Links 8/3/18

Patient readers, Yves apologizes for slim pickings in the original posts department, and pleads the stresses of travel and eldercare. –lambert

Cat and hen form unlikely bond in face of Redding wildfire Los Angeles Times

Decades-long investigation into Bermuda Triangle finally explains mysterious disappearances RT

‘Too big to fail’ is alive and kicking The American Banker

$50 a month for 1Mbps: How AT&T and Verizon rip off DSL customers Ars Technica

Apple’s $1 Trillion Milestone Reflects Rise of Powerful Megacompanies NYT

By Tripling Its Stock Buybacks, Apple Robs Workers And The Economy Forbes

Korea moving to tax Google, Apple, Amazon Korea Times

Rambus earnings approach sows confusion Francine McKenna, MarketWatch

Subway Ridership Dropped Again in New York as Passengers Flee to Uber NYT. Neoliberal playbook.

3M Knew About Dangers of Toxic Chemicals Decades Ago The Investigative Fund


Brexit: the time cometh EU Referendum

EU to explore Brexit deal on single market for agriculture Irish Times. Paragraph #2: “Such a move is likely to be welcomed by the Irish Government as it could overcome many of the potential difficulties at the Border after the UK leaves the EU. However, it would require the EU to move on some of its red-line issues, which it has not been willing to do until now.” So the exploration won’t go very far?

German sources deny Brexit deal offer amid warning from pro-EU camp Guardian

Seven exhausting arguments against a second Brexit referendum FT

UK farmers allowed to take more water from rivers as heatwave continues Guardian (KW)


A New Wave Of Hardline Anti-BDS Tactics Are Targeting Students, And No One Knows Who’s Behind It Forward

Syria Sitrep – The Southwest Is Liberated – On To Idlib Moon of Alabama (KW).

Trita Parsi Trump’s offer to meet with Iran’s President Rouhani won’t get us a better deal. We had our chance and lost it. NBC

War With Iran Could Destroy Trump’s Presidency Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative


Parents’ Fears Are the Chinese Communist Party’s Biggest Nightmare Foreign Policy

To understand China and its future, look to its past, social historian says South China Morning Post

New Cold War

Alleged Russian agent’s infiltration of GOP circles anything but subtle CNN. “She tended to brag about her ties to Russian intelligence when she was intoxicated.” Superb tradecraft!

Trump Transition

The Koch Government: These 44 Trump Officials Have Close Ties to Right-Wing Billionaire Brothers Public Citizen

Trump tax cut push for wealthy faces thorny obstacles FT

Prosecutors used Paul Manafort’s bookkeeper to begin making a detailed case for the most substantial charges against him Business Insider

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

The way you swipe your phone could be used to track you CNet

Fake Facebook groups leave real activists feeling frustrated The Hill. I have always believed that no serious activist should ever use Facebook. Start with not controlling your own data.

The Bizarre Facebook Path to Corporate Fascism Black Agenda Report

BitPaymer Ransomware Infection Forces Alaskan Town to Use Typewriters for a Week Bleeping Computer

Health Care

Health Care Lobbyists Secretly Secure Democrats’ Opposition to “Medicare for All,” Internal Documents Show The Intercept (SC).

Can a New Generation of Med Students Help Push Medicare for All? Pacific Standard

Democrats in Disarray

The Radical Left’s Agenda Is More Popular Than the Mainstream GOP’s New York Magazine

Politics in bad faith: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez campaigns in Michigan WSWS (WS).

More Ex-Prisoners Can Vote — They Just Don’t Know It The Marshall Project

Judge Rules Albuquerque Civil Forfeiture Law Unconstitutional, Upholds Innocent Until Proven Guilty Forbes (JB).

Guillotine Watch

Why the super-rich are taking their mega-boats into uncharted waters Guardian (JT McPhee). JT McPhee: “So they can enjoy the last bits of beauty and wildness before their business models burn them…” Yeah, plus there’s not enough water on Mars for yachts.

The booming business of luxury chicken diapers The Outline

Tokyo Medical University discriminated against female applicants by lowering entrance exam scores: sources Japan Times

Class Warfare

You’re on the verge of losing everything – but you don’t understand why BBC. From January, still germane.

Retailers abandon sweatshop safety scheme Handelsblatt

Round-the-Clock Care, Half-the-Clock Pay Villlage Voice (CO).

T-Shirt Ban Energizes Michigan Nurses Labor Notes

A ‘Clean Slate’ for the future of labor law Harvard Law Today

Bullshit-sensitivity predicts prosocial behavior PLOS-One. n=1000+

The miracle of the United States Postal Service The Week

Antidote du Jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


    1. Steve H.

      Adds another dimension to the phrase ‘Tax on time.’

      I genuinely would like to see research on what was done in our society about 100 years ago, and other cultures even now. Did the children do the caring? Or were ‘skeletons in the closet’ an accepted part of life?

      1. makedoanmend

        “…were ‘skeletons in the closet’ and accepted part of life?”

        Maybe…but mother was in the cupboard. There’s a story from 19th century rural Scotland that one family had to lock granny in the clothes cupboard when they all went off to earn their meagre subsistence otherwise granny just wandered off on her own and couldn’t remember how to get back home. Being a quite rural and in the mountains, Granny would likely have died of exposure if she wandered and was not found – even in summer

        But, hey, it was all to the good. Big business, estate landowners and the rich paid less taxes back then. Soceity has to prioritise.

      2. Duarte Guerreiro

        I’m from Portugal. I’ve been told stories pretty similar to what makedoanmend describes. If you were old and sick you usually had two options:

        1. Family can’t take care of you, you die. You have a condition that requires serious medical treatment your working family can’t provide, you die. “Foi um mal que lhe deu” – “They caught something bad.”
        2. A younger member of the family who wasn’t working yet would be assigned to live with you and do their best to keep you alive and clean. Life long consequences for the young ones, like permanent irregular sleep patterns from spending their formative years on edge and alert.
        3. If you went completely mad and spent your days throwing your own shit at a wall (true story), you’d be confined to a room and someone would stop by from time to time to clean and feed you after work.

        Some of the stories I know are from one to three generations ago, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find the same thing still happening now among poorer families.

    2. Sam Adams

      Elder care does destroy marriages. It’s even worse when the elder lawyers start to circle.

      1. BoyDownTheLane

        Been there, done that. Mother-in-law, with whom we lived for two decades, was chronically ill (cardiac, spinal stress fractures) and mentally ill (status post ECT x 3 with multple hospitalizations) who spent two years in the medical bed in our living room with O2 (she smoked, too). I had stress-related cardiac issues with peri-operative hemiplegic stroke and my wife had breast cancer times two. We put the old lady in hospice with attendant financial issues (essentially making her a ward of the state), and managed to sell the house which had been “under water” due to the refinancing necessary to care for her. Now we are elderly, engaged in what I call a “three-legged race” in which we take turns carrying the other along, but with outstanding health care insurance through a not-for-profit health plan that perennially ranks either #1 or #2, and outstanding medical care on which we are Reliant. Now on Medicare and Social Security. Have just enough so long as the wolves at the door get more interested in someone or something else.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Prayers for you, and for all of us who are depleted and deplored and hurting. The worst pain is knowing it’s done intentionally, bringing this about, and that all this distress could be removed, without killing us off, by kinder and more decent “policy.”

        2. ChiGal in Carolina

          it is hard doing right when so much is wrong; my heart goes out to you and your wife

          1. BoyDownTheLane

            Thank you for your thoughts, but we are safely beyond it all now. Both of us were involved in health care and saving lives professionally, and I think we regard it simply as part of life. We do all age and die. one way or another, one time or another. I do not think that we can put ourselves beyond trouble or pain; the key is to learn to cope with it. I’m a fan of Laurance Gonzaelez’ books on deep survival. And we celebrate superb medical pracittioners.

            1. Richard

              I love his books too! I was especially captured by his ideas in Everyday Survival, about “vacation state of mind” and how that connected with biological evolution. And how all this connects with entropy, and the processes that leave us smothered by waste.

