DHS will use facial recognition to scan travelers at the border Engadget

Tariff Tantrum

Exclusive: China’s ZTE signed preliminary agreement to lift U.S. ban – sources Reuters. Wowsers. Includes “replace its board and executive team in 30 days.”

China Offers to Buy Nearly $70 Billion of U.S. Products to Fend Off Trade Tariffs Wall Street Journal. Note Lambert included this i Water Cooler yesterday.

Trump Transition

The Memo: Trump stokes culture wars over national anthem The Hill

Trump’s Bizarre Bid To Bailout Coal And Nuclear OilPrice

Health Care

New York, Washington state propose double digit rate hikes for ObamaCare plans The Hill (UserFriendly)

Vets May Wait Longer to See Private Doctor Than a VA Provider: Report

Democrats in Disarray

The Democratic party is in a murky mess Guardian (UserFriendly)

Howard Schultz rips Democrats for veering too far left CNBC: “​Just what we need, a clueless plutocrat that doesn’t know anything about economics.”

June 5 Primaries: DFA watching California U.S. Senate, U.S. House, key District Attorney races Democracy for America. Lambert will have much more to say about the elections in Water Cooler.

Washington sues Facebook and Google over failure to disclose political ad spending TechCrunch

Why Our Green Parties Haven’t Taken Off Bruce Dixon, Black Agenda Report (Darius)

Social Security to tap into trust fund for first time in 36 years MarketWatch (Jim Haygood, Dr. Kevin). As Marshall Auerback said via e-mail:

So what? It’s just an accounting fiction. It’s like the idea of a “lock box”. The money allocated to the ‘hospital insurance fund’, just like the ‘Social Security Trust Fund’ is one of Uncle Sam’s cookie jars. He also has a defense cookie jar, a corporate welfare cookie jar, etc. We count taxes as Uncle Sam’s income, and he can pretend he stuffs the various cookie jars with those tax receipts — the payroll tax goes into the Social Security cookie jar, and he pretends it pays for Social Security spending. Maybe he pretends capital gains taxes go into the corporate welfare cookie jar. And so on. That is all internal accounting.

Same thing with the funding for the FDIC. You recall that there was a similar scaremongering tactic directed against the FDIC funding after the 2008 crisis. The concern was that it would ‘run out of money’ and would have to draw on a credit line directly from Tsy. The only reason why this was a problem from Bair’s perspective is that it would have effectively put the FDIC under the control of Geithner, (and, as you know, they had very different views on how to handle banks), but NOBODY seriously believed that the FDIC would run out of money, or else there would have been a ton of bank runs.

So this is the usual BS that you see from the deficit hysterians.

Police State Watch

With Guns Drawn, Police Broke Into Chelsea Manning’s Home Shadowproof (UserFriendly)

Seymour Hersh on spies, state secrets, and the stories he doesn’t tell Columbia Journalism Review (furzy)

Wanna Innovate? 3 Reasons Why You Should Implement Power-Law Distribution Forbes

Societe Generale to pay $750 million to settle LIBOR manipulation charges Pensions & Investments

Citibank, DB To Fight Possible ‘Criminal Cartel’ Charges In Australia SafeHaven (EM)

Recode Daily: Some still-waiting Tesla Model 3 customers want their reservation money back Recode

There are now more job openings than people unemployed Axios

Class Warfare

America may soon face its biggest labor strike in decades CNN

Here’s How Higher Education Dies Atlantic (David L)

If wages are to rise, workers need more bargaining power Free exchange. UserFriendly: “Maybe The Economist is planing a hostile take over of Labor Notes… ​ That is the only explanation I have for this.”

The $2 Billion Bail Industry Is Facing an Existential Crisis Truthout

Kate Spade’s devastated sister reveals the fashion designer had suffered years of mental illness, and was obsessed with suicide after Robin Williams killed himself but didn’t want treatment in case it damaged the brand Daily Mail

‘Fashion is evil’ — the cruel industry where Kate Spade worked New York Post (Li)

Antidote du jour. Eddie M: “The wildflowers and butterflies of the Ozarks, the ones on the milk thistle are from last summer.”

And a bonus:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. PlutoniumKun

    With a swipe at Facebook, Apple’s Safari opens up a chasm in tech Wired (Kevin W)

    Apple has taken a massive swipe at Facebook’s data collecting business model. Towards the end of a two-hour developer keynote at its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), senior vice president of software Craig Federighi, proudly sent a quiet panic running through the adtech industry: the next version of Safari, he announced, will alert users when their web browsing is being recorded by third parties.

    Users will have the option, via a pop-up notification, to stop a tracker following them across the web. The demo Apple gave used a tracker from as an example. “We’re shutting that down,” Federighi said. Apple could have made an example of any number of websites. But it didn’t. It chose Facebook. And that matters.

    Unless I’m missing something, this is certainly a big plus point for owning Apple products. I’m assuming the main motivation is that Apple feel that they’ve lost out to Google and FB on the whole analytics and tracking data to sell to advertisers business, so there is no loss to them if they damage the foundations of that model.

    1. liam

      Or just browse with Firefox. You can also add the extension privacy badger. I’m not sure how it works with facebook, as I’m not a member, but the like and share signs are blocked on websites. Saves a ton.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        privacy badger is also available for the Opera browser which comes with a free VPN too.

          1. lyman alpha blob

            No – you can open a private window with or without the VPN being turned on.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


              To get privacy badger, open a private window and turn the VPN on? Will that work?

      2. economicator

        Or use the Brave browser. It blocks a whole bunch of stuff and has opt-in mechanism to accept ads to support the sites you like.

      3. PlutoniumKun

        There is a big difference between an ‘opt-in’ system and an ‘opt-out’ system. Most people just aren’t bothered or informed enough to ‘opt-in’ for tracker blocking (and most people probably don’t know the difference between ad and tracker blocking). If Apple make this the default it will enormously increase the number of people who can’t be tracked by the Googbook.

      4. ewmayer

        I currently use the FF add-on Ghostery to stop tracking – for example, when loading an NC page I get a little pop-up at lower right with typically around 8 ‘blocked’ trackers, don’t see Facebook on the latest but GoogleAnalytics is in the list. Is Privacy Badger superior in some way?

        Also use NoScript and only allow cookies for selected sites … but you can’t be too paranoid, it seems.

    2. Watt4Bob

      I use Firefox mostly and have noticed a lot more updates of late, (they install automatically at launch time), one of the latest features blocks access to predatory sites with a full page pop-up in RED, warning that the page is dangerous for whatever reason.

      If other browsers start taking security concerns seriously, I would think Apple has no choice but to follow suit?

      1. Ignacio

        And now it is working faster. I’ve deleted chrome in my computer and stopped it on the cell phone. Firefox works OK for me on both!

      2. abynormal

        OuLaLa for the availability to go dark on FF without having to suffer the underground Willies

    3. A Nony Mouse

      Unless I’m missing something, this is certainly a big plus point for owning Apple products.

      Hmm … I thought Safari on OSX already has ad-blocking extensions? this looks mainly to be somewhat useful for the iOS version, and even there I’d not call it a plus. On Android, mobile Firefox has had ad-blocking extensions for a long time now – and I would bet they will keep up better with the arms race of advertisers’ tracking changes. I guess time will tell if this ends up as a feature or a gimmick …

      1. Pat

        Ad blocking is not tracker blocking. Facebook and others place small pieces of programming called cookies on your computer/phone/tablet when you visit their site. These cookies can be relatively benign such as attaching this browser to a particular shopping cart. In other cases, they are like attaching a security camera to your computer which sends a record of everything you do on that computer to the home entity. Facebook, for instance knows every search, every web site you click on, everything you buy, every message you send. While there are a few trackers attached to ads, they are the minor players in this data mining game. Just visiting Facebook without joining or signing in results in trackers that manage to reintroduce themselves to your computer even after you erase them for months after a single visit.

        1. blennylips

          Facebook and others place small pieces of programming called cookies on your computer/phone/tablet when you visit their site.

          Yes indeed. That is why I disable third party cookies (palemoon browser setting) in addition to the usual ad blocker, script denier and refer policy addons.

          I do see more and more sites refusing to work at all unless third party cookies are enabled. Bye!

        2. A Nony Mouse

          Ad blocking is not tracker blocking.

          Ad blockers nowadays block browser requests to the ad networks’ tracking servers. That prevents the loading of tracking javascript, tracking pixels, as well as setting cookies and data in the browser’s local store (the last two, btw, require such a connection to the corresponding tracking server in order to be set). Besides, browsers allow one to refuse third party cookies, which in itself will severely limit tracking (i.e. you’ll only get fb cookies and be track-able by fb if you received them by going to facebook; so for instance if you use firefox with a dedicated container for facebook you’ll be clear for any browsing done in a different container from the fb one).

          Facebook, for instance knows every search, every web site you click on, everything you buy, every message you send.

          That is … factually incorrect as stated. Or rather, woefully incomplete. It holds, mostly, for a clean browser, with no privacy extensions installed and no changes to the default privacy settings. It is not true if you install even one of the main ad-blocking extensions (they all explicitly block trackers for the main ad and social media networks). And there are several layers of privacy protection that you can apply via browser extensions – they come with trade-offs, of course, but it’s up to you to decide where the balance lies.

          While there are a few trackers attached to ads, they are the minor players in this data mining game.

          Indeed. Tracking is done by ad networks, not by the individual ads they deliver. It is after all their business model – track users, profile them, then have advertisers bid for putting their ads in front of specific audiences.

      2. Summer

        In addition to what Pat says, it’s good to turn off permissions alot of apps have to your microphone, camera, and contacts.

