Links 7/29/18

Geraint Thomas set to win Tour de France after taking yellow jersey to Paris Guardian

Les Moonves and CBS Face Allegations of Sexual Misconduct. New Yorker. Ronan Farrow strikes again.

Mary Ellis, wartime volunteer who flew Spitfires, dies at 101 WaPo

Portrait of an Artist as an Old Man: Mel Brooks in His 90s Atlantic

At 60, NASA shoots for revival of moon glory days France 24

The Ambien Diaries Popula

BP buys US shale assets for $10bn BBC

2 children, great-grandmother perish in California wildfire AP

California’s city of ash: Shocking pictures show devastation caused by the Carr Fire, which is now larger than Salt Lake City Daily Mail

Greek fires: the predatory political economy behind a recurring human disaster The Conversation

As Greek Wildfire Death Toll Climbs, Government Takes Responsibility WSJ

Big Brother IS Watching You Watch

Welcome to the Quiet Skies Boston Globe

Our Famously Free Press

In Refusing To Defend Assange, Mainstream Media Exposes Its True Nature Steemit (UserFriendly). Caitlin Johnstone.

New Cold War

It’s Time for NATO to Go the Way of the Warsaw Pact Foreign Policy in Focus


Trump Transition

Top Koch Network officials vent frustration with White House, GOP-led Congress The Hill

Despite Trump’s assurances, states struggling to protect 2020 election Politico. Worth reading, despite the obligatory Russian nonsense, and despite any mention of the obvious remedy– handmarked paper ballots counted in public.

Donald Trump could be ready to order a strike against Iran, Australian Government figures say ABC News (UserFriendly). Amazed to see Australian MSM running what looks to be obvious Trump/Bolton gassighting.

How BRICS Plus clashes with the US economic war on Iran Asia Times. Pepe Escobar.

Erdogan: Turkey will stand its ground faced with U.S. sanctions – media Reuters

Tariff Tantrum

Major Car Exporters Said to Plan Meeting Amid U.S. Tariff Threat Bloomberg

Health Care

Why do so many moms die and suffer in the US? Stupid negligence Ars Technica

Physicians aren’t ‘burning out.’ They’re suffering from moral injury Stat

Medicare for all is a socialist’s dream — and an American Nightmare The Hill. UserFriendly: “shoot me.”

Israel arrests Italian graffiti artists in West Bank The National (UserFriendly)


Britain shows it is becoming a weaker state by failing to put the Isis ‘Beatles’ on trial Independent. Patrick Cockburn.

Even the White Helmets have been rescued from Syria – so are we about to see the final battle of the war? Independent. Robert Fisk


‘Western’ Press Dislikes Imran Khan’s Win In Pakistan’s Election Moon of Alabama


We hope the new government in Pakistan will work to build a terror-free South Asia, says India

The Good, Bad and Ugly on India’s Template for How Your Data Will be Protected The Wire

Renaming ‘West Bengal’: Mamata Banerjee prepares her Bengali identity pitch for 2019


How drug firm at centre of China’s latest vaccine scandal cut corners and forged data SCMP

A Surveillance State Unlike Any the World Has Ever Seen Der Spiegel


Brexit: split down the middle

Army on standby for no-deal Brexit emergency The Times

Macron, the bodyguard and the May Day scandal FT

Class Warfare

Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez Are Not Socialists — What Are They? Real Clear Policy (UserFriendly)

Fewer Americans are making more than their parents did—especially if they grew up in the middle class Brookings.

Domestic Workers in Seattle Win Most Comprehensive Bill of Rights in the US TruthOut

New Housing Can Spur Growth In Cities Left for Dead American Conservative

How to spot the hidden costs in a “no-cost” tablet contract Prison Policy (Dan K)

Prisoners ‘Hack’ $225,000 in Credits From Digital System – But the Victim Is the One Under Fire Fortune

American Society Would Collapse If It Weren’t for These 8 Myths Truthdig. Lee Camp.

Wall Street finally taught Zuckerberg the lesson he deserved NYPost. Worth a read, despite the offensive ‘photo composite’.

Kill Me Now

Please Forward All My Mail To This Photo of Hillary Clinton and Bette Midler; I Live Here Now Elle

Antidote du Jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. PlutoniumKun

    Wall Street finally taught Zuckerberg the lesson he deserved NYPost. Worth a read, despite the offensive ‘photo composite’.

    John Naughton in the Observer has a good article on Zuckerberg today – the gist of it being that Zuckerberg has lost control of his creation.

    If you think this is weird, then join the club. I can see only three explanations for it. One is that Zuckerberg is a sociopath, who wants to have as much content – objectionable or banal – available to maximise user engagement (and therefore revenues), regardless of the societal consequences. A second is that Facebook is now so large that he sees himself as a kind of governor with quasi-constitutional responsibilities for protecting free speech. This is delusional: Facebook is a company, not a democracy. Or third – and most probably – he is scared witless of being accused of being “biased” in the polarised hysteria that now grips American (and indeed British) politics.

    It’s as if he’s suddenly become aware of the power that his monster has bestowed upon him. As the New York Times journalist Kevin Roose put it on the paper’s The Daily podcast, Zuckerberg’s increasingly erratic behaviour could be a symptom of something bigger. “He built a company that swallowed communication and media for much of the world. And now we’re seeing him back away from that… the problem with ruling the world is that you then have to govern and that’s not what it seems he wants to do.”

    1. hidflect

      He’s lost control in another way, too. FB is designed to leak data. He could control the code but he’s forgotten abut the corporate structure. Is he approving each sale of information and data?

      1. tokyodamage

        i like the way you think! Sell it to Murdoch, use the money to buy your own island, and a week after Murdoch buys it, your time-delayed code turns everyone’s facebook page to Russian. Good thing you had a fallout shelter installed on your island!

    2. Lee

      Wall Street finally taught Zuckerberg the lesson he deserved NYPost. Worth a read, despite the offensive ‘photo composite’.

      Not sure I agree with the photo composite being offensive. I think it makes him look more human and less like the GEICO lizard. I know it is not right to criticize personal appearance but c’mon, there is something reptilian about the guy. Not that I have anything against reptiles but there’s a reason I keep my pet rattlesnake in a cage.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      So….. I’m guessing that whole president of the united states thing might be off.

      1. ScottS


        Is this why obvious self-styled presidential candidates never want to officially announce their candidacy? Just drop hints and let the other guys do the oppo for them, discovering forgotten skeletons in their closets before committing any of their own money to the cause?

    4. Mo's Bike Shop

      I think I caught all the fnords in that NYP article: ineffective Guv’mint, smart-moral-desicision-making-markets, and…Milton Friedman!

      Now if FB blips up 200 points we’ll know that Zuck has really learned the Power of Heart. But yeah, reading chicken entrails is superstitious and silly.

      1. ScottS

        I noticed that as well. The NYP was rooting for The Zuck’s comeuppance, but only because he was young and successful, not because he treated his “customers” like cattle.

  2. PlutoniumKun

    Geraint Thomas set to win Tour de France after taking yellow jersey to Paris Guardian

    Much as I dislike Team Sky, it seems hard to dislike Thomas, one of the nice guys of the Peloton, he is apparently very popular with his peers. It wasn’t the greatest of Tours this year, nobody seemed to really grab hold of it, but he’s a deserving winner. Its a pity though that a team which is not squeaky clean on doping got the victory though (having said that, I don’t think Thomas is a doper, his progress doesn’t have any of the tell tale symptoms).

    1. vlade

      I’m happy Sagan got his sixth green jersey, as I still believe his last years disqualification was wrong. I wish though he would become even a bit more of a generalist so he could aim to get the Tour victory too.. But I suspect he doesn’t care for it, at least not now, and mostly just wants to have fun..

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, I’m sure there is a physiologically good reason for it, but sprinters rarely seem to be able to make the transition to Tour winners. Given his success (financially and otherwise) I’d imagine he sees it as too big a risk as it would mean a complete change in training.

        And of course the last person to claim to have changed fast twitch muscles to slow twitch ones so he could go from a one-day specialist to a Tour winner was a certain Lance Armstrong….

        1. vlade

          Well, Sagan isn’t a pure sprinter – he actually can do hilly races too, unlike a lot of Tour sprinters who run up first hill and then drop way back (see most of them dropping off in the Alp region due to cut-off times). Hell, he finished stage 19 in the limite after the horrible crash in stage 17..

          He came to road cycling from mountainbiking/cross, he’s junior world champion from 2008, and was in the Rio Olympics race (where he had a puncture, so didn’t finish well).

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Yes, it would certainly make Le Tour much more interesting if Sagan would go for the Yellow Jersey too. I wonder though if his obvious suffering this year in the mountains would dissuade him from considering it. When you look at the narrow sliver of time between winners and also-rans in the Tour, you have to think that winning is as much in the head as in the legs.

            1. vlade

              I think it’s in the head – but more of long-term, than stage (the fact he was able to finish this year despite it all I believe proves that).

              To aim to win LT, he’d have to have the ambition AND the ruthlesness to focus on that. Which I don’t believe he has at the moment, he’s enjoing himself too much as it is.

              I suspect he has too much talent for his own long-term good, meaning he has to work less than full bore compared to others (mind you it’s still working much harder than most of us would be able to), and still get up there.

    2. Ignacio

      His physical limits have not been tested in this Tour. I also like how Froome defended himself.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, he looked very comfortable the whole way through. Its always hard to tell from the outside though, some riders manage to look cool and composed even when they are deep in the red zone.

  3. Steve H.

    Such a story painted with links today. This quote reflected well on NC, from ‘Double Negative’:

    “How do we create the basis for common action in a period in which many of the most powerful forces in the world are actually invested in the fragmentation of communities, of the fragmentation of people’s ability to think clearly and act collectively?”

    1. Carey

      I agree that that’s a great quote, and describes the problem in a nutshell. I’d only add
      “…and when most people have their head up their smart!phone.”

      Bread and circuses as the world burns.

      1. Elizabeth Burton

        Perhaps we could take a poll to see how many in the Commentariat read NC on their smartphone.

        How about we stop wasting time blaming the tools and focus on blaming the people who abuse them? If “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” is specious then so is “People using smartphones is responsible for all our problems.” We aren’t fragmented because of our electronics, which may in fact be the one thing that prevents us from being more fragmented than we already are. The problem is decades of propaganda about “self-reliance” that says you shouldn’t need to get to know your neighbors because you shouldn’t need them for anything.

        Or, as I said just yesterday, the problem is we no longer have neighborhoods. We have “communities” and “developments” where attempting to get to know the people you live next to is now looked on as a suspicious activity. You don’t need six-foot privacy fences surrounding your yard just because the houses are close together, yet even a cursory study of anything build in the last few decades quickly reveals they are constructed to keep us apart, not encourage us to mingle.

        1. Carey

          What I see all around me are people who are engaged with their phone
          instead of the people around them, and I think it’s leading very definitely
          to increasing fragmentation of the citizenry.


          1. Elizabeth Burton

            And how many of the people not “engaged with their smartphones” are engaging with the people around them? In my experience—and I have 70 years of it—few people when out in public opt to chat with people they don’t know. They reserve that for places where they are among familiar faces or those with whom they have a need to interact. Women, especially, know the danger of striking up a conversation with strangers.

            I always had something to read with me when I was going out. The difference is now I have it on my phone or tablet instead of having to lug a book or newspaper. It used to be when I was out and thought of something that needed done, I had to wait to be where I could communicate it. Now, I can just send a text.

            Our increasing level of disconnection is the result of decades of media focus on the danger lurking outside our doors and structures designed to either insulate us in a box or, alternatively, shove us into vast corrals of “open workplaces” where we learn not to engage lest we appear to be goofing off on our employer’s time. Workdays that make anything but going to and from, with maybe a dash into the market or Starbucks on the way, aren’t conducive to socializing. So, we socialize on our devices, since the alternative is total isolation.

        2. ambrit

          I’ve noticed that the materially poorer ‘hoods are better at ‘community’ spirit. I’m talking lower middle and upper working class areas. I have daily dealings with my neighbours for a block in either direction. Think an area of seventy to ninety thousand dollar houses with a mix of owner occupied and university associated renters.
          I’ve found that ‘hard times’ are an excellent specific for Rugged Individualist propaganda.

          1. Oregoncharles

            I’m told that in urban wildfires, like the one consuming Redding, the death toll is higher in wealthy than in poor districts, for precisely the reason you describe

        3. ChiGal in Carolina

          I tend to read on my smart phone, which is why I mostly keep my comments short. It’s rare I park myself at my desk in front of my computer for any length of time.

          Maybe it’s the two knee replacements I had last year, but I like lounging: in an armchair with my feet on an ottoman.

          Basically all I do is browse my alternative news sources, starting with NC. I don’t play games or watch movies or anything. I do text some and take pictures, a bad habit cuz they’re not as good as a camera would take, but that would be something extra to carry.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Including fragmentation of communities into progressives, liberals, independents, conservatives, libertarians, etc?

      Is it possible that all of the above come together? Optimists would think so…

      1. clarky90

        Yes! “progressives, liberals, independents, conservatives, libertarians” in a coalition against the voracious, evil Neo-Liberal/Neo-Conservtive Axis.

        This is what we have done in NZ and it is working well!

        The People largely agree about most things. The contention is around “degree”.

