2:00PM Water Cooler 8/21/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, here again is a skeletal Water Cooler to get you going. I will finish up my foray into Medicare Part D, and then return with more, later. –Lambert UPDATE Finished, having run errands 5:35PM

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“2020 Contender Elizabeth Warren Unveils Her Plan to Drain the Swamp” [Roll Call] (the bill). “Warren said the Trump administration has ushered in the most corrupt Washington era to date. ‘But they are not the cause of the rot,’ she said during a speech at the National Press Club in Washington. ‘They’re just the biggest, stinkiest example of it.’

“‘Padlock the revolving door’: Warren makes anti-corruption pitch” [American Banker]. “The legislation includes a ban on individual stock ownership by members of Congress, Cabinet secretaries, senior congressional staff, White House staff, federal judges and senior agency officials. It also includes restrictions on former federal employees joining the lobbying ranks, as well as on lobbyists going to work for the government, among other things. The bill would prohibit the world’s biggest companies, including banks, from hiring former senior government officials for four years after they leave the public sector. It would impose lifetime lobbying bans on presidents, vice presidents, members of Congress, federal judges and Cabinet secretaries. Lobbyists, meanwhile, could not take government jobs for two years; that period is six years for ‘corporate lobbyists.’… ‘Sure, there’s lots of expertise in the private sector, and government should be able to tap that expertise,’ Warren said. ‘And, yes, public servants should be able to use their expertise when they leave government. But we’ve gone way past expertise and are headed directly into graft. Padlock the revolving door.'” • I wonder if anybody asked Warren about security clearances…

“Elizabeth Warren introduces sweeping ethics bill that faces tough odds on Capitol Hill” [CBS]. “Asked later by a reporter to cite a Democrat who she believes of harboring similarly corrupt behaviors, she cited Mary Jo White, the former head of the Securities and Exchange Commission and a former federal prosecutor. She faulted White for light enforcement of federal rules on corporations and then returning quickly to working for them in private practice.” • Not Eric Holder?


And speaking of corruption…. “July was the sixth consecutive month the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has raised more than the National Republican Congressional Committee. The DCCC ended the month with $4.7 million more in its bank account” [Bloomberg]. • Go team!

“Sex, lies and DUIs: GOP dumps oppo on Dem House hopefuls” [Politico]. “[W]ith so many first-time candidates running on the Democratic side — without the baggage of legislative voting records or controversial positions adopted over a long public career — and the political environment tilting toward them, GOP efforts to keep them out of the House may hinge on specific personal critiques, vetting them publicly for the first time. That’s how Congressional Leadership Fund, the Republican super PAC, is starting its campaign against Democrat Sean Casten in Illinois, blasting him for ‘mismanagement, fraud, greed’ at his company in a TV ad released Wednesday. (Casten’s campaign called it ‘false attacks’ in a statement.) The group is also hammering Randy Bryce, the Democratic nominee in Speaker Paul Ryan’s district, over a drunk driving arrest. And there’s more to come….” • Politics ain’t beanbag.

“The Problem With ‘Electability'” [FiveThirtyEight]. “In short, because the U.S. is majority white, and because a significant number of Americans have some negative views about nonwhite people and women, a heavy emphasis on electability can be tantamount to encouraging any candidates who aren’t Christian white men either not to run in the first place — or to run only if they are willing to either ignore or downplay issues that involve their personal identities.”

“Trump warnings grow from forgotten Republicans” [Associated Press]. “The expanding list of marginalized GOP leaders underscores how thoroughly Trump has dominated — and changed — the Republican Party in the nearly two years since he seized the presidency. The overwhelming majority of elected officials, candidates and rank-and-file voters now follow the president with extraordinary loyalty, even if he strays far from the values and traditions many know and love…. The forgotten Republicans — people like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford and Ohio Gov. John Kasich — have been unwilling to sit quietly as Trump steers the GOP away from free trade, fiscal responsibility, consistent foreign policy and civility. Isolation and political exile have been their rewards. Their diminished roles leave fewer Republican leaders willing to challenge Trump under any circumstances, even in his darkest moments.”

IA-03: “Why ‘Medicare for all’ is playing poorly in Democratic primaries” [Politico]. “‘The problem is Medicare for all just isn’t one of those litmus tests for Democratic primary voters,’ said John Anzalone, a veteran Democratic pollster whose firm helped defeat a single-payer advocate in an Iowa swing district this year. ‘Voters are smart enough to know that Medicare for all isn’t going to happen right now, or maybe ever.” • Of course, if the party establishment — including this “veteran” pollster — weren’t fighting #MedicareForAll tooth and nail, it might have a better chance. Cindy Axne is the only IA candidate on Anzalone’s list; she just got added to the DCCC’s Red to Blue list. Axne supports the so-called “public option.”

2016 Post Mortem

“Association of Chronic Opioid Use With Presidential Voting Patterns in US Counties in 2016” [Journal of The American Medical Association]. “This cross-sectional analysis of a national sample of Medicare claims data found that chronic use of prescription opioid drugs was correlated with support for the Republican candidate in the 2016 US presidential election. Individual and county-level socioeconomic measures explained much of the association between the presidential vote and opioid use.” • Although I drew attention to opiods in “Salient Economic Characteristics of the Counties that Flipped to Trump, Sorted by Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs,” this study was not available at the time of writing.

“Pollsters: Trump and GOP are losing young, female voters permanently” [The Hill]. “Pollsters Anna Greenberg and Dan Cox said on Monday that President Trump and Republicans are losing young women to Democrats permanently. ‘When you ask millennial women who are likely voters, about 65, 68 percent would actually vote for a Democrat in the generic congressional race, so that puts them as base Democratic voters,” [said] Greenberg. ‘What we know is that in your coming of age years, from sort of your teens into your early 20s, have a profound, long-term impact on what your partisanship and voting patterns are for the rest of your life,’ she continued. ‘So, not only in this moment are these millennial women heavily, heavily Democratic and heavily hostile to Trump, but it’s likely that they are going to sort of be the vanguard of, I think, the feminization of the Democratic Party,’ she said.” • Several points: This is the liberal Democrat’s favorite “Demographics is destiny” talking point, which is important operationally because it implies that Democrats never need to change; all they need to do is wait. True, that hasn’t worked for fifteen years, but maybe it will work at some time in the future. Second, that’s likely voters. True, Democrats are resolutely opposed to expanding their base, so non-voters don’t matter to them, but I for one would like to know where the non-voters are going and what they’re thinking. Third, despite Greenberg’s pseudo-revolutionary language — “vangaurd,” “feminization,” identified, I would imagine, with “feminist” — Greenberg has nothing to say about policy, let alone ideology. If we’re looking a generation of Hillary Clintons, why would that be a good thing? We really do have to get away from the idea that ascriptive identity is a good thing in itself. If it were, Obama, The First Bank President, would have been the FDR so many Democrats of good faith (including Thomas Frank) thought he would be.

New Cold War

“Manafort convicted on 8 counts; mistrial declared on 10 others” [WaPo]. • That was fast!

“Michael Cohen Pleads Guilty, Says He Acted at Trump’s Direction” [Wall Street Journal]. “Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer, pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to payments he arranged before the 2016 presidential election to silence two women who alleged having affairs with Mr. Trump, directly implicating his former boss for the first time in a scheme to violate campaign-finance laws.” • They got Al Capone on income tax violations…

“Donald Trump should sue John Brennan to bring civility back to our politics” [USA Today]. “Of all people, the ex-CIA director should know what treason is. That is why Brennan is special — he knowingly or recklessly made the false statement. Applying each of the libel criteria, it is evident that Brennan committed an actionable libel: Did Brennan make a false statement? Yes. Was Brennan’s accusation defamatory? Yes. Were Brennan’s statements made with “actual malice”? Yes. Even tough actual malice is difficult to prove, the case of John Brennan is particularly compelling. Indeed, his statements demonstrate that he had actual knowledge of the legal requirements of the crime of treason, and despite that, he leveled the false accusation, knowingly, or with reckless disregard for the truth.”

The Liberals Have Lost Their Minds

Lovely. Most of it bog standard, but at the lower left:

Life’s little ironies: #Resistance Democrats, who revel in slogans like “love Trumps hate,” also revel in homophobic tropes, as we’ve seen over and over again. If — since? — doublethink and lack of principle is what the Democrat “Blue Wave” comes down to, why am I happy about it? And — I smell business model! — please don’t tell me there’s another product line of liberal tsotchkes with Sanders’ face swapped in

Realignment and Legitimacy

It would be nice if this were an outlier:

But I’m not so sure it is. At my Bangor meetup last year, one of the attendees, a Sanders supporter, was driven out of his local party.

