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2:00PM Water Cooler 1/29/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Politics

“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

2020

Harris (1):

Try watching the video with the sound off. (Tressie McMillan Cottom isn’t some rando, either.)

Harris (2):

Harris (3):

Harris (4):

I’m glad that the Overton Window has shifted on #MedicareForAll from Clinton’s famous 2016 statement “never, ever.” That said, Harris does not support California’s single payer bill, SB562. And while Harris’s recent conversion, and support for S1804, is good, she’s also positioned to be a revolving here: The real action here is in the House, with whatever bill that Jayapal introduces, and whatever happens at the House hearings. Harris can move left on this one issue without putting any skin in the game, especially if Democrat insiders are determined to rerun the same plays they ran in 2009 (see “Health Care” below).

Sanders:

From the Director of Veterans Outreach for @RunBeto2020. (Several ancient Sanders videos appeared more or less at the same time today; it’s almost as if somebody discovered or released a cache of them through Twitter cut-outs. Not that I’m foily.)

“‘Trump effect:’ California Latino voters showed up in force in 2018. Will they do it again?” [Sacramento Bee]. “Data obtained by McClatchy show that the proportion of Latinos voting in the seven California congressional districts that Democrats targeted last year rose to levels normally seen in presidential elections…. Historically, Latino turnout in midterm elections is much lower than in presidential election years. Latino voters comprised 21 percent of total votes in the 2018 election, up from 15 percent in the 2014 midterm election, according to figures by Political Data Inc. and the UC Davis Center for Regional Change.”

“Latest polling data point to major re-election challenges for Trump in Wisconsin” [Journal-Sentinel]. “The intensity of public opinion matters a lot in politics and it is not on Trump’s side: 30 percent of Wisconsin voters “strongly” approve of him and 46 percent “strongly” disapprove. These people (three-quarters of the electorate) are pretty locked in, to Trump’s disadvantage. The other quarter of the electorate is soft in its opinion: 14 percent of voters “somewhat” approve, 7 percent “somewhat” disapprove and 4 percent don’t know. If you do the math, you see that as things stand now, Trump has to win an overwhelming share of these “soft” voters (whether they are pro-Trump or anti-Trump) to have a chance at carrying Wisconsin.”

“Want to know which Democrats can actually beat Trump? We don’t have to guess” [WaPo]. “We’ll start with observed electability — basically the theory that if a candidate did well in major down-ballot elections compared to an appropriate baseline, they’re doing something right and might perform strongly in a general election. We’ll start by looking at the 2018 elections because, by an odd coincidence, most of the top tier of the Democratic field ran in a Senate race last year…. The only candidate who objectively performs poorly is Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), who somehow managed to underperform Clinton despite 2018 being a much better year for Democrats than 2016. Massachusetts is a politically complicated state, electing a parade of Republican governors and Democratic senators, but it’s hard to look at this performance (or some of the other indicators) and spin it as a great sign.”

“Biden and Beto Boosted GOP Candidates in 2018. That’s Disqualifying.” [New York Magazine]. “By boosting [(relatively) moderate Republican Will] Hurd, and spurning [Gina Ortiz Jones, an Iraq War veteran with a long and distinguished record of public service], O’Rourke did not put ‘country before party’; he put himself before both…. [Joe] Biden declined to endorse Democratic candidate Matt Longjohn in his race to oust [Michigan Representative Fred Upton] from Congress. Instead, ‘uncle Joe’ vouched not only for Upton’s bipartisan credentials, but painted him as a champion of the sick and infirm — despite the fact that the Michigan Republican played a lead role in trying to pass legislation that would have thrown 20 million Americans off of health insurance…. Ultimately, what makes Biden and O’Rourke’s conduct disqualifying is not the effect it may (or may not) have had in 2018, but rather, what it says about how they will govern in 2021. If Democrats want to treat climate change as an existential threat — and health care and the franchise as inalienable rights — then they will need to treat the Republican Party as an enemy.” • As Obama did not in 2009 (and, to be fair to Hillary Clinton, she might well have, at that time).

2019

“Some Dems float idea of primary challenge for Ocasio-Cortez” [The Hill]. “‘What I have recommended to the New York delegation is that you find her a primary opponent and make her a one-term congressperson,’ the Democratic lawmaker, who requested anonymity, told The Hill. ‘You’ve got numerous council people and state legislators who’ve been waiting 20 years for that seat. I’m sure they can find numerous people who want that seat in that district.'” • They really hate her, don’t they? “Waiting twenty years….” But wait! What about party unity?

“Ocasio-Cortez Slams Tech Giants Over Climate Denial at Conference” [Bloomberg]. “Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez criticized Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Facebook Inc. and Microsoft Corp. for sponsoring a conference in Washington that included a session denying the science behind climate change. The New York Democrat and self-described Democratic socialist wrote to the chief executive officers of the companies Friday and said she was ‘deeply disappointed’ in their sponsorship of LibertyCon conference. ‘The example you have set promoting sustainability and evidence-based science is compromised by your implicit support of the session organized at LibertyCon,’ she said in the letter, which was joined by Democratic Representative Chellie Pingree of Maine.” • Good for Pingree, too, who hasn’t done a lot. Perhaps AOC is making her less shy?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Virginia students learn in trailers while state offers Amazon huge tax breaks” [Guardian]. “In Fairfax county, the third richest county in America, there are over 800 trailers serving as temporary classrooms because the school district cannot afford to build new classrooms…. Just a few miles away from the moldy trailers of McLean high school is the proposed site of on Amazon’s new headquarters in Crystal City, Virginia, right across the Potomac River from the Lincoln Memorial. The influx of new residents to northern Virginia attracted by Amazon is only likely to expand the trailer parks sitting outside of many northern Virginia schools…. While Virginia’s Democratic governor Ralph Northam is proposing to increase education funding by $269m, he has proposed to spend nearly three times as much, $750m, to lure Amazon to northern Virginia.” • Wow, a Democrat.

* * *

Corruption Eruption in the Windy City (all from DJG):

“Viagra, sex acts, use of a luxury farm: Feds detail investigation of Ald. Solis” [Chicago Sun-Times]. “Retiring Ald. Danny Solis (25th) received sex acts, Viagra, free weekend use of an Indiana farm once owned by Oprah Winfrey and a steady stream of campaign contributions in exchange for shepherding official City Council actions, according to allegations in a federal court affidavit obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times…. Although no charges have been filed publicly against Solis, the 2016 affidavit lays out in detail a federal corruption case against the veteran alderman, who was one of the closest City Council allies of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Emanuel’s predecessor, Richard M. Daley.” • Rahm? Oprah??

“FBI secretly recorded Mike Madigan at his law office pitching firm’s services” [Chicago Sun-Times]. “The FBI secretly recorded Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan trying to get business for his private law firm from a developer brought to him by Ald. Danny Solis, who was weighing the developer’s request to build a hotel in Chinatown, according to a federal court affidavit obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times. The affidavit makes clear for the first time that the federal investigation that has snared powerful Chicago Ald. Edward M. Burke extends beyond City Hall and into the Illinois statehouse, examining politicians’ longstanding practice of merging personal and political business.” • Well, the personal is the political, after all…

“Ald. Edward Burke dumped as tax lawyer by developers of Lincoln Yards, ‘The 78′” [Chicago Sun-Times]. “For 10 years, Sterling Bay, one of Chicago’s biggest developers, used Ald. Edward M. Burke’s law firm Klafter & Burke to seek property tax cuts. But not anymore. The firm behind the massive Lincoln Yards development proposed for the North Side has cut ties with Burke now that the alderman faces a corruption charge that threatens to send him to prison and end the reign of Chicago’s longest-tenured and most powerful City Council member…. Burke’s four-person law firm specializes in handling property tax appeals. It does that largely by seeking reductions in the property assessments that heavily determine the amount of those taxes. Its clients have long included companies that do business with or need a variety of approvals from City Hall.” • One big happy family in Chicago, apparently! (The many clients include the Trump Organization, interestingly.)

Lambert here: And how petty all the corruption is, too. Four-, five-, and six-figure stuff.

Stats Watch

GDP, Q4 2018: Delayed by the government shutdown [Econoday].

ADP Employment Report, January 2019: Delayed by the government shutdown [Econoday].

Pending Home Sales Index, December 2018: [Econoday].

Tech: “Google will conquer the world one charitable donation at a time” [The Outline]. “[T]his year alone, Google spent over $21 million on lobbying, and yesterday, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the company announced a $3.1 million dollar donation to the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit behind Wikipedia. These don’t sound like huge amounts of money for a corporation as massive as Google, but it’s business decisions like these – a donation here, a law passed there — that have allowed tech companies to slowly lay the foundation of our entire internet experience, and they deserve the same scrutiny as data collection policies and privacy scandals.”

Tech: “We analyzed 16,625 papers to figure out where AI is headed next” [MIT Technology Review]. “As well as the different techniques in machine learning, there are three different types: supervised, unsupervised, and reinforcement learning. Supervised learning, which involves feeding a machine labeled data, is the most commonly used and also has the most practical applications by far. In the last few years, however, reinforcement learning, which mimics the process of training animals through punishments and rewards, has seen a rapid uptick of mentions in paper abstracts.” • Very interesting!

Tech: “A New Golden Age for Computer Architecture” [Communications of the ACM]. This is a very approachable article, and well worth a cup of coffee if you want to better understand the machines that so dominate our lives. This caught my eye: “In the 1970s, processor architects focused significant attention on enhancing computer security with concepts ranging from protection rings to capabilities. It was well understood by these architects that most bugs would be in software, but they believed architectural support could help. These features were largely unused by operating systems that were deliberately focused on supposedly benign environments (such as personal computers), and the features involved significant overhead then, so were eliminated. In the software community, many thought formal verification and techniques like microkernels would provide effective mechanisms for building highly secure software. Unfortunately, the scale of our collective software systems and the drive for performance meant such techniques could not keep up with processor performance. The result is large software systems continue to have many security flaws, with the effect amplified due to the vast and increasing amount of personal information online and the use of cloud-based computing, which shares physical hardware among potential adversaries.” • And wait ’til we get to the Internet of things.

Transportation: “Tesla Supercharger Gets Vandalized: Images” [Inside EVs]. The deck: “This is why charging stations needs to be monitored.”