    4. Carolinian

      I would think that people who are concerned about Facebook censoring views or violating privacy might consider the obvious course and stop using Facebook. There’s a certain passive-aggressive quality to these complaints about Facebook and, to a lesser extent, Google (arguably an older and more web dominating company). They are like people in a bad marriage who complain about the spouse but don’t do anything about it or simply leave. The web is a big place and there are always other options since flexibility is a defining characteristic of computers. Companies like Facebook and Google exploit this reluctance to get down in the techie weeds, so perhaps one answer would be far more public education about computer literacy and the reality of what these web giants are doing. Sunlight may be the best disinfectant against the practices of people like Zuckerberg although they will squawk if you do it. By some accounts young people are already deserting Facebook in droves. It may be the older and less tech savvy who are keeping the borg in operation.

    5. oh

      Although Apple appears to be better on security, I still don’t trust them. This is just A PR announcement. If they were serious, they would block tracking rather than warn you that you’re being tracked.

    6. zer0

      If you think Apple isnt keeping track of your actions via its OS, you live in an idealistic bubble.

      A Norwegian programmer did a huge in depth analysis of the data packets your iPhone and MacBook sends to Apple under the guise of “diagnostics”. They send this information even when you think your phone is off (not sure about the comp).

      A prominent member one of the major antivirus companies (I think Kaspersky) did an interesting experiment in which he tried his best to keep his identity and privacy anonymous on his cellphone. According to his analysis, due to the various caches/logs spread out on your phone (that track everything, from you finger movements, clicks, url visits, etc), you would have to effectively reinstall your phone OS every 1-2 weeks to make absolutely sure your privacy is kept safe, and that is in conjunction with various encryption software.

      If you dont want to drive yourself nuts, by far the best thing you can use while browsing is a secure VPN service. You can try Opera which has one built in, though I am not sure how secure it really is. At least it will throw FB and other apps into a loop trying to figure out who you are based on your random IP.

      You can also use software to sandbox the cache folders of your browser so you will get notified anytime a program or website is trying to write to your harddrive and block it (which I am assuming is what Apple is doing – this tech has been around for decades). The downside of this is you can forget about the convenience of saving your passwords or having FB, Gmail, etc. recognize who you are – you might have to verify every time you log in, which is probably why they make it so burdensome. Also maps will not know your true location.

      But as they say, nothing comes without a price.

      I havent used any browser that has been factory installed for a while now, and I would never trust a $600 billion company to ensure my privacy.

      1. Clive

        Yes, ApplePay is the worst for intrusive data collection of the “pay by app” brigade (all are bad to a degree). Far worse than PayPal (itself no saint).

      2. Carolinian

        Great comment. Thanks.

        Some of us have always believed that there is no such thing as privacy on the web although there may be anonymity if you are careful. That may not be true either but Facebook, at least, is like a machine designed to take away all anonymity and a spybot by design. For those who enjoy attention or need it for professional reasons this may not be a problem.

  2. The Rev Kev

    Wait, I think that I know what those Old English sheepdogs are doing. They are staging that play by Samuel Beckett – “Waiting for Godot”

  3. PlutoniumKun

    Slavoj Zizek: The secret of how to defeat Trump lies in Europe RT (Chuck L)

    In his usual rather convoluted way, Zizek hits on a few truths.

    This brings us back to Trump and Putin: one openly supported Brexit, and the other is believed in the West to have desired it. Both figures belong to the conservative-nationalist line of “America/Russia first,” which should perceive a united Europe as its biggest enemy (even if Putin publicly says the opposite and many Russians resent their exclusion from the European project, rather than the notion itself) – and they are both right.

    The European Union has always been seen as a competitor, not an ally, by Atlanticists, and other nationalists, and this is an under-rated driver of Brexit – the desire by a particular section of the right wing establishment to divide and rule Europe in the same way they do the Pacific Rim. And of course its always been a dream of some in the European establishment to create their own European autarky, an independent Europe that is an equal player to the other major powers, including the US. I do think that Trump is a catalyst that will accelerate this process, although I’m unconvinced that European leaders are united enough to stand up on their own feet.

    The problem for Europe is how to remain faithful to its emancipatory legacy, which is now threatened by the conservative-populist onslaught? In his ‘Notes Towards a Definition of Culture,’ the great conservative T.S. Eliot remarked that there are moments when the only choice is the one between heresy and non-belief, when the only way to keep a religion alive is to perform a sectarian split from its main corpse. This is what has to be done today: the only way to really defeat Trump and to redeem what is worth saving in liberal democracy is to perform a sectarian split from liberal democracy’s main corpse.

    This is one reason why I’m so undecided about proposals for an EU military. I fear the way that some (especially in France) see this as a way for the EU to interfere in North Africa and the Middle East. But it is also an important element in making Europe genuinely independent from NATO and the US, and to ensure a more hostile Russia can’t pick off European countries one by one. Unfortunately I think the left and Greens in Europe are engaging in reflective anti-Militarism in opposing it, without really proposing serious alternatives. We know what has happened in Europe in the past when everyone had their own big armies, and it wasn’t pretty.

    1. vlade

      I agree on the EU military. That said, it can be – at least formally – made a defensive force. i.e. One that could be automatically deployed in any attacked EU country, but would require an unanimous agreement of all EU countries to be deployed outside of the EU. That would make the “we want to make world better so let’s bomb it” much harder – not impossible, but harder.

      The reality of the world is that there will be violent regimes. Unilateral disarmament is nice, but naive. Ultimately, the national power (and that includes the power to defend itself) rests on one of the two options
      – external force (aka armies, nuclear deterents etc.)
      – ability to destroy a vital resource if attacked.

      EU does not have the latter, and TBH, worldwide, I can think of only Gulf countries (in particular Saudis and Iran) who can threaten to destroy a resource that would have a world-wide impact.

      In the absence of one or the other, one must accept that sooner or later there is a non-trivial possibility of being taken over (note that the same does not apply in personal, intra-state, situation. In theory we have police to ensure laws are upheld, and in addition to social consensus, their ability to do so is backed by implied or actual ability to use force).

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Vlade and PK.

        If you have origins in a former British or French, and in my case both, colony, an EU force is as alarming as German rearmament to many in Europe.

        If one visits Namibia, the locals, especially the Herrero and Ovambo peoples, have not forgotten German genocide.

        1. Carolinian

          Thank you Colonel. Are the Europeans still worried about the Red Army charging through the Fulda Gap? Why do they need more than token armed forces at all?

          1. Olga

            Agreed. Not sure who would be attacking any of the European countries (unless, of course, it is NATO – as was the case in former Yugoslavia). There are only two things here that I am sure of: (1) we do not know the real motivations behind this proposal; and (b) if implemented, it will have unintended consequences. Plus – pls note Poland’s offer to host a US military base.

          2. PlutoniumKun

            I don’t think any Europeans realistically fear seeing T-90’s charge through Fulda, but the border nations – especially in the Baltics – do genuinely fear Russian intervention, and the Finns and others have always operated on the assumption that they’d have to defend themselves the hard way some time in the future.

            Some would argue that European militaries are largely token – as a proportion of GNP they spend significantly less than most countries in the world, usually well under 2%. Much of this of course is because they’ve long depended on Uncle Sam.

        2. PlutoniumKun

          Indeed, I can only assume one of the reasons why the EU force is being pursued is the knowledge that an EU uniformed soldier doesn’t carry the historic baggage of a French, German or British uniform. But as Vlade notes, it all depends on its structure – it would be a disaster if it was possible for the French (to take one advantage) to pull other EU countries in on its North African adventures. But it may also be structured in a way that could act as a brake on individually overenthusiastic national leaders.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        Ireland – not a Nato member – is slowly but surely been dragged into the EU force – mostly through stealthy means. I do have a small hope that the inclusion of countries like Ireland will force through changes that would make the force less likely to be used in neo-colonial style actions around the world.

        Probably the most hopeful thing is that anything associated with the EU will be so politically unwieldy they’ll never get the consensus needed to embark on anything but the least controversial actions. The structure of Nato makes it all too easy for the big members to use it as a cudgel for their own purposes, not to mention the hazard of countries like Turkey dragging others into local conflicts.

      3. Oregoncharles

        Consider the current situation in Italy. Whether or not the current coalition is at all likely to do it, Italy desperately needs either to leave the Euro or to drastically reform it, and so does most of the rest of the South.

        One option Italy, like Poland and others, presently has is to ignore the rules without being too loud about it. For that matter, as Germany and France did not so long ago. That, or the possibility of Italexit, depends heavily on the ECB not having an army, or really any way of penalizing defiance short of the wrecking ball they applied to Greece (depending on insolvent banks makes you especially vulnerable).

        So as long as the EU is committed to its present neoliberal doctrine, it’s much better if it DOESN’T have an army. That said, it’s been obvious since it formed that the EU is the other great power (of four, counting China), if it chooses to be. In economic terms, it’s the largest; even in population, only China is larger. But as long as it doesn’t have a military, it isn’t a “union,” let alone a nation, and remains dependent. That has economic advantages, but costs in power.

    2. Biologist

      Thank you for bringing this up.

      The European Union has always been seen as a competitor, not an ally, by Atlanticists, and other nationalists, and this is an under-rated driver of Brexit – the desire by a particular section of the right wing establishment to divide and rule Europe in the same way they do the Pacific Rim.

      And this is the only silver lining of Brexit for me–that it may allow the EU to develop in a more independent and less neoliberal way, without the US/UK meddling. I admit there is a good amount of wishful thinking in this argument, but all else being equal, I do believe the EU has better potential without the UK than with it.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I do agree with this, its one reason I think why a lot of leftists and Greens within Europe have been quietly rather happy about Brexit – the UK was constantly one of the biggest thorns in the side of those trying to get more progressive legislation through – the most recent example being the Soils Directive, which was sabotaged by Big Ag through London. But its a bit of a weak hope looking at the occupiers of the other key national governments.

