Links 9/13/18

Poo-eating dung beetles worth a billion dollars a year to our economy, says researcher ABC Australia

US regulators reportedly rejected Wells Fargo’s plan to repay customers forced into unnecessary auto insurance products Business Insider

A Proposed Alternative to Corporate Governance and the Theory of Shareholder Primacy Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation. On Warren’s Accountable Capitalism Act.

‘We’ve waited a long time for this:’ Iowa Supreme Court to decide fate of Dakota Access pipeline Des Moines Register

From music to news, EU moves to protect online copyright “Among other things, the report calls for automatic filters of uploaded content that would identify copyrighted material.” What could go wrong?

Florence a Cat 3, But Wind Field Expands; Olivia Hits Hawaii Weather Underground

U.S. nuclear power plants prepare for Hurricane Florence Reuters

How FEMA uses Waffle Houses in disasters KHOU


On the Brink with Russia in Syria Again, 5 Years Later Ray McGovern, Consortium News

Are Warnings About Chemical Warfare in Syria Another ‘Weapon of Mass Distraction’? (interview) Larry Wilkerson, TRNN

Not just Salazar: 12 women cite pattern of improper behavior by PM’s aide Keyes Times of Israel. (Salazar is a candidate for the New York State Senate.)


China warns of ‘serious hazard’ of protectionism at WEF meeting France24

China hasn’t changed belt and road’s ‘predatory overseas investment model’, US official says South China Morning Post

A deadly pig disease raging in China is bound to spread to other Asian countries, experts warn Science

China can’t always get what it wants in Thailand Asia Times

A would-be city in the Malaysian jungle is caught in a growing rift between China and its neighbors WaPo (Furzy Mouse)

Fury and Loathing in Fengtai: How One Incident Sparked Chaos in Beijing Neighborhood What’s on Wiebo

China Can’t Afford a Cashless Society Foreign Policy


UIDAI’s Aadhaar Software Hacked, ID Database Compromised, Experts Confirm and UIDAI Fails to Address Security Concerns After Software Hack Exposé HuffPo (DK).

For India’s poorest, an ID card can be the difference between life and death Reuters

Mumbai: Scientists call bluff at Vedic plane theory talk Mumbai Mirror. Then again, we’ve got macro.

African cities surge to top of global growth league FT

Venezuela’s Is Doing Something It Hasn’t Done Since The 90s

New Cold War

The Northern Sea Route and its Impact on World Trade Valdai Club

Gallup chief: Americans have ‘dismissed’ idea that Trump acted illegally with Russia The Hill

Trump Transition

Bob Woodward book: Gary Cohn was ‘astounded at Trump’s lack of basic understanding’ about the federal debt Business Insider (UserFriendly). Trump: “Just run the presses — print money.”

Dupe Throat n+1. “Fear is to Woodward’s previous oeuvre of political pornography what Fifty Shades of Grey is to Twilight: vampiric fan-fiction repackaged as middlebrow smut.”

How Anti-Trump Leakers Moved From Offense to Defense RealClearInvestigations

Why the anonymous op-ed sets a dangerous precedent The Conversation

LEAKED VIDEO: Google Leadership’s Dismayed Reaction to Trump Election Breitbart. Normally, I wouldn’t link to a Breitbart video, but Google doesn’t contest the authenticity.

George W. Bush to fundraise for GOP candidates Politico. And after liberal Democrats went to such trouble to rehabilitate him…

Puerto Rico

One of the Biggest Fund Owners of Puerto Rico Bonds Slashes Its Holdings Bloomberg

Puerto Rican ‘Anarchistic Organizers’ Took Power Into Their Own Hands After Hurricane Maria Newsweek

Our Famously Free Press

Aaron Maté is a Beast! Ghion Journal

Health Care

What we don’t know about Bernie’s favorite healthcare idea Politico. Response by PNHP (thread).

Fundraisers for Sick Restaurant Employees Represent the Failure of American Health Care Eater

The Secret Drug Pricing System Middlemen Use to Rake in Millions Bloomberg

The Crash Ten Years After

Ben Bernanke pins blame for Great Recession on bank panic FT

The Policymakers Saved the Financial System. And America Never Forgave Them Neil Irwin, NYT

Part Four: Haves more Reuters Breaking Views

Class Warfare

Does ‘right to work’ imperil the right to health? The effect of labour unions on workplace fatalities. NBER. From June, still germane. “In total, [right to work (RTW)] laws have led to a 14.2% increase in occupational mortality through decreased unionisation.”

Do Higher Wages For Restaurant Workers Kill Jobs? A New Study Says No. WAMU

Young blood could be the secret to long-lasting health: study New York Post (original).

Economists Should Stop Defending Milton Friedman’s Pseudo-science Evonomics

Watery Heatwave Cooks the Gulf of Maine Earth Observatory

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. Jessica

    “Watery Heatwave Cooks the Gulf of Maine”
    If I understand this correctly, all that extra heat in the Gulf of Maine is heat that is no longer reaching Europe.
    More precisely, the extra heat above and beyond what the rise in the global average accounts for would have gone to Europe, but melt water from Greenland is blocking it.

    1. The Rev Kev

      This. Is. Not. Good. That is the “Atlantic Heat Conveyor” that is being talked about. If this is just the beginning of a more serious trend, then it could be the beginning of a second Younger Dryas event and western Europe could end up with the same weather pattern as Siberia-

      1. Wukchumni

        And on the other side, left coast, right bottom pocket…

        SD water temps were at all-time record high @ 81.3, a month ago, ever since they started keeping records in 1916~

        It beat the old record by 3 degrees.

            1. Michelle Bunkse

              We were based in Del Mar but I take the boys to blacks beach (near scripps pier) to hike and surf. I only went in a couple of times with 3 mm wetsuit. I’m from SD, we go multiple times per year. Never have experienced 80 degree water there. That is equivalent to the Caribbean.

        1. scarno

          I live by the beach in Orange County and am in the water several times a week. The high temps definitely add to the fun. The water on our south facing beaches has also been remarkably clear, even when waves are up. My kids absolutely love this combo. We were on Catalina right before labor day and it was the same story. Warmer and clearer water than any of us can remember. Surf fishing is easier when you can wade out and see where the perch and corbina are eating. Tuesday I was able to float and watch a sea lion chase perch along the sandy bottom under the beach break in 5 feet of water. Normally visibility would be about six inches. There are several bird species that I think I have never seen here before.

          I know these changes herald bad things, but for the moment we have our silver linings.

          1. Wukchumni

            If we get an exceptionally large solar storm, this is what might come of the sky:

            “Those who happened to be out late on Thursday night had an opportunity of witnessing another magnificent display of the auroral lights. The phenomenon was very similar to the display on Sunday night, though at times the light was, if possible, more brilliant, and the prismatic hues more varied and gorgeous. The light appeared to cover the whole firmament, apparently like a luminous cloud, through which the stars of the larger magnitude indistinctly shone. The light was greater than that of the moon at its full, but had an indescribable softness and delicacy that seemed to envelop everything upon which it rested. Between 12 and 1 o’clock, when the display was at its full brilliancy, the quiet streets of the city resting under this strange light, presented a beautiful as well as singular appearance.”