Concentration: “The Power of Platforms” [Public Seminar]. “Currently, there are two prominent lines of debate about the political implications of platforms and their algorithmic models: the black-box and the post-truth debates, explained below. Both discussions highlight important problems, but by focusing on the need for greater transparency and the dissolution of the public sphere respectively, they also distract from more urgent political concerns. Instead, I suggest we focus on the forms of power platforms and their algorithms exercise. Following Michel Foucault, they may be understood to employ a specific form of biopower, and should therefore be understood as biopolitical companies. What this means is that these companies have the means and the intention to govern populations. The biopolitical quality of these companies puts them at odds with democratic states that were historically thought to be the primary loci of biopower. Whereas the rise of platforms has consistently been greeted with enthusiasm for their democratizing potential, it may now be time to start to be concerned about the power platforms wield and what their power means for democratic states.” • Whatever “biopower” is; do we have any Foucault fans who can explain this concept better than this article does? Intriguing, though!

The Biosphere

“This Is Why You Can’t Tickle Yourself” [Vice] (original). “The research looked at people’s brains using fMRI when others were touching them on the arm, or when they were touching themselves on the arm. They found that when we touch ourselves, the brain dulls the experience. ‘We found that many areas reduced their activity during self-touch,’ Böhme tells me. Being touched by others activated more areas in the brain, like ones involved in the processing of tactile sensations, and also areas related to social cognition and reward, leading to a more intense sensation than with self-touch.” • Hmm.

“Into the dark” [MacLeans]. Terrific recap of the Thai Cave Boys rescue. This caught my eye: “[Chris] likes cave diving because most men can’t do it and he can do it because he doesn’t panic. ‘If you panic, it’s curtains,’ he’ll say. ‘You can’t control your heartbeat but you can control your breathing.’ Chris knows he can do that, too.”

Health Care

“How to build a Medicare-for-all plan, explained by somebody who’s thought about it for 20 years” [Jacob Hacker, Vox]. Here’s what Hacker’s backing, “Medicare for America” (and with brand confusion like that, you’d better count the spoons after the proponents leave your house). A summary:

In very brief, here’s what this plan would do:

  • The uninsured, people currently purchasing insurance in the Obamacare marketplaces, and Medicaid beneficiaries would automatically be enrolled in an improved Medicare program
  • Employers could continue to offer private insurance, so long as it meets certain federal standards. Companies could also elect to send their workers to the public program and pay a contribution toward their employees’ premiums. Likewise, workers could voluntarily leave their job’s insurance for the new public plan.
  • Participants would be required to pay premiums, on a sliding scale based on their income; people with lower incomes would pay no premium at all. Out-of-pocket costs would also be based on income and capped at $3,500 for an individual or $5,000 for a family.
  • Doctors would be paid Medicare rates, with an additional increase provided for primary care doctors and mental health services.

So, Medicare for America [gag] would not be free at the point of care, the system of complex eligibility requirements would remain, and the private insurance companies would still exist, as a financial and political force. Hard pass.

Those of us who remember 2009 will remember Jacob Hacker as the dude who introduced the so-called “public option” (see NC here), which sucked all the oxygen away from single payer, as it was designed to do, and which vanished after its work was done. (Although Obama cut a deal nobody now remembers with Big Pharma, with the “public option” what he gave up, he didn’t bother to tell public option advocates, who continued to drag the public option horse long after it was dead. For the sordid history, see Kip Sullivan here and here. If you want to understand the tactics that liberal Democrats will employ on #MedicareForAll, these two posts are essential reading. None of it will be new, including player like Hacker.)

MMT

Quite an endorsement:

Guillotine Watch

Silicon Valley dysfunction:

Just… wow:

Dude, 800 million people have that experience….

“The Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger Language of Dieting” [The Atlantic]. “Silicon Valley, not content with external devices, has pivoted to the self as its next great frontier. And in order for its vision of your body to take hold, it needs you to speak its language. Dieting is no longer a necessary problem of vanity, as it has been historically termed, but a problem of knowledge and efficiency—a rhetorical shift with broad implications for how people think of themselves. Where bodies might have previously been idealized as personal temples, they’re now just another device to be managed, and one whose use people are expected to master. We’re optimizing our performances instead of watching our figure, biohacking our personal ecosystem instead of eating salads… What’s unclear is what would become of people who lack the desire to self-optimize according to Silicon Valley standards.”

“Why Do Rich People Love Endurance Sports?” [Outside]. “Participating in endurance sports requires two main things: lots of time and money. Time because training, traveling, racing, recovery, and the inevitable hours one spends tinkering with gear accumulate—training just one hour per day, for example, adds up to more than two full weeks over the course of a year. And money because, well, our sports are not cheap: According to the New York Times, the total cost of running a marathon—arguably the least gear-intensive and costly of all endurance sports—can easily be north of $1,600…. ‘By flooding the consciousness with gnawing unpleasantness, pain provides a temporary relief from the burdens of self-awareness,’ write the researchers. ‘When leaving marks and wounds, pain helps consumers create the story of a fulfilled life. In a context of decreased physicality, [obstacle course races] play a major role in selling pain to the saturated selves of knowledge workers, who use pain as a way to simultaneously escape reflexivity and craft their life narrative.’ The pursuit of pain has become so common among well-to-do endurance athletes that scientific articles have been written about what researchers are calling ‘white-collar rhabdomyolysis,’ referring to a condition in which extreme exercise causes kidney damage.” • So, they’re not running to; they’re running away. But maybe if they want go get in touch with their physicality, and “demonstrate an ability to discipline their bodies,” they could just become Amazon warehouse workers?

Class Warfare

“Liberal Critics of Liberalism” [The American Conservative]. “George Scialabba continues to work in a political-literary vein almost forgotten in our partisan times. Along with Todd Gitlin, Thomas Frank perhaps, Jedediah Purdy (who introduces this volume), and a few others, Scialabba is a liberal without being progressive, in solidarity with workers against the capitalists rather than ‘woke’ activists aligned with corporate interests, and respectful of tradition while also criticizing the past’s faults… This new progressivism is sincere, but largely performative. It is too often in service to an individualistic view of the self and lacks the solidarity Scialabba sees as one of the strongest points of the Left. Resistance is a workers’ collective, not a world in which choice—mediated by corporations and advertising—is king. Identity politics are no help here either. Indeed, to Scialabba, they are part of the problem because they are too easily coopted by capital: ‘Identity politics are an essential component of neoliberalism, the extension of market relations across borders and into all spheres of life. …When rewards are assigned efficiently in proportion to merit, then not only is total output maximized, but the winners feel no qualms about the plight of the losers.’ Corporate power sees no distinction between funding diversity efforts and pursuing profit, becoming ‘woke’ through advertising.”

“Google Urged the U.S. to Limit Protection For Activist Workers” [Bloomberg]. At the NLRB: “Google, whose employees have captured international attention in recent months through high-profile protests of workplace policies, has been quietly urging the U.S. government to narrow legal protection for workers organizing online…. [L]ast year has seen an unprecedented wave of concentrated and forceful advocacy from employees, often at direct odds with the positions of management.”

News of the Wired

You stay here, and I’ll bring the etchings down. Thread:

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

TH writes: “A happy pollen collector gathering groceries at the Environmental Nature Center in Newport Beach, California.”

* * *

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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.

219 comments

  1. flora

    Finally figured out what, to me, is the major difference between the Sanders/Warren wing of the Dem party and the Clinton/Biden/Harris wing:

    Sanders/Warren are willing to do what it takes to make life a little better for the average person.
    Clinton/Biden/et al are willing to do whatever it takes to make life better for themselves, imo. Harris sure sounds like she fits that mold.

    too harsh?

    Bumpers, who along with Clinton and then-Sen. David Pryor had helped the state party move from segregationist to progressive, nonetheless gave the former governor a hand on the campaign trail in his 1982 comeback bid. “Clinton ought to be most grateful to both of us, but he never is,” he complained in a September 1982 entry, referring to himself and Pryor. “You can never do quite enough for him and Hillary. I know that they blame David and me both at least partially for their defeat in 1980. They are the most manic obsessed people I have ever known in my life, and perhaps even the most insensitive to everybody else’s feelings. Everything centers around them and their ambitions. It is precisely the reason Bill got beat in 1980. People felt, and correctly, that they were being manipulated.”

    https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/03/dale-bumpers-bill-hillary-clinton-diary/

    1. Another Scott

      I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. I’ve long divided politicians into two groups: the first who want to get into politics to benefit people and the second who gets into politics to benefit themselves. This does not neatly align with ideology, but in general those who do the most to benefit the MIC and Wall Street tend to fall into the latter group.

      Harris seems to have more HRC than BHO in her, based largely on how visible she is in her self-interest and contempt for people below her on the social ladder.

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        That’s really saying something, because Obama rarely let pass by an opportunity to scold, condescend to and pose before Black audiences. I’m also not aware of anyone ever calling him on his linguistic code switching, from Network Anchor English to African-American Vernacular, which always struck me as manipulative in the extreme. He was masterful in projecting back what people wanted to see in him (though that schtick is getting tired for more and more people), and disguising his ambition and sharp edges.

        Your point is valid, though: unlike Obama, Harris’ nasty sense of opportunism and self-interest is inadequately concealed.

          1. Michael Fiorillo

            Indeed, Lambert.

            I took your advice and watched it silently, and she really comes off as sinister.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Remember that article the past coupla days about that reporter who was researching the early life of LBJ? Can you imagine what a reporter of his like could come up with in researching the Clintons early life? If I was a reporter, I would be going around collecting these stories now before they fade away.

      1. ambrit

        “…before they fade away.”
        Before they are made to disappear, you mean.
        The Clintons appear to have the ethics and morality of a Criminal Mob.

  2. Carey

    ‘Fight for Europe, or the Wreckers Will Destroy It’:

    “..Europe is being attacked by false prophets who are drunk on resentment, and delirious at their opportunity to seize the limelight. It has been abandoned by the two great allies who in the previous century twice saved it from suicide; one across the Channel and the other across the Atlantic. The continent is vulnerable to the increasingly brazen meddling by the occupant of the Kremlin. Europe as an idea is falling apart before our eyes…”

    The Comfortable class seem to be up in arms, Mmm.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jan/25/fight-europe-wreckers-patriots-nationalist

    1. Summer

      “We urge European patriots to resist the nationalist onslaught…”

      That line is right out of Macroneon’s speech from a few months ago.

        1. Carey

          CJ Hopkins’s latest might help:

          https://consentfactory.org/2019/01/28/mister-charlie-told-me-so/

          “..If all that sounds completely insane and impossible to follow, that’s because it is. We have reached a stage in the War on Populism where the global capitalist ruling classes and their mouthpieces in the corporate media are no longer even trying to appear to make sense, or address people on any kind of rational level. Reading the so-called “serious” press and watching corporate television news is like having a bunch of paranoid psychotics tripping monkey balls on DMT jabbering strangely familiar-sounding contradictory nonsense at you … which, apart from its entertainment value, happens to be a standard technique cults use to scramble the minds of new members…”

        2. JBird4049

          They are also people who insist that if someone is an American patriot or nationalist means that they are racist White Nationalist and/or a jingoist. So if I am talking about the American Nation, meaning the American people, I must be talking about the White people.

