Links 1/14/19

We found lapis lazuli hidden in ancient teeth – revealing the forgotten role of women in medieval arts The Conversation

Maintaining a competitive hedge WaPo

American Phone Companies Are Literally Letting Their Networks Fall Apart Motherboard

In this town, it’s illegal to grow vegetables in your front yard TreeHugger

German regulator saddles Deutsche Bank with onerous money laundering reviews Handelsblatt

Safe Or Not, Roundup Is Toxic for Bayer Der Spiegel

EFF flips Bird the bird, says Boing Boing post doesn’t violate copyright law Ars Technica

Why is reading in the pub so enjoyable? In praise of a very British pastime Independent

California Burning

Exclusive: PG&E talking to banks on multibillion dollar bankruptcy financing – sources Reuters

Why wildfires pose an existential threat to California tourism San Francisco Chronicle

Health Care

Single Payer Not Single Payer Counterpunch (chigal)

Life, Death and Insulin WaPo

Democratic governors steer party to left for universal health care Politico

Hospitals Must Now Post Prices. But It May Take a Brain Surgeon to Decipher Them. NYT

Science with borders: A debate over genetic sequences and national rights threatens to inhibit research Stat

$75,500 for public records? Horry County won’t say why it costs thousands for documents Myrtle Beach online (martha r)

ELECTION ADVOCATES EYE FLORIDA FIXES FOR 2020 WhoWhatWhy.org

Syraqistan

White House Sought Options to Strike Iran WSJ

Pompeo presses Saudis for accountability on Khashoggi murder Al Jazeera

India

India’s Great Wall of Equality  Project Syndicate. Jayati Ghosh.

Basic income works and works well The Hindu. Context: Modi reportedly mulling basic income plan for farmers in run-up to elections later this year.

China?

Why the US-China dispute is about so much more than a trade imbalance SCMP. Part 3 of a series.

Brexit

Brexit: politicians at their lowest ebb in history EUReferendum.com

EU preparing to delay Brexit until at least July Guardian

Theresa May says no Brexit more likely than no deal BBC

Theresa May in final effort to save her Brexit deal Irish Times

Gilets Jaunes

Macron unveils ‘great national debate’ to calm protests AFP

Class Warfare

Chicago Seized And Sold Nearly 50,000 Cars Over Tickets Since 2011, Sticking Owners With Debt WBEZ (martha r)

LA’s Battle for Venice Beach: Homeless Surge Puts Hollywood’s Progressive Ideals to the Test Hollywood Reporter

The ABCs of Jacobin Columbia Journalism Review

EXCLUSIVE: ‘This is wrong’: Iowa’s flawed felon list is disqualifying legitimate voters for years Des Moines Register (martha r)

Lead in School Water: Less Than Half the States Test for It, and Fewer Require It Governing.com

Big Brother IS Watching You Watch

The U.S. Government Has Amassed Terabytes of Internal WikiLeaks Data Gizmodo

US clash over EU privacy rules stymies European funds FT

Democrats in Disarray

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has more Twitter power than media, establishment Axios. I know she’s savvy, and appears to possess a rare political talent. She’s also preaching popular, common sense, underexpressed messages. But honestly, would a new member of Congress be so dominating the national conversation, if other Democrats were either less clueless or less beholden to their donors?

Ocasio-Cortez Pushes Democrats to the Left, Whether They Like It or Not NYT. Better late than never: The Grey lady catches on.

Ex-Obama HUD Chief Julián Castro Enters 2020 Presidential Race TruthOut

Booker tries to shake doubts about pharmaceutical ties ahead of 2020 Politico

Evoking Muckrakers: Hannah Giorgis’s Devastating Critique of Senator Kamala Harris Ghion Journal

Sherrod Brown Is the Real Deal—Could He Win It All in 2020? The Nation. William Greider.

Trump Transition

Trump falsely claims ‘drug prices declined in 2018’ Stat

Trump’s Risking Financial Disaster for America Politico

HOW THE GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN COULD HARM THE FUTURE OF AMERICAN SCIENCE The Verge

Judge halts Trump administration’s weakening of Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate CNN

All eight border wall prototypes fail basic penetrability test  Architects Newspaper. No comment b/c… ROFL.

Antidote du jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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220 comments

    1. Loneprotester

      This is true, but those that stay should pay their parking tickets and sticker fees promptly. I am not unsympathetic to the woman profiled in the WBEZ story. However, when you see how quickly they are digging you a hole, smart people start towing the line. Plan your escape, sure. But while you are here, pay the man or he take your car. Someone fleeing eviction in another state is perhaps not the model citizen you are trying to portray them as (it’s always someone else’s fault).

      Reply
      1. Louis Fyne

        Both sides are in the wrong.

        1. Local governments (especially nominally “liberal” ones) are in the wrong for making fines punative/rent extraction. $50+/$100+/$1000+ for a parking ticket/towing/penalties?

        2. People who don’t pay are in the wrong for not paying. (but I am very, very sympathetic as someone who had to retrieve my absent-mindedly parked car from the city pound in February after a one-hour bus trip.)

        3. Voters are in the most wrong for looking the other way as tickets (which should be meant to nudge compliance) turn into cash grabs that hit the lowest rungs the hardest and become necessary annual revenue streams

        Reply
        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          Voters are not in the most wrong, remember Chicago is Dem machine territory. The city’s unfunded pension obligations were allowed to pile up for years by Daley. When the financial crisis hit, stupid moves like leasing City parking meters to Wall Street only exacerbated the situation.

          Our national politicians are also in the wrong for bailing out Wall Street instead of Main Street. With shrinking tax revenues the city was screwed.

          That said, they definitely tightened up their operation about tickets–used to be they let them go for years, suddenly if you had five outstanding you could be booted and towed. But most tickets cost $25 and if you paid within 60 days you were good; after that it doubled.

          And the changes were well publicized, so yes, there is plenty of responsibility for the car owner as well. I had been a scofflaw for years but started minding my p’s and q’s and never got booted.

          Reply
          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I haven’t got one recently (fingers crossed), but I think it’s way higher than $25 in Venice, Santa Monica or San Francisco (places of beautiful, virtuous people…be sure to wear flowers in your hair).

            Reply
            1. Anon

              Standard parking ticket is $48 bucks in my town up the coast from Santa Monica. The city brings in Million$ in fines per year. No Kidding. (They even have a “Meter Maid” vehicle outfitted with high-speed camera(s) providing a tech assist.)

              Reply
          2. Elizabeth Burton

            And that’s just fine if you have that extra $25 lying around. Which more and more people don’t. How many people who did nothing worse than get stuck somewhere waiting in a place they couldn’t leave without losing their place in line, or in a meeting of some kind they couldn’t leave to run out and feed the meter get socked with a fine that means maybe not being able to buy gas to get to work?

            Blithely saying “Well, they should just pay up” reveals the same kind of disconnect of The Comfortable from the lives of most of the people likely getting hit with those fines that drives me bonkers.

            Reply
      2. bruce wilder

        “Responsible” v “irresponsible”; “deserving” v “undeserving” — this is how socio-economic class politics are built, no? By removing institutional supports for the lower classes, turning them into a debt-bonded precarious underclass — their deprivation and suffering indistinguishable from their vices, desperation and disorganization. They are “not smart”; fleeing eviction is evidence of a character flaw, not “a model citizen”.

        Reply
        1. Stadist

          This sort of ‘accountability’ point of view on poverty is spreading rapidly right now. Economy is presented to be doing just fine – we have reached kind of ‘virtuous’ meritocratic capitalistic society. If you accept this statement it’s quite easy to reach a conclusion that poverty, poor jobs etc. is every person’s own failure.

          I read in local paper a nice quote, rough translation:
          “Is poverty a shame of the poor, or a shame of the society?”
          Think about this for a second and compare it to what I wrote above. Is it really own personal failure if someone is not doing well? And by extension, do we want society where people are given space and means to pull themselves up to live meaningful lives and to work on meaningful jobs, even if they have made mistakes? In strictly theoretical view, to my understanding, it would be best for functioning capitalism if everyone could live off their salary, but the society is increasingly geared towards heavily compounding system, i.e. capital gains tend to be taxed less than salary.
          I’m not saying managing capital is not ‘work’, but in wider scope taxing capital less than salaries leads to the fact that rent seeking and intentionally restricting amount of assets available through political means is more profitable than working actual job, which is not beneficial to the society at all. Like it or not, in most cases extremely high housing prices are a political choice, rather than a natural outcome like they would like us to believe. Although on this I’m not so sure anymore, basically with spreading free trade agreements I guess international developers could theoretically sue local governments and municipalities if they tried to control housing prices with public housing developments? Free trade agreements in general appear to be a sinister push toward ‘econoworld’ where money rules everything and role of society and justice system increasingly is preservation and protection of individual wealth and property rights, instead of the wealth of society at large. Which brings us back to the Responsible-Irresponsible and Deserving-Undeserving dichotomies, the poor are getting their ‘fair’ share and apparently should be just happy they are allowed to exist.

          Reply
  1. Wukchumni

    LA’s Battle for Venice Beach: Homeless Surge Puts Hollywood’s Progressive Ideals to the Test Hollywood Reporter
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    When you go to the effort of making your own homemade Denver Boots to place on your Range Rover when parked-as per the photo in the link, in order to stop homeless people from puncturing your tires for the 7th time, it gives you an idea of what living conditions must be like for 1%’ers on either end of the societal spectrum.

    “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.”~ Kristofferson

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      Cinephiles who have seen Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil know that Venice, the then rundown housing development, was chosen as a suitable background for “evil.” These days there’s a giant mural celebrating the movie (“Touch of Venice”) on the main plaza and also, ironically, celebrating that seedy past that the gentrifiers are now trying to keep at bay. Many of us love the musical La La Land with its attractive and career obsessed leads, but a future version may have to feature singing, dancing homeless people instead. Sounds like the dream factory is finding it hard to digest actual, in their back yard reality.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        Touch of Evil’s Venice was a Mexican border town, not all that different now, just a more porous border between the have alls and the have nothings.

        Reply
    2. Pavel

      I just read the article — depressing reading to say the least.

      Of course the $750B elephant in the room is the bloated, wasteful military spending in the US. If half of it were spent on housing, infrastructure, and the myriad other social problems perhaps there wouldn’t be homeless people camping out next door to the rich.

      There was a quote of $475K per housing unit, which seems absurd. There are lots of innovative public housing designs that are far far cheaper.

      Reply
      1. tegnost

        I got a kick out of the irony of the lady from tennessee who moved to the west coast, the solution I commonly hear from software people is that leaving tennessee is the answer to all the worlds ills. The bright spot I see is this…the software guy travis binen, who we can assume is a hillary/corporodemocrat supporter is having identity issues, he wants to be a “progressive” but his property fights come first. He is sadly, or not, being “pushed to the right”, while I would characterize it as his rightness is being revealed as being more important than his identity as a democrat. Good riddance, travis. Biden/Romney 2020! (/s)

        Reply
        1. B. Hunt

          In a twist, I went to college in Nashville with a guy bearing the last name of Laffer. Yes he was related to the Laffer-curve Laffer. He left LA for some of the same items discussed in this article: homelessness and high costs. So for him, unlike Binen, the solution was not to fight at all but just move. What’s more telling about this is what a crock the “move to where the jobs are” mantra is. The jobs aren’t there for a location, but rather for a certain set of people. Although the location is often a proxy for a sort of people (birds of a feather, flock together), it is merely a proxy, and if some poor soul sets about to immitate the more priveliged classes by merely copying their location, then results will be disappointing to say the least. Meanwhile, the privileged ones can move to wherever they so please (e.g. LA->Nashville) and still do fine.

          Reply
        2. jrs

          it’s as silly to move for cheaper housing as it is to move for a job (although actually a job is a more compelling a reason, as one can often downgrade housing, but one needs to work to live). People have human ties where they live.

          Reply
          1. JBird4049

            Except in places like the Bay Area getting work is not the problem. Finding a place to live is the problem. Outside of San Francisco itself, public transportation is also iffy. So one, two, or even three hour commutes between work and home or living in one’s car.