            September 3, 1859

            Baltimore American & Commercial Advertiser

      2. Swamp Yankee

        It certainly isn’t good — it’s been downright freaky and frightening down here at the southern end of the Gulf of Maine. Southern species never before encountered in local waters. The heat these past few summers has been like nothing ever experienced here. Coastal Massachusetts is not supposed to get heat indexes north of 110F./43C. The growing season is all screwed up. This was, I believe, our hottest August ever, preceded by one of, if not the, coldest January ever, and a series of Nor’easters in March that dumped feet of snow and kept the lights off for ten days or more.

        It’s really on, now. Them that have eyes, let them see.

        1. Wukchumni

          It doesn’t take much to mess up growing seasons, and we can only expect these variances to grow ever larger in what is tantamount to a front wheel wobble on a Vincent Black Shadow @ 60 mph.

        2. polecat

          And people are still jabbering on about ‘Stopping’ climate changes..

          Sorry to say, Gaia’s got a big, gnarly, chaotic club .. and she’ll use it !
          Prepare accordingly.

        3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          In California, we expect we still have time, until 2045, to go 100% clean energy (probably fines will be imposed for dirty solar panels – they are not…clean).

    2. Don Cafferty

      Jessica, your conclusion may be the same but the explanation is different. It is not “blocking” by the melt water. The water is becoming “fresher” from rainfall and melted ice. The “fresher” water is lighter and being lighter it reduces the sinking effect in the current of the conveyor belt thereby causing a weakening in its flow. (The circulatory system is far down in the ocean. Warmer and fresher water raises it higher where its flow is more impeded.) I am no expert and there is likely a better explanation which may be more technical. Where I live on the east coast of Canada, the weakening in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) will add to existing predictions an additional 3 feet (roughly 1 metre) in sea level rise. Traditionally, the east coast of Canada has relied on cold water to weaken the movement of hurricanes that are headed toward us. With warmer water, we will likely face more severity in storms that approach us from the ocean. This is a recently studied threat that public authority have not heard or seemingly ignore. When public authority have studied coastal impact of climate change in my area, my belief is that older more modest measures of sea level rise have been used. In this past tear, I heard an environmental government employee tell a public gathering of seaside property owners that his estimate of sea level rise was the most recent and my first instinct was that he was absolutely wrong and that he was using one of the earlier measures. No accounting for AMOC was included in his estimate. I think that as things unfold, we are all in for a big surprise.

      1. Richard Kline

        Seawater rise levels are all baseline estimates anyway. There will all but certainly be overshoots about that baseline level; that is the history of major changes attending the Last Glacial Maximum, both going in, during, and after. While in principle the swings are on century length time frames, changes can occur in generational, even decadal ones. Anybody who thinks, “I’m three meters clear” will likely have their children find the they are two meters under, even a century on that may not be true again. Direct coastal impacts need to be thought of in ten- and twenty-mile zones at least.

        Nobody really cares. “It hasn’t happened yet, so what’s the problem?”

  2. Livius Drusus

    Re: Why the anonymous op-ed sets a dangerous precedent.

    I think it would have been much more impactful for the anonymous writer to publicly quit his or her job and then give the reasons in an op-ed. The anonymous op-ed comes across as very byzantine. A public resignation would have given them more respect because it would be braver than palace intrigue which is what so much of the resistance within the Trump administration looks like.

    I guess you could say that they are more useful throwing a monkey wrench into the Trump administration from the inside but Anonymous admitted to approving a good deal of Trump’s more mainstream conservative agenda so is that even much of a victory if you are on the left? This really looks more like Republican infighting than anything else.

    1. jsn

      Blob infighting, its the bipartisan death cult that wants war with Russia and cuts to Social Security and spans the Republicrat Demoblican uni-party. Lambert had this in Links yesterday which I think captures the spirit perfectly!

    2. RUKidding

      I found the Anonymous Editorial very disturbing, if it’s true, which seems likely. I dislike Trump as President, but I am not in favor of some random, unelected individual taking it upon themselves to do end runs around any POTUS. It’s one thing if the POTUS has delegated certain work to a senior official and empowered them to make certain decisions. Fine. This, however, does not appear to be the case here, at least insofar as this person has written it.

      They say that they remove papers from Trump’s desk and countermand his orders behind his back. Maybe these good decisions?? And maybe not.

      Their phony “reassurance” to us hapless proles – none of whom voted for this person – that they’ve “got this covered” in no way reassures me. I didn’t vote for him/her, nor did anyone else. We don’t even know who they are, much less what their qualifications might be. They’re undermining their boss, which essentially means they’re undermining the governing of the country.

      And then what they proclaim to be all the “good things” that are happening include stuff that I happen to be quite opposed to, such as caging children and giving billionaires a tax cut while my taxes are raised.

      I’m supposed to feel “heartened” that this guy/gal is doing such a good job or something?

      No, this person, should they be discovered, should be fired immediately. At the least, this is insubordination, and it is doing nothing of value for our country. If you don’t like your boss, then QUIT. Make statement, for sure, if you feel it’s merited. But GTFO, you lousy coward.

      No I disagree with this person and their methods completely. And speaking as a true leftie, no I’m not at all happy about this. No thanks. Wrong. Very very wrong.

  3. Wukchumni

    Aaron Maté is a Beast! Ghion Journal

    The interviewee goes from how’s it going, buddy?

    …to get me outta here

    Cleverly hoisted on his own petard, but without a hint of satisfaction by Aaron-who remains stoic, as Risen realizes he’s right and starts to squirm…

    1. zagonostra

      I appreciated this sentence from the article:

      “He left DN in 2016 to join the Real News Network, just as Goodman was starting to embrace some fairly destructive establishment viewpoints (where previously she’d played footsy with them) in her coverage of key events, particularly around Russiagate and the U.S. proxy war of aggression in Syria.”

      I used to watch DN! everyday, one of my regular news feeds, then something slowly and subtly changed, Amy/DN no longer was challenging the establishment, the topics where “safe”…identity politics, environmental issues, civil rights, Trumpalania, Sexism, Racism, etc…

      What happened to interviews with Glen Ford, Chris Hedges, Michael Hudson, Richard Wolf; she’ll do a full hour long segment with Boots Riley or some other film producer or Chomsky (who seems to have become what people have referred to as the gate-keeper of the Left) but hardly anyone who really challenges the underlying status quo…Glad Aaron Mate left to Real News…have someone talk about alternate 9/11 views, never…

      1. none

        Oh that’s a shame about Goodman. I hadn’t heard about it since I haven’t watched DN in a while, but I liked it when I did. Did Goodman fall into the Clinton tank? That could explain a lot.