“He brought an American flag to protest fascism in Portland. Then antifa attacked him” [OregonLive (o4amuse)]. “As he carried his flag, two people dressed in black and covering their faces approached Welch and demanded he turn it over to them, calling it ‘a fascist symbol,’ he said.” • Of course, the “two people” could be cops, doing the agent provocateur thing. But that’s rather the problem, isn’t it?

Stats Watch

The Bezzle: “Tesla whistleblower says company spies on employees” [Sky News]. “A former Tesla employee has claimed the company spies on its workers and allowed a drug cartel to operate inside of its plant. Karl Hansen made the whistleblower complaint to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), according to his lawyer Stuart Meissner. Mr Hansen was a member of Tesla’s internal investigations team before he was fired.” • Missed this one. A drug cartel on the plant floor — gotta get through “production hell” and a world of flaming paint booths somehow — would explain a lot about the build quality.

The Bezzle: “Internal documents reveal the grueling way Tesla hit its 5,000 Model 3 target” [Business Insider]. “Internal documents show that Tesla had to rework more than 4,300 of the 5,000 Model 3 vehicles it built during the last week of June, when it hit its critical production target.” • “Gruelling” is hardly the word! Note that the teardowns show that the Model 3 can be profitable (modulo liability). That’s not at all the same thing as saying that Tesla can manufacture them profitably. Here are the bullet points:

First pass yield of 14%. No wonder Tesla doesn’t allow outside firms to sell parts or do repairs; each Model 3 must be its own unique little snowflake, shipped after a “mallet expert” banged the parts that don’t fit into place…

The Bezzle: “Tesla Model 3 Tracker” [Bloomberg]. “Our best estimate is that Tesla has manufactured 72,791 Model 3s so far, and is now building approximately 5,942 a week…. This projection relies on Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs), unique strings of digits displayed on every new car sold in the U.S.” • Well, for some definition of building…

The Bezzle: “JPMorgan analyst cuts Tesla price target by 37%” [Axios]. “JPMorgan analyst Ryan Brinkman cut his Tesla price target from $308 to $195, stating that it appears “funding has not been secured” for Elon Musk’s take-private proposal as originally claimed, reports StreetInsider.com.” • I first mistyped the category as “The Bezla….” Pretty good, eh?

The Bezzle:

Hurrah for permissionless innovation!

Tech: “Steam’s content-driven freeze on game approvals expected to last for months” [GamaSutra]. “Valve has since started work on the filtering tools … that aim to let players better curate their own feeds, however the company has yet to offer developers much information up front about how game releases and approvals are being affected in the meantime. We’ve reached out to Valve for more information on this freeze and will update this article with any additional comments from Valve following a reply.” • One of the chronic, minor fears that haunts me is that there will be some major development — economic, cultural, or even political — on the gaming front, and I won’t even notice it, or understand it (like a world-building Presidential campaign with a candidate’s avatar. And the last thing I need is another time sink).

Regulation: “The $23 Trillion Argument Against Dismantling U.S Earnings Rules” [Bloomberg]. “Flexibility and lower costs were the reasons given by President Donald Trump in ordering regulators to consider spacing out earnings reports to six months. In a market where $23 trillion of value has been created since 2009, some money managers wondered it if was a solution without a problem.” • For some definition of “value”…..

Our Famously Free Press

“Why building a business that’s dependent on Facebook is ‘crazy'” (interview) [Recode]. Digiday President and Editor in Chief Brian Morrissey: “I don’t think many people are going to build publishing strategies and their models around Facebook anymore. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think that publishers should build their own strategies and as much as possible control what you can control. Facebook will do what’s in Facebook’s interest. The idea of being dependent on Facebook or being dependent on any other platform is crazy.” * It was always crazy. And here’s Naked Capitalism, chugging along….


“How Colorado’s Water Law Affects You and Our Rivers” [American Rivers]. “Prior appropriation is the backbone of our water law system. Perhaps you’ve heard of ‘first in time, first in right,’ – this phrase refers to the water law system. Prior appropriation allows individuals or entities who first apply water for a beneficial use to be entitled to that appropriation into the future (and has priority over subsequent users). Holding a water right doesn’t actually imply ownership over the water (water in Colorado is ‘owned’ by the people) but is instead the right to use the people’s water for a beneficial use like agriculture, municipal water, and now more recently, in benefit of the environment as in-stream flows.” • With podcast.

Net Neutrality

“Chairman Pai Doesn’t Know How to Measure Investment” [Free Press]. “FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is trying to gut Net Neutrality protections at the agency by claiming they’ve stifled broadband investment…. Chairman Pai has insisted that aggregate broadband-industry investment has been on the decline since the FCC passed strong Net Neutrality rules under Title II authority. That argument is wrong on its face (aggregate investment is actually going up)…. But it also relies exclusively on aggregate investment data, which are, at best, only mildly informative…. .Technological developments also mean that for many internet service providers, it’s getting cheaper to expand capacity and upgrade their networks. For example, once cable companies have already deployed a new cable line, they increase capacity primarily by upgrading the electronics at each end of the line. As technology improves, those electronics get better and cheaper. In other words, ISPs may be spending less while still making their networks faster.” • Which doesn’t speak to coverage — let’s just have municipal broadband everywhere — but does show, as if we didn’t know it, that Pai is a bad actor.

Police State Watch

“Police say they accidentally ran over a fleeing suspect with a bulldozer during pot bust” [USA Today]. • Yes, and it wasn’t easy….

Health Care

“What’s in the Administration’s 5-Part Plan for Medicare Part D and What Would it Mean for Beneficiaries and Program Savings?” [KFF] (further to today’s post). “The Administration’s 5-part plan for Part D would likely affect all Part D enrollees in terms of their out-of-pocket costs, premiums, and access to medications, although some enrollees would be affected to a greater degree than others. The Administration has emphasized that these proposals are intended to be implemented together, since eliminating any of them would change the impacts of the plan overall. This makes it difficult to precisely measure the effects for beneficiaries, since the effects would depend on several factors specific to an individual enrollee, including what drugs they take, what plan they’re enrolled in, how their plan premium changes, how their formulary coverage and access to medication changes, whether they receive low-income subsidies, their level of drug costs in any given year, whether they reach the coverage gap and/or catastrophic coverage phase in any given year, and the level of rebates negotiated by their plan for drugs they take.” • What a hoot. All this complicated eligibility determination jargon — “coverage gap“, “catastrophic coverage phase” — that nobody can understand, except to the extent that it can’t possibly mean anything good.

Neoliberal Epidemics

“A Closer Look at How the Opioid Epidemic Affects Employment” [Harvard Business Review]. “In short, while the opioid epidemic has caused wide-reaching devastation, aggregate employment appears not to be one of its victims. Furthermore, evidence suggests that poor economic conditions cannot be blamed for the crisis itself. What this means is that we must look at the opioid epidemic for what it is: a self-inflicted perfect storm that arose from a combination of newly available opioids, new attitudes about the importance of pain management, loose prescribing practices, and a lack of professional accountability. The solution to the problem must lie in addressing some of these root causes.” • The methodology of the study is interesting; I’d welcome reader comments.

Class Warfare

As usual, things are more complicated, in this enormous country, than they appear at first sight, in this case the role of “non-slaveholding Southerners” in the Civil War. Thread:

“A Confederate veteran speaks: What the monuments mean” [USA Today]. ” One local historian recently told a reporter he ‘has never heard nor read about the statues being a testament to white supremacy.’ Perhaps Wiley N. Nash, Mississippian and Civil War veteran, can add something to the conversation. ‘What good purpose,’ he asked in 1908, ‘is subserved, promoted and supported by the erection of these Confederate memorials all over the South?’ Nash had studied both literature and law at the University of Mississippi, so his answer came fully attired in his best rhetorical finery: ‘Like the watch fires kindled along the coast of Greece that leaped in ruddy joy to tell that Troy had fallen, so these Confederate monuments, these sacred memorials, tell in silent but potent language, that the white people of the South shall rule and govern the Southern states forever.'” • And much more.

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“Why Prisoners Are Going On Strike Today” [The Nation]. “Prisoners across the country are launching a strike today, on the anniversary of the death of incarcerated activist George Jackson. Jackson, a member of the Black Panther Party, was a leading voice and theorist in the 1970s prison movement—a time that saw hundreds of uprisings behind bars. On April 24, prisoners in South Carolina announced the strike, which is expected to last for 19 days and ends on the anniversary of the Attica prison uprising in New York… Their second demand, which reads: ‘an immediate end to prison slavery. All persons imprisoned in any place of detention under United States jurisdiction must be paid the prevailing wage in their state or territory for their labor,’ has been a theme in work strikes over the past five years and speaks to a [Jailhouse Lawyers Speak (JLS),] slogan, “#Abolishthe13th,” referencing the 13th Amendment of the constitution.”