          1. JTMcPhee

            How many 18 to 35s are willing now, or likely to be willing in the future, to care for parents and grandparents? In the political economy the way it is? With no traditions of comity and community to speak of? A century or more of individualization displacing any collectivization?

            Going by comments even in this web space, where I think most come to try to find pathways out of the looming darkness…

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      My brother with learning disability and I take care of my 86 year old mother. And I take care of him as well. My other two married brothers assume it’s my duty. Perhaps one day, I will get a performance review from them.

      I wonder if childcare ruins marriages.

  1. timbers

    Bullshit-sensitivity predicts prosocial behavior PLOS-One. n=1000+

    I LOVE this! You can even share it at work without being told to “keep it light and don’t talk politics.”

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      From the article:
      The most straightforward way to make people more bullshit-sensitive is arguably to teach them critical thinking.

      NC: increasing bullshit sensitivity, one reader at a time.

      1. Enquiring Mind

        John Gatto raised the critical thinking flag after seeing schools hide it. Think of critical thinking education as somewhat privatized now, where parents and family are the primary source. That is not very comforting, but recognition and acknowledgement are necessary steps to help the next generation.

  2. The Rev Kev

    “Politics in bad faith: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez campaigns in Michigan”

    “Hatchet job”

    hatchet job (plural hatchet jobs)

    Definition: (idiomatic) A journalistic or other treatment which portrays its subject in a very unfavorable manner; a work of criticism which aims to destroy a reputation.

    ‘That article about the mayor is nothing more than a hatchet job.’

    1. Roger Smith

      While the article’s author is definitely coming from a specific point of view, unless they are willingly lying or omitting counter-evidence, what Ocasio-Cortez did or said, as reported, demonstrates the author’s point. Now part of these two candidate’s reticence is politics, but if that is how they want to play it (not responding to questions that could cost them people on the opposite side of the fence), then they are already being dishonest. Do I think these people or the DSA are willfully sugarcoating the Democrats? No. But I do think they are accidentally, unless the plan is to get a foothold than wrangle the system away from both legacy parties through financial reforms, etc… I understand the utility of running within the existing system, but I am not sure it outweighs the stigma and support that affords to that flawed, corrupt system. People need to come out and appeal to voters and humanity with detailed and understandable policy initiatives, not come out and appeal to the political apparatus.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Completely agree. Cogent argument, coincidentally demonstrating bullshit sensitivity, citing several examples from AOC that qualify as such per the other link above. Here’s one:

        My fingers are tingling right now because I know that this room is not just a rally, not just an audience, or even just a community; this is movement. Movement cannot be stopped, movement is like a wave; that energy cannot be contained, and Abdul, like many others, is just the crest, is just the foam at the tip of that wave. This is a movement so much bigger than just one person, there is no one person that is the future, there is a people that is the future.

        So Kev, any evidence for your assertion of a hatchet job?

        1. The Rev Kev

          Sure. How about the sentence “So much hot air” for a start. Can you imagine the explosion if someone described a Hillary speech the same way? No, I can’t either. She got a free pass from the press but lets move on and take a look at a posed question: “Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, are you anti-war? Do you support withdrawing all US troops from the Middle East?”.
          No shades of grey but either the Middle east is saturated with US troops or there are none whatsoever. What sort of question is that? He might as well have asked: “Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, are you a meat-eater? Do you support being able to sit down and eat a whole cow?”
          Is Ocasio-Cortez perfect? Hell no. The same way that Sanders is not. But Ocasio-Cortez has demonstrated what is necessary. The ability to win against a political machine in its own backyard. If Andre Damon was looking for Hispanic Jesus then Ocasio-Cortez is not the person that he was looking for. But supporting people like that will help you set the stage for the sort of candidates that you do want.

          1. ChiGal in Carolina

            so much hot air is synonymous imho with bullshit, it qualifies.

            an appropriate answer rather than an obvious dodge–“I’m here to support HIM”–isn’t hard to imagine: “I would like to see $ diverted from the ME to pressing issues at home”

            I agree no point in letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, but rather than labeling the piece a hatchet job, I would say it helps us stay alert to the possibilities for cooptation, which are legion.

              1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                Dem problem in a nutshell:

                “If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything”

                – Malcolm X

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          I think WSWS’s article is clear and principled.

          Unfortunately for us all, “clear” and “correct” are not synonyms. Similarly, IMSHO principles are in a state of flux, working upward from the axiomatic. That’s most often a good thing, I think.

    2. makedoanmend

      I think the WSWS rejection of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is another plus for her.

      These stonewalling ideological types (‘there is only one way to do things and only one correct path leading to the truth’) days are finished. As long as Ms. Ocasio-Cortez fights the good fight for policies that provide material benefits to working people, she can count on a majority of Left leaning people to vote for her.

      Show me the beef: Red meat. Not the sideline carping and petty complaints type.

    3. semiconscious

      When a WSWS reporter asked the candidates at the post-rally press briefing in Detroit, “Do both of you support withdrawing all US troops from the Middle East and Africa?” El-Sayed gave an evasive non-answer: “We’ve got to make sure that we are focused on a foreign policy that articulates what we all can do when we come together around a more peaceful world.”

      i’d say that this’s more an example of someone basically hatchet jobbing themselves :) …

        1. Fiery Hunt

          Because any answer she gives will be blown up, distorted, and megaphoned six ways from Sunday.

          Basic politics 101: Don’t hand your enemies a sledgehammer.

      1. Wyoming

        When someone asks a question like ““Do both of you support withdrawing all US troops from the Middle East and Africa?””…

        The proper response to the above question should be something along the lines of…

        “To couch a question concerning our national security interests over a region the size of Africa and the Middle East, with all of its complexities and nuances, in the form of a yes or no answer demonstrates that you have zero understanding of what you are asking and what we are talking about. Next question please.”

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          We seem to communicate that way these days.

          “Abolish ICE.”

          And others are demanding ‘abolish prison.”

          Will ‘abolish police’ be here not soon enough for those who have been suffering too long?

          1. Arizona Slim

            Abolish police? Please.

            In just one month, I became the victim of burglary, mail theft, and identity theft. To those who say “Abolish police!” I have the following questions:

            Who should I call instead? I’m a crime victim times three. What should I do? Attempt to have dialog with the people who ripped me off?

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              I think abolishing ICE is too simplistic and too far, and the same unconvincing arguments for it can be applied to abolishing police/prions.

              1. GERMO

                I think ICE is a bureaucracy that was created 14 mere years ago as part of GWOT hysteria and we did fine without it and would do fine without it in the future. I think we should stop having to take off our shoes and standing in line with hundreds of people at airports too.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  Not from scratch though, but it took over a lot of then existing work.

                  According to the their website or the Wikipedia one, they do some important work there.

                2. Yves Smith


                  “Abolish ICE” is not a policy. It does not say what happens post ICE. It give the immigrant opponents license to implement the same or even worse under a different label.

              1. JBird

                The kind of policing you get depends on the area, the crime, your race, and also your class.

                There are police departments that run from excellent corruption free, real and true servants and protectors of everyone to the corrupt, spying, lying, murderous drug gangs stealing from everyone. In large cities that is also true of the precincts. Most are somewhere in the middle.

                So, in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, if you are some or part of the following: young, poor, black, Hispanic, or some other Other, random searches, beatings, interrogations, false arrests and charges are frequent. The police assume you probably guilty of something like carrying a gun or drugs or bad breath. Something. Any bad officers, corrupt units, incompetent management are sent to the bad areas. (rather like how national chains, government offices, charities, etc. are always crappy in poor areas but good in wealthy areas. The differences are fricking stark. Try it yourself!)

                Even if you are black, or poor, if you live in a “Good Area,” you get the better police, the many people who want to help, to server,(And there are many good cops) and the less brutal, or stupid, or incompetent, and not the gun/gan/drug/SWAT units, which always seem to become corrupt, and run by the bad apples, do roam there and bother you. And those special units and task forces seem to frequently go bad as they often attract the worst police officers.