          This is where the Neoliberal elites and real racist jingoists are working together; change, distort, and conflate ideologies, ideas, words, ideas, peoples, organizations, and groups. For example Liberals are the same as leftists and socialist and communist. All working class Americans are white and deplorable and racist and gun owners. All protesters are rioting are terrorists.

          It is a deliberate strategy by some as the inaccurate, lazy thinking caused by this weakens the disenfranchised, the weak, the poor, the reformers; more people must make the effort to label accurately.

          1. Carey

            Cohen (Roger, not Richard; my mistake): “..Patriotism is to nationalism as dignity is to barbarism..”

            Thanks for clearing that up Roger

            see Hopkins, above

    2. hamstak

      The self-importance of these “30 top intellectuals” (30 out of 30 top intellectuals agree that they are the top 30 intellectuals!) is remarkable. I only scanned the statement to prevent my head from exploding (as I will need it this afternoon, for work), but on the surface they seem to entirely omit mention of identity politics outside of the nationalist variety (gender, racial, sexual orientation) which they are perfectly fine with from their liberal-universalist vantage, and ignoring the self-inflicted wound of invoking a migration crisis through the active support of the “former great ally across the Atlantic” in its MENA hijinks (although Libya might be more of a Frenchie project), the rape of Greece, the possible role of Israeli apartheid in fomenting anti-Semitism, and so on. They speak about the abstraction of “values” but seem to have no sense about anything practical. It makes you wonder if they are capable of using a toaster to make toast.

      It is the “idea” of Europe that is imperiled (and there is only one possible “idea” of “Europe”, apparently, which they happen to share, incontrovertible as they are top 30 caliber) — the actual Europe, and it’s people and peoples, is of no consequence!

      And is “The Wreckers” the best term they can come up with? They seem like a Monty Python parody of intellectuals. But maybe they is just talking down to us dum-uns.

      I would like to learn what Slavoj Žižek thinks of this, but I suppose it does not matter since he did not make the top 30…

      1. Darthbobber

        BHL heads the list. Almost all I need to know right there. Anne Applebaum is another signatory. And how in God’s name does BHL get pride of place in a list that includes Rushdie, Pahmuk, and Kundera? Did he spring for the drinks?

          1. Carey

            Applebaum is up there too in my book, and looking at the rest, well…

            Maybe they can rally the troops for their vision of Europe, Inc.

            heh

    3. todde

      of course by ‘fighting for Europe’ they mean writing words.

      What the issue is ‘how many people will shed blood and bleed for Europe’?

      1. Hameloose Cannon

        The last time Europe embraced nationalism, largely based on myth, 20 million Soviets died. Which makes the Kremlin’s support for nationalist movements curious… Unless “resentment” is your political currency to spend obfuscating why the largest nation by land mass in Eurasia, rich in natural resources, has the same GDP as Italy. After 20 years at the helm, the only reliable influence the Kremlin yields relies on buying back its own energy from chunk-headed kleptocrats.

        1. Darthbobber

          Europe has consistently embraced nationalism as conventionally defined for quite some time. And most of the Europeanists are, when convenient, nationalist as well.

        2. Mo's Bike Shop

          Do you want to make a date to get together and compare notes on how well the US has been improving twenty years after it starts rebuilding from its upcoming collapse? I’m an optimist, I think we will eventually start rebuilding. Do you assume that we, or our descendant republics, will get to eventually in only 10 years?

      1. hamstak

        Thank you for this, it is a worthwhile read.

        Something else to note about the signatories is that at least one is from Israel and another from Belarus — which are not European nations, to my knowledge.

        1. Grebo

          Europe is usually said to extend east to the Urals, so Belarus, being west of Russia, is certainly European.
          And Israel competes in the Eurovision Song Contest…

        2. Oregoncharles

          In practice, Israel is a European colony in the midst of the Middle East – even though it isn’t in Europe (Belarus is). That’s a big part of the problem – that, the massive land theft,. and the apartheid, a response to both those problems.

      2. Chris Cosmos

        Great article. I see the old liberal elite morphing into support for a highly authoritarian state structure. Liberals in the US are very much of a mind to eliminate dissent and speech as much as can be done without looking like KGB officers but would like the result. Liberalism, as I’m implying, is no longer liberal but authoritarian. There is not any possibility of discussion on a wide variety of issues that they support–this is new in the liberal tradition personified by the liberals of 1932–1978 (more or less). These people were interested in new ideas, wide-ranging discussion and were solidly against the sort of McCarthyism we see common today exhibited by liberals. Again, it’s not that people have abandoned liberalism, but liberals who have abandoned it. It is the dissenters that Cook describes that have inherited the liberal tradition.

        1. Grebo

          Liberalism was always authoritarian. You (along with most Americans) have confused it with liberality, which is a different kind of thing entirely.

          The “liberals” of 1932-1978 were actually Social Democrats, which is a more liberal ideology than Liberalism.

          1. pjay

            Clearly we need to define our terms. This is also a problem with the American Conservative article “Liberal Critics of Liberalism,” which makes some good points while utilizing confusing labels. I think in this particular conversation, most American readers of NC understand “liberals” as the socially “progressive” (another fuzzy term in the AC article) but economically neoliberal “New Democrats” who, on economic issues, are a throwback to classical “liberalism” in the European sense.

            You may be correct about Americans in general. But I think you may underestimate the commentators here. Many, if not most of us, understand the older definition and the differences in meaning.

            1. Grebo

              Yes, most NCers know the difference but I thought Chris Cosmos hadn’t quite got it.
              I think the confusion is often deliberate. Top Democrats will say they are “liberal” (meaning Liberalist, so to speak, or Neoliberal) knowing that their listeners will hear the other meaning. It’s a clever and insidious way to corral and co-opt their natural enemies.

            2. Lambert Strether Post author

              “Every programming problem requires a level of indirection to solve.” –Apocryphal Programming Proverb

              I understand liberals to be a subtype of neoliberals. Like conservatives, liberals are markets-first, but add levels of indirection (a) conceal/celebrate/lubricate market operations and (b) create niches for their own professional services in doing all this (see, e.g., ObamaCare*). Conservatives don’t believe in adding the indirection.**

              That’s why liberals think there’s an important distinction between Obama waiting until he leaves office to cash in through his Presidential Center (not Library), or one Clinton making policy decisions, and the other Clinton laundering payoffs through the family foundation, and Trump, who nakedly cashes, by, say, putting up dignitaries in Trump Organization properties. From the perspective of a historian working with a time-scale of decades, as opposed to months or years, none of these distinctions will matter. It’s all one ancien regime, no matter that different factions within it run grifts with varying degrees of crassness.

              Maybe it wasn’t always this way (Edmund Burke; John Stuart Mill). That’s how it is now.

              NOTE * Or, more pointedly, identity politics, which is a way of concealing/celebrating/lubricating the operations of labor markets, especially for those who aspire to deliver professional services.

              NOTE ** Their slogan is another programming proverb: “When in doubt, use brute force.”

              UPDATE Adding, no, I don’t accept that liberals are “progressive” in the slightest (and I was present at the creation of “progressive,” which was simply a rebranding for “liberals” after Gingrich poisoned the well for that term). If they were, we would have gotten single payer in 2009, instead of a markets-first “solution” with a ton of complexity and indirection, plus a lot of niches for professional services. This comment applies to self-identified liberals in the political class, not to civilians.

              1. JBird4049

                You are right as it wasn’t always like this; Conservatives and leftists of all kinds are still around; erased from polite society and into the margins like the writers at the American Conservative.

        2. Richard

          There was no more perfect “liberal” than Hubert Horatio Humphrey. And no more perfect red baiter. Goodness yes :)
          The roots of authoritarianism run deep in usian culture.
          And liberal ain’t a good thing, in my opinion. My enemies are welcome to the word.

          1. Oregoncharles

            The first year I could vote was 1968 – Humphrey vs. Nixon. Humphrey vocally backed Daley’s storm troopers at the convention, and that tore it for me: I also thought his years as Johnson’s VP had left Humphrey a ruined man – who would make a terrible president. I voted for the pig – the real one. (The Yippies ran a pig, called Pigasus, to make the obvious point.)

            I don’t think anyone knows how many people voted for the real pig, but I suspect it was enough. As far as I’m concerned, Humphrey’s name lives in infamy.

      3. Hopelb

        Thank you very much for this link! Jonathan Cook’s most succinct and unflinching dissection our current state of affairs should be shared and read widely. It would be great if one of the 30, preferably a philosophy expert, would offer a response!

    4. Mo's Bike Shop

      Did not read, but the link makes me worry about my British Literacy: Isn’t that sort of article supposed to go in The Telegraph?

  3. Swamp Yankee

    Quick correction: Fred Upton is from Michigan, not Wisconsin. He’s also a rock-ribbed right-winger from the southern part of Michigan’s Bible Belt (want to meet some really illiberal Dutch Calvinists? Visit West Michigan).

    Upton’s also swimsuit model Kate Upton’s uncle; their ancestor was the founder of Whirlpool. The Uptons are real West Michigan gentry. So I guess not surprising that Bankster Joe would sidle up to them.

    1. Procopius

      Yeah, that’s were Betsy DeVos comes from, too. Her family is big in the Reformed Dutch Church (not Dutch Reformed, that’s a different group of reactionary religious fanatics).

  4. Pavel

    Re: the vintage Sanders vid in Russia. I’m old enough to remember when Dems and liberals thought it was a Good Thing for regular Americans to try to have a dialogue with regular Russians in the interests of world peace. How quaint.

    1. DJG

      Pavel: The comments are wonderfully funny, though, starting with the person writing, Now I want to vote for him more than ever, and then the long string of comments making fun of the poster. The event was evidently a sister-city congress–although the poster himself seems to think that Bernie went to meet some soviets (councils?). Or that the word “soviet” is some forbidden word. Or something.

      More hysteria, this time from someone dubiously named TopRope Travis. Mass panics: It’s what America ™ does best.

        1. Janie

          Enjoyed your link. Sorta like the child sacrifice hysteria 15 or so years earlier, McMartin preschool for instance.

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            it was at the tail end of that mess…and related….like a communicable mind virus, sweeping through thumperland..
            weird, formative experience.
            the californian at the center of it now runs a pecan farm out this way…350 miles from that dark hole.
            we’re both in exile…having escaped the Pine Curtain.
            ugh.

          2. Mo's Bike Shop

            Back in the 90s a local acapella group was arrested for Satanic Rituals because they were practicing in an empty city racquetball court. Made NPR by the next morning, for the dumbness.

