Links 1/10/19

Dear patient readers,

I got a nice surprise in my inbox yesterday. Recall I posted about penny-ante grifting by Cigna, in the form of dragging out payment on a not-very-large claim, in the likely hope that I’d give up, and then disappearing one of the four items in it.

I got an e-mail from New York’s Department of Financial Services encouraging me to complain, and the person who sent the letter said he’d follow up if I did so. A few times over the years, I’ve made external appeals on health care claims to the predecessor of DFS. I’ve cited that bureau as one of the reasons that the high taxes in New York are worth it: we have some well-run agencies. Recall that when DFS was formed (by combining insurance and bank regulation), its first Superintendent, Benjamin Lawsky, ran rings around Federal regulators and even managed to get some banksters fired.

Seeking pun-ters for Canberra’s pun competition, Capital Punishment Sydney Morning Herald (Ron A)

Stranded seals wreak havoc in Canadian town BBC

Who are you calling chicken? T. rex’s closest living relative found on the farm Guardian (Robert H)

George, reclusive Hawaiian snail and last of his kind, dies at 14 MPR News. Chuck L: :(

Small Weasel-Like Animals Are Taking Down Big Cats National Geographic (bob). Eew.

Scientists have found a link between genetics and monogamy Quartz (Chuck L)

Earth’s magnetic field is acting up and geologists don’t know why Nature (David L)

Exxon Is Finally Being Forced to Turn Over Docs Showing What It Knew About Climate Change Earther (David L)

Will the world embrace Plan S, the radical proposal to mandate open access to science papers? Science (Chuck L)

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning World Economic Forum (David L)


Why China Tiptoed onto the Far Side of the Moon Consortiumnews (UserFriendly)

Norway Embarks On Its Most Ambitious Transport Project Yet NPR (David L)

Brexit. Hope readers pipe up. Wanted to post on this but not feeling so hot due to oral surgery (swollen and sore!!! And I am usually good about this sort of thing, but I had a bad day in the chair)

Brexit: Second Commons defeat for Theresa May in 24 hours BBC (furzy)

John Bercow row: Tory MPs plot to dock Speaker’s pay or axe his pension over Brexit intervention Telegraph

Desperate Theresa May caves in on workers’ rights to save Brexit deal Mirror

DUP slams government attempts to reassure them over Brexit backstop Telegraph

Brexit: Starmer insists a second vote may be the only way out The Times. Help me.

Corbyn to again call for general election to break Brexit deadlock Guardian. This is playing with dynamite. He has to know a general election assures a crashout.

New Cold War

That sophisticated, specific Russian 2016 voter targeting effort doesn’t seem to exist Washington Post


Senators Backing Israel anti-Boycott Bill are Betrayers of the Constitution Juan Cole (resilc)

Saudi Arabia and the West’s Right Wing: A Dubious Alliance LobeLog (resilc)

Turkey Rejects New U.S. Syria Plan – Humiliates John Bolton Moon of Alabama (Kevin W)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Apple recruits prominent Facebook critic for privacy team Financial Times (David L)

How Facebook tracks you on Android YouTube. Bob: “It’s worth watching the video to see how scared the presenters are in talking about their very cautious findings. The comparison between a new (clean, do not track) ad id and an old ad id are worth it alone. New one is 3x the length of the old one.”

I Gave a Bounty Hunter $300. Then He Located Our Phone Motherboard. “A few hundred meters” isn’t good enough for court (although it might do for a suspicious spouse, particularly if the location ins’t one where the SO is supposed to be). Mind you, this is still bad but not as freak-out worthy as it might seem. Geolocation by triangulation has been thrown out as too inaccurate (and this was in a case involving an alleged drug dealer, so it’s not as if the judge might have been prejudiced in the defendant’s behavior). Your GPS location from your cell’s chip is what WILL get you. It’s good to within 5 feet. I was surprised to see Google volunteer to map me from my current location (as in my laptop in my apartment) to a nearby store…and then place my current location more than a half mile from where I am.

Trump Transition

Fact checking Trump’s address to the nation: President claims ‘growing’ crisis on southern border NBC (furzy)

Trump’s immigration speech won’t get him his wall, but it was still scarily effective. Slate (resilc)

Fight Over Something That Matters, “The Wall” Mostly Doesn’t Ian Welsh

Exculpatory Russia evidence about Mike Flynn that US intel kept secret The Hill. Lovely.

What Would It Take For Trump To Get Primaried? FiveThirtyEight (resilc)

Joshua Tree National Park Will Close After Visitor Damage During Government Shutdown NPR (David L)

Rod Rosenstein, who oversaw Mueller’s probe, plans to leave the Justice Department after new attorney general confirmed NBC (furzy)

Joe Biden’s Presidential Delusions New Republic (resilc)

The New York Times’ #MeToo smear against Bernie Sanders Greanville Post (resilc)

A Fake Nude of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Was Debunked By Foot Fetishists Motherboard (furzy). Only in America…

#InvisiblePrimary: Visible — On DNC Debate Requirements and Candidate Strategy Frontloading HQ. UserFriendly: “This really is going to be a clown car.

Democrats Are Proposing Realistic Solutions, but Terry McAuliffe Isn’t Listening Data for Progress (UserFriendly)

Cyntoia Brown, in prison for murder, is granted clemency by Tenn. Governor MPR News (Chuck L)

The “Public Option” That Isn’t: How Washington Governor Jay Inslee and King County Executive Dow Constantine Got It So Wrong Medium (martha r)

Editorial: PG&E’s disastrous string of wildfires should not lead to state bailout San Francisco Chronicle David S: “When PG&E has lost the Comical…”

3 PG&E electric executives departing amid ongoing wildfire scrutiny San Francisco Chronicle David S:

This article is a great-big nothing until the end — where it is disclosed that the incoming Electrical Operations Chief has only worked for PG&E since August — after working at Duke Energy in Florida his entire career. Zero system knowledge, zero local conditions knowledge. Just another corporate carpet-bagger. But CEO Geisha Williams (also a corporate carpet-bagger from Florida) points to his “deep experience” — where have I heard that turn of phrase before?

We’re in deep all right. Deep shit.

Fake News

How a NeoCon-Backed “Fact Checker” Plans to Wage War on Independent Media MintPress

New Prosecutor Implements Fundamental Criminal Justice Reform in Ferguson NonProfit Quarterly

Wall Street Intensified Housing Crisis: Fed Study David Sirota, Splinter News (martha r)

What causes a flash crash? Economist (David L)

Computer Models to Investors: Short Everything Wall Street Journal (John C)

Guillotine Watch

‘The Dog Wears Prada’: $1,500-a-month doggy daycare prompts growls in San Francisco Guardian

Class Warfare

‘Income Sharing’ Is Wall Street’s Potentially Predatory Alternative to Student Loans Vice

The death of right libertarianism Stumbling and Mumbling (UserFriendly)

The impact of financial incentives on health and health care: Evidence from a large wellness program Health Economics (martha r)

How a rural Spanish village has resisted capitalism – until now Independent

Elwood, Illinois (Pop. 2,200), Has Become a Vital Hub of America’s Consumer Economy. And It’s Hell. New Republic. Partly brought to you by CalPERS.

Antidote du jour (Tracie H):

And a bonus (martha r):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. The Rev Kev

    “Scientists have found a link between genetics and monogamy”

    Monogamy for the long term OK, but not necessarily for the short term. What was it that St. Augustine said along the same lines? Oh yeah-

    “Lord, make me chaste – but not yet!”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It turns out that the saying ‘God helps those who help themselves (looking at you, Mr. Augustine)’ is not even in the scripture, and according to Wikipedia, some Christians deem it contrary to the Bible’s message of God’s grace.

      So for Augustine, it was left up to God.

    2. Adam Eran

      I’ve read that back in the day before antibiotics, an average marriage lasted six years. Of course now we have antibiotics, so an average marriage lasts….six years. Plus ca change, plus c’est le meme chose!

  2. BobW

    Re Nature article:

    Earth’s north magnetic pole has been skittering away from Canada and towards Siberia


  3. PlutoniumKun

    Brexit. Hope readers pipe up. Wanted to post on this but not feeling so hot due to oral surgery (swollen and sore!!! And I am usually good about this sort of thing, but I had a bad day in the chair)

    Sounds painful, hope it wasn’t too bad! You really should rest more after something like that.

    As for Brexit, I think we are now entering the complete breakdown stage. Insiders are having a fit over the Speakers decision to side with MP’s over government (for experts on that strange chimera, the British Constitution, this is apparently an epochal Big Thing). Mind you, I went to see the film The Favourite last night, set in 1705, and it was amusing to see a portrayal of how Queen Anne treated Parliament. They could maybe go back to having the Queen just get in and tell them what to do.