                In the Good Areas, regardless of who you are, the police will tend to treat you as a human being, where in the Bad Areas, you are looked at like one of those people, or even an animal at least at first, regardless of who you are. No consideration is giving, no mercy, just obey, or else.

                So the fortunate get friendly, competent, professional police who will take a report of your stolen television seriously, whereas the unfortunate it is your best friend’s murder is just those animals killing each other, and oh, let’s do a check on you!

                Well served and protected versus over policed and underserved.

                So a poor person, enjoying the poor policing that never solves crime but sometimes does actual crime on you instead, wants to get rid of the police. The fortunate person does not.

                Let me also mention that modern policing, with the police having guns, broad powers, and being used to control those people, started in the 19th century to stop those reformers and those pesky unions. There were a number of mass beatings and false arrests, massacres, and assassinations, by the police from roughly the mid 1800s, to the 1970s, although it has never quite stopped. It usually only happens to “those people” so the new coverage is often nonexistent or very pro-police.

                American policing has been created, and used, as population control for 150 years with crime fighting a happy bonus. It is possible to have police that protect and serve instead of brutalize and control, but that will require extremely extensive and prolonged reform efforts. Probably decades of work.

                Immigration, Border Patrol, and ICE are the same. Only worse. Removing ICE itself and while leaving the old Immigration and Naturalization Service along with the Border Patrol would be a good first start.

            2. JTMcPhee

              Did the police do anything to prevent or remedy the bad stuff that happened to you? I bet most people who have been assaulted and burgled and identity-robbed in the US have nothing much to say about the police, as constituted. Find your stolen property and identity? Even catch the bad guys? Police who seize property, get in bed with criminals and drug lords, run Red Squads and Fusion Centers, all that stuff?

            3. Procopius

              In Thailand, every year, they conduct a poll to see who the people think are the most corrupt government agencies. The Police always top the list, but in TV soap operas it is always the high-ranking officers who are cast as villains, while the hero is always a low-ranking officer, usually a captain (the Royal Thai Police have a rank system that exactly parallels the military).

          2. djrichard

            Excellent point. I guess WSWS is simply asking for #AbolishWar or something similar.

            Of course, we’ve seen the downside of #AbolishICE. It gets conflated with #openborders (not sure if that’s an actual hashtag, but you know what I mean). So now AOC has to either climb down from that tree or has to caveat every utterance of #AbolishICE as not meaning #openborders, because the right will use this against her every opportunity. Not only against her, but against democratic socialists, because AOC for-all-intents-and-purposes is the flag bearer (along with Bernie) for democratic socialists at this point in time. In fact, now the 3rd-way will use that against AOC and the democratic socialists as well. [Bernie himself was brow-beaten into concurring with #AbolishICE, not by AOC, but by the resistance or who knows maybe even the 3rd way was behind the scenes on that. But AOC owns it.]

            So live by the hashtag, die by the hashtag it seems. And WSWS seems to want to expose AOC to the same type of risk. They’re not doing anybody any favors.

            In any case, #AbolishWar will never get adopted by the resistance. Because it can’t be used against Trump. So as far as that topic is concerned, I think it will be “safely” not part of the conversation.

        2. Roger Smith

          Which Middle Eastern troops of ours should be there? I understand your (and Rev Kev’s) point but I really don’t think it applies here. I do think the question does oversimplify in a manner that obfuscates the use of CIA [US] paid/trained local mercenaries (terrorists), providing the responder a loophole there, but I don’t think the question can’t be answered with a quick two line summary of your policy position. El-Sayed (unless I am mistaken) obviously has no reason to answer this, but Ocasio-Cortez should have a response as she, should she win (which she should), will be in a place to directly affect these federal policies/bodies.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            VERY underreported are the negotiations started in Dubai last week between the U.S. and the Taliban.

            The U.S. insisted that the Afghani Government was not included in the talks.

            So after 14 years, trillions of dollars and millions of deaths, with much hyperventilating along the way about “bringing democracy” to Afghanistan, a band of sheep herders in robes carrying flintlocks have defeated an $87,000,000.00 per hour military megalith.

            So the next time someone asks “Do you support withdrawing all US troops from the Middle East?” the correct answer is “Yes”.

            1. Procopius

              They don’t carry flintlocks, but they usually don’t have any more than a pocket full of cartridges, while our guys are normally carrying at least 80 pounds of gear, and sometimes as much as 120. Since our guys also don’t know what they are doing there, they are at a distinct disadvantage. Does anybody know what our purpose, our strategy, is? How do we know if we have succeeded?

            2. Allegorio

              The US will never leave Afghanistan. This is the base from which the US can attack Iran, China and the underbelly of Russia. Then there are the Pakistani nukes that need watching over.

              Late in the ’90’s I ran across some soldiers at a local watering hole, who were saying how glad they were to be leaving the army before the shit hit the fan in Afghanistan. Apparently they had been deployed there before 9/11, the American Reichstag fire.

    4. EricT

      It had shades of COINTEL PRO. Pretend to be part of a group, start attacking figureheads in the group accusing them of not being pure enough in an attempt to split the group ideologically. During the Democratic primaries you would see articles like these attacking Bernie.

      1. Eureka Springs

        I’m still waiting on the ‘democratic’ part of social democrats – or any party. “figureheads” who are all left to their own policy decisions rather than representing a bottoms-up democratically established policy/platform which they are bound to represent… it’s all just whack-a-mole like the other parties anyway.

        1. djrichard

          Excellent point. Live by the AOC, die by the AOC. Just like we did with Obama. Or FDR for that matter.

          Has anybody done a mockup on how this type of democracy comes together? Are there examples of that in real life in some countries? Not being disingenuous here. It’s been so long that I’ve thought of this as being a real option, it’s almost like an alien concept.

      2. Richard

        These were my thoughts as well. I’m a bit suspicious of WSWS now, which is a shame, because they (seem) to fight the good fight in other areas, such as against algorithmic Google censorship.

        1. Big River Bandido

          Jacobin and WSWS each have big problems. Jacobin has been in bed with the so-called “leaders” of the teachers’ unions — after Randi Weingarten short-circuited strikes in AZ and CO, the WSWS was the only outlet that covered that truthfully. Jacobin reprinted the party line.

          OTOH, WSWS often has an approach to electoral politics that I could only describe as incompetent. I think it’s important to read these publications, but with the same critical eye one would use to read mainstream stenography journalism.

          1. Carolinian

            WSWS is in the business of promoting world socialism. They are not a mainstream outfit and they are perfectly upfront about their point of view. There is nothing sinister about them criticizing a self described socialist who they think falls short.

            And while it may indeed be premature to jump to conclusions about AOC—fresh on the scene–some of us agree that would be reformers have to confront the party, not play ball.

            1. Big River Bandido

              Socialism and democratic socialism are not one and the same.

              I am in complete agreement with the need to confront the party.

              1. pretzelattack

                yeah, i’m nervous about the playing ball strategy; that initially excused so much of what obama did. it’s true sometimes, but often it isn’t.

              2. Lorenzo

                But again, and I think we’re all sort of agreeing here, it’s just odd how they’re playing this. Not being able to claim you’re anti-war while at the same time declaring yourself ‘against borders’ and calling for ‘Abolish ICE’ is, I’ll repeat, plain odd

            2. lyman alpha blob

              …would be reformers have to confront the party, not play ball.

              Agree completely, which is why I’m skeptical when I see AOC, within weeks of winning her NY primary, jetsetting around the country endorsing other politicians that she couldn’t possibly know personally.

              But then when I notice the neoliberal shyster Obama coming out with a list of his own endorsements that doesn’t not include AOC, I wonder if maybe she is the real deal.

              She needs to be careful if she is serious about the ‘movement’ business, because there does exist an enormous number of people who wholeheartedly support the policies she espouses. She may not be deliberately selling out, but if the neoliberals can convince her to endorse establishment-favored candidates they know to be mouthing platitudes just to get elected, that is going to reflect very poorly on her own reputation.