        1. Jean

          Soros is funding them-

          The Pacifica Foundation station that we used to listen to, and more importantly donate many hundreds to each year, has become a Social Justice Weeper joke lately. They have people reading the news who can barely speak English as part of their social engineering attempts to overturn western civilization. No more donations. Their begging bowl pleas grow louder and longer each fundraiser.

          “Guns and Butter” was dropped from their lineup and at this point there’s nothing to listen to anymore except on Saturdays when they play great blues music.

            1. Jean

              As Ghandi said; “Western Civilization, that would be a good idea…”

              Standards my man, standards. Flood Europe with refugees and install puppets that will serve financial masters like him rather than the people that elect them.

                1. Plenue

                  Yeah, that’s not actually a thing. And if it was, it’s a pretty big fail at accomplishing its goals.


                  A very large part of the current immigrant ‘crisis’ (it actually is a crisis for the people immigrating, but that fact is usually ignored) is either people fleeing US lead warmongering, or desperately trying to find work in the face of neoliberal globalization. Even Europe’s nationalists seem incapable of discussing the former at all, and the latter without drifting into caveman racism.

      2. pjay

        Aaron Mate has been an invaluable asset for cutting through establishment propaganda during our recent hysteria. Boni’s Colombo analogy is priceless (and spot-on). Also very useful to compare this piece with the excellent review of Woodward’s latest “insider” stenography (‘Dupe Throat’). Woodward, Risen, Goodman, Mate — who is currently practicing journalism in this list? What is our criteria for evaluation?

        1. pjay

          Should be “what *are* our criteria for evaluation” — I assume most of us have more than one criterion for good journalism.

      3. Arizona Slim

        Count me as another former DN listener. She lost me after the 2016 election. Too much Russia! Russia! Russia! for my taste.

        1. Eureka Springs

          Seemed like quite a change on Amy’s part after her stroke. Then Obama into Clinton easing of the reigns into outright sequacious script reading. Most outrageous to me was DN’s reporting on both Syria and Libya.

          1. Lunker Walleye

            I believe Goodman had Bell’s Palsy. Haven’t watched her for about 3 years and listened when Aaron Mate was at DN. Aaron is the son of the addiction expert, Gabor Mate.

      4. Plenue

        I too gave up on DN long ago. However, Riley and Chomsky remain worth talking to, and as for ‘alternative 9/11 views’, the only one worthy of discussion is the extent of Saudi involvement in the planning and financing of the hijacking scheme. All of the other, Loose Change caliber ‘theories’ aren’t worthy of covering and would only hurt the credibility of any giving them coverage.

      5. Olga

        And what happened to Risen himself? Wasn’t he the one who uncovered w-shrub’s administration spying, only to have NYT kill the story for over a year? Wonder if someone told him, “one more misstep and …!”

    2. Brooklin Bridge

      It’s a good article. Excellent description of Maté’s relentless accuracy and merciless courtesy and his polite but total disregard for the status of his guest.

      Whenever someone from the Intercept gets roasted (deservedly so), I have to wonder what in the world Greenwald is doing hanging on and on over there. It’s hard to believe he would just do it for the money. Half of those guys (or so it seems) are trying to sell the opposite of what Greenwald is exposing – time and again.

  4. Darius

    Regarding liberals and Bush Jr. are liberals feckless and naive or just in on the con? What about the NPR tote bag set?

    1. Eureka Springs

      Neoliberals are a danger to themselves and others. Just thinking of all the ways Bush and Co. literally sneered the word liberal and still gets their vote/support was enough to make me quit wondering, long ago.

      It’s a wonder HRC didn’t get every deplorable vote.

    2. Swamp Yankee

      Feckless, weak, groupthinkers and status seekers. Highly conformist. “The Organization Kid” was actually one of David Brooks’s better essays. I went to school with these people; they are not in on the con. Indeed, they aren’t aware there even _is_ a con. They lie to themselves most of all. Otherwise, they couldn’t bear it psychically, working as an Amazon Marketing VP by day, hashtagging “Resistance” (ha!) by night.

      After all, most of the Maquisards in the French Resistance maintained lucrative jobs paying hundreds of thousands of marks a year working for the German, right? Right? Right….

    3. RUKidding

      I personally don’t know any D voters who like W Bush anymore these days than they did back in the day.

      I think a lot of the “rehabilitation” goes on the M$M and online and people are portrayed as “liking” W now, or something, but I haven’t met anyone who feels this way.

      I think it’s a chimera, frankly, although, yes, there seems to be an effort to rehabilitate W, who apparently is now going out on the campaign trail. Maybe that’s why there’s all this propaganda that purported lefties now like him?? I dunno. But not me or anyone else that I know (admittedly a small sample, but still…).

      1. RUKidding

        Upon second thought, this propaganda is another means of pitting righties v. lefties. As in, righties can feel superior or something about lefties supposed easy capitulation to rehabilitating W Bush. I see commentary to that effect. Dissing and putting down lefties for being so stupid or whatever.

        Might want to consider that what you’re being told isn’t really what’s happening.

        Just saying…

  5. timbers

    Trump Transition

    Bob Woodward book: Gary Cohn was ‘astounded at Trump’s lack of basic understanding’ about the federal debt Business Insider (UserFriendly). Trump: “Just run the presses — print money.”

    So now we know Trump understands the federal debt and Woodward and Cohn don’t.

    Time for some folk’sy wisdom from the Obama Oracle himself about kitchen table family discussion over the budget and how it’s exactly like the federal budget.

    It must be frustrating they can’t brainwash Trump about the federal debt so they manipulate him to take orders on fiscal matters like they did with President Clinton and others. Oh well, Facebook and google and the Mueller investigations will just have to fill the void not that they didn’t get one of puppets (Hillary) into the WH.

    1. allan

      “understands the federal debt”

      No. If he believed MMT, that would be great.
      But he’s using the deficits resulting from the tax cuts and national security state budget increases
      as an excuse to cut all kinds of other spending, discretionary so far and SS&M going forward.

      Projecting our desires to the right under DJT is just as likely to lead to disappointment
      as projecting to the left center-right under BHO.

      1. a different chris

        “as an excuse” yeah but that didn’t work for Reagan and hopefully won’t work for Trump.

        I doubt he even knows what MMT is, he just has a good feel of how the world really works. It’s criminal, or what would be considered criminal in a sane society, and he’s criminally inclined so there you go…. the sausage making gets uglier and uglier but if the end product is actually palatable that’s not the worst thing that can happen.

        Not that I’m guaranteeing any of the above, your BHO point is well taken. And I’m an enviro-nazi so I don’t care about the “best economy possible” if we wreck the planet doing it.

      2. Jean

        Add a new line to the Beatles’ song:

        “You say you want a revolution…”

        “Sorry it didn’t work out the way you thought it would..”

    2. johnnygl

      If you want to argue that trump won the election on substance (and i lean in the direction), then you’d argue that he got elected because of trade and immigration.

