Links 2/4/19

Florida readers: I wouldn’t go so far as to use the phrase “chewing our hands,” but we’re a little concerned about attendance at the NC Fort Lauderdale Meetup this Thursday, February 7; we only got three comments for last week’s reminder post, and they were all from people who could not come. So, Floridians, please step up, and confirm your attendance in comments! Unless you’re comfortable with the picture of Yves sitting alone at a bar for a couple of hours, trying to type on her laptop… –lambert

Battle over when giant pandas started their bamboo diet heats up Nature

Haiti looks set to be entirely wiped of its native forests Geographical

Pay for Green New Deal now or spend even more later FT. How do you pay for not doing it?

Thanks to education, global fertility could fall faster than expected The Economist

Non-bank lenders thrive in the shadows FT

No reason for local policymakers to let Airbnb bypass tax or regulatory obligations Portside

As Pelvic Mesh Settlements Near $8 Billion, Women Question Lawyers’ Fees NYT

Venezuela

Independent UN rights expert calls for compassion, not sanctions on Venezuela UN News

U.S. Coup Attempt In Venezuela Lacks International Support Moon of Alabama

WSJ Confirms: Trump-Appointed Venezuela Coup Leader Plans Neoliberal Capitalist Shock Therapy Grayzone Project

Syraqistan

EU powers set up firm to thwart Trump’s Iran sanctions Politico

China?

An option for China as it tries to help Huawei escape its mounting legal woes South China Morning Post

Foreign businesses fret as China fast-tracks investment law Straits Times

Brexit

Theresa May’s quest to convince the EU to bin the backstop is the daftest Brexit unicorn of all Daily Mail

DUP’s Foster calls for Brussels to talk about Brexit backstop alternatives Belfast Telegraph

How to play a winning Brexit game Wolfgang Münchau, FT

New Cold War

Select Reactions to the INF Treaty Crisis Arms Control Association

US Missile Defense Strategy Valdai Discussion Club

The real reason Trump’s ripped up the nuclear treaty that’s kept us safe since the 1980s? Fear of China Daily Mail

China rips US plans for multilateral nuclear treaty Nikkei Asian Review

Canceling INF Treaty makes sense Asia Times

* * *
Trump Once Wanted to Negotiate With Russia Over Nukes. Then Mueller Happened. Foreign Policy

Insidiocracy: Russiagate, Corporate Media & Losing My Religion – Part Three Nina Illingworth (parts one and two). This series is the most “so you don’t have to” series on RussiaRussiaRussia that I’ve ever seen.

Congratulations New Knowledge on Raising an $11M Series A Led by GGV Capital Going Long. “Jonathon [Morgan]’s co-founder, Ryan Fox, cut his teeth at the NSA…. The founders are really purpose-trained to build New Knowledge.” That’s nice.

Trump Transition

Transcript: President Trump on “Face the Nation,” February 3, 2019 Face the Nation

Trump’s State of the Union pledge: Ending HIV transmissions by 2030 Politico. I’m generally loathe to write about stories of things the Administration might do, but…

Trump Shouldn’t Declare Emergency to Build Border Wall: CBS Poll Bloomberg

Democrats in Disarray

Younger Than Yesterday– Bernie, Not Trump Down with Tyranny. “[Bernie] may not skateboard or do Ramones covers, but his ideas are way hipper–and more fearless–than Beto’s.”

Medicare for All Emerges as Early Policy Test for 2020 Democrats NYT. The reporter tweets: “Democrats face a debate about an issue that until now had been theoretical: Should they build incrementally on the Affordable Care Act or scrap the insurance sector and create a European-style public program?” Neatly erasing Canada, as does the article.

Some Democrats That Ran on Medicare for All Are Backing Away from It Now New York Magazine. I’m shocked.

Dems face internal battle over BDS bill The Hill

In Virginia Governor’s Turmoil, Democrats See an Agenda at Risk NYT

Why Does Ralph Northam Deserve No Mercy? Zaid Jailani, Quillette

Police State Watch

TAKEN: How police departments make millions by seizing property Greenville News (MR).