            People complain about the “homeless” infesting our beloved state, but really, if there are no jobs where there is housing, and no housing where there are jobs, unless that job is six figures, just why are they complaining about the supposed problem of the homeless themselves, and not the cost difference and locations between housing and wages?

            Idiots.

            Reply
    3. Cal2

      Wukchunmni,

      Having lived there, a couple observations. The neighborhood east of Lincoln used to be ghetto. On youtube one can watch a 1960s movie showing it in all it’s social activist glory.
      “The Savages (Venice’s Oakwood Area in the 1960’s)”

      By the Mid 1980s it was changing, but after 2000, it was corrupted by money fleeing the Hollywood Hills as that area
      A. Was recognized as a firetrap.
      B. Hollywood became a barrio with few businesses that non-tourists would want to patronize.
      C. Traffic got so bad that it was better to live and telecommute near where you played at the beach and in Santa Monica than to sit for hours on the freeway to cross town. The new light rail line a.k.a., “the housecleaner’s express from Compton” goes nowhere useful.

      The more services that are provided, the more the subsidized problem grows. San Francisco is a fine example of that with over $45,000 spent per homeless person, per year, for all services. And they keep coming. I wonder why?

      The “Beach” is not really that close to the area mentioned. The worse thing about the beach itself is the legal mugging that happens thousands a time per day on the beach side walk as some big guy, or two, walk up to tourists and thrust a C.D. of rap “music” into their hands, then demands a tip or a donation. I told a couple of them “Sorry, I only listen to classical music” Got punched.

      Reply
  2. John Beech

    Macron’s gambit sounds more like BS to me. He says asylum conversations are forbidden, as are tax cuts for the more well off. Me? I predict this goes nowhere unless 100% of topics are on the table. Period.

    Reply
    1. Bugs Bunny

      It’s smoke and mirrors. Nearly all the GJ’s complaints are excluded from consideration and Emmanuel Ier has now thrown immigration quotas into the mix as a major distraction. The whole thing is a waste of time for us all.

      Reply
    2. Craig H.

      > Macron unveils ‘great national debate’ to calm protests

      While the latest protests saw an increase in turnout to 84,000 from 50,000 the previous week, there was a decline in violence, despite hundreds of arrests and clashes with police in Paris and other cities.

      84000 and 50000 are meaningless numbers. You cannot count crowds of people on the streets.

      But these numbers by week would be fascinating:

      # of protesters arrested
      # of police deployed for crowd control
      # of cars incinerated
      # of traffic cameras vandalized
      # of hours Jupiter spent in meetings coping with situation

      RT had a webcast on Saturday with a mob of GJ’s and a mob of riot police with one of the monument arches and the eiffel tower in the background. They had a monster water gun truck they were firing at the people but it was a balmy 50 degrees outside and the GJ’s looked like they were mostly having a good time flipping off the cops and insulting their mothers or something.

      Reply
  3. rob

    So why is bernie sander’s medicare for all bill s-1801, so flawed?
    It seems this is exactly the wrong thing to be floating out there. To draft a bill that includes the hmo’s and aco’s and for profit entities,and profit motivation to healthcare, seems like it may as well leave a place for insurance companies as well. What is the point?. And how dangerous is that?that is the stuff that stays in following versions of the plan. That gets people on board who are wanting of these “pork” provisions.
    This is actually a sellout. Bernie, is saying he doesn’t want medicare for all, unless it has a profit motive,and that is just wrong headed.
    The other bill hr 676, which seems to not have these for profit actors and allowances, is the only one to chase and push.
    The whole idea is to try and fix things, not waste money.
    In the attempt to better our healthcare system, by making it catch up to the ten plus systems that out perform it at half the cost, some aspects will be lost. But that will be the price. The people who work in these obsolete fields like healthcare insurance and billing, and managing of the rationing system these for profit providers use,will be out of a job. Some may find work in related fields, which are useful to the new improved system, some may not. But that is the cost of progress. After all as a country, no one stopped anything because the textile industry, the furniture industry, or any of the other industries who went the wayside because of trade regulations. And there were millions more people like that that were effected by the “new rules”. And all we got by selling out their jobs was crappier garments and furniture.
    Bernie needs to get on board with real healthcare reform, or should take a backseat to those who will fight the right fight.
    I am always a little skeptical of bernie, in that he is a politician in vermont, where a person can say much more radical sounding things, and still be a part of the political class, knowing none of those things will come to fruition. Now, his mediacare for all stuff has a chance of a snowball on a cold north carolina day, and he is sabotaging it with this language for profit.

    Reply
    1. Mac na Michomhairle

      Actually, my friend, he was doing those radical sounding things 38 years ago as mayor of a big city, and he has continued enacting them whenever possible in a very hostile Congress since.

      Yeah, it’s not the best bill. The climate of possibility has widened a lot since it was written. I to hope it is improved.

      I do wonder that your main criticism of it is that it will put insurance company staff out of work…

      Reply
      1. jsn

        There are a lot of high paying “bullshit jobs”, as David Graeber calls them, keeping health care from US citizens, and a lot rent seeking where health care is actually delivered.

        The scale of the medical industrial complex in us GDP is testimony to the scale of the problem and an indicator of both the size and funding of the interests that oppose M4All.

        These issues should be addressed frontally in proposed legislation: change will be disruptive and attention to the interests of the disrupted will be essential to getting it to happen.

        Reply
    2. DolleyMadison

      If the “private sector” thinks it acceptable to charge my husband and I $2700 per month with a $13,200 deductible with only 70% covered after that with NO prescription coverage, can you IMAGINE how much they would charge the “government” for the same policy? How much does the 10% hate us. A whole, whole lot apparently. I just wonder from whom they will grift when they succeed in killing us all.

      Reply
      1. a different chris

        >can you IMAGINE how much they would charge the “government” for the same policy?

        A lot less? Medicare puts the screws to them right now – you can at best fight one insurance company one at a time. But how can you really fight them? Leave? And go where? But Medicare has the biggest pot of medical care money in the world and now the guys who look huge and forbidding to us individuals (cough, UPMC, cough) are just part of the crowd.

        I wish our MIC worked the same way.

        Reply
        1. RopeADope

          PAYGO means the establishment will be able to rewrite all bills the progressives want to introduce. Pelosi is not and will never be your friend.

          Reply
    3. timey

      Something missing in your argument is that healthcare is a finite resource, and as such two things must occur. There has to be rationing and there has to be process improvements to ensure healthcare is provided more efficiently than it currently is. Everyone has a right to healthcare. But the system needs to be designed so that everyone receives the care they need, and that the system is not overloaded to the point that necessary care is not provided in a timely manner.

      Removing the profit motive will improve some efficiency, but if the system is not properly designed then there will be waste. One example is surgeons performing more surgeries than necessary because it may increase their take home pay. Another example is repeating the same imaging tests or blood tests between the different providers in one person’s healthcare team because they do not have processes in place to share health records.

      These are important points that need careful analysis and planning, otherwise opponents of Medicare for All will be able to successfully fight the effort. Some of Sanders’s proposals are a good faith effort to address these points.

      Reply
        1. timey

          My point is more that after Medicare for All passes, there will be a major shock to the healthcare system. (As an analogy, remember how hard it was to implement the enrollment system for the Obamacare marketplace? Granted, much of the complexity was by design since Obamacare was not a true fix for healthcare.) After Medicare for All passes, the national capacity to provide healthcare has to be increased and some level of rationing is needed. Otherwise, the project will fail..

          As far as I know (and I could be mistaken), none of the existing proposals describe how capacity will be increased. This is actually an area where the federal government has a lot of control. Almost all the funding for medical residencies comes from Medicare, for instance. These plans should include measures to increase medical training, and also should be structured to increase training in things like family medicine, pediatrics, etc. rather than funneling funding into lucrative and less-essential specialties like dermatology, etc.

          Reply
      1. False Solace

        Right, so if the providers are non-profit and the surgeon doesn’t get a cut of every procedure, maybe they will actually do what’s right for the patient as opposed to their own paychecks. This is why the profit motive in health care doesn’t work. As the US has amply proved. Declining life expectancy 3 years in a row!

        Reply
      2. adrena

        One follow-up appointment with a specialist lasted less than 5 minutes. I had already received the info from my GP.

        Huge money-grabbing move by the specialist and an unnecessary expense for the Canadian taxpayer

        Reply
    4. Lee

      Jensen: You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I won’t have it!! Is that clear?! You think you’ve merely stopped a business deal.

      https://www.americanrhetoric.com/MovieSpeeches/moviespeechnetwork4.html

      Perhaps Bernie has been given The Speech from which the first line is excerpted above. Alas, there is truth to it because if you mess with a big enough player in the system of private capital there will be the possibility of painful disruption on a scale that the denizens of Sillycon Valley can only dream of. To pull off such a sizable shift of wealth, power, and resources while causing the least amount of short term harm for the greater long term benefit of all, would IMHO require draconian controls over private capital that violate the “primal forces of nature” as envisioned by our neoliberal overlords. A project not for the squeamish or faint of heart. We must be prepared to counter the revanchism of the markets and the relatively few who control them.

      Reply
      1. Eclair

        Lee, your comment has highlighted my ‘word for the week.’ Which is one of the many reasons I love NC comments and commenters.

        Revanchism. A policy of seeking to retaliate, especially to recover lost territory (or rents!)
        I am looking forward to engaging in some high class name-calling: You, sir, are a Revanchist!

        Reply
    5. Oh

      Firstly, I think we must get the insurance companies out of healthcare. Second, let’s clamp down on the profiteering of the drug companies who spend more money on slaes efforts therough ads for selling inefdfective and in many cases dangerous drugs. These drug companies also have corrupted the FDA who pay the least attention to safety of the user. Third, we do need to get the patient involved in reigning in medical costs. Maybe we should provide incentives for the patients to challenge medical bills with active participation from government backed audit units. The current system where the patient doesn’t really care about costs (where insurance pays the cost and the companies pay the insurance premium for the most part) has got to brought to a screeching halt.

      Reply
      1. Procopius

        I can envision a place for insurance in the health care system. I believe under the NHS persons who wish to pay for private care can do so, and there is a system of privately provided care available for those who wish to pay for it. The point is everybody gets the care they need. Without additional payment. I believe before the politicians imposed austerity it was reasonably comfortable, too. Now, as I understand it, between New Labour and the Tories the system is falling apart as Maggie Thatcher envisioned.

        Reply
    6. Ray Phenicie

      To draft a bill that includes the hmo’s and aco’s and for profit entities,and profit motivation to healthcare, seems like it may as well leave a place for insurance companies as well.

      I’m not sure what you’re talking about; I believe you’re taking the Medicare buy in option out of context. The inclusion of that option is to provide an orderly process to enroll everyone (in as much as that is possible) in Medicare.

      Straight from the law, Title X

      (4) APPLICABLE YEARS OF AGE DEFINED.—For purposes of this section, the term ‘applicable years of age’ means—

      “(A) effective January 1 of the first year following the date of enactment of the Medicare for All Act of 2017, the age of 55;

      “(B) effective January 1 of the second year following such date of enactment, the age of 45; and

      “(C( effective January 1 of the third year following such date of enactment, the age of 35.

      I sense a rather callous attitude about displaced workers, many of whom have families. In addition, they may have pensions attached to their many years of work. Your post gives us a litany of woe regarding lost industries and as to misplaced workers; do you have any meaningful plans (as you ostensibly inform us of your caring attitude) as to how to transition workers to other work in other industries? Take the coal industry for example. What are your plans for assisting those workers? Don’t we need to show some compassion here rather than attacking the victim?

      Finally

      Bernie needs to get on board with real healthcare reform

      I’m certain Bernie would appreciate hearing from you directly and would have much to say in response.

      Reply
  4. John Beech

    I’ve voted Republican since 1980. Yes, I voted for President Trump. And I love everything he’s doing. But come 2020, the President won’t know why he lost my vote because it has NOTHING to do with Russia, Russia, Russia, or his various dalliances, or his crossed swords with Schumer and Pelosi.