        Norman Kirk (NZ 29th PM) famously said that “people don’t want much, just “Someone to love, somewhere to live, somewhere to work and something to hope for.””

        There is enormous energy being expended in “dividing your enemies (us), and then conquering (us)! Just watch MSM with an open mind. – and remember all the totalitarian take-over tales you have read/seen. 1984 etc. chilling

        1. dcrane

          Fwiw, few of the conservatives and libertarians are in that coalition government; they are with the party out of power (National). And Labour shows significant similarity of neo-liberal thought to the American Democratic Party, e.g., their embrace (although sometimes disclaimed, just as with Hillary) of “free trade” pacts like TPP. New Zealand, being a small country, is probably stuck with going along with the crowd on trade, but the government could at least have called attention to the major flaws of the pact rather than use the country’s positive image internationally to push it along, which is closer to what happened.

          Things are better in NZ, in any event, and the country does seem less divided by hot button cultural issues. This might be so ultimately because the pot of gold is not so huge and with the country being smaller there are greater constraints on development of corrupting influences. Plus no zillion-dollar military burden, and past governments (e.g., Savage) were sometimes more socialist and the effect of this can still be seen today.

          1. clarky90

            What you are highlighting, is exactly my point. When one person, or group of people assume complete control (For instance, Stalin or Hitler) and are able to make “their” perfect world, then many “eggs are broken”, much “grass is mowed” on the journey to Perfection. Just do not be an egg or a blade of grass!

            I am happy with our NZ gov’t! I disagree on this or that, but they are valiantly trying to represent all the different points of view, different stages of life (I am an oldie), different communities….

            My all time favorite, old-time kiwi saying; Fair is fair.

            Battling endlessly, over the minutia, of the current “line”, is a depleting, losing strategy.

  4. PlutoniumKun

    In Refusing To Defend Assange, Mainstream Media Exposes Its True Nature Steemit (UserFriendly). Caitlin Johnstone.

    “Curiously, as of this writing, McCraw’s words have found no mention in the Times itself,” activist Ray McGovern wrote for the alternative media outlet Consortium News. “In recent years, the newspaper has shown a marked proclivity to avoid printing anything that might risk its front row seat at the government trough.”

    I’m just reading my way through Seymore Hershes wonderful memoir (called, suitably enough, ‘A Memoir’), and I’m at the point in the mid 1970’s when real journalism was at its peak, with the NYT and WP hacking through Washington. Its interesting that even then he notes that there was a deep conservatism within the Washington Corps about doing anything to rock its cosy insider arrangement. It took years for most mainstream journalists to realise that, for example, Henry Kissinger was playing them all for fools (he was famous for granting insider interviews, ensuring everything he wanted had his own particular slant). It would be nice to think that these things come in cycles, right now we are at the bottom of a cycle in terms of real news reporting. Sadly, it may just be that we are on a continuous down slope thats been slanted that way since the 1980’s, and never likely to hit its trough.

    1. Clive

      I used to almost religiously watch the BBC nightly news plus its factual output of political and societal programming and after which I’d consider myself well-informed. Add in a spread of daily newspapers (the Sunday Times and — please don’t laugh here, it was a sensible option 20 years ago — the Telegraph) and I thought I knew most things in terms of current affairs.

      Now, nowhere is safe. The Telegraph is beyond parody, the Times a Murdoch crazypants rant and the BBC needs careful and selective incredulity. On cable, it’s worse, CNN’s endless Trump shell-shock loop, CNBC is like watching the Blob’s illegitimate love child begat by Lord Beaverbrook but at least Sky was shamed into dropping Fox here so that saves a button press on the TV remote. RT and France24 are vague islands of sanity, one wonders what they could do with a bigger budget. Am I missing anything by not paying to descramble RTE?

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Me too. I grew up a bit of a news obsessive – even as a teenager (although of course it was entirely indiscriminate). Later on I always made sure to catch Newsnight and C4 news and read at least one broadsheet, and spend my Sunday mornings with another. I’d read the Economist as my insight into the right to balance my other leftish/greenish reading. I thought of myself as fairly discriminate and able to filter out the rubbish and propaganda, although I’d regularly have a mini-awakening when I’d see articles or reports on topics that I did have an inside knowledge of – it was rarely assuring.

        I hardly bother anymore. When I”m ‘on the road’ for work I’ll listen to news shows (British and Irish) and occasionally watch the TV news (I don’t have a TV anymore). I browse the Guardian and a few decent news outlets and get the Irish Times, but otherwise I just chase links. Its very, very difficult now to be sure what you are getting, even from what were once reliable outlets. Even RTE and the Irish Times, for all their conservatives on domestic news, were usually pretty good on international news as they had no real axe to grind. But I can see the process at work as ‘the message’ seeps through to newsrooms everywhere.

        A problem I find is that in everyday conversation, if you say this you end up getting a ‘oh, are you one of those ‘read all the internet conspiracy theorists and believe them’ type persons?’ look.

        1. Norb

          PK- you have touched on something that is very important considering everyday conversation. There is a dynamic at play that I cannot get a handle on. Namely, the dysfunction of modern communication. People need to frame their everyday experience concerning work, family life, and interests and that takes a common language and expectation.

          Thoughtful intelligence and a desire to form bonds of community are essential for this process to succeed and I think this process has been greatly damaged to the point of breakdown. It is disturbing because it points to a reality that people can be living together one moment as neighbors, and the next are driven to hacking one another with machetes.

          Political conversations with family and fellow citizens need to take place or a very violent future is in store. Without this dialog, there is no common ground to deal with crisis. It seems many people are willfully embracing this discord. The ultimate blowback from decades of misdirected foreign and economic policy.

          Maybe this results when the priority of public discourse is no longer the search for truth. What is left is belief and tribalism.

          I was asked recently how one is to navigate “false news”. I responded by recommending finding sources that have a proven track record of being right or accurate over time and backed up and confirmed by personal experience whenever possible. I received a blank stare, followed by a cynical outlook that all truth was relative.

          Bridging that revealed gap is almost impossible. If I were a member of the elite, I would be more worried about the social monster that has been created more so that any revolutionary tendencies of the citizenry.

          The old aristocracy at least feared the mob, and in a strange, twisted way, is the more healthy attitude to take. It seems the attitude today is just about taking advantage of the chaos to increase profits, not realizing how bad things can quickly become.

          1. JBird

            The old aristocracy at least feared the mob, and in a strange, twisted way, is the more healthy attitude to take. It seems the attitude today is just about taking advantage of the chaos to increase profits, not realizing how bad things can quickly become.

            There is this and there is also creating the chaos for profit and then others take advantage. Add the overall crapification and concentration of the production of everything, news, food, cars, medicine, medical research, clothes, everything, into a very few hands, we have serious problems.

            On news production, I have a hard time finding any, never mind good, alternative news like the semi crazy, but often informative leftist weekly and monthly news rags. There are some but so few left.

            I also think that this Russia! Russia! Russia! madness is partly due to cheapness. To do any decent story especially an investigative one requires at least one, sometimes a whole of reporters, for decent audio, photo, or video requires at least another person, plus maybe some support staff, including editors. Add in the days, weeks, or months in extreme cases and it is money. A single week can cost the wages of half a dozen people easily. Even a well produced story of a dog show requires half a day, one reporter, and one cameraman or audio recorder maybe, plus editor. An entire days wages for one story. On the Russia! Russia! Russia! or the Trump! Trump! Trump! stories, you can do half a day with one some talking heads and some “news” feed from elsewhere. Cheap, quick, and lots of hits for the advertisers to see.

            It is sad to know that there are plenty of people who want to produce good quality of whatever, but they cannot make a living doing so or often the resources to even begin.

          2. The Rev Kev

            I sometimes wonder if our elites realize that they are creating their own monsters from the Id.

        2. blennylips

          > I browse the Guardian and a few decent news outlets and get the Irish Times, but otherwise I just chase links. Its very, very difficult now to be sure what you are getting

          Well pawdner, once you’ve corralled that frisky link, why not, like milk ‘er?

          The Invisible World of RSS

          March 16, 2018 by David Whelan
          I also won’t retread what I use – Tiny Tiny RSS. I use it because it is a web-based tool, so I can access it in a web browser. It has a mobile app in case I want to check in that way. And most importantly, it has the ability for me to select items that I can share on a public page. A law firm or law library could run a system like Tiny Tiny and create its own, tailored feeds for lawyers and practice groups.

          Since goog killed reader, I used TTRSS in its simplest way and love it not getting in the way. — experts _please_ correct me if wrong, but it seems to keep itself up to date;)

      2. vlade

        Telegraph was more sensible than majority of other news for quite a while – I’d say that the large rot started around 2013 and by 2015 was beyond pale. Now it’s a more polite verions of Daily Mail.

        BBC now stands for Bullshit Broadcasting Corporation, and its “experts” are beyond pale – it makes you wish Parson, Flanders and Peston were back, as at least they were able and willing to challenge the politicians now and then. Yes, I know, but I’m comparing them to the current crop who are beyond clueless.

        Now BBC seems to think that to be “balanced” means that flat-earthers have to get the same screentime as astronomers – and not on comedy shows, but primetime news.

        I may read opinions in Guardian these days, and FT Alphaville, and that’s about it for the “official” media.

      3. dcrane

        Now, nowhere is safe. The Telegraph is beyond parody, the Times a Murdoch crazypants rant and the BBC needs careful and selective incredulity. On cable, it’s worse, CNN’s endless Trump shell-shock loop, CNBC is like watching the Blob’s illegitimate love child begat by Lord Beaverbrook but at least Sky was shamed into dropping Fox here so that saves a button press on the TV remote.

        Don’t usually spend everyone’s time on a +1 but I have to say I loved this rant.

      4. Massinissa

        My father is a democratic loyalist who voted for Hillary.

        Yet he no longer listens to NPR because each and every day it is more shill screeching about Trump. Trump, Trump, Trump that is all he hears when he turns NPR on.

        It wouldn’t surprise me if others are having the same experience. Its getting to point where the hysterical bleating is beginning to irritate even staunch Trump hating partisans like my father.

        How much can the mass media focus on one topic without people becoming exhausted and fatigued of it?

        1. RiverboatGrambler

          I used to read Digby every day, she was my first political blog and I’ve always enjoyed her writing style as well as her willingness to acknowledge Dem failings. At the very least, you would never catch her hippy-punching. In 2016 she quietly supported Hillary in the primary but I could respect where she was coming from and she never shat on Sanders.

          After the election I figured the blog was gonna be pretty dark and maybe even boozy for awhile but… jeez. It’s been two years and it’s not even that her writing became crap or she went full-on “embittered centrist”… Maybe this says more about me than it does her, but the truth is I stopped reading because whenever she posts about Trump (and she’s usually posting about Trump) she picks the ones where he’s got his stupid smirk or even a big shit-eating grin, or the one where he’s hugging the flag that makes my fucking skin crawl. Sometimes she posts pictures that are literally pro-Trump propaganda pictures, though perhaps the better term is “fan-art”. You know, the ones where Trump is portrayed as a superhero? She often posts the one where he’s in space-marine armor from Warhammer 40K, which makes me want to both laugh and sob. It’s like she goes out of her way to find the most triggering pictures of him.

          Point being, I realized that I was tired of seeing some smug-ass picture of Trump every time I loaded up her page, followed by a post about how Trump is shit and the Dems won’t be able to stop him. I still respect Digby and she’s still no hippy-puncher but I just can’t handle the constant doom-and-gloom accompanied by various gleeful images of Trump.

          1. Hepativore

            I used to be a regular reader of Balloon Juice after discovering them from the now-dead Defeatists blog. While I am not going to name any names, many of the newer writers there are die-hard Hillbots and they viciously attacked anybody that suggested supporting Sanders during the election as well as Keith Ellison during the DNC chair appointment. With the exception of John Cole, all of the writers as well as the posters in the comments would accuse you of being a Berniebro, purity pony, or privileged white male at the slightest mention of Sanders or Ellison.

            It has only gotten worse since the outcome of the election, and to this day, the majority of the posts are all about how horrible the Trump administration is and how the Russians are controlling our government. They completely ignore what is going on in the leadership of the Democratic party including how it was their fault that Trump was elected in the first place. Instead they blame the “straight, white, Berniebros”.

    2. Mel

      Henry Kissinger was playing them all for fools (he was famous for granting insider interviews, ensuring everything he wanted had his own particular slant).

      And they even knew (Russell Baker in the NYT in 1976) — so you wonder why they didn’t know better.

    3. paul

      Try this, bbc ‘scotland’ has been unwatchable since the last referendum.

      As I have said before, the year zero lads can get what they want just by jeering,leaking and shouting.

      I used to see the BBC as one of the good things in this world, but no longer.

  5. PlutoniumKun

    Even the White Helmets have been rescued from Syria – so are we about to see the final battle of the war? Independent. Robert Fisk

    The article is good – it is pretty clear that the Syrian end game is approaching, and its not going to be pretty for the remaining Islamicists in Idlib. But I found this paragraph striking:

    None too soon for the Iranians, no doubt. It was quite a shock for me to see the rich and wealthier middle class Iranians flooding into Belgrade this past month, bringing their cash and treasures to the west through one of the few European countries still permitting visa-free entry for the sanctioned Iranians. Cheap flights from Tehran and other Iranian cities are landing daily in Serbia, and Belgrade’s hotels are packed with Farsi-speaking guests, all set – presumably – for new lives in the west. The European Union, needless to say, is threatening the Belgrade president that if he doesn’t block the profitable Iranian “tourists”, it will end the no-visa travel which Serbian citizens enjoy in the rest of Europe.