    2. DJG

      Anyone wondering about the source of the video can click through on the mgranville1 Twitter account to some Jane-Sanders-hater’s thread.

    3. DJG

      Who’da thunkit? From Top Rope Travis’s own web site:

      Currently, he serves on the Board of Directors of the Northeast Florida Villanova University Alumni Association and is a Tolle Lege Circle “Lifetime” Member of Pi Alpha Alpha. Additionally, Travis is a member of the Democratic National Committee, Military Officers Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and NAACP.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Of course he’s DNC, but you forgot “Director of Veterans Outreach for @RunBeto2020,” also in the bio. Payback, no doubt, for the well-deserved beatdown Beto got for his engineered boomlet.

    4. Darthbobber

      The hilarious thing is that these people actually believe that this is some serious dirt. Then, when it inevitably fails to produce the hoped for effect, that just proves that everyone loses is stupid. Or deplorable.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        Having no account (twitter as well as personally) whenever I check these I get to see the full unblocked baboonery. Rabid sheep.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        It is very serious dirt for the Clintonites. It will rally them to new peaks of hatred and rage . . . especially if Sanders gets nominated.

        The Obama Coalition ( Wall Street MoneyLords and Identy Politiculturics Hipsters) will merely try to weaponise it against Sanders without feeling that personal hate.

        Sanders could win more support-than-now from younger people if he can figure out how to totally own ( “pawn”?) the exploiters and offendees of this video in public.

    5. Richard

      So he sang a truly apple pie usian song (sang by every nearly every grade school kid in front of their parents) with the rooskies. Pearls will be clutched! Pince nez will shatter!
      But he was drunk! On vacation! On his honeymoon!
      Meanwhile, Beto loves Big Oil, Cory is Corrupt, and Kamala Harris is a Cop.
      I have every confidence that the usian people will keep their eyes on the ball here. We just don’t really give a s*&% about russia. We truly don’t.

  5. JohnnyGL

    https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2019/01/29/howard_schultz_on_independent_2020_run_i_think_i_can_beat_the_system.html

    I threw this in links, but gotta repost here, too. Mostly just for the LOLs :)

    I really liked the heckler trying to pierce his bubble. Prob didn’t work Schultz was deficit cuts and now!!!

    He’s not going to take a look at real problems in society, defintely not the ones that are happening in his own stores RIGHT NOW

    https://www.businessinsider.com/starbucks-workers-petition-bathroom-needle-disposal-boxes-2019-1

    That bubble must be nearly impenetrable!!!

    1. rd

      The big question I have: Will voters who get their coffee at Dunkin Donuts, McDonalds, and the Waffle House vote for Howard Schultz (or even know who he is)?

    2. shinola

      This from the rcp article:
      “Schultz, there to promote his book and an independent bid for the presidency, compared Democrats calling for universal health care coverage to President’s Trump’s promise to build a wall.”

      He should team up with Kamala Harris and run on the Neo-lib POS party ticket.

      1. JohnnyGL

        No way, Harris is now dug in rhetorically as supporting M4A. Schultz attacked her on it, specifically.

        She’s either gotta do the famed “walk-back” on her support….which would damage her candidacy, or she’s gotta be prepared to defend M4A against all comers.

        I saw the ‘tough on crime’ stuff from Lambert yesterday and was ready to say, “never-harris”. But since she’s committed to M4A, if she continues that commitment, I may have to be willing to give her a shot.

        I’m hoping she doesn’t do what Beto or Gillum did, which is most damaging of all….support M4A in primaries, sort of….then run away from it in the general election. That’s worst possible stance of all. I’d rather be dealing with an honest ‘hard no’ over a flip-flopper.

        1. Darthbobber

          But what does it mean that donors for whom m4a is a red line pronounce her reliable? Who is she lying to?

        2. RopeADope

          Or Schultz could be an establishment Dem plant to give a veneer of “fighting the billionaires” to an establishment Dem candidate that is privately helping the billionaires. As long as both continue to use vague language that is a possible scenario.

        3. Carey

          “No way, Harris is now dug in rhetorically as supporting M4A.”

          When has that ever mattered in Establishment politics?

          She’ll “tack to the center” (what a tired trope!) in a heartbeat.

        4. Mo's Bike Shop

          I’m hoping she doesn’t do what Beto or Gillum did…

          or Bill Clinton, Obama…

          I can’t help but think you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

          I have to give props to Hillary in that she was crystal clear about how I should not expect anything for my vote.

        5. marym

          Staff walk-back:

          Kamala Harris is open to multiple paths to ‘Medicare-for-all’

          Republicans attacked Harris within minutes of her remarks…

          As the furor grew, a Harris adviser on Tuesday signaled that the candidate would also be open to the more moderate health reform plans, which would preserve the industry, being floated by other congressional Democrats. It represents a compromise position that risks angering “Medicare-for-all” proponents, who view eliminating private health insurance as key to enacting their comprehensive reform

          .

          1. Carey

            Dog, you have to love the language: “..preserve the industry..”; no mention of the citizens who have to die so that the “industry” can
            feed further..

            Things will change, I think

    3. Richard

      If there is one thing ordinary people are on fire for, it is cutting the deficit! Especially by cutting Medicare and Social Security!
      Schultz says he’s a lifelong democrat. So, about the last 40 years? About the same time I stopped being a dem?
      Another wonderfully clarifying moment.

  6. Jason Boxman

    Yeah, I remember the public option magic pony and reading about it at NK. Back in 2009 I was at an Orange County (FL) Young Democrat thing, and one of the OFA people was asking people to sign a healthcare petition supporting whatever Obama’s vacuous position was at the time. It didn’t even mention the public option; I refused to sign. The canvaser had the appearance of looking at me as if I had 3 heads. Clowns.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Back in the summer of 2009, I participated in demonstrations that were organized by MoveOn.org. The point? To show support for the public option.

      Before we began marching around Downtown Tucson, we were admonished against using the words “single payer” in our chants. That was a real no-no.

      Oh, and did I mention that, by the summer of 2009, Obama had already struck that deal with pharma? The one that took the public option off the table?

      Nothing like wasting people’s time during a hot summer in Tucson. Thanks, MoveOn.org. (Sarcasm off.)

    2. NotReallyHere

      I am confused. I remember when the Obama was giving away the house to get his health reform passed. Back then, the insurance companies were open to a lot of suggestions but they were adamant that there could be no public option. It was their red line because it meant they would be out of business within five years.

      Given where we are today (private insurance get the premiums while public insurance – Medicare and Medicaid – get all the expenses) doesn’t a public option make sense as a transitional measure? If we were to allow Medicare to offer coverage at a competitive rate to anyone who wants it – including employees – wouldn’t the effect be to improve Medicare’s risk pool and enhance revenues while worsening revenues and risk pools for private companies?

      The first years of any new system are vitally important to longevity. Any new system which costs more in the transition or worsens coverage, provides a opportunity to its enemies to kill it before it can be consolidated. Sanders plan – to extend Medicare to the over 50’s initially and then to everyone – creates a horrible transition period and it does little or nothing to lower health care costs for a long time.

      A public option, allowing Medicare to offer coverage to anyone that wants it would massively lower premiums and improve coverage while addressing the PAYGO conditions insisted upon by the democrat frauds . It sets the mechanics of a transition in favor of M4A.

      Would love to hear any opinions on this.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        doesn’t a public option make sense as a transitional measure?

        No, people are poorer and less likely to weather a health disaster, and the parasitical nature of health insurance premiums are dead weight on the larger economy. Serious public option advocates also noted increasing premiums and flaws with monopoly in healthcare market would mean higher prices and poorer service leading to a sicker population increasing costs over the long term, making half assed attempts in the future less credible and less effective.

        The chance for the public option went bye bye a long time ago. If there ever was a time, the time for compromise with parasites passed. So called public option advocates can’t be trusted. Obama demonstrated this. This is the problem with trust. Once its gone, its gone. It won’t be different this time.

        The bottom line is why should you choose who lives and dies while we wait. Would you volunteer to pay premiums and not receive healthcare for any reason during this transition? You break your leg its out of pocket. If you aren’t willing to do this, why should some one else?

        1. woof

          good answer.

          M4A: not because healthcare is a right but because healthcare should never be a business!

        2. Steve H.

          > Would you volunteer to pay premiums and not receive healthcare for any reason during this transition?

          This has happened locally more than once. Local hospital and main insurer ‘squabble’ and refuse each other for a month or so. Hospital gets all the revenue and insurer doesn’t have to pay out, but if the customer doesn’t pay the insurer they lose their policy.

          Sunk costs fallacy. Necrotizing fasciism.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            One problem is people who have “reforms” for the healthcare system simply have no experience with it beyond maybe a physical.

            My presentation sounded absurd but it what happens everyday. “Not Really Here’ is largely making an “I have mine” argument because he is clearly expecting he’ll be protected ignoring how HMOs and insurers function.

      2. Carey

        “I am confused. I remember when the Obama was giving away the house to get his health reform passed. Back then, the insurance companies were open to a lot of suggestions but they were adamant that there could be no public option…”

        “open to a lot of suggestions..” How kind of Our Insurance Behemoths; true lovers of democracy, they are!

        “…doesn’t a public option make sense as a transitional measure? If we were to allow Medicare to offer coverage at a competitive rate to anyone who wants it – including employees – wouldn’t the effect be to improve Medicare’s risk pool and enhance revenues while worsening revenues and risk pools for private companies?..?

        No, the “public option” would become a dumping ground for the sicker part of the citizenry, while the for-profit side skimmed off profits from the healthy.
        Then: “look how expensive and worse-performing the public option is!!!”
        would be the refrain.

        We’ve *been through all this*.

        HR676 Medicare for All, now.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          No, the “public option” would become a dumping ground for the sicker part of the citizenry, while the for-profit side skimmed off profits from the healthy.

          Yes, it would be a charter school performance replication.

        2. NotReallyHere

          I understand the trust issues mentioned by “not Timothy Geitner” and I have a lot of sympathy for that view. However, the argument that a monopoly health care provider would gouge consumers makes no sense if that monopoly provider is Medicare – especially when a straight run to Medicare for all means that the same Medicare would be the monopoly – but without extra funding.

          Secondly the charter school argument makes no sense because we are not in a situation where the system we would like to encourage can be “dumped upon” with additional bad risks currently carried by the private system. The public system (Medicare and Medicaid) already carry all the risk. Their risk pool is as bad as it gets – made up of the old and the poor. The private insurance companies force the young and healthy to buy health care which they generally don’t need and then boot us onto the public system when we get old or are laid off.