    My reading of it is that Corbyn is quite determined to ensure a no-deal – he seems to have no interest whatever in helping out May, even at the expense of the country. Either this is part of a ruthless plan to destroy the Tories, or that he is completely oblivious to the harm this will do to the people he represents, I have no idea. He doesn’t seem to be doing what is needed to bring down the government (that needs a ‘formal’ Confidence Motion, not the half-assed Confidence Motion he is currently pushing for), which seems to indicate that he doesn’t really want an immediate election, he simply wants to paralyse government. This of course, makes a no-deal a certaint, unless there is a major Labour revolt against him to help out May, and there doesn’t seem much appetite for that either.

    The Tories are incomplete melt-down. None of the factions seem able to get the upper hand, so its complete stalemate. They seem to be clinging on to a desperate hope that the EU/Ireland will climb down over the backstop (the only possible way the deal can be passed), and this is not going to happen.

    Here in Ireland I’ve noted a real mood change. I don’t watch TV or scan the red top media, so I can be a bit behind the time with what you might call the popular mood, but I’ve sensed a real change from ‘they’ll sort something out in the end’ to ‘no deal is now going to happen’. I think the Irish government has no accepted that this is likely, but are not so panicked over it that they’ll ask the EU to climb down on their behalf.

    So I think over the next 3-4 weeks we will see a gradual breakdown in the UK Parliament making any type of decision almost impossible. May is not in control of events now (if she ever was), Parliament is now much more in control – the problem is, Parliament has no clue what it wants. Its stock up on food time, folks.

    1. David

      With the proviso that whilst Parliament as a whole is in control, no single faction actually has a plan that it can get majority support for. Brexit is like one of those radioactive monsters, destroying everything it touches. Maybe parliament next?

    2. MK

      Assuming no deal crash out, would/could the UK simply stiff the EU on the buyout? That is, hold the money ransom to extract a deal post-exit?

      Also, with no hard border and no deal in place, would the EU stop shipping to Ireland and accepting shipment from Ireland? The sea border seems impossible to enforce without a deal, and how could bootlegging be stopped between Ireland and Northern Ireland without some type of physical border? A wall, or metal fencing at least??

      1. vlade

        a) the UK owes the money to the EU legally. It would find itself in front of a court, pronto.
        b) while 39bln sounds like a large amount of money, it’s IIRC over a long period (no idea what the cashflows are) so overall “relatively” small portion of the EU’s budget (5% annualy I’d estimate).
        c) to hold someone to ransom, you have to be able to act, and survive. If the EU decides that the UK doesn’t play nice, it can make UK’s life hell.

        What would happen in Ireland in the absence of hard border is a big question. I’d think it would be “look like it’s policed” until the first large scandal. What would happen then.. Well, I suspect that by then the NI would be asking for a referendum to join Ireland.. So that problem might well go away.

        1. a different chris

          I think NI should rejoin Ireland and simplify this whole process. They do not agree with me, and they’ve been, um, known to use lethal means to support that position. I can’t imagine what would change their minds. Hundreds of years can go by with these people.

          I am also sure the rest of not-currently-so-Merry Olde Englande would drop them in a heartbeat, but in what I consider Proof Of God (that he has a horribly mean sense of humor), He has set things up so that the Tories had to make nice with them in order to have Brexit at all.

          Nobody’s laughing but Him.

    3. windsock

      Corbyn really does want a General Election and, from what I have read, the remaining EU 27 have indicated Article 50 could be extended in the event of a General Election. What would be interesting is a Labour Manifesto in the event of a GE. I can’t imagine that Labour have not already run scenarios past Barnier in the event that the Government falls.

      And speaking as a working class Brit who voted Remain, we desperately need a Labour Government to stop the crap the Tories introduced pre-referendum (Universal Credit, hostile environments etc). Brexit may be important but so is that stuff.

      1. vlade

        The problem, as I wrote last year, that if Brexit will not get solved, all those problems you name may well pale in comparison. UC is bad.

        But unemployment shooting up to teens in space of months is way worse – becasue there will not be a quick fix (and if you think it can’t happen – in case of no-deal, car industry in the UK is dead. That alone employs, directly and indirectly, about 800k people. That’s about 2% of the working population)

        Inflation hitting double digits, with BoE not being able to do much (as UK’s leveraged to the hilt) would be also bad – especially since the cost of basics – fuel and food – would go up the most.

        And those are things that no UK govt could do much very quickly.

        This would be, as far as UK goes, way way worse than 2008. Then most companies didn’t fire people, or just few. Now companies would close, so people would get fired.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        No, you don’t get it. A GE assures a crashout. May has worked this out. Corbyn is an idiot.

        The UK has to ask for an extension, specifically the head of state. Not Parliament. .

        As Clive put it in mid-December when I asked about the minimum time for a GE:

        Labour had a window of opportunity that was only open last week and a bit of the next week. They sounded out the DUP, the DUP realised, correctly, that if they pull the plug on the Maybot, they’ll be only an infinitesimal chance they’ll be in the position they currently enjoy in any new Parliament. So they demurred. I’ve not heard any new talk of a No Confidence motion from Labour in the past several days. I think, therefore, they’ve (finally…) learned to add up (and come up with the same details as I bulleted out in the last mail).

        Parliament will operate between a No Confidence / Dissolution.

        But of course, the whole point of a No Confidence motion being passed is that no party will then have a majority so the government can’t get anything through (they have to try to salvage their position in 14 days or else the opposition has to try to form a new government). But the government still controls parliamentary time, so they’re able to block any opposition bills being put forward in that time. It is 14 days of pure stalemate.

        Keep in mind that, if a new government can’t be formed after a no confidence motion and Parliament is dissolved, there is noParliament and no government. Literally, on dissolution, there are no longer any MPs. This is why Parliament sits for a week or so prior to the actual dissolution — to allow for sufficient parliamentary time for civil servants to be given the means to have a caretaker function to keep some form of government going in the interim (with very strict limits on what civil servants can and can’t do — definitely no new laws or changes to laws). Two months is a long time, but it is exactly that — no government and no new bills. At all.

        Remember also that, even after the election result, Parliament doesn’t just start sitting again the next day. There has to be a legislative programme outlined in the Queen’s Speech and the State opening of Parliament. So there’s at least a week between the election result, a party being invited to form a government and then Parliament being “legislative ready”.

        A rough timetable of the law-making blocking period:

        No Confidence Motion — 14 calendar days
        No government can be formed, election called, Parliament given limited time to finalise any wrap up activities — 5 – 10 calendardays
        Election process — 25 working days
        Queen’s Speech drafted, State opening arrangements — 5 calendar days
        … which gives a total hiatus of c. 9 weeks.

        This is why May has postponed the Meaningful Vote until 20/21st January. Even if she loses and Labour calls — and wins — a No Confidence motion, a No Deal Brexit is then, legislatively-speaking, baked in. Labour and the DUP would be frogs caught in May and the EU’s slowly drying-up pool. Labour couldn’t force the government to ask the Council for an A50 extension (such as during the 14 day timeframe between the government losing the No Confidence vote and Parliament being dissolved if no government can be formed). They’d complain, no doubt, about being blackmailed. To which May would retort “Huh, it is you who called the No Confidence motion, you brought this on yourselves and now you want me to get you out of the legislative hole you’ve thrown us all into?”

        And as soon as Parliament is dissolved, there is no government to go and ask the Council for an extension.

        May definitely has a plan to get her Deal through Parliament. It is riddled with risks, but it’s one of those situations where one thing is inviolable — the passage of time. She controls the allocation of parliamentary time to the opposition (and certainly doesn’t have to give Labour enough to do anything useful). She controls when the Meaningful Vote is rescheduled for. The 14 days which needs to elapse between losing any No Confidence vote is a legal constraint. As is the scheduling of the election process.

        All May needs to do is provide as much drama, plots, schemes, noise, this’ing and that’ing to fill the next week between Parliament rising for Christmas then then couple of weeks between when it sits again in the New Year and the Meaningful Vote happening. Anything that will get the media to run a story and get Labour and the DUP chasing their tails and distracted with stupid shenanigans. Then it’ll boil down to her Deal or No Deal. No matter what anyone else does.

        So voting for a GE assures a crashout. Corbyn is daft if he hasn’t worked this out.

        1. el_tel

          Agreed, and this is exactly why I get so frustrated about “progressive” forces in my country. They can’t organise a p***-up in a brewery. I wanted Corbyn to learn how to make the Tories own Brexit and be the “inverse” of disaster capitalism. I was a deluded idiot to think he could do this competently. The left would (still) much rather engage in internal quarrels than think how to exploit the internal quarrels of the right in order to improve the UK as a whole.

          I learnt a lot more about “real” economics (MMT etc) from accountancy. Likewise I learnt a lot more about “real” BREXIT after the referendum (from NC) with the focus on law (like the legal voids we are about to fall into).