The criminal justice system also has an ‘alternative facts’ problem WaPo. The “crisis in expert testimony.”

Sports Desk

The Rams Really Made A Mess Of This FiveThirtyEight

Michelob Ultra, Pringles, TurboTax Super Bowl ads try to make you feel better about AI taking over, with sad robots CNBC (Furzy Mouse).

The Real Problem: The Militarization of the NFL The American Conservative

Imperial Collapse Watch

MAGA Misses the Eurasia Train Pepe Escobar, Consortium News. The entire Blob, by design.

Guillotine Watch

Art on the Superyachts: Beware of Wine Corks and Unruly Children Bloomberg

Class Warfare

Histories of Violence: The Expulsion of Humanity Los Angeles Review of Books. “Expulsion” is an interesting way to look at homelessness, a concern NC readers share.

Veiled Faces of Racism: the Half-Truths Spoken by Establishment Provocateurs Ghion Journal

Bernie Against the Billionaires Jacobin

When the Suffrage Movement Sold Out to White Supremacy Brent Staples, NYT

Behind the Lion Air Crash, a Trail of Decisions Kept Pilots in the Dark NYT

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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

236 comments

  1. MartyH

    “Pay for Green New Deal now or spend even more later” … sounds like an ultimatum from The High (FT). Is there a gun to our heads? It sure sounds like it. If the FT backs it, then I guess AOC is their rep, not the Bronx.

    Reply
    1. L

      A lot was made about how “an economist working on climate change” (William Nordhuas) was given the Nobel this year. What was missed in much of the coverage is that of the many economists working on Global Warming he is the one that argues we can pay less now and pay less later, or let “the markets” handle it. In this case it sounds like differing voices are being heard on The High.

      Reply
    2. Richard

      The idea has not come from “on high” at all,
      but from many advocates of positive policy to address the effects of climate change
      from “down low” as well
      from here at NC
      one word for it is “abatement”
      and the point is that when we transition to carbon free energy
      or build mass transit, or work on flood abatement, or building food sources that don’t have big travel costs built in
      these aren’t things we’re going to be able to avoid.
      they’re going to be absolutely neccessary if we want to have civil society
      and it is pretty much beyond argument, that they will cost more if we work on them when the crisis is even more acute.
      AOC is the last politician in the world that deserves any snark, imho

      Reply
  2. Olga

    We have truly entered a full-blown dystopia – (as a song once said: “welcome to my world”):
    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/facial-recognition-cameras-technology-london-trial-met-police-face-cover-man-fined-a8756936.html
    “A man has been fined after refusing to be scanned by controversial facial recognition cameras being trialled by the Metropolitan Police. The force had put out a statement saying “anyone who declines to be scanned will not necessarily be viewed as suspicious”. However, witnesses said several people were stopped after covering their faces or pulling up hoods. Campaign group Big Brother Watch said one man had seen placards warning members of the public that automatic facial recognition cameras were filming them from a parked police van. “He simply pulled up the top of his jumper over the bottom of his face, put his head down and walked past,” said director Silkie Carlo.”

    Reply
        1. Craig H.

          I first thought the hedgehog was a mouse wearing a donald trump hair piece on its back.

          Obviously I need to get out into the woods more. :(

          Reply
  3. Redlife2017

    Daily Mail: Theresa May’s quest to convince the EU to bin the backstop is the daftest Brexit unicorn of all

    When, as a Tory PM, you have lost the Daily Fail, uh, you might want to check your strategy (or even your tactics).

    Reply
  4. vidimi

    i can’t remember the last time the news made me so depressed. i usually spend a few hours per day consuming information on current events, but with the ongoing coup in venezuela, the pullout of the INF, the brexit end game, not to forget the endless wars in the middle east and the climate fuckery, i just can’t bear to look anymore. wake me up when this nightmare ends.

    Reply
    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Depressed? How is that possible? I learned last night while watching the Super Bowl and its ads that the world is inhabited by dozens of loving, benevolent corporations who constantly strive to care for the vulnerable, protect our precious planet and promote Bob Dylan songs from the 60s (even if their meaning is converted into its opposite). If only the Patriots had lost (better that they would have lost two weeks ago), then we would truly be able to rejoice that we live in the best of all possible worlds. Or perhaps I should say the only possible world, Tina?