“I’m For Disruption: Interview With Prison Strike Organizer From Jailhouse Lawyers Speak [Shadowproof]. JLS representative: “the biggest thing that we can ask any of these [outside] groups or any organization is to hold some type of event, particularly an event that can get the radio’s attention, news media attention, anything that can get back into the jail cells and the prisons. The more radio programs that pick it up, the prisoners can listen to it. Particularly the prisoners that don’t have access to phones or internet access, they can at least get it while they’re listening to their radios or they can see it on television. This is very, very important. This is how Florida’s strikes spread so fast, because they were able to get it in through the channels. They were able to raise enough hell to where the media caught on to it and it was getting back into the prisons and cells that [prison officials] really didn’t want it to get into.” • And innovation, too, apparently…

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“Walmart And Others Offer Workers Payday Loan Alternative” [NPR]. “Forty percent don’t have $400 to cover an emergency expense, such as a car repair. And many working-class people turn to payday loans or other costly ways to borrow money. But more companies are stepping in to help their workers with a much cheaper way to get some emergency cash. Startup companies that offer better options for workers are partnering with all kinds of businesses — from giants like Walmart to little fried chicken restaurants….. [Founder and CEO Safwan Shah’s] PayActiv compay lets workers get access to that money they have already earned. ‘So let’s say they’ve already earned $900’ by earning $100 a day for nine days, says Shah. But payroll is still five days away and they need the money right away. Shaw says they open the app and ‘they will see a number which is half of the amount they have earned that is accessible to them.’ So if they need $400 for a car repair or a trip to visit a sick brother, they tap a few buttons and the money gets zapped to their checking account or a prepaid card. And the fee is $5. (Some employers pay the fee or a portion of it.) And a lot of workers are deciding that’s a much better option than getting stuck in a cycle of debt with costly payday loans.” • Walmart has this. I grant this sounds better than payday loans — though gawd knows what PayActiv does with the data — but I can’t get away from the sneaking suspicion that Walmart sees PayActiv as a substitute for decent wages, rather than a complement.

“Massachusetts gives workers new protections against noncompete clauses” [Ars Technica]. “In a Thursday phone interview, [state Rep. Lori Ehrlich] told Ars that her work was motivated by hearing from hundreds of Massachusetts workers who had suffered from the abuse of noncompete laws. ‘We heard from people working at pizza parlors, yogurt shops, hairdressers, and people making sandwiches,’ Ehrlich said. ‘Those stories were incredibly compelling and really drove the narrative for change.'” • “Drove the narrative for change.” Ugh. More: “The legislation bans the enforcement of noncompete agreements against minors, student interns, and workers who are laid off. The law also bans the enforcement of noncompete agreements against what’s known as non-exempt workers—hourly, generally low-wage workers who are eligible for overtime pay.” • The focus of the article is on non-compete clauses in the tech elite. But it sounds like Ehrlich has done a good job for the hourly workers. So, great! After all, the tech elite will do fine, no matter what.

You don’t need a weatherman:

A compressed version of the Jackpot, in fact.

News of The Wired


I dunno. There’s plenty of times I haven’t wanted to open my refrigerator door. But I probably wouldn’t have wanted to look inside it, either, even digitally.

Contrarian views on Mastodon (1). Thread:

I dunno. I set up an account, and it seemed a bit clunky. The user population is small, but there’s some attraction to writing the, er, platform and its user base into existence…

Contrarian views on Mastodon (2). Thread:

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from Silicon Valley’s social media debacle, it’s that assuming people will be at their best, while providing them tools to do their worst, produces a highly profitable platform with a suboptimal user experience.

“Derek Smalls on Going Solo, Keeping Drummers Alive and the Future of Spinal Tap” [Consequence of Sound]. “With the future of Spinal Tap up in the air, the band’s legendary bassist Derek Smalls has gone solo, unleashing the album Smalls Change, featuring a who’s who of renowned guest musicians… Smalls Change is a 13-song opus with instant classics like “Butt Call,” “She Puts the Bitch in Obituary” and more, as Smalls steps into the role of frontman with a power and force akin to an 18-inch stonehenge replica crashing into the ground.” • Pitch perfect. In all senses…

“Maine’s Obsession With Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy” [The Daily Beast (RH)]. “[Maine’s] most persistent aberration may be its lasting fondness for Allen’s Coffee Brandy…. [Portland bar owner Andrew Volk], in Northern Hospitality, his forthcoming book about Maine cocktails co-authored with his wife and business partner, Briana, notes that the melting of the snow in late winter heralds a Maine phenomenon: “Empty bottles [of Allen’s] found in the spring along snowmobile trails are called ‘Lilies of the Tundra.'” • Well, I dunno if I’d trust a barkeep from a Boston suburb talking his book — gracefully as the Daily Beast author wraps that up — but the article is filled with genuinely interesting information about our Great State. But the moment artisanal coffee brandy hits the market, expatriation is gonna move a lot higher on my list.

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (Stephen V.):

Stephen V. commennt: “No pollination required.” Parthogenesis?

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. mle detroit

    OK, NC explorers, any further thoughts about Mastodon? Or Diaspora?

    I’m just looking to be done with Facebook. I thought I “needed” it for groups (which FB does make very easy to start, join, and spread), then realized the only one I care about (Voters Not Politicians, the Michigan anti-gerrymandering Proposal 2) emails me. As can my DIL with photos of the grandkids.

    So if I want to be findable on social media w/o being a profit center for someone else, what’s best?

    1. diptherio

      I like Mastodon. It’s got some flaws, but also a lot of people working on making it better. It seems to work best for particular interest groups. I’m on the co-op focused instance (social.coop) and I like it waaaay better than twitter for facebook for connecting with “my tribe”. The moderation issues are, in my experience, no worse than twitter, fb or, gawd forbid, youtube. Much depends on the particular instance(s) you sign up for. As for how findable a Masto account is compared to the big boys, I really couldn’t say.

    2. Woozel

      I like Diaspora*. It has a nice, simple interface with easy to manage privacy/security settings. If you stripped away all of the worst aspects of Facebook, you’d essentially end up with Diaspora*. I recently discovered people have setup “unofficial” news related accounts for (NPR, BBC, etc) that you can follow, if you’re inclined to use Facebook as a news source.

    3. scarno

      I prefer Diaspora’s model, but I’m a bit older than lots of the users on these platforms. Like anything online you need to take operational security into your own hands. No technology is going to do that for you on the modern internet. Neither will profit off your data directly (at the moment), but they aren’t secure from state snoops. If they get big, really malicious honeypot instances are going to be a gigantic headache for both.

  2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

    Re Gaming and Steam

    Two words: Fortnite

    A generic 3rd person shooter, free to download as long as you have a PlayStation Network Account, that lets 100 people play online and talk to each other from all walks of live . A commons for poor and rich kids to come together in Solidarity to win Victory in a Battle Royale.

    Too Much?

    P.S. My PSN names dthpr00f if anyone wants to #SQUADUP

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          I of course being the miserly spendthrift i am have NEVER spent money on fake digital shit.

          But kids love it and are always bugging me to get another character cuz i look like a noob.

          My favorite mode is 4 squads of 25.

          I still suck, but not as much as before.

          “Congratulations, you are no longer a Shit Sandwich. Youve graduated to Maggot!”
          -Major Payne

          1. RMO

            Nice to know Valve is spending so much time on this rubbish rather than making the third episode of Half-Life 2 they promised a decade ago and never followed up on, leaving the hundreds of thousands of customers on a cliff hanger.

            1. Plenue

              Valve mostly spends its time these days time running Steam and making ill-advised ventures into hardware. They’ve said they want to get back to being a games company, and they currently have three new games in development. Outside of that, they continue to update Dota 2 and Counter-Strike Global Offensive (and occasionally Team Fortress 2, which is pushing twelve years old now).

              Fortnite actually isn’t even on Steam (neither is Minecraft).

              As for Half-Life 3/Episode 3, writer Marc Laidlaw no longer works for Valve, and last year he posted his HL3 story line on his website (http://www.marclaidlaw.com/epistle-3/, so I think it’s safe to say that project is dead and will never be completed.

    1. Plenue

      “One of the chronic, minor fears that haunts me is that there will be some major development — economic, cultural, or even political — on the gaming front, and I won’t even notice it, or understand it (like a world-building Presidential campaign with a candidate’s avatar. And the last thing I need is another time sink).”