    There have been reports that Iran is in a pretty bad shape domestically, but of course its easy to dismiss mainstream reporting on this as propaganda. But if its true that those who can are bailing out, then maybe there is a domestic economic crisis looming there. Given the temptation to Trump (and the Gulf States) to interfere if it looks like Iran is going to implode this could take an unexpected twist. Just because Iran has been very resilient for decades in the face of multiple threats doesn’t mean it can go on like this forever.

    1. ambrit

      I don’t know if it is legitimate to compare cultures, but, China has a similar dynamic going on, what with Chinese ‘investors’ flooding the American West Coast, Australia, et. al. However, the PRC leadership looks to be handling the stresses better than ‘experts’ here in the West had hoped. The Party Apparat in Pekin is navigating the treacherous shoals of Globalism in the barque “Middle Kingdom.”
      That being said, the absolute worst thing the West can do, vis a vis Iran, is to seriously threaten it, or even, heavens forfend, attack it. Then the ground state in Iran will quickly shift from ‘loyal opposition’ to the Theocrats in Teheran to “My Country Right or Wrong.” Iran is perfectly set up for Patriotism to take hold internally.

      1. jsn

        Similar facts mean different things in differing cultural contexts. The Basij in Iran is apparently a sort of CCC, WPA and Militia run by the Mullah’s in Iran since 1981. It incorporates Iran’s “deplorables” into a continuously mobilized force organized by the religious hierarchy above and to the right of the elected government.

        As US/Israeli efforts at destabilization in Iran take effect, the most vulnerable are likely the most Western oriented and the most likely to react are the ones with the means to do so. Should the US attack, the Basij militia will have open season on an economic elite not accustomed to the hardships normal to the Basij.

        Maybe Iran will collapse, or maybe it will relapse into a religious fanaticism its familiar with in which the religious elite consistently look after the real, material interests of the “deplorables.”

    2. JTMcPhee

      Having connived at the destabilization process, the Boltons and Wolfowitzes are wetting their pants in anticipation of this “opportunity to excel…” Wonder what the lieutenant colonels and majors and captains who might have to put their boots on the ground think about the whole thing? Mixed bag, no doubt — my narrow view in the Vietnam thing was that the way to elevated rank went through the obtaining of a “combat infantry badge” or “air medal…” And with all those “volunteer” troops, with the new “Starship Trooper” frame in place, and the ever increasing ability to deliver explosives and stuff like carbon-fiber strands to short out electric grids and the wonders of cyber warfare, its ever so much easier to do things like another land (air, space, cyber) war in Asia…

      The new “battlespace managers” can sit on their tufted ergonomic chairs in front of their VR global network-centric interoperable keyboards and screens and piles of war plans and strategy documents, like the rest of the “no personal consequences” sh!ts who rule us, and “make it happen…”

    3. John Wright

      Fisk goes over the editorial line when he writes this:

      “Thanks to Donald Trump, it’s all over for the “rebels” of Syria because they have been betrayed by the Americans – surely and finally by Trump himself in those secret discussions with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, perhaps the most important of the “unknowns” of that translators-only chat – as they have by the Gulf Arabs.”

      How does Fisk know “surely and finally by Trump himself in those secret discussions with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki”?

      Does Fisk have some direct knowledge of the content of the “secret discussions”?

      If said betrayal did occur, how can Putin be certain Trump’s word is good as Putin must have observed all the push-back against Trump from the CIA/NSA/FBI/Democrats+Repubs/US Media?

      Surely Putin knows Trump has reversed himself on other actions.

      And under what authority are there US troops and military operations in Syria, anyway?

      Catching a case of TDS apparently can make one certain of the content of Trump secret meetings.

      Maybe there is a vaccine?

  6. PlutoniumKun

    New Housing Can Spur Growth In Cities Left for Dead American Conservative

    I think the following is a very important point that is often forgotten by urban activists:

    There is little empirical evidence that gentrification has led to the displacement of people living in the urban neighborhoods of the Rust Belt. On the other hand, there is incontrovertible proof that thousands of middle-class residents are displaced by urban decline every year in these cities. A shrinking city, with a declining tax base, that is getting poorer will help no one—the poor least of all.

    Gentrification is not a single process – it is unique in every urban area, just as every urban area is unique. A process that is incredibly damaging in San Francisco could be very positive in Detroit. Whether it has positive or negative impacts depends entirely on all sorts of local factors – supply of housing, supply of land, balance of owner occupiers to renters and so on.

    1. SimonGirty

      In Pittsburgh, “urban renewal” addicted Gene Smith, in the mid Fifties; victorian mansions attracted yuppies as we dumpster dove & poched deer, pheasants & quail through Reagan’s Miracle; now media shills one of the final Black neighborhoods, where folks weren’t yet cattle prodded into isolated ridgetop projects, redlined out of otherwise affordable working class (ofay) towns, as famous Negro business districts were ploughed under. Like some stripmine Gaza. As you say, it varies by city?

          1. SimonGirty

            Found it, WAY down the thread? Now, the poor moderator will ban me as a substance abusing schizophrenic. I’m waiting for all these young entrepreneurs and returning, retired Pixboig diaspora boomers to skedaddle as the fracked wet gas wells start blowing out and all 31 local microbreweries’ radium flavored craft ales, stout & porters ignite spontaneously, an’at?

  7. PlutoniumKun

    Brexit: split down the middle

    Something that has puzzled me for the last 18 months is why big business has been so quiet about the whole Brexit process. Even the comments by Airbus a few weeks ago seem to have been co-ordinated with the government to help May get her Chequers deal through.

    Putting this all together, we are beginning to hear a voice which until now has been relatively quiet – big business. Government, which seems to have been deferring to the noise makers, has been able to ignore the business case. But when they start making noises – possibly alongside the rational middle – this is a faction which carries weight.

    I wonder though whether they will still stay quiet, but concentrate on emergency planning for a no-deal Brexit, which likely means either relocations or temporary shut downs.

    I think the lack of a crisis has been one of the worst things to happen to the UK over Brexit. If big business has panicked last year, maybe we’d be in a better situation now. The silence of business has allowed complacency to overcome urgency. This may not have been in anyones interest.

    1. Mirdif

      A very telling comment btl on that article:

      I had quite an interesting dinner with one of my friends who is quite high up on the IT side of UBS. To my surprise they are quite happy with Brexit because as it turns out they expect that because they retain their access to the EU they will work as a bridge between UK and EU banks. He did not want to go into details about how this work but he mentioned that they have ramped up their systems to handle 20 million transactions per second on Brexit day and to do that they have spent 140 million pounds upgrading their systems. The expect to take major advantage of no deal which the bank thinks its certain. The sharks are circling and our financial services are going to suffer.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, if true its probably indicating that the biggest institutions have a few ‘hedges’ worked out – mostly based on how they can best profit from the most likely scenarios.

        The broader political implication of this of course is that the more big businesses feel insulated from it – or even that they can profit from any scenario, the less likely it is that they’ll use their influence to introduce sanity to UK government thinking.

        1. Mirdif

          So far it looks like the murmurs of discontent are coming only from those operating with JIT supply chains. My guess is that the rest are either oblivious, beleavers who think its remoaner project fear or they’ve worked out strategies to make money from the crash out.

          I really don’t think any crisis is likely until the very last week in March 2019 if indeed it does come at all prior to B-Day. I also don’t think Mr Market has any understanding of the real consequences and thus we get hardly any significant movement in the currency markets for example.

    2. Darius

      Maybe big business’s overarching goal is to prevent Corbyn from being PM. Maybe FDR’s talent was knowing how to placate those people just enough to keep the tanks out of the streets.

      1. Lee

        Here in the U.S. we don’t worry about tanks in the street. Our road surfaces are too friable and already crumbling under normal vehicle traffic. And don’t get me started on the fragility of our bridges.

        Is it not a well established business tactic to maintain good relations with both sides of an international conflict so as to be able to sell bullets and other stuff to both sides?

          1. Lee

            Thanks for the locally focused links.

            Our small city has a history of limiting development that is morally and politically ambiguous. Historically it was about limiting density and preserving Victorian and Craftsman buildings from being knocked down and replaced by cheap rectilinear ticky-tacky. But these measures were also about redlining.

            These decades-old local ordinances have been overruled by state mandate, and supported by the courts, whereby costly sanctions can be impose upon municipalities that resist high density development. There is a great deal of population pressure and big money involved here in the SF East Bay largely, emanating from Silicon Valley, 50 miles south of us.

            Most of the new, higher density housing is being built on low-lying landfill, immediately adjacent to San Francisco bay. That they are building on what will in the not too distant future become quicksand, given earthquake and sea level rise risks, seems to have escaped everyone’s notice. Oh well, in the short term there’s money to be made so what the heck.

            1. SimonGirty

              Heck, I’ll (hopefully) be leaving my car 200 miles from Manhattan and taking Amtrak through the ancient tunnel to Penn Station (now, ending beneath an amalgam of pretty empty new skyscrapers). I’m waiting for the Acela to wreck between a swing bridge in Newark and this tunnel (one of several vital qtunnels and bridges about to fail), doubtless, taking a couple NJT trains with it. Since our betters all have choppers nowadays… well, thought ‘n prayers.

  8. PlutoniumKun


    BP buys US shale assets for $10bn BBC

    “BP said it was confident of the deal’s positive impact on its fortunes, and as a result would increase the dividend it pays to its shareholders for the first time in four years and would buy back $6bn worth of shares.”

    Sometimes Mr. Market can be quietly eloquent.

    “However, BP shares fell 1.7% following the announcement in early London trading.”

  9. PlutoniumKun

    Re: Brexit and food.

    Nice article here from food writer Jay Rayner in the Observer.

    Last week, in evidence to the Brexit select committee, Raab announced that the government would be working to secure “adequate food supplies” in the event of a no-deal Brexit, which could impede the free flow across our borders of the 30% of our food currently imported from the EU. No, the government itself would not be stockpiling food. Quite right. It doesn’t have a way of doing so. Instead, it would be up to the food industry to deal with it. They are comments that have left the entire British food supply chain – farmers, producers and retailers – utterly baffled.

    “There isn’t warehousing space in this country,” Ian Wright of the Food and Drink Federation, which represents the interests of UK manufacturers, told me. “There doesn’t need to be, because companies do not hold huge inventories. It’s massively financially inefficient to do so.” Only 49% of the food we consume is produced in Britain, he said. The rest comes from abroad, and most of that is in the form of ingredients to be turned into the foods we eventually eat. It arrives just in time to be used, after which the finished goods are immediately dispatched. “I don’t think the government understands that,” he said.

    Or, as the head of one of Britain’s biggest food manufacturers put it to me, “That lot couldn’t run a fish and chip shop.”

    Its pretty clear that there is absolutely zero real plan for dealing with a no-deal Brexit, and far too late to put in place a meaningful one.

      1. JTMcPhee

        There’s a lot of American Simulated Cheese Product aging in storage across the US — maybe time for a new “Lend-Lease,” except you can have it without having to even think about repayment…

      2. Synapsid


        They still make the stuff, you know. It’s big in Hawai’i, maybe the Philippines; some think Hawai’ian cuisine is based on it.

        1. sleepy

          Yes, it’s made in Austin MN–aka SpamTown USA–at the Hormel plant 45 minutes from my house. There’s also a Spam Museum and a yearly Spam Festival.

          I’ve got quite a few recipes for spam hotdish if you’d care for one.

          1. Synapsid


            Thank you but the sodium would do me in. I’m not, um, exactly young.

            I sent this last night but it didn’t go through.

        2. ObjectiveFunction

          +1 on spam musubi. It’s a staple here in the Philippines as well, and pretty much everywhere the US Navy has spent a lot of time.

          Spam follows the flag…

    1. ambrit

      I’ll lay odds that the Military is making contingency plans for ‘dealing with’ food riots.
      Could this be an event on the order of a war, or at the least, the General Strike of 1926?
      Now that I think on it, America’s Franklin Roosevelt had the General Strike immediately in his ‘rear view mirror’ going into the 1932 Presidential Campaign.
      Where is our Franklin Roosevelt for today?

    2. Lee

      Let them eat American GMO soy beans!

      On a slightly more serious note, a country that is not food self sufficient and lacking an empire consisting of other peoples’ croplands, is particularly vulnerable to mass internal grumpiness.

      Finally, thanks for the quote of the day: “That lot couldn’t run a fish and chip shop.” Pretty much sums up growing public sentiment toward our betters.

  10. lyman alpha blob

    This is supposed to be a feel good story be it really aggravates me. Apparently ‘will work for food’ isn’t good enough anymore but if you aren’t really homeless and pretend you’re trying to found a startup, then credulous self-righteous jerks will tell your story and tech companies looking for good PR will fall over themselves to offer you a job:

    Note this part:

    “It was basically a make-or-break moment,” he said of his job-search breakthrough.

    “I wanted to keep my head up high, keep looking forward and see what opportunity would come next,” he added.