      Reply
        1. Richard

          Dylan has finally, at long last in the process of his long life, sold everything that made him an interesting person. I wonder what the 1965 Bob Dylan would have sang about trump, the neo-cons, the dnc and hillary’s court? They’d be perfect subjects for the caricature in verse that Dylan used to be good at. But we’ll never know; that voice has been smothered by the music industry, Dylan’s own solipsism, and just by “history” if you like blame avoiding generalizations.

          Reply
          1. ChiGal in Carolina

            Very sorry (shocked, really) to have learned just now reading this that Dylan has sold out on commercials using his songs (are we sure it hasn’t been so long that they are public domain now?).

            But I must protest on him losing everything that made him interesting: his voice has with age become a fantastically rich and textured instrument AND there continues to be relevant social commentary in his songs.

            Isn’t that a lot of what everyone does here, social commentary?

            p.s. speaking of literature (!), Lambert has outdone himself with today’s gorgeous antidotes. The essence of the critters conveyed in technically beautiful light-filled photographs, plus the reference to Isaiah Berlin. Layer upon layer…

            Reply
            1. Richard

              Well, I did a quick search on ddgo for “dylan songs public domain”, and all I found was an article about how sony 5 years ago released some early bootleg dylan recording, from ‘62 and ‘63, that might/would have become public domain had they not done so. this was according to some EU law at the time
              So there does appear to be some kind of early 60’s cutoff for public domain, at least with this eu law. I saw that the first beatle hit “love me do” was public domain now. Perhaps it wasn’t “published” in the prescibed way under copywrite law?
              That said, of course many artists work completely within corporate patameters and still have artistic impact and are worthy of interest. I fear I overspoke.

              Reply
          2. curlydan

            “Dylan has finally, at long last in the process of his long life, sold everything that made him an interesting person” [to you].

            Sorry, to him, I think they’re just songs written at one part of his life. They’re not etched in stone to him or put in a frame for all to admire and none to touch.

            He still writes social commentary, and it’s none too complimentary about our society.

            If you really want to know what he thinks of all his songs, I recommend you read his autobiographical “Chronicles Volume 1”. It has pretty good insight into the distance he can put between him and his songs.

            Reply
            1. Richard

              Thanks. I will give that a look, if the price is right. I went too far, to say Bob Dylan is without interest these days: both pompous and subjectively untrue. And probably uninformed.
              I do like his old stuff a lot, if that makes it any better:) I would like to read what he thinks of it.

              Reply
        2. Henry Moon Pie

          The one that makes me angriest is the ad for an online university that focuses on “You’d better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone” as it presents visuals of young people studying and working in various jobs that require some kind of credential. So it’s the powerless Millennials who’d better watch out as they’re struggling to figure out how to survive in a world where everything takes a degree but college is accessible only if you borrow yourself into permanent debt and wage slavery.

          Forget about the fact that the song’s original warning was delivered to the “Senators and Congressman” who “stand in the doorway and block up the hall,” in other words, the most powerful.

          Reply
        3. Firewheel

          I’ll weigh in right now—-There is something unnatural that fans judge an artist’s use and purposes of their art. First of all, if a musician such as Dylan hadn’t wanted to be commercial, he could have always kept to himself—but no, from day one, he wanted to be famous and sell his art. I don’t see what is so difficult to grasp about this!
          2)Once any song is commodified, it is a product no matter how profound its lyrical message. That is why Dylan recorded it in the first place.
          3)It is just ‘bad faith’ (in JP Sartre’s sense) to ‘judge Bob Dylan for doing what is his profession since he first became a professional.

          Reply
          1. zagonostra

            Firewheel > Agree with your first point, second point should be modified to include “creative control” over how that product is used.

            As to the last point, if I understand the term “Bad Faith” as describing a “phenomenon where a human being under pressure from societal forces adopts false values and disowns their innate freedom to act authentically”, then it just this point that sticks in my craw.