          I have only one (probably unrealistic) hope. That a bunch of “extreme” Tory Remainers may save the day somehow (many of which are local to where I live in Nottinghamshire – Clarke, Soubry for instance) who us “nottinghamians” have always admired no matter their official party political allegiance, and because we have a history of electing people who are (depending on your worldview) obnoxious/feisty/downright “there with us” (my local City councillor for a period in the 1980s before communism collapsed was the “swing councillor” on the city council despite being elected EXPLICITLY as a “communist” – of course we all knew he was nothing of the sort, we elected him cause he actually DID STUFF to help us – after the Wall came down he simply called himself Green/Independent and got the same votes). Time to stock up on baked beans and just read the DailyMash for 6 months.

        2. windsock

          OK. If we take Clive’s timetable as a given, what about an idea from way out of leftfield?

          We are a parliamentary democracy operating under a constitutional monarchy. Is their any device/procedure under which the Queen, as Head of State, can ask the EU for an extension to Article 50 while the GE takes place? I know that is extremely bloody unlikely as to be less than an infinitessimal chance, but hey, we live in strange times!

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            No, vlade has discussed that earlier in some detail. Queen lost that power, I believe in the Fixed Term Parliament Act.

            One thing to add to the thread above: even with the Bercow maneuver, Parliament couldn’t pass legislation to try to force May to ask for an extension in 14 days, which are 14 calendar days. Not enough time.

          2. David

            The Treaty was signed by the government, not the Queen, and it’s the government (or something accepted as being the government) which would have to ask for an extension. In reality, no monarch has ever done anything like this, and in the unwritten British Constitution I’d say it was impossible. Technically, the country doesn’t have a government during a GE campaign, but in practice there have been several cases in the past (EU summits for example) where the PM of the day nonetheless represented the country. There are probably combinations of circumstances where something resembling a British government could seek an Art 50 extension, but at the moment the conditions don’t exist. It’s also important to remind people that, whilst asking for an extension to Art 50 is an act that a government can do, even without a majority, the legislation to avoid an exit would have to be passed by parliament.

        3. flora

          An aside:

          May going back to Brussels, and going back to Brussels, and going back to Brussels, always with the same request/demand and always getting the same answer
          is starting to remind me, in a strange way, of WWI’s Battle of the Somme, where Brit generals kept ordering infantry charges into machine gun fire hoping that the results would be better than the last charge that failed.

          Being out of new ideas and so repeating past failures hoping for better results or to show one is ‘doing something’ is unfortunately a fairly common response to failure, imo. The problem is that it not only doesn’t succeed but it blocks other ideas being considered.

          1. Ignacio

            Yeah. May has only one idea: I have a deal. If you wish I can try once and again to ask for modifications and will have always the same answer. So she does and she repeats and I think the message doesn’t reach its true destination which is now the parliament NOT May, I believe.

        4. Robert Dudek

          I counted 67 days from January 20th to the crashout date (March 29th). And 9 weeks is 63 days, so there is at least a tiny chance that there will be a few days left over for an emergency delay

        5. shtove

          This article does the sums differently – and that’s before Bercow’s precedent buster:

          If a general election instead followed the second route – the loss of a vote of no confidence due to opposition from either its own MPs or the DUP, and no alternative cross-party government could be formed after the mandated two-week period – then the quickest date for an election would be 14 March (and could well be up to a week later, if the government were to delay the motion on no deal following the Prime Minister’s statement).

          Can’t find an updated source.

    4. NIx

      I am still clinging to the hope that the more adult backbenchers will continue to strengthen a cross-party alliance to help us out of this mess. They have now lead the government to two major defeats in as many days. I am also fairly convinced that the EU would extend the Article 50 deadline in the case of a general election or, dare we say the words, a second referendum, given their fear of the damage that Brexit is going to do to Ireland, and their unequivocal backing of Ireland in the negotiations. What the EU would do with the small problem on the EU elections in May, though, is anyone’s guess.

      I have never been a particular fan of John Bercow as Speaker, but what he did yesterday was amazing, in all senses of the word.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        Scottish MP Mahri Black doesn’t want to hear it’s May’s deal or crash out.

        In the long-form of the speech she tweeted, she mentions the letters she’s received have been “97%” against the May deal. Can she, would she, ever vote for it, in the face of her constituent’s expressed will?

        1. Clive

          It’s May’s Deal or No Deal. Mahri, like the rest of us, can pick her poison.

          A General Election is 99%+ likely to result in a No Deal Brexit. May controls parliamentary time so doesn’t have to offer any second referendum nonsense. In any case, while the EU27 might offer a limited Article 50 extension, no way would they be willing to pony up, pun intended, the 24 weeks that even second referendum proponents say this will need to organise and legal challenges could double that, easily.

          I’m all ears to hear any other options. Mahri is, sadly, typical of what passes for political talent in our current crop of MPs. Well meaning, perhaps. But totally delusional in terms of what is possible and what is straight out of la-la land. And, I fear, hooked on grandstanding rather than the grim, messy business of realpolitik.

    5. larry

      PK, if we wish to give Corbyn the benefit of the doubt for the moment, it could be argued that he wants the Tories to own this train wreck because that way Labour need not be blamed. Whether they would anyway is another matter. On the other hand, it may be that he doesn’t quite know what to do, in part because of his lack of understanding of some of the central issues — his plan is terrible but he doesn’t seem to know why, his understanding of the Norway option is absurd, etc. His performance at PMQs has been unimpressive. I realize that this is not the best barometer, but he has been dreadful, not just bad. And some of what he and his party have been doing over the past few weeks just don’t make any sense in the context. I do watch the TV news though not the red tops and have noticed that people are generally wondering what Parliament is doing. People don’t understand how Parliament works. Now, whose fault is that? (Rhetorical Q)

      1. vlade

        If Corbyn really wanted Tories to own this, he’d be asking for a plan from the way go. The “we can’t tell you, it’s secret” doesn’t really fly as an argument, as you have to have a goal – and that can’t be secret. The UK did not have, and still does not, a goal, except “leave”.

        Corbyn blithely ignored the whole mess for two years. I strongly suspect that crash-out Brexit will hurt Labour more than Tories. Tory voters will blame it on the EU. Labour voters (at least some) will blame it on Corbyn not doing enough.

        1. larry

          vlade, it could be argued, and has been, that he was allowing the Tories to stitch themselves up, which is why he did nothing for so long. However, now that he needs to do something, he still isn’t doing it. Which is unacceptable. The Blairites will blame it on the EU, while Corbynites may blame it on him not taking events in hand. And I think they could be right.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        See my comment above. If Labour triggers a GE, Labour will be blamed because it not only assures a crashout, but it will be the worst sort of crashout, one with only a caretaker government in charge in the runup. This is like Lehman filing for bankruptcy on a thin form, but with even more dire knock-on.

    6. Lee

      My reading of it is that Corbyn is quite determined to ensure a no-deal – he seems to have no interest whatever in helping out May, even at the expense of the country. Either this is part of a ruthless plan to destroy the Tories, or that he is completely oblivious to the harm this will do to the people he represents, I have no idea

      Perhaps Corbyn is following Lenin’s dictum, “The worse things get, the better” , and is indeed engaging in “a ruthless plan to destroy the Tories.” Hardly a bad thing in itself but I do sympathize with your concerns for what may follow, particularly since it is my understanding that you are living in the midst of these events.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        If, as is likely, May’s actions result in a crash out disaster, the political consequences all seem to ride on whom the voters blame in the aftermath. That’s hard to predict with any certainty.

      2. Unna

        Whether Corbyn’s smart, stupid, daft, or something completely unmentionable, I’d be willing to bet that’s exactly what he’s doing. Nothing else makes much sense.

    7. Harry

      “Even Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn triggering a no-confidence vote after May is defeated next week is not a given. Corbyn associates Brexit with a working-class movement, to which he caters, and dislikes the second referendum option for electoral reasons: a majority of Labour constituencies voted for Brexit in the 2016 EU referendum. It is these post-industrial working class voters whom Corbyn considers to have been disenfranchised by New Labour, and who are most prone to swinging to UKIP or One Nation Toryism. Corbyn understands that a second referendum policy would alienate the very voters he wishes to re-enfranchise. That’s why he carefully crafted a compromise in which Labour’s first policy priority is to seek a general election, and only if that fails, will then throw its full weight behind a second referendum.

      All this means that Mr. Corbyn faces a number of incentives not to trigger a motion of no confidence in May’s government that he is not guaranteed to win. In fact, he has been quite explicit that he will trigger the no-confidence vote when it is clear that it can be successful and currently believes that it would be unsuccessful.”

  4. LaRuse

    The Chicken/T-rex article dates back to 2007, but it is always a good reminder that when Americans feast on their favorite yard bird wings at their Superbowl parties next month, a few million years ago, the tables would have been turned on us.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I hate to think that the closet relative of the mighty, earth-shaking, rex Left is the diminutive, chicken D party.

      And so I say, that can’t be right.

      1. Synapsid


        It just means that material available for the comparison was from chickens. Much embryology, and DNA- and protein-related research is done with chickens because they’re easy to work with and eggs are always simple to get.