    “I was thinking you know, like this was like my last stop. If this didn’t work, I’d go back home and give up on my dream.”

    Or am I being too cynical?

    1. Jesper

      This feel good story from a couple of weeks ago:
      Good for the kid and it is nice to know there are people like him but for the rest it was not much of a feel good story (to me). I felt bad that someone like him was so badly off.

      Yep, it is only an anecdote but did that anecdote support the claim of a job-market good for wage-earners?
      & wasn’t it nice that the CEO gave something he himself barely used for four years?

        1. ambrit

          Too true. It goes along with all the “Widow and Children Win Lottery” stories.
          This is really stretching to find a “you too can win in the game of life” meme to propagate. That the MSM has to highlight such extreme cases shows how bad the underlying conditions are.
          A real ‘feelgood’ story for many of us will be something along the lines of: “Activists Blow Up Boardroom Meeting.”
          Pitchforks and Guillotines, not just for Dreamland anymore.

          1. polecat

            “Man catches fish” .. oh wait ! That was really an electrified media eel he grabbed onto ..

            1. ambrit

              You should have delivered the entire headline.
              “Man Catches Fish, Drought Devastated Village Loses Food Aid.”
              “Regional aid coordinator Arturo Vanx stated that: ‘We gave the villagers here access to the training to enable them to support themselves, as shown by Mr Proles piscine success. Our job is done. Time for them to pull up their bootstraps, gird their loins and pull together as a team.”

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            The worst story every told? I’m borrowing from South Park and adding a bit.

            Satan: Job only loves you (God) because you give him stuff (Satan and God chat as its basically a story from the duality type deities apparent in the Old Testament but monotheism or something)
            God: I’ll show you. I’ll make him suffer.
            Job suffers horribly and publicly.
            Job: I love you God
            God: See? (addressing Satan)
            Satan: Oh you got me, I guess you should give him even more stuff.

            The lesson is have faith in divine intervention. In my best Comic Book Guy voice, worst story ever (with the notable exception of Noah’s Ark which is also stupid).

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Basically, Job showed gumption and happened to be watched by a rich guy who liked his spunk! Lo he was rewarded by the same rich guy who was responsible for his suffering over a bet.

            2. ambrit

              But Naoh’s Ark probably has a kernel of truth in it. There were massive flooding episodes in early human historical timelines.
              As for Job, well, no one I ever ‘engage’ about this story with has a comeback for the observation that a bunch of otherwise innocent people around Job had to suffer and die. Crazy God Syndrome anybody? (It makes ‘dualist’ theologies look downright sane by comparison.)

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                In the 20-mile walker story, you want the guy to keep the car.

                In the Job story, you want Job to tell the bad guy, “I don’t need more stuff. I worship because I worship…for better or worse.

                They seem to be two different stories.

                1. ambrit

                  Both stories you cite are versions of the Horatio Alger template. Others above have mentioned this. Poor slob is helped by wealthier slob as result of voluntary subservience. The more extreme versions of this meme are centred around the effects of pure chance on human existence. True magical thinking is extolled as a viable solution to individual ills when the story, when dispassionately analyzed, proclaims just the opposite. I would love to see someone write a book based on the experiences of Job’s wife and children. Dystopian fiction wouldn’t even begin to describe the tale.

              2. Mo's Bike Shop

                New wife, new kids. Same, same!

                Like in Heinlein’s version, ‘you’re a good little manikin, but your demiurge is clinically cray-cray.’

                I’ve always appreciated Job for the meta. Also the fine papers.

                1. ambrit

                  I follow Oppenheimer in his placing of the origins of the various flood myths in the inundation of Sundaland in the 5,000 to 10,000 years BC, which flooding occurred in several discrete surges. Ocean floor sediment cores and coral reef cores show the progression of the flooding. This period is well within the time frame of human proto urbanization and organized states.
                  Oppenheim’s “Eden In The East” is well worth reading. He sticks to verifiable data.

            3. Lee

              Are you familiar with Galina Vromen’s “Sarah’s Story”? It is a revisionist retelling of the Abraham and Isaac myth, featuring Isaac’s mom as the actual, cleverly heroic savior of their son from the god-besotted, brain addled Abraham.

              1. ambrit

                New to me. I’ll give it a look read. I’ve always had severe reservations about the Abraham and Isaac story. Who is the ram ‘standing in’ for?

              2. Unna

                I never quite liked the Sarah of the bible story. First she feels her position slipping away because she hasn’t gotten Abraham a son, so she forces her slave girl to sleep with Abraham getting him a son as a result. Then at some point she gets rid of both the slave girl and the son by having them abandoned in the desert to die. This Sarah character is beyond morally questionable. This whole bible family down the generations seems even less reputable then the Windsors.

                1. LifelongLib

                  A Christian friend who teaches bible study tells his students “You think your family’s dysfunctional? By the time you get to Book 10 of Genesis it’ll look like the Brady Bunch!”

            4. Unna

              Worst Bible story: Abraham almost killing his kid; after he almost managed to kill his older kid by abandoning him in the desert. Some scholars say that the Issac story in the Bible is a refined version of two earlier versions ( they do this by some sort of linguistic analysis ) where in the first version Abraham actually kills Issac because that’s what Abraham figured he had to do to get what he wanted from god. Second version is where Abraham refused to kill Issac and an angel observing this becomes alarmed, flies down, grabs some hapless game animal, has Abraham sacrifice the animal and goes back to work things out with god. Substitute sacrifice. Problem fixed. Final version is what we read today. Still, you have to ask what kind of god asks a father to kill his own son. Also what sort of father agrees. The great parallel in Greek stories is Agamemnon killing his own daughter to get fair winds to sail for Troy. But he gets a very bad press because of this, rightfully being killed by his wife and her lover after she cheats on Agamemnon while he’s away sacking cities and otherwise raping and pillaging.

              1. boz

                Indeed the request is horrific and Abraham’s response shocking.

                But this story does two things: 1) prefigures Jesus (Son of God) on the cross – bridging the human and divine – (note JC total and free acceptance of this ‘cup’), and 2) demonstrate that obedience to God (read perfect love, humility, detachment from own desire) is pretty [familyblog] impossible on our own strength.

                This (obedience, rather than filicide) is why Abraham is called ‘our father in faith’.

                The fatherhood meme runs through the Bible. I’ll finish here, noting that the parable of the Prodigal Son should really be called the parable of Loving Father.

                And yeah, Job. Bad [familyblog] happens to good people.

                1. Unna

                  Yes. I know all this being the product of a Catholic education. But I’m uncomfortable with any religion that demands absolute obedience in the name of an all powerful god enforced by clerics who are the interpreters of absolute truth, as well as it’s absolute enforcers. Questionable paradigm. Am much more at ease with the religion of the Greeks where people defy the gods and trick them to mortals’ advantage all made possible by a polytheism where you can play one off against the other and thereby carve out a space of freedom for yourself. A divided “devine” government where the players have limited powers which can be kept in check by clever mortals. My prejudice is that this is why Greece is the birthplace of freedom of thought and inquiry, science, philosophy, democracy (!) and on and on as opposed to some other places. I don’t think this as an accident. Give me 5th Century Athens! Of note, the Olympian gods, that made all this possible, won their place after defeating the older order of Titans after a battle in “heaven” in part through the actions of the god Apollo whose epithet phoebus means the shinning one.

                  1. boz

                    I’m intrigued by the way you reference freedom and the more comfortable paradigm of human-deity relationships in Greek mythology (sorry if this sounds clumsy – I’m not having a pop).

                    I’m re-reading Debt by Robert Graeber and he discusses the origins (seemingly in parallel) of debt and philosophy in what he calls the Axial Age (includes the Greeks).

                    He also talks about notions of debts and relationships to kings/gods (to ‘settle’ indicates equivalence, which in the case of kings and gods is an oxymoron).

                    If you haven’t come across it, it’s a cracking read. Non-polemic and very accessible.

                    PS Admins: is the site meant to email me if there is a reply? I’m not seeing them if so… thanks!

                    1. Unna

                      Actually I’m listening to Graeber on audio while working out. Two Thirds through. Love this book. What I meant was that the gods contending among themselves allowed the mortals to play with that and create a “space” that was for humans. Also, the gods didn’t seem to want to control humans in any absolute fashion like the god of Abraham. Don’t mess with their sacred groves and shrines, don’t eat their sacred cattle, don’t get into skill contests with them, pour a libation, do an offering, and they left you alone unless you were unduely sexually attractive and that might be different. Also unless you got caught up in one of their private battles – see Trojan War. But if you wanted a favour, you had better stick to the program. The Greeks didn’t demand perfection from the gods. In fact their lack of perfection could be used to get what you wanted. Greek society might demand a certain normative behavior – you should behave like a Greek and what that meant was generally understood – so Greek priests were not in the morality enforcement business. Morality was a matter of social custom and the pronouncements of wise men and philosophers. Zeus didn’t know what you thought but the Abrahamic god always knows what you think. The Greek relationship to their gods was seriously different. And I can’t believe that I’m writing a comment about religion! I must be getting old with too much time on my hands.

                    2. boz


                      I can’t seem to reply to your message (10:22pm) so have gone back up a level.

                      And I can’t believe that I’m writing a comment about religion!

                      Well, I’m very pleased you did. Thanks for a nice conversation on this topic.

            5. Shane Mage

              Sure, Job is among the worst stories ever told. But someone among its writers knew a little something about astronomy. When “God” taunts Job with “were you there when I suspended the world from the empty place?” practically nobody knows what that means. How many of us, indeed, recognize that the “empty place” referred to is the *pole of the ecliptic*, where there are no visible stars?

        2. anon

          Or the new Jobs’ (et al) Garage Birth mythology.

          I can see it now, you too could be successful if you weren’t such a loser (as long as you’re in your early to mid twenties). Just find your own personal park bench never mind all of those unexplained snags such as cops; bench absence and scarcity; bathroom calls; hypothermia; clean pressed clothes; laptop plugin outlets and theft; FOOD and money when you’re broke.

          Silicon Valley is a cesspool of inhumanity, increasingly spinning many of it’s populace into constant despair and homelessness. Were it not for the vast amounts it spends trying to prevent suicides from happening before its over 26 years old adult ‘losers’ are herded and forced outside of its borders, I’m positive its suicide rate would be far higher. As it is, I’m pretty sure the attempted suicide rate is quite large. Worse, Silicon Valley’s still living at home teenage suicide rate remains criminal:

          Teen mental health care turned into a top concern among school officials, parents and health care experts in northern Santa Clara County following a tragic series of well-publicized suicides among current and recently graduated high school students.

          The second “suicide cluster” in less than a decade, it was hardly seen as an anomaly, prompting federal health officials to step in and conduct a short-term epidemiological study to figure out what’s going on. Dozens of seminars, “listening sessions” and mental health symposiums later, the region doesn’t seem much closer to a real solution.

          On an anecdotal level, local mental health counselors say the problem is manifold: academic pressure and anxiety is through the roof, substance abuse is a growing concern and emotional support from parents is often stretched thin by the high cost of living and workaholic nature of Silicon Valley. Many parents relocated here for work, and admit they have no idea what it’s like to grow up in the Bay Area.

          1. Hepativore

            Silicon Valley is but a more concentrated version of the mythos that “failure” millenials like me were forced to swallow growing up. I have a degree in histology due to both personal interest as well as I; like many of those in my generation, bought into the propaganda that “STEM was where it was at.” The biotechnology sector was supposed to be a burgeoning field of jobs because of the much vaunted “STEM shortage”.

            After I graduated from college, I put off getting my master’s degree because I wanted to get some work experience first. I found out the hard way that most if not all of the work in biology research that had not already been outsourced to Asia were permatemp or contractual positions. Most companies get rid of all of the personnel associated with a particular project as soon as it is over and then hire a new batch of people (often H1Bs, they are used extensively in science and engineering companies too.) for the next project. This is usually done to keep them off of the healthcare and retirement plans. As a result, there is a huge swath of desperate STEM workers, especially in science looking for any job they can find.

            To make matters worse, the FIRE sector often barely conceals its contempt for its laboratory employees in the research companies that they run. I saw the open contempt in the demeanor that corporate had for us whenever they toured our facilities at WuXi. It was like the same dynamic between the popular kids and the nerds they despise in high school.

            I am now 34 and work a dead-end retail job in a pet store just to make ends meet and pay the bills. I have permanently shelved any aspirations I had of going to grad school, due to the possibility of graduating with thousands of dollars of even more debt, only to be forced into taking a job similar to what I have now. This has happened with many of my friends, such as the one with a master’s in immunology who is now a manager at a Sam’s Club.

            While I do not think that all is lost for the future, I think that whatever reforms happen in the future will be too late to help my generation. All things considered, I am one of the luckier ones as at least I have a full-time job even if I am paid in the low-teens per hour.

            1. anon

              Such lies perpetrated about the lack of US STEM talent. I’m so sorry about your loss of a decent wage, despite your skills.