          Allowing anyone to buy into Medicare on a marginal, risk adjusted price basis (and allow mediacre to negotiate drug prices obviously) would serve to improve Medicare’s risk profile and lower premiums for everyone.

          The vampires in the system are the private sector health insurers – they own the politicians – we have to have a way to spike the current system using their own rules against them.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Because the very first thing is dishonest people will point to performances of the two systems similar to the charter school sham. Again its 2019, and we’ve gone over this.

            Also, tell me in credible terms how the “we’ll fix ACA later” crowd can be trusted to do anything other than the straight forward. They can’t. I wouldn’t trust AOC or Sanders to this either.

            Before you say what about countries without single payer who have mixed systems, those countries have higher standards of living, lower poverty rates, more generous social safety nets, etc.

            1. NotReallyHere

              I don’t already know that. In fact most of the data collected in public systems show that Medical costs over an individual’s lifetime are very concentrated in the last 5 years of life. If that’s true then Medicare , by covering the old, has to have to worst average health profile of any pool.

              Also, Please stop with the assumption that asking any questions means I am against a full, free at the point of delivery system health system. I have experienced -as a consumer – both the US “health care” system and more than one public system from other countries and the US one is by far the worst. It is barbaric to abandon middle aged and young people to bankruptcy because they got cancer and that happens often. It needs to be changed.

              That said, we are in the real Adam Smith dystopian world where the intermediaries control the system. They own the majority of the politicians and can break a career at will. If we insist on reopening the whole thing again they can win – again – with back door dealing, Astro turfing resistance and just straight up corruption.

              I happen to believe that 1) allowing Medicare to offer plans on all state exchanges 2) allowing Medicare to offer plans to individuals in work and 3) removing the prohibition on Medicare against negotiating drug prices. Would go a long way to creating a full public system within 5 years. I would love to hear why this can’t work based on the actual business model of health insurance.

              1. Carla

                I don’t think it can work because Medicare itself has already been so badly crappified by the private “Advantage” plans. That’s why we always refer to HR676 (which BTW has already lost its number and hasn’t been assigned a new one yet) as “expanded, improved Medicare.” Without those expansions and improvements Medicare will not provide the full public system we want, need and deserve.

          2. Carey

            “However, the argument that a monopoly health care provider would gouge consumers makes no sense if that monopoly provider is Medicare – especially when a straight run to Medicare for all means that the same Medicare would be the monopoly – but without extra funding.”

            What might this tripe mean

            dissembling for the Few

          3. marym

            The current Medicare and Medicaid systems are already privatized (Medicare Advantage, Medicare supplements, Part D, and Medicaid managed care). Medicaid is also administered by the states and subject to differing restrictions like work requirements, and asset seizure. Building on these systems, without the structural reform of a fully public not-for-profit national insurance plan as specified in HR 676, is a step in the wrong direction.

            1. NotReallyHere

              Thank you Mary for an actual answer. That makes sense. So the trick is reform these systems before expansion.

              1. marym

                Lambert @ 5:06 am makes a good case against a path of supposed incremental reform. We also have the example of the ACA. There was zero attempt during the Obama years to improve on its known flaws; and it’s been easy for the Trump administration and Republican state governments to undermine its benefits.

                1. NotReallyHere

                  and that’s the knotty problem. Do we re-enter the craziness of the ACA root and branch reform (knowing that private health insurers have the advantage of private access and oodles of money) or do we elect a mirror image of the republican strategy – instead of using its complexity to undermine health coverage – use that complexity to undermine the private model.

          4. Carey

            “..However, the argument that a monopoly health care provider would gouge consumers makes no sense if that monopoly provider is Medicare – especially when a straight run to Medicare for all means that the same Medicare would be the monopoly – but without extra funding…”

            Please say more about what this might mean. If you like.

            1. NotReallYhere

              explanation: NotTimothyGeithner mentioned two things.

              1. Trust – you can’t trust those who espouse ACA reform because they are corrupted and will do again what they did in 2009.
              2. if we expand medicare to a public option we will get worse risk pools in the public system and insurers will use that to kill a nationalized system.
              3)A public company will be a monopoly that will use its market power to gouge enrollees.
              .
              My point is a) any nationalized health system will result in a monopoly. to make the argument that one monopoly is “better” than another doesn’t really wash. Any monopoly will have to be regulated (forced to operate as a non profit with reasonable – not exorbitant – salaries for execs ).

              My second argument relates to risk pools.There is no such thing as a natural market for health insurance. Every insurance model suffers from information asymmetry. No rational insurance system will enter a contract with an individual. Instead they look to cover large groups of people (risk pools).

              Private sector Insurance companies use their political influence to force working aged adults to buy private insurance through their employers while the government, – through payroll taxes – forces them to fund medicare/Medicaid. Employees pay twice for healthcare or they get nothing. And often, even after years of paying twice they still get nothing if they are laid off before they can get at the public benefits.

              Since the system is predicated on the corporate pools, companies are incentivized to get rid of sicker older employees (check out the rate of unemployment for women who have suffered breast cancer, for instance). These insurance companies look at the risk pools of corporations before they set the corporate contribution rate. If a company wants to control its health expenses it is incentivized to get rid of the sick. This is abhorrent.

              High level spending data for the US shows that we spend twice as much as a percentage of gdp on health care than those with nationalized systems. But federal and state governments combined spend 45% of all US spending and households spend another 28% (private health insurers spend just 20%).

              To me those numbers tell us that the risk pools for government systems are already horrible. But the employed within the working aged population are being stiffed.

              We have to fix this, but we have to do it in a smart way. Knowing that the insurance companies own our politicians is important Even if you and I vote for M4A, the insurance companies, operating in their backrooms and lobby firms, will kill it.

              I copy and pasted some data from the link below to back up my opinions.

              https://www.cms.gov/research-statistics-data-and-systems/statistics-trends-and-reports/nationalhealthexpenddata/nhe-fact-sheet.html

              Quotes:

              “The largest shares of total health spending were sponsored by the federal government (28.1 percent) and the households (28.0 percent). The private business share of health spending accounted for 19.9 percent of total health care spending, state and local governments accounted for 17.1 percent, and other private revenues accounted for 6.8 percent.”

              ” Per person personal health care spending for the 65 and older population was $18,988 in 2012, over 5 times higher than spending per child ($3,552) and approximately 3 times the spending per working-age person ($6,632).
              In 2012, children accounted for approximately 25 percent of the population and slightly less than 12 percent of all PHC spending.
              The working-age group comprised the majority of spending and population in 2012, almost 54 percent and over 61 percent respectively.
              The elderly were the smallest population group, nearly 14 percent of the population, and accounted for approximately 34 percent of all spending in 2012.

              My Take:
              Who covers the elderly? and who covers poor working age population spending? Medicaid spent $582bn in 2017, more than one third of all health spending of the working age group. Which insurer pays for one third of the births in the US? I think it is Medicaid but you can correct me if I am wrong.

              So why are our health outcomes so bad while our spending is so high? and is it coincidental that federal and state government spending in the US as a % of GDP matches the spending of nationalized systems elsewhere. Those other countries manage to provide full coverage for the same amount that federal and state governments pay in the US today. and their health outcomes are better.

              I think that is the opportunity for those of us who want nationalized, full coverage healthcare, but we have to be smart about implementation.

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                My point is a) any nationalized health system will result in a monopoly. to make the argument that one monopoly is “better” than another doesn’t really wash.

                A government monopoly is entirely different than a private monopoly. We have what are called elections. If you don’t understand the difference, I can’t help you.

                As far as risk pools, the government isn’t invested in profit seeking but healthcare outcomes. The problem with separate risk pools is people will seek to undermine the public option through pointing out the different results as healthier people remain in the private market. Those same companies are still incentivized to deny coverage for healthier people who need to use their insurance.

                I know this might be the first time you thought about healthcare, and you are very excited but its important to remain pragmatic and focus on what works.

                1. NotReallHere

                  “A government monopoly is entirely different than a private monopoly.”

                  correct … and Medicare is a public entity as is Medicaid. You misunderstand my point if you believe that I am advocating a private sector, profit motivated monopoly. I am not.

                  As far as risk pools, the government isn’t invested in profit seeking but healthcare outcomes. The problem with separate risk pools is people will seek to undermine the public option through pointing out the different results as healthier people remain in the private market

                  correct again, but the question is to what extent have the private health insurers already skimmed off the healthy and if there is more to skim. My argument is that allowing a government controlled, non profit entity into the healthy pools will improve their risk profiles. The data I referenced backs this up. You don’t seem to agree.

                  I know this might be the first time you thought about healthcare, and you are very excited but its important to remain pragmatic and focus on what works.

                  you don’t know that and frankly it’s rude to try to discredit me with that put down. . Going for broke in re-doing the system plays into the hands of the cynical intermediaries, in my opinion. I will vote for anyone who supports HR676 but I am open to other solutions too.

          5. Carey

            “..we have to have a way to spike the current system using their own rules against them.”

            Why?

            Change the rules to benefit the great Majority of the Citizenry, as in the
            relatively civilized countries. Look at the US as compared to any other
            OECD country, and weep.

            But competitivness! innovation! awesomeness!

            atomized hellhole

      3. Mo's Bike Shop

        It was their red line because it meant they would be out of business within five years.

        That business is providing as little health care as possible.

        “Be sensible, or they won’t be able to eat the poor.”

        Do you have anything on the freedoms we’d lose by destroying PayDay Lending?

      4. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The first years of any new system are vitally important to longevity. Any new system which costs more in the transition or worsens coverage, provides a opportunity to its enemies to kill it before it can be consolidated. Sanders plan – to extend Medicare to the over 50’s initially and then to everyone – creates a horrible transition period and it does little or nothing to lower health care costs for a long time.

        I agree. As I wrote:

        The long phase-in for S1804 gives me the creeps. The players in the health care system are highly unlikely to roll over and accept that the rules of the game have changed (and in fact, S1804’s retention of the profit motive gives them every incentive not to do so.) Four years is — you knew this was coming — a long time in politics, and all the brand confusion and watering down and bait-and-switch tactics used to oppose the bill will then be re-purposed for the phase-in period to delay implentation or even to roll it back (“It’s just too hard.” Here one imagines the avalanche of propaganda and sob stories in our famously free press). Medicare was phased in one year, back in the day when steam-powered computers were driven by punch cards. The health care system will have plenty of “time to prepare” during the debate before passage of the bill (and the more complexity and useless cruft we rip out, the easier preparation will be). There is no reason to assume that players who control the current system are working in good faith, and they should not be given four years to cripple the bill. Sanders should know this.