        That said, recent DNA work with birds shows that the group that includes ducks, geese, chickens, and turkeys is one of the oldest of all bird lines.

        Turning the headline around: The dinosaurs closest to chickens would be small (about crow sized) toothy little critters like Archaeopteryx, about 80 million years before Tyrannosaurus.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Thanks Synapsid.

          I meant to say that it couldn’t be right the the D party was the little chicken.

          But as A Different Chris said, the D’s are.

          1. Synapsid


            I realized that right after I hit Post Comment.

            Vertebrate Palaeo was one of my options in grad school and a lifelong interest and it ran away with me.

        2. ewmayer

          I’m reminded of the dino-to-birds lineage every time I hear the distinctively reptilian warning hiss of one of the geese at the local park.

          1. foghorn longhorn

            If you watch a chicken run, we do have free-range birds, they very eerily do resemble mini dinosaurs.
            That is not to even mention their t-rex like beady ass eyes.
            If they were human sized, I would be fearful, if elephant sized, I would run for my life.

  5. larry

    The piece on Bercow from the Torygraph is not accurate. He got advice from the clerks before he acted. His position was that there was no time to go with precedent, and he was right. There wasn’t and isn’t.

  6. SpringTexan

    I’ve no brief for Joe Biden, but I hated that Joe Biden’s Presidential Delusions article. Just another “working-class voters who might have voted for Trump don’t matter, they are all racists, and we should go on ignoring them” article. Yuccch. Just awful.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Joe Biden’s Presidential Delusions”

    Apparently Biden decided recently that not enough people hated him so decide to change that. Saw a Jimmy Dore video ( on him talking about Millennials who will be potentially 40% of voters in 2020. When asked about Millennials he says, and I quote: “The younger generation now tells me how tough things are. Give me a break. No, no, I have no empathy for it. Give me a break.”
    And to be fair, here is the full quote from Biden-

    “The younger generation now tells me how tough things are. Give me a break. No, no, I have no empathy for it. Give me a break. Because here’s the deal guys, we decided we were gonna change the world. And we did. We did. We finished the civil rights movement in the first stage. The women’s movement came to be. So my message is, get involved. There’s no place to hide. You can go and you can make all the money in the world, but you can’t build a wall high enough to keep the pollution out. You can’t live where—you can’t not be diminished when your sister can’t marry the man or woman, or the woman she loves. You can’t—when you have a good friend being profiled, you can’t escape this stuff. And so, there’s an old expression my philosophy professor would always use from Plato, ‘The penalty people face for not being involved in politics is being governed by people worse than themselves.’ It’s wide open. Go out and change it.”

    “Flame out”
    Definition of flame out
    intransitive verb

    to fail spectacularly and especially prematurely

    1. taunger

      I think if Biden stays in it the primary results will be spectacularly surprising for him and the corporate media pundits, though I doubt they let on.

      1. johnnygl

        I’ve got a repub colleague at work who is convinced biden’s the best shot to beat trump. I keep arguing the opposite.

        His track record is long and compromised, he’s a terrible campaigner (got nowhere in 2008) and right wing press is going to #metoo the crap out of him if/when he wins the nomination (but not a moment before).

        Plus, this is trump. He’ll feel no hesitation about running to biden’s left, screaming “this guy wants to cut SS and Medicare and i will NEVER do that!!!”

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Republicans do have a cottage industry dedicated to offering free advice to Democrats about how to win elections.

          Your Republican colleague might admire Biden in some form, but always remember, Republicans are likely not on the level and what is attractive to a Republican is not going to play with others.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            If only there were a way to convince Republican Central Command that Sanders would be the weakest candidate Trump could face, thousands or perhaps millions of Republican primary voters might crash the Democratic primaries to vote for Sanders.

        2. Cal2

          “Americans owe over $1.48 trillion in student loan debt, spread out among about 44 million borrowers. That’s about $620 billion more than the total U.S. credit card debt.”

          How many of them are going to vote for Biden when they are informed that he is the one mainly responsible for them never being able to get out from under that debt? Would Trump mention that in an election against Biden? Of course he would.

          Then there’s the Biden as a very odd admirer of little girls. Completely backed up by video and audio. Surprised the MeToo movement hasn’t seized on this.

          1. JBird4049

            Then there’s the Biden as a very odd admirer of little girls. Completely backed up by video and audio. Surprised the MeToo movement hasn’t seized on this.

            For the same reasons Bill Clinton has not been destroyed; there is a full court that will smear those who bring up those inconvenient facts about the Right People on their side. The law is only for the wrong people, not for the guilty.

      2. allan

        The Payoff by Jeff Connaughton has all one needs to know about Biden as a human being, but
        on the bright side, he might crowd out other handsy cold-fish neoliberals in the early primaries.

    2. Roger Smith

      It sounds like Biden is arguing multiple things here and isn’t sure which one he is actually talking about. Is it 2021 yet?

    3. Grant

      “And we did. We did. We finished the civil rights movement in the first stage. The women’s movement came to be.”

      Why stop there? We created a worldwide economic system that undermined democracy, environmental protection, labor rights, and financial regulation. We privatized as much as possible and handed it to inefficient and parasitic private interests that have ruined everything. We saw our political system overcome by corruption and not only didn’t stop it, we all got rich in the process. Our policies sped up the environmental crisis, and we made sure our crappy ideas spread globally. The infrastructure gap grew, the costs of housing, education and healthcare continuously rose more than wage growth did, real wages haven’t grown in decades and inequality has exploded. And we have handed over a country and a world in far worse shape than the one given to us.

      So, cry me a river Millennials if you can’t appreciate how great we are, but vote me, cause this Trump guy is a bad apple. Don’t challenge ME either. When I say to get involved, I just mean to help me attack particular people, while keeping things largely as they.

    4. KLG

      Yes, the Senator from MBNA is gonna be surprised if he actually runs…Joe, don’t go away mad. Just go away.

  8. zagonostra

    >Income Sharing: “For perspective on what it means that America’s financial mavens seem intent on treating students as instruments for capital investment.”

    So in Germany and many other countries far less affluent than the tuition is free while we are creating a system that preclude the emergence of a new generation that has the ability to purchase a home and other products because they are paying off their student loans.

    From the perspective of the owners of this country, it makes perfect sense; let foreign gov’t pay for higher education and then the multi-nationals simply hire those folks. Brilliant really, you muffle the most progressive sector of the population, the young, and you take advantage of someone else training skilled workers.

    Now with this idea, “Income Sharing,” you get an added benefit, you can invest in a student’s economic life and squeeze out additional profit – what an innovative parasitical political economic organism this capitalistic system is evolving into…

    1. human

      Few realize that this was, in large part, the purpose of The Wall. Those citizens trained at the expense of The East were lured away by the hard income of The West to the detriment of Eastern industry.

      1. DanB

        Yes, there were numerous economic reasons for the Berlin Wall, including a black market and sundry US efforts to undermine the socialist GDR, like having West Berliners shop in East Germany for subsidized commodities I knew several East Germans who enthusiastically help build the Wall. It was later, in the eighties mostly, that they began to see themselves as imprisoned. And most now see the “freedom” of the West as a very bad joke.

        1. JBird4049

          If a country has to build a wall to keep its citizens in, it should find out why and fix that; becoming a gigantic prison is not the solution

  9. Summer

    Re: China tiptoe/far side of the moon

    The USA is wanting total tech dominance over China? Trade war?

    China will win. They have the upper hand by being able to exacerbate the housing crisis in major cities in the USA and elsewhere.

  10. Off The Street

    NBC would have greater credibility if the fact-checking didn’t gloss over issues. Here is one item that could stand greater scrutiny.

    Illegal immigration doesn’t cost as much as he says it does

    They should say how much illegal immigration costs so that their viewers and secondary consumers (“NBC sources say…”) have some basis of comparison. To do otherwise undermines their journalistic integrity further.

  11. DJG

    I will add this well-written article from The Intercept to the Trump / Wall / Democratic Party in Self-Imposed Stagnation discussion. And Briahna Gray has fun with alliteration:

    Schumer and Pelosi (and Steny!) are well past their prime. As Bernie Sanders and AOC (both quoted extensively in the article) know, ripeness is all. But overripeness is now treasured in U.S. society–Schumer, Steny, Hillary, Saint McCain, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Graham of South Carolina, Bill the Big Dog (of what?), and one can go on… Is Dan Rather *still* a hero of the Resistance?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      My dad knew Schumer when Chuck was in the NY legislature back in the day and has assured me the problem isn’t his age. Like the younger Sununu, their lack of knowledge stuck out.

      The real problem is the perception these people are fighting Republicans and always foiled from passing good legislation. Or perhaps have confused pop culture with real facts. How many people believe Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is accurate or even good rather than sentimental garbage? The West Wing and other smaller references in pop culture about politics are often just stupid, but they create a deeply held belief system which benefits the people you listed.