      If trump gets re-elected, it will be because he has a better big picture understanding of how the monetary system works than any blob members or cabinet members.

      1. Edward E

        MMT moves from Rome to Wash DC?
        We are following the path of every collapsed previous empire in history while hallucinating about supernormal ability.

    3. Adam Eran

      Latest bizarre headline from McClatchy “Economy thrives despite soaring federal debt” (or something close to that). Ya can’t make up stuff like this. Sadly, the same plutocrats whose frauds crashed the economy are the largest beneficiaries.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Speaking of headlines, this one from above, Poo-eating dung beetles worth a billion dollars a year to our economy, says researcher ABC Australia, makes one wonder if they weren’t worth a billion dollars a year, if they were worthless, would we still allow them to live.

        “Our relationship is strictly monetary. Let’s focus solely on that.”

    4. Plenue

      Surprised no one else has pointed out yet that this is a Nixon reporter uncritically recounting a claim that someone else doesn’t understand Federal finances. Uh, Nixon did kind of a big thing in that regard back in 1971. Odds that Woodward understands and notes that the the US dollar is a sovereign currency, and that the Federal ‘debt’ isn’t money owed to an outside party? I’m guessing he doesn’t do either of these things.

  6. tegnost

    …keep your head down in the carolinas
    N to NW winds 45 to 60 kt increasing to 65 to 90 kt,
    then becoming W to NW 75 to 90 kt. Seas 11 to 22 ft, building to
    21 to 40 ft. Scattered showers and isolated TSTMs.

    W to SW winds 75 to 90 kt, becoming S to SW 70 to
    85 kt. Seas 22 to 33 ft. Scattered showers and isolated TSTMs.

    1. Carolinian

      Yes if the power goes out we may be cut off from NC.

      I live quite a way from the coast. The interstate coming out of Charleston has been changed to four lanes west. All residents have been told to evacuate or stay at their own risk.

      1. a different chris

        NC will be cut off from NC!

        Seriously, though, take care. And I am really serious because I have a loved one in that area.

  7. Wukchumni

    Ran into a cabin owner and his friend who’d just come off a 50 mile backpack trip, and both are firefighters in Ventura and have been at it for decades now, and we got talking about wildfires, and one of them mentioned how a 5,000 acre blaze was REALLY a big one when they were younger, but that was then and this is now.

    We talked about the new aegis of the year round wildfire season, and they related to how burned out everybody is from the usual old school season of going here, there, wherever a conflagration happens to be, and then keeping up the vigilance…

    One of them said, imagine the NFL season going from 16 games to 32 all of the sudden, and how beat up the players would be?

    1. RUKidding

      Thanks for that insight. I have been wondering about that, myself.

      My friends in Australia tell me that some of their fire fighters are up here right now. I know some of ours go down there to fight their fires.

      It’s like none of them get any breaks anymore.

      As some may now, Aus is facing another huge drought year, and they’re expecting huge fires.

      Not good. Not sure what the solution is.

  8. noonespecial

    Health Care

    Another post in NC today highlights the presentation by Kevin Hassett (and in part) shows him espousing the fact that small business optimism under the current administration grows at awe-inspiring levels.

    Okay, so if the small business environment is so rosy, why now in Congress is this under consideration? From today’s Washington Examiner: “The House is planning to vote on legislation that would change the definition of a full-time worker under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, raising it to 40 hours a week, up from the law’s current standard of 30 hours, among other changes to the law.” Another choice quote from the article: “The White House urged Congress to pass the legislation, saying it would boost the effort to ‘repeal and replace’ Obamacare.” (

    I was under the impression that bigly tax cuts would enrich all. Correct me if I’m wrong, but would not this result in more un-insured and bankrupt people due to health-related expenses? If this project arrives at the Oval Office for approval, I shudder to think about the rhetorical gymnastics that would be employed to announce the new law.

    1. a different chris

      How can Hassett show his face in polite society? Oh, wait – that’s the problem, polite society isn’t all it was sold to be when the rich run everything.

  9. Wukchumni

    Zoloft, not Zola.
    Why the anonymous op-ed sets a dangerous precedent The Conversation
    Anybody can be anybody these days digitally, in co-conspiracy theory.

      1. Wukchumni

        If say the 50 million Americans on anti-depressants all of the sudden went cold turkey on account of say a solar storm taking out most everything electric, a fry in the ointment if you will…

        Things would get weird, quick.

  10. petal

    FCC chair visits Vermont to tout success of rural broadband

    “Pai is touring the country to see firsthand how broadband internet service is affecting rural areas. It comes after regulations governing the internet recently changed. At the end of last year, the FCC repealed net neutrality rules to the consternation of Vermont’s entire Congressional delegation and many other Democrats. But Pai says net neutrality interfered with the free market.

    “These utility-style regulations were standing in the way of some of these small companies providing a competitive alternative to the big guys,” Pai said.

    VTel, which organized Pai’s trip, is one of those smaller companies. It is one of about 1,200 small, independent telephone companies across the country. But VTel President Michel Guite says that number is shrinking.

    “More federal policies and state policies that encourage those companies to invest into broadband and encourage them to survive is good for America,” Guite said.

    In 2010, VTel got help it was asking for. The high-speed internet provider was awarded $116 million in federal grants to expand its network into rural parts of the state. But there were concerns among lawmakers that the project took longer than expected and did not accomplish what it set out to do. Guite refutes that claim.”

    1. Mark Alexander

      The article seems to have disappeared from the WCAX site.

      But I have to say that I’m very distrustful of anything VTel might have to say, especially now that they seem to be buddying up to Pai. VTel received huge government grants to provide broadband to areas in rural Vermont (like the area I live in), but never delivered what they promised. It’s not surprising, given that they were promoting a wireless service based on Sprint’s CDMA technology, which means you really have to be in the line-of-sight of their towers for it to work well. Even assuming they could cover rural VT with towers (unlikely, given the very hilly terrain), we all know that cellular technology is entirely inadequate for a number of reasons, like large latency, overloaded capacity, effects of bad weather, etc.

      What was galling about VTel’s government grants is that small companies and co-ops like EC Fiber were completely ignored and had to develop their networks with loans from private investors. In the end, ECF managed to get service to our house last year, while VTel still doesn’t serve this area and, like the other wireless providers in VT (AT&T and Verizon), probably never will.

  11. johnnygl

    Re: politico q’s on medicare for all and pnhp replies.

    MMT fans know the right way to pay for medicare for all is by CUTTING TAXES TO BOOST DEMAND, just like we do to ‘pay for’ any big-ticket republican agenda item (usually defense spending increases).

    1. DonCoyote

      What we don’t know about Bernie’s favorite healthcare idea I couldn’t be bothered to read the legislation so let me obfuscate and fearmonger about it.

      Subheading: “‘Medicare-for-all’ is galvanizing Dems, but raises more questions than it answers”

      So let me translate/answer his “questions”.