      2. Olga

        In some ways you may be right, but given Germany’s selfish economic policies, I rather doubt that the potential could be realized.

    3. David

      This is an old story, usually called “Europe de la défense” by the French and has been a priority of every French president since Mitterrand. It essentially means, as the French press have been calling it “a European capacity for intervention”, which was agreed in principle as far back as 1992, if I remember correctly, but has not been very developed, largely because of British opposition. One result of Brexit will be a strengthening of European defence, therefore. In practical terms it doesn’t mean the creation of new forces, but rather a capacity for collective action (creation of a European HQ for example), reinforcement of the EU military staff, and in equipment design and purchasing. Much of this exists anyway, in a limited form, but this attempt to breath more life into it will probably be more successful without the British getting in the way.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        It does seem to be gathering pace – not least with the speed with which the French and Germans seem determined to cut the UK out of defence projects such as Gallileo and the new Franco-German fighter. I’ve always been a little curious though as to why they are so determined to expand the Euro force beyond the core members, as the more countries involved the more difficult it will be to organise interventions (no bad thing in my opinion).

        1. David

          It’s been an objective of the French for some time, because they complained that they had to provide nearly all the forces. In Mali, for example, in an ostensibly EU training mission, the French provided the vast majority of the forces. The British, of course, would not cooperate for fear of undermining NATO. The German interest, as you might expect, is more on the industrial/technical side.

      2. Olga

        Just watch for Poland to throw a wrench into even the best-laid-out plans. The Poles are masters of “cutting your nose to spite your face” form of international relations. To understand the poor chances of any EU military agreement that also involves Poland, it is imperative to learn about P’s role in the years between 1918-1938.

    4. Sid Finster

      Another neoliberal colonial power – that’s what the world needs, and just the very thing to inspire greater European Feeling(tm) in its subjects!

      1. Eustache De Saint Pierre

        I cannot imagine what Russia would gain from invading former members of the Soviet Bloc, which were only occupied in the first place due to the fact that they basically destroyed the Wehrmacht, who expended around 85% in it’s resources imitating Napoleon.

        It would only bring retaliation from NATO, the US or the desperate youth making up a European force & I suspect would cost very much more to govern than anything that could be gained from a European sweat shop.

    5. zer0

      Zizek, who has an apparently impressive amount of academic experience, belies his own stupidity by bringing up “Russia/America 1st”.

      1st of all, its “me first”. It has almost always been “me first”. As they say, power corrupts absolutely. The only times nationalistic notions come to mind is if it benefits the “me”. For example, if Putin cared about the people of Russia, why is he hunting down journalists that expose corruption? Why is he essentially barring any sort of democratic voting process?

      Same thing with Trump. Why does he surround himself with incompetent billionaires? Cause he cares about himself, and he himself only finds worth in others that have money (likely because surrounding yourself with money usually leads you to it).

      America doesnt care about a united Europe, in fact, I’m pretty sure they loved the idea that the EU brought a consolidation of power to a few individuals. Easier to bully/talk a few people into something.

      I also am somewhat confused with Europe’s and Zizek’s obsession with America’s leaders. It reminds me of the time I went to Germany, and got constantly asked questions of why Bush was elected, and how shitty he is. I kept saying the same thing: a president or prime minister has no reflection on the populace. They are like little kings selected by much bigger kings, to then be ‘democratically’ voted into office.

      In our times, the focus needs to be sharpened to the real movers and shakers, which are the global corps that run practically everything through their contacts in the government, and the merging of these two not-so-different bodies into a massive authoritarian state where freedom and law are divided between classes.

      We are roaring toward a time where a handful of companies, all run by a handful of people, will make every major decision in your life whether you like it or not, even across borders.

      Russia ‘picking off’ EU countries? What insane idea is that? What does Russia have to gain by, for example, taking over Poland or Czechia or Germany? The ire of a massive well educated, well connected society? Do people even think through geopolitics these days? Or why everything is concentrated around the middle east and not elsewhere? The developed countries have already picked all the low hanging fruit of their own homeland, and are tied via multitudes of treaties, alliances, etc. that the risks of invasion greatly outdo the rewards.

      But installing your own government in a poor but resource rich country? Now that’s something more practical (but equally horrible of course).

      And Zizek used “emancipatory legacy” as if the EU is somehow more morally righteous than America. What a laugh. Every single human being has the capacity to do evil. Every single one of us, no matter what race. There is no difference between the US and the EU when it comes to Imperialism, just the timing.

      But to say ‘legacy’ when half of Africa was pillaged and routed by Europe for almost 2 centuries, along with swathes of East Asia, only further proves that Zizek shouldn’t be anywhere near a university lest his stupidity cause a contagion.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I’ll reply to only one part of your comment and that was when you said of Putin “Why is he essentially barring any sort of democratic voting process?” Have you seen the Russian elections in action? From what I saw they used paper ballots that were hand counted. The boxes voters dropped them in was of clear plastic so no vote stacking there. There are CTV cameras that show the insides of the voting stations so that there was no funny stuff that could not be detected and you could go on the net and watch it all yourself for whichever polling station you wanted to see. They also had international observers visiting these polling stations and were not, unlike some countries, threatening any with arrest for going near a voting station. How’s the voting procedures in your country?

    6. VietnamVet

      The five-eyes globalists (neo-Imperialists) are currently at war with family based nationalist oligarchs. John Kelly has gone to the mattresses with Melania briefly reappearing the other day.

      For civilization to survive there has to be laws and militias to prevent wholesale looting. Media moguls avoid mentioning it but since 1998 (Kosovo) and 2003 (Iraq) the Empire has embarked on a series of regime change campaigns with Russia and Iran as the ultimate targets. If this aggression was curtailed, there would be lot less need for the professional military, war profiteers and inoperable weapons. Indeed, if this money was spent on development and strong borders, the refugee problem would disappear and family job creation and climate change could be addressed.

  4. Alex morfesis

    There are more “gig” openings than registered and enumerated individuals actively looking to accept employment…

    These are not “jobs”…

    Jobs are stable and allow one to live without having to consider a side hustle or second “gig”…

    As to labor power…hmmm…sat in a
    “Community” (whatever that means) meeting in St Pete where a Berniekrat local mouthpiece of a fairly stable Union was rambling on imagining 15/hr is somehow a living wage…

    And while lamenting how “powerless” the unwashed are against “big developers” retorted to my suggestions of attempting to have conversations directly with capital sources and wedging the tight time capital commitments are in play…

    found myself told the little people should not be talking to important people like that and any talk of sustainalytics is best left to the union lobbyists on olde k street…

    And then…

    (by this Royal, (family bloging), all knowing, minimize expectations, genius…)

    …found myself being told how wonderful calipers is and how they care for the little people and are very receptive to helping when unions come calling…

    With friends/defenders like these…

    who needs enemies…

    1. Summer

      And in addition to the question of what kinds of jobs, “where” is also important information. These types of articles come off as economic hype for the confidence fairy.

        1. Summer

          I think of how even a good sized company can have trouble collecting money due. It’s harder for the independent contractor. Collecting is a main make or break factor of going it alone. Maybe even more than start up funds.

        2. Summer

          And the term “gig,” is largely associated with working musicians. Some of the more entertaining stories about the most successfull touring bands include a having a tough guy threatening bodily harm or even a gun to help them collect after a gig.

          1. Big River Bandido

            Musician here. Any good, professional performance contract calls for the promoter to put a deposit down upon booking (usually half the fee in a cashiers check), with the remainder paid in cash at the *beginning* of the performance. This is done so that the artist still has leverage to choose to cancel the performance for breach of contract if they don’t get paid before going on. Once the performance is done, the artist has lost all leverage and collecting becomes much harder. Typically artists are loathe to walk once the audience is assembled; the choice to perform anyway is usually a show of faith that the promoter will honor the contract, and is usually extended when trust has already been established in the relationship.

  5. Summer

    Re: There Are Now More Job Openings Than People Unemployed

    1) what kind of jobs
    2) I see ads for job search sites. I imagine if they don’t post something they don’t get views. Back in 2013 I noticed the same positions at companies ( for postitions it would not be difficult to fill, it was field where I knew exactly what was required) being posted over and over for a year, maybe with slight rephrasing, maybe the title being revised a bit
    3) I think algorithms contribute to overlooking people who are willing to work, but the algos are not kind to gaps in work history, even though there may be a perfectly fine explanation for it
    5) Algos are dismissive of older workers too
    4) This could be a result of the demographic changes in the USA and more and more of people entering the work force are people of color and this country is still dealing with long held stereotypes

    1. jefemt

      Remember, too, that for every two weeks a job goes unfilled, that money goes right to the bottom line. The bean counters and management are keen on this. A new employee adds a new chemical to the mix–might be toxic!! And you have to manage ‘them’ !!

      Flog the other workers picking up the slack who will NOT organize, ask for a bit of that other position’s wage– terrified to make a wave–facing debt, health insurance for the financial wipe out from a health disaster– fear being primary motivators to enduring the status quo.

      No one wants employees–independent contractors are the new normal, and the ecosystem approach of diversity— multiple strands of income- is the only way to get by. I can’t call it thriving, from personal experience. I’d label it existing. Think of a Physical Therapy balancing ball to work on your proprioception…

      What a Country!!

    2. abynormal

      Twice last week, I heard mentioned ‘Position Eliminated’… middle management austerity.