            Dylan doesn’t need the money, he knows that song embodies an “authentic” historical moment in a struggle for freedom. Just like the use of MLK voice-over in the last Superbowl you wonder just how much capitalism will swallow up before all “authentic” shared human action is rendered suspect. I’ll continue to play,read, and study Dylan’s music and listen to MLK, but damn if I’m “not losing my religion” as another song comes to mind…

            https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/05/business/media/mlk-commercial-ram-dodge.html

            Reply
              1. Firewheel

                I’ll see you an Adorno and raise you two pints of common sense! When I think of myself qua artist—I am still OK with Bob Dylan’s authorization of the art for this or that commercial use: a)I doubt you will ever glean his motive—it is as Andre Gide said ‘l’acte gratuit’–an example of inconsequentiality which constitutes the essence of art, Here is an example I write a song and do not publish it—why? I am flattered if someone ‘steals’ it because it is better for the art! For example when I coined the term ‘crunchkin’—there are many, many people who stole my “term” and used it for their businesses–I take that as a compliment. You see as an artist, my motives are completely irrational—and had I wanted to “market” the idea that would have been fine as well. In either case, I decide what I want to do, my art is my whim, and no one has the right to judge me on it (yet, they will everytime) this is evidence of the hobgoblins of mediocre minds. One thing you might say is: I don’t like the use of this song in this commercial, you have no right to disparage an artist or poet such as Dylan. I reserve my vitriol for the phoneys who are yellow-bellied wankers whopublish their poetry today and they should be ashamed because their work is drivel—including the so-called laureates whose work is puerile slobberings riding on the coats of pathetic political trends.

                Reply
                1. zagonostra

                  You see as an artist, my motives are completely irrational

                  -Nothing is irrational when it comes to lucre, it’s a process of fleecing those who have “mediocre minds” or meager means.

                  I decide what I want to do, my art is my whim, and no one has the right to judge me on it

                  – Everyone judges you, and they have that right, at least in the market place, indeed, It’s about all that is allowed in a consumer culture. It’s meaningful action that is closed off…

                  Definitely agree with you on those “yellow-bellied wankers, ” and I’ll take you up on the pints, not of common sense but some good lager beer to work through my case of Dylan dissonance.

                  Reply
                  1. Firewheel

                    Ah, but ‘lure’ has to do with intention—and this is what one cannot judge as one can never see or reveal the interior life of another man.

                    And yes everyone may judge, but it doesn’t mean anything. Looking forward to a pint and some new renditions of Dylan’s songs that we play!

                    Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      For what it is worth, reading history books helps as it lets you recognize the static-to-signal ratio in the media which, by the way, make their money hyping people up. Also helps to put things in perspective and recognize stuff that has also happened in the past. Gave up newspapers myself a long time ago and TV I take with a large dose of salt these days. There is a lot of crap happening if you follow the news too closely but it helps to stay frosty and only have the casual venting session to bleed the pressure off.

      Reply
      1. Alex V

        Agree on everything except climate change. We’ve never had a challenge of that scale before – and it will make all of those other things so much worse.

        Reply
      2. vidimi

        agreed, i love history, but one of the key takeaways for me has always been how little we’ve come politically in the thousands of years that we have records. the post-wars gains we’ve made in rights were so fragile and we are now giving them back up again as everything becomes precarious again and lessons are forgotten.

        Reply
        1. aletheia33

          calling all history readers:
          i recommend the history piece about howard thurman and MLK that yves posted earlier today. i am surprised to see that so few NC readers have commented on that fascinating report. as i say there, it points to lessons we urgently need to contemplate now.

          i find recent history, newly uncovered/freshly understood, is one of the best kinds.

          –and especially material relating to social groups whose long, interesting histories have been ignored or neglected by academia since forever. despite all the awfulness of now, it’s a great time for really interesting history getting written and all kinds of new thinking about stuff in the archives (e.g., of colonialism–the british empire saved everything) that is being brought to light for the first time.