    Instead, it will have 100% to do with health care. Me? I don’t even want what Senator Sanders dangles before us though it’s maybe better than nothing. What do I want? Simple, I want HR 676.

    And whomever has the gonads to run on that gets my vote. And if nobody does, then I’ll keep voting Republican . . . but wouldn’t it be a hoot if as the race gets into the final days and the President is losing come October 2019 he reaches out and grasps HR 676 and thereby manages to earn another term. Better still if he finally secures his legacy because it becomes known as Trump-care?

    If this happens I can’t wait for CNBC pundit heads to explode on camera, especially Mika and Joe.

    Yeehaw!

    Reply
    1. notabanker

      Wouldn’t it be a hoot if an entire generation of Americans questions whether democracy is viable because it nets them the likes of Trump for two consecutive elections?

      There are real consequences here. But I guess that’s the ultimate reality TV show.

      Reply
      1. Roger Smith

        If it takes Trump for people to understand that this “democracy” is in a perilous state then they are a greater part of the problem, especially if they tie it all to him. It didn’t start with, isn’t caused by Trump, and won’t end with Trump. The government has been a corrupt entity for decades using PR to mange discontent while taking from everyone. But over time that adds up. Even the attempt to associate “Trump” with the problem is PR spin meant to make you stop paying attention when “it is all over”.

        Trump won because he flew in the face of this nonsense. That doesn’t mean his is substantially different or wasn’t co-opted.

        Clinton won for two terms, Bush Jr., Obama… why shouldn’t Trump? What is the problem now that didn’t exist then? I’d be more likely to argue that there are not any consequences given the historical record. We are destined to be destroyed by semi-competent, selfish leaders and a public to disenfranchised and gullible to understand what is happening.

        Reply
        1. Eureka Springs

          The last word which should be used to describe this/us is democracy. The word democracy doesn’t even exist in the constitution, which was no accidental omission. We have so very few trappings which resemble parts of democracy and even they are corrupted. Calling what we have democracy, even in quotes, renders the meaning useless.

          Reply
          1. notabanker

            Not interested in debating the semantics, but I will clarify two aspects of my point.

            As people become increasingly disenfranchised with our form of government, if it cannot reform from within peacefully, it will not end well for it’s citizenry.

            Trump is not the cause of the systemic problems this country faces, but he certainly is one of the most manifest extreme symptoms of it.

            Reply
          2. Oh

            The saddest thing in this country is that most people believe we have a democracy and furthermore, believe that if they vote every four years (to one or the other put on the ballot by the two corrupt parties), things will change. Wake up, America before it’s too late!

            Reply
        2. anon in so cal

          When will Trump fire Bolton?

          “Intel: Bolton’s Iran strike plans leaked after he elevated longtime associate”

          Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/01/intel-bolton-iran-strikes-plan-leak-trump-pentagon.html#ixzz5cbiiUbhp

          “Why it matters: The leaks to US media outlets came shortly after Bolton doubled down on his hard-line Iran strategy by elevating Charles Kupperman, a longtime associate, to deputy national security adviser on Friday. Kupperman, a former Boeing and Lockheed Martin executive, previously served on the board for the Center for Security Policy, a far-right think tank advocating for a hawkish Iran policy founded by Islamophobic conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney.

          Institute for a Secure America: Bolton brought Kupperman and Matthew Freedman, another longtime associate, onto the National Security Council last year to vet new hires. As Al-Monitor first reported in April, Bolton, Kupperman and Freedman started a nonprofit — the Institute for a Secure America — the same day that Trump tapped him to head the National Security Council in March 2018. The three men also founded another nonprofit in 2015 — the Foundation for American Security and Freedom — to air ads against the Iran nuclear deal.”

          Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/01/intel-bolton-iran-strikes-plan-leak-trump-pentagon.html#ixzz5cbgZqn4s

          Reply
    2. Darius

      It was revealing when Trump went on a tirade against single payer and Canadian healthcare during one of his debates with Hillary. Not that it had a chance with her either.

      Reply
    3. Cal2

      John Beech,
      “Instead, {not voting for Trump again} will have 100% to do with health care”

      ! “No taxation without healthcare representation.”

      “Dear IRS, I can either pay your bill, or pay for private for profit, P4P, ‘health insurance.’

      So sorry, I have to choose me over you.

      Maybe some day I might be able to pay your bill when we have M4A, Medicare for All.”

      Reply
    4. jrs

      wouldn’t it be useful if pigs could fly, we could catch fresh bacon while on airplanes. Meanwhile the crowd Trump actually tries to appeal to doesn’t seem to be the MFA crowd. When MFA is big on right-wing talk radio let me know (I do believe there are a few R *voters* that support it, but they don’t have a voice in the R party pretty much).

      Reply
  5. The Rev Kev

    “EXCLUSIVE: ‘This is wrong’: Iowa’s flawed felon list is disqualifying legitimate voters for years”

    Well it’s not like the place is a vital battleground during Federal elections or anything like that. Just another sparsely-populated flyover State.

    Reply
    1. Mark Gisleson

      Heavy emphasis on the GOP SOS who also just admitted that his office forgot to post legal notifications about legislative gun resolutions, Constitutionally stopping them from being adopted until 2022.

      Don’t forget Iowa Dems now have 3 out of 4 Congressional seats. Before Reagan destroyed Iowa’s economy forcing blue collar workers to leave the state, Iowa was going blue. The 1980s emmigration created a vacuum filled by evangelicals, but their kids are fed up and either leaving or joining new, less hostile congregations (check your city for new ‘churches’ focused on transplanted rural youth).

      Underpopulated states always have much greater opportunity for change than do large urban areas where power is concentrated and outsiders can go . . . do something else.

      Reply
    2. Wukchumni

      A good many Iowan residents can’t vote, as they are employed by the likes of Devin Nunes…

      Other dairy farmers in the area helped me understand why the Nunes family might be so secretive about the farm: Midwestern dairies tend to run on undocumented labor. The northwest-Iowa dairy community is small. Most of the farmers know one another, and most belong to a regional trade group called the Western Iowa Dairy Alliance (though WIDA told me NuStar is not a member). One dairy farmer said that the threat of raids from ICE is so acute that WIDA members have discussed forming a NATO-like pact that would treat a raid on one dairy as a raid on all of them. The other pact members would provide labor to the raided dairy until it got back on its feet.

      “Eighty percent of the Latino population out here in northwest Iowa is undocumented,” estimated one dairy farmer in the area who knows the Nunes family and often sees them while buying hay in nearby Rock Valley. “It would be great if we had enough unemployed Americans in northwest Iowa to milk the cows. But there’s just not. We have a very tight labor pool around here.” This person said the system was broken, leaving dairy farmers no choice. “I would love it if all my guys could be legal.”

      https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a23471864/devin-nunes-family-farm-iowa-california/

      Reply
      1. aletheia33

        undocumented workers at the few dairy farms that remain is also a problem in vermont. see also the apple pickers in “the cider house rules.” not a large number of migrant workers are involved, but no one in the state seems to be able to come up with a remedy. it’s embarrassing to all the vermont “liberals,” of course.

        i would not be surprised to learn that all the remaining small dairy farms in the USA have the same issue, or even all small farms where hired help is necessary.

        Reply
        1. jrs

          why would it be embarrassing to liberals, they are probably at least nominally in favor of immigration. Guest workers would seem the obvious, but hardly revolutionary (and neither are those liberals probably) remedy.

          Reply
    3. Big River Bandido

      Well it’s not like the place is a vital battleground state during Federal elections…

      Think you forget the snark tag on that.

      Reply
  6. David

    The BBC story on Brexit has a link to a letter from Tusk and Junker to May, which is well worth reading, as an example of how far the 27 have decided to go verbally to try to help May and the UK. As is clear from reading between the lines, this is not out of charity, but to minimise the disruption that a chaotic Brexit will cause for the 27.
    There’s a slightly exasperated tone to the first few paragraphs, which say in effect: look, you negotiated the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration. What did you think you were doing when you signed them? How much more do you want?
    The BBC story refers to the paragraph with the words “legal value.” The BBC and May have picked this up, and May, at least, seems to be over-interpreting it, saying that EU statements on NI have “legal force.” The words don’t appear in the section on NI, but at the beginning of the letter. The text looks as if it has been translated from French, or, more probably, written by someone with French as their first language. It also has to be understood in the context of the European system of administrative law. “Legal value” or in May’s terms “legal force” is a translation of the French valeur juridique, which simply means that a document or statement is admissible in in any legal dispute.
    The paragraph is not very clear. What is says is:
    “European Council conclusions have a legal value in the Union commensurate to the authority of the European Council under the Treaties to define directions and priorities for the European Union at the highest level and, in the specific context of withdrawal, to establish, in the form of guidelines, its framework. They may commit the European Union in the most solemn manner. European Council conclusions therefore constitute part of the context in which an international agreement, such as the Withdrawal Agreement, will be interpreted.”
    Note the phrase “in the Union”, ie these conclusions have no “legal value” anywhere else.
    What the paragraph means is:
    “The European Council has the powers to set priorities and directions for the Union, in Brexit as elsewhere. Its conclusions are not just political: they have a legal status for the EU and its institutions, and EU Council decisions about Brexit have to be seen in this context.”
    This doesn’t actually say very much. It’s essentially a restatement of administrative law: that the Council can take decisions which are not only politically binding but legally binding on its members and EU institutions. In many ways, it would be surprising if this was not so. And if the Council was alleged to have said something that went beyond the Withdrawal Agreement, then a court would rule that the WA takes priority, since it’s an international agreement. Thus, the only statements the EU can make which have “legal value” are those which do not contradict or go farther than the WA.

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, they really have gone as far as they possibly can. Whether this is a genuine attempt to help May over the line, or just to cover themselves from the blame game in a few years time, its hard to say. But I suspect they genuinely want her to get the agreement, just so they can all go on holiday.

      I would love to see some ambassadors briefings to their bosses at whats going on in London, if its possible to write ‘WTF’ on official documents, it would be every line.

      Reply
      1. jsn

        Like the big “Top Secret” stamps you see on documents in movies, I expect by now the EU has a big WTF stamp that goes on everything incoming from the UK!

        Apparently in UK English, “no” is a conjuncted form of “negotiate”, so whenever Junker or someone else says “no”, May hears “negotiate”.

        Usage changes all the time…

        Reply
        1. Monty

          So it’s fine and normal for the EU to be completely intransigent in the face of an unprecedented crisis, but bonkers when its the UK who are sticking to their guns? The EU negotiators obviously aren’t buying the UK strategy and think the UK will bottle out, so feel no urgency. Let’s see if they are still smirking and patting each other on the back after the crash out.

          In my opinion, the only way out of this situation with closure is a chaotic exit. It will be awful, but nothing else will put the matter to rest. Everyone can reap what they have sown, and only when (if?) the dust settles, can we figure out what to do next.

          Reply
  7. larry

    Brexit: The Irish Times has the letter from May and the response from Tusk and Juncker. Both are worth a read. It is possible to convert the files embedded into the Times into pdf files and download them from the cloud.

    Reply
    1. flora

      an aside: I wonder if the partial shutdown of the US govt and the problems that this is causing in the US is giving any PMs pause about doing a crash out Brexit? (Rhetorical question.)

      Reply
    2. Cal2

      Larry, not picking on you for any reason, just the mention of BREXIT

      Does any American, not in the transnational financial services industry, give a shit about BREXIT?

      I have 8 friends that I have turned on to Naked Capitalism, counting me, that’s 9 people who just don’t give a damn and skip all the BREXIT articles every-single-day.

      Reply
      1. Yves Smith

        Yes, you are “picking on Larry” and this site. And now you are trying to shut down comments on Brexit.

        Even though I appreciate your interest in Naked Capitalism, management guru Michael Schrage said businesses need to fire ~15% of their customers because they want the business to be something it isn’t and has never presented itself as being. You have self-identified as not liking an important topic that is core to what NC is about, and in so doing, are trying to pressure us to conform to your pet preferences.