              The bit about flushing personnel out and then hiring new, cheaper employees has been going on for a very long time. Many in Silicon Valley were laid off and then rehired through temporary agencies like ManPower which agencies were even set up in cubicles in major companies (HP was one of them with an in-house ManPower temp Agency) sans the benefits they had prior to the layoffs, and not allowed to partake in some company events, despite working at those places for over a year in some instances. Very ugly, and no outcry that I ever noticed from the local press, or the Democrats who’ve historically dominated Silicon Valley.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Mary Ellis, wartime volunteer who flew Spitfires, dies at 101”

    Now there’s a coincidence. I had just finished reading this article on my tablet with a doco on the TV about the Royal Air Force at 100 by Ewan and Colin McGregor playing when the grand old lady herself appeared and was being interviewed with another ex-“Glamour Girl” by the brothers. They showed photos of what these girls looked like back then and yes, they they deserved that nick-name. They also showed just one page of her flight log which had an amazing array of aircraft that she delivered in just the course of one month. And just to show that they were also hard-living girls once they started with an anecdote which got both the boys cracking up in laughter.

    And would that bird be a Southern masked weaver from South Africa?

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Britain shows it is becoming a weaker state by failing to put the Isis ‘Beatles’ on trial”

    Web address missing the ‘h’ at the beginning’.

    1. ambrit

      One of the few real friends I’ve ever had. Seldom lied to me, but when he did, he did it so convincingly that I could imagine that it was my idea all along.

  13. Otis B Driftwood

    Regarding the Carr fire, I happened to be hiking in the Shasta-Trinity forest last week. The fire was just getting started. These woods have an enormous amount of fallen trees on the floor – and this becomes the fuel for these raging infernos. It was alarming, actually, and it comes as no surprise to me that these fires are so intense and spread so rapidly and are so difficult to contain. Certainly, recent drought conditions and the large number of dead trees still standing doesn’t help either. These woods are supposed to managed by the US Forest Service, but they don’t seem up to the job. It’s a shame that these trees are left on the ground to be consumed by fire when they could be removed, both eliminating them as fuel for a fire and put to good use.

    1. bassmule

      Dead logs: the topic was her passion once, and she forgets herself. “When I was a student, my teacher told us that fallen trunks were nothing but obstacles and fire hazards.” The man on the ground looks up at her. “Mine said the same thing.” “ ‘Clear them off to improve forest health.’ ” “ ‘Burn them out for safety and cleanliness. Above all, keep them out of streams.’ ” “ ‘Lay down the law and get the stagnant place producing again!’ ” All three of them chuckle. But the chuckle is like pressing on a wound. Improve forest health. As if forests were waiting all these four hundred million years for us newcomers to come cure them. Science in the service of willful blindness: How could so many smart people have missed the obvious? A person has only to look, to see that dead logs are far more alive than living ones. But the senses never have much chance, against the power of doctrine.

      Powers, Richard. The Overstory: A Novel (p. 166). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

    2. JTMcPhee

      All for the lack of a broad-based organizing principle from which to observe a situation and do the right thing, something other than “where’s mine?…” A principle that might inform behavior and decision-making in the direction of reduce, re-use, restore and all that, with the goal of serving the general welfare. But then, of course, who gets to say what the ‘general welfare’ consists in or is served by? All the clamoring voices seeking advantage, hiding behind arch arguments for why their approach and remedy and “opportunity” is exactly what is needed…

      But then humans are, on the record, seemingly incapable of doing anything other than self-serving destruction— on the large scale.

    3. Lord Koos

      It’s not that the Forest Service is incompetent, it’s that they keep getting their budget cut.

    4. Wyoming

      It is not just that the Forest Service has budget problems it is that over the last 5 years they have been forced to move a vast amount of their budget to wildland fire fighting. I volunteer for the Forest Service where I live and they tell me that a better name for the place would be The Forest Fire Service. They are heavily dependent on us volunteers to keep the forests in shape. Our local volunteer trail maintenance crews did over 10,000 hours of work for free last year.

      The same issue plagues the VA hospital system. I have volunteered at our local VA hospital and the volunteer hours there amount to the equivalent of 44 full time workers – nationally we are talking about over 5000 free workers equivalent.

      Don’t you love our government?

  14. Carolinian

    I bailed about halfway through Ronan’s lengthy expose of CBS. So much sexual harassment, so little time. Curious how all these skeletons have come tumbling out of the closet with the advent of Trump. Perhaps that’s one reason for the media’s hostility toward our philandering prez. He’s giving their boy’s club game away.

    1. Scott

      I doubt this behavior is limited to media companies, although due to the nature of the business, it is likely worse in that industry. To me these stories just underscore how useless and even harmful Human Resources departments are for many workers. HR serves to meet the needs of senior leadership, so if they are the ones creating the hostile workplace, it’s highly unlikely that HR will do much to stop it. HR is not impartial and does not act in the best interest of the workers.

      1. Lee

        When I was a union rep, I wasted a lot of time meeting with my HR counterparts at Kaiser Medical et al. There was no doubt that we were on opposing sides.

        1. ambrit

          H—! Our experience this last two years has shown us that the Medicos and the Patients are on opposing sides now.

    2. Lee

      I’m wondering when Ronan will start covering sexual harassment among the lower orders. Granted, he is operating in his familial milieu and that the wrongdoing and victimization among society’s upper echelons sells more copy and that it is still early days for him professionally. So perhaps he will widen the scope of his reporting on this issue in the future. I won’t hold by breath.

      1. Carolinian

        Stories about misdeeds among the lower orders probably won’t sell New Yorkers.

        Whatever one thinks about the magazine’s recent pursuit of the sex beat–National Enquirer but with fact checkers?–it’s definitely not William Shawn’s New Yorker. Film critic Kael used to tell interviewers that he was too squeamish to even print swear words.

        Taking down executive sharks is doubtless a worthy cause–preferably it would be for their financial crimes–still the venue is odd.

      2. Massinissa

        I really don’t understand this critique, honestly. Would you rather sexual harassment among the elite not be covered at all?

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Welcome to the Quite Skies”

    I saw a women once in an underground railway station that in a matter of minutes started to fall apart because she had a fear of enclosed spaces. I can just imagine someone that had a fear of flying having to go to an airport to take an airplane and start to exhibit a similar fear. Going by that checklist, their symptons would get the immediate attention of the TSA and their tender mercies and make a bad situation worse. Even if the nerve of that person broke and they decided that they could not board an airplane that would not mean that they could leave the airport as that would be up to the TSA by law. They might even get themselves on a list because of their behaviour.

    1. ambrit

      My little sister has severe “fear of flying” syndrome. Every year her family flys to Spain to visit my brother in laws’ family members. She has to be tranked up something fierce to make the flights out and back. I don’t know how they ‘handle’ the TSA. Since that family is in the third Quartile, I’m sort of leery of asking for particulars. The Upper Middle Class, in a World of their Own.
      The ‘fun’ quote from the article for me is: “…the agency’s spokesman, said TSA “maintains a robust engagement with congressional committees to ensure maximum support and awareness.” This sounds like TSA is ‘networking’ to ensure protection of its turf and budget. How “Iron Law”….

  16. perpetualWAR

    Regarding Assange:
    I had heard that Wikileaks had something it was going to publish to protect Assange at one point? Am I mistaken?

    1. ambrit

      I’m wondering what the “Revenge of Julian” is going to be if he is handed over to American “Justice.” WikileaX has to have some “Poison Pill” information dumps qeued up ‘just in case.’

      1. Lord Koos

        You’d think so, but why couldn’t he use that same information to get out of jail?

        1. flora

          No idea. This page about Co-publishers, Research Partners and Funders reads like a who’s who in the international press. Attacking Assange is attacking one of the best reporters the press has, even if various other reporters or newspapers don’t understand this point.

    2. neighbor7

      The silence since the announcement of Assange’s imminent arrest suggests some kind of negotiation.

      What about Snowden’s Twitter silence for the past month?

    3. integer

      You might be thinking of the “insurance” files. WikiLeaks has released three encrypted “insurance” files to the public: the first in 2010 (1.4GB), the second in August 2013 (400GB), and the third in June 2016 (88GB). Here’s what WikiLeaks has said about their “insurance” files:

      WikiLeaks releases encrypted versions of upcoming publication data (“insurance”) from time to time to nullify attempts at prior restraint.

      WikiLeaks also tweeted some cryptic messages with what appeared to be encryption keys when Assange’s internet connection was briefly cut off in October 2016 (see here for details). AFAIK WikiLeaks has not mentioned any intention to release information or encryption keys since Ecuador cut Assange off from all forms of communication earlier this year.

  17. Olga

    Greek fires: the predatory political economy behind a recurring human disaster The Conversation
    Maybe this piece takes the cake… it somehow finds a way to blame the state of Greece today on the Soviet system! Even though it admits Greece was never a part of that system… but, who cares, let’s blame Russians anyway! Never mind what has happened in Greece since it entered EU… A waste of time!

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Just another ‘feckless Greeks have no one to blame but themselves’ article. Do wealthy Greeks get favors from a corrupt government that cause harm to the rest of the populace? I’m sure they do. Now find me a country where the wealthy don’t get such favors.

      Where did Bezos get all that money again? Oh that’s right, by not paying taxes for a couple decades and getting away with it!

    2. JEHR

      It is unfortunate that these fire victims are being blamed for the tragedy that is Greece. The real blame should be on the way technocrats run the Eurozone and the way predatory bankers did not pay attention to the fact that the Greek government could not pay back the money loaned to them by German and French banks. Henceforth, the Troika (EC, IMF and ECB) basically set things up so Greece could again “borrow” from the IMF in order to pay back the loans to the predatory banks. In the meantime, the Greek economy is being privatized, austerity is being visited on the people and the Greeks are suffering because of the work of the banks that should not have loaned them money they could not pay back. There are many to blame in this scenario.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The Greek Fire saved the (Byzantine) empire from Muslims about 1,000 years old.

  18. John

    Medicare for all
    The Hill article assumes medicare for all is some kind of giveaway. I am 82 years old and still employed part time. It is not that I would not like to try retirement, but I need the income from my job. Yes, I paid the Medicare Tax since its inception. At present between what is deducted from Social Security and what I is deducted from my paycheck, I pay $1997 per year for Medicare: my Medicare Supplement is an additional $2811. Medicare D, the Drugs Plan is another $1093. Over my working life I have no idea how much I have paid in. Medicare and the supplement covered the cost of chemotherapy and surgery for lung cancer in 2003. Medicare and the supplement covered the cost of a 26 day hospitalization for babesiosis,one of the nastier of the tick borne diseases in 2017. This combination of insurances saved me from destitution.

    If you apply what people pay from their pocket and what employers presently provide, you realize a considerable sum. If you structure the program sanely, the costs can be kept under control. If the fraudsters are publicly and severely punished, fraud will be less. I have read that the bulk of Medicare expenditures are in the last months of life. Personally, I do not wish to be kept breathing by a machine and nourished by a feeding tube when there is little or no chance of recovery and none of a life I would choose to live; I have given instructions to that end. Not every family would wish to take that road. I have ideas about how to meet that dilemma, but let wiser heads than mine deal with the issue.

    The existing shambolic structure of health care needs to fade away. Personally, I think it immoral to make a profit from ill health.Taking care of our own is a personal, family, community, and national obligation.

    1. JCC

      I found The Hill article to be exceptionally bad. Amazing to me that a physician would have the guts to write it.

      One of the more egregious paragraphs:

      “It all depends on how you define success. The British and the Canadians pay a very high cost for their systems, and not only in monetary terms. Single-payer health care systems take away individual choice, they discourage life-saving research and innovations, and they exchange quality of care for a balanced budget “

      Every statement of fact in this article was 100% BS. He seems to ignore that the ACA and For-Profit “Health Care” Insurance Companies take away individual choice, The “high cost” of the Brit and Canadian systems are less than 25% on average that Americans pay, and he seems to forget Medical Journals like The Lancet and other Euro Med Journals exist and publish articles on life-saving reasearch and innovations from Euro Researches as well as forgetting about large Pharma Companies all over Europe that regularly create some good products.

      The entire article was a joke, except for the fact that too many people actually believe the tripe offered here.

      Ms. Scofield’s link to the article on average US physicians suffering from moral injury was a nice juxtoposition to this piece of black propaganda. It reminded me of something my father, a surgeon, said to me years ago before burnout killed him at too young an age. He pushed hard for me to enter the profession which I refused to do after watching him while I was growing up (actually causing some very serious arguments). Years later when I was in my 30’s he said, ‘The smartest thing you ever did was to ignore me and not go into the medical profession.”


      1. johnnygl

        Every anti-medicare for all article i see gives me more hope.

        The fact that most are so brazenly fact-free, hopelessly out of touch and disingenuous gives me even more hope.

        I’ve got strong confidence that the article will convince precisely no one, and might even help flip a few fence-sitters in favor.

        It lets proponents say, “look how ridiculous our opposition is. They don’t have a realistic alternative or even a coherent argument.”

      2. Carolinian

        article on average US physicians suffering from moral injury

        Don’t you think that article was also propaganda in it’s own way? Just a tad?

        I’m sure doctors do feel stressed out by the current system but it’s one their AMA lobbyists–long ago–had more than a little to do with. Here in town we have a free medical clinic for homeless people and a recent report said they may have to cut back on hours because of a lack of physician volunteers. It could be there is a way for doctors–those not buried under medical school loans–to heal their “moral injuries.”