          Reply
      3. Chris Cosmos

        I have been telling people not to watch or follow the news for two reasons: 1) it’s really depressing; and 2) it’s misleading at best. The corporate news media is part of the Imperial Court and can only be “read” to see which faction factions are fighting and which faction has the upper hand. In other words, read the NYT in the way you would have read the Soviet press. Or to put it another way don’t get involved in the news cycle unless you have the training not to take it seriously. In other words, I agree with your take on history–without a good knowledge of history, how can you possibly get a perspective on the court gossip coming out of Washington?

        I see many people really suffering from the “news”–obviously, this state of perpetual crisis is intentional as a business model.

        Reply
      4. Phacops

        Oy! I sometimes watch CNN in the morning to catch what the MSM is covering when on comes Lieberman, sliming into a seat, to discuss the 2020 election. That illegitimate toad still gives me the willies as an object lesson in actual Democratic values.

        Was it a bad thing that Joe L. was not elected as our VP in 2000?

        Reply
        1. Cal2

          Have you ever heard a quote and wished you could figure out which book it came from? Open Library full-text search gives readers the ability to locate books which reference any snippet of text like, “Let every thing have its place.”

          Many people didn’t know that Archive.org has had full-text search for several years — and its really powerful! In 2016 overhaul of Internet Archive’s full-text search system unlocked the ability for users to perform full-text searches across almost 40M unique text documents — from patents, to yearbooks, to open-access research papers.Open Library now lets you search inside the text contents of over 4M books.

          Reply
    3. Carolinian

      Agreed. Trump’s latest contributions to our existing dystopia clearly shows he thinks the press isn’t paying enough attention to him. Since they are just as shallow as he is there seems no place to turn for sanity (NC is a good start).

      Reply
      1. polecat

        For those who haven’t, Greer’s Ecosophia Site (formerly, the Archdruid Report) is another thought provoking blog destination worth perusing …

        Reply
    4. JohnnyGL

      Most optimistic thing I can offer is that sometimes things have to get worse before they get better. :)

      On the other hand….dem primary is moving left (or at least talking left) as a group. That’s progress of a sort.

      Reply
    5. timbers

      Then news is just not good. I used to try to find the bright side or think “this will change” and the good guys will prevail sometime in the future.

      Warning: stop reading if you don’t want a downer…

      My thought after following news closely in varying degrees since the run up to the Iraq War:

      Nothing is getting better – NOTHING – in terms of general, overall trends. In fact things are getting much worse over time. Things like the number of wars, imperial regime changes and the tens of millions who suffer from it, destruction of freedoms – are coming faster and bigger and more brazenly by emboldened advocates of these bad policies, the brazen horrible government policy owned by corporations and the rich and the inequality it brings on because the government is all about allowing the rich to take working peoples incomes in one form or another, the fake news corporate media brainwashing most people with government dis-information.

      Hate to say it but I see no reason to think things will improve. They will only get worse.

      We were taught the founding fathers wanted the right to bear arms as a right, maybe in part as a check against an evil government, so the people could do a revolution to reclaim their government and over throw it. They said the people have a right to a revolution against a bad gov.

      My current thinking is, that is what will need to happen to change things for the good.

      Hope I’m wrong.

      Reply
      1. a different chris

        How is an armed revolution supposed to work? Yeah it’s fine if you want to live in an ISIS-style dystopia, under siege (both externally and internally) all the time.

        Give me a break from the gun-fetishizing. A good part of why the Founders succeeded is that everybody’s, theirs and the British, guns simply sucked. “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes” wasn’t about bravery, it was just a practical statement. Otherwise you were stuck re-loading the stupid thing while the guy you p(family blog)’ed off finished walking up to you and started applying the bayonet.

        The best you are gonna get is Cuba. If you find an island that nobody else seriously cares about. And you can play one superpower against another — oops, we only have one. And that’s the one you are going to take on. Sigh. Read some Gandi maybe?

        Reply
        1. timbers

          How it armed revolution supposed to work?

          I don’t know. Do you? What’s your point?

          It is a fact the founders talked about people have a right to revolt against their government when it get too bad.

          Why does that bother you?