      Economically, a quick search indicates that the global TV and film industry has an average revenue of around 300 billion, and video games close to 110 billion. A massive 82 billion of that was from free to play games. In other words offering a core product for free and selling extras is an immensely profitable approach. A lot of that is due to shameless grifting, either by locking desirable things away behind a paywall, or technically making things achievable for free just by playing, but making it so tedious and miserable that it forces people to give up and pull put their credit card to shortcut. A few games, most notably Warframe, refrain from this and make most things genuinely achievable in a reasonable amount of time just by playing. Ironically, this seems to predispose people to happily spend money on cosmetic extras just to support the company.

      Electronic Arts has attempted to F2P elements with normal retail games, ie you just bought the game but it still cuts you off from content with a tedious grind, which is the context in which they managed to achieve the most downvoted comment in the history of reddit (667820 thumbs down as of now).

      That’s not even getting to the fact that people can make money, quite a few enough to live off of, and some enough to become millionaires, through streaming videogames and providing their own commentary. Admittedly a lot of this is awful crap that cynically exploits children (who will watch pretty much anything), but some of it isn’t terrible. If you’re wondering where young people who have dropped out of the workforce and aren’t even counted as unemployed anymore have gone, some at least can be found on sites like Twitch.

      Also, at a guess I would say video games are already more profitable on a case by case basis than film and TV. Aside from the millions spent on workstations and software licenses when setting up a studio, fundamentally most of what you’re paying in videogame development are wages for people sitting at desks. 100 million dollars spent on a video game (which stands a reasonable chance of making back several times that) is a rarity. Whereas that’s a pretty standard budget (a bit on the low side even) for a big Hollywood production (and you have to at least double that amount once you factor in the advertising budget), and which carries a significant chance of failing (anyone remember Disney’s John Carter of Mars movie from 2012? 350 million bucks spent, and it was a flop).

      Culturally, well, video gaming is a culture unto itself. I would say subculture, but looking at those revenue figures, I don’t think it it can realistically be described as a niche anymore. Some older people may still be perplexed by it (they often seem to think it’s still beeps and bloops and revolves around high scores), but it’s simply part of the entertainment landscape for a large and growing number of people. If we start the clock (somewhat arbitrarily) at 1978 with Space Invaders, the industry has already been around for 40 years. For comparison, in 40 years film went from silent and black and white to sound and technicolor. That means there’s a whole swathe of now middle age types who have grown up with them. Elon Musk is someone I find to be a worm, but just to illustrate a point he is pushing 50 and has talked about how he plays the game Overwatch, and wants to add video games to his Tesla cars. It’s also enough time for significant demographic gaps and generational differences, eg people who started out on British computers that used cassette tapes vs people who grew up on the original Playstation.

      Politically, I don’t really think there’s been much impact (yet?). Maybe indirectly via things like 4chan, but I don’t actually accept the media hype that reprobates from /b/ and /pol/ have had much impact on the real world. I could conceive of the medium of video games providing some education in political matters. For example, a certain type of gamer (https://youtu.be/3kX5ggw5AIU) will be intimately familiar with feudalism, and hopefully see why it’s a terrible system for the majority of a population.

      1. Elizabeth Burton

        anyone remember Disney’s John Carter of Mars movie from 2012? 350 million bucks spent, and it was a flop).

        It was a flop because the Burroughs estate refused to sign over all the licensing rights to Disney prior to its release, so Disney chose to cancel any and all promotion for it. Among fans of the genre, it’s considered not flawless but nevertheless much more worthy of attention than it got.

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          I finally watched John Carter to wash away the bafflement I had after finally getting around to watching Man of Steel. As Galaxy Quest fills in some holes for Trekkies, anyone looking for a decent Superman film in this decade should at least check out John Carter.

          A geek thing for me about Justice League was getting to see Superman in a serious modern film without having to go through his furshlugginer origin story. Again. We all know.

          1. wilroncanada

            My son in-law organized a game convention for seven years. The convention grew beyond the capacity of the largest indoor venues on Vancouver Island, so he had to make a decision to either move it to Vancouver, which already had a convention, or discontinue. He chose the latter. By the last year electronic games took up half of the convention space, but he had board games, trading card games, miniature games and role play, even Lego. The con (game abbreviation) went from early Friday evening to early Sunday evening; for the first few years, all night, but later closing from 2AM to 8AM. By Sunday some of the attendees were very aromatic, not having bathed, sleeping in corners.
            He is still doing organizing at cons and doing sales booth demos for a Seattle game developer. He just returned from working at one of the major US cons in Indianapolis. As organizer he had video fantasy groups from both Seattle and Vancouver at different times. They write, video and upload podcasts, all volunteer, attracting audiences, hoping at some point to attract enough support to be able to sell product, and themselves, to advertisers. they also held business development seminars for prospective writers and developers.

            The game “business” is huge.

        2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          Agreed. John Carter kicks major ass in HD. Tbh i skipped it in theatres cuz the title didnt grab my attention amid swirling rumors of a flop.

          Im not a big fan of Cowboy movies, but when you add Aliens something magical happens.

          See Cowboys Vs Aliens

  3. Carolinian

    This from Alastair Crooke is somewhat interesting. He says the current hysteria is because the traditional view of history as a constant forward march of social and moral improvement is breaking down.


    And someone mentioned yesterday that the great Uri Avnery died over the weekend. His last few columns expressed a lot of disillusionment about the country he gave so much for.

    1. diptherio

      My friend and I came up with this anti-progressive slogan in the early aughties: “Things don’t get better, they just get bad in different ways.” Still pretty much my view.

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel


        Im as cynical as Seneca these days

        Altheaux with such Golden Word Making – “aughties” – ill prolly get through.

          1. c_heale

            I think the attempted ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya is evidence against Avnery’s views…

            1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

              Uigurs in China…

              Is it just me or has Tiananmen Square been suppressed for too long?

      2. JBird

        I think that things do tend towards improvement as most people usually want that way, but eventually some clique of greedheads want it alllll for themselves, either not believing or not caring, that their actions will cause the collapse of their society/nation/state/empire.

        Wash, Rinse, Repeat.

        If that is true then the issue becomes on how to stop the creation of such parasitic cliques preferably in a non-oppressive way.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      If god is for us who can be against us.
      What if there is no god? Ruh-roh!

      If America has no divine provenance…

      I’m not opposed to the break down of society being exposed by the Trump Presidency as an explanation, but I do think much of the OMG Russia narrative stems from avoiding a recognition that Obama might have been a reasonable President if he was simply put under more pressure from Democrats who decided 853rd dimensional chess would solve all doubts. Its interesting how Obama’s 853rd dimensional chess missed Kremlin meddling…its almost as if its an excuse….

      Historical illiteracy aside, Americans do know they are supposed to call their Congressmen and write LOTEs, asking questions at town halls and so forth. Instead, they treated them like celebrities instead of employees who can easily be replaced. “OMG Russia” much like 853rd dimensional chess excuses their own moral failures. Not everyone knows better for reasons or can’t participate, but the “we skipped brunch” crowd often did know better.

    3. Plenue

      “The Jacobin revolutionaries launched the Terror as a violent retribution for élite repression – inspired by Rousseau’s Enlightenment humanism”

      Context is always ignored when it comes to the Reign of Terror. There was public outcry to start chopping off nobles heads after said noble class time and again betrayed their own conscript soldiers on the battlefield, doing things like leading them into ambushes. I think it looks a lot less like a coherent ideological program and more like a frenzied overreaction.

    4. knowbuddhau

      I ran across it in a different way, but yeah, that’s what I’m on about, exactly. But in a much more developed treatment and comprehensive style.

      The fearful élites, in fact, are right: The disappearance in modernity of any external norm, beyond civic conformity, which might guide the individual in his or her life and actions, and the enforced eviction of the individual from any form of structure (social classes, Church, family, society and gender), has made a ‘turning back’ to what was always latent, if half forgotten, somehow inevitable.

      It represents a ‘reaching back’ to an old ‘storehouse’ of values – a silent religiosity; a ‘turn back’ to being again ‘in, and of’ the world. A storehouse that has in fact remained unchanged (albeit clothed in Christianity), with its foundational myths, and notion of cosmic ‘order’ (maat) [sic, Egyptian, same as Dao] still swirling in the deeper levels of the collective unconscious. Of course, ‘the Ancient’ cannot be an ad integrum return. It cannot be the simple restoration of what once was. It has to be brought forward as if ‘youth’ come back again – the eternal return – out of our own decomposition.