        1. JCC

          Sure there was some propaganda value there, like any editorial content. And the AMA as a Lobbyist Organization is no saint, and the physician that wrote The Hill article is a prime example. But based on my experience (small town America) many doctors back in the 60’s through 90’s were buried in debt until their mid 40’s at least (I suspect later in life today, although I have no proof of that) and still found time to volunteer all over the place, Boy Scouts, not-for-profit “old folks” homes (common when I was a kid), not-for-profit half-way houses for wayward kids, etc., and still took payment in kind, not cash, from many of their patients.

          Today they are buried in far more debt, work more hours and see more patients than ever. Little things like private practice mal-practice Insurance costs went from $5K/yr in the late 60’s to $50K/yr by the late 70’s and are even higher today.

          Private hospitals hire half the doctors in the country and often their Insurance precludes some types of volunteering due to agency issues. Nowadays, more often than not, volunteer activities by physicians require that they take out separate mal-practice policies at personal expense for personal coverage while volunteering.

          There are even more restrictions that many don’t consider, like lack of free time for example. Many seem to believe that 60 hour work weeks just aren’t enough for certain professions. If only plumbers, carpenters, electricians, computer programmers, auto repair techs, and other skilled professions faced the same social pressures, maybe we would all be a lot happier?

          And for what it’s worth, all the doctors I know that I grew up with, people my father’s age, my age, and younger still do a lot of volunteer work. It could be that your town is a little overwhelmed with needs, like most towns I suspect, and there just aren’t enough volunteer hours to go around.

          Not all Doctors are members of some Goon Squad looking to work the least amount of hours possible while gouging the General Public for maximum bucks… some actually consider themselves members of the General Public and aren’t any happier with the situation than anyone else is.

          As my dear old dad said, “The smartest thing you ever did…”

          1. Carolinian

            Sounds like we need more doctors but once again it is medical profession lobbying that is standing in the way. Dean Baker talks about this all the time. He says restrictions on the import of foreign doctors (they must do US residency) are unjustified and mostly serve to keep physician incomes high. If you disagree please take it up with him.

            I’m not trying to attack doctors but just saying lets not pretend that money, include their income, has nothing to do with the problem or that it is not one of their concerns. Lawyers and their eagerness to sue are a problem too perhaps. It could be–unlike the situation with doctors–we have far too many of them.

    2. foghorn longhorn

      When I was but a wee lad, came of age during the 70s, the local hospital was owned by the county, not some merciless corp.
      The phone and electrical companies were known as Public Utilities, regulated by the Public Utility Commission.
      The gas, water, sewage and trash were handled by the city.
      Now every resource has been handed over to for profit pirates with no regulations what so ever, except charge what the market will bear.
      Good luck to you, I am rapidly approaching my “golden” years and don’t look forward to it one bit.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Until the HMO Act of 1973 (thank you Dick Nixon and Ted Kennedy), for profit medicine was basically illegal which is why the hospitals use to have names such as “saint,’ “temple,” “presbyterian,” and so forth. Another fine moment in bipartisanship.

        1. foghorn longhorn

          Seem to recall a taped conversation between tricky dick and killer kissinger regarding HMOs.
          Something along the lines of,
          dn: you mean they pay more and get less
          hk: exactly

          1. foghorn longhorn

            Ehrlichman: “Edgar Kaiser is running his Permanente deal for profit. And the reason that he can … the reason he can do it … I had Edgar Kaiser come in … talk to me about this and I went into it in some depth. All the incentives are toward less medical care, because …”

            President Nixon: [Unclear.]

            Ehrlichman: “… the less care they give them, the more money they make.”

            President Nixon: “Fine.” [Unclear.]

            Ehrlichman: [Unclear] “… and the incentives run the right way.”

            President Nixon: “Not bad.”

            Looks like it was Ehrlichman not henry

            1. foghorn longhorn

              Do a search on
              The Kaiser Papers
              for a transcript of this bs.

              They’ve been working against us proles for a long effing time.

      2. marym

        In those days even in the for-profit business world attracting and retaining a quality workforce, customer service, and public responsibility were at least considered important components to success. A lot of it was more PR than substance, but there were real resources, benefits packages, protocols, expectations, “company culture,” etc. to support some of it.

        Somehow we’ve got to a place where all functions are to be structured as for-profit business, and the supreme goal of business is profit, not the function. It ought to be easier than it is to win the argument that no good can come of this.

  19. JTMcPhee

    The myth of democracy sort of keeps things from flying apart — or at least slows the process, like the boron rods in a nuclear reactor. When the reality of the process that ought to lead to “hand marked paper ballots, listing carefully selected candidates who serve their bribers’ interests, hand counted in public” becomes glaringly clear, can the Ragnarok of anomie be far off?

    Read too much of stuff like this link, and one might conclude that drunken but very smart engineers have retracted the control rods and set the stage for a societal ChernobylFukushima.

    “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.”

    One might observe a bit of a category error here — presumes that some healthy process leading to a “good” new is in tenesmus…

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I added “tenesmus” to my list of new words. Thanks! I didn’t know there was a way to describe that feeling with a single word.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Like it or not, AOC and Bernie have become the public face of Medicare for All, which is really code for national “healthcare,” and they had both better get their shit together on the question of “how it will be paid for” and fast if they ever hope to make it stick. AOC is being barbecued for the way she handled this. A few talking point suggestions, all emphasis mine:

      From 2016, Tax-funded expenditures accounted for 64.3 percent of U.S. health spending – about $1.9 trillion – in 2013, according to new data published today [Thursday, Jan. 21] in the American Journal of Public Health. The Affordable Care Act will push that figure even higher by 2024, when government’s share of U.S. health spending is expected to rise to 67.3 percent.

      Direct government payments for such programs as Medicare, Medicaid and the Veterans Administration accounted for 47.8 percent of overall health spending. The analysis also identified two commonly overlooked tax-funded health expenditures – government outlays for public employees’ private health insurance coverage ($188 billion, or 6.4 percent of total spending) and tax subsidies to health care ($294.9 billion, or 10.1 percent of the total). Together, these public expenditures put the U.S. in first place for health care taxes.

      So, by 2024, the government will ALREADY pay for nearly 70% of all u.s. “healthcare,” and when all government “healthcare” expenditures are considered, americans ALREADY pay the highest “healthcare” taxes in the world.

      Short answer should be, ” ‘We’ ALREADY pay for it. We’re just spending the money in some very wrong places.”

      1. foghorn longhorn

        In the last twelve months alone, America’s medical bill went up eleven percent, from $63 to $70 billion. In the last ten years, it has climbed 170 percent, from the $26 billion level in 1960. Then we were spending 5.3 percent of our Gross National Product on health; today we devote almost 7% of our GNP to health expenditures.

        This growing investment in health has been led by the Federal Government. In 1960, Washington spent $3.5 billion on medical needs–13 percent of the total. This year it will spend $21 billion–or about 30 percent of the nation’s spending in this area.

        But what are we getting for all this money?

        Fron Nixons speech to congress, Feb 18 1971 extolling the virtues of the new HMO scam.

      2. marym

        Agree. PNHP has been publishing these numbers for years – I used to have at least one older link. It should be easy enough for M4A supporters to get this into a talking point.

        HR 676 has a general “pay for” section. Sanders published a white paper with alternatives to go with his Senate bill. As part of the rollout of the new “M4A” House caucus there was some reference to making the HR 676 proposal more specific, but who knows? Candidates and Congresspeople really need to organize a coherent answer to this.

      3. integer

        AOC is being barbecued for the way she handled this.

        Hopefully she will learn from the experience. Personally, I’m not sure it was wise to accept an invitation to be interviewed on the “The Daily Show” at this stage of her political career. Her heart is clearly in the right place, but if that performance is indicative of her current ability to engage in policy-detail-based dialogue when put on the spot, then she is not yet ready for prime time IMO. As you say, she needs to have bulletproof talking points ready to be deployed whenever she is asked predictable questions such as “How will the US pay for Medicare for All?”, or else she risks undermining the causes she seeks to champion.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “Medicare for all is a socialist’s dream — and an American Nightmare”

    This doctor has either been smoking some wacky-tabacky or else he is a paid shrill. American health care is sub-standard and that doctor knows it. The arguments that he makes is stuff like, oh look, if they brought it in somebody would get something for free while you have been paying into it. His answer of “The answer is for us to turn away from government dependence and rely on ourselves.” sounds great and appeals to self reliance but you need decent paying jobs to pay for it – like this doctor has.
    Look, a coupla weeks ago my daughter’s finger nail got caught on some horse gear and got near ripped out. She went down to the doctors and after getting an unsatisfactory answer took herself off to our local hospital. I can imagine that those readers in America would be thinking of the thousands of dollars that she would be in for and the answer was as Australia has single-payer health, her bill was zip. It was paid for in her medicare levy on her pay. It is not that the Australian system is so good but that the American system is so bad.
    It’s cheaper by about half and has a far better record than what American’s get. The elites have forgotten that an unhealthy population can turn into a great vector for spreading a communicable disease and the elites will not be able to hide from it. I have to confess that I felt a bit of rage reading his arguments as I have seen the costs in articles on NC and this sort of article is so bad that it should be up there with the article about closing down public libraries and using Amazon stores instead.

    1. J Sterling

      When anti-universal health care advocates make a point about organizations like the Brit NHS declining to treat patients–as in this article–they fail to mention that there’s no reason those patients and their parents could not pay out of pocket for private health care… just like here when it’s the private insurer who declines to pay for treatment.

      1. JTMcPhee

        If I recall correctly, the reasons NHS have been ‘declining’ to provide care to patients largely stem from the Thatcher/Blairizing of the NHS. Cut, cut, cutting the funding/staffing/facilities, adding more bureaucratic layers and requirements, and a good bit of privatisation, means testing and ‘worthiness’ considerations.

        All part of a combination of bleed-them-out “budget cuts,”, and subsequent triage by the decent people still sticking with the organization out of a sense of obligation and decency, and trying, against all the cruel depredations and looting by the neoliberals, to provide as much actual health care as possible. While also being forced to become participants in “death panels” by government/corporate planned-economy potentates,

        And maybe the reason that mopes over in the UK don’t just “pay out of pocket for private health care” is because most of them are what do we call it, “poor”? As a result of all the “market forces” that seem to be tacitly and implicitly supported by that way of thinking? The kind of thinking that advances the notion that all the mopes of Britain live like Willy Wonka’s family, in the original “Chocolate Factory” movie, in despair and depression but with the shining hope of collecting that “Golden Ticket” from a crazed Gene Wilder figure?

        1. J Sterling

          My point is that the article is making into a scandal that which is not a scandal in the USA, but business as usual. They imply that the NHS is somehow legally forbidding treatment in an act of communist totalitarianism, but in reality, England has a private HMO sector in parallel to the NHS, so they could always go to that.

          Why don’t they? They can’t afford it. But this is exactly the situation that applies in America too, so it’s hardly a result of single payer health care. The scandals the article describes were national news: their equivalent here wouldn’t even make the local news, through not being news enough.

          1. Clive

            Exactly. My HMO is at my beck and call but at nosebleed costs. A private GP (primary care physician) is £250 for a half hour appointment. A consultant (sort-of the same as a resident in a US hospital) is £2,500 rack rate for a couple of hours consultation plus some tests and a report.

            It’s all done in a ridiculously upscale clinic which is in, to be fair, ultra convenient central London but I’d be bankrupt if I had to fund anything remotely complicated.

            Yes, I have an insurance carrier but there is a £250 co pay per claim and they only cover a narrow network and quibble relentlessly over every deviation from policy terms, the policy having, naturellement, maze-like finicky conditions. The last time I used them, after which I swore “never again” I ended up with a £1,000 out of pocket fee on a £6,000 procedure which was basically extortion. And that was after dozens of stressful hours arguing and haggling.

            So except in very specific circumstances I use the NHS every time.

            It’s not NHS (single payer, free healthcare at the point of delivery) which is communist. It’s the HMO — a pretend healthcare Potemkin village with hidden barriers to consumption and rationing at every turn only fixable by bribing the people in authority of the system.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      I particularly liked this part:

      Instead of government-controlled, insurance-dominated healthcare, we need to return to our roots, to what made our country great: the free market. In 2017, the U.S. spent $3.4 trillion on healthcare for 323 million Americans, or $10,526 for every man, woman and child. Imagine if every family of four put $42,105 in an HSA every year! and simply shopped for and paid for their health care.

      $42,105 whole dollars EXCLAMATION POINT.

      Setting aside the fact that you’d have to save up every family member’s entire “healthcare” money for over
      2 years (or wait for the buy-one-get-one “sale”) to buy one $89,000 course of Sovaldi assuming, of course, that the price didn’t rise during that time (exclamation point) where, exactly, is THAT money supposed to be coming from?

      I guess the guy has forgotten that million dollar lifetime insurance limits had to be abandoned because they weren’t nearly enough.

    3. Unna

      We live in the darkest reaches of the BC Interior in Canada. Took our kid to emg room a number of times for finger and wrist sport injuries, and once a nasty knife cut from cutting veggies – he was looking away while talking too much – and got good professional service and no fee. The limitations here are caused not by the system but by somewhat underfunding from time to time from right wing provincial governments when they’re in power. Now, with the NDP in, we’ll see. But the money comes from taxes and the per capita cost is a bit less than one half than the per capita cost in America. How hard of a talking point is this?