        First, you are supposed to be an adult. This site isn’t your personal catered news feed, which is what you insinuate we ought to be. We run articles on topics like India, the Greece bailout negotiations in 2015, CDOs and CLOs and the gilet jaunes that clearly don’t impact the lives of narrow-minded, provincial Americans.

        Second, as we explained repeatedly and you would know had you bothered to read the articles, a crash-out, which is still the most likely outcome, would be a worse-than-Lehman crisis, although it would not unfold as quickly. The trade disruption will hit UK and EU banks. The EU banks are wobbly. A European banking crisis will hurt the US economy.

        And 25% of S&P earnings come from Europe, and the press is already very worried about US corporate debt. US companies would cut employment to preserve earnings. Debt downgrades mean losses for investors, particularly public pension funds which are exposed to this debt due to their investments in so-called “credit funds” marketed by private equity firms, or in the case of larger public pension funds like CalPERS, direct holdings. A fall in funded status of public pensions funds means a combination (depending on how well government employee pensions are protected in the state) of bigger costs to taxpayers and beneficiaries being screwed, which means more old people living on dog food.

        Third, this is a finance and economics site. As Mark Ames pointed out in our classic fundraiser post:

        By a quirk of historical bad luck, the American Left has gone two generations without understanding finance, or even caring to understand. It was the hippies who decided half a century ago that finance was beneath them, so they happily ceded the entire field—finance, business, economics, money—otherwise known as “political power”—to the other side. Walking away from the finance struggle was like that hitchhiker handing the gun back to the Manson Family. There’s a great line from Charles Portis’s anti-hippie novel, “Dog of the South” that captures the Boomers’ self-righteous disdain for “figures”:

        He would always say—boast, the way those people do—that he had no head for figures and couldn’t do things with his hands, slyly suggesting the presence of finer qualities

        That part about the hands—that would refer to the hippies’ other great failure, turning their backs on Labor, because Labor didn’t groove with the Hippies’ Culture War. So the Left finds itself, fifty years later, dealing with the consequences of all those years of ruinous neglect of finance and labor—the consequences being powerlessness and political impotence.

        So by acting like issues like Brexit are the concerns of only the financial classes, when Brexit will create a great deal of human distress and permanently lower living standard in the UK and will most assuredly blow back to the US, you are manifesting the sort of proud ignorance that led to the left ceding power and becoming impotent.

        Better trolls, please.

        Reply
        1. Cal2

          I apologize and agree with your criticism of me.
          “a crash-out, which is still the most likely outcome, would be a worse-than-Lehman crisis, although it would not unfold as quickly.”
          “25% of S&P earnings come from Europe”
          I wish there were a simplified guide to BREXIT with such information like that.
          It’s damn complicated and future speculative.
          That’s one reason, I think, that the average American ignores the very important subject of economics, it’s the technical language, insider knowledge and yes, math.

          NC is a great educational tool to overcome that, but it’s still overwhelming to those without a financial educational background. I will read all BREXIT articles from now on.

          Reply
          1. Yves Smith

            Thanks for your apology. I am sorry I got sharp with you, but the stakes with Brexit are high for many people, and as usual, it’s ordinary people who will suffer. The options are terrible: a crash out or May’s wretched deal. There’s no political will to back out of Brexit (at least not without a second referendum and there isn’t enough time under UK rules even with the maximum extension the EU is willing to give).

            Reply
            1. vidimi

              what do you think of May’s latest statements saying that it’s either her deal or no brexit? the pound recovered a percentage point lately.

              Reply
      2. Massinissa

        I, at least, at least somewhat care about Brexit and always read at least some of the Brexit links.

        I usually skip the Stats Watch section though. A little too meaty and wonky for me.

        Reply
      3. Darthbobber

        And how hard is it to skip the Brexit articles? I skip the things that don’t interest me and I really don’t find the task all that onerous.

        Reply
      4. Unna

        Apart from the intricacies of Brexit, there are other issues, perhaps even more important, which make the whole mess worth following. First is that Brexit may begin the process of the dissolution of the UK into its constituent parts with Scotland leaving and NI with a backstop spinning off to some other potential status/associations in the long run. Not saying this is going to happen but it is a possibility some people have discussed. And Second, some in the UK are reevaluating the very structure of their governmental processes, better known as the non written British constitution, non constitution. This was discussed the other day in an interesting article in the Guardian:

        “Other nations have sat down, thought about it and inscribed the rules [constitutional rules] in famous documents with resonant phrases. We have made things up as we have gone along, with the result that many of the laws governing our politics are ambiguous and contested…The constitution is stuck together from parliamentary conventions, precedents, international agreements, unwritten understandings, judicial rulings and legislative sticky notes. This seemed serviceable enough – until this spatchcocked structure collided with something as colossal as Brexit.” https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jan/13/out-of-brexit-nightmare-must-emerge-a-more-robust-democracy

        I’m not sure what to make of the Brexit process: a political elite in dysfunctional meltdown, a society and social system which is not working for many people, profound political dissimulation by both party leaders, and so on. Maybe the Brexit crisis is not quite a crisis of not having a constitution. After all, Britain has gotten through worse than Brexit in the past. But, whatever the final result, maybe the process itself is writing its own story.

        Reply
  8. John Beech

    Where is everybody? My comments are the bulk of the feedback and it’s only 8:30 in the morning!

    Anyway, regarding the laughable wall (You Lambert), I lock my doors at night. If I found someone living in a spare bedroom that had snuck in the window, even if they were cleaning my house for ‘free’, I’d toss them out. Walls may be said to be Medieval – but by that standard – so is the wheel. Bottom line? I support the President’s wall, and I supported Democrats Chuck Schumer and Barack Obama back in the day when they also spoke favorably of a wall. For me it’s ‘not’ political expediency, it’s common sense. Finally, with respect to immigrants? The more the merrier is my view because I subscribe to the notion we’re a nation of immigrants . . . but take a number and form an oderly queue.

    Reply
    1. Pat

      Better than the wall, would be laws that target employers of undocumented immigrants as in fines and jail time for owners and top management. Laws that don’t allow I didn’t know and specifically eliminate it as a defense. Along with plenty of money for prosecution. Start with large construction and real estate companies Draconian, you bet, but far more effective in the long run.

      But that would also mean understanding that our undocumented immigrants aren’t just Hispanic, don’t just come from our South and that a whole lot of upstanding Americans benefit from the problem.

      Reply
      1. johnnygl

        You’ll need to throw in cuts to tourist visa, student visas, and H1-B visas, too.

        Also, making Honduras’ govt have a non-rigged election and a decent govt that doesn’t act like a violent criminal gang would work wonders to prevent the despised caravans that seem to terrify the Fox News producers. There’s a reason Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world….it’s the criminal regime in charge!!!

        Reply
        1. Darius

          Stop requiring Central American governments to have violent criminal regimes. Stop using Nicaragua and Venezuela to distract Americans from our own murderous client states. End the drug war. Legal regulated drugs would destroy the cartels. A wall serves the same function as Easter Island statues. A talisman to ward off evil spirits.

          Reply
          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            End the drug war.

            And the coming Chinese world order.

            Connect those two dots with the link below by Wuk about the Canadian being sentenced to death in a drug case in China, and we’d get a more ‘inclusive’ (see P. Escobar’s article) global drug war.

            Reply
          2. knowbuddhau

            Whoa dude, you had me right up to denigrating the people of Rapa Nui. That’s not at all what the moai are doing there.

            I’ve seen some silly comparisons here, but comparing a futile monument to an aribtrary division, often just a line in the sand, to the honoring of ancestors and their inspiration of the living, is a bit much.

            There’s a lot of new research. Learned a lot, myself. You might, too.

            https://phys.org/news/2019-01-ancient-mysteries-easter-island.html

            They didn’t deforest themselves to death, nor was it war that did them in. Spoilers: It was contact with Europeans.

            Reply
            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              I saw a documenatry about the Pacific Ocean, and there was a segment about the Galapagos islands. Towards the end of the film, there was a meta episode about the filming of the documentary itself, and it showed how even to film on some islands, you had to go through a decontamination process to ensure you didn’t bring any incompatible life forms with you.

              Today, tourists, eco or otherwise, just go anywhere an airplane can take them, even with border control. Without it, I fear many countries, Nepal, for example, will be overrun by toursits.

              Reply
        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I think we need the cuts as well as (probably more than) going after employers, especially small businesses, many can’t compete with others in their industries without doing what others are doing. For example, in landscaping.

          And because many ‘upstading Americans benefit’ from this issue, it will take time to turn around this big ship, and likely no one single situation, but many, including extending the ccurrent segments of fenciing.

          Furthermore, since it requries many solutions, it would be missing the whole big picture to say, for example, this one solution does not work and let’s drop it (because we should not, but instead, we should add it to other solutions).

          Reply
      2. John

        Precisely. The down side is the poor workers who are caught in a vise.

        Suppose all the folks here without papers and working were to suddenly disappear. How inconvenient would that be? Think of all the crap that you might step in or over or, heaven forbid, have to clean up yourself.

        Reply
        1. Annieb

          Heaven forbid that we cut our own lawns and clean up our houses and pick grapes and process chickens without resorting to underpaid illegal immigrants. Back in the day those were entry level jobs.

          Reply
          1. Cal2

            Americans can not reasonably demand;

            Livable wage jobs
            Youth employment
            Lower rents
            Lower housing prices
            National Health Care
            Uncrowded infrastructure
            Space in college classrooms
            Low college tuition
            Low used car prices
            Crime free urban areas
            A cleaner environment
            Less traffic
            Less crowded public transit
            Less over-development in cities and rural areas
            Employment opportunities for our poor…
            and at the same time

            demand open borders.

            Reply
            1. TimR

              It’s interesting that Trump makes his argument on things like criminality, rather than economic issues like these.. And a symbolic “solution” rather than Pat’s target big biz employers employers approach above. His role must be misdirection and divisiveness… Another controlled politician, designed to fail. Or in league with TPTB.

              Reply
          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            The Romans blew up many countries (Honduras did not exist then, though), and slaves were abundant in Rome.

            A day without slaves would be hard to imagine for those Latins.

            Still, people liike Sparacus wanted to go home. And they were right and should be allowed to.

            Reply
              1. Procopius

                Interesting you should say that. I’ve just started George MacDonald Fraser’s The Steel Bonnets, and he starts out with Hadrian’s wall between Roman Britain and the Picts which later defined The Border Marches. The wall was effective when it was manned and not effective when there were no troops standing out in the cold and the rain. Or so he says. I’m looking forward to learning more.

                Reply
    2. Wukchumni

      When our President singled out a few immigrants that had committed crimes as the needed reason for a wall, including one fellow that killed a law enforcement officer, it got me thinking…

      …why not pull the same ploy with veterans, as they are disproportionately more likely to do harm in mass murder fashion, compared to anybody else

      Let’s see, we’ve got the Texas Tower mass murderer veteran that killed 14, and then there’s Tim McVeigh, and the DC veteran Sniper who dispatched 17, Major Hasan who killed 13 unlucky souls, or the Sulphur Springs church massacre where a veteran killed 26, or the more recent Thousand Oaks mass murderer veteran whose Glock struck 12 down.

      Reply
      1. thepanzer

        This is getting a little old. I’ve noticed a growing tendency on NC to move in this direction and painting all veterans, DoD members, former Intel, and other dreaded “MILO members” with the same broad brush and it’s just silly. It’s no different than when the Randroids start carping that all govt employees are socialist, non-maker, evil, evil people trying to suck us into the NWO.

        The DoD trends conservative but is representative of the society it draws from as a whole. Even the conservative portions within the MILO aren’t monolithic and has the exact same factions of neocon/realist, conservative/liberal, repub/dem/ind and the associated debates that come from all these factions.

        As someone working in that community the majority of people I meet are tired of the forever war in the ME, tired of the constant deployments, scared of the rampant bi-partisan warmongering, and fully aware of what the casaulty rates are going to be like if the neocons march us into war with Russia or China, or both at the same time, etc. Likewise Hillary was given much side-eye since we all knew that her email hyjinks would have landed one of us in jail forever.