      1) What does it even mean?It means single payer, but neoliberals want to water it down as much as possible, just like ACA.

      2)How would we pay for it?YOUR TAXES ARE GOING UP UP UP!!! Because everyone knows taxes pay for federal spending.

      3)What happens to insurance?Everyone knows the health care “industry” is a parasite (“our health care system is dysfunctional and financially unsustainable” is the quote), but it’s a too-hard-to-kill parasite, so we’ll just have to keep feeding it.

      I could go on, but this article is fact-free propaganda. RTFL (Read The Family-blogging Legislation), Paul Demko, if you’re going to talk about “Bernie’s idea”.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “LEAKED VIDEO: Google Leadership’s Dismayed Reaction to Trump Election”: ‘Sergey Brin “suggests that Trump voters might have been motivated by boredom rather than legitimate concerns.’

    Saywhat? Look, I’m just a jagoff commentator but even I now that that is just stupidity that statement. But he seems to believe it as he said it not once but twice. If he is looking for those voters motivated by boredom then perhaps he should consider the 100 million plus American voters that didn’t bother turning up at the election polls. Those were the real bored ones.
    The ones that voted for Trump, like the Latino population that Google tried to goose into supporting Hillary, seemed determined to do something in a brown paper bag, light it on fire and then throw it into the middle of what they saw as a rigged election. As Bush once said – Mission Accomplished.

    1. Roger Smith

      Hey, so what if Eric Schmidt was right behind Obama, so what if the “search engine” that drives the internet is run by partisans who hold crying sessions. You can’t prove they let that impact their work, heck, they even denied it has an impact… you know outside of the meetings specifically about it during work hours and whatever contracts they have with the government… no way it has an effect… …

      Was Damore fired for not attending the pity party?

      1. Wukchumni

        I must’ve interceded on half a dozen mock suicides in the aftermath of those so effected, one tried to strangle herself with an 8 1/2 by 11 inch piece of paper she had handily also written a going away note on, oh the humanity.

        1. Arizona Slim

          On the day after the 2016 election, I woke up early, turned my oh-so smartphone on, and realized that the world hadn’t come to an end. The phone still worked, after all.

          Then I checked my favorite-est blog in the entire universe, Naked Capitalism. I was thinking that Madame Hillary had eked out a win, but nope, Mr. Trump had snagged enough electoral votes to come in first.

          Hmmm, I thought. How interesting. But right now, I’m more interested in breakfast. So I ate breakfast, did the dishes, got ready for work, and off I took.

          At the coworking space, the place was as empty as a tomb. Where in the heck was everybody? I mean, come on. It’s Wednesday. The weekend isn’t ’til Saturday. Don’t the rest of the people have work to do?

          Oh, yeah, there was my friend from NYC. He does phone sales and has for decades. Except he wasn’t making many sales that day. Instead, he was hollering at anyone and everyone about Trump and how terrible he is. Nearly two years later, he’s still doing that, but I love him anyway.

          In the days in weeks that followed, I saw people having meltdowns in person and on Facebook. Matter of fact, those meltdowns were one of the main reasons why I logged off Facebook in early March and have stayed away.

          In the midst of all this emotional drama, I consider Naked Capitalism to be an oasis of sanity. It’s why I’m working on Naked Capitalism Meetup 3.0 here in Tucson and it’s why Yves won’t have to ask twice during the next fundraiser for this site.

          1. Wukchumni

            I also remember spending the better part of 45 minutes talking somebody off a ledge-but to no avail, and he twisted his ankle jumping from the first story window.

          2. The Rev Kev

            Hey, that would make a great book based on what you said. Call it “The Morning After” and it would be entirely composed of people’s memories of what life was like in America the morning after the election. I saw a montage page of what happened with Romney voters the night he lost the election to Obama and it was hilarious. This would be more of the same but at the end of the book you would have the message “Remember, it’s only politics!”

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Any partisanship by such corporations, including newspapers, should be considered campaign donations, no?

        If so, not reporting them should be considered as violations.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Obama and Hillary checked off bucket list items for the “I’ve got mine…” crowd. On paper, HRC made no sense as a candidate, but she was a name people already knew or believed they knew, thus requiring no work and she hit a token slot and wasn’t threatening change. For imagined MOTUs, seeing their brilliant predictions (except for those perceived to be cranks by the elite consensus) which everyone shared collapse did intrude on their lives.

    3. HopeLB

      Glad to see the Pittsburgh term “jagoff” being propagated! Wonder if it originated from extracating yourself from a “jagger bush”, the Pittsburghese for a bush with thorns?

  13. Wukchumni

    Was told an “Investor from L.A.” bought up half a dozen entry level homes in town, to make vacation rentals out of…

    It’s really divided our community, as many locals for once see a chance to make bank on their home or other ones they’ve bought specifically for that purpose, while those living in homes adjacent to rental homes are sick to death of them, with the passing parade of strangers in their midst, that often are on the loud side and tend to like a lot of lights lit, in a town that relishes it’s dark skies.

    I hope it’s a passing thing, as each short term rental takes away the possibility of a family living there instead, with a couple of kids going to school, which ours is dropping in attendance on account of.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Are those houses being taxed at the residential owner-occupied rate, or at the residential rental rate?

      Here in Pima County, Arizona, the residential rental rate is a lot higher, and, yes, people do report properties that are improperly classified on the county assessor’s tax rolls.

      Perhaps you and other locals could make similar reports to your local taxing authority.

      1. Olga

        I don’t get the logic – wouldn’t higher residential rate mainly punish the tenants? The landlord makes up the higher cost via higher rent. Am I missing something?

        1. Arizona Slim

          Here in Pima County, there are a lot of houses with owners who claim that they’re owner-occupied. They aren’t. They’re rentals. And that’s the misclassification that’s on the county assessor’s tax rolls.

          The difference in the property tax rate can be enough to force these sleazy landlords out of the rental business.

    1. Summer

      Matt Taibi called the financial sector the vampire squid. Considering the integration of tech culture with financial sector culture, we now see a literal tentacle of the vampire squid making a play for actual blood.

      1. Wukchumni

        I’ve donated blood for awhile now, and 6 months ago they gave me a tablet with about 25 questions to answer pre-draining, and one of them was: “Did you spend a cumulative time of 6 weeks in the UK from 1980 to 1996?” and I most certainly did, and answered yes, and then after handing it in, they told me I was disqualified from ever giving blood again, on account of the possibility of mad cow disease from my time in England, although the closest I ever got to a bessie was @ a Wimpy restaurant.

        1. Synoia

          although the closest I ever got to a bessie was @ a Wimpy restaurant.

          I’m moderately positive that Wimpy does not server meat, but uses TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein). Thus, I doubt your wonderful Wimpy experience of English Gastronomy did involve meat.

          I suggest you download a copy of the “Good Pub Guide” for your next trip.

          The English consider Wimpy so bad that it’s generally the food of last resort.