      1. JTMcPhee

        (Grumble bunch o’ stinkin’ Socialist Commies aargh) Keep your rotten socialized health care and the rest of your welfare state on your side of the border, “eh?” We stand-up Yanks want none of it /s…

        Of course it is widely reported that a lot of us, the major majority of individuals of the human, as opposed to corporate, kind, are all in favor of national health care, as a concrete material benefit. Like being tired of imperial wars and the other stuff. Just thwarted by our inability to focus and organize to make creatures like Obama, and Mitchell, and HRC. and the rest do our bidding.

        What was the line from “Forrest Gump?” “Stupid is as stupid does…”

    4. ChrisPacific

      That article went beyond bad into intellectually dishonest territory. Lots of tests being applied to argue against Medicare for All, without mention of the fact that the current system would fail them by a considerably higher margin. And the assertion that the UK and Canadian health care systems are somehow worse than the US system, which is a position that nobody with an operating brain cell could possibly defend at this point. There is an acknowledgement (at the very end) that the current system is expensive, but the only solution on offer is an invocation of the free market fairy. This will presumably turn out differently from the last half dozen or so times the free market fairy was invoked and only ended up making things even more expensive.

      The author is a retired physician so they must know all this.

    1. Carolinian

      “Wikileaks has never been accused of publishing anything that’s false”

      Well obviously that’s why they must be stopped. They are fake fake news. For the real thing check the NYT, WaPo.

  21. Jean

    Re the Domestics law in Seattle;

    Sure would be nice if somewhere in the article they defined what “employed by” means?
    Is a mow and blow gardener who shows up once a week an employee? A dog walker?

    “Koch Brothers want a path to citizenship for dreamers?”
    Guess their factories are running out of pliable employees who will undercut all those Communistic union organizers’ demands for higher wages.

    1. JTMcPhee

      I’ve got a family member (by marriage) who is high in the HR structure of one of the world’s largest makers of cement products. Making cement, and mixing and transporting concrete products in a just-in-time world, is hard and dirty work, and adds the shift work burden to the mix (bad pun.)

      He says they simply cannot get enough employees, even though they pay prevailing-wage-plus-a-good-bit. These are jobs in an industry that (unfortunately, in my mind) can only grow, burning carbon toroast the cement materials and deliver the product via diesel trucks, to meet the need to build stuff to lay the foundations for “housing” and online-retail “fulfillment centers,” and address global climate issues as they become more acute (seawalls, raised foundations, bomb and weather shelters, Maginot Lines and Walls all over the map). These jobs include some worthwhile benefits, like part-paid health care, 401k (i know, uncertain worth) and such. But they can be steady work. Many employees do belong to unions, so there’s another presumed attraction.

      There’s drug testing involved, as one burden — stoners driving 20 ton premix trucks or operating kilns are not a good idea. But people will show up, work for a few days or weeks, then simply not appear, he says — no notice or even a text message. Though quite a number, he says, will call up in a while, to “ask for their jobs back,” excusing their abrupt departure with something like “I had a better gig offered to me.” Only corporate types are allowed to do that kind of opportunity-hopping, of course.

      At least in that industry, per my contact’s report, none of the factors that are presumed to operate in the employment situation seem to apply.

      1. kareninca

        “though they pay prevailing-wage-plus-a-good-bit”

        I don’t think this wage example counts. You need to give an actual dollar per hour amount as an example. If your relative did not tell you an actual dollar per hour amount, then his complaint is not credible. I have seen about a zillion articles in the WSJ that wail about how workers won’t work for great wages, but they carefully do not tell you what the offered wages are.

        “Part-paid” health care sounds nearly useless.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Don’t shoot the reporter of an anecdote, please. The cement jobs on offer, with “rotating shift work” hours, pay and benefits that likely are no great deal ( I did not ask details, out of “family peace”), and dangerous working conditions in a sector that is worsening the human impacts on the planet, are likely not very attractive. I have many acquaintances in nursing where the work also sucks, who for many reasons are punctual and dedicated and reliable.

          It was just an anecdote I found intrresting, okay?

  22. Olga

    Medicare for all is a socialist’s dream — and an American Nightmare The Hill. UserFriendly: “shoot me.” This is by “Dr. Deane Waldman (@SystemMD), MD, MBA, is a retired pediatric cardiologist and director of the Center for Health Care Policy at the nonprofit Texas Public Policy Foundation.”
    Please spare us anything that comes out of TPPF – this is the most knee-jerk (as in devoid of intelligent life) reactionary entity (funded also by Koch Bros) that has ever taken residence in Austin, TX. Kathleen H. White, nominated by DT for an environmental post at the WH, resides there – and she was too much even for congressional repubs. “Nuf said…

    1. noonespecial


      Dr. Waldman concludes that, “…we need to return to our roots, to what made our country great: the free market.” Moreover, she imagines a country where people are more self-reliant instead of depending on handouts, namely the $10,526 spent by the government on 323 million Americans. To wit, she asks that we imagine a time when a family of four disposes of the means to put aside $42,105 into a health savings account.

      The federal government’s American Community Survey finds the median family income in the United States was $71,062 in 2016, the latest year available. Given, not all families are composed of four people; however I cite this figure because I am circumspect of the doctor’s use of numbers and the article’s omission (intentional or not) of explaining how a family of four would be able to set aside about $3500/month for an HSA. Maybe the remaining $2400/month is more than enough to cover all other household expenses in some regions of the country for a family of 4. But as has been discussed here at NC, not all regions of the US are created equal, therefore, the doctor’s piece is more magical thinking.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        I didn’t see your comment when I cited the same passage in a comment above.

        While his ~$10,000 per capita figure is calculated for the population as a whole, estimates run between 30 and 44 million americans–roughly 10+% of the population–who have NO “healthcare” at all. So, by my reckoning, per person outlays should be calculated only for people who actually receive “healthcare” and, therefore, should be higher.

        And how deceitful is it to imply that a medical bill is somehow like a car payment–a fixed / slightly fluctuating amount annually? Curious what terms he would suggest for that million dollar emergency procedure paid off over, say, 125 years.

      2. liam

        So no one else has to bother to search for it too …

        2012-2016 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates

        Median household income (dollars) 55,322 +/-120 (X) (X)
        Mean household income (dollars) 77,866 +/-146 (X) (X)

        Median family income (dollars) 67,871 +/-212 (X) (X)
        Mean family income (dollars) 90,960 +/-213 (X) (X)

        Median nonfamily income (dollars) 33,158 +/-71 (X) (X)
        Mean nonfamily income (dollars) 49,201 +/-72

        While a family of 4 would have minimal problems surviving on $2400 a month here in my neck of Deplorastan, the author’s median family income of 71k is a pipedream.

      3. VietnamVet

        The current health care system cost is way too expensive ($42,000 for a family of four) and is not inclusive. It is a unaffordable extortion scheme. What isn’t mention is that the U.S. public health system is morbid. The USA is becoming the Brazil of North America. Outside wealthy walls, people are dying sooner, avoiding treatment, susceptible to periodical epidemics and suffering diseases of despair. If the Democrats or a new political party doesn’t rise to serve the people, the current chaotic indifference will spiral out of control.

    2. Chris

      Nope. It’s important to see the arguments on the other side. It’s good to understand the crazy points against single payer. They won’t be beaten back with snark or by ignoring them.

    3. Massinissa

      To add to what Chris said, it is incredibly important for us to be aware of these sorts of articles. We need to know what the media is saying and how they are saying it so that we can be prepared for this sort of argumentation and develop ways of arguing against it. Ignoring the articles like this and those who parrot these messages will not make these messages go away or negate their influence.

      1. witters

        That’s fine. But still, anyone who goes in for “this sort of argumentation” can’t be argued against. It is too late – more hopefully, too early – for that.

  23. La Peruse

    Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez Are Not Socialists — What Are They?
    The author appears to be very pleased with himself when he categorises the political pigeon hole, and then goes on to make all sorts of wild assertions about what that means. He totally misses the point that the state is directed at the moment in favour of the capital accumulating classes. It is no more directional to have a progressive income tax and free tertiary education than it is to have flat income taxes and a student financed education system. The author then says ‘That said, taxation, government spending, and regulation of the private sector are much heavier under social democracy than would be the case under pure capitalism.’ What’s he trying to do, scare the chickens. There is no reason in a social democracy why government spending as a percentage of GDP need change dramatically. Its just that the benefit goes to the ‘social wage’, and not into the pockets of the capitalist class.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      1. Taxation needs not be heavier in order to spend more. Taxation can be heavier to tax the rich.

      2. Social Democratic governments can have more government spending as a percentage of GDP, if the purpose is to inject money into the economy (per MMT).

      3. One has to be careful of the difference between a socialite and a socialist.

      A socialite is ‘one who is prominent in fashionable society.’

      It’s possible for a socialist to become a socialite if he/she is a celebrity, allows him/herself to be one, and appears on entertainment TV or radio shows too often.

      Here, let us remember that being a socialite (under that definition) should not be derogatory, nor should fashionable society be something to be avoided. For instance, it could be fashionable to want to break up big corporations.

  24. Olga

    A Surveillance State Unlike Any the World Has Ever Seen Der Spiegel
    Lots of talk of surveillance and only one sentence about why, possibly, the Chinese govt. could be worried about Uighurs (“A spate of attacks involving Uighur militants has only consolidated this belief.”)
    If there were a group in the US engaging in a “spate of attacks,” what do you think the feds would do? Chinese know Uighurs receive funding from KSA (and whoever else) to stir up trouble in their region, sort like a fifth column. But the Chinese are supposed to tolerate that… lest they be deemed oppressive.

    On the other hand, all’s well in KSA:

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Some historical background on Uighurs (from Qianlong emperor, Wikipedia):

      Under the Qianlong Emperor’s reign, the Dzungar Khanate was incorporated into the Qing Empire’s rule and renamed Xinjiang, while to the west, Ili was conquered and garrisoned. The incorporation of Xinjiang into the Qing Empire resulted from the final defeat and destruction of the Dzungars (or Zunghars), a coalition of Western Mongol tribes. The Qianlong Emperor then ordered the Dzungar genocide. According to the Qing dynasty scholar Wei Yuan, 40% of the 600,000 Dzungars were killed by smallpox, 20% fled to the Russian Empire or Kazakh tribes, and 30% were killed by the Qing army,[3][4] in what Michael Edmund Clarke described as “the complete destruction of not only the Zunghar state but of the Zunghars as a people.”[5] Historian Peter Perdue has argued that the decimation of the Dzungars was the result of an explicit policy of massacre launched by the Qianlong Emperor.[4]

      The Dzungar genocide has been compared to the Qing extermination of the Jinchuan Tibetan people in 1776, which also occurred during the Qianlong Emperor’s reign.[6] When victorious troops returned to Beijing, a celebratory hymn was sung in their honour. A Manchu version of the hymn was recorded by the Jesuit Amoit and sent to Paris.[7]

      When the republic was established, after the abdication of the last Qing emperor, Puyi, the sovereignty claim was assumed and later taken over in succession until today.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Just for clarity – the ‘Uyghurs’ are a Central Asian ethnicity with a distinct language and culture. There are of Uyghur liberation ‘groups’ in the region and throughout China and Central Asia/Middle East with a variety of Al-Q and Isis influences, in addition to a tradition of non-violent resistance against Chinese control within China. The Chinese have a long history of attempting to destroy their culture and language by flooding their traditional lands with Han immigrants, and the rise of extremism among younger Uyghurs can be directly traced to the Chinese elimination (often brutal) of more mainstream non-violent opposition.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Flooding their lands with immigrants. So I guess since the US was built Westward that way, and the Israelites are doing the same thing as we converse, there’s not much to choose on that axis of the good-government matrix?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Perhaps we say to ourselves that the hegemon on the other side is not always greener.

      2. JBird

        It looks to me that the Chinese are not interested in solving the problems by giving jobs ( except to the ruling Han working in the security forces), and are so broad in their threat assessments that it’s almost impossible not to be a real candidate for their concentration camps. Tens of thousands at a minimum out of ten million people without charge or trial, but on mere suspicion of the possibility of being a troublemaker.

        What are they so afraid of?

    3. blennylips

      > A Surveillance State Unlike Any the World Has Ever Seen

      and we* helped!

      South China Morning Post

      Lucent launches digital chip
      Tuesday, 18 November, 1997, 12:00am

      Lucent Technologies has started shipping prototype versions of a chip designed to serve as a signal receiver in digital television sets, computers and cable boxes, among other possible digital applications.

      A lot going on at Lucent, back in 1997…

      I seem to recall Lucent and the like being threatened at the time, with wet noodles over exporting restricted technology, but hey, gotta have a beta test site.

      * US high tech

  25. Lobsterman

    The juxtaposition of the discussion of physician moral injury and the categorical refusal to follow established standards of care for women who gives birth was powerful.

    When we hurt people, those people hurt people.