      1. Summer

        Just an off-the-cuff analysis of the chart:

        The largest number of reported openings are in the South (where). And the South has a high concentration of black people.
        Then comes the question about the unemployment rates for blacks in the South.

      2. Brian

        If you look to the BLS, you will be lied to. The report is adjusted and assumed to be a reality that can never be demonstrated. There are many competent bloggers that take all the labor specs and put them into a coherent report. Mish, Dave Kranzle, John Williams to name a few.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I think the factoids in this link evidence little more than that the official statistics for job openings and unemployment have become so juked they are completely meaningless. And can anyone explain the link’s explanation for why wages have remained flat:
      “So while it looks like there are more unfilled jobs than available workers, in fact millions of working-age Americans are not currently employed. That is one speculative reason why wages have remained flat despite the skills and worker shortage.”
      After twisting it around in my head a few times the best I can come up with is that the link is questioning — in a backward way — the validity of the unemployment and work force participation statistics it is reporting although it does nicely beg the question of a skills shortage.

      1. anon y'mouse

        someone needs to decimate that whole idea of the “skills shortage”.

        most of it is not brain surgery nor rocket science.

        the only real skill that may be lacking is the capacity for putting up with employer bs.

  6. The Rev Kev

    “Labour backs soft Brexit and keeping ‘full access’ to the single market after Britain leaves the EU Daily Mail.” ‘You cannot make this stuff up.’

    At this point we should hold a competition. Everybody should come up with a wacky headline that might appear in a newspaper between now and Brexit and after that date see whose came true.

  7. Stephen V.

    Thistle is a spectacular plant. Farmer types have told me it is illegal to let it grow in AR toxic to cattle. I remember the days when the 250k cows here equalled the number of peeps in NW AR. No more !

    1. Eureka Springs

      Hey, they constructed some wetlands alongside the Bentonville Sams parking lot. Even put up expensive wrought iron fencing around it.

      1. Stephen V.

        Thanks I’ll have to check it out! Maybe some day they’ll turn it into a museum. …once Amazon reaches full planet market saturation.

        1. newcatty

          Steven V.

          It’s time for Joni to remind us, once again, about those kind of “museums”

          Big Yellow Taxi Ladies of the Canyon(1970)

          They took all the trees
          Put them in a tree museum
          And they charged the people
          A dollar and a half to see ‘am

          Don’t it always seem to go
          That you don’t know what you’ve got
          Till it’s gone
          They paved paradise
          And put up a parking lot

    2. Wyoming

      Thistle toxic to cattle?

      It depends on what kind of thistle you are talking about.

      Milk thistle can be toxic to livestock by causing nitrate poisoning – except to goats which are used to control it.

      Canada thistle is equivalent to alfalfa in nutritional value. It is a terrible weed for most farmers as it proliferates like wildfire and is hard to get rid of. Most spray their fields to kill it. It has nasty sharp thorns and animals don’t like to try and chew it (other than goats). But if you cut it the cows will run over and inhale the stuff they like it so much. I have seen a cow grab a cut plant 3 feet long and just tilt its head back and let the whole thing just slide down its throat many times. But there are limits to how much they can eat – same for alfalfa though also.

      It all depends on how much they eat of the thistles. There are actually many food crops which can cause the same type of poisoning in livestock if too much of them are eaten at once – pretty much all of your grains fall into this issue such as rye, wheat, corn, sorghum, oats, barley. And lots of other weeds also.

          1. newcatty

            Inspiring and wonderful story. Encourage all to read it! Indeed hopeful and a revelation of Mother Nature’s wisdom.

        1. The Rev Kev

          That is an utterly amazing story that. Dammit, now I am going to have to borrow that book and read the full story.

      1. Wukchumni

        Saw a stretch of invasive Italian thistle in Sequoia NP last week @ 5,000 feet, and the prickly one tends to take over territory like Napoleon devouring Europe if left to it’s own devices.

        That’s pretty high altitude for it…

    3. rd

      Both milk thistle and Canada thistle are actually invasive plants from Eurasia. Other than providing nectar to pollinators, they provide little positive ecological benefit and numerous negative ecological challenges, as well as generally being an agricultural problem. Very few native insects make use of their leaves or stems.

      I pull all the ones that show up in my garden. There are numerous other plants to occupy that space that provide the positive aspects without the negative ones.

  8. Summer

    Re: Trump stokes Culture War over National Anthem.

    There are other ways for the NFL players to protest and organize against police brutality. That was the one part of the article that deserved an article of its own instead of more Trump distraction.

    1. Darius

      Why not just play the game? Why is the display of allegiance to the state necessary?

      1. Massinissa

        Thats exactly what happened before 2009. This nonsense is relatively new. The people outraged by this seemed to have forgotten that football players being on the field during the anthem is a new thing. Before 2009 they were in the locker rooms during the anthem.

      2. Big River Bandido

        The very ideology of American-style football is a tribute to militarism, authority, and allegiance to the state.

    2. Massinissa

      Sorry, but the anthem being played at sports events only started a decade or two ago. Its just another symptom of American Exceptionalism/Nationalism getting ever stronger.

      1. Jessica

        Not my memory. I remember the anthem being played before sporting events back in the 80s for sure. People didn’t pay much attention, but they played it.
        And even in the 80s, it didn’t feel new.

  9. Epynonymous

    RE Taiwan, I can confirm the Harvard business school has already changed some of its business curriculum to Taipei, the preferred Chinese name.

    On the EU army… There may be an 18th Brexit problem, because what language will the army speak? I presume English because it’s prevalent in aviation programming, etc. … Not to mention the arms trade.

    1. Matt

      “Taipei is derived from an old romanization system that survives in older texts and some place/people names. The rendering derived from pinyin (and thus more in harmony with the Mainland) would be “Taibei.”

  10. Eureka Springs

    If Chelsea Manning Had Been Home When Police Broke Into Her Home For ‘Wellness’ Check

    Horrifying. This must be exactly how the likes of “The Germans” and so many others allowed “it” to happen. Time to quote Krishnamurti again.

    “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

    -Jiddu Krishnamurti

    1. Wukchumni

      We’re so used to our gestaltpolice kicking down doors now, it’s disappointing if they show any restraint.

      1. JacobiteInTraining

        You don’t really understand how much the black-clad, balaclava-wearing, order-screaming, testosterone-fueled, locked-and-loaded AR-15-waving jackboot-thugs traumatize you until it comes home to roost….either directly to you, or to someone you love.

        My best friend had an FBI team kick in his doors in the wee hours of the morning, they traumatized his kids (pointing rifles at them, screaming orders) and to this day the kids no longer trust *any* uniformed person.

        Of course – then the true horror started, the segue into the carceral state, and the federal criminal ‘justice’ system. My best friend was nabbed for a ‘computer crime’ – that was part and parcel of our post-Constitutional “the 4th Amendment no longer applies’ police state outlook…and the charges were not even proven to have been something he did purposefully.

        Of course it never came to trial….my best friend felt that the best way out was to put a slug through his brain rather then try and fight it anymore.

        Just one more formerly happy middle-class family, traumatized, thrown to the winds, knocked into the streets, any last shred of happiness or dignity crushed under the boots of the police state.

        And people wonder why I call them ‘fedcoats’….and, when the time comes for guillotines…why I won’t lift a finger to try and stop it. Frankly, there are many ‘people’, in authority, who have rightfully earned the fear and terror they will feel when its *them*, and *their* families in fear of Jacobin Purges….

        Let them eat cake, indeed….

        1. Sid Finster

          Blind trust in any kind of people, is a bad idea.

          It is an especially bad idea to trust anyone blindly, because of their uniform (governmental or otherwise), because they’re a Christian, a family member, etc..

          This doesn’t mean that nobody can be trusted ever, but people with sociopathic tendencies will surely take advantage of whatever trust is associated with a position. “Surely a policeman won’t lie to you!” “Father O’Reilly will never abuse your confession!” “I’m your brother, of course I have your best interests at heart!”

          I’ve seen all of these institutional trusts abused, and more than once.

        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          What’s horrible about this horrible story is that the majority of readers will not really be horrified by it, not horrified enough to act, anyway.

          The dystopian “Land of the Free” needs to STFU, lecturing the world and invading countries because they don’t have enough American-style “freeness”. It’s a police state, and apparently the populus likes it that way.

          Osama won.

      2. The Rev Kev

        Door (crash!)
        Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam!
        “Police! Hands up or we’ll shoot!”

        Some police really have a problem getting the sequencing right.

      3. Eureka Springs

        A puppy and a turtle garner outrage and 200k signatures. Is anyone asking the same for Chelsea? If someone asked me to sign for Chelsea my first thought would be yes, followed quickly by, what list will I be on and how soon can I expect a ‘wellness check’ for doing so?

        1. JBird

          locked-and-loaded AR-15-waving

          I believe that some police use fully automatic military versions of the M-4s and M-16 gotten via the military as surplus equipment instead of the semi-automatic AR-15 that ordinary Americans can use. I would love to hear the reasoning from those who have weapons that only the military is suppose to have, but I probably already know the answer.

          Some police really have a problem getting the sequencing right.

          That and seeing everything as a weapon, and reacting accordingly, the lives of those that they “serve and protect” be damned.

          …what list will I be on and how soon can I expect a ‘wellness check’ for doing so?

          There are many less lethal ways to make people’s lives unpleasant than any ostensible wellness check.

          No-fly lists,
          extra special TSA screenings,
          know gang affiliations lists,
          perpetual watchlists with personal direct observation of all online media postings, emails, phone calls, texts, and snailmail,
          frequent traffic stops for reasons,
          probation or parole “violations”,
          being arresting after “finding” evidence,
          asking all your family, friends, neighbors, employees, and employers about you.