          1. Wukchumni

            Everybody knows you go to foreign restaurants when you’re in the UK, heck I practically lived on tandoori chicken.

            1. perpetualWAR

              Some “foreign” food in Britain is equally as untasty as the Brits. I had “Chinese” food that was worse than the “American-Chinese” food in the states.

          2. j7915

            Damn right. Last resort when you are a tourist ignorant of the pub closing hours, during their police hour, i.e. no bitter being served so no need to be open.

    2. Craig H.

      Blood is a biohazard. If you need it you are very sick. If you are not very sick and don’t need it, consuming it is about as smart as eating human feces. Ask any doctor if you do not believe me. They wear gloves because they do not even want it on their skin.

      Peter Thiel is a moron.

  14. Carolinian

    Re n+1 and the dubious Woodward–at least one ray of light is that the sycophantic (to the Swamp) Woodward won’t be going on Charlie Rose for one of Charlie’s sycophantic interviews. Rose is probably hanging out at his Long Island beach house these days, “pursuing healing.”

    Indeed the recent ejection of Moonves, Rose’s old CBS boss, suggests that our testosterone poisoned male elites may be a lot more like Trump than they care to have known.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Perhaps the most interesting thing about it is how bizarrely un-businesslike he was. Ordinarily, “X can make me a lot of money” or just make him look good, would be an overweening motivation. Makes me wonder how he got as high as he did, or stayed there as long as he did. Institutional senility?

    1. curlydan

      Yes, thank goodness someone can articulate the Woodward book for what it is worth: “Both [“Fire and Fury” and “Fear”] are self-consciously bestseller material—political nonfiction best suited for purchase at an airport, before getting in line for Panda Express.”


      “For page after dumbfounding page, Fear reproduces, with gobsmacking credulity, the self-aggrandizing narratives of factitious scoundrels. Didion was absolutely right to class Woodward’s work as fundamentally a kind of “political pornography.” “

  15. JCC

    On “Economists Should Stop Defending Milton Friedman’s Pseudo-science”, although I understood his argument and agreed with his argument regarding how we understand the Scientific Method and how assumptions of reality affect true vs false conclusions, I found that reading the entire article was a little painful.

    I was considering forwarding this article to a few friends, but after reading the whole thing it occurred to me that those I considered forwarding it too would have a serious problem with glazed over eyes.

    I think the author’s argument needs to be much more concise in order for for the average non-physics student to get through it. Reading some of these paragraphs brought to mind James Fenimore Cooper’s opening description of the tree in The Pathfinder. It seemed to go on and on saying the same thing over and over again before getting to the basic argument and obvious conclusion.

    1. Summer

      Send it anyway: Excerpt the basic argument and conclusion to read first, with the full link below that.

      Also, I could not help thinking how the Friedman economic engineering fits nicely with assumptions of another discredited 19th Century dogma: Social Darwinism.
      That explains their extreme comfort with the body count from their economic “theories.”

      1. JBird

        Discredited maybe, but it still has many adherents especially in the 9.9% whether they acknowledge it or not.

        Racism/Classism => Social Darwinism => Eugenics => Extermination

        Much of modern mainstream economics (and politics and yes neoliberalism) seems to be riffs off some really evil stuff, but labeled so as to camouflage that fact. Although it is not as conscious today as it was in the past.

    2. Lee

      Isn’t there a rule in academic writing? It goes something like this: tell them what you are going to tell them; tell them; and in conclusion, tell them what you just told them.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I thought that was a rule for training in the Army.

        Academic writing strives to obscure and misdirect. You tell them in incomprehensible highly specialized jargon what other authors have to say on the topic constantly promising that what you are going to tell them is new improved and different. You avoid making any clear statements that might indicate what you are telling them. You conclude with some obscure statements unrelated to everything stated earlier in the paper — and don’t forget plenty of footnotes and references to journal articles — and always always remember to suggest further research in this area is needed.

        Well and good, but I don’t think I would classify Blackford’s opinion piece as academic writing although there are plenty of footnotes and references. [The references contain a fair number of broken links but there are also a fair number of down-loadable pdf files for some classic books.]

    3. Grebo

      The argument boils down to “if your starting assumptions are false, so are your conclusions.” This is self-evident to most people, I would have thought. The remarkable thing is that Milton Friedman has managed to convince generations of economists otherwise with his circular sophistry.

      1. ewmayer

        “if your starting assumptions are false, so are your conclusions.” — Not if one is engaging in the tried and true practice of proof by contradiction, in which case one ends up establishing the falsity of such assumpions … but of course most academic economists would lose their jobs and endowed chairs were they to be so bold as to let actual facts and real-world data which might possibly put the lie to their premises intrude upon their practice.

        1. Grebo

          Yes, it’s also possible that your conclusion might be right by accident despite your premise being false. Your argument would still be wrong though. Any theory built on such arguments is devoid of explanatory power, ie. useless.

          The reason so many economic theories have stupid assumptions is, of course, that economists actually work backwards from their preferred conclusion and will accept any premise that makes it work logically, no matter how ludicrous in reality.

    4. Jeremy Grimm

      I am a little mystified by why this piece was linked to. I think Blackford gives much too much credit to Friedman for Neoliberal economic thought and his focus on Friedman’s billiard balls seems selective of an especially easy target for attack.

      Some of the attack on Friedman’s billiard balls is offensive to engineers and assumes a lot of Science for the discipline of economics. There isn’t much opportunity to apply scientific method in a field like economics where controlled experiments are a more than a little difficult. There is an unstated assumption that Science always trumps a tried-and-true rule-of-thumb. Typically a rule-of-thumb encapsulates many centuries of observations and experience as a very conservative rule for best practice to avoid mishaps — and the unforeseen. Science comes in to explain and refine a rule-of-thumb or extend it to new materials and new methods, and neither Science nor rules-of-thumb can prevent a first Tacoma Narrows Bridge failure. It’s too easy to overlook an effect like cross-winds in early applications of a comparatively new building method. But economics isn’t science, isn’t engineering, and I can’t think of principles of economics that can rightly be called rules-of-thumb other than little gems like the golden rule of economics: “Whoever has the most gold rules.”

      I believe the writings and lectures of Phillip Mirowski far better explain the rise of Neoliberalism and its affiliated “economic” theories and thought, and their persistence in spite of their profound failures. I am growing more and more confused by the categories classical economics, neoclassical economics, Walrusian economics, Keynesian economics, new Keynesian economics, fresh-water and salt-water economics and so on … as the Neoliberal school continues to absorb and pollute whatever these categories once encompassed. The golden rule of economics remains a true gem. And it is difficult not to agree with Blackford’s conclusion:
      “It is not at all clear what kind of paradigm will emerge from the chaos within the discipline of economics that has resulted from the dramatic failure of the new-neoclassical synthesis to provide a context within which the Crash of 2008 and its aftermath can be understood or explained.”
      I would however quibble over his label new-neoclassical synthesis applied to the economics that resulted in the Great Recession. As for understanding or explaining the Crash, Yves Smith’s book “ECONned: How Unenlightened Self Interest Undermined Democracy and Corrupted Capitalism” does an excellent job.