            3. Allegorio

              The terms democratic socialism and social democracy are often confused. Senator Sanders in not a democratic socialist, he is a social democrat. He does not propose a state takeover of the means of production, just a socially conscious distribution of that production. To be fair he does advocate class struggle but in the most benign way. He talks about the working class, but I have yet to hear him talk about a ruling class. He does refer to a billionaire class, which I suppose is a less pointed way of saying the same thing.

              1. Darthbobber

                All these terms are contested and their meanings shift over time. Lenin led The Russian Social Democratic Party (B). Luxemburg’s analysis of his and Martov’s differences was titled I believe, Two Tendencies in Russian Social Democracy.

                “Democratic Socialist” is a post-bolshevik marker laid down by socialists who rejected both one-party rule and the hypercentralist vanguard model for party organization.

                It’s true that you aren’t a classical Marxian socialist if you don’t favor social ownership of the means of production, but Marxist doctrine never did monopolize socialist thought.

          2. JBird

            …but with the same critical eye one would use to read mainstream stenography journalism.

            Both have their problems and you should be critical, but being stenographers is usually not of the problems. It is like oxygen for my brain but I have to watch out for the nitrous oxide.

          3. Richard

            Thanks BRB, good points. I’d forgotten WSWS’ s strong coverage of the strikes, which would definitely argue against any kind of infiltration.

            1. integer

              WSWS also published the definitive series of articles on the influx of candidates with intelligence and/or military backgrounds into the D party:

              The CIA Democrats: Part one WSWS

              An extraordinary number of former intelligence and military operatives from the CIA, Pentagon, National Security Council and State Department are seeking nomination as Democratic candidates for Congress in the 2018 midterm elections. The potential influx of military-intelligence personnel into the legislature has no precedent in US political history.


              The CIA takeover of the Democratic Party WSWS

              The CIA operation in 2018 is unlike its overseas activities in one major respect: it is not covert. On the contrary, the military-intelligence operatives running in the Democratic primaries boast of their careers as spies and special ops warriors. Those with combat experience invariably feature photographs of themselves in desert fatigues or other uniforms on their websites. And they are welcomed and given preferred positions, with Democratic Party officials frequently clearing the field for their candidacies.

              The working class is confronted with an extraordinary political situation. On the one hand, the Republican Trump administration has more military generals in top posts than any other previous government. On the other hand, the Democratic Party has opened its doors to a “friendly takeover” by the intelligence agencies.

              1. Richard

                Yep, I forgotten that too. Now I sound like a plant in the audience. “But, I’ve heard the ginsu knife is more expensive than the competition!”

        2. barefoot charley

          I appreciated the report because it’s like a glass-scraping off the Democratic Party aquarium, in which leftists circle up to shoot each other while donors/operatives circle the circle, slipping envelopes and referrals into some shooters’ pockets. Party politics as usual. The overt Trotskyite angle gives honest (if predictable) perspective on things actually happening.

          I too don’t hold AOC’s pragmatism, nor Bernie’s, against her. I hold it against the stinking cesspool of Democratic you-must-run-on-irrelevancies party incentivizing. The only way to advance to Democratic leadership (ideally in order to aim and fire them all) is to Blob one’s self in public. Not always, not on every issue; but if you don’t, you’re not a Serious Person and you don’t belong at the table where either you or your constituents are ‘served’.

          The only hope for the party is moving to universalize privileges, for all those whom the party used to call under-privileged. But raffling and selling privileges to identity-groups is the party’s declining-empire business plan. The party currency must not be debased. This business rightly alienates their former political base, but if enough of them can be discouraged or prevented from voting, the racketeers still rule. And AOS has to sit at their disgusting table, where she’s likelier to become one of them than to beat them. And that’s why the Democrats are the world’s oldest continuous political party, it ‘works.’

          Like AOS, the DSA is the slender reed my hopes hang on. What’s that snapping sound?

          1. Shane Mage

            The WSWS looks to me very like a bot whose programming dates from 1939. For instance, they still talk as if Russia were a Workers State (you see, it was a Degenerated-Workers’ State even after Stalin had killed all the bolsheviks, and the stalinist state apparatus was never overthrown but, like Politburo hack Yeltsin and KGB Colonel Putin, has retained power to this day. Therefore still a Workers State) and everyone but their good selves were some sort of “right-social-democratic traitor” like Norman Thomas or Fenner Brockway.

              1. Shane Mage

                A KGB Colonel is part of that institution’s history, just like any high CIA muckymuck is part of that gang’s operations. Putin is part of a sequence going from Dzerzhinsky (who Lenin, by the way, wanted expelled), through (entr’autres) Yagoda, Yezhov, Beria, Andropov…

                1. witters

                  This is called the genetic or geneological fallacy. The NC critical thinking project has a way to go.

                2. The Rev Kev

                  Hmmm. So where would George H. W. Bush fit in an equivalent US institutional history? He was once head of the CIA after all. People that bash Putin over being in the KGB once tend to overlook that little tidbit.

          2. djrichard

            But raffling and selling privileges to identity-groups is the party’s declining-empire business plan. The party currency must not be debased.

            On the nose. There’s a reason the dems love the deficit ceiling – if that problem were ever solved (say in the vein of MMT religion finally conquering the austerity religion), it would take that off the table and politics would have to flow elsewhere. To places where opportunities for the racketeers to make play things of their political base are diminished.

          3. Richard

            “The only way to advance to Democratic leadership … is to Blob one’s self in public. Not always, not on every issue; but if you don’t, you’re not a Serious Person and you don’t belong at the table where either you or your constituents are ‘served’.”
            This is spot on. The reverse of Blobbing Oneself of course is Making A Record. Reps are rarely given much room to Make A Record, because it makes everyone look bad, bad for business, must pound down those standout pegs of course. But if you Blob Yourself often enough, faithfully and with no signs of shame, you will, from time to time, be allowed to form a recognizable shape again, long enough to Make A Record.

    5. Katniss Everdeen

      So, this might be a naive question, but what’s she doing in Michigan anywayzzzzzz?

      She won a NY dem primary, admittedly against a powerful incumbent, but she’s not been elected to anything yet. Some have said that her victory came, at least in part, from exploiting a low-turnout primary process and an overconfident, out-of-touch opponent.

      It kind of seems that she’s let her media-generated rock star persona go to her head. If the quotes in this brutal article are any indication, she’s not even remotely ready for prime time, a lesson I’d have thought she’d learned after her disastrous Daily Show performance. Can she really be oblivious to the damage she’s doing to her “cause” with her lame ass, substance-free candidate obama imitation?

      With, what, 90 days until the election, I’d think she’d realize that she should stay home and learn the questions she’s going to need to be able to answer if she ever hopes to be effective. Repeatedly garbling responses to important questions does far more harm than good. For now she needs to cede the national spotlight to the kamala harrises and kirsten gillibrands who are much better at playing the game, and hone the message that will ultimately knock them off the stage. The sooner the better.

      But you’ve got to learn to walk before you can run.

      1. Scott

        Another example is when she was in Kansas, she was saying that the Kansas-Nebraska Act was a good thing because it let the people decide the issue. That act was one of the worst, most cynical laws ever passed. Pro-slavery activists pushed it and northerners like Stephen Douglas supported it because it allowed them to avoid the issue and make themselves seem like the moderate, responsible parties compared to the southern fireeaters and northern abolitionists. That was the 1850s version of Clintonism, contributing to the Civil War only a few years later.

        Back to AOC, the lack of knowledge of high school history really was a drawback and distracted me from the rest of her speech.

        1. Shane Mage

          She said that the *people* of Kansas fought, like John Brown, against the “border ruffian” slavers from Missouri. What exactly was wrong with that?

      2. Brindle

        I just choked on my muesli—:”For now she needs to cede the national spotlight to the kamala harrises and kirsten gillibrands …” AOC is doing excellent work as far as fundraising for deserving candidates around the country. Harris and Gillibrand are much better than Trump but mainly they espouse HRC policies—neoliberal identity driven narratives and outcomes.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          Always with the fundraising.