      McCain as a maverick. In other times, he would be labeled a crook.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Funny you should mention that about McCain. Here’s what one of my neighbors says about him:

        “I worked for American Continental. I know what kind of a crook he is.”

  12. Saint Francis

    ‘Dog Wears Prada’. Doggy style? Really? Wow.

    $1,500 a month is extreme. $600 a month for daycare is more in line with most places in the SF area. If someone brings their dog every working day of the month, that works out to $27 per day.

    Consider that places that offer this service have supervised play yards for the dogs. The dog aren’t sitting in crates all day. Those yards are staffed by people. And the reputable outfits don’t overcrowds yards or mix dogs of different sizes and temperament. And they will have web cams to ensure transparency.

    So you have at least three people working at any time during business hours. At the local minimum wage, that’s a basic labor cost of $45 per hour. For a regular business day, that adds up to $540.

    If you charge $40 per day for each dog in your care (less if you offer discounts package like that monthly cited above), you would need to bring in just under 14 dogs just to cover salary.

    What about dogs that stay overnight? You can charge more for that ($70-80), but you need staff for that, too. So add another $180 of salary every day for that overnight shift. And boarding stays fluctuate greatly around holidays, as might be expected.

    And then there are your fixed costs – rent, electricity, etc. If the rent or mortgage is $5k per month (rent is high in urban areas that are easily accessible to people in the city), so that bumps your daily nut up to ~$900 per day.

    Divide that again by the number of dogs you’ll need per day to cover those costs (again assuming average revenue of $40 per dog per day), and you’re looking at 23 dogs just to keep the doors open. If your space is limited (as it is in most urban locations), then you can’t safely accommodate more than 40 or 50 dogs. And once you get over 40, you need more staff.

    That’s back of the napkin numbers, and very conservative, but it’s a good place to start. Fact is, this is a difficult business to operate if you do it responsibly and treat your employees fairly. Oh, and then because these places are run by dog lovers, you will also open your facility to non-profit adoption organizations to provide care for dogs on an ongoing basis while they are awaiting adoption. The charge for those dogs per day is $0.

    No one is getting rich doing this. Except ‘Doggy Style’, it seems. But that doesn’t matter – indict the whole industry and post this article under “Guillotine Watch” so readers can get their daily dose of outrage. Well done, NC.

    1. eyelladog

      I believe the point of it being under guillotine watch is that it is clearly a rich-person thing to do stuff like doggy daycare. Someone living paycheck-to-paycheck would clearly not even consider even a $600/mo charge for a pet, if they even have a pet (huge cost considering good food is expensive plus all the regulations on licensing/caring for the pet).

      1. a different chris

        Yeah me too. It wasn’t the charge, it was the ability of some to pay it that was the jaw-dropping part.

        I could watch 6 dogs and make 6 figures. Why am I doing what I’m doing? Oh, that’s right – 6 figures in San Fran pretty much puts you on the street.

    2. Cal2

      What about the cost of the dog food? Assume it’ll be only the best too?
      An organic dog food outlet has opened in Millhattan, AKA Mill Valley. It’s the Tech Bro’s latest tentacle northward from Silicon Valley.

    3. Lee

      Assuming one has a yard, the best doggie daycare is a second dog or other critter pal. Having seen what splendid isolation does to a single dog left alone for too long, I will never again have fewer than two dogs if I must leave the animals alone for more than short periods of time. Dogs have social needs equivalent to our own. Get your pet a pet.

    4. wilroncanada

      Saint Francis
      My dog wears nada, and is fawned over by every little old lady he encounters when my wife takes him walking every day. And he is loved by just about every other dog he meets.

  13. dan

    Re: Elwood, Illinois (Pop. 2,200), Has Become a Vital Hub of America’s Consumer Economy. And It’s Hell.

    This lessons in this article are relevant on so many dimensions. gig/part-time economy, tax subsidies
    for companies, being the most relevant.

    1. Milton

      What I thought interesting was that Calpers now owns Centerpoint – the corp which developed the Inland port. The price was undisclosed.

    2. Lobsterman

      Also – how culture constrains choices. Elwood has been strip-mining its soil and its people for so long, it can’t conceive of a different model.

  14. Carolinian

    The burning question as stated by Juan Cole

    Why do senators want to pass a law to give impunity to a foreign government engaged in war crimes and racial discrimination, when the law has already been struck down by the judiciary as violating the very Constitution on which American liberties are founded, and to which these senators (apparently quite dishonestly) swore loyalty?

    Another burning question might be why these laws, which exist in half the states including my own, have not yet made it to the Supreme Court for challenge. Clearly depending on the judiciary alone to defend our freedom is not nearly enough. Still one has to assume that for the sponsors of these measures it’s not so much about enforcing the anti boycott laws or keeping them on the books as showing that they have the power to pass them. This is at least one area where our money obsessed politicians feel they have a license to be shameless.

    1. Keith Howard

      I really am irritated that this article does not name all the D co-sponsoring Senators. Can anybody here just list them? Thanks.

      1. Carolinian

        Apparently the bill did not get the necessary 60 votes in the Senate although Dem opposition, such as it was, may have had more to do with the shutdown. I can’t seem to find the list for the newest bill but

        Rubio’s bill last Congress was co-sponsored by several Democrats who are still in the Senate: Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Ben Cardin of Maryland, Ron Wyden of Oregon, and Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.

        1. Roger Smith

          No Way! Stabmenow was an anti-Trump champion of the 2018 midterms! No way she isn’t actually working for our interests, she is a Democrat after all! Well anyways I was told that they will change if we keep voting for them.

    2. Grant

      Another question might be how can these people scream Russia, Russia, Russia, then allow a foreign government to blatantly interfere in our domestic political process and not get horribly embarrassed by the obvious cognitive dissonance? Last time I checked, Israel is foreign country, and this seems a bit more impactful than some Facebook memes. What do I know? I don’t have a nice gig at the Center for American Progress or whatever, where this stuff makes sense.

  15. allan

    Deep shallow thought: all those workers who are government contractors instead of government employees and are therefore not going to be getting back pay after the shutdown
    are surely going to vote for the party that Reinvented Government™, right?

      1. allan

        … and some are not:


        Right now, some 1,500 janitors, cafeteria workers and security guards are out of work because of the #TrumpShutdown. They don’t know when they’ll get paid again. And unless we do something, many will never make up their lost wages, because they’re employed by private contractors. [followed by tweets showing several victims]

        But in fairness to Clinton and Gore, no one ever could have anticipated that moving positions from government to private payroll might have undesirable outcomes. /s

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      Perhaps the Democrats sponsoring the bill to obtain easement of late charges and such for the direct employees will remember to include the contractors.

      What has me grinding my teeth are the number of people who are fine with people going unpaid, and without the pitiful support one obtains from the “safety net” in the name of a “moral” stand on something that will never get built. Here in Texas, landowners threatened with eminent domain for the wall are already talking to their lawyers, and I find it impossible to believe there aren’t at least two other methods for keeping the thing from being built. Sadder still, apparently some of those deluded by that idea of a “moral stand” are the employees themselves.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “A Fake Nude of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Was Debunked By Foot Fetishists”

    Rumour has it that the CIA was able to penetrate a disguise that Osmam bin Laden wore once by having a foot fetisher positively ID the feet sticking out from below his robe.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I feel (not sure if others would agree) that we are being directed to focus our attention on one single person, so that we don’t bother with other issues.

      And if that’s the case, wouldn’t ignoring them be a good response?

    1. Summer

      Yeah, the land issues and the fact that looking at wall, on both sides people can feel trapped. Overtime, it would be easy to wonder if it is to keep people in as much as out.

    2. Carolinian

      There’s already a fence on much of the border. You can see it from the freeway heading into El Paso. There are also checkpoints on the freeway heading out of El Paso in both directions. Wander near the border in New Mexico or Arizona and you are apt to see tethered surveillance balloons or the heavy presence of border patrol vehicles. This didn’t start with Trump.

        1. Carolinian

          When I was at Rockhound State Pk in NM I spotted an “aerostat” tethered in the distance near the border.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Like those on the border, Mexico doesn’t want a wall either.

      But if the final destination was, say, Canada, what would the Wall-supporters (the US being a mere corridor, in that case) say? “Welcome, and we will make sure you make it to Canada?”

    4. John k

      Once they cross they don’t hang around the border but head north to cities, where they compete with locals for bottom level jobs. Just as the Corp masters wish.
      I’d much rather divert military funds from wars to hire people to build the wall.

  17. BobW

    You will be pleased to learn that we have reactivated your Favebook account. Upon viewing your medical records, our algorithms determined that you were not deceased, so your leaving Favebook must, of course, have been a mistake.

    Yours forever,
    Zark Muckerblurb

  18. pjay

    Re ‘That sophisticated, specific Russian 2016 voter targeting effort doesn’t seem to exist’

    Last week the NYT publishes an article on the CIA’s role in fomenting terror and chaos in Afghanistan. Now we have this in the Washington Post. What’s up?! I realize that the BS-to-fact ratio in these publications is still quite high, but it is interesting to see even one push-back against the dominant narrative here.