        Because the dems ran awful MILO candidates its not a reflection on the MILO so much as the dems selection criteria. In the same way all the other blue dog candidates tended to be awful, irrespective of what professional community they hailed from. The dems don’t *care* about your background, gender, identity, etc so long as you buy into the neolib/neocon/globalist consensus as defined by the blob and aristocratic dem families. Thus all the pants wetting over AOC by the dem leadership.

        If all MILOs are contaminated, and all finacial servies are contaminated, and all insurance reps ditto, and coders, and other associated deplorables, etc eventually I don’t think the tent is very big at this particular purity dance, and certainly not large enough for any meaning political difference.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          I only borrowed the brush from our President, as he made his case that all immigrants were pretty much evil, there being no neutral corner.

          Of course all veterans aren’t mass murderers, but that’s what happens when you paint by numbers.

          Reply
    3. Beniamino

      Sic Semper Tyrannis made the point the other day that border walls / barriers aren’t expected to be 100% impenetrable. They are supposed to be monitored and to inhibit movement sufficiently that border patrol can be deployed without being swamped when people cross over illegally. As far as the inevitable tunnels and planes go, those modes of passage cost money, which is another disincentive and is supposed to keep the numbers down to quasi-manageable levels. Not that it wouldn’t be more efficient to implement e-verify and fine / prosecute the employers which I think should be the first priority.

      Reply
    4. johnnygl

      What do you think would be more effective? Building a wall or telling the honduran govt to stop murdering truck loads of people, hold fresh elections, and let the opposition win.

      “But America doesn’t call the shots in Honduras, we can’t make them do that!!!”, you say?!!?!

      Cut off military/police aid and impose sanctions on Honduran bananas and palm oil and see if they don’t play ball real fast.

      They threw the Zalayas out in 2009 and denied them wins in 2 subsequent elections for the modest proposal of a min wage of $300/month, among other sensible ideas they pitched.

      Try my approach and watch the caravans turn right around.

      Best part: won’t cost a thing to the USA!!!

      Reply
      1. Spring Texan

        +1000
        Thanks for saying this. We can’t address problems of refugees without considering why they are refugees.

        Reply
    5. marym

      In 2/2018 Trump turned down $25B for the wall because he also wanted additional restrictions on “standing in line.”

      Also, seeking asylum at the southern border is “standing in line.”

      Reply
  9. Carla

    @William Greider: Sherrod Brown sold out Single Payer in 2009 with robust support for a “public option” in healthcare.

    If what Greider means by “the real deal” is a Democrat who can win elections in a purple state, that’s Sherrod.

    Yes, he’s better on banking than the Republicans — but is that good enough for us? It isn’t for me.

    Of course, since the Sanders bill crapifies Medicare-for-all, Sherrod may be the best we can do, goddess help us. But Sherrod is not mean enough to beat Trump.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      “Mean” isn’t a requirement for the show. HRC isn’t President because she didn’t give disaffected voters a reason to come out and vote for her, and people respond to positive emotions.

      The government isn’t shut down because Trump is mean. It’s shut down because one policy idea, the stupid wall, is the only thing being talked about by either party’s leadership.

      Reply
      1. flora

        I’m beginning to wonder if both parties’ estabs are using the wall to stage a very US coup… no, it would be foily to think so… ;)

        Reply
        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I contend the Democrats are effectively non-entities from the time they are recruited to first run as self funders, people without normal ideologies. Yes, they can work together on pot holes, but beyond buying a title and going to parties with a bit more pomp, they are largely (well I don’t know the word)…they possess qualities similar to nihilism but I don’t think they view life as meaningless. They just don’t care or even know they should care. Perhaps its just wide spread shallowness combined with looking for easy answers in the form of Gore Jr and Cuomo Jr., both who have their dad’s old jobs but achieved those jobs in a situation where the mountain came to Mohammed versus having to go out and make a name. Andy is an idiot, but the wrong lessons about how to achieve policy ends weren’t learned.

          The rapid rise of AOC, and the popularity of Sanders, not a Democrat, and Warren, a Republican, demonstrate the vacuum of ideas among the nominal left.

          Matt Stoller ripped on Democratic courtiers over the weekend, but the electeds are cut from the same cloth. What the GOP puts into play is the only thing they can respond to. They no longer know how to think or look around. Something about the “End of History” style thinking is relevant to the creation of a class who represent the nominal left as a preserver class. Thinking is no longer necessary because Silicon Valley will STEM the new world into being through an app.

          Reply
          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            So in the end, the Democrats as a whole can only respond to whatever the GOP shouts which is why thugs like Saint McCain and Graham are treated as elder statesmen despite having been extreme right wing lunatics who were publicly wrong about everything.

            The absence of potholes, an issue of direct concern to so many elite Democrats, means they can’t really find a place to disagree with Mittens or other leaders of the #Resistance.

            Reply
            1. Pat

              Hey, Democrats actively running for higher office even if still unannounced give shout outs to the “late GREAT John McCain” as examples of how government can work if you get rid of the trash.

              To cheers and applause mind you, although not from those of us who had been following the whole healthcare aka insurance bailout from the beginning. Harris and her audience apparently don’t get he won the designated savior/spoiler slot by virtue of his health…

              Reply
    2. neo-realist

      I’d like Brown as a VP on the ticket for competing in the battleground and the purple states. My problem with him is when I listen to him speak, he sounds a bit like a gravely voiced mush mouth, which wouldn’t exactly inspire the masses. Brown would not be the inspiring firebrand for working Americans that Sanders is on the stump and the top of the ticket—even if Sanders MFA legislation isn’t as much as we’d like.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Not as much as we’d like, on the one hand, and on the other hand, it’s Sanders’ ‘crapified’ M4A.

        They are not quite the same, to me. I wonder what exactly makes it crapified, and whether it is in fact so.

        Reply
  10. zagonostra

    >Gilets Jaunes

    I asked a couple of friend what they thought about the yellow vest movement in France this past weekend while having a couple of drinks and enjoying a dinner and to my utter amazement they didn’t know what I was referring to. These friends are solidly middle class, retired school teachers.

    What this demonstrated to me is that the world I inhabit, where each morning I have my coffee and faithfully check NakedCapitalism to see what’s going on in the world before doing my own queries, is one not shared by the vast majority of people.

    Since Google customizes their searches for each user, the news I get isn’t the same as my friends. When I asked what their sources of news are, they said “groups,” which I guess means Facebook, which I do not have, but which probably customizes their news for the user as well.

    When I declared my astonishment at their lack of information on the Yellow Jacket protest, they replied, “what does it matter,” your knowing about it will have no impact…which stimulated a philosophical digression.

    Reply
    1. johnnygl

      Teachers that don’t think it’s important to know stuff…that’s a weird concept. What’s next?!??! Priests that don’t pray!?!!

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        I wore my yellow vest in public 5x, and not one American could figure out the significance of why I was so attired.

        It’s obvious that our leaderslip has long not wanted the citizens to get uppity, protesting stuff. So, why mention GJ in any context other than as little as they can?

        Reply
        1. Sutter Cane

          Even though I am aware of the French protests, if I saw someone wearing a yellow vest in public in the US, I would probably think that they were a school crossing guard or road worker on a break before I would assume that they were showing solidarity with French protesters.

          The US is going to have to come up with its own, locally relevant version of the yellow vest, because I don’t think it is going to be a successful cross-cultural import. It’s like asking Americans to spell “bourgeois”

          Reply
          1. jrs

            really, even the teachers should follow the L.A. teachers protest more than the yellow vests, it’s more relevant being both more local (to uh anywhere in the U.S.) and something they would understand.

            Reply
    2. Ignacio

      When I declared my astonishment at their lack of information on the Yellow Jacket protest, they replied, “what does it matter,” your knowing about it will have no impact…which stimulated a philosophical digression.

      The “no impact” or “what does it matter idea” is so extended!!! I remember very well when I attended a course in a business school back in 2003. This B.S. was or is kind of Spain’s “Wharton” and this course was intended for middle manager development. To my surprise, one day, some professor –i don’t remember the subject– said that middle managers, by no means, should worry about problems around the world others than the specific problems they confront in their positions.

      So they said, you have to focus on your –narrow– horizon where you have an impact, and please, do not worry about any other thing in which someone else is involved. You have to believe, because markets I suppose, that someone competent is dealing with these other subjects so you don’t have to worry.

      Reply
      1. zagonostra

        I don’t think anyone was awakened. I would venture they’ll go back to consuming/gathering news tidbits in the same manner they always have.

        People have all developed specific news-gathering habits which are tailored to their browsing profile. If you are not interested in International events, it’s likely you won’t get any news from that quarter.

        It would be interesting to read a study of how events happening on the periphery of individual interest actually get picked up. What is the trigger that gets those events in front of eye-balls that normally would be shut.

        Reply
        1. Summer

          “What is the trigger that gets those events in front of eye-balls that normally would be shut…”

          It can not be assumed that once those eyes are opened that they will be thankful to the messenger. That’s the larger point I’m getting at.

          The information is being avoided almost as much as it is being concealed.
          Denial is fundamental to the American Dream.

          Reply
  11. The Rev Kev

    “In this town, it’s illegal to grow vegetables in your front yard”

    Things change and eventually pressure will grow to allow people to grow gardens on their own properties if they so desire. One time it use to be virtually illegal to have water tanks in your house yard down in Sydney and the local Councils would get on your back if you tried. They thought that it would hurt property values or something. But after a long drought went through the place the Councils reversed course and were trying to get everybody to install one. A Californian relative did not know what I was talking about when I told her about water tanks so I am including a link to show what they look like in case they are not that common in the US-

    http://www.bushmantanks.com.au/productlist/water-tanks

    Reply
    1. givememoney

      This is so wrong, on so many levels. Growing your own food, front yard or back, should be a right. I’ll bet the town also bans clothes lines. Old (running and registered) cars too.

      Reply
      1. polecat

        I do that, on ALL sides, and care not what city officialdom thinks !! More plebes will resort to growing at least some food for their personal needs regardless of those vaunted ‘property values so coveted by control freaks, be they goverment folk or private. Just wait until another crisis comes along, whether it’s energy related, say, or financial, or even a pandemic ! .. not counting the myriad lesser problems of which we all encounter in one way or another.
        I do sense indifference, and even some vailed hostility, from some people who no doubt feel that they’re at the top of the heap, as it were, and show disdain at such efforts by those of us who appreciate life giving/life nurturing effort !

        Reply
    2. Off The Street

      Prohibition of front yard vegetables demonstrates the opposite of the Victory Gardens from WWII. Know those laws as encouragement of Defeat Gardens. Imagine what could be done with tanks, drip irrigation, composting and a few other techniques for the (city) folk.

      Reply
    3. J7915

      Colombia and Venezuela used to be highlighted by Popular Mechanics for fun roof top water tanks. Necessary for rationing and water pressure.

      Reply
    4. marieann

      The Rev Kev

      Are the water tanks used for watering plants or for drinking water, are they filled by rainwater?
      I have 3 rainbarrels in my backyard but they don’t hold much. The tanks in the link are massive, I wonder if they are used in Canada

      Reply
      1. polecat

        I have 5 rain barrels, which I keep full for when we get well into our late summer .. and we DO tend to have dry summers here in the PNW .. to deep soak the fruit trees when they show signs of drought stress, but for general watering .. not so much.
        The most insane thing to worry, work, and stress over is trying to maintain a LAWN !
        It sure isn’t very norishing form my vantage point, as I do not own a double stomach …

        Reply
      2. The Rev Kev

        Sorry for the late reply. The tanks go at the sides of houses or sheds and take the rainwater straight off the roof. You would be amazed at how much rain hits a roof in a good rain storm. They are typically used for watering plants and the like thus cutting down on water bills. We have two water tanks here and are thinking about getting more. We have a 5,000 liter tank (1,320.86 in US gallons) next to our shed and a 25,000 liter tank (6,604 US Gallons) below our house. This one we use to constantly replenish a horse water trough that has a float arm installed to stop it overflowing. Do not be surprised if you see more and more of these things in the US over time.