  7. clarky90

    Re; ;”Dystopia”

    This article touches on “our” pervasive, “fake discourse”. There is a comments section too, if you love to read the commentariat? (I do).

    China and “what Australia needs to know about ideology in Xi Jinping’s China”
    By John Garnaut

    https://www.interest.co.nz/opinion/97675/john-garnaut-takes-deep-look-what-drives-china-and-what-australia-needs-know-about

    “….Mao extended Stalin’s metaphor a decade later at his famous Yan’an Forum on Literature and Art delivered in two parts in October 1942,..

    “[Our purpose is] to ensure that literature and art fit well into the whole revolutionary machine as a component part, that they operate as powerful weapons for uniting and educating the people and for attacking and destroying the enemy, and that they help the people fight the enemy with one heart and one mind.”

    This is when Mao made plain that there is no such thing as truth, love or artistic merit except in so far as these abstract concepts can be pressed into the practical service of politics.

    …Importantly, the Communist Party never sought to “persuade” so much as “condition”. By creating a fully enclosed system, controlling all incentives and disincentives, and “breaking” individuals physically, socially and psychologically, they found they could condition the human mind in the same way that Pavlov had learned to condition dogs in a Moscow laboratory a few years earlier…..

    ….Already, Xi has shown that the subversive promise of the internet can be inverted. In the space of five years, with the assistance of Big Data science and Artificial Intelligence, he has been bending the Internet from an instrument of democratisation into a tool of omniscient control. The journey to Utopia is still in progress but first we must pass through a cyber-enabled dystopia in order to defeat the forces of counter-revolution.”

    1. JTMcPhee

      And for those who haven’t heard of Operation Mockingbird and its many dark cousins, and the long efforts of the Borg to bend the arc of the end of history toward what-everrr, let’s not be thinking that the Chinese version of the Borg is any badder than the Five Eyes’ formulation.

      The CIA and state security have been all over this for generations now: see “The CIA and the Cultural Cold War,” reviewed in this link, with notes of all the small and yuuuge ways a little band of nasty-a$$ men and women have twisted and perverted public discourse into simple service to the “capitalist Narrative:”. https://ratical.org/ratville/CAH/CIAcultCW.pdf.

      Note the sometimes paid and mostly willing participation of so many supposed heroes of the Left.

      Power will serve power’s purposes, in every place and context.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The one admirable thing about Americans (not to brag) is that when China or Russia is criticized, American posters do not hestiate to say America can and should also be criticized.

        When America is criticized here, American posters here are (is it egotistical to say this) will sometimes, but not always, point out that China, Russia, etc. should also be criticized. Perhaps it’s the courteous thing to do.

        It would seem that we Americans demand more of our country.

        Thought I think others around the world are similarly virtuous…demanding more of and care more for their own, being more critical, even if they are not as powerful (or as capable to do damage).

        1. Isotope_C14

          China and Russia don’t march around as the world’s police force, and claim to be spreading freedom and Democracy.

          Their people know they live in a mafia.

          The poor average American thinks they are free. They are in fact only free to choose which cereal they buy for breakfast, unless they are too poor for cereal, in which case they need to work harder for freedom.

      2. integer

        Yep. When one considers the post-WWII era in which the CIA was created (9/18/1947), it is clear that one of its primary goals, if not its primary goal, is to perpetuate US hegemony and the accompanying capitalist (corporatist) ideology. This is accomplished by undermining and replacing governments that do not sufficiently embrace this ideology; any example of a viable alternative economic system is considered an existential threat. With regard to Operation Mockingbird, the narratives put forth by the liberal and conservative corporate media (e.g. CNN and Fox) on issues that do not advance the corporatist agenda (generally those that may result in a leftward shift of the domestic Overton window or reject imperialism) are designed to keep the population divided. In contrast, there is unanimous agreement on issues that advance this agenda, the latest example being the coup in Venezuela.

        “People, governments and economies of all nations must serve the needs of multinational banks and corporations.”

        – Zbigniew Brzezinski

    2. Rajesh K

      “….Already, Xi has shown that the subversive promise of the internet can be inverted.”

      Mark Zuckerberg (and his ilk): “Hold my beer”

    3. Cal2

      “ensure that literature and art fit well into the whole revolutionary machine as a component part, that they operate as powerful weapons for uniting and educating the people and for attacking and destroying the enemy, and that they help the people fight the enemy with one heart and one mind.”

      How is that different from today’s American media owned by five large corporations?
      Just depends how you define “revolution”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It could be that posting that comment will set your social credit score back, as in China.

        We don’t know if that’s the case. Those of us who care about America will continue to point out the fact we could and should be better (risk of doing that, unknown).

    4. Darthbobber

      None of these things are actually distinctly Maoist, or even Stalinist.

      There are (or were) more subtle ways to the same result.

    5. Mo's Bike Shop

      Why does the word “Hamilton” keep popping up in my head?

      I’m realizing it’s on tour now, and all I can think is, “What’s next? The ‘J.P. Morgan Christmas on Ice’?”

    6. Unna

      clarky90, nice comment. Something tells me that Truth, Love, and Art do not exist in purely materialistic systems except as things which can be reduced to materialistic or physiological factors and so have value as instrumentalities of power or gratification, see President Xi. None of them are sacred in and of themselves. But, of course, this is a viewpoint that has no positivistic meaning. I admit, it’s been awhile, so maybe there have been rhetorical advances in this area I’m not aware of.

  8. shinola

    Hmmm… I still have a yellowed, dog-eared, paperback copy of Mike Royko’s “Boss: Richard J. Daley of Chicago” in my bookshelf that I bought when I was a Sr. in high school.

    Seems from the Chicago Sun-Times articles little has changed in the last few decades except for the names.

    1. Steve H.

      The Great Dumpling practiced local politics in the Tammany tradition. Rahm sells public goods to corporate powers at discount. The Great Dumpling had reach for a dynasty, understanding that public goods to local workers = votes. Rahm’ll be gone B4UR, could not muster support for a third run at mayor.

  9. Wyoming

    Re the Outside article on endurance athletes.

    There is a sub story here on women ultra athletes, which is perhaps (s/) more interesting than a dubious hypothesis that white collar work has no real measurable goals and thus these athletes need to go out and find something to do that hurts them.

    In that as the length of the ultra distance foot races are now hitting the mid-200 mile distances women are rising to the top and beating the men – and sometimes beating them like dogs. Are women much more psychologically capable than men of handling pain over a long period of time? (my wife said ‘Of course we are! Was there ever any doubt?’)

    To wit:

    Courtney Dauwalter
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/05/sports/courtney-dauwalter-200-mile-race.html
    https://gearjunkie.com/courtney-dauwalter-moab-200-winner

    Jasmin Paris
    https://au.eurosport.com/athletics/jasmin-paris-becomes-first-woman-to-win-268-mile-ultra-marathon_sto7097582/story.shtml

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, I don’t buy that basic thesis – the history of endurance sports is full of people from modest backgrounds – farmers, factory workers, etc., excelling. Just look at most Tour de France winners. I know lots of distance runners and cyclists and most are just regular (if unfeasibly skinny) people.

      I think the number of rich men doing it has more to do with the fact that most are older, and you can’t compete in power/strength/speed sports with younger people in your 40’s or over, but you can in endurance sports. So its natural for competitive older people who’ve done well in business/careers, going doing marathons rather than trying to play football.

      As for the women in endurance races issue, its been predicted for decades that women would match men in endurance running, there is no physiological reason why women can’t match men. But not in endurance cycling, where power to weight ratios are important (there are some amazing women endurance cyclists, but they are known for their persistence, not speed).

      Having said that, nearly all records in endurance events are, shall we say, compromised somewhat by the prevalence of PEDs in so many of these events, and some PEDS (i.e. steroids), give proportionately greater benefits to women. So I’d reserve judgement on this for a while.

      1. Wombat

        Indeed, Seriously this article was filed under “guillotine watch”? Ive run a few 50k trail races- generally they cost about $90. Oops, I guess this puts me in the same category as elites who feast on gold covered chicken wings!

        And in terms of expenses, a pair of trail running shoes and a water bottle is not on par with buying a yacht. And perhaps time is a luxury, but many spend hours in front of the TV (or here on NC); is training for six hours a week now just for the 1%?

        So yes, hobbies are a blessing that shouldn’t be taken for granted, but distance runner hobbyists placed in the same category as https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-12-06/a-holiday-gift-guide-for-billionaires? C’mon.

        1. scarn

          My workout hours trend between 8 – 12 per week. I’m not rich, but I’m fit. The people at my favored gym are not rich (not even the petite-bourgeois owner, haha). The people I cycle with are all construction workers with the exception of one sixtyish and very strong woman who is an attorney. The article is total nonsense.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > the history of endurance sports is full of people from modest backgrounds

        True, and good for them. “The race is not always to the rich,” except when it is, eh?

        Just because working class people are running the race, for their reasons, doesn’t contradict the idea that upper class people are running the race, for their reasons (which the article supplies). Ever read the terrifying Into Thin Air? One of the people died in that Everest debacle was a postal worker. That doesn’t mean that the entire enterprise didn’t depend on those wealthy enough to be “adventurers,” because it did.* And that doesn’t mean that mountain climbing, in itself, can’t be a beautiful sport (though I’ve got issues with it as “precarity training”).

        NOTE * As did the frozen shit and corpses they left behind (before the mountaineering firms decided they’d better clean up their act).

        1. Steve H.

          Several years ago, maybe in response to ‘Chariots of Fire,’ I saw an interview that said records were being broken as the pool expanded globally. Back when, only the rich or very poor had time to train, workers had to be very gifted to overcome the deficit.

    2. fajensen

      Personally, I think that the “Iron Man” leadership are doing ultra-sport mostly to belittle their staff :)

      They show that have the freedom to go to Hawaii, New Your and wherever, whenever, no need to apply for vacation like the peons must. That they have the free time (because 3’rd wife and the maid does the chores at home) to train for 10 hours a week. To better signal that they are an ultra-sport person they get to wear a top-of-the range “Lump of Titanium”-style Multi-sport Watch at least rivalling the ‘Oakley Time Bomb’ in size and garishness at the office.

      All this shows the minions that they are basically weak underachievers and the The Boss is a harder man than they will ever be, mainly because the staff actually have to work for a living while their leaders only have to “show leadership” and “values”!

      Ultra-sport “in reality” is full of ‘normal people’ because endurance sports is something accessible that normal people can actually do (and finance doing) assuming they have a healthy body and a large amount of self discipline and persistence. Ultra-sport is a bit nerdy because winning is not everything, it is so hard that completing an event is already a respectable result.