    On the other hand, unlike the reader comments on the Times article (which were mainly good, from my perspective), the responses to Bump’s analysis mostly ripped him as a Russia/Trump apologist. Maybe that was the point.

    1. pretzelattack

      well the article concludes that the “real interference” was russia directly hacking the election. i guess the nyt overton window isn’t wide enough to allow questioning that.

      1. JBird4049

        So the failure of Operation Phoenix can be blamed on those pestiferous Viet Cong Viet Minh Soviet Union Taliban Russians?

        Does anyone in the CIA or what passes for military intelligence ever read some history books of the past century? There are still some people who are alive who could tell them how not to completely f@@@ things up. I don’t think that we can ever win a war in Afghanistan but there are still things to avoid doing or at least not make it worse.

      1. Morgan Everett

        What’s strange is that for someone whose public identity is statistician, I don’t appear to see any actual statistics in the article, just the usual intent staring at tea leaves one gets from a pundit. I’d be really keen on seeing what stats lead him to believe that Kirsten Gillibrand has more appeal with black voters than Sanders.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      What a cringe worthy article. It should be titled, “Nate’s Fantasy Day Dream Projections” and the diagrams – if Nate was honest about it – would replace the constituency descriptor, Left, with: Bernie-Bros Going To Hell.

  19. Roger Smith

    Are there any serious cons to building a wall? Democrats, Republicans, and the newly born again anti-trump media apparatus all sold the public up the river over endless wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, etc… to the tune of Trillions of dollars and millions dead. Trump wants a few billion for a wall. Is he really hurting anyone?

        1. wilroncanada

          Thanks nippersmom for that contribution.
          Roger, another reason is that to build a wall through parts of Texas, and perhaps other states too, (though I’ve not been there) means taking thousands of acres of what I understand is mostly range land from Texas landowners. A wall isn’t just a wall; it requires an infrastructure, like roads along its length, in addition to access roads. Texas farmers, likely Trump supporters otherwise, have lawyers ready to fight against walls the access to which would bisect their land.

      1. tegnost

        Definitely the best argument against a wall I can think of. wildlife pass throughs are needed all over the rest of the country as well…(JG anyone?) Really the whole thing is a bunch of sound and fury, if the PTB wanted to affect change in that arena there are plenty of laws on the books right now to punish illegal hiring. Having been in the desert, and stopped at a random checkpoint, that is some of the most inhospitable country anywhere I’ve been so compared to that whats a wall going to do. People really should go out there sometime and feel the heat, the dryness, the bees scared the crap out of me when I stopped to eat an apple. Did I say rattlesnake? And look at the miles people cross… it’s a long way. Crazy. Just more looking at how far we’ve let things go then coming up with non answers as response.

    1. marym

      Landowners: see rd’s link above at 10:07 am re eminent domain seizures.

      Environment: See nippersmom above at 12:00 pm. Also: 6 ways the border wall could disrupt the environment

      Border communities and their economies; humanitarian impact: DEATH, DAMAGE, AND FAILURE: IMPACTS OF WALLS ON THE U.S.-MEXICO BORDER

      Legal immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers: In Feb. 2018 a Senate bill with $25B for a wall and other border security failed because some R’s joined Dems in voting against it when Trump threatened to veto because he also wants further restrictions on legal immigration.

      Federal workforce, contractors, private businesses and landlords dependent on them for income, users of federal services: Encouragement of hostage-taking shutdowns for political ends.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        This reminds of the Judgment of King Solomon.

        Federal workfore, contractors, private businesses and landlords dependent on them for income, users of federal services.

        Mother A: “You let go.”

        Mother B: “You back down.”

        The federal workers et al are ones the two arguing mothers or sides are claiming to care for.

        The real mother, before Solomon, was the one who said ‘the baby or workers are more important. Take care of the baby or them. My opponent can have her victory.”

        Any side or anyone not yielding would be engaging in bad behavior or, temper tantrums, if he or she claims to care. If he or she doesn’t make that claim, then this story is less applicable.

    2. anon in so cal

      NeoLiberals seem to be winning the messaging re: a wall. The MSM appears to largely label anyone who supports the wall a racist, who is against the browning of America. Yet, studies suggest illegal immigration impacts African Americans’ wages:

      If polls are accurate that 150 million from around the world would like to live in the US, isn’t the US obligated to admit these individuals, also? Is mere geographic proximity the criterion? The US has wreaked havoc across the globe, not just in Mexico and Central America, so isn’t the US obliged to admit all victims of its plunder? If the US admits 150 million, that brings the US population to over 400 million? Does MedicareForAll work still work?

      In the trenches here in Los Angeles, many streets appear third world, with mobile street vendors, street-side cooking and meal-selling, etc. Is it racist to say that perhaps the US cannot accommodate this many nearly destitute, low-skilled economic migrants?

      1. Darthbobber

        But the by far most common method of unlawful immigration is still to arrive on a legitimate visa and overstay it. Which a wall does exactly nothing about.

      2. Eclair

        ” …. with mobile street vendors, street-side cooking and meal-selling, etc. Is it racist to say that perhaps the US cannot accommodate this many nearly destitute, low-skilled economic migrants?”

        Gee whiz, anon in so cal, have you tried making a batch of tamales lately? Or grinding corn and making tortillas? Takes some skills.

        1. anon in so cal

          Actually, Eclair, I’ve made mole from scratch (tough to get the de-skin the peppers).

          I’ve been to almost every state in Mexico, rental car and ADO buses up and down the most remote roads, even lived in Mexico for a year. Used to speak fluent Spanish. Have been all over Guatemala, Costa Rica, Belize, and Panama.

          1. Joey

            So where you opening the arepas stand? You promised me no lack of tamales, world-traveled provider of street goods! ( I heard the mole was home-made)

      3. marym

        Illegal immigration across the southern border has been trending lower for years and is currently at historic lows. Net immigration of Mexican people is negative. As stated in Darthbobber’s comment at 1:35 most illegal immigrants arrived legally and overstayed their visas. A wall won’t change that, nor address your fear of immigrants arriving from countries other than Central and South America.

        If Trump cared about the impact of illegal immigration on wages in the US he would maybe mention that, instead of exaggerated or inaccurate fear mongering about violent criminals (link), human trafficking, and drugs (link). Also, he wouldn’t hire illegal (link)and H2B visa (link) workers at his own properties. Also, he would promote policies like minimum wage, workplace and environmental safety, and healthcare programs that would actually help US workers, instead of ignoring or undermining such policies.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Comprehensive immigration reform.

          From a 1-1-2019 NYTimes article:

          Mr. Trump has raised the prospects of broader talks on Twitter. “We will be forced to close the Southern Border entirely if the Obstructionist Democrats do not give us the money to finish the Wall & also change the ridiculous immigration laws that our Country is saddled with,” he said last week. “Hard to believe there was a Congress & President who would approve!”

          Would that be a way forward?

          1. marym

            Sounds like the same impasse as in Feb. 2018. He threatened to veto a bill for $25B for border security including a wall if it didn’t include further restrictions on legal immigration.

            If he’s still saying this in 2019 (not clear on the context/timing of the tweet and NYT article) would be more reason for the D’s not to give in on wall funding, since it’s not all he may be planning to demand.

            On border security, the disagreement was lesser — Democrats weren’t eager to give Trump his wall, but they did appear willing to fund it to save DACA. The White House wanted $25 billion, and the Grassley bill gave it to them. So did the latest bipartisan “Common Sense” compromise.

            The real disagreement, then, came down to legal immigration. The White House wanted substantial legal immigration cuts through changes to family-based migration and the diversity visa program. Those provisions were incorporated into the Grassley plan, but it had trouble mustering even universal Republican support.


            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              There are already 650 miles of fencing built.

              What was given or obtained in return for that? That would seem to form a basis for the asking price for more miles of wall or fencing.

              1. marym

                This is just an impression through the years: I would say Dems vote for security measures in part to pre-empt the charge that they’re weaker on security than the R’s; and also to get something they supposedly want, like DACA protections or a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants that have been here for a long time. They just never get what they supposedly want, the R’s still whine about how D’s want “open borders,” and nobody pushes for immigration enforcement at the employer level. So it’s all pretty much a scam, but building a wall won’t change any of that.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            To reduce H1B visa, it would seem that we have to show efforts to reduce illegal immigration (and not just to rely on it to fluccuate on its own – for example, change due to economic conditions).

        2. anon in so cal

          @marym, illegal immigration is a separate issue from Trump, though, isn’t it? Granted, Trump has done many horrific things and may not, himself, care a rats about the impact of illegal immigration on wages.

          The thing is, though, that illegal immigration impacts more than wages. There are 55,000 homeless individuals on the streets of Los Angeles County, alone. When will their needs be met?