  4. clarky90

    Re; “As he carried his flag, two people dressed in black and covering their faces (Antifa) approached Welch and demanded he turn it over to them, calling it ‘a fascist symbol,’

    We must protect the “the commons” utility of “our” language. FI, the “repugnant” appropriation of “our Democracy” by the “self hating”…. The collusion of the 80 newspapers to denounce “collusion”. I am happy for everyone to use our common-language. I don’t like it when some of our words/concepts are stolen for dishonest purposes.

    Politics and the English Language
    George Orwell


    “…Since you don’t know what Fascism is, how can you struggle against Fascism? ….. Political language, (and with variations, this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists), is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change one’s own habits, and from time to time one can even, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out and useless phrase — some jackboot, Achilles’ heel, hotbed, melting pot, acid test, veritable inferno, or other lump of verbal refuse — into the dustbin where it belongs.”

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      I’ve been leery of the whole “antifa” thing from the beginning. How is it, I asked myself, that this group of high-minded individuals emerges whole and complete just as the media begins to focus on the “alt-right” because TRUMP!!! Then, they become a target of alleged right-wing attacks, and the media encourages the McResistance (Thanks, Caity!) to defend them like Democrats defend the White Helmets. Anyone who suggests they act just like the thugs they’re allegedly protecting us from is haughtily attacked as being weak on Nazis. The fun really begins, though, if one suggests they might be (a) paid to escalate protests to violence to provide an excuse for law enforcement to crack down on protesters and/or (b) the 21st century’s version of COINTELPRO.

      1. clarky90

        The ANTIFA appear to be predominately white, well educated and from upper echelon families.

        Are they “self-hating whites”?

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          The four or five ive met meet your criteria.

          They infuriate me with their laser like focus on Identity Politics to the exclusion of actual policy and they sometimes straight up tune me out because of my fn skin color and gender.

          But their heart is in the right place so i tolerate the attacks and lack of answers.

        2. makedoanmend

          So “white” is some monolithic identity marker? So easily defined? So easily pigeon-holed?

  5. DonCoyote

    From the Smalls Change article:

    …because you start out busking on the street with an upside-down hat, and people throw a few coins and a few bills in there. And then you get signed to a record company and they rob you blind. And then it’s the 2000s and they say, “The record industry has collapsed — sorry you missed it.” And now, there’s streaming, and you get one penny for every 4 million times they play your song.

    I can *so* hear Derek Smalls (in my head) saying “The record industry has collapsed–sorry you missed it.” Pitch perfect indeed.

    If Spinal Tap designed and built a car, it would be Tesla.

    1. JBird

      Much of the “collapse” was self inflicted. Like most American industries, it was immediate maximized profits instead of maintaining and improving their industry. I remember the switches from LPs and Cassette to CDs with the ever increasing prices on everything including raising cassettes from something like 3.99 to 15.99 and CDs from LPs prices to 15.99 then eventually 18.99 or more for the same music. A compact disc cost just pennies to make. Adding the case and liner makes maybe $2, add the cost of shipping and licensing fees, which for old or niche music is almost nothing, and then sell for 7,8,9 times the total cost of production. WTF?

      Remember that the price increases happened in about ten maybe fifteen years. The cost of buying music tripled. Most people at the time preferred physical merchandise instead of intangible mp3s. They also didn’t like being ripped offed, knowing that all that profit went only to the management’s pockets instead of the music. So teenagers, and some adults, started making mp3s and the industry doubled downed with lawsuits, many threats, and price increases.

      Change was gonna happen, no doubt, but like in many other industries, the management and investors reacted in ways that ensured self destruction instead of only disruption.

  6. Summer

    Re: Publishers/Facebook

    And Zuckers wouldn’t have made the threat to publishers about taking on or taking off from Facebook if he wasn’t aware how much his platform rides coattails. That is straight fear.

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      and Ocasio-Cortez is mocked for saying “we always have money for war but when it comes to social programs we’re broke”

  7. noonespecial

    For those interested in the Flint, MI water crisis, the following link briefly outlines the decision by Judge David J. Goggins re. criminal charges against State of Michigan Health and Welfare Chief Nick Lyon.

    The accused faces two counts of (from article), “involuntary manslaughter and one count of misconduct in office connected to the Flint region’s 2014-15 Legionnaires’ disease outbreak that killed 12 people and sickened another 79 people.”

    Judge Goggins’ ruling:

    “I do find based upon the totality of all the evidence … I find this behavior over this time period of
    withholding information corrupt based upon misconduct in office for probable cause standards…The
    judge also decided Lyon ‘willfully and neglectfully refused’ to protect the lives of two Flint area men who
    purportedly died from Legionnaires’ by failing to ‘act to appropriately with regard disseminating notices
    to the public.’ ”

    Lyon’s defense team reacted to Judge Goggins’ ruling by stating that:

    “I can’t tell you how disappointed we are in the ruling today and here’s exactly why: The judge went on for two hours summarizing all of the prosecution’s best testimony and didn’t take into account any of the contrary testimony, any of the disputes.”

    Really counselor, or are you trying to bait potential jurors? The article notes that the decision is the result of, “The 11-month preliminary exam involved 10 months of testimony — starting last September with prosecution witnesses and then this spring with defense witnesses.”

    link: https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/michigan/flint-water-crisis/2018/08/20/judge-nick-lyon-flint-goes-trial/1042322002/?from=new-cookie

    1. JBird

      No baiting, I think, just the Judge not automatically agreeing that the bar of legal culpability for conviction is high enough that the state, here in the form of Nick Lyon. can do no legal wrong regardless of any moral or ethical culpability; the state’s agents, like the police, are forgiven for almost anything, whereas people like you and I are automatically guilty of everything if any reason can be found to do so no matter how pathetic. Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, the Chicago Police Department, FBI, CIA, and so on, on Blessed Side, Americans and everyone else on the planet, including wedding parties, are on the other Guilty Side.

      The defense attorney found some BS reasons that he thought would excuse Mr. Lyon, but the Judge did not follow the unwritten script for the rules. That unstated script says that the rules meant to protect the people in general, and apportion responsibility and punishment of any individual are not actually real, but instead the unacknowledged rules exist to protect the state and its minions while controlling, often through terror the general population. We just go use some kind of demented Kabuki Theater to hide the latter’s existence and the former’s death.

      This is belaboring the my whole point, but I want to make it clear that the attorney’s disagreement might be honest and not merely gaslighting. The script is often followed unconsciously with the facts being altered in one’s head to do so.

  8. DonCoyote

    From Dem Consultants and Strategists don’t care for #MedicareforAll”:

    “Just 16 percent of Democrats identified support for a national health care plan as the No. 1 issue in determining their vote, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey last month.”

    So you mean 15.5% more than support for RussiaRussiaRussia?

    I am surprised that Pete D’Alessandro lost to Cindy Axne so badly. I wonder if (per some of the other stories/speculation) Team-D in Iowa has a strong Clinton-ite tilt, and Pete was aligned pretty heavily with Bernie? Of course, it could also be follow-the-money, as she raised over a mill (and spent over $600K, i.e. on the primary) by the end of June.

    1. Big River Bandido

      Remember that in the 2016 caucuses, the results showed only a razor’s edge of difference between Clinton and Sanders. There were widespread reports of dirty-dealing and table-rigging in the precincts. And of course, no one was yet on to the Clinton vote-suppression tactics that worked so well in later states, but we can assume some of that probably went on also. And then in the midst of all that, Hillary Clinton decided to declare victory. And of course the media reported this as if it were truth.

      The state central committee doesn’t control much other than the caucuses, but they have always been very aggressive in slapping down insurgents in the presidential race, and they are likely still very active at the institutional level.

    2. Richard

      I salute you for getting through his article. 2 sentences in and I was gritting my teeth through yet another hack job.

  9. boz

    Big Brother Is Watching You Watch


    Introducing your new Social Credit score.

    Under the guise of its effort to combat ‘fake news’, WaPo notes (citing an interview with Tessa Lyons, the product manager who is in charge of fighting misinformation) that the previously unreported ratings system, which Facebook has developed over the last year, has evolved to include measuring the credibility of users to help identify malicious actors.

    Users’ trustworthiness score between zero and one isn’t meant to be an absolute indicator of a person’s credibility, Lyons told the publication, nor is there is a single unified reputation score that users are assigned.

    “One of the signals we use is how people interact with articles,” Lyons said in a follow-up email.

    The future is here, and it’s getting worse.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Maybe what is needed is a digital Bill of Rights. Silicon Valley would hate the whole concept and would fight it tooth and nail as their business model demands that the tech companies have control of their users in all aspects and I mean in all aspects.