          As Bernie demonstrated so pointedly, get the message crisp and right and the funds raise themselves.

      3. Big River Bandido

        What she’s doing in Michigan is helping to build a movement, by campaigning for other candidates in other districts. Politicians do this all the time, especially when their election in the fall is a virtual certainty (as is AOC’s). A politician who helps campaign for like-thinking candidates may well have friends and support when she gets to Washington, instead of being at the mercy of Pelosi and Hoyer.

        Also, the best place to hone a political message is on the stump. She’ll get more practice and do more good helping other candidates than she would if she followed your advice to “stay home”.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          …..”virtual certainty”…… Where have I heard THAT before?

          Seems to me I also remember something about not dancing with the ones that brung ya. Oh, and too much fundraising.

          And if the stump is where the message is best honed, maybe some should stop criticizing the critics, who can fairly be characterized as helping with the honing.

          1. Big River Bandido

            I don’t know where you’ve heard it before, but I’ve lived in NY-14 for 11 years, and AOC *will* be the next MOC from that district.

            Do you have a problem with small-dollar fundraisers like those that AOC and Sanders and Tim Canova and Brent Welder and many others are running? Because those are the kind of funds we need to raise, and they’re the only ones that count.

        2. Jeff W

          (Bandido) +1

          Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez credits Justice Democrats, among other organizations, with giving her the impetus to run. What she is doing in Kansas and Michigan is promoting and endorsing other Justice Democrats (Brent Welder and James Thompson as Congressional candidates in Kansas, Abdul El-Sayed as gubernatorial candidate in Michigan), who, like her, and like all Justice Democrats, pledge to take no corporate money.

      4. makedoanmend

        Ms. Ocasio-Cortez or Mr. El-Sayed can’t win can they?

        They don’t present ready made solutions to the many international crises in the Middle East and elsewhere, and domestically they have the temerity to campaign for each other like, say, Republican party candidates do because they have common policies.

        Damned if they don’t and damned if they do.

        1. Big River Bandido

          Damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

          That’s how you know the message affects a deep concern.

  3. Livius Drusus

    Re: You’re on the verge of losing everything – but you don’t understand why.

    I think a lot of people don’t understand how easy it is to lose everything in this society. All it takes is one mistake or one stroke of bad luck and you are in serious trouble. It is easy to say “it will never happen to me, I do everything right, not like those people” but you never know what life will throw at you.

    One of the things I have noticed in recent years is the growing tendency to nitpick someone’s life to see if they did something wrong in order to give an excuse for blowing them off. Out of work? You will be grilled about what kind of degrees you have or don’t have. Sick? People will go over your diet and other personal habits in exacting detail so be prepared to catch hell for having some pizza once in a while. If you have not made the right decisions in every aspect of your life you will be dismissed as deserving to suffer.

    There is the pervasive belief that we can maximize our lives to avoid poverty, ill-health, relationship problems and even death. You see this with the current obsession over measuring all aspects of human life with apps and other devices and the persistent popularity of self-help gurus. This belief system seems to be especially popular among upper-middle class professional types.

    I very rarely encounter people today who subscribe to the attitude of “there but for the grace of God go I.” Most people seem to think that they are impervious and other people are just garbage who deserve to suffer. I find this attitude to be so common that I am increasingly finding it hard to feel empathy for other Americans which is disturbing because lack of empathy is a quality that I really dislike in other people so I feel like I am becoming what I hate.

    1. Skateman

      I see some of myself in this (both your perspective and the people you criticize). Good comment. Not sure what the solution is, though, or even if there is one.

    2. ChiGal in Carolina

      Useful corrective: the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s fear. Those 10%ers you find it hard to empathize with are scared shitless so they construct reasons why it’ll never happen to them.

      Human nature, we all do it. But some of us, like you, can reflect on it and make corrections.

        1. Richard

          Was just looking at Laurence Gonzales’ Everyday Survival a few minutes ago, and saw this:

          “Withholding affect, an essential component of the non verbal communication system, ia a terrible thing. It means that you’re denying someone else access to your emotional system, which is the same as saying you don’t care. It also means that person is out of the group. Innour origins as apes, inside-to-inside communications were essential for survival, and being out of the group often spelled death. Unless you could find another group, ostracism was fatal. Infants depend completely on an ability to read the mother’s emotional system and count on her to read their own needs. Infants who don’t receive attention and affection grow sick and may even die.”

          Okay, maybe a reach, but I really wanted to quote some Gonzales :^

      1. FluffytheObeseCat

        Perhaps more, the opposite of love is cowardice. Livius Drusus is probably recoiling from the cowardice he perceives in those who are ever-at-the-ready to dismiss their fellow citizens as losers.

    3. perpetualWAR

      I nearly lost everything during the financial crisis. So I fought like hell. Because of this fight, I lost friends and family members’ support. Apparently, they would rather believe in our crapified system than admit our government condoned fraudulent behavior by the banking system.

      In the end, I had to move out of the expensive Puget Sound, but I found an inexpensive adorable house that I am buying through seller contract, I obtained a good job and am rebuilding my social and family structure. It’s been tough, but I am proud of what I have accomplished when life through lemons at me.

        1. perpetualWAR

          Hey Slim,
          What this experience taught me is lots of empathy and the art of being humble. I never thought I would stand in a food bank line, write an appellate brief, argue in front of a Superior Court or begin over at 56. Life is all a learning journey. Apparently, now I know what I am capable of and more. It’s all good and I’ve made lemonade!!!

          1. DolleyMadison

            Way to go! I am right there with you just won a unanimous decision with court of appeals. (my 4th win – they never quit but nor do I) Also shunned for having the temerity to stand up to evil but who needs ’em I say. Better to go down fighting than to live on your knees.

            1. perpetualWAR

              My experience with the COA was very different. The presiding judge of the COA actually manufactured a document and filed it to unlawfully dismiss my appeal. When the [family blog] figured out that I caught them, they reversed the unlawful dismissal and made a horrendous opinion. Fortunately, the banksters lost their attempt to publish the awful and despicable opinion.

              I still need to write and submit a judicial complaint. Just tired…..and really was hoping to focus on the positive. But, I cannot let this unlawful judicial behavior go unacknowledged.

              1. Olga

                Wow – maybe you should write a story about it all (when all done, of course – if there is such a thing). Otherwise, congrats!

              1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                Way to go Perpet.

                When the IRS falsely came after my wife and I for $450,000 in back taxes I went to the county law library and cracked some very fat books. Then I went to a local real estate law firm and asked them for a fixed price to file a very specific motion. I still have the cover page: Mr. & Mrs PodBayDoors versus The United States of America.

                The USSA came back and said “Oh, $450K is too much? How about $4000 then.”

                This was extortion, plain and simple, they knew they would lose but thought I’d roll over. I said “No, $2000”. They settled.

                I also extracted from them a letter from the State AG stating “this matter is definitively closed. If anyone anywhere contacts you in the future please refer them to me”. Forbes magazine then wrote an article entitled “Death, Taxes, and Then Some” about us.

                The point is WE CAN FIGHT BACK AND WIN

    4. Bugs Bunny

      Complete agreement. I call this the “treat your life like it’s a business” philosophy. No room for failure, no possibility of redemption. If only there was Chapter 13 or restructuring for your private life, right?

      It’s “because markets” in its most disturbing aspect.

      Don’t get me started on health apps. My sister’s insurance company gives her a discount for wearing one of those bracelets.

      1. Massinissa

        Treat your life like an entrepreneurial business, but make sure to never mention that most entrepreneur businesses collapse within 5-7 years with only a 10% or so ever being successful…

        That’s the advice given out these days.

      2. Massinissa

        Also, people who wear those bracelets are crazy. “We give you a tiny tiny discount if you wear this thing that lets us get data in to screw you out of far more money later by blaming all your medical problems on your bad habits!”