          @Lambert, I don’t have cultural issues with immigration, either, and probably very few people do have such issues. Mexican and Central American cuisine is delicious. No one disputes that. The content of the cuisine is a different issue from the manner in which the cuisine is prepared (on the sidewalks) and sold (by mobile street vendors).

      4. Lambert Strether

        > mobile street vendors, street-side cooking and meal-selling

        Sounds delicious! I don’t have cultural issues with immigration at all. I just want to labor arbitrage issues, at a minimum, acknowledged. And Miami me no Miami. HiB’s prove the existence of labor arbitrage conclusively and hence, the requirement for a nation-state to control its borders. (Last I checked, the DSA hasn’t been taken over by anarchists, and presumably they need a functional nation-state to deliver #MedicareForAll.)

        Of course, in my view the entire controversy is trivial compared to… well, name it. Green New Deal, #MedicareForAll, falling life expectancy… .It’s all about, and only about, the Democrat theory that if they work the demographics right, they need never change as a party.

        1. georgieboy

          “It’s all about, and only about, the Democrat theory that if they work the demographics right, they need never change as a party.”

          Thank you, Lambert.

    3. RUKidding

      While you make a valid point about the prior politicians who enabled and supported endless Wars that killed millions, I fail to see how that justifies paying for a pointless wall that will cause far more problems – environmentally and otherwise – that it will solve.

      Why should the US taxpayer (please don’t lecture me about MMT and how taxes don’t pay for anything; I get that; but in theory that’s how Wall is to be funded, rather than having Mexico pay for it, as clearly promised) pay for this stupidity?

      Talk to people who live on the border about it definitely will cause “hurt” in a variety of ways, not the least to those whose properties will be taken away from them by eminent domain.

      1. whine country

        The amount, $5 Billion, is less than rounding difference so the overburdened taxpayer argument is really silly. This is all theater unless the wise old notion of carefully picking your battles is no longer applicable. The ‘d’s (deplorables) see it but the hopeless ‘D’s (Democrats) have their noses too close to the chalkboard. There are 650 miles of wall built by almost all of Trump’s predecessors. Shutting down the government over a few more miles is crazy and it is the hopeless ‘D’s who are doing it. BTW, I don’t like Trump but fair is fair.

        1. RUKidding

          Seems you’ve forgotten that the Rs didn’t vote for the Wall either when they were in the majority. Why do they get a pass while all the blame is loaded onto Democrats??

          Why won’t McConnell call for a vote in the Senate? The Rs are in majority there.

          My argument wasn’t only – or even mainly – about the money. It’s about a lot of other negative impacts from this Wall which most who live along the border don’t want.

            1. marym

              650 miles of different types of fencing built and maintained over the years in accordance with the Secure Fence Act of 2006, not a wall.


          1. Elizabeth Burton

            Why won’t McConnell call for a vote in the Senate?

            I’ve been asking that question all week, along with “Why didn’t they simply override the veto, since according to all reports they passed the original bill unanimously and the only ones in the House reported to support the veto were the ~36 members of the ‘Freedom Caucus’?” To which I’m now adding “Why is it Mitch McConnell lately looks like he’s terrified?”

            If anyone hears more on the subject, I’ll await it eagerly.

        2. jrs

          The Dems suck in their own ways but this is not their battle. It’s not the Ds who are doing it. Even when R’s had the entire government Trump blamed mythical non-existent Dems for the problem. This idiocy is all on him.

    4. DrGonzo

      Well, if you’re a self proclaimed deal-maker clamoring to make the big deal, come to the table and offer up something with value you’re holding. Want a wall? We want at least a Medicare for All contract.
      But what the hell does a stupid prole like myself know?

    5. Tom Bradford

      The cost of the Wall is chickenfeed for the Government. The pros and cons of the Wall itself are a matter for legitimate debate. What matters is that, as every parent of a five-year-old knows, if you surrender to temper-tantrums and emotional blackmail over an unreasonable demand you just lay the ground for worse behaviour over every minor difference for years to come.

      Hand Trump a victory over this and you merely bolster his ego, and teach him he can successfully act like the dictators he so patently admires.

      1. RUKidding

        Agree. Let him negotiate in good faith. That’s not what he’s doing when he holds us all hostage to his demands. This isn’t the way to get things done. Don’t reward bad behavior.

      2. Tom Bradford again

        In fact, drawing even deeper on my experience with five-year-olds, if you hand Trump a ‘victory’ over ‘his’ wall just to shut him up this sad little man will immediately pick another fight with higher stakes, because to him ‘victory’ over others is the only thing that validates himself to himself and each such victory has to outscore previous ones just as an addict has to continually increase the size of his ‘hit’ in order to feel anything.

        And unfortunately the most likely subject for him to pick for such a fight is war with Iran.

  20. XXYY

    Your GPS location from your cell’s chip is what WILL get you. It’s good to within 5 feet.

    Not to be pedantic, but the best GPS can do with a full set of satellite fixes is put you somewhere in a circle about 30 feet in diameter. With a partial set of fixes, this circle expands dramatically. This was considered extremely useful for, e.g., marine navigation when the system was originally designed, though it obviously now leaves something to be desired for current uses. Newer systems (Galileo, e.g.) are more accurate and also have higher signal strengths; GPS signals are astonishingly weak and the system requires the antenna have a clear view of the sky, which is why you see the small plastic roof antenna housings on newer cars.

    Phone based location systems try to aggregate multiple information sources, e.g., map info, cellular info, wifi info, to try to place you more accurately than GPS can do alone, but it’s kind of a crap shoot.

    1. FluffyttheObeseCat

      GPS with a full set of satellite fixes can pinpoint location to far better than a 30’ diameter. A Garmin hand held, used outside in an unobstructed area, is regularly accurate to within ~1-2 m. Stationary receivers along the San Andreas fault use GPS to map sub-cm scale movement, and they have done so since the 1990s. The kind of poor resolution you are citing is due to the limited capabilities of the hand held transmitter/receiver, and to the impact of urban structures and em pollution. Cell phones aren’t dedicated GPS receivers and they are usually used and tracked in built up environments, often when the target is indoors or in vehicles.

      1. XXYY

        No, and yes. Quoting from Wikipedia:

        When selective availability was lifted in 2000, GPS had about a five-meter (16 ft) accuracy [i.e., you are somewhere in a circle 32 feet in diameter].


        The latest stage of accuracy enhancement uses the L5 band and is now fully deployed. GPS receivers released in 2018 that use the L5 band can have much higher accuracy, pinpointing to within 30 centimetres or 11.8 inches [you are somewhere in a circle 2 ft in diameter].

        The brand-new L5 capability will obviously be much better if your receiver supports it; I don’t know if this is on the roadmap, or even technically possible, for cell phones; I assume it needs a different antenna, RF front end, and so on. Hopefully we will start to see it.

        1. bob

          Cell towers, Wifi, bluetooth and accelerometers in phones are far more useful at determining a location, without the huge power draw of GPS.

          GPS capability is highly overestimated.

          I’ve heard that the 5m (or 1 meter? by mil) accuracy of military developed GPS was because that’s the blast radius on a small missle.

          “Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades…”

  21. Lee

    Small Weasel-Like Animals Are Taking Down Big Cats National Geographic (bob). Eew.

    Members of the weasel clan, pound for pound, are perhaps the most ferocious of mammalian carnivores, taking prey and fending off other predators many times their size. Wolverines (~50 lbs.) have been known to back down grizzlies, ten or more times their size and also quite fierce, over a kill. Quite a feat. On average the Lynx only weighs 2 or 3 times more than the Fisher.

    I once watched a confrontation between four wolves and a badger. The badger held them off for quite some time until at last the wolves got their timing right, pounced as one, and essential drew and quartered the poor badger. Not long after that I encountered a badger on a trail and stepped aside to give it right of way. It just waddled cutely past as if I weren’t there. I resisted the urge to pet it.

  22. Duck1

    Secret minutes of Elwood Planning Commision:

    There’s 106 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark out, and we’re wearing sunglasses.

    Hit it!

  23. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: “Plan S, the radical proposal to mandate open access to science papers” — Much as I enjoy being able to download scientific papers and other academic papers I am not at all in favor of the so-called Plan S or other moves toward “Open-Access” Science. These initiatives are a Trojan horse for a full-scale move toward the Neoliberal Ideal of the “best science money can buy”.
    “Indeed, the only plausible prognosis is that as universities and libraries are further undermined, the entire peer review system will be displaced by some market-based evaluation of written research, carried out according to some Facebook-style like/dislike modality, combined with the eventual death of the author as lynchpin of the research enterprise. The validation of knowledge will finally be fully crowdsourced. Thus, Open Science 2.0 does not exist to democratize or otherwise improve research. Rather, it is engineered to position a few large firms at the electronic portals of the modern commercialization of knowledge.” [Mirowski 2014, “What is ‘Open Science’ open to?”]
    Mirowski presents a more extensive analysis of open science in Mirowski 2018, “The future(s) of open science” [].