    2. anon

      Thanks for that validation, it’s venal and outrageous what Zuckerfk and his mentors are doing.

      So this is the outcome of Facebook being called on the [Congressional™] carpet™ for lying, predatory privacy violations, and commoditizing human beings?

      Unfortunately, when I did a search this morning and commented on it, all that came up were the Washington Post piece and duplicates of it, but do see that comment for my links regarding the Internet Bill of Rights™.

      It’s fricking outrageous, can’t people just stop using it who aren’t now sickeningly dependent on it to beg for income to stay alive?

      And why the hell did the ACLU, etcetera [fill in the blanks] open a facebook page when it’s not like people didn’t know they already had existed for decades upon decades???? If I call someone at the ACLU about a human rights violation I don’t want: my First and Last name; personal details; and supposed to be private phone number in some idiot’s contacts™ data being hoovered up by FaceFiend — along with them revealing my testimony of abuse, using my full name, on a FaceFiend Post™.

  10. Matthew G. Saroff

    It’s my understanding that first use water rights are largely a Western US phenomenon, and in the East (where admittedly, there has been less need to ration water) there is a different regulatory model.

    1. Lee

      So much of the western U.S. is owned by the government in large part because of water scarcity. Early homesteaders couldn’t make a living out of it. The rain shadow of the western mountain ranges ends at the 100th meridian, separating the xeric from the soggy.

  11. Big River Bandido

    IA-03: I grew up in a different part of the state so I can’t give much local perspective. But overlaying Anzalone’s client list with the knowledge of where-are-they-now is a more productive exercise than reading Demko’s piece of stenography.

    Anzolone’s biggest past clients include such awesome “Democrats” as Artur Davis, Health Schuler, Jim Matheson, Jason Altmire, Larry Kissel, Travis Childers, Charlie Wilson…and Leonard Boswell. This last name is probably the most relevant — since Boswell won the 3rd District seat several times and like most of the other names mentioned, was a Blue Dog in attitude if not name. The quintessential neoliberal milquetoast Democrat, Boswell garnered less and less of the vote in each election, until the Republicans finally ousted him in 2012. Of those (few) who are still serving in Congress, among them are the Blue Dog Krysten Sinema.
    So these are the kinds of “Democrats” that Anzolone seems to think are “winners”. I guess most of the people he backed did win — once or twice. Most of them were terrible at retail politics: they either got voted out or decided politics was hard and it was easier to just be a lobbyist. We can dispense with the idea that Anzalone has built or will build anything. He’s just another grifter on a hand-to-mouth existence.

    How this ties in with IA-03: Like everywhere else in America that’s been economically hollowed-out, neoliberalism in Iowa has been played out. It might hold on to a few seats here and there in states controlled by big-city Democrat machines, and it might be able to win executive branch seats when backed with tons of money (Hubbell), but it’s fighting a rear-guard action. A “new face” on the same old focus-grouped crap language which passes for “ideas” among Democrats simply isn’t going to bring out voters. Too many eyes have had the scales lifted.

    Finkenauer in IA-01 is up against the same problem. Contrary to what Charlie Cook says, I don’t think she’s got much of a shot, either, for similar reasons. Iowa Democrats don’t generally win without energy and enthusiasm behind them, and identity alone isn’t enough to carry that.

    1. DonCoyote

      Thanks for the reporting BRB. I have lots of family in the NW corner of IA (IA-04) and did my undergraduate there. That’s Steve King country. Steve was Trump’s John the Baptist, and I still am surprised that he has not made his way into the Trump administration in some capacity (although, given the burn rate of people, there is still plenty of time).

      A few of Steve’s highlights, courtesy of WaPo:

      {2013, about Mexicans}“But they aren’t all valedictorians,” he added later. “They weren’t all brought in by their parents. For every one who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds — and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.

      King came under fire when footage from inside his local congressional office showed that he had a Confederate flag among a collection of small flags on his desk. As you may recall, Iowa was not part of the Confederacy.

      So my view of Iowa politics tends to be a little skewed :-)

      btw, Blue Dog Krysten Sinema is now running for the Senate, and just broke $10 mill in fundraising. Primary is next Tuesday, and while she’ll probably be running against Martha McSally, it’s possible that Joe Arpaio may be her Team-R opponent. So being a Blue Dog can still pay. Ka-ching.

    1. Situation Normal

      I would be very cautious about which sources one reads about Nicaragua. Reporting by the mainstream media has been as biased and as close to outright propaganda as that on Syria (see, for instance, An Open Letter To The Guardian On Its Wildly Inaccurate Coverage of Nicaragua). Max Blumenthal, whom you may know from his coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has been doing some excellent reporting at the Grayzone Project on the failed attempt at regime change. To point out only a couple of problems with the Deutsche Welle article, it fails to mention that the right-wing opposition is backed and funded by the United States and it implies that the Ortega government and its supporters are solely responsible for the deaths and violence that have occurred. In fact, at least as many supporters of the government have been killed. It also cites the inflated death toll whereas the actual number of deaths is likely far lower. If you are interested in learning more about the situation in Nicaragua, I would also highly recommend the recent episode of the Moderate Rebels podcast (co-hosted by Max Blumenthal) entitled How Nicaragua defeated a right-wing US-backed coup: A report from Managua.

  12. Oregoncharles

    ” It was always crazy. And here’s Naked Capitalism, chugging along….”

    Yeah, but for that approach, you have to be really good at what you do – AND roll with the punches.

    Still, maybe you could sell your business model?

  13. BoyDownTheLane

    New Enterprise: Arranigng all those LCDs, ARM processors, gigs of RAM, WiFi, VMs etc into somehting that will clean my refrigerator?

  14. Oregoncharles

    Yes, some plants self-pollinate, like tomatos and beans. Some go to great lengths to avoid it – eg, those with separate sexes. Diversity, it’s called.

    However, in the case of hops, you’re harvesting the flowers (broccoli, cauliflower, and artichokes are also flowers, albeit unopened); that’s why it doesn’t need pollination. If you’re breeding them, you need seeds, so some sort of pollination; but you probably aren’t.

    I do plant seeds quite a bit, for instance, of leaf-curl resistant peaches. Low germination rate and, so far, poor survival, but it’s fun to try. Or tea, but that hasn’t gone too well. Have some coming along now, but no fruit so far.

  15. Bugs Bunny

    Re Tesla and Elon Musk, there are more “developments”, thanks to his girlfriend Grimes. You can search for them on your own because this is a family blog. I don’t think he can hang on for much longer but, hey, the president pays off porn stars so what do I know.

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    “He brought an American flag to protest fascism in Portland. Then antifa attacked him” [OregonLive (o4amuse)]. “As he carried his flag, two people dressed in black and covering their faces approached Welch and demanded he turn it over to them, calling it ‘a fascist symbol,’ he said.” • Of course, the “two people” could be cops, doing the agent provocateur thing. But that’s rather the problem, isn’t it?

    Who are those two people?

    In the 1920’s (or ’30s), there was an Austrian guy doing undercover police work around Munich or Bavaria, who went on to become much bigger than his police handler(s).

    1. Darius

      In the border states, flying the US flag can be a statement that you’re not flying the Confederate flag. I don’t worship the flag but I don’t mind owning it.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Not actually the police but he was working for the army in order to keep an eye on all these political yahoos for them. Then he came across a sad, lackluster political group that he saw potential in. He resigned from his army work and went to work fashioning this group into something that he could use and the rest is history. Antifa would have fitted very well in the chaotic scene of post WW1 Germany.

      1. s.n.

        Antifa would have fitted very well in the chaotic scene of post WW1 Germany.

        of course the original antifa – Antifaschistische Aktion – originated in Berlin, 1932,

        1. The Rev Kev

          Thanks for that nugget. I had no idea that they went back so far and considering that they were so late to the party, they would not lasted long after 1933. Kinda ironic that their name translates as Anti-Fascist Action and yet they utilize the same tactics as actual street fascists.

    3. cm

      It is well known in Portland that the so-called “antifa” are merely anarchists, who have a long history in Portland of mindless violence. Portland is very welcoming to 20-year-old drifters (and their pitbulls) who leach off the public in search of meth.

      Portland cops don’t need to be that subtle. The current controversy is how they attacked the antifa side in last week-ends protest, with the police chief making things up to justify no action against the white supremacists.. Portland Police are distrusted by the community as a whole for a variety of reasons, including institutional racism, Nazis in the leadership, inaction against vagrants, overuse of violence against the mentally ill, etc.

      I don’t have a dog in this fight, and find both sides reprehensible. I don’t know why this particular act of violence made national news. Strutting around the Antifas with a US flag, or MAGA hat, or red shirt, or just about anything, is asking for trouble.