        Reply
      3. J7915

        In Bogotá, Colombia the water tanks were at roof level. Filled by city water when, the water flowed, I recall rationing on our street left side-right side on alternate days during the dry season.

        Reply
  12. David Carl Grimes

    AOC Twitter Power. Bernie is not on this list? Only 2.6M from both personal and Senate account? I thought it would have been more than that.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Bot cleanup on longer term public figures?

      Though, I imagine AOC ran her account until recently if she still isn’t, and I imagine Sanders doesn’t. With twitter being a communication platform, AOC is directly communicating. The Sanders point is followed by enough people to communicate anything rapidly.

      Reply
  13. Wukchumni

    Maintaining a competitive hedge WaPo
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Nice article, and a subtle reminder to do some hedge fun with ours in front of the house that grown a bit on the tall side.

    If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow
    Don’t be alarmed now
    It’s just a spring clean for the May queen
    Yes, there are two paths you can go by
    But in the long run
    There’s still time to change the road you’re on
    And it makes me wonder

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dR5GN2aPsyY

    Reply
  14. cnchal

    > Life, Death and Insulin WaPo

    Even for his older sister, Brittany Smith, who is a nurse, the learning curve about Type 1 diabetes was steep. “I didn’t really have a handle on it,” she says. Most of her diabetic patients had the far more common Type 2. Both types involve an imbalance of insulin, a hormone that helps regulate blood glucose levels. For Type 1 diabetics, the body produces little to no insulin. In Type 2, generally, the body has become resistant to insulin’s effects. Not all Type 2 diabetics take insulin, but all Type 1 diabetics do. Alec would need a steady supply for the rest of his life.

    Moar horseshit from WaPooPoo, innocuously mixed in with a half truth. The body part that produces insulin is the pancreas, and in Type 2 diabetes the pancreas can still produce some insulin, but not in the amount needed and rapidly enough to balance the rising sugar levels in the blood after eating a meal, particularly if that meal consists of lots of carbs. Insulin is the hormone that opens or unlocks the cell to accept the sugar in the bloodstream, which the body uses and if there is not enough insulin the sugar stays in the bloodstream with no way to be used.

    On her first Mother’s Day without Alec, Nicole spent hours planting a memorial garden in a corner of her yard. A week later, on May 20, the family invited loved ones over to visit the space and commemorate Alec’s first “heavenly birthday.” Brittany had driven a half-hour across the Wisconsin state line to buy fireworks. In the kitchen, there were hamburgers and hot dogs waiting. There was even a cake: store-bought with thick white frosting — the kind a diabetic might be told to avoid. In green letters, it read: “Forever 26.”

    A hotdog or hamburger is protein wrapped in carbs. Good advice to any diabetic is throw the buns away and never let that crap into your shopping cart again. The store bought cake is a massive crime scene from a diabetics perspective.

    If you don’t have diabetes and think none of this affects you, because, for now, your pancreas can pump out enough insulin to cope with the massive carb to sugar conversion taking place within your body, think again. High insulin levels in the blood accelerates the metabolic aging process.

    As for the prices of insulin, which the article was actually about, the production cost and sales price have nothing to do with each other, but they do have something to do with Davos Man running the place and pricing out a 300 foot yacht.

    Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Having watched the documentary ‘Injecting Aluminum’ recenlty, I am currently trying to find out if aluminum foil is really that safe.

        Apparenlty, leaching could be a problem.

        Reply
  15. Olga

    This may have been posted in December – if not, it is worth a look and contains some revealing links (e.g., a debate in the B. Parliament about integrity Initiative’s meddling in UK’s internal affairs):
    https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2018/12/british-government-covert-anti-russian-propaganda-and-the-skripal-case/
    Following all info about II, it seems quite plausible that the entire Skripal affair was cooked up by II (as C Murray indicates) – complete with R. diplomat expulsions. Mission accomplished

    Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Looking up ‘Russian military bases on the world,’ I notice these, among others:

        Vietnam (curently)
        Venezuela (planned)
        Kazakhstan* (currenty)

        *Kazakhstan still uses the Kazakh Cyrillic alphabet, though I understand they will be using a Kazakh Latin alphabet soon (according to Wikipedai, the Kazakh want to consolidate national identity…less Russian cultural hegemony?)

        Reply
        1. J7915

          IIRC about 2-3 years they had a hurricane in a teacup about the use of the letter q or k for a certain Cyrillic equivalent sound.

          Being an academic fight it could be long lasting and admirably nasty. The smaller the price the stronger the emotional investment. Who came up with that saying?

          Reply
  16. makedoanmend

    “…But honestly, would a new member of Congress be so dominating the national conversation, if other Democrats were either less clueless or less beholden to their donors?”

    That.

    I hope AOC realises this. It’s not that she is so good but that the competition, if you like, is so terribly, terribly bad.

    I suppose she is also receiving so much coverage, given her novice status, because so many people are threatened by the ideas she advocates, and also because some of her detractors have gone off the deep end in order to attack her ideas.

    I wish her and her policies well but all her opponents will keep throwing things at her and her policies until a meme or two stick.

    The well funded neo-liberal PR industry can be deployed against her if her ideas gain mainstream traction. Early days. Much think skin needs to develop.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Short of a scandal, she’s meme proof. Conservatives and their neo-liberal counterparts aren’t funny.

      I’m reminded of John Cleese, an atheist, relating a conversation with Graham Chapman, a devout Catholic, while they were writing Life of Brian. There is no humor in Jesus. He would be too cool to let anything bother him. If Jesus slipped on a banana peel, he would laugh and say “who am I?”

      She has a charisma like Rob Gronkowski, and she’s a mismatch for everyone else on the field.

      Reply
      1. Pat

        And I think that explains the latest salvo I have seen: a Fox News opinion piece declaring her the voice of an ignorant generation. It not just insults the people following her, but also implies they are falling for a con, a cult leader. I think this is a change in front, AOC manages to turn everything directed at her back but supporters may not be “too cool” and susceptible to derogatory memes. But I expect this to fail as well.

        Mind you I think it will be a bust, like deplorables, but when you are throwing manure at the wall…

        Reply
        1. Darthbobber

          Demographically, I believe Fox News already has a problem with her generation, and too much pursuit of this tactic is unlikely to improve the numbers.

          Reply
          1. Massinissa

            The median age of a fox news viewer is in the mid 60s. So mostly people well past their prime at this point. They have problems even attracting people under 50, much less 20-somethings.

            Reply
        2. Darthbobber

          Mirrors the line of attack several Clinton surrogates pursued to deal with the popularity of Sanders among the same age group. “What can you expect from these clueless kids?”

          Also mirrors a common line for dealing with the perceived radicalism of young boomers by our equally bewildered parents. “What’s wrong with kids nowadays?” is by no means a novel lament that you need a lot of thought to get to. I suspect the norm, for those of the older generations, is that it usually takes a bit of thought to refrain from going there.

          Reply
        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          There are supporters and there are worshipers.

          One way to tell is when there is a mistake, the latter will not see it, but defend to the end.

          So, there is the how-she-repondes to watch, and there is also the how-people-respond to see as well.

          Reply
      2. Anonymous2

        It is not quite true there is no humour in the Gospels. At one point Christ saves a young girls life then tells the parents ‘remember to feed her! ‘.

        Otherwise I think the evangelists thought they should edit out any jokes.

        Reply
    2. voteforno6

      It’s not that she is so good but that the competition, if you like, is so terribly, terribly bad.

      Come on now…it’s that exact dynamic that allowed Barack Obama to be considered some sort of political genius.

      Reply
      1. johnnygl

        Obama was pretty genius at spending most of the last 6 years of his presidency coming up with excuses to do nothing more than minor tinkering.

        Except budget cuts…he was ready to threaten default to get those done. He LOVED budget cuts…and TPP…and nothing else.

        Reply
        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The attachment to the myth of Obama was really all he needed. He said nutty stuff all the time, but his followers couldn’t really acknowledge these problems without addressing his rhetoric all along.

          https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/06/eric-holder-banks-too-big_n_2821741.html

          It would be too hard. This is Holder, but to say something like this should have invited one response, “why was this guy ever hired?” It didn’t because Holder’s record indicates he should have never been hired (he’s scummy even for Republicans), but these questions could have been raised all along about Obama. Rahm as CoS? Saving Lieberman. Being friends with Tim Kaine.

          Reply
            1. The Rev Kev

              He also told senior aides back in 2011: “Turns out I’m really good at killing people. Didn’t know that was gonna be a strong suit of mine.” No wonder he had Hillary as SecState.

              Reply
    3. Darthbobber

      I suspect one reason she gets so much mileage compared to the figures preferred by the remaining devotees of conventional wisdom is that she actually passes the Turing test. You’d ordinarily expect an actually existing human being to clear that bar almost automatically, but for many professional politicians this is not the case.

      My impression of the Kamala Harris twitter output, for example, is that it emanates from an artificially created synthetic personality, whose persona is being changed and tweaked as it attempts to learn what succeeds from inherently flawed algorithms. And the more a politician hands themself over to professional handlers, the more they appear thus.

      AOC also doesn’t presently labor under the handicap of having to counterfeit the appearance of support for various things while opposing them in practice. This simplifies her task greatly.

      Reply
      1. makedoanmend

        Excellent comment, imo and if I may be so bold.

        Particularly, “…AOC also doesn’t presently labour under the handicap of having to counterfeit the appearance of support for various things while opposing them in practice. This simplifies her task greatly.”

        “presently” being an operative word.

        Can she keep her message and platform proposal pretty much simple in the long run? That might be key. For example, the proposal of a 70% tax rate on wealthy income is concise and to the point.

        Reply
      2. Cal2

        Kamala passes the Turing test
        Four words have never been so succinct. As to the Hannah George article linked above
        https://ghionjournal.com/hannah-giorgis-devastating-critique-senator-kamala-harris/

        “As Harris comes on stage,Tupac Shakur’s (Lesane Crooks) music plays,” a misogynistic human trafficker, beater of women, who sold drugs in housing projects and was shot to death? e.g., “Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.” Nice leitmotif.

        I suspect that Kamala Harris is secretly being backed by the Trump organization to derail any viable Democratic candidate. Mnuchin, who hadn’t got the memo, blew their cover by donating to her senatorial campaign.

        If her brand of hashtag, tote-bag nostrums, “resistance”, manages to get anywhere near and infect the Democratic primary, Trump wins reelection.

        Reply
  17. The Rev Kev

    “Exclusive: PG&E talking to banks on multibillion dollar bankruptcy financing – sources”

    Wonder if California itself could pick this outfit up cheap after the bankruptcy proceedings. Without the overhead of massive executive pay packets, it might turn out to be a good source of revenue for California.

    Reply
    1. Off The Street

      California acquisition of PG&E would provide a way to sop up those excess CalPERS investment dollars. Somewhere, consultants are salivating at the potential fees. /s

      Reply
    2. ambrit

      I know it’s a ‘crazy idea’ and all, but why not have the State of California nationalize, or whatever the state level analogue is, the bankrupt company and run it as a Public Utility? Keep paying the extant stockholders, like old fashioned Utilities bondholders. Stretch the timeline and reduce payments. Make investment in utilities a long term program. Now, if the basic investment class in PG&E is that type, my apologies to the Gods of Finance for blaspheming. As an anti-bonus, the State can make the managerial class of the utility Civil Servants with comparable pay packets. Eliminate stock options, indeed, claw them back.
      Basic services are not, in that elusive “Just Society,” a profit centre.

      Reply
      1. Cal2

        Plenty of examples of excellent publicly run utilities alongside of PG&E. For example,
        The San Francisco Water Department, (in spite of the city’s lousy local government), Los Angeles Power and Water and Sacramento Municipal Utilities District.

        Far lower rates, more reliability and fewer deaths. That’s a bargain.

        Reply
      1. J7915

        Weren’t the trust broken up once before? 1930s? Here in OK we have PSO bills get send to AEP in Ohio now.

        Around 2000 they placed the AEP logo on the bills decimated the service crews and fell on their ass with the first tornado storm winds season. Now they pretend to be OK based again.