  16. Big River Bandido

    Just voted in Queens, for all the “insurgent” candidates. Since my ballot was “scanned”, however, I don’t trust that it was counted.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Are Warnings About Chemical Warfare in Syria Another ‘Weapon of Mass Distraction’?” LARRY WILKERSON: As a military professional, I can’t- I’m very, very familiar with the effects of and the use of white phosphorus. I can’t imagine why U.S. forces, particularly F-15’s, would be dropping white phosphorus on anything. It’s very inefficient, it’s not very useful. It is forbidden as far as I understand by international law, especially against targets that feature humans.

    I am afraid that Wilkerson is telling pork pies here and hiding behind the fact that he is ex-military. The US has a long history of using Willy Pete ( in this part of the world. First time I read of it being used was the Second Battle of Fallujah but it had been used previously in the First Battle of Fallujah. After the second battle, images emerged of Iraqis burnt to death by these munitions. Even last year the US was using it against Mosul and against other ISIS targets. There is no way that Larry Wilkerson would not be aware of all this and though over the years he has talked truth to power, sometimes he tries to pull a fast one like he does here.

  18. Jason Boxman

    The BI WF story has a duplicate paragraph and occasionally I see typos on NYTimes articles. I didn’t used to see stuff like this. Crapification of editorial work.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Back when I was a young pup, I was a reporter on my college newspaper.

      The editors, being a merciless and bloodthirsty lot, had a very special way of calling out typos. They’d pin the entire page to the bulletin board, where everyone could see it, and then they’d draw a bullseye around the typo.

    2. Lord Koos

      I’m seeing poor usage of spelling and grammar increase steadily since the early 2000s, not only with online blogs but in many newspapers as well. The dumbing-down has been successful — either that or the human race is getting more stupid every day… the latter perhaps caused by people not getting enough oxygen?

  19. Wukchumni

    Interesting article, in that Alex Jones like MGM, sued the parents of 6 year old kids killed @ Sandy Hook for $100,000 & $200,000, and then offered to let them off the hook for a dollar…

    When I entered, Mr. Jones was holding a printout of a story I had written. The article included his demand, in court documents, for more than $100,000 in court costs from the parents of Noah Pozner, who died at Sandy Hook.

    He jabbed his finger at me. “You have a responsibility. You wrote the blueprint article everybody else picked up where they said, ‘Alex Jones is the scum of the earth . . . People need to go after Alex Jones, people need to bankrupt Alex Jones, people need to kill Alex Jones,’” he said, “‘because he sends people to these parents’ houses and he won’t stop doing it.’”

    After a public outcry, Mr. Jones’s lawyer altered his demand, saying in a hearing in the Pozner case that week that he’d now accept “a dollar” in court costs. Mr. Jones claimed, wrongly, that I hadn’t reported that gesture, “something that my lawyers have never seen before.” (In court filings before a separate defamation hearing last month, Mr. Jones sought more than $200,000 in court costs from Neil Heslin, another Sandy Hook parent.)

  20. Synoia

    Separate trials by Ambrosia involved 70 participants, all 35 or older.

    After being given plasma — the main component of blood — from volunteers ages 16 to 25, researchers noted improvements in biomarkers for various diseases.

    Ambrosia currently offers teenage blood plasma to customers at a cost of $8,000 for 2½ liters.

    Where’s the independent study? At $3,200 per liter, nowhere near the cost of the blood, I’d not trust the vendor.

    How much are they paying the donors?

    1. RUKidding

      My sister had to have a blood transfusion following some surgery. She got the blood from her son, obviously much younger than her. She said she definitely noticed a difference with this “younger blood” circulating in her veins. Higher energy levels; overall improvement in her disposition, etc. But! It was temporary. didn’t last all that long. Maybe several weeks.

      Ergo, seems like you’d turn into Vern the Vampire and need infusions once a month or something.

      Might be worth it, if you’re ill or something. But long term? Not so much.

      Albeit, that said, I’ve always maintained that Keith Richards has managed to live so long due to the blood transfusions he used to get. Dude’s a frickin medical miracle.

        1. The Rev Kev

          There was an American TV series once about this ordinary guy years ago. So he donates his blood and it is used by a billionaire who becomes rejuvenated. Further analysis shows that this blood is unique and that this guy will probably live to be 500 years old because of it. The series then continues as this guy is on the run now from this billionaire who wants to imprison him and constantly drain his blood to let the billionaire live for centuries. Oddly, in this debate about blood, this old series is never mentioned.

  21. Wukchumni

    What if we had kept the 9/11 deaths under wraps, initially announcing that 64 had passed away, only to increase the total to 2,996 about a year later?

  22. Wukchumni

    As protests against Israel and the U.S. government’s alliance with it have roiled college campuses across the country — with demonstrations in recent years shutting down speeches by pro-Israel speakers from the University of Minnesota to San Francisco State University — a few questions have repeatedly come up.

    How much is Jewish identity tied to the modern nation of Israel? Is there a point at which criticism of Israel turns into hatred of Jewish people? If so, when is that line crossed? What is the difference between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism?

    1. Olga

      I have a better question: who benefits by turning legitimate protests against Israeli state’s inhuman treatment of Palestinians into cries of anti-semitism?
      It seems to me at this point in history, it is the Palestinians the world ought to worry about.

      1. Wukchumni

        You know how it goes politically in these United States, even if you’re running for dogcatcher, you’d better pledge your allegiance to Israel, lest somebody accuse you of not loving it enough.

  23. bruce wilder

    RE: coming Minsky Moment

    I was reading the Calculated Risk blog back in 2005 and therefore was well-aware that some kind of crash — or at least a big “adjustment” — was on the horizon. That the anniversary of Lehman’s bankruptcy is getting so much attention is kind of worrisome now, not for its bearishness but for its non-specificity. In 2005, securitized mortgages and the erosion of lending standards at Countrywide and similar criminal conspiracies aka banks were kind of obvious. Obvious enough to be denied by the Bernanke’s and Yellen’s and most of the chattering classes, ‘natch. But, obvious in a matter-of-fact way, if you were just paying attention, as Calculated Risk was. The numbers were seemingly huge, running into the neighborhood of $2 trillion about to “disappear”. And, we — I mean me — anticipated naively that it would disappear, and governance would be wielded to cope.

    The rot seems more general now, somehow. Some of that probably doesn’t really matter. Facebook can deflate, Elon Musk can flame out, Uber implode and even Intel and Apple lose their mojo, and I am not sure it matters all that much, as purely imaginary wealth disappears. Where we get in trouble is when someone has the political power to insist that imaginary wealth is somehow not imaginary or cannot be allowed to disappear: credit card debts or student loan debts cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, say, or the terms of delinquent home mortgages cannot be adjusted to fit actual household incomes.