  17. Jerry B

    =====Of course, if the party establishment — including this “veteran” pollster — weren’t fighting #MedicareForAll tooth and nail=====

    I wonder if some of the resistance to Medicare for All is many of the people that have skin in the game ( i.e. directly or indirectly make money from the health care industry) don’t want to lose their gravy train when costs start to get reduced. Big Pharma, Large Hospital Systems, etc. will have to deal with reduced costs and profits. Even if MMT principles were applied to Medicare for All there still will need to be cost controls which means everyone in the chain will see their piece of the pie reduced. I am sure that is not going to go over well. Many of the people higher in the healthcare industrial complex salary scale won’t be able to live in gated communities and will have to live with the rest of us in normal neighborhoods like it was in the 70’s and earlier before the corporate takeover of healthcare.

    Also in looking at the healthcare industry in a big picture sense, to deal with healthcare costs will require looking at malpractice insurance costs and also the enormous costs of medical school. Malpractice insurance and medical school costs may not affect Big Pharma but they do impact the decline in physicians opening private practices and the decline in medical school students going into general practicioner/primary care careers.

  18. Oregoncharles

    ““He brought an American flag to protest fascism in Portland. Then antifa attacked him””

    Inexcusable. It’s pretty clear who the fascists are.

    This is a lively debate in Oregon right now. Despite a certain respect for their passion, if Antifa or the black bloc are going to pull this kind of (family blog), I’m definitely anti.

    Reclaiming the flag strikes me as a worthy project.

    1. a different chris

      I can’t support people wearing masks. Not because I’m some terrified shrinking violet, I do understand their reasoning. But if you don’t show your face, then you are easy to mimic and then it all goes to (family blog).

      1. Katsue

        If you don’t wear a mask you run the risk of being recorded and having your face sent around the internet, leaving you open to retaliation by employers/cops/assorted fascists.

  19. kareninca

    So, I have never used Uber or Lyft, both because I don’t own or want a smart phone and I think the ride companies exploit their workers. I don’t travel for pleasure; I only travel to visit my elderly parents, one of whom is in bad shape now. So far I have always gotten a ride from a family member from the airport, which is 38 miles from my parents’ home. However, that may not be possible in the near future.

    To rent a car and drive myself would be $280 plus insurance; also since my parents have cars that I could use when I get to their house it would be very wasteful. Also I do not like the idea of driving after an overnight flight, in an area that I am not used to driving.

    So, I checked prices. A taxi ride would be $128 one way, plus tip. An Uber ride would be $44 one way, plus tip. I can afford the taxi ride and that is what I will do (assuming the taxi company isn’t driven out of business by the time I want to use it); however, this does explain why some people use Uber.

    1. The Beak of Death

      My sentiments exactly. Same could be said for Amazon. I tend to go without as I usually cannot afford to take the high road. At what cost basic human decency?

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      The taxi’s fare rate is sufficient to ensure the driver can make a living while paying the necessary and legally required costs said driver pays. The Uber pays the driver enough to make them feel they’re making money and the rest goes into billionaires’ treasure rooms. Neither Uber nor its drivers, er, sorry, “independent contractors” are required to follow the same rules as the cabbie.

      Thank you for choosing a cab.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        I have ZipCar for places that can only be accessed by automobile. Eight dollars an hour mostly. By my lazy calculations that’s only about twice the pro-rated cost of owning a nice insured late model vehicle. You make your way to the car. And return it to that place. There is no chauffeur. People wince at thinking about the background cost of ‘you have to own an automobile’. When I put on a tinfoil hat, I think that AV is another little squirrel cage to keep boomers from thinking about how much their area is ill fit for retiring.

    3. Angie Neer

      That’s absolutely the main reason for Uber’s success. It’s really quite easy to “disrupt” an existing market if you have a gigantic pile of cash to burn while you dump your product below cost, convince customers that yours is the correct price, and put the competition out of business. Then you do an IPO, retire to a fortress in New Zealand on your winnings, and let someone else try to sustain the illusion.

    4. John k

      Definitely cheaper. No doubt many choose Uber because rides are subsidized.
      But the experience is pretty good.
      New cars.
      You know what the price will be before you agree to take the offer, so no concern maybe caddie is taking the long way.
      Pay with the card, no need to get change. This also means Uber has a record, say something got left in the car… or if there was a problem with the driver.
      Cars arrive pretty fast, and can be pre ordered, say for early flight.

      In many cities cabs had near monopolies, never a good thing for consumers. Granted Uber will have to raise prices, but they’re already winning on other measures.

      1. Elizabeth Burton

        Cabs can only have “near monopolies” if there’s only one cab company for the entire urban area. I suppose there may be places where that’s true, but in my experience there are always between 3-5 companies available.

        What you’re defining as “monopoly” is the regulation of the industry, where the municipality sets the fares and changing them requires approval by said municipality. The ride-sharing companies swooped in and took advantage of that because they ignored the established regulations. And when the municipalities tried to control them, they bought off state legislatures to override local control.

  20. Kurt Sperry

    “No pollination required.” Parthogenesis?

    Hops are nearly always grown only as female dioecious plants to prevent pollination from males and seed formation.

  21. pretzelattack

    the man suspected of killing mollie tibbetts is purportedly here illegally. politics is about to get even uglier.

        1. DeezyPeezy

          He was also here working on a dairy farm for a prominent Republican legislator but I’m sure that won’t be talked about.

          1. Kurtismayfield

            Worked for the brother of a Republican politician

            Cristhian Rivera, the man accused in the death of Mollie Tibbetts, worked for a Brooklyn-area farm owned by the brother of a prominent Iowa Republican.

            From the farm’s statement:

            This individual has worked at our farms for four years, was vetted through the government’s E-Verify system, and was an employee in good standing. On Monday, the authorities visited our farm and talked to our employees. We have cooperated fully with their investigation.

            Nothing else really to say if this is all true.

  22. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Fancy refrigerators.

    I dunno. There’s plenty of times I haven’t wanted to open my refrigerator door. But I probably wouldn’t have wanted to look inside it, either, even digitally.

    What energy saving/hydrofluorocarbon avoding alternatives are there?

    Or is it (the problem) too urgent not to ban it now?

  23. noonespecial

    RE: Why Prisoners Are Going On Strike Today

    The following is a link to Redacted Tonight’s interview with Kevin Steele (member of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee; https://incarceratedworkers.org). Early in the interview, Mr. Steele provides his views on the efficacy of state-mandated rehab programs versus inmate-led rehab programs. Further in, he speaks about economic issues faced by inmates and the purpose of the strike.

    video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1fi55nX4Zc

  24. drumlin woodchuckles

    About the two antifas demanding that protester’s American flag on the excuse of it being a “fascist symbol” . . . possibly being secret police agents and that being “rather the problem” . . .
    they could also have been genuine scum filth antifa garbage and that is equally ” rather the problem”.

  25. Kurt Sperry

    “I’m For Disruption: Interview With Prison Strike Organizer From Jailhouse Lawyers Speak [Shadowproof]

    I expect if the media got too frisky, they’d just take all the prisoners’ radios away and take down the TVs.

    1. RWood

      I think the disruptors would be quickly reduced to a few.
      After all, why should DHS sit on its hands?

  26. Veri

    About the drug cartels on Tesla production lines.

    Drugs are far more prevalent in the workplace than is commonly acknowledged.

    Go out to the hay fields in Central Oregon. The foremen are meth dealers. Workers work twelve hours shifts. Got to keep them working and the foremen supplement their own income.

    Construction? Coke. Meth.


    It is not shocking that drug dealers are alleged to operate at Tesla factory. It would be shocking if not.

    1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Restaurant Workers in New Orleans.

      Pills, Meth, X, Coke, Alcohol.

      Weed is the most prevalent as it helps keep you focused and relaxed while all hell breaks lose in the kitchen.

  27. clarky90

    Re, “Holy Shit, the onion.”

    “Jokes” are a relatively safe way to approach the Id.

    “Ha ha ha, I wasn’t serious, I was JOKING, for God’s sake!”

    All who have ANY knowledge, of the thousands of deep, long, pits, full of millions of the innocent (Unpeople, deplorables, Kulaks, useless eaters, wreckers, Trotskyites,…), groks that this “funny” call to riots and murder is profoundly creepy (not hahahahaha…).

    Is it a tentative “False Flag” incantation? The results of a “revolutionary revolt”, on the USAian poor (that the “joke” is addressed to), would be catastrophic.