        Reply
  18. Wukchumni

    Why wildfires pose an existential threat to California tourism San Francisco Chronicle
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    We were in Mammoth in the midst of the Lions Fire this past summer, and couldn’t see any trace of the usually imposing mountain behind the main lodge, as the smoke was so awful.

    It’s bad enough being a tourist that’s disappointed by a vacation gone awry, but imagine what’s it like for locals often dependent on tourism $, who also suffer prolonged smoke? (the 2015 151,000 acre Rough Fire pretty much ruined our summer)

    After enough of it, you want to go on holiday too, albeit someplace far from the conflagration.

    Reply
    1. JBird4049

      What is really crazy is that the policy of no fires, no where, no how, is a good part of why we are in danger of massive fires. Yes, the drought followed by flooding, and the climate changing is part of it, but a century of unburned dead growth is to.

      Reply
  19. UserFriendly

    Re twitter media power.
    Kamala Harris has been paying for twitter ads non stop for months now. I constantly see things from her with twitter noting that it is promoted.

    Reply
    1. Pat

      I don’t know what her war chest is like but from a recent encounter, I would bet she could make the Clinton campaign look like a bargain. Massive staff and pr, probably double what either Clinton or Bush had for something similar in 2014/2015.

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Unless she has a Sheldon Anderson type backer willing to do whatever it takes, she’ll burn through cash too quickly. One problem with donors is they don’t give until the end (the Kochs mattered not because of how much they gave but when they gave; budgets could be made). Even with access to California, HRC’s coronation brought in cash as everyone sought to curry favor with the empress. I expect she will be the first to reinvent her campaign through finding new efficiencies to become leaner and meaner. The path through is clearly to be anti-Sanders candidate uniting HRC voters (who aren’t uniformly anti-Sanders and four years deader). The plan is likely to try to crush the other misfits.

        In 2008, Clinton had campaign debt. I forget when they paid it off. It took time, but money doesn’t simply roll in. Obama had a fairly organic following for the 2008 contest, so backing him made some sense, and his money didn’t roll in until after he won in Virginia.

        I suspect the reason we aren’t awash in Presidential candidates from California from the Team Blue side isn’t the perceived liberalism of California as much as the view money will flow to a candidate solving all the problems, hence no candidate runs.

        Reply
        1. Pat

          I am not sure she doesn’t. I wish I didn’t think that, she is pretty noxious.

          But I do think more than a few deep pockets are financing the try outs. DTS and the new primary schedule are shaking up the norms.

          Reply
  20. Wukchumni

    Looks as if Canadianam is being used as a proxy war for their way or the Huawei, and instead of steamy fetid jungles, lots of muskeg.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    China sentences Canadian man to death in case that could sharply escalate diplomatic row with Canada and the U.S.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/china-sentences-canadian-man-to-death-in-drug-case-linked-to-huawei-row/2019/01/14/058306a0-17fb-11e9-a804-c35766b9f234_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_chinacanada-820am-1%3Ahomepage%2Fstory-ans

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Is this the inclusive Tianxia we can look forward to?

      By the way, adding to the discussion last Friday and yesterday on the concept of Tianxia, we have this (Wikipeidia) from the film Hero, with Jet Li (It shows the debate about its meaing goes back a while…fillm made in 2002):

      Translation of “Tianxia”
      There has been some criticism of the film for its American-release translation of one of the central ideas in the film: Tiānxià (天下) which literally means “Under heaven”, and is a phrase to mean “the World“. In fact, for its release in Belgium, some two years before the U.S. release, the subtitled translation was indeed “all under heaven”. However, the version shown in American cinemas was localized as the two-word phrase “our land” instead, which seems to denote just the nation of China rather than the whole world. Whether Zhang Yimou intended the film to also have meaning with regard to the world and world unity was at that time difficult to say. Zhang Yimou was asked about the change at a screening in Massachusetts and said it was a problem of translation: “If you ask me if ‘Our land’ is a good translation, I can’t tell you. All translations are handicapped. Every word has different meanings in different cultures.”[18] However, in Cause: The Birth of Hero – a documentary on the making of Hero – Zhang mentions that he hopes the film will have some contemporary relevance, and that, in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks (which took place just before the movie was filmed) the themes of universal brotherhood and “peace under heaven” may indeed be interpreted more globally, and taken to refer to peace in “the world.”[19] The phrase was later changed in television-release versions of the film.

      Different meanings in different cultures.

      And different meanings in different times, within the same culture, for the world, or the known world, could have different meanings.

      Back the movie.

      The conversation about Tianxia in the film occurs in the context of the First Emperor’s role in the unification of China.

      According to Wikipedia’s Qin Shi Huang article,

      Traditional Chinese historiography almost always portrayed the First Emperor of the Chinese unified states as a brutal tyrant who had an obsessive fear of assassination.

      and

      Since 1972, however, a radically different official view of Qin Shi Huang in accordance with Maoist thought has been given prominence throughout China. Hong Shidi’s biography Qin Shi Huang initiated the re-evaluation. The work was published by the state press as a mass popular history, and it sold 1.85 million copies within two years. In the new era, Qin Shi Huang was seen as a far-sighted ruler who destroyed the forces of division and established the first unified, centralized state in Chinese history by rejecting the past.

      The Wikipedia article ends with this quote by Mao (see reference 96):

      “He buried 460 scholars alive; we have buried forty-six thousand scholars alive… You [intellectuals] revile us for being Qin Shi Huangs. You are wrong. We have surpassed Qin Shi Huang a hundredfold. When you berate us for imitating his despotism, we are happy to agree! Your mistake was that you did not say so enough.”[96]

      In the film, the First Emperor (Qin Shi Huang) says something to the effect, that he had to killed so many, in order to bring peace to Tianxia, so that there will be no more fighting.

      So, according to Beijing, after 1972, to bring peace to Tianxia, violence is necessary (to stop future violence), and the leader to do so would be a far-sighted ruler.

      In 1972, Tianxia might have mean China, and violence was the one that drove the Nationalists to Taiwan. Today, is Tianxia the world, and violence global?

      And that view is included in Zhang Yimou’s film (and the conversation was inserted to emphasize that point).

      Reply
    1. JohnnyGL

      Unreal, Jonathan Chait eagerly prepared to go to war on behalf of billionaire ‘philanthropists’ like the Waltons and hedge funders, and his wife’s career in Charter School Administration.

      He’s got ONE, I repeat ONE study from Brookings solely focused on Boston that gives him ammo and he’s not afraid to use it to say Warren is held hostage by teachers unions that hate poor brown kids and want them to fail because they fought against lifting a state-wide (not Boston) cap on opening more of them.

      Chait is utterly convinced that Charters’ secret ingredient is the ability to ‘fire bad teachers’. But, of course, where’s the evidence that firing particular teachers is helpful? How about all those states that have no trouble at all firing teachers? They MUST be doing a better job? No? WHAT?!?!? MA is still at or near the top of the country?!!?? Maybe there’s other factors involved?!?!?!

      Chait isn’t having any of it….he’s got his one study that he’s weaponized and he’s talking his book.

      Reply
      1. John k

        Course, in principle, there’s nothing wrong with firing bad teachers. Or testing students to determine which are effective and which are not.

        Reply
    1. Darthbobber

      As the correction verbiage at the bottom indicates, the article was rewritten in the interim to reflect the fact that the first memo discussed originates with Rubin rather than Clinton.

      Reply
      1. Harold

        The letter was by Rubin and supposedly was repudiated by the Clinton State Department, but my impression is that the policy her and subsequent US State Departments followed was sufficiently close to make it seem plausible.

        Reply
  21. Expat2uruguay

    This note is concerning from the common dreams article on Single Payer not Single Payer,

    Also of concern to single payer activists is the role of the National Nurses Union, which paid for the Pollin study and funds a number of single payer groups, and which has signed neutrality agreements with for profit corporate hospital chains, including HCA.

    The article does expand on this, with concern that for-profit hospitals are getting loopholes written into legislation.

    Reply
    1. Jeff W

      I noticed that, too. Here’s another paragraph that makes the point more clearly:

      One question is being raised by some single payer activists — did the nurses’ agreement to refrain from broad negative campaigns against HCA or other for profit hospitals impact single payer bills at the state and national levels, all of which, with the exception of HR 676, are riddled with loopholes to keep the for profits [sic] and ACOs and HMOs and and value based [sic] programs in the game?

      Those bills at the national and state levels that are “riddled with loopholes to keep the for profits and ACOs and HMOs and and value based programs in the game” presumably include Bernie Sanders’ own S 1804. I imagine some single payer activists—at least not those bound by neutrality agreements—will be pressuring Sanders to align his single payer proposal more along the lines of the not-for-profit HR 676 bill.

      Reply
  22. Pat

    One of the most depressing things about reading the Wikileaks article was reading the comments. Mostly because of the anti-Wikileaks people demanding a journalistic standard from them that hasn’t been met in this country for over twenty years.

    Sometimes I feel like I am one of the few who remember Judith Miller and the Times pretending they weren’t interfering with the election by holding back stories about the Bush administration until after the election….

    Reply
  23. Carey

    I think the ‘Single Payer not Single Payer’ Counterpunch piece is an important one:

    “Also of concern to single payer activists is the role of the National Nurses Union, which paid for the Pollin study and funds a number of single payer groups, and which has signed neutrality agreements with for profit corporate hospital chains, including HCA.”

    Not good to hear that about NNU, and maybe there’s more to the story; I hope so.
    Looks like our corporate overlords are going with the “death by a thousand cuts” approach.

    The link, again: https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/01/11/single-payer-not-single-payer/

    Reply
  24. Kurt Sperry

    The time Thomas Frank and the NYT had a fight and the NYT was humiliated:

    Thomas Frank of The Baffler, a journal of cultural criticism, demonstrated that the list was a hoax. He revealed that Jasper had purposely misled the Times as well as the British SKY magazine as a prank.[3] Jasper had been sick of the attention that reporters were paying to people involved in the Seattle grunge scene, and thus pulled the prank to get back at them for their relentless fascination.

    The Times demanded that Frank fax over an apology for claiming it had printed false information, believing that it was Frank who was the hoaxer. Frank instead sent a letter standing by the story. “When The Newspaper of Record goes searching for the Next Big Thing and the Next Big Thing piddles on its leg,” he wrote, “we think that’s funny.”[4] Frank considered the article to be part of an attempt by mainstream culture to co-opt the grunge scene and felt that the Times had gotten what it deserved.

    Shortly after the release of The Baffler’s story, some people in Seattle began selling and wearing t-shirts with the words “lamestain” and “harsh realm” printed in the same font as the famous banner of the Times.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grunge_speak

    Reply
  25. David Carl Grimes

    I’m curious as to how other readers think the shutdown is going to end. Will Trump invoke his emergency powers or will he back down without securing any funding for the wall?

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I fear we are down the rabbit hole.

      White House is Trump, a less than stable actor who is at odds with the GOP DC culture and the old GOP elites but holds the loyalty of GOP voters. He just had a loss in the Mid Terms but not what was expected largely due to the “fecklessness” of Team Blue.

      The GOP is not quite uniform, but for these purposes, I would sort it into the corrupt and believers. The believers for whatever reason need the wall and are wedded to it. The corrupt, who I believed are outnumbered by the believers, aren’t necessarily being impacted by the shut down. They don’t represent the areas of dense federal workers, and they love that the chicken plants don’t have inspectors coming to visit. The GOP is a Southern rump party too. They shouldn’t be wielding the kind of power they have. Obama’s most amazing accomplishment was turning Mitch McConnell into Senate Majority Leader. I mean the man is loathsome and should have hurt other Senate races. It was impressive feat.

      The Democrats. There are a handful of decent and well spoken legislators who are capable of leading. I would say about a 1/3 are decent but they aren’t leaders which is a problem. They can’t produce an alternative vision of how to proceed without leadership. Pelosi and Schumer are not fit. The Democrats who represent federal areas are worried. The rest of the Democrats are more concerned about AOC than a shut down as she represents a threat to their own districts. Could they be primaried? Finding a way out of the shut down isn’t a direct obstacle to their lifestyles and their backers probably love that inspections aren’t being done as well.