  26. ambrit

    Second try. From late last night.
    July 29, 2018 at 2:11 am
    Something for the ‘Zeitgeist File.’
    I attended the local bi-annual gun show this morning, (Saturday.) I sold one of my Milsurp rifles for money to pay some bills. (I made a 50% return on my original investment made seven years ago.) If Social Security has COLA increases, these increases have absolutely no correlation with the basic costs of utilities and food, much less things like rent or transportation.
    The number of vendors was significantly reduced from four or five years ago, as in roughly half. The crowd was much thinner than other crowds from as recently as two years ago. A lot of the ‘wanderers’ were just window shopping. I wandered about with my ‘piece’ offerings and wearing a home made sandwich board sign describing the firearms on offer. I was not alone in this endeavour. People were walking up to vendors’ tables and handing over weapons for inspection and ‘offers.’ Again, I emphasize that the crowd of patrons was thin. Several vendors mentioned that business has been slow for over a year now. One opined that this was a natural slack season response to the overhype of the pre 2016 election hysteria of: “OMG, the [Insert name of desired bogeyman here]’s are going to take our precious guns away!” The same vendors mentioned that money was harder to find in peoples pockets than previously.
    Additionally, event sponsors have begun to cancel already arranged shows. One woman said that she had had her table rent for a show down on the Gulf Coast returned recently. The event had been cancelled for lack of interest by enough vendors! Seeing the lacklustre vendor presence at the local show reinforced this observation. The local show, usually bi-annual, has been reduced to annual status. I don’t know about other areas, but the North American Deep South seems to have passed ‘Peak Gun Show’ conditions.
    Are Gun Shows a leading indicator? They were definitely in ‘bubble’ territory before and it looks to have been popped. Perhaps it’s an indicator for disposable income? Time will tell.

    1. SimonGirty

      No autoloading rifles at the yard sales, this weekend; or SHTF/BOBs for that matter? Perhaps, they’re using online brokers of some sort to sell ’em to hoity-toity big city libruls, who lack the requisite skills, reptilian brains or inebriate grandiosity to further indenture themselves, with short term paycheck loans, who never owned a firearm until Freedom Arms, RGR & AOBC used Barack Obama to make ‘Murika Hate & Guns?

      1. ambrit

        Lucky you, to even have auto loaders at yard sales to begin with. Down here, “How low?” “don’t ask, we might answer you,” most necks, gun nutts, righteous armed brothers, and the like use iphone apps to trade, buy and sell firearms.

        1. polecat

          Anyone know where one can find an autoload atlatl … the supply of rocks are not an issue …

          1. ambrit

            Dude, get your Paleo Tech groove on! Am atlatl that throws rocks would be a trebuchet! As for the autoload issue, the guys and gals that are standing around the corner store parking lot getting their buzz going will do for that. As the Big Kahunas say: “Serfs up!”

      1. ambrit

        No offense taken even if you had meant it ‘that way.’ Phyllis has said that I even come from South England! (Fulham, a section of London.) I’d go so far as to suggest that the pro-gun versus anti-gun ‘tribes’ could be described as the Urban and Rural populations, nation wide.

        1. Charger01

          I believe that was one of the major plot points from the seminal novel, Deer Hunting with Jesus by Joe Bageant. Also, about two years ago, this humble website posted a link to, of all places, that described a similar dynamic. The “cracked” piece was very well written, as the author describes why his birthplace had declined compared to his current urban dwellings.

    1. ambrit

      Thank you site admins. Have I trained Skynet Aurora to view me as a spammer? I really don’t know.
      Still and all, thank you all for providing this level of independent service to the internet world at large.

    2. Balakirev

      You forget it was originally named Skynetski. Soon, all America will be eaten by Russians with side helping of borscht!

  27. Chauncey Gardiner

    Final article in today’s NC Links from Elle under the “Kill Me Now” category pairs well with an accompanying article in the current edition of Elle:

    Fortunately, the particular $40 million yacht that someone reportedly untied and set adrift is but one of the U.S. Secretary of Education’s reported 10 yachts… Yes, TEN… presumably scattered among various domestic and international ports of call. Hopefully some state taxes collected on those vessels moored at U.S. ports are being applied toward funding public education, assuming the Leona Helmsley Rule on taxes doesn’t apply. So there’s that, and possibly crew employment… “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

    1. divadab

      Right on. But it is still a decidedly mixed bag – with most articles pretty bad and many utter crap.

      That said, how ’bout Tucker Carlson at Fox? Punching way above his weight class.

  28. Tomonthebeach

    Declining absolute mobility rates for the middle class since 1950. Just another way to lament the growing underclass in the USA.

    This is apparently a topic of no concern to NakCap readers given the lack of comment.

    I think this is just another case of Brookings macro economics being used to justify hysteria about disparate income. Yes, some macro analyses such as Chetty’s suggest that fewer middle-class people are earning more than daddy. Curiously, in my boomer, white-flight, poof-doink, post-war neighborhood, about 3/4 of my playmates are doing better than their daddies. On the other hand, most of my wealthy 2nd cousins are not even close to their daddies. Some of that, as Piketty suggests, is the ceiling effect of the upper classes. Much, in my mind as a psychologist, is due to my pampered cousins not having to work hard for anything as a kid, and being emotionally unprepared for real-world challenges.

    Reeves and Guyot offer a few explanations for why those data might be misleading. They emphasize cohorts as moderators. True enough. That is a Piketty trickety too. However, I go for the fundamentals. How do you define middle class? How has that definition changed over time as we all got wealthier as a country? Should one factor in recession effects? Of course, one should, and cohorts capture some of that variance. The post-1950 data sure skip the Great Depression. Their cohort moderator analysis demonstrates nicely my point about definitional confusion and arbitrary assumptions masking the fundamental dynamics that created a rationale for their title.

    When I was a kid in the ’50s, most people were middle class as the income difference between my college-educated parents and the carpenters, plumbers, electricians, cops, etc. across the street were small. Neolib capitalist policies changed all that over several decades as Congress increasingly “rigged” the system to help the 1% pull away from the middle class (See Baker, 2016). My peer group (by education and achievement orientation) found ourselves on the 1% train, just in the caboose (Stewart’s 9.9%; The Atlantic 2018). Thus, the article is just another way to lament the growing underclass in the USA.

  29. Craig H.

    > It’s Time for NATO to Go the Way of the Warsaw Pact Foreign Policy in Focus

    I found this article very odd. The headline is the last sentence and the first paragraph seems to be written from the complete opposite view and it argues backwards backwards backwards.

    In 1968 when the USSR had to roll tanks into Prague to maintain civil order their empire was at its maximum manageable extent. Since the purpose of forming NATO was to contain them behind the Iron Curtain, and they were maximally extended at the Iron Curtain, NATO has been a fraud since 1968. This is obvious in hindsight but just what the hell is going on now is ridiculous.

    1. ObjectiveFunction

      “when the USSR had to roll tanks into Prague to maintain civil order”

      Umm, nice bit of revisionism there.

  30. SimonGirty

    Jagoffs could live pretty damn good, for a quarter year… most sane neighborhoods in Pittsburgh for that. If you grew your own dope, an’at? Heck, where I grew up a brick & oak HOUSE just sold for $14K. Whenever Tony Bourdain went to all the exactly WRONG places in town, his scouts were feasting at some of the places I miss the most, living in NYC. Wow, Rachel in friggin’ Homewood? I’ll bet she at Primante Brothers, Legume or The Twisted Frenchman?

  31. JEHR

    “Re: Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez Are Not Socialists — What Are They? Real Clear Policy”

    Both Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez made themselves very clear when they explained they were Democratic Socialists so I don’t know why this academic went off on a tear about Socialism which is something else. When I read the history of European countries fighting for their democracies, they usually distinguished their beliefs by saying they wanted democratic socialism (as opposed to communist socialism). The democratic refers to democracy by voting for leaders from the people; the socialism is for public aspects of that democracy, that is, public healthcare, public education, public utilities, etc. Democratic socialism is not about nationalizing all institutions, for example.

    Terms are very important and democratic socialism in this context would have been easily defined by listing the items in Sanders’ and Ocasio-Cortz’s platform.

    1. The Economy is Social

      ”Democratic socialism is not about nationalizing all institutions”
      In the best form Social Democrats nationalize all that is important:
      – infrastructure
      – public transportation
      – education
      – energy
      – natural resources
      – healthcare
      – largest parts of the housing needs

      and lets private companies innovate and make profits on top if this with redistributive taxes making sure that the companies pay back and forward for access to the common goods.

  32. Oregoncharles

    “the obvious remedy– landmarked paper ballots counted in public.”
    I don’t usually proofread, but “landmarked” might confuse new readers.

    1. ambrit

      I think that ‘landmarked’ is code speak for reintroducing the Property requirement for obtaining voting rights.

  33. ambrit

    Another one for the “Zeitgeist Files.
    Being near broke this time of the month, I checked our bank balances this morning. Horrors! We’re into overdraft territory! I’m glad I sold the Milsurp yesterday. We’re going to need that money!
    I wander off fuming.
    An hour or so later, Phyl comes back and rouses me from my reading chair.
    “Come and listen to this message just left on our telephone.”
    In I go and listen. A well spoken ‘business voiced’ male asks that she call this number to talk to our bank security unit about some suspicious activity on our debit card. This is on a Sunday morning.
    So, exercising due diligence, I look the return call number up, as well as I can. (These “services” all seem to be money grubbing schemes of one sort or another now. Where is the good old fashioned 411 service of the Days of Yore?) A half way decent site mentions that a number just two numbers off, as in 47 versus 45, is flagged as a phishing site. So, being a card carrying Paranoid Cynic, I try to get someone live at our bank. After twenty minutes of utter frustration, I actually reach the banks weekend fraud worker! (I bow down and make praise!)
    First, the ‘return call number’ we were prompted to call is not the banks. It, however, is just five last digits away from the banks actual number, as in 40 being ‘real’ and 45 being ‘fake.’ Everything else in the number corresponded. Second, the ‘fake’ call had my wife’s correct name and telephone number. Third, and really puzzling, the questionable overdrafts on our bank account were definitely not originating from us. Indeed, and the woman I was speaking with found it amusing, I could tell from the timbre and intonation of her voice. There were a series of ‘questionable’ charges to our account, originating from the State of Georgia. We reside in the State of Mississippi, for which we are assured, a cure is forthcoming, with the Marches of Alabama between us and Georgia. When I started laughing the woman said; “I assume that you did not authorize these charges?” “Oh, boy howdy no,” I replied.
    Doing some detective work, the lady determined that the card in Georgia had been declined anywhere that the pin number had been needed for utilization of the card, as in card readers at a gas station. The card had been accepted at places where the pin number had not been required, such as two restaurants.
    Needless to say, I had the lady kill that card immediately. All the Georgian transactions I filed a disputation about right there, over the telephone. (The young lady at the bank used five layers of security questions with me, before she would commit to dealing with me at all.) Luckily, the Gun Show transaction had been cash. That is the norm in such situations, for various reasons.
    Bottom line, tomorrow I go down to the bank’s main branch at opening time and sort through this mess. If I get another Debit card, we will try to use it as little as humanly possible.
    I take this as a message from the economic gods; “Get thee to cash, pronto!”
    Cheers Y’all!

    1. HotFlash

      Ooh, interesting. Sounds like the scam call was trying to get your PIN or passcode so as to continue predating on your card. I have a pre-paid ‘credit’ card that I use for internet purchases, I only put enough on it for the purchase at hand, and I had my bank disable the ‘tap’ function on my debit card. Perhaps your bank can do the same, that way your PIN would be needed for every purchase.

      1. ambrit

        Hi there HotFlash.
        I was off by a mile about the original call. I thought the same thing about that call as you mentioned; a phishing scam. Well, I was ‘schooled’ by the lower level bank desk jockey Monday morning.
        First, the early Sunday call was legit. The problem is, the card service is completely separate from the bank. So, the bank personnel are not sure, unless they have previous interaction with the card service, which numbers are legitimate, which not. Still, our contacting the bank direct was considered a good second option.
        Second, the card service has ten days to ‘refund’ disputed charges. This means that the money is deducted from our account and left in limbo during the dispute process. (I’m guessing the card service is utilizing such ‘limbo’ funds for a ‘float’ of some sort.)
        Third, we’re relearning the ins and outs of the cash economy, since it will be ten days for the new card to arrive, by business rate snail mail, of course! Then we will do the hard work of ‘deprogramming’ ourselves off of the ‘convenience’ of debit card use.
        We do have a separate checking account for our PayPal online purchases. This is not linked to any other source of funds. We keep the balance in it as low as we can.
        Considering the abyssmal interest rates the banks are giving on accounts, it makes sense to withdraw the Social Security cheque in cash at the beginning of the month, and only keep enough in the account to cover ‘online’ monthly bill payments. (It is ‘curious,’ that’s one word for it, that many ‘basic’ services now push you toward online, automatic bill payment schemes. A cynic might well look askance at that phenomenon.)
        Thank you for the ‘word up’ about ‘tapping.’ I’ll get on that when the new card comes in.
        As for paranoia about scam calls over the telephone; we get about ten ‘questionable’ calls a day now on our telephone. We can now spot several scammers just from the numbers on the phones ‘who’s calling’ function.
        We get some “You have won a big prize” calls every week. One persistent group, out of Jamaica, obviously got our information from those darlings of the ‘aspirational deplorables’ the Publishers Clearinghouse. The information used by these scammers matches exactly the information in our profile as gathered by that execrable organization ten years ago. Said information has been superseded. (Oh that we had not made contact with that pervert congeries of vices.)
        Be Ye of good cheer!

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