          All of these tactics have been, and are being used on people the police don’t like and not just on anyone suspected, or charged, never mind convicted of any crimes.

    2. djrichard

      Just saw the movie Brazil again this weekend. What happened at the Chelsea residence would have fit right in with that movie.

      “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

      Placeholder titles during filming that Terry Gilliam had for Brazil
      – “the ministry of torture”
      – “how I learned to live with the system — so far”

    3. WheresOurTeddy

      “With Guns Drawn, Police Broke Into Chelsea Manning’s Home”

      “Attempted Assassination of Chelsea Manning Fails, Is Rescheduled for Later Date”


    4. Jeremy Grimm

      The link left a very large question hanging. What is a “wellness” or “welfare check” and what explanation did the police offer for their actions?

      1. JBird

        A wellness check usually happens when someone calls the local police and says that they haven’t, or can’t, contact a person for an extended time. For instance if your grandmother doesn’t return the phone calls for a week. The police usually send in a police officer to knock on the person’s door, maybe look around. If they are not satisfied, then maybe they will send in a couple of police officers to break in and check.

        A wellness check itself is not unusual especially with Manning’s mental health issues. That is not at all worrisome. Quite common really. It is the breaking in with four cops with drawn guns and a taser that is a problem.

  11. Wukchumni

    Final score in cherry valley:

    11 Lapins
    6 Rainier
    1 Stella

    Now, 18 cherries from 5 different varieties of 5 year old trees isn’t much, but we only got 4 cherries in total last year.

    7 new hires went into the ground in February, in the same places gophers decimated em’ last year in cherry valley, and i’ve gone to those chicken-wire enclosures around the roots and trunk, and so far so good, but the long summer is when they are most active, and we’re only getting going.

    I’m about done thinning out almost 1 1/2x 5 gallon plastic buckets of little green apples with a few more no doubt to pare away.

    The Rome Beauty is the most prone to go large in a family way, with as many as 8 in a cluster, to be taken down to 1. The other varieties vary from 3 to 5.

    It’s about a month and a half to the first apples of the year, Dorsett Golden, Red Astrachan & William’s Pride are the sprinters here in pome-rania. The Red Astrachan didn’t fruit last year and has about 15 apples on it this season, and the tree looks so vibrant.

    An enterprising 16 year old is feeding people’s cats and cleaning their litter boxes while people are away, with her mother as driver, and we met them and gave em’ the lay of the land & the last of the loquats, and her mom hadn’t had one in over 30 years and instantly remembered the taste, while daughter and son had never had one before. Felt a bit like a fruit pusher, the first ones are free, yeah that’s it.

    The early spring freeze did a number on a lot of summer fruit in bloom in the Central Valley, ours included. No peaches or nectarines, 10 apricots, 50 Santa Rosa plums, and 125 Satsuma plums.

    Nice to give some trees a year off from expecting anything, allows them to concentrate on growing.

    I read somewhere that the cherry harvest is going to be down quite a bit vis a vis the freeze, I think from 8 million tons last year to 5 million tons this year.

    1. HotFlash

      I so envy you your cherry trees! My two Valentines died within a year, but I will probably try again, being enheartened by your report. Was curious, though, you say 5 varieties but I only see three?

      My little Bartlett pear, this will be its third summer in the ground, blossomed profusely this year but only set one fruit, which I think I will not count, as I probably will lose that to fruitlet drop, or squirrels, or some darned thing. I think I need to get it a friend. The Bradford pear down the street is supposed to be a cross-pollinator but it may be too far away.

      My haskaps, third year for them, too, were disappointing. No fruit on the two borealis, although one is looking lovely and lush, I got four fruits off the cinderella, which was only planted as a cross-pollinator. I think I will take cuttings from them anyway, as I really like the berries.

      The rhubarb is *most* satisfactory this year. The two third-years are producing a credible harvest and the two first-years, well, they didn’t die, for one thing, and they seem pretty vigorous, if scrawny. I think I might just have me a rhubarb pie patch, after several tries.

      The Meyer lemon got moved outdoors but doesn’t look happy. I will have to consult the Internets to see if I can figure out what it wants.

      The French tarragon is tha-RIVING, third summer for it, too. I have lots for home use and to give away. All the rest are annual things, mostly veggies, but I want to start some asparagus this year, behind the rhubarb, so they will get sun when they get tall.

      A friend, a year-round cyclist, planted his first seeds *EVAH* this year. Heritage tobacco, the seeds from a First Nations reserve here in Ontario, and some morning glories and scarlet runner beans. He finds himself amazed that he now looks forward to rainy days. Mind officially blown!

      1. Wukchumni

        The other cherry varieties are:

        Utah Giant, Van, Bing, Tulare, Brooks, Black Tartarian, Coral Champagne, Royal Lee & Minnie Lee.

        My dad always tried to grow cherry trees in SoCal when I was growing up, but it wasn’t cold enough for them to fruit, they would blossom and nothing more.

        Within a decade, might be talking about a harvest of 1,800 cherries @ all different times in the early summer, and i’m sure the birds will take notice as well, ha!

  12. Louis Fyne

    In defense of Howard Schultz, he’s not a banker or in the financial services. He didn’t inherit his money (or political power). So he’s marginally better than someone like JB Pritkzer or Cuomo II.

    But ya, Team Dem thinking that the path to victory is their own roster of billionaires, eck!

    1. JohnnyGL

      It also has the effect of continuing to stunt the growth of a bench of neo-liberal centrists who have the name-recognition and public support to become electable to the presidency. Most people in the country still don’t know who the next crop of anointed centrist posers are (Harris, Booker, Patrick, etc). Someone like Howard Schultz could suck the oxygen out of the room with his bankroll and fundraising ability. But, I guess the consultant class never thinks ‘long-term’ except as far as the next presidential election.

      Someone like Sanders or Biden could beat Schultz, since they’ve built that name recognition, even if they can’t outraise/outspend him, potentially.

    2. WheresOurTeddy

      Being a billionaire is a character flaw and should be grounds for non-eligibility for public office

    3. Big River Bandido

      The amusing presidential boomlet for some dude named Howard Schultz is a perfect example of what the music industry calls a “vanity recording”.

      Schultz is a political non-entity who’s leveraging his retirement to get his 15 minutes. But the actual “record” he just put out isn’t going anywhere.

  13. Jim Haygood

    So what? It’s just an accounting fiction.” — Marshall Auerback on the Social Security Trust Fund

    Two ways exist to run a benefit program: funded or pay-as-you-go (paygo). Funded pensions are the US (and international) standard. The Erisa Act of 1974 established a fully funded model for privately-sponsored pensions. State-sponsored pensions and federal programs such as Medicare and Social Security are also funded by design.

    If trust funds run off to zero — as they soon will — the emergency fix will be to convert to paygo, probably with unfriendly rule changes (e.g. higher retirement age), minor benefit cuts and tax increases. This process will repeat in each recession, gradually paring away benefits, making them less accessible, and raising their cost.

    A fully-funded system is immune to fiscal stress caused by recessions, since years of assets are already in the bank to pay the promised benefits. Paygo is hand to mouth. It will put Social Security and Medicare on the same precarious plane as the half of Americans who can’t afford a $400 emergency.

    Welcome to the Third World.

    1. Wukchumni

      If i’m in Club Mill toiling away @ some dead end job where i’m making bupkis, with social security taken out dutifully, and I read that the whole shebang will go tilt by the time i’m in my mid 30’s, this would only add to my overall despondency and thinking that, yes, that is a ladder of hope being pulled out of my reach, not to be lowered again.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Exactly what I heard from a late-twenties guy in a trail crew last month, who expects to receive nothing. Under a full paygo system, all FICA taxes collected from young adults will go straight to paying silver-haired retirees in our stately Boomer plantation. Nothing will be set aside to pay millenials’ future benefits.

        Such a system can function if the working population and the economy keep on growing forever. But the demographic decline now evident in most of the rich world says that’s a bad assumption. As the retired cohort grows ever larger compared to diminishing younger working cohorts, paygo imposes an impossible burden on them at current benefit levels.

        So “Jake” was polishing his guitar-picking and singing skills (quite impressively) so that he could make his way in a declining empire whose social promises are visibly crumbling … as an obscure group of academics counsels, “Don’t worry, print happily.”

        1. Alejandro

          >”A fully-funded system is immune to fiscal stress caused by recessions”

          This may be true in a context of a USER, eg., pensions. But not true in the context of the ISSUER, eg., Social Security. Imaginary anecdotes’ nor generational wedges, won’t change this fact.

          Pensions have proven vulnerable to financial predators. “Paygo” would make SS “immune” from these predators. From my pov, it comes down to “money” as a thing– thing v. “money” as a public utility. Which highlights legislation, as a long-term project of these predators. Which begs the question, are you in favor of privatizing SS?

          Dense concepts like “rich”, {value} etc., are heavily context dependent. Got any?

        2. Wukchumni

          It’s later boomers such as yours truly that are gonna get the shaft, for me it’s 6 years away before I can claim one red cent back, and i’m not sure there’ll be much left aside from crumbs as the cupboard looks to be barren by the time earlier generation cohorts have their way with the proceeds.

          Guess i’ll just hurry up and wait and see what happens.

          1. Left in Wisconsin

            Even in the worst case scenario – trust fund “broke” (“nothing left aside”), no changes to funding (remind me again why SS taxes are only taken out of the first $128K? The first 20K should be exempt and there should be no cap) – incoming funds will cover something on the order of 80% of current benefits. Anyone who tells you you are going to get “nothing” is lying.

            State-sponsored pensions and federal programs such as Medicare and Social Security are also funded by design.