    5. JJ139

      Apropos this story and the man who introduced the new system Ian Duncan Smith MP. A man who married into money and got a free house from father in law. A man who claimed to have gone to university in Italy but lied about that. A man who claimed to have gone to a college of management in England, but lied about that. A man who had his parliamentary credit card suspended when he racked up over £1000 in expenses. A man who claimed £39 expenses for one breakfast yet said people on benefit should be able to live on £53 a week and he could do that himself, if he had to.
      In short a man who has a low wattage brain and a very nasty attitude to people less fortunate than himself.

      1. Monty

        In short a man who has a low wattage brain and a very nasty attitude to people less fortunate than himself.

        There’s a lot of them about. (women too)

    6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      On only the topic of diet (only, I stress), everyone is unique and the situation can swing from one extreme to another.

      On the hand, it can be oppressive when you are forced to do things in the name of health.

      “Do you have pizza once in a while?”

      That’s one example.

      “You must not smoke in this room.”

      That”s another one, but a good one. And not allowing pizza is a bad one…because it’s scientifically so.

      On the other hand, people like to sit and watch TV or stare at a computer screen, or play video games whenever they have free time, while eating unhealthy processed foods.

      That’s because the society gives us no meaningful ways of being more engaging in our lives.

    7. RUKidding

      Many people (but not all) have the opportunity to live as optimally as possible – for example, by eating healthy foods (given that you have enough money and the ability to buy quality food), by getting exercise, by getting good sleep, by having a good social network that’s sustaining and so forth, by having a job.

      But whether you lead your life optimally or not, I contend that luck still plays a larger role than most want to admit. I am one of those “there but for the grace of god go I” types.

      I cringe when people blithely adjure that “we make our own luck.” Yeah yeah.. to a certain degree that’s true, but it ignores a whole huge honking plethora of issues, conditions, constraints and the like.

      It’s so easy to be dismissive of those who are not doing well, when you’re doing well. As the old song goes “nobody loves you when you’re down and out.”

      The great propaganda wurlitzer has demonized poverty and those who encounter misfortunes not of their own making very very well. Makes it easier to just write off these people as slackers who are unworthy of any help. Unfortunately.

      1. Lord Koos

        Being thankful for your life and for what you have, no matter how little it seems, is probably the best form of prayer (and I’m agnostic).

    8. Jean

      But, thousands of recently arrived immigrants are getting council benefits and money…

      Highly recommend a Netflix feature under British TV shows; “Don’t Pay, We’ll Take It Away”.

      It’s about high court bailiffs that do immediate evictions of people and seize their goods to satisfy court writs, old parking tickets, judgements etc. Great look into people’s homes, situations and a highly effective insight into what’s happening in English cities and the country.

      1. Jean

        This comment got separated from the
        “You’re on the verge of losing everything – but you don’t understand why “

        Should have included that at the top for clarity.

    9. BobW

      The company I worked at about 10 yrs ago was bought out. The new owners had us all take a no-notice drug test, and I had THC in my system. So, in my 50s, all the local companies in my field (electronic repair) knew. In a couple of years I was in a tent and eating at the homeless day center and various churches. Eventually got a good job I was able to work at until age 66. The job came from one of the company founders who sought out the homeless community.
      I didn’t blame anyone else for my situation, especially since when I was younger I left two jobs for no reason, either of which could have been careers with good retirement plans. In the 70s things were not so precarious, and I was not very careful.

  4. Sam Adams

    Only if the student loan issues are tackled.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      Medical education needs to be reformed so it’s cost is not primary borne by the student, in exchange for an agreement to practice for some number of years in an underserved area.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        From the end of the 3M investigation link above:

        Philippe Grandjean, who has been a physician and environmental health researcher for more than 40 years, has also been affected by the realization of just how long he and others were kept in the dark about the harms of the chemicals. “I lost my confidence in the scientific literature,” said Grandjean. As he sees it, his whole profession has been stained by the experience. “We in my field have failed.”

        Is it just one person’s opinion relating to this particular 3M product?

        Is it reflective of the field?

        Science, with its findings propagating via scientific literature, seems to be not too different from superstition and religion, if fighters like Grandjean has lost confidence in it.

        They have failed, he said.

        1. pretzelattack

          i think it differs from one field to another; medicine seems particularly vulnerable to corrupt/suspect research.

  5. emorej a hong kong

    Health Care Lobbyists Secretly Secure Democrats’ Opposition to “Medicare for All,” Internal Documents Show

    This should help heroic young Progressive Kaniela Ing in HI-01, but I was disappointed not to see some of Bernie’s #Medicare4all Senate bill’s original co-sponsors. Perhaps at their level, everybody involved knows the importance of sticking to winks and nudges.

    Especially the “Presidential contenders”:

    Kamala Harris of California (by far the most logical Anbody-But-Bernie front-person, as a Woman of Color former prosecutor — mysteriously a non-prosecutor of bankers’ fraud)

    Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts (whom insiders delude themselves into thinking could peel off many of Bernie’s anti-Wall Street supporters)

    Kirsten Gillibrand of New York (who doesn’t seem to realize that Harris can out #MeToo her)

    Cory Booker of New Jersey, who –still– doesn’t seem to realize that:
    1. calling Obama’s demonizing of Romney’s private equity profile “disgusting” was strike 1,
    2. voting against pharma imports from Canada was strike 2, and
    3. a candidate for “quick second Ivy league AA smoothie President” only gets two strikes.

    1. Carla

      My favorite story re: Medicare for All and the most liberal of liberal Democrats: Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown. I had occasion to meet Brown in 2006 when he was a Congressman running for the Senate. As a passionate single-payer advocate & activist, I chatted him up about it the urgent need for Medicare for All. His wife, the columnist Connie Schultz, was standing right next to him, and when I moved on to speak with her, she greeted me thus: “You people never give up, do you?” It took me just a beat to respond: “No. We never, ever do.” That was the end of that conversation!

        1. barefoot charley

          When I was community organizing, I cherished the magic moment when, in his unfriendly office a CEO glared at my proposal, pointed at me and said, “You–do you mind if I call you ‘you people’?”

          I was thrilled. Real discussion began, and soon we agreed. (He had a point about us people.)

    2. oh

      Although not a directly related to your comment, I wanted to say that I’m very skeptical about how M4A would work even if passed, given that lobbyists have (in a corrupt way) removed all cost saving measures from Medicare. I’m reading the book “An American Sickness” by Dr. Rosenthal. This book was recommended by one of the NC commenters (thanks!) and documents with experiences of patients how the Medical-Industrial-Insurance Complex has looted Medicare for obscene profits. While I have heard a lot of these DimRats complain about the provision in the revised Medicare law that prohibits the government from negotiating drug prices, exactly ZILCH has been done about it by these shyster Congressmen! Looks like we’ll have have wholesale housecleaning of Congress and a total overhaul of Medicare.

      1. Carla

        I fully agree and concur with your concerns, oh, and since I am now on Medicare myself I am quite aware of how much it has been, and continues to be, crapified. Part of the job of M4A will have to be to un-crapify it.

        We have SO much to do. I only hope to live long enough to see some of it done.

  6. DJG

    Forward’s article on anti-BDS organizations and their tactics of intimidation is remarkable, considering that I don’t follow the Forward enough to have expected an article like this to appear there.

    The Russia Russia Russia panic is a convenient cover for outright interference by the Saudis and the Israelis. The Saudis currently have to answer for Yemen, and we just read here yesterday that they wanted to invade Qatar. Who encourages such behavior? The corruption of the U S of A by a bunch of demented monarchists may have some unintended effects.

    And then there are the tactics described by the Forward–with money cycling back and forth between the U S of A and Israel. Blacklists, on-line threats, and physical threats: Russia Russia Russia hasn’t included any of these.

    And where is the Intelligence Community in all of this? Can’t Big Jim Comey detail some “independent” investigators to follow the money and the intimidators?