    Will the “comedian initiators” hunker down in underground, “safe space” bunkers, with their benefactors? Finally emerging when the “dangerously triggering” smells of rotting flesh has dissipated? Neo-Lebensraum for the Neo-Master Race.

    1. Dug Fur

      I believe that your read is causally incorrect – the Onion is not instigating, but reflecting a sentiment that already exists.

      1. dk

        During the 1977 blackout in NYC I was living in Alphabet City, the eastern edge of the lower east side, now much gentrified but at the time as poor and desperate as Harlem or the South Bronx. The residents were mostly Puerto Rican, also Haitian and Filipino.

        That night there were fires in A-City, cars and trashcans burning in the middle of the streets, and general shouting and mayhem, but it was also celebratory, an unexpected and bizarre holiday. Still, a night to settle scores. There was looting, but the many small shops run by locals remained largely untouched. On fire was the ABC Market, a large supermarket grocery whose owner lived on Long Island. Its prices were easily +30% higher than markets in other areas, where many residents, with poor clothes and poor English, feared to go. ABC’s managers offered store credit to regular customers, with a 50%/week vig. Within two hours the place was gutted and burning. No police came to protect it, no fire brigade ventured into A-City until late the following day; granted they had their hands full elsewhere.

        The next night, and every night for the following week, although the blackout had ended, that fire was lit again.

  28. David Carl Grimes

    Any reaction here to Michael Cohen’s guilty plea? Violated campaign finance laws “at the direction of the President”

  29. perpetualWAR

    Mary Jo ain’t running for President. Holder is. Warren is always transparently mindful of politics. Unfortunately, that only takes her so far. She angered many when she held her endorsement of Bernie.

  30. knowbuddhau

    Re: holy shit, the onion. Yeah, baby, yeah! All killer, no filler. That’s the stuff.

    Speaking of weather-related news about the police.

    Evidence suggests global warming might have a negative impact on some government workers

    You think policing is bad now…

    The researchers found that there were more car accidents during hot weather—but there were fewer traffic stops. There were also fewer food inspections, but more food safety violations. They suggest more car accidents and food safety violations are indicative of changes in the behavior of drivers and those who work in restaurants, when they get hot—they become less careful. The data also suggests that hot weather can causes police officers and food inspectors to be less diligent, which, the researchers suggest, could be a problem as the planet continues to heat up.

    “Could be a problem….”

    Militarization of police fails to enhance safety, may harm police reputation

    Finally, Mummolo conducted two survey experiments to assess the effect on the public’s perception of police when they see militarized police in news reports. First, respondents read a mock news article about a police chief seeking a budget increase, accompanied by a randomly assigned image with either militarized police or traditionally equipped officers. Respondents then answered questions related to perceived crime levels, support for police spending and confidence in police.

    The results show that citizens react negatively to the appearance of militarized police units in news reports and become less willing to fund police or want police patrols in their neighborhoods.

    “These results come after a single exposure to militarized images. Repeated public exposure to news items featuring militarized policing may amplify negative views of law enforcement among citizens,” Mummolo said. “This is concerning because past research indicates that negative views of the police hinder criminal investigations and are associated with stunted civic participation.”

    Clothes make the cop? It’s not what they do, it’s how they look doing it? If we could only keep people from seeing them in their military gear….

    1. kgw

      Have you been reading about the fleecing of the people in Los Angeles by the “public safety” crowd? Check out the story of the recent ascent of the current LAPD chief…

  31. John k

    The first bank pres…
    Cute. But he’s hardly the first… likely at least half of them had deep sympathy for the trouble they have doing God’s work.

  32. Richard

    Any thoughts about Liz Warren’s anti-corruption bill? Starting to like her a bit. And her Trump remark did at least nod in the direction of reality!

  33. knowbuddhau

    Carolinian, I’m glad you mentioned Crooke. I loved it. Ran across it on Global Research.

    That’s what I’m on about, exactly. But in a much more developed treatment and comprehensive style.

    The fearful élites, in fact, are right: The disappearance in modernity of any external norm, beyond civic conformity, which might guide the individual in his or her life and actions, and the enforced eviction of the individual from any form of structure (social classes, Church, family, society and gender), has made a ‘turning back’ to what was always latent, if half forgotten, somehow inevitable.

    It represents a ‘reaching back’ to an old ‘storehouse’ of values – a silent religiosity; a ‘turn back’ to being again ‘in, and of’ the world. A storehouse that has in fact remained unchanged (albeit clothed in Christianity), with its foundational myths, and notion of cosmic ‘order’ (maat) [sic, Egyptian, same as Dao] still swirling in the deeper levels of the collective unconscious. Of course, ‘the Ancient’ cannot be an ad integrum return. It cannot be the simple restoration of what once was. It has to be brought forward as if ‘youth’ come back again – the eternal return – out of our own decomposition.

    (Apologies if this duplicates, just saw my browser do something new.)

  34. RWood

    [Hurricane] Lane was still far from the islands on Tuesday morning—about 600 miles southeast of Honolulu, moving west at 12 mph. However, computer models have grown more insistent that Lane will turn sharply northward later this week, then carry out a broad counterclockwise loop late in the week that could involve a direct landfall on one or more of the islands. Such a track would be unprecedented in modern Hawaiian history. The seriousness of the worst-case possibilities with Lane, and the rarity of the situation, call for an especially high level of preparation and vigilance among all Hawaiians.

  35. Octopii

    Peter Orszag was my favorite – after all of Obama’s promises to stop the revolving door, Peter was the first administration official to leave, and he immediately went to Wall Street. That was just one of the promises broken, and of course after that everyone else who left took a payday.

  36. ewmayer

    o “Trump warnings grow from forgotten Republicans” [Associated Press] … The forgotten Republicans — people like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford and Ohio Gov. John Kasich — have been unwilling to sit quietly as Trump steers the GOP away from free trade blanket corporate sovereignty guarantees, fiscal responsibility austerity for thee, not me, consistent foreign policy endless warmongering and civility [toward fellow swamp creatures and corporate lobbyists].”

    Fixed it for you, AP.

    o “Derek Smalls on Going Solo, Keeping Drummers Alive and the Future of Spinal Tap” [Consequence of Sound] — I think it would be cool if NC supporter Harry Shearer were to interview Mr. Smalls on Le Show. Oh yeah, they bigger the cushion, the sweeter the pushin’, that’s what I said / The looser the waistband, the deeper the quicksand, or so I have read…

  37. Amfortas the Hippie

    regarding the harvard bidness study of why all the poors are turning into junkies:
    May I say…gag me with a spoon, Biff.
    Another study apparently done from 10,000 feet.
    They are surprised that opioid use doesn’t cause unemployment.(at least they examined This assumption!)
    If I had been able to get a prescription when i was still working…1. i wouldn’t have ended up drunk by the end of the shift(beer is a remarkable analgesic, barring other options, but with unfortunate side effects), 2. I wouldn’t have “retired” when I did, and 3. I might even have been able to push in the clutch to get home.
    I don’t know who these doctors are that supposedly hand these things out like candy…I’ve certainly never met one. Indeed, this is one of the many reasons I move heaven and earth to keep my same old doctor: he knows me. Same goes with the Pharmacist…when I’ve attempted to get the scrip filled anywhere else, I get the runaround…even before the current hysteria. Mother’s maiden name, alphabet backwards, etc.
    The other issue I have with this study is the usual “a job=a job” mentality. Many, many jobs simply suck, and/or are soul killing.
    along with terminal unemployment, underemployment and crap-jobs with no future contribute to the despair that, I allege, often is the culprit to getting hooked on this stuff in the first place.
    I’m terrible with time, but I’m pretty sure I’ve been taking vicodin for more than ten years…with regular(every 1.5 years or so) “holidays” to reset the receptors back to the place where 5mg is effective.
    I also forget to take it some mornings…and rather than risk taking too much, I just skip that dose.
    I’ve never had even a hint of withdrawal symptoms…but I readily admit I am dependent on these pills. There is a difference, after all,lol.
    The point is, that it appears to be stupidly easy to NOT get hooked on this stuff.
    merely(!) don’t take pain pills for psychological and emotional problems…like depression caused by how much yer life sucks.
    Every single person I know who is hooked(indicated by always asking me to sell my pills) started taking them for an injury, took more because it felt good, and then kept on taking them to forget about their troubles….not because of pain.
    Fix the socioeconomic dysfunctions…and the follow on problems of agency, purpose and hope for a future….and this crisis will come to a quiet end.
    That our leadership(sic), and the intelligentsia represented by the folks who did this study, will overturn every rock looking for the cause of all this…while studiously ignoring the obvious causal chain…is disgusting, to me.
    Harvard needs to get out more.

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