            Haygood is usually less duplicitous than this – “funded by design” does not in any way equal “pre-funded.” Social Security and Medicare have always been pay-as-you-go. The “trust funds” are just theatre.

          2. Alejandro

            Sidekick or random tandem?

            “The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;”-FDR
            Notice that age is only one of the motives in this early description of SS? The other three are not age dependent.

            The shafting is done by predators, that lurk in all ages– but it doesn’t have to be. But the “money” as a thing–thing v. “money” as a public utility, does seem to need to be reconciled beyond the tribalistic rituals.

            I’m also of the opinion that a federal job guarantee would alleviate and eventually eliminate the ‘toiling-for-bupkis-despondency” as you’ve mentioned, AND keep the cupboard stocked.

        3. False Solace

          > Exactly what I heard from a late-twenties guy in a trail crew last month, who expects to receive nothing.

          Exactly what I said when I was in my twenties twenty years ago. Wonder if all those decades of scare stories about Social Security have anything to do with the number of young people who believe they won’t be able to collect on it.

          1. JBird

            The scare tactics are a part of it, but about every decade there is a real push to privatize, cut back, or even eliminate social security by the rich and well connected minions in government. Financial institutions also want to convert social security from a fully government run to partial, or preferably a fully privatized system much like a 401k. The possible fees that they could collect in “managing” the system makes them drool.

        4. The Rev Kev

          “Jake” might also want to learn how to turn grain into beer. Something tells me that people with that knowledge will find themselves in a very protected position if things fall completely apart.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Its nothing a Universal Basic Income can’t overcome.

      And the money will be for all and all ages.

    3. Fiery Hunt

      It seems to me that you may be missing the easiest solution…

      Raise the level of income subject to FICA.
      Make the wealthier pay more.

    4. Goyo Marquez

      “Two ways exist to run a benefit program: funded or pay-as-you-go.“

      Unless the benefit is something really important, like bailing out large banks from their bad bets, or insuring the flow of middle eastern oil, in that case the money always seems to be available, with no apparent limits or even contribution requirements from the beneficiaries.

      If only making sure our parents and grandparents were well provided for and didn’t have to live in poverty in their last years upon the earth was as important as those things, then we wouldn’t have to worry about where the money was going to come from.

      As my mom used to say, it’s not a real debt when you owe it to yourself.

      1. oh

        How come the banksters did not have to depend on paygo? It’s a myth to think that SS and Medicare (as well as Medicaid) has to be funded. The first priority should be to take care of the people and their needs – retirement, public transporation, public libraries, free internet, free water and electricity, etc. Banks, defense (offense) companies don’t need any handouts. Of course, this will never happen in this Capitalism, me-first, I got mine, screw the others infested country.

    5. JTMcPhee

      If I read what has been written here at NC over time right, Mr. Haygood advocates, among other actions, putting all that money that is supposed to pay out to Social Security beneficiaries into the hands of the gentle folks who brought about the global financial collapse. It appears he knows how to swim in that water himself. Most of us don’t, have neither the time, the talent nor the resources. Which I guess makes us weak and subject to predation and all that.

      I’m curious whether the objections or cavils or whatever to pensions for public workers and social welfare programs like Social Security are based in ideological preferences or something else? One might be forgiven for sensing a bit of condescension toward those of us who at best are muppets and dumb money — if only we could achieve a certain hard won understanding of The Market through diligent application, we too could be reeling in the high returns on investment, and Social Security as we know it would be unnecessary. Too bad (or excellent, for The Market, that is) that we lack those skills, time, mental knacks and resources to be winning participants.

      Props for staying on task and on message, though. There are lots of other successful players speaking out at every opportunity, and also working diligently in the various lobbies of the Imperial capital, to kill off Social Security or bleed it out, before some combination of political alignments leads to something as direct as just raising the cap on wages subject to Social Security deductions. This guy speaking to the Economic Policy Institute is in favor of that, suggesting a couple of policy steps to leaving SS as the “bedrock of retirement savings:” Of course the Cato Institute, and the Heritage Foundation, have the opposite view, all the way through to getting rid of SS as we know it:

      And of course while we are slowly learning how our Sovereign Government funds stuff like $21 trillion in “unaccountable defense wealth transfer,” via the processes laid out under MMT, we are to be persuaded that somehow SS is different, that despite having been used as an open account by the government to fund other stuff on the books, the government cannot inject money into SS via the same magical means used to fund other stuff like wars and war toys.

      Maybe we mopes just need to get used to the idea that once we stop injecting the wealth that our work injects into the real economy, to be financialized and otherwise subject to the neoliberal project, we should just die, already, hey?

    6. Jeremy Grimm

      Those concerned to run our national economy like a household might better occupy that concern with some of the of the larger items putting our national household’s books into the red — things like a few foreign wars, and a DoD that has trouble with auditing its massive expenditures promoting those wars and procuring gold-plated, poorly conceived, and poorly implemented weapon systems. And what about the red ink that bailed out our high finance to keep a failed system from failing. What proper household would worry more expenses about putting bread on the table than the costs of buying a family Abrams tank?

    7. lyman alpha blob

      Pension does not equal social security.

      A corporation cannot fund its pension plan with money it prints itself (although some seemingly have tried).

      A sovereign nation can.

      I think you know the difference. As others have pointed out, nobody in DC ever worries about where the money will come from when it’s time to drop a few billion worth of bombs on some brown people.

  14. disc_writes

    I wonder why Varoufakis has such a bad opinion of the Lega. They are, after all, a mainstream party that has been in government before without doing too much damage.

    When I was young, they treated Southern Italians like subhumans and set Roma camps on fire. But this has changed somewhat: now they elected the first black person to the Italian parliament. They gave up on secession and are a large-ish party in the South. They expelled the more obnoxious politicians.

    Salvini himself is a former marxist, and the Lega has become a refuge for those fleeing from the useless Democratic Party (Bagnai, an anti-Euro economist, is now a Lega PM and he is openly left-wing).

    I mean, I still would not vote Lega, but they are a much more presentable party now. They are not Jobbik. They are heirs of de Benoist, but that does not mean they are out to get migrants and minorities.

    Maybe Varoufakis tries to see parallels between Golden Dawn and the Lega. But those are less numerous today than they were in the ´80s and ´90s, and were very feeble even then.

      1. disc_writes

        I disagree with people’s constantly looking back to WWII. We are not 80 years ago, and it does not help to see everything through that prism.

        History does not repeat itself, it only rhymes.

        I think that FdI and Lega, as well as M5S, will respect the constitution. But they are not allowed to change anything, and people will eventually have to look elsewhere for real change.

        When that happens, we might face real extremists.

        1. Eustache De Saint Pierre

          Yes, going back to WW2 we could all have a great time washing our own dirty linen.

          I hope you are correct disc & wish you good fortune. I would hate to witness things worsening in a country that has in the past provided me with very much in the way of magnificence.

  15. s.n.

    05 June 1968 remembered and succinctly-summarised:
    The Last Campaign

    “…What might a Robert Kennedy presidency have brought? We know he was a realistic politician, and we know he would have faced fierce opposition. The Democratic Party was already fragmenting over Civil Rights, and the ‘solid South’ turning Republican. But we also know, not least from David Talbot’s magnificent book Brothers, that Bobby believed Jack’s murder was orchestrated, and that a similar fate might await him. It took courage for him simply to run for the presidency. Fifty years later, the legacy of what did not change, and what that stasis led to, remains palpable.”

  16. flora

    re: :”Howard Schultz rips Democrats for veering too far left CNBC:”

    “How are we going to pay for all these things?” he asks, without ever once wondering how we pay for endless war and the huge tax breaks for his income segment. Gosh, if he’s so worried about the US debt is he willing to give back his tax cuts and pay the tax he would have owed before Bush/Obama/Trump tax cuts for millionaires passed? Hilarious. (This is a vanity candidate in more ways than one.)

    1. flora

      adding: he should be honest and say he wants to protect his tax cuts; not wrap it in some ersatz moralizing about fiscal rectitude and concern for the country.

    2. Chris

      Serious question here. Do the terms left and right mean anything anymore? If the DNC gets to represent “The Left” in popular culture, what does the actual Left represent?

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Before I Forget: the video game that tackles dementia”

    That was a really sad video to watch on that clip. Maybe if you knew that you were going to develop dementia, you could write a booklet to yourself talking about who you are and using photos to illustrate people in your life. I suspect that there would be a point reached when even your own handwriting would not be familiar to you and the booklet would be of not much use. Very sad that.

  18. diptherio

    Haven’t finished reading this interview with Jonathan Smucker yet, but it looks to be a good one.

    Can you tell us what you want people to take from the book?

    There are two big interventions. One is that politics is not a clubhouse. Politics is messy. It is meeting everyday people where they are. It’s not an enclave. It’s not being the enlightened, ‘super‑woke’ people together, learning a special vocabulary, shaking our heads and wagging our finger at all these backward other people. That is a manifestation of the same social elitism that is actively structured by neoliberal society. Instead, politics needs to be woven into the fabric of all of our lives.

    The other intervention is that we need power. Which is not remotely an assertion that power does not come with its own problems, or that those problems are insignificant. Any person of conscience should be terrified about the moral dilemmas of political power.

    But if we are involved in politics, that is what we are signing up for. We are signing up for building, holding and wielding political power, and wrestling with all of the questions and quandaries that come with that. Broadly speaking, the project of the left is expanding who has political power. It’s saying political power should not be concentrated in the hands of the few, the wealthy, or an elite technocratic class.