    And Iran? Our current foreign policy establishment is so stultified that we are taking advice from the Saudis and Israelis, who seem to believe that baksheesh, religious fanaticism, and intimidation rule the world?

  7. windsock

    “You’re on the verge of losing everything – but you don’t understand why “… this is a brilliant piece for UK readers. Universal Credit is being rolled out nationally – it hits my area on 5 December this year – and from next year, recipients of sickness-related social security will begin to be “migrated” to it.

    Watch out for the mother off all Tory social policy multi vehicle pile-ups. Just in time for Brexit too.

    1. Massinissa

      As an American… I never thought I would see the UK pushed into the third world in my lifetime… But it looks like it might happen.

      And Im only 26, so I have decades to see it slip, but I probably won’t need to wait that long…

  8. tokyodamage

    “A New Wave Of Hardline Anti-BDS Tactics Are Targeting Students, And No One Knows Who’s Behind It”

    That IS a stumper, but I’m guessing it’s Peru?

  9. Carolinian

    Re the New Generation of Med Students article

    During the administration of President Harry Truman, the American Medical Association famously beat back a once-popular proposal for national health insurance by launching what was then the biggest lobbying campaign in American history. The AMA smeared the public plan as “socialized medicine,” and the organization’s successful campaign against Truman helped entrench the private, employer-based system that we’re still stuck with today. Just over a decade later, the AMA allied with industry representatives to try to defeat Medicare and Medicaid—only to pivot, enthusiastically, once it became clear just how conciliatory legislators intended to be in carving out lucrative roles for the private sector. While the AMA (and physicians more broadly) have been more supportive of reforms in the decades since, their endorsements have largely come with caveats to protect their autonomy and, above all, their salaries. This year, SNaHP led an effort within the AMA’s student wing to encourage the group to endorse Medicare for All.

    One quibble: the AMA’s role in our current healthcare mess is not nearly as famous as it ought to be given the frequent attitude that everything is the fault of the insurers or the private hospital operators who are taking over the system. By joining their lot with capitalism the doctors made the money takeover of medicine inevitable. Bravo to those medical students but one wonders whether their elders will be amenable. For medicine, as perhaps for our politics, reform may have to be “one funeral at a time.”

    1. Olga

      In a state senator’s office, I was literally yelled at by a doctor’s wife, who called in to complain about B Clinton’s health care proposal in early 1990s – cannot have that, my husband’s $300K salary must be protected!

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      One quibble: the AMA’s role in our current healthcare mess is not nearly as famous as it ought to be…..

      Way too true.

      The ama is the sole authority on the supply and credentialing of all medical “professionals,” setting limits on everything from how many doctors and ancillary personnel can practice in the country and what responsibilities they may “legally” assume to “standards” of “care,” a concept responsible for so much of the redundant, unnecessary and sometimes ineffective or even harmful procedures that drive up costs and drive down outcomes.

      It’s the economics of supply and demand run completely and abjectly amok.

      Not to mention that the absurdity of insurance procedure coding is their insane handiwork as well.

    3. Arizona Slim

      During a mid-1990s lecture at the University of Arizona’s Gallagher Theater, I heard Andrew Weil (yes, that Andrew Weil) say this about the AMA:

      “It’s a very ineffective organization. Whatever it opposes comes to pass.”

      BTW, Andrew Weil has been a UA faculty member for, oh, about 25 years.

    4. JTMcPhee

      Of course the AMA does not begin to represent “all doctors.” “Large groups, like AMA and AARP, dominate politics, but as this article notes, memberships in such organizations are steadily in decline: “American Medical Association membership woes continue,” The article states that at least in 2011, only 15% of practicing physicians were AMA members. AMA puffs up its numbers to closer to a third, including med students who get discounts. As stated in this article, some 3/4 of practicing physicians state that the AMA “does not represent their views,” back in 2011 again, but look at the list of “views” that those docs are unhappy about:

      Seventy-seven percent of physicians “say the American Medical Association does not represent their views, according to a new volunteer-based online survey by the physician staffing firm Jackson & Coker. Just 11 percent said AMA’s stance and actions reflects their beliefs.” The doctors also rated AMA as ineffective in lobbying for their priorities, including tort reform (72 percent called AMA ineffective), physician practice autonomy (69 percent), physician reimbursement (68 percent), protections from insurance company abuses (75 percent), and “intrusive government regulations” (78 percent).

      I guess I have been lucky, working with doctors who still accept Medicaid patients and do a lot of pro bono good. Hard to know, with a small window, what the real nature of the beast is. I have to say most of the medical professionals I have encountered seem to be pretty far over in the progressive end of the spectrum, including wistful hopes for a national health care that actually works, not hamstrungby privatizers and captured regulators.

  10. tegnost

    …yeah just don’t ask them for any money…but they’d be glad to write an app they can sell to all the other cities in order to get some of that free gov money dontchaknow. A not fix that’s a profit center, what’s not to like? Hey let’s use expedia to book airbnbs on gov’t supplied iphones, on which they could also Zillow because they probably don’t know it being deplorable and all but they should have a house because it makes a small percentage of the tech workforce in seattle uncomfortable to see all those people who with our touted 3.9% unemployment rate must be working in order to afford the tent which maybe they can sell on Zillow after they buy their own house…

    1. perpetualWAR

      Durkan, the Seattle mayor, was formerly the Western District US Attorney during the time of the financial crisis. She was handed Senator Carl Levin’s 800-page investigation on the banks, exposing WaMu’s extensive crimes. Durkan should have prosecuted, but she gave the CEO and the CFO a clean bill of health.

      That is who the Seattle mayor is. I am so glad I moved away from a populace who cannot see the hypocrisy of their new “progressive” AND LESBIAN (as if her sexuality proves her progressiveness?) Mayor. Gag.

      1. HotFlash

        Umm-hmm. We in Ontario are about to be hosed by the odious Doug Ford, whose Conservative party won in a landslide after the horrendous mismanagement and malfeasance of Liberal Kathleen Wynne. While Premier, Ms Wynne (obviously female and openly gay) oversaw, for instance, the partial sale of Ontario Hydro, our publicly-owned electric company, to private interests. And you know, it *wasn’t hers to sell*. I am trying to find out what companies she now has directorships in. File under banana republic.

    2. Richard

      This: “The mayor and City Council passed an annual tax of $275 per employee in May for Seattle’s highest grossing businesses. But they repealed the measure less than a month later under pressure from a referendum campaign bankrolled by businesses and supported by voters lacking trust in City Hall to spend the money effectively.”
      Poor old Seattle Times. Of course they mean, “supported by astroturf paid protesters”, because that’s what actually happened. They just forgot to say so. Oops.

  11. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: By Tripling Its Stock Buybacks, Apple Robs Workers And The Economy Forbes

    “Lowe’s, CVS, and Home Depot could have provided each of their workers a raise of $18,000 a year,” Annie Lowrey writes, covering the report for The Atlantic. “Starbucks could have given each of its employees $7,000 a year, and McDonald’s could have given $4,000 to each of its nearly 2 million employees.”

    Companies direct 10 times as much money to buybacks as to workers, according to another analysis Lowrey cites in her story for The Atlantic.

    A simple, easily digestible talking point that AOC could and should sink her stunningly beautiful teeth into.

    Just sayin’, the ammunition is out there for those who care to simply write it down and read it out loud. And yet…….

      1. JTMcPhee

        I think the editors and writers at Forbes, maybe like some of the people at Murderdoch’s FOX and maybe even Murderdoch’s security consultants, are starting to hear drumbeats and footsteps:

        That the policy makers fear their campaign donors might not be anything new, but Monday’s vote is a bit revealing. The Buffet rule [remember that?] is probably dead, unless Obama is re-elected and the Democrats increase their numbers in the Senate. A Gallup poll last week said a solid 60% of Americans approved of the tax on millionaires, but that doesn’t matter because that 60% is probably not made up of political donors and don’t have personal private wealth managers. What is more telling than the rejected Buffet rule, however, is a report this month by luxury real estate firm Knight Frank and Citi Private Bank that confirms that what the rich fear most…is you.