      The other issue is “OMG Russia” and “Never Trump.” The Blue Tsunami was a wavelet. The focus on issues such as Medicare For All isn’t going away, and many #Resistance heroes such as Adam Schiff despite taking a tough stance on Kremlin Agent Donald Trump voted to give him more money than he asked for phony defense while California is on fire. My sense is the partisan Democrats who swore HRC and Obama could do no wrong aren’t as emotionally attached to the Democrats in Congress and are demanding we stop Trump. Working with Trump is an impossibility.

      The lack of any practical argument for a wall as demonstrated by Jon Oliver:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vU8dCYocuyI (its long, but quote good)

      reinforces the failings of Democrats in recent years who have promised to fight Trump but didn’t except in a bizarre spectacle involving maybe the last person one would ever consider for an honest investigation in Bob Mueller.

      When the bailout passed in 2008, two things stood out. One Shrub was unpopular but still powerful. He did much of the initial heavy lifting, and outside of the Minnesota Senate race and a few houses seats, the election was settled. Everyone knew who would win or lose. Working majorities could be formed. And a third item was Obama’s position in the Democratic Party was settled. Who is the leader of the Democrats? Its not Sanders or AOC. They might be the leaders of Democratic voters, but they aren’t the leaders of the other caucus members and are still perceived as playing some kind of “messaging” trick because the caucus is still made of people who have no message but yet believe better “messaging” will make everyone love them.

      The crooked electeds have one other issue. Its one thing to lose an election and be rewarded for serving corporate interests. Its another to be part of a wave of losers, and these politicians are still in it for the Hollywood for Ugly People aspect. With SMDP districts, the congress critters don’t need to out run the bear they need to outrun the other person the bear is chasing.

      Its long winded, but I’m not particularly high on a fix. Obama was stable enough (the President does wield this power) to force face saving solutions after he bungled about for a bit, but Trump isn’t.

      Reply
    2. JohnnyGL

      At this point, he has to use Emergency Powers. He’s backed himself into a corner and his base of support looks pretty steady. Otherwise, he commits his own cardinal sin of ‘looking weak’. To normal people, it’s okay to just take the L once in awhile. To Trump it’s of paramount importance to avoid visibly taking the L, somehow. Plus, the shutdown is going to keep getting worse, the longer it goes on.

      Pelosi and Schumer have gotten what they wanted….which is for Trump to look like an extreme power-grabber. That’s the extent of their real issues with him, he’s embarassing and wants to grab too much power for the executive branch. Everything else is negotiable for them.

      Reply
      1. Darthbobber

        And I suspect an invocation of a security emergency, leading to the reopening of government and the attempt, subject to lengthy litigation delays, to transfer money for the Great Wall from some other vaguely security related purpose, is an outcome the Democratic leadership would be perfectly happy with. So much so that they would be in danger of mingling screams of glee with the inevitable shouts of outrage.

        Reply
    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I think Trump will ‘find’ money to start a wall in some DHS or DoD slush fund. I think the wall will feed money to someone’s friends and punish fickle friends to remind them of their loyalties. I doubt the wall will ever be finished or serve any further purpose than it already has.

      The wall is some expensive entertainment to occupy discussion and tweak the bases in both branches of our political party, the Republicratic Pig Party. The wall and government shutdown, conveniently placed around the holidays, make nice smoke to suffocate discussion and concern over other potentially serious issues.

      I can’t see why Trump would invoke emergency powers over the wall. I doubt he cares that much about it. Why play an ace card to take an deuce? If Trump really could successfully invoke emergency powers over an issue like the wall then the real concern should be how easily any President might invoke those powers. Besides raising the issue makes a nice reference to Hitler and a silly comparison between the wall and the Reichstag Fire. We already have an equivalent of sorts to the Reichstag Fire Decree “an emergency decree to suspend civil liberties” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reichstag_fire]. I think that sounds a lot like the Patriot Act. And the Patriot Act can be applied quietly. Besides Republicrats don’t have to deal with a second party making trouble.

      Reply
    4. RopeADope

      I have a concern that the Robert Mercer types behind Trump see a government shutdown akin to the collapse of the Soviet government in the 90s. I also believe these far-right sociopaths see this as a positive thing.

      Reply
  26. Grant

    “I know she’s savvy, and appears to possess a rare political talent. She’s also preaching popular, common sense, underexpressed messages. But honestly, would a new member of Congress be so dominating the national conversation, if other Democrats were either less clueless or less beholden to their donors?”

    This is what people miss, often intentionally. AOC is great, and has rare qualities for a politician. But a good portion of her power, and Sanders for that matter, comes down to the ideas she supports. For decades now, people have wanted to certain issues and policies to be a part of the discussion, those in power refuse to allow those ideas in for class and ideological reasons, and sometimes the stars align to allow someone to gain power that gives them a chance to force ideas into the national political discussion. So, even if that person has a lot of good qualities, the policies are a good portion of their popularity. AOC would not be AOC if she were Hillary Clinton or Obama on policy, which is why, in the present era, Beto is likely to have problems. Beto wouldn’t have the establishment support he has if he had AOC’s platform too. People can’t pay their bills with Beto’s skateboard or words in a speech, and they can’t pay bills based on a person’s identity, but they could with AOC’s policies.

    Reply
    1. Darthbobber

      The very idea that there could be a significant bloc of voters whose support actually IS issue driven is anathema to the “pros”. And the idea of such a disheartening phenomenon spreading and growing is a menace to be combated with every available means.

      A citizenry that actually behaves in the manner assumed in the mythology of old civics texts? Quelle horreur.

      Reply
      1. Grant

        +1

        Personally, if I had absolutely nothing what so ever to offer on policy, I would care a lot about how great someone is at giving a speech. How cool they were, them riding a skateboard, them being likeable, absolutely no impact what so ever on me or anyone else, but if I had nothing to offer on policy, no solutions, I would be all in on the fluff. I would emphasize experience, as if more time in this rotten and corrupt political system is a bonus or something. I would also work hard to get people not examine a person’s record either, just like they did in 2016 with Clinton and will with their hack of choice. AOC is great as an individual, she is really impressive for a young woman, but she is also great on policy. If AOC were like Clinton on policy, she would be rich by now and if she were like Clinton, she would cash in the second she could.

        The ironic thing with her is that, given her policy stances, her charisma is actually a huge problem for those in power. She also happens to be a woman of color, so there goes the white man Berniebro nonsense. I love watching her make these rotten people squirm, and if she should ever run for president, they’re going to lose their marbles. Hopefully by then, we’ve kicked most of them to the curb. Who exactly is going to bother inviting Neera Tanden to give a speech somewhere if the left starts to win in larger numbers and if the left can put in place long overdue structural changes? Her entire worth is her capacity to help beat back the left and to divide working people. Who the hell is going to care what she thinks then, when most outside of the establishment bubble don’t care as is? I have a feeling that people like her and Brock know this too.

        Reply
        1. Jeff W

          +1 for both your comments!

          I have a feeling that people like her and Brock know this too.

          They all know it.

          That’s why the whole rotten Democratic establishment is giving Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez the shiv at every turn. They (supposedly) want younger candidates and more diversity (= not Bernie) but won’t give Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez the time of day. She’s exposing the whole “diversity” thing as the sham that it is.

          Her policies make her popular but I think what strikes fear in the hearts of the establishment Dems is that she mentions the unmentionable and does the not-to-be-done-able, not just in terms of policy (single payer tuition-free college, 70% tax rates) but in terms of the whole sordid, broken political system.

          You’re not supposed to not take corporate money and win—that’s for left-wing self-described “socialists” only like Bernie Sanders—and then make a big deal about how that frees you up to respond to your constituents (what about everyone else then?); you’re not supposed to smack back the Republicans for their brain-dead, hackish argunents (because that runs dangerously close to exposing the Democrats’ similar arguments and the whole duopoly); you’re not supposed to have genuinely popular policy positions—those are just “ponies for everyone”—we have to be “serious” and “pragmatic” and talk about only what’s “feasible” and what we can “pay for” (because otherwise we might step outside the narrow agenda that constrains everything to what the donors want).

          She’s upending Washington political culture singlehandedly by saying and doing stuff that “isn’t said”/”isn’t done” in that culture (and can’t be said or done because doing so completely exposes and undermines it). Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez isn’t just advocating good and genuinely popular policies on behalf of her constituents (and the entire populace)—which is, um, how democracy is supposed to work—she’s exposing nearly everyone else as not doing it and, more crucially, more dangerously, showing how they’re wholly committed to keeping this enivornment where they don’t have to do it. It has them quaking in their boots.

          Reply
    1. JohnnyGL

      He’s relying on numbers that he knows are very flakey at this point, and he throws in enough caveats to indicate it.

      In a few cases, he’s got no real data at all, just his hunches. Now, when he’s got decent data to work with, he often does some good analysis.

      But that’s not true right now, it’s all very speculative. He was so fantastically wrong in 2016 that he’s going to have to prove to me his hunches are useful.

      FWIW, my hunch agrees with him a little bit in that Harris has decent broad potential appeal. Biden will fade, I think. He gets a lot of fawning press and has big name recognition. O’Rourke (and Harris for that matter) is very untested, so I don’t know how much potential he’s (she’s) got.

      Regarding Sanders, yes, loyal dem voters are tough for him. I think he can do better with black voters. Of course, there’s plenty of crossover between those groups that Silver outlines. I think Lambert made the same point.

      Reply
    2. Massinissa

      I saw that Bernie’s chart gave him almost a zero in terms of support from ‘party loyalists’, and my immediate response was, “GOOD!”

      ‘Party Loyalists’ = Clintonites and Neoliberals.

      And as usual he downplayed Bernie’s support with racial minorities. Well, at least he got the ‘party loyalists’ part right…

      Reply
    3. vidimi

      oh my goodness. it doesn’t look like he’s using any data at all to create those graphs, just pulling them out of his arse. sanders no support among blacks and hispanics? beto and kamala huge with millenials? beto total support from hispanics and kamala from blacks? this is pure fantasy.

      Reply
  27. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Why the US-China dispute is about so much more than a trade imbalance SCMP. Part 3 of a series.

    —–

    Trade.

    It’s ironic that some believe China’s claim today that trade is better than endless wars, when in the 19th century, foreign powers, including the US, UK, Russia, France, etc. wanted to trade with China, at all costs, including at gun point.

    From Black Ships, Wikipedia:

    On July 8, 1853, the U.S. Navy steamed four warships into the bay at Edo and threatened to attack if Japan did not begin trade with the West.

    From Open Door Policy, Wikipedia:

    The late 19th century policy was enunciated in Secretary of State John Hay’s Open Door Note, dated September 6, 1899 and dispatched to the major European powers.[2] It proposed to keep China open to trade with all countries on an equal basis, keeping any one power from total control of the country, and calling upon all powers, within their spheres of influence, to refrain from interfering with any treaty port or any vested interest, to permit Chinese authorities to collect tariffs on an equal basis, and to show no favors to their own nationals in the matter of harbor dues or railroad charges

    Apparently, if one country alone had a better trade deal, it could get total control of China.

    Of course, in our own world today, we know better than to be brainwashing into believing in ‘free trade’ deals.

    Depending on the details, trade can be just another means to endless wars.

    Reply
  28. nothing but the truth

    exodus from blue states is becoming a problem.

    Here in Tampa we are getting 150-200 people per day, primarily from the Tristate area (rude people) and Chicago.

    There’s no space left on the roads, the infrastructure was not brilliant in the first place.

    Disaster.

    Reply
    1. polecat

      Hey, maybe instead of wearing yellow vests, we americans could sport snorkels .. espcially the coastals* !

      *extra points for donning a strap-on shark fin, for the lowly residents of NYC and D.C. …

      Reply
    1. Massinissa

      Wake me up when it at least changes by an entire percentage point. When he promised to lower drug prices, I’m pretty sure most people expected more than .6%. This is more flaccid than Bush’s ‘Mission Accomplished’.

      Reply

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