    We have to breach the gates of politics. My big takeaway in the last year here in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is that the tactic of knocking doors and talking to neighbours and strangers is one of the most important tactics for movements and organisations if our aim is to build the political power of working people. For actively and constantly recruiting everyday people, you have to actually be talking with them.

    1. diptherio

      This seems important:

      I think there is something different about modern activism that is detrimental to long-term power-building and to progressive politics. ‘Activism’ is a reflection of the social-niche specialisation that emerged through neoliberalism. Instead of politics emerging from the fabric of our lives – people in communities articulating shared grievances and taking collective action – activism is this special space that people leave their lives to self-select into with other like-minded activists, where they do activism together in an enclave. It’s very different from organising, which requires meeting people in their existing social spaces and politicising those spaces, with a strategy to accomplish something with an engaged and organised community.

      There is a class element to this picture of activism too. Activism has lived primarily in the middle and upper-middle classes. That class-based insularity is preventing us from building the power of working people. From radical subcultural circles to non-profit organisations to the Democratic party, the leadership of the broad left over the past 40 years has become concentrated in the top 20 per cent of US society.

      We all know about the 1 per cent problem, but we also have a 20 per cent problem. There is a class insularity at the top that affects all kinds of institutions, particularly political institutions. It has made many of them into clubhouses.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        This is excellent. Unfortunately, “activists” currently have control of practically the entire left-liberal political apparatus. And they pretty much own the word “organizing,” too, even though most of them could not organize their way out of a paper bag.

        I keep one foot – well, maybe one toe – inside the “progressive” apparatus. It is way worse than most people think. The vast majority of progressive activists are really snobs. They are elitists with elite values who really do not like working class or poor people (but they have unlimited sympathy for the latter as long as they never have to actually encounter them) and, also, they do not like being told they aren’t winning. You might think 40 years of losing would be galvanizing in some way but just the opposite. Virtually all of the “activists” I know are completely at home with the notion that things will never really change, and so a minimum wage increase here and some paid leave there are taken as tremendous victories won, of course, by the brilliant legal, policy and “strategic communications” of said “activists.”

  19. Jim Haygood

    Exactly what I heard from a late-twenties guy in a trail crew last month, who expects to receive nothing. Under a full paygo system, all FICA taxes collected from young adults will go straight to paying silver-haired retirees in our stately Boomer plantation. Nothing will be set aside to pay millenials’ future benefits.

    Such a system can function if the working population and the economy keep on growing forever. But the demographic decline now evident in most of the rich world says that’s a bad assumption. As the retired cohort grows ever larger compared to diminishing younger working cohorts, paygo imposes an impossible burden on them at current benefit levels.

    So “Jake” was polishing his guitar-picking and singing skills (quite impressively) so that he could make his way in a declining empire whose social promises are visibly crumbling … as an obscure group of academics counsels, “Don’t worry, print happily.”

    1. Jim Haygood

      embarrassed about this double post but wordpress has done this twice, inserting a post both as a reply and as a new post. sorry please delete

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    China Offers to Buy Nearly $70 Billion of U.S. Products to Fend Off Trade Tariffs Wall Street Journal. Note Lambert included this i Water Cooler yesterday

    What US products will China buy? That question was asked earlier.

    Perhaps Facebook data.

    1. Kurt Sperry

      Wild ass guess: only products whose production requires little or no living wage labor inputs to produce.

    2. Tangled up in Texas

      Perfect timing. FB is likely looking to off load their personal data before the California personal data disclosure law gets a vote in November.

  21. Livius Drusus

    Interesting review of a new book on the Carter Administration by Stuart E. Eizenstat, Carter’s White House domestic policy adviser. Eizenstat argues that Carter is an underrated president.

    What do NC readers think of Jimmy Carter? My understanding is that he was really the first neoliberal president and that he set the stage for Ronald Reagan and his successors. Do you think that is true?

    1. Louis Fyne

      (arguably) just as Obama’s failure to deal with wage stagnation and opioids laid down the manure for the seeds of Trump, Carter’s economic malaise and Iran debacle laid down the manure for the seeds of Reagan.

      What’s worse “own goals” because you’re incompetent or “own goals” because you’re aloof?

      1. pretzelattack

        why was carter responsible for the oil embargo, and why do you characterize it as carter’s iran debacle in the first place? the shah had bee maintained by every president up to carter, and subsequent democratic presidents no doubt would have too. you also fail to mention the republicans negotiating with the iranians to draw out the hostage crisis, and the unrelenting attacks by the new york times and the rest of the press. carter reversed decades of standard us policy in central and south america, wanted to conserve energy, and advocated solar power long before it was the fashion to do so. he was certainly unpopular with the racists of the day, that were such an important power block within the party, and some of the more right wing israelis didn’t like any kind of accord.

    2. Carolinian

      It is true and his foreign policy was arguably a disaster since he made Middle East peace without including the Palestinians (he now admits this was a mistake) and kicked off the blowback we are still experiencing by supporting the jihadis in Afghanistan.

      Which doesn’t mean he wasn’t still underrated for the good things he did. He was mercilessly lampooned by the press and disliked by both establishment Dems and the Republicans. His outsider status may be why he can these days tell a lot more truth than most other public figures.

    3. Big River Bandido

      I agree that Carter was the first president to actually enact a neoliberal policy (de-regulating trucking and airline industries, for example). Nixon’s second term would probably have introduced neoliberalism had his political problems not gotten in the way, and Ford pursued such policies but without much intellectual framework for them.

      Carter is a man of humane and generally moral principle. But his economic policy was neoliberalism, and he was a terrible practitioner of everyday politics. His political missteps continue to spook Democrat neoliberals even today.

    4. Huey Long

      My take on Carter is that he was a decent enough man who didn’t have a party behind him. I don’t see him as a neoliberal ideologue but rather as a weak politician caught between a rock and a hard place.

      A lot of the neoliberal policies passed into law during his administration originated within the Nixon administration and were brought to his desk for signature by the congress and didn’t originate as Whitehouse initiatives.

      1. Wukchumni

        Carter was the last President that allowed himself to come off as weak, either in expressing that there are limits to growth, or collapsing in a 10k race. The grinding inflation and return of a gas shortage leading to long lines, only exacerbating an economy on a low ebb of expectations. Oh, and disco too.

        Presidents rarely go any further than the golf course, when exercising these days.

    5. zagonostra

      Jimmy Carter in a 2015 interview made the statement that the U.S. is corrupt oligarchy . His comments made the fuss about the Russian’s stealing “our” elections and threatening our “democracy” more visibly as what it is, a shame. For that, alone he should be remembered as a decent chap.

      If a Monarch in the 17th century came out and said, I don’t rule by divine right, more than likely it would have caused some reaction, yet today no one pays much attention that our rule of gov’t isn’t a democracy or republic

      When you mention Carter’s comment, your looked at with a jaundiced eye that says, ho-hum…everybody knows that, and we go on and on with the charade.

      The show must go on…

    6. SoldierSvejk

      When in 2002, Carter got Nobel Peace prize (really, these seem to be given to US presidents like candy), there were several articles about the real nitty-gritty of his foreign policy actions. While he did not start wars, he still managed to do plenty of damage. To this day, I remember how in Dec. 1979, he went on national TV and feigned “shock, total shock” after the Soviet army marched into Afghanistan (invited by the Afghan govt. at the time – except there was no internet back then). Carter’s worst offense – reverberating to this day and with full consequences yet to be fully appreciated – was believing the Russia-hating Z. Brzezinski (and whoever else was in on it, e.g., Pakistani ruler Zia Al-Haq, Saudis, etc.) and weaponizing those famous mujahedin. The Islamic jihad we are all living with today is mostly thanks to Carter – he was at its start and Reagan’s minions (Casey comes to mind) only continued it. Every time I have to take my shoes off in an airport, I thank Carter and ZB. A fine legacy, indeed…

      1. marym

        The Nobel committee referenced his work on the Israel/Egypt accords, but the statement is mostly about his post-presidential work through the Carter Center.

        Through his Carter Center, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2002, Carter has since his presidency undertaken very extensive and persevering conflict resolution on several continents. He has shown outstanding commitment to human rights, and has served as an observer at countless elections all over the world. He has worked hard on many fronts to fight tropical diseases and to bring about growth and progress in developing countries. Carter has thus been active in several of the problem areas that have figured prominently in the over one hundred years of Peace Prize history.

    7. The Rev Kev

      A much under-rated President. In his younger days in the US Navy, Jimmy Carter was lowered into a malfunctioning nuclear reactor with a team ( in order to prevent a catastrophic nuclear disaster. At the time he was the protege of Admiral Hyman G. Rickover which says a lot about of Carter. More to the point, as President he tried to tell Americans that they would have to change the way that they lived in a new world. The voters listened to him, thought about it, and then decided to go for Ronnie Reagan’s Morning in America message instead.

  22. Jean

    Re Trump’s attempts to bail out nuclear power.

    I thought he claimed he was a great businessman and knew how to negotiate great deals?
    Nuclear power is a bad deal all around.

    Nuclear power is a sucker’s game run by conmen, whether you measure the profits in cash, national security or energy returned. It’s corporate socialism man.

    President Trump, when you support nuclear power you are allowing the country to be taken for a ride. Good businessman? More like a rube getting conned by a carney barker.

    “Since 2005, new U.S. reactors (if any) have been 100+% subsidized–yet they couldn’t raise a cent of private capital, because they have no business case. They cost 2-3 times as much as new windpower, and by the time you could build a reactor, it couldn’t even beat solar power. Competitive renewables, cogeneration, and efficient use can displace all U.S. coal power more than 23 times over–leaving ample room to replace nuclear power’s half-as-big-as-coal contribution too–but we need to do it just once.”