    1. ewmayer

      o “universities and libraries are further undermined” — no longer having to pay insane subscription costs for for-profit journals is ‘undermined’?

      o “engineered to position a few large firms at the electronic portals of the modern commercialization of knowledge” — Uh, that describes the current system. Names like Elsevier and Wiley ring a bell?

      Lastly, a large-scale form of an open-access peer-review system already exists, in the form of the ArXiv preprint server. I haven’t heard any credible reports to the effect that the coming-online, subsequent massive growth, and current near-ubiquity of ArXiv, have led to a degradation of the quality of the scientific research enterprise. Rather the opposite is my sense – rather than having some tiny group of anonymous, always-too-busy-with-own-work and often conflicted referees deciding the merits of a paper, you have an often vigorous, and yes occasionally messy and unseemly, open vetting capability.

      Note that while I disagree with Mirowski on this point, I am a general admirer of his work – NC readers may enjoy Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste, about the elevation of neolib economics into an unfalsifiable quasi-religion.

      1. flora

        Open access could undermine the funding of research done under proprietary restrictions in grant funded studies. Generally, the grant funded restrictions have a time limitation, say 2 years or so, after which the study and its results can be openly published in specialist scientific journals. Peer review and publishing also incur costs. Peer review is a cost in time, if not money, done with the understanding that the review is disinterested and done only in the furtherance of the field and accuracy in knowledge.

        However, a lot of these specialist scientific journals that are subscribed to mostly by large institutions are, imo, engaged in price gouging. Universities are already paring back the number of specialist scientific journals subscribed to because of extraordinary price gouging costs that increase every year.

        There must be some middle ground between free and price gouging. (“Free” will shut down publications, peer review, and trustworthy scientific information, imo. “Because markets” may end up destroying scientific progress by making access to trustworthy, peer reviewed scientific papers too expensive (price gouging) to access for the larger scientific community.)

        1. flora

          However, having written that, I’ll quote Heinlein of SciFi fame:

          “Always listen to experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done, and why. Then do it.”
          ― Robert A. Heinlein, Time Enough for Love


      2. Jeremy Grimm

        I had no small difficulty reaching agreement with Mirowski’s position on “Open-Access” and I cannot and would not attempt to defend the existing system of scientific publication. The deep rot in the existing system of scientific publication makes vulnerable to attack.

        Conquering Science is the holy grail for Neoliberalism. In our present Culture and Society — Science stands as the ultimate arbiter of knowledge, the ultimate tool of epistemology. Science asserts all knowledge is the product of the Scientific Method. But this is anathema to the Neoliberal religion. True-believers in Neoliberalism know absolutely that the Market is the ultimate computer and ultimate source of Knowledge and Truth. I know what I just argued sounds nuts. It sounds nuts to me too — but Mirowski has argued repeatedly and most emphatically that Neoliberals really do believe this. Hayek received his Nobel Prize in Economics for this ‘discovery’. Recalling a network protocol the Air Force pushed some years ago based on a Market model to manage bandwidth sharing, remembering the absolute faith of hard core Libertarians I’ve argued with, and regarding some of the insane practices of our government regulatory agencies … I began to think Mirowski was correct in his pronouncements.

        Consider the current state of Science. The MIC poured money on Science and the University systems during the Cold War era. The concept of “dual-use” served to ease concerns over the spending and created considerable space for Science to work toward its own purposes while enjoying the flows of DoD money. When the Cold War era came to a close DoD shifted spending to development and procurements and left Science and the University systems to the tender mercies of Corporate Power. The Science bridled by the MIC was now saddled by Commercial Interests and a growing concern over Intellectual Property and driven toward catering to the needs of Corporate Profit. The University became the University Incorporated. Both Science and the University scamble for Corporate Money and dance to their piper. Scientific publishing was overlooked or deemed a secondary goal to worry over after more thorough consolidation and control of Science and the University.

        Now is time to complete the conquest of Science. Scientific journals still adhere to ancient principles and beliefs anathema to Neoliberalism. They must be destroyed and replaced by a system of scientific publication that appreciates the subtle Truths of the Market. Regard the scale of the push for “Open Access” and wonder at its origins. Are they as pure as they might seem? Yes the the ArXiv preprint server works well … now … as once did Google Search Engines and Facebook Social Networks. Imagine how much easier “Open Access” will eventually fashion Science to discover the Truths of the Market. The allocation of research funds already fits a business model to the Scientific Enterprise. How difficult will it be to twist “Open Access” publication into a Marketplace of Ideas?

  24. diptherio

    Nice goat, Tracie H. They will take a nibble of literally anything. What breed is she (assuming it’s a doe)?

  25. Cal2

    “How a NeoCon-Backed “Fact Checker” Plans to Wage War on Independent Media”

    Long article. Short version:

    “People that created profitable airport security and the failed Iraq business plan to censor your news.”

  26. Covergirl

    I worked at PG&E for over seven years in a Corporate governance function and know those three executives personally. Geisha Williams was a Senior Executive in Electric Operations during my entire tenure and I witnessed her do everything possible to evade audit findings and subvert the course of justice on several occasions. She certainly has deep knowledge in manipulation, coersion and backdoor dealing with an eye towards self enrichment.

    That said, there are hundreds of very hard working men and women doing their damndest to ameliorate the myopic narcissim of the leadership team over there. Too bad they’ll take the blame and pay the consequences. Peter Darbee who left after the San Bruno explosion killed 8 people got paid $34 million on his exit. Most hit men would kill for that kind of payout.

  27. cripes

    The articles on Elwood, Illinois and Marinaleda, Spain sure highlight the rapacious nature of capitalist “investment” in communities. And what could be instead.

    Neither tiny towns or mega-cities like New York (with the Amazon debacle) are exempt from these raiding parties. The local compradors hope to profit from the raids,and the locals hope for jobs. Even that has faded to insignificance when 94% of employment growth since the 90’s are precarious jawbs. The ruthless railway, mining and manufacturing corporations of the 19th and early 20th century start to look positively generous by comparison.

    Marinaleda’s Mayor observes that “everything (capitalism) touches turns to gold, commodity, trade and death. I think the capitalist system is necrophilous.”

    The toxic wastelands and broken lives left in the wake of these “investors,” repeated every 20 years or so from Appalachia to Southeast Asia to Elwood and back make this painfully obvious. That these crimes continue unprosecuted is a testament to the narrative-shaping power of the oligarchic conspirators and their foundation/media/political flaks.

  28. Mickey Hickey

    What I see through my green tinted lenses is a Labour Party that is as divided on Brexit as the Conservative party is. Granted a majority of Labour MPs’ may be in favour of a negotiated exit and totally opposed to John Bull galloping through the exit. What is going on now is extremely divisive with the fault lines along Hadrian’s Wall, the River Dee and the Irish Sea. The British Empire in terms of positive cash flow peaked in 1913 and went into decline starting in 1919. WW1 led to near bankruptcy and the loss of a significant number of men from the ruling class. My German relatives all agree that GB never recovered from WW1. WW2 accelerated the decline. We are now at the stage where the Act of Union (1707) between Scotland and England is likely to unravel. The EU is a safe haven for small countries providing them with a level playing field and by extension bargaining clout against the large global economies. The Euro is also looked upon as being a very useful and stable currency.

  29. Mikerw0

    I would be very interested in commentary on the Barro “takedown” of MMT in NY Mag. Seems like he misses the point.

  30. witters

    “The EU is a safe haven for small countries providing them with a level playing field and by extension bargaining clout against the large global economies.”

    The Greeks (like Biden’s millennials) have never had it so good!

    1. Mickey Hickey

      The Greeks retained Goldman Sachs to game their entry into the Eurozone. To compound their errors when the proverbial hit the fan they shunned Yanis Varoufakis and took advice from the same gamer that got them into trouble in the first place. I worked for a Greek shipping company in Europe back in the day, nominal HQ in Geneva with offices in London, Amsterdam, New York and Panama. Like the owners I enjoyed tax free income in the currency and country of my choice. Since WW2 Greece has had a troubled history, the US backed military dictatorship being one of the bigger problems. The Greek oligopoly and politicians are every bit as venal as their US counterparts. If countries are determined to self destruct even the EU Commission cannot save then from themselves. The bottom line is Greece caved as did the Irish, what they had in common were Goldman Sachs advisors.

  31. Unna

    New Prosecutor in Ferguson. This new guy is off to a good start. Will he clean up the warrant and citation racket that financed some of that local government? I like his reforms. Possible problems: Will the political funding authorities turn on him and mess with his budget? Presuming the judges are also a deep part of the local system, will they mess with him and his people in court to make them look bad? Will the cops work hard for him, or will they obstruct and dither on investigations turning him into a no results administration? How will this new prosecutor union work out and will a union prevent his firing people and hiring good new ones?

    Lots of issues. Wish him well.

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