      We think it is odd when ‘normal people’ or even women win these things, in my opinion, mainly because while the media are very good at covering the exotic New York and Hawaii stuff and all of the ‘required’ 2-300 EUR per piece ‘gear’ used by the top athletes, the media is not so good at following what goes on in some forsaken forest or moorland, where the ‘normal people’ events happen. Those ‘normal people’, btw, using ‘gear’ totalling maybe 5-600 EUR, the majority of that being shoes and a multi-sport watch or GPS.

      Jasmin Paris used a compass and expressed milk for her daughter along the way. Very, very analogue!

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      They really don’t learn, do they?

      Its the same bubble as Schultz. There are plenty of people to kiss a#$ and will gladly do it, even for doofuses such as Crowley. For many members of Team Blue, who were selected originally for their relatively innocuous nature, AOC is performing a trick. They can’t really even internalize that she won based on ideas or policy positions. Its completely alien to them.

      After all, who on the DC cocktail circuit points out HRC was disqualified for voting for the Iraq War under any excuse (example: Shrub lied. Does she not have advisors? 45% of the population opposed the invasion with all the fear mongering. Senators are supposed to know better. Its the theoretical point of the Senate.)

      The rot is so deep expecting these people to learn is just a waste. They can only be excised at this point.

      1. nippersdad

        “The rot is so deep expecting these people to learn is just a waste.”

        That is so true! Just today we see the Senate passing cloture for the anti-BDS/Israel military funding bill with Democrats putting it over the top, but this was the story that really shocked me: https://therealnews.com/columns/senate-energy-democrats-hire-former-industry-lobbyist-to-lead-staff?fbclid=IwAR21qdb4ehkw-Nwa0s2OEA2X9x5nsNndzT7p7o9fNxQj34GObS1GcfI5v3o

        Don’t these people have kids?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Don’t these people have kids?

          Sure, but they are just possessions, prized possessions but still possessions, something to be gussied up and paraded as a reflection on the parent.

      2. Donald

        “After all, who on the DC cocktail circuit points out HRC was disqualified for voting for the Iraq War under any excuse”

        Not just them. I am floored by some of the Clinton supporters I read online. These are self-described Democratic activists in their local areas, so they do more than me. (I believe them when they say they are activists, but if they are the sort of people who are party activists then I want nothing to do with them.)

        Anyway, as an example, one person I read a couple years back talked about how she participated in one of the antiwar marches in 2002-2003 against the proposed Iraq invasion. And she said she talked to her friend about how much she dreamed that someone like Hillary would be President instead of Bush. Hillary, who supported the war wholeheartedly and didn’t back away from support until 2007 or so, when deciding it was a handicap in her first race for President.

        1. Mattski

          Two observations that must be made about today’s run-of-the-mill liberal Democrat: s/he tends to be as tribal in his/her allegiances as any Republican; s/he is a low-information voter, and many times not interested in politicians’ actual records but in following his or her “heart,” etc. in voting.

    2. hunkerdown

      The Democrat Party represents the interests of the professional class. Per Conway’s Law, their politics is going to reflect that of the professional office. It’s natural that they think they’re owed a promotion for working in their superiors’ interests. There’s no learning to be had there. Just performance.

      1. Carey

        “The Democrat Party represents the interests of the professional class.”

        I would only add the word “only” to that pithy truth.

    3. Dita

      Oh the peral-clutching of the bajillionaires and lackey politicians. But, if/when a social[ist] democrat wins, guess the U.S. will finally have to sanction itself…

    4. Summer

      The last paragraph is the kicker:
      “Responding to The Hill’s reporting on Tuesday, Capital & Main journalist David Sirota concluded that “the biggest political threat” to Ocasio-Cortez likely “isn’t a primary, but is instead notoriously corrupt Albany trying to use redistricting to eliminate or cut up her congressional district.”

  10. amfortas the hippie

    on liberals ctriticizing liberals…. i come around to considering myself s more or less thomas frank liberal… with longer hair.
    i get along irl better with russel kirk types…snd even w outright Thomists… than i hsve w clintonist dems.
    americsn conservative is in my regular reading these days…right next to jacobin.
    need a name for this mingling of waters

    1. Swamp Yankee

      I’m in the same boat, amfortas (and I owe you an email, long teaching week! I haven’t forgotten).

      I consider myself a Red Puritan of sorts…. The Commonwealth Ideology I talked about the other day. Cutting Charles I’s head off was a big deal.

      Clintonist Dems I do think are the hardest of our political factions to be around without losing it; paleocons are often very odd, but somehow easier to deal with when you put their eccentricity aside. Anecdotally, I’ve found the American Conservative types to be both more polite and more interesting to talk to than ClintonDems in the real world.

      Jacobin’s consistently very good.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        “Centrists” are conservatives who want to be cool, so like libertarians, they are really just jerks and nothing more.

        1. pjay

          I have to respectfully disagree. Not all libertarians are “jerks.” Some are (see the comments at Zero Hedge), but others are well meaning individuals who IMHO have not worked out their ideological beliefs to their logical (or historical) conclusion.

          I don’t have as much trouble seeing “centrists” as jerks — but we all have our biases.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            , but others are well meaning individuals who IMHO have not worked out their ideological beliefs to their logical (or historical) conclusion.

            I’m not including 14 year olds.

            1. pjay

              LOL. Point taken. And I did not have groups like the Atlas Network, wreaking so much havoc in Latin America, in mind either. “Jerks” is far too kind a label for them.

            2. Joey

              I would gently request that your ongoing string of anti-centrist bashing comments lose the acerbic aggression. Win over flies with honey and keep the vinegar in with the piss.

              Imagine yourself on a right-leaning anti authoritarian blog being mocked as a slow learner. Would that open your precious mind by its powerful persuasion?

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                “Centrists” are a disease.

                “Right-leaning anti authoritarian”. This doesn’t even exist. They want to have power over others. They despise solidarity which prevents them from using their money to buy people. They aren’t anarchists. They are authoritarian and simply despise laws which don’t favor them.

                1. Joey

                  It exists! There are a subset of anarchist equivalents who distrust the government too much to be progressive, want to be left alone with their land plots and guns (government is there to ensure that), but don’t want to bother with other folks’ welfare. I consider them local libertarians and they would resent Citizens United for co-opting their liberty for goddamned MNCs.

                2. Joey

                  Mosts self proclaimed centrists are a disease, but whence the abandonment of swing voters? How are your faves gonna win national elections?

      2. Richard

        Clinton dems, their brains broke in 2016. Trump just broke them, ruined them for reason. Forever, apparently. Well, if it’s for more than the next 10 years, it might as well be forever. Sorry.
        I like Jacobin usually, but the attack on Gabbard was truly innuendo and guilt by association type argumentation. I’ll try not to hold that one article against them too long, but it did suck.

    2. Donald

      Same here, regarding the American Conservative. Daniel Larison in particular is probably the best foreign policy writer anywhere. Clintonites and McCainites, on the other hand, have nothing interesting to say on anything. I would vote for a Clintonite over any Republican because of lesser evil logic on various issues, but when Clintonites (both the actual politicians and their enthusiastic supporters) talk, they seem to me to be the least introspective and least self-aware people on the planet.

  11. Rajesh K

    Reinforcement learning. Another overhyped AI technique. Yeah it works in things like chess and go because the ultimate penalty i.e. losing and ultimate reward i.e. winning can be defined through code.

    You unleash reinforcement learning on a self driving car and it will be forever (if ever) before it learns hitting human beings is bad. I mean how would you code that condition anyways? And if you can, then why do you need machine learning in the first place?

    Coincidentally Amazon is selling a reinforcement learning trained RC car. Perhaps they think they can somehow generalize that to real cars.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      I was just marveling at how Google turns very specific terms into potential shopping opportunities for the first fifty results. Then it captchas me if I persist in finding something else. I can’t help feeling that ‘The Algorithm’ is in a HAL 9000 situation, and my input is the least important of its worries.

      The field is called Artificial Intelligence. No one can make an android yet that could get by in the real world as even mentally challenged, let alone cross the uncanny valley.

      Are self driving cars going to have a full personality voice interface? Because I could see that causing users to jump out at the first stop sign.

      1. Rajesh K

        You can’t if you are just using Reinforcement Learning. The fact is there’s no One Ring (Algo) to rule them all in AI. If you talk to the real AI experts, they will tell you that Deep Learning, Reinforcement Learning, etc are just different tools in a box.

        You let marketing people and research people like Andrew Ng running amok though and then you get all the hype and BS.

      2. knowbuddhau

        Ha. Sometime after Noonian Sung invents and installs their emotion chips?

        From positive and negative in Reinforcement, it always goes to Reward & Punishment, then to Pleasure & Pain, and then Good & Bad (Evil) or Moral & Immoral. Positive reinforcement can be punishing, just as negative reinforcement can be rewarding: pricking or not pricking someone with a pointed pun, for example.

        Positive/Negative ≠ Good/Bad

        How this applies to tech we don’t need, however, I have no idea. The whole shebang looks like one rapidly aging clang bird, from where I’m sitting.

  12. Howard Beale IV

    “In the 1970s, processor architects focused significant attention on enhancing computer security with concepts ranging from protection rings to capabilities. ”

    Go read up on Multics, which is one of the few Operating Systems where security was a core requirement (and was one of the OS’s that used the ring security construct).

  13. WobblyTelomeres

    Brexit people:

    What does “replaced with alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border” mean? What are the possible alternative arrangements other than reunification? Something like Pelosi’s “smart wall”?

    1. Synoia

      Please review the British use of the word “Wankers” and reflect on its implications for any non self serving meaningful result.

    2. RMO

      “replaced with alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border”

      I dunno… maybe it means just wave everything through freely in both directions at the British ports and let the EU do whatever it wants in its ports? Sure that sounds idiotic, but does it really seem much stupider than any of the other ideas they’ve come up with so far?

  14. Roger Smith

    ‘You’ve got numerous council people and state legislators who’ve been waiting 20 years for that seat.’

    OH MY… I am so sorry. I didn’t… I didn’t realize all those people had been waiting. Please, by all means, have this seat in Congress. After all you’ve been waiting so long… But what about all of the people who think voting matters?

    RE: Bernie Sanders shirtless…

    GASP!! SHOCK! I can’t believe someone would take their shirt off! Even still, share a friendly human connection with some strangers! What WORLD IS THIS!?

    1. Darthbobber

      Maybe this is her original sin. Rather than petitioning the incumbent to anoint her as his successor whenever he retired, she ran for the position. Can’t have positions being filled like that, now can we? And these fools voluntarily let it out that this is how they think. With such enemies, she hardly needs friends.

      As to that laboriously uncovered “kompromat” on Sanders, that’s just pathetic. And that they think they’re scoring heavily here makes it even more so.