    And then there’s the waste:

  23. Ignacio

    RE:Trump’s Bizarre Bid To Bailout Coal And Nuclear OilPrice

    Besides the arguments in the article there is one to be made on long-term energy supply. Relying more and more on renewables and natl gas will change the shape of the grid. Decentralization will be the consequence for better or for worse and it is argued that from a risk perspective it will be advantageous. Coal and nuclear will find it increasingly difficult to provide the base load.

    1. a different chris

      Yes, in fact the whole concept of “base load” will get seriously wacked. We don’t have a “base load generator” for automobiles, they fill up with an (hey here’s at least one for the free market) amount of gas that will get them 250->400 miles. Then they fill up again.

      Houses can do that, too. Factories can probably do it better.

  24. Mikerw

    “​Just what we need, a clueless plutocrat that doesn’t know anything about economics.”

    or someone who doesn’t know how to make a good cup of coffee.

  25. Colonel Smithers

    Further to the link about the impact of Brexit on social care, I can report the following from Buckinghamshire, my home county and possibly the most corrupt county in the British Isles:

    Most carers are from the Visegrad 4 countries. Many are leaving, usually over the summer holidays.

    Home visits use to be 3 – 5 times a week. These have been cut to a maximum of three a week, but at the same price.

    Half a dozen nursing homes have opened in country homes in mid-Buckinghamshire in the past year, but none has been able to recruit a full team of carers.

    EU27 employees, but mainly from Club Med, are the big contingent at hospitals, but they are leaving, too.

    Replacements are coming from Romania and Bulgaria, west and southern Africa and ndian sub-continent (including lots of Syrian Rite Catholics), but not in enough numbers to make a difference. The Home Office is restricting migration.

    Pay for new recruits is about 75% of what the leavers received.

    It’s not just care, but construction and agriculture suffering from Brexit, too. Some south Asians have been allowed in for agriculture, especially for the Tory squirearchy, but much produce is rotting in fields.

    The signs of (dis)stress, mental and physical, and degradation of the infrastructure / environment are getting more pronounced, but the Tory one party state apparatus in True Blue Buckinghamshire is impregnable.

  26. from Iowa

    Otis, pull this out of comments if you can send it directly to Lambert, in case there is anything he can use in Water Cooler, or just because you think it’s too long.

    I live in Cedar Rapids and voted yesterday for the Democratic candidates who will go up against Governor Kim Reynolds and Congressman Rod Blum (IA-01). We had record turnout. Summaries of the state results:

    In both Democratic primaries, for governor and for Blum’s house seat, the best funded won the election and dominated the advertising.

    In the gubernatorial primary race, the big spender was the big winner. Fred Hubbell, scion of the Equitable Life family, who has a history of serving on corporate boards, running companies (including a stint as CEO of a department store chain, not just his family’s business), and supporting organizations such as Planned Parenthood, put a lot of his own money into the race, ran many TV ads in my market, and won overwhelmingly. My preference would have been John Norris, also a lawyer, who worked with Harkin and then with Vilsack on agriculture and energy, represented the US on agricultural policy at the UN under Obama, and most recently has had his own public policy group. You’d think expertise in agricultural and energy policy and his focus on rural issues would have had wider appeal in IA, but he couldn’t match Hubbell’s media blitz. Cathy Glasson, a nurse and union leader, was well funded, did advertise some, and got lot of attention as a “bold progressive,” but one of her priorities was single-payer, universal health insurance in Iowa, which I personally think would be a big waste of time and political capital in a sparsely populated state with no bargaining power over prices. Her positions were aligned with Bernie’s, but she supported Hillary in the caucuses for the 2016 nomination, so I viewed her as either an opportunist then, hoping to be associated with the presumed winning candidate, or now, seeing an opening to distinguish herself from the other candidates. Also, I see the governorship as a largely technocratic position. Yes, I want to hear that progressive music, but the instrument is a limited state budget, and I think either Hubbell or Norris more qualified for that particular job.

    In IA-01, I am not at all enthusiastic about winner Abby Finkenauer, whom the DCCC backed long before Biden made his endorsement on Tuesday. She is a very young (28 yo) state representative who played up her story as the daughter of a union pipefitter as she caressed a sweatshirt of his with burn holes in her TV commercial. Listening to her, I have the impression that she does see herself as described, “scrappy” and fighting for working families like hers. She says we need to “fix” the ACA, that we should have universal health care, and she supports (no details) a public option. I don’t think she understands how far the ACA is from her stated position, the verbal assertion of every Democratic candidate now, that health care is a right, not a privilege. My guess is that the national party decided she had a good backstory and could easily be talked into following the party line. I don’t know if she even questions why she has had so much out of state money thrown at her campaign. In the state house, she supported the Dakota Access Pipeline (said it would be safer than transport by train) and signed a letter to the Iowa Utility Board against an independent environmental assessment that other lawmakers had requested. I think that was swept under the rug in recent months.
    Interview (starts at 19:19, health care at 29:25):
    Pipeline background: (The Iowa Utility board is a three-member appointed board, which consisted of two Republicans and a Democrat.The judge, Jeffrey Farell, was an appointment by a Republican in 2013. When the case goes before the Iowa Supreme Ct in the fall, the court will have 4 Republican and 3 Democratic appointments.)

    My preferred candidate, Courtney Rowe (endorsed by Justice Democrats), is an aerospace engineer who can clearly articulate the problems with our health care system and immigration and education policies. She went through cancer surgery and treatment while she had health insurance through Rockwell Collins and saw firsthand how having insurance did not mean that the tests she needed would necessarily be covered or that out of pocket costs wouldn’t break her. She, of course, supports Improved Medicare for All. Rowe is gay and married, which the Democratic party could see as a negative here in IA, but I think the biggest reason the DCCC supported Finkenauer is that they’d rather have someone malleable who buys the party line than a true progressive who can understand the nuance of policy.
    Interview (starts at 17:55, health care at 20:50):

    The other two in the race were George Ramsey (, a black Army veteran, and Thomas Heckroth (, second to Finkenauer in campaign funds, who was an aide to Harkin and worked in Obama’s Dept of Labor before working for a clothing manufacturer in sustainable manufacture and sourcing. Heckroth’s father was in the IA state senate, and his father-in-law is a prominent attorney in Washington, DC. also has interviews with Ramsey and Heckroth. Heckroth came in a distant second.

    My local newspaper, the Cedar Rapids Gazette, does not make it easy to get useful information about the candidates. The Des Moines Register covers politics well and has been good for the gubernatorial race (they posted video of in-depth interviews with each candidate, but they don’t have transcripts, so listening is time consuming – there is a transcript for a debate with all the candidates accompanying the video on the Iowa public television website), but the Des Moines Register didn’t cover IA-01 with the same detail, because it is not that paper’s region. The three Democratic area blogs (,, and are good, but not widely read. Most people in Cedar Rapids look at the Cedar Rapids Gazette in print or online; that paper is largely comprised of advertisements posing as news stories, and the articles all superficial and short.

    What do I do in the general? I plan to vote for Hubbell against Kim Reynolds. But what do I do about Finkenauer? I don’t like Blum, but do I really want to make her an incumbent, which will make it more difficult for a different Democrat to win the next time there is a Democratic primary? Unless she seems better informed and has more concrete progressive positions that I believe to be genuine (Obama burned me – now I’m suspicious) by the general, I don’t think I can actively cast a vote for her. If you listen to the two interviews, Finkenauer’s and Rowe’s, you will understand why I am down this morning, not that I expected either of my preferred candidates to win. My husband voted the same way, too, knowing his vote would be useless, but knowing that he had to bring home the “I Voted” sticker to get dinner.

  27. djrichard

    This time is different?

    The 13 week treasury (which tracks the Fed Reserve funds rate) has softened its trajectory a little bit. It was increasing 25 basis points every two months. Now it’s down to a 22 basis point increase every two months. No matter. Just a matter of time before they the yield curve:

    Question is, when that happens, who will be identified as the culprit when Tracy Alloway updates her graph to show that economic fall out? Jim Haygood and I have been speculating that trade protection would be fingered as the culprit. Still, trade protection isn’t quite a good fit for Tracy’s graph. Some kind of over-exposed player (or belief system) will need to be added to her graph.

  28. fresno dan

    I have seen conflicting reports about whether agent Bishop was in Denver for personal reasons or for . . . yes . . . FBI training. Clearly, he was not engaged in his official duties on the dance floor.**
    Actual video of the FBI agent doing the backflip, the gun falling out of said FBI agent’s pants, and the FBI agent accidentally firing the gun.

    ** asserts facts not in evidence – maybe impressing babes in bars with backflips in under the covers….uh, undercover work….

    1. RMO

      That’s the first time I’ve watched the video – amazing. Even setting aside the issues of the potential dangers of carrying a firearm at all times the video demonstrates a staggering level of stupidity and recklessness. It would be appalling to see in a completely untrained person let alone someone who as an FBI agent should know better. It seems he had the damn thing just tucked into his waistband! Also, it didn’t fire as a result of impact with the floor, he fired it himself while trying to pick it up.

      1. Wukchumni

        I knew an older boomer that was playing quick draw mc graw with holstered pistol in the 60’s, when one time he done outdrew himself and shot himself through the upper thigh, a clean wound as it was, that sure looked funny with the entrance and exit points about 6 inches apart.

      2. Massinissa

        I noticed that after the gun went off the git was smiling when he put his hands up, like what had just happened was hilarious.

        This event is merely an anecdote, but it still doesn’t inspire me to be confident in the FBI…

  29. Samuel Conner

    Combining the path dependence of historical outcomes with austerian thinking and deficit hysteria ….

    “deficit hysteriasis”?

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