    Money and finance are a fictional language for narratives “inspired by a true story”, but turning those stories into a million tragedies in order to go on collecting income from debt that was always a lie is a way to destroy a society.

    I saw a piece by John Mauldin at ZeroHedge yesterday “This Will Be The Mother Of All Minsky Moments” where he made the basic point that the crisis this time will be bigger, much bigger, because so many different problem areas. And then, there was this:

    It will . . . take years because we have $500 trillion of debt to work through. Remember, that debt just can’t be pooped away. It is both money somebody owes and an asset on somebody else’s balance sheet. We can’t just take that away without huge consequences to culture and society.

    Here’s the thing: we cannot just leave it there, as a poor man’s debt and a rich man’s asset, without “huge consequences to culture and society” either. And, I don’t think working thru it over decades, as we have been doing since the GFC of 2008 has proven to be a winning strategy — maybe we should be remembering that?!!

    Money and finance is always going to be a language for writing useful fictions, but we have to find ways to make those fictions “true” in some moral sense that doesn’t destroy society with predatory and parasitical “deals”.

  24. JBird

    Aaron Maté is a Beast! Ghion Journal

    Okay, so what does all this mean? One, Aaron Maté is indeed a beast. He offers no deference to Risen while somehow remaining polite and professional throughout the entire exchange. He practices what should be pro forma and mainstream for any journalist: skeptical, evidence-based inquiry. It’s sad that this should even be notable. Two, the ridiculousness of entire Reality Winner affair has got to have any critically thinking person sniffing the air.

    It is stories like this that make me want to just weep. Also, I knew about the embedded code in copier/printers a decade ago so just why did the Intercept print the leak unmodified? Was Reality Winner’s arrest good for business?

    1. bruce wilder

      I went back and read the original Intercept article I think it notable that it contains some cya statements in between selling the scoop. For example, an unnamed source is quoted as cautioning against concluding too much from a single analyst’s guess. Maté makes the same point: all the juicy details in the “secret” document are clearly labeled as based primarily on the single analyst’s judgment, not verified facts.
      Risen seems to think a lot of evidence has accumulated since Reality Winner’s disclosure. It is this unspecified, undetailed accumulation that justifies Risen’s confidant assertion that “everyone now knows” and regards Russian interference as a big threat. From this premise, Risen draws his narrative line that Winner performed a public service.
      An alternative narrative would make Risen a willing tool and Reality Winner, a fool.
      Risen’s claim is that intelligence agencies should have done more to warn election officials (or vendors — since a private company was allegedly the main target) and news reports served to make their failure clear. You have to wonder how much more fear-mongering than actually happened, Risen thinks would have been desirable.
      Narrative without constraint is a pathology in journalism, but that seems to be to where journalism has evolved. Risen is making the big bucks now.

  25. allan

    New estimate: GOP’s second tax cuts would add $3.8 trillion to deficit [WaPo]

    A second round of Republican tax cuts would add an additional $3.2 trillion to the federal deficit over a decade, according to a new report released by a centrist think-tank.

    The package was taken up by a House committee on Thursday and is expected to head to a vote on the floor later this month.

    The GOP’s “tax reform 2.0” would make permanent many of the individual and estate tax provisions in the tax law Republicans passed last fall, which the Congressional Budget Office said would already add about $1.9 trillion to the deficit, factoring for interest costs.

    The second round of cuts would cost $631 billion before 2028 and an additional $3.15 trillion in the decade after that, according to the Tax Policy Center. The finding was somewhat larger than the $2.4 trillion cost over 10 years projected by the Tax Foundation, a conservative think-tank. …

    The Senate is not expected to take up the bill this year, but it could provide a blueprint for Republicans’ agenda should they retain control of Congress this November….

    The last sentence gets it completely backwards. If they lose either the House or the Senate, the GOP is sure to
    ram this through in the lame duck. Let a thousand K Street job offers bloom.

  26. barrisj

    I must confess that a quick read of the link headline “Poo-eating dung beetles…” immediately evoked Trump Administration imagery…a marvelous metaphor for today’s Washington.

  27. Lorenzo

    French and German advisers call for eurozone budget rule overhaul.
    In a rare moment of unity, official bodies from both countries are both urging revisions of the rules on national debt and deficits that have divided eurozone countries since the creation of the single currency.

    what does the commentariat make of this? I’m on the ‘too little, too late’ camp

  28. ewmayer

    o “China warns of ‘serious hazard’ of protectionism at WEF meeting | France24” — Here, let me fix that headline for you: “China, the world’s biggest economic protectionist, warns of ‘serious hazard’ of protectionism by its victims at WEF meeting”

    o “Gallup chief: Americans have ‘dismissed’ idea that Trump acted illegally with Russia | The Hill” — Clearly the re-education efforts by the liberal goodthinkers and the Intel-community PR flacks in the MSM must be redoubled!

    o ‘Bob Woodward book: Gary Cohn was ‘astounded at Trump’s lack of basic understanding’ about the federal debt Business Insider (UserFriendly). Trump: “Just run the presses — print money.”’ — Funny how just printing money is never a problem when it comes to the Global War project and bailouts of elite big-finance fraud cartels, but when Boobus Trumpicanus dares state the obvious, the selective outrage warriors in the MSM and the econ establishment leap into action!

    o “LEAKED VIDEO: Google Leadership’s Dismayed Reaction to Trump Election ” — Not that Google C-suite creeps giving huge sums of money and “lending expertise” to the neoliberal Clintonites constitues “election meddling” or anything, mind you. Neither did Facebook freely giving away its social media graph to Team Obama back in 2012, i.e. doing exactly what Cambridge Analytica did more recently to howls of elite outrage and calls for reform.

    o “Fundraisers for Sick Restaurant Employees Represent the Failure of American Health Care | Eater” — But they represent yet another smashing success for neoliberalism, so where’s the problem?

    o Neil Irwin’s NYT shill-piece – I’ll just let other NCers rip that one to shreds.

  29. EoH

    Lovely take down by George Blackford in evonomics of Milton Friedman’s anti-intellectual claim that a theory’s assumptions – and how closely those describe reality – are irrelevant so long as its predictions come about.

    Friedman’s later acolytes, in the aftermath the 2007-08 global financial crisis, for example – extended his theory. They claimed that the economists’ job was not even to make predictions at all. Fig leaves full of sound and fury, or something.

    Blackford helpfully points out a different reality: “a scientific theory, is, in fact, the embodiment of its assumptions.” But he notes ruefully that Friedman’s claim – [like his claim of putting shareholder interests first, rather than last] – has metastasized throughout the field. Those who oppose it must acknowledge it or risk not being published in their own field’s major journals.

    No wonder economists (like other professionals) dismiss the sociology of their field as fit only for those incapable of doing “real” economics. I take that as a form of character assassination of opponents who reveal inconvenient truths. Thankfully, there are those like Philip Mirowski and Steve Keen who disagree.

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