        That’s right, political unrest, growing social inequality and a fear that governments will finally bend to the wishes of the 99ers is the top concern of the rich.

        Wall Street is well aware of this fact.

        And here’s how the 9.9% looks at opportunities to profit off those fears:

        Rotten, all the way down.

    1. RUKidding

      The stock market is doing so well because workers’ wages have stagnated or gone backwards.

      A bit simplistic, but pretty much the truth, which is why it’s so disingenuous and puke-making when everyone celebrates how “great” the economy is doing. Yeah, it’s “great” if you’re a major shareholder. Not so great if you’re a lowly wage earner.

  12. Olga

    Four great links from the Black Agenda Report (and no, we don’t expect apologies for “slim” link pickings):

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      second that no need for apologies for original posts–there is always way more here than anyone who doesn’t spend all day at their computer can possibly digest. I am days–no, weeks–behind on reading all the yummy stuff NC serves up

    1. Carey

      AEI (!) and CAP joining up? Yep, “Centrist” totalitarianism sure looks like it’s arrived.

      Clarifying, as one of our hosts would say.

  13. Bugs Bunny

    The hyperbole and misuse of the word “agent” in the MSM Maria Butina articles is way over the top. She’s being charged with not registering as a foreign lobbyist, not being a “spy for Putin”. The CNN article is hilarious. For example:

    “Everything is not necessarily a planned and highly disciplined intelligence operation,” said Steven Hall, a retired CIA chief of Russia operations and a CNN national security analyst. “Sometimes there’s these more freelance types of things that also go on.”

    “Before moving to the US for school, she was featured in a 2014 Russian GQ spread, wielding two handguns and sporting Dolce & Gabbana briefs, a leather trench and stilettos.”

    Good for a laugh. Or a cry.

  14. Quite Likely

    “Fake Facebook groups leave real activists feeling frustrated The Hill. I have always believed that no serious activist should ever use Facebook. Start with not controlling your own data.”

    That’s where you’re wrong. For all its faults Facebook is just soooo useful as a way to get people to events. Ultimately to reach people you have to go where the people are, and a lot of them are on Facebook.

    1. Massinissa

      If your activism relies on a single platform to work, your activism can get screwed over by that platform at any time.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In a few original Star Trek episodes, the Prime Directive was invoked to not interfere with previously unknown beings.

      ‘Let them discover on their own’ was the assumption.

      Do we let our children discover what is right and what is wrong on their own? Should we?

      “No, farm work is not good. It’s hard wokr and you don’t make good money. Better get an MBA or a law degree.”

      “Don’t smoke (tobacco, or, gasp, weed).”

      “Don’t eat pizza.”

      “Don’t drink and drive. I’m not going Prime Directive here. You have only one chance in life.”

      1. Massinissa

        I don’t mean to be rude MLTPB, but this seems like a major apples and oranges comparison. Comparing non interference in alien civilizations to not teaching human children seems alot like comparing federal budgets to household budgets.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Thanks for the critique. Not rude at all. I try to think things through, though, I can’t be sure I always do it thoroughly or correctly.

          The point or the question for me is, do we allow people to make mistakes and trust they can do it as well, if not better than we have done…people of any place, or any age.

          The additional point with children is that

          1. do they need guidance, and at what age, for what subject matter?

          2. teaching children – by whom? The parents? Do they pass on one generation’s wisdoms and biases as well? A conservative parent teaches a certain way, just as a progressive or liberal parent. Is there room for the kid to search and make mistakes on his or her? The same with teachers teaching kids, including college kids.

      2. Charlie

        That’s a humourous statement to me because if one watched enough of those episodes the Prime Directive was broken most of the time. :)

        We can dream though, can we not?

        1. Richard

          It was the Try And See If You Can Do It Directive
          also, the Noble But Not Very Good Story Telling Directive

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The Bizarre Facebook Path to Corporate Fascism Black Agenda Report

    Speaking of fascism, someone commented yesterday, regarding the National Debt, that it is nothing more than some people’s savings.

    Remembering the news that most Americans have less than $400 to meet an emergency, and with the US population roughly 300 million, that works out to be ($400 x 300,000,000) or 120,000,000,000 or $120 billions.

    The National Debt is what? $15 trillion? $21 trillion?

    National Debt = people’s savings?


    National Debt = rich people’s and rich corporations’ savings?

    Where have all that money gone?

    It’s easy to say national debt is roughly private sector’s savings (minus foreigners’).

    That doesn’t tell the story…not much as all (not even 1/15, as $120 billion is not even $1 trillion)…more like 1/150…less than one percent of the money goes to you and me.

    The rest goes to rich people and corporations.

    National Debt = Corporations’ savings would be fascism, wouldn’t it?

    1. JEHR

      So, does the president know that reducing the U.S. (trade) deficit also reduces the savings of corporations?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Rich corporations have more savings than they know what to do with it, except to buy back more shares.

        Might as well reduce their savings…so they can’t rob workers and America (see link above).

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Tokyo Medical University discriminated against female applicants by lowering entrance exam scores: sources Japan Times


    It used to be that, during the Edo period, only men could play female Kabuki roles.

    Hopefully, it’s not so anymore.

  17. Jean

    One advantage the Chinese have when it comes to deliberately marketed bad vaccines;
    they can and sometimes put the executives in front of a firing squad.

    We need to do the same thing here to certain bankers and chemical company executives.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That’s why in China, one needs to have ‘guanxi.’

      Then, it’d be like living in America.

  18. RMO

    Oh jeez, the Bermuda Triangle story… ships and aircraft don’t disappear at a greater rate in that area than anywhere else really. Gotta love it when the “explanation” they postulate is rogue waves (not that they aren’t dangerous as anyone with sailing experience well knows) and then use as an example of a mysterious disappearance an airplane!

  19. djrichard

    $50 a month for 1Mbps: How AT&T and Verizon rip off DSL customers Ars Technica

    It’s been awhile since I’ve looked, but profit margins in general are about 90% on internet service. And that includes DSL services, since the last time I looked most internet services were DSL (and cable) based.

    The reason I bring that up is that there’s an opportunity here: nationalization of internet service providers has parallels to nationalization of health insurance providers (i.e. in achieving medicare-for-all).

    – both are middlemen between the consumer and what the consumer really wants
    – the only value-add of both is to add their tolls on top
    – or in the case of ISPs, to get creative, e.g. monetizing the consumers by selling their private data, or throttling web sites to get them to cough up some money. You know, real “value add”, lol. Does the health insurance industry have similar bad-faith “value add”? I bet they do.
    – in both cases, the middleman is making healthy profit margin on their tolls and value add. ISPs even more so
    – The argument on the opposite side is that having this privatized makes for good neighbors. So I’m not subsidizing my neighbors internet access as it were.
    – but what if my neighbor is not getting healthcare? Or what if they’re paying out the nose?
    – And even in the case of ISPs, if nationalized service can deliver a higher quality of service at a free or nominal-to-the-consumer price, why look that gift horse in the mouth? Because of the deficit? Well we know how to argue the deficit scare mongering.
    – “But my taxes will go up?” We know how to argue that as well. A la taxes don’t pay for things.

  20. ewmayer

    “Cat and hen form unlikely bond in face of Redding wildfire | Los Angeles Times”

    Well, they’ve filled half the orchestra seats for a CA version of the quartet described in the famous German folk tale Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten.

  21. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    Enter the mind of a billionaire.

    I’m still reeling from yesterday’s article where Emperor Bezos declares he is doing no charitable giving whatsoever because global philanthropy cannot possibly absorb all of his illicit gains. Instead he intends to blast his fortune off into space:

    And this article gives some more insight into the minds of billionaires. TL;DR: they do not care one teeny tiny bit about anyone else but themselves and will not willingly give one thin dime to make the world better

    OK so that’s how they want to play it? Then the answer (unfortunately) is the traditional one, played and replayed down throughout history: a lamppost and a rope.

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