      1. Oregoncharles

        they learned nothing from the video of AOC dancing. Apparently Sanders, too, is lucky in his enemies.

    2. FluffytheObeseCat

      The most amusing thing is Sanders was sitting there quietly, hunched over, with his elbows on the table …. with that funny little Bernie grin on his face. Just like now, his instinctual distancing in the face of weirdness was terrifically evident in his body language. It was the younger people around him who were more visibly soused and jubilant.

      As guilting-by-association efforts go, this video was one of the more pitiful to ever hit Twitter. Newsflash!!! Canny old politician sits quietly and watchfully while other people around him get goofy! The horror!!!

  15. Joe Well

    I was just getting doughnuts in Somerville (a formerly working class municipality near the center of Greater Boston) and heard the owner transition from a conversation about the evils of corporate personhood to a happy discussion of how his parents’ and friends’ parents’ modest houses are “worth” 1.6 million dollars when they had been purchased about 20 years ago for $200k or so (NB: a direct result of the neighboring municipalities of Cambridge and Arlington blocking new construction during the same time period).

    These are the Kamala Harris voters. People in the lower rungs of the 1% (and wanting to extort someone for $1.6 million for basic shelter puts you body and soul in the 1%). There are so few of them they aren’t worth winning over, they can only be fought. But remember: they deserve no sympathy. They delight in creating homelessness and misery for their own petty gain. They are hardly better than Bezos and a lot worse than an unemployed red-hatted schmuck in the Rust Belt.

    1. Chris

      Yeah… I saw that video of her giggling at making truancy a serious crime and thought of all my neighbors whi would vote for her. Because it’s OK if a female POC does anything vindictive like, say, Giuliani to their unfortunate constituency. I hope she’s learned something since then. But if I have the choice I’d rather vote for Tulsi Gabbard.

    2. Darthbobber

      Don’t much care for her thus far, but I find it hard to believe that someone can win statewide office by appealing solely to voters with houses valued in excess of 1.6 million.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > his parents’ and friends’ parents’ modest houses are “worth” 1.6 million dollars

      I wonder what will happen in the next downturn if they all try to unload them simultaneously.

      1. Joe Well

        please, dear God, please, please, please…I am praying for another 2009-style crash (which was more like a dip in Boston).

        Of course, right now the thing to do is subdivide your one-family into condos. So, total gut renovation, make one apartment in the front of the house, one in the back, possibly also an apartment in the basement…and a “penthouse-level” apartment in what used to be called the attic. Yes, real estate ads call it “penthouse-level.”

  16. PKMKII

    The other problem with the Medicare for America plan is that it doesn’t eliminate the problem of participating provider/doctors. You still have to select your provider based on if they use your insurer, not who makes sense for you. Plus the dread of somehow getting billed for a non-participating doctor you don’t even remember seeing you at the hospital.

    1. Cal2

      I challenged and refused to pay a bill from a walk through the room doctor.
      “Never spoke to him because I was unconscious, never signed anything about paying for him and never talked to him. I’m not paying.”

      They dropped the charge.

      1. Joey

        No offense, but if you were unconscious, how can you be certain they DIDN’T perform on your behalf. Decisions regarding brainstem functions and worrisome lung or heart noises generally count under ‘implied consent,’ otherwise no one could do CPR, lest they be charged with assault.

    1. Cal2

      Worse, Willie Brown appointed her to a taxpayer funded sinecure. He’s done that now with at least three girlfriends. Tat for tit.

      “Blatronage”

      $72,000 a year job handed to one, in charge of collecting and handling rent on city owned property.
      https://www.sfgate.com/politics/article/Willie-Brown-Inc-How-S-F-s-mayor-built-a-city-2926278.php

      His current one, a Russian!, got another city job, Willie warned her, “You might have to actually show up.”
      “Molodetskaya’s political life consisted of organizing some of Brown’s fundraisers and attending events. Then, in 2010, Mayor Gavin Newsom called, offering her a post on the city’s Immigrant Rights Commission. Molodetskaya and Brown both claim that he had nothing to do with it: “I swear on my mother’s life, no,” she says. “[Brown] said, ‘If that’s what you really want to do, you have to actually perform, you have to actually do things,’ and I said, ‘Yes, I do.’”

      Molodetskaya was reappointed by Mayor Lee last year. Although the commission’s clerk calls her an “enthusiastic member,” she’s not an overly active one—she hasn’t proposed one resolution in her three years on the commission and as of press time had attended only 4 of the last 14 meetings.”

      https://www.modernluxury.com/san-francisco/story/who-needs-love-when-youve-got-willie-brown?page=3

      What’s good for the goose is not good for the gander’s staff:
      “Senior adviser to Senator Kamala Harris resigns after report of $400,000 harassment settlement”

      https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/senior-adviser-sen-kamala-harris-resigns-after-report-400-000-n944701

    1. Chris Cosmos

      I kind of hurried through the text but the review of the optimists is a bit “lite” in using conventional wisdom. Yes, they have but what it costs for a family of four has been carefully researched by Elizabeth Warren over a decade ago to show, very convincingly, that life for the average family is faaaaaar more precarious and stressful than the same family in the mid-seventies. The reality is far closer to Hedges’ view of things. Yes, there is a fair amount of abundance for the top 25% or so but we have maintained this unrealistic, wasteful, and radically hedonistic culture at the expense of the future which is looking increasingly grim not just because of an ever increasing environmental crisis. How can the optimists ignore the increase in depression, anxiety, drug addiction of common purpose and social morality where almost only money is valued.

      1. Carey

        Yes, I thought there were some good moments, like the the end of the Harari section, but overall, kind of white-bread. Like he was saving his ammo,
        though I don’t know why.

  17. Mattski

    Biopower is the development of ever more sophisticated control of people’s bodies and actions, sometimes through financial sometimes police means, by the state and other bodies, like corporations. Important and useful concept, for sure.

    P.S. Willie Brown is a corporate clown; that’s what we used to chant at rallies in SF in the late 70s. You can see in a brief scan of that article the kind of sell-out Dems he helped boost to power.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Ah. I would frame that as integrating exploitation into the reproduction of labor (which only happens through the body, most obviously through birth and death, and moving on out through food and drink to subtler forms of consumption, higher up Maslow’s hierarchy).

      Biopower… Biosphere. Are we sure Foucault doesn’t give us all brain damage, like post-Structuralism?

  18. Synoia

    Harris’ beliefs in retributive justice are deeply held. Here’s a video of Harris from 2013 at the Chicago Ideas Week mocking criminal justice reformers as unrealistic

    Oh wow. She’s a member of the UK Tory Party, the Hangin’ and Floggin’ party.

    Her morality is reflected in he online Bio, sleeping her way up the ladder.

    Noting to see, here, noting to see. Move on please — We know, we can’t see any morality either.

  19. Synoia

    Being touched by others activated more areas in the brain, like ones involved in the processing of tactile sensations, and also areas related to social cognition and reward, leading to a more intense sensation than with self-touch.

    Ummm – did they actually ask teenagers? They already know this.

    Or even kindergarten children: He Touched Me!!!.”

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      Did they ask an Italian?

      How close can an objective scientist(tm) get to proving we are inherently social animals? I mean, given the current funding environment?

  20. allan

    Insys executive gave doctor lap dance while promoting drug, witness says [Reuters]

    An ex-stripper who became a regional sales director at Insys Therapeutics Inc gave a doctor a lap dance at a Chicago club as the drugmaker pushed the doctor to prescribe its addictive fentanyl spray, a former Insys employee testified on Tuesday.

    The testimony in federal court in Boston came in the first criminal trial of painkiller manufacturer executives over conduct that authorities say contributed to a U.S. opioid abuse epidemic that has killed tens of thousands of people a year. …

    Not to defend these lowlifes, but why was fentanyl ever approved for use outside of a hospital or hospice?
    It never should have gotten to the point where “regional sales director with benefits” was a job title.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      My taste in what I consider to be a credible plot line is totally failing to keep up with reality.

      Spray!?11! What I said above.

      1. Carey

        I hope this doesn’t mean what I think it means. ;)

        The “Pharma Reps” that I’ve seen heading into my doctors’ offices have been
        notable for awhile now. Almost all *very attractive* women (sexiss!!!).

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the first criminal trial of painkiller manufacturer executives

      Finally.

      Amazing how cheap corruption comes, though. A lap dance? Really? That was the most expensive item in the brochure?

  21. BobWhite

    In case you needed another reason to avoid Tyson (and other huge ag-businesses):
    (from USDA)
    Tyson Foods, Inc. Recalls Chicken Nugget Products due to Possible Foreign Matter Contamination

    “Tyson Foods, Inc., a Sedalia, Mo. establishment, is recalling approximately 36,420 pounds of chicken nugget products that may be contaminated with extraneous materials, specifically rubber.”

    Also: “There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.”
    (just a little more bounce in your step…)

    On the plus side, you could carry them as a spare in your car…. /s

    1. Carey

      Not to make light of the Situation, but the description “chicken nugget products”
      is not so savory.

  22. allan

    Labor Secretary’s Role in Abuse Deal Could Get DOJ Scrutiny [Bloomberg]

    The Justice Department’s inspector general wants lawmakers to give him the authority to investigate a decade-old plea deal in which Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta allegedly allowed an accused sex offender to skirt the harshest punishment for crimes against teens.

    “Your letter raises important questions about the resolution of this case by department attorneys,” DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz said in a Jan. 29 letter to lawmakers. “However, the OIG does not currently have jurisdiction over matters involving allegations of misconduct relating to DOJ attorneys’ handling of litigation or legal decisions.”

    The department’s watchdog responded to lawmakers’ calls to look into an agreement that Acosta—then a federal prosecutor in South Florida—reached with lawyers for Miami hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein, which allowed Epstein to avoid federal sex trafficking charges. Epstein was sentenced to 13 months in prison on lesser charges.

    Horowitz called on the Senate to take up a bill (H.R. 202) recently passed by the House. He said that legislation would give him the authority to investigate alleged prosecutorial misconduct.

    A November Miami Herald report on the Epstein case has renewed public attention to the allegations against Epstein, who was accused of running a teen sex ring out of his Florida home. It’s also brought new criticism to Acosta, who as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida is said to have helped orchestrate the agreement.

    Epstein’s all star legal defense team included Harvard University professor Alan Dershowitz, former special prosecutor Kenneth Starr, and famed criminal defense attorney Roy Black. …

    What are the chances of Mitch allowing H.R. 202 to see the light of day in the Senate?

  23. JBird4049

    Dude, 800 million people have that experience….

    And plenty of us in America have had the benefits of fasting. As have I. It’s called being poor.

    Just where are those tumbrels?

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