          And it you, not me, that it may be “gun-fetishizing” what ever that means. I certainly have not.

          No, I will not “give you a break” because it never happened.

          I suggest you work on improving your reading skills and basic knowledge of history.

          Reply
      2. polecat

        Maybe a few ‘market priests’ and ‘financial kings’ will strangle themselves with their own entrials .. as a lesson in hubris of course.

        Reply
      3. Skip Intro

        On the bright side, the ‘Fake News’ meme they so happily spread is, by virtue of the ‘Don’t think of an Elephant’ quality of framing where denying something just strengthens it, actually undermining the last shreds of credibility of the elites’ disinfotainment industry.

        Reply
      4. Oh

        I can see you’re frustrated. The frogs are happily enjoying the warm water little knowing that it’s going to scald them and kil fairly soon. Some of us frogs have jumed out but most are not even croaking but will be.

        We have to find a way to turn the tide on the PTB and win.

        Reply
  5. Wukchumni

    Michelob Ultra, Pringles, TurboTax Super Bowl ads try to make you feel better about AI taking over, with sad robots CNBC
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I thought Elizabeth Warren missed a perfect inclusion in the Michelob commercial, she should’ve been hoisting a barley soda inside the bar full of happy humans imbibing, as the forlorn humanoid robot looked to almost be pouting, on the outside looking in.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    The Rams Really Made A Mess Of This FiveThirtyEight
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    If this was a meaningless contest, I would’ve lost interest no later than say the first quarter and done something more productive with my time, but as usual we got sucked in good. And besides, it was raining to beat the band outside, we were prisoners of a sort.

    Reply
    1. notabanker

      First time I just outright chose not to watch it. Not out of protest or any sense of moral standing, just had zero interest in watching it or the spectacle surrounding it. Didn’t miss it a bit.

      Reply
      1. Arizona Slim

        Count me as another Super Bowl 50 boycotter.

        Yes, I’ll admit to being interested in last year’s game, but that was because of one of the contestants. If it’s a Pennsylvania team in contention, I’ll tune in.

        Reply
      2. Lemmy Caution

        I haven’t watched a minute of NFL “action” in 20 years, much less the Superbowl, which sounds like it’s become a perfect American storm of violence, consumerism and gluttony.

        Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      Never watched the game as it looks so weird to watch – after growing up to a different type of football, that is. Here are the highlights for last years Grand Final (the Superbowl equivalent) as an example-
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jtCe27l6Z8
      But I did see a selection of the new ads on YouTube. Hard to put into words what I mean but it was like the ads themselves were full of so much imagination and creativity but with the actual ads being pretty unimaginative themselves. Know what I mean?

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        We’ve been in NZ when the SB was on a few times, and when you get Morrie’s Used Cars of Westport for a tv commercial, it isn’t the same thing as watching back home, as the generally 1-trick-pony commercials are seldom aired again, and you can almost gauge where things are going by the content. This year’s ‘aye, robot’ AI ones were kinda creepy, in the aforementioned Michelob one, we’ve kind of given up to their prowess, thankfully though they had no stomach for the pub.

        Reply
          1. tegnost

            that’s pretty funny, but my next recommended vid was bill maher on why we need to impeach trump…are people still talking about that?

            Reply
            1. Lee

              Impeached? I think Maher wants him executed as a traitor. Maher’s obsessive ranting about Trump and Russia takes up pretty much his whole show now. That and his adulation of the CIA, FBI, and the MIC because “they keep us safe.”

              Reply
              1. Richard

                Some people (J. dore) still remind us of when maher was funny, and punching up, they say. i myself don’t remember any of those times. he always seemed like a power worshipping hack to me.

                Reply
                1. newcatty

                  Don’t forget his cynicism and disgusting patronizing of anyone he doesn’t like or agree with in the universe. Add to that boring, and not so bright, “witticism” about the state of the country’s policymakers. Top that off with his rationalizing his misogyny with cute flirting with his girls that he “sees”. We watched last episode ( just to see what he’s up to now) and I thought I would barf watching him and Ann Coulter slather their visual tongues over each other. From sell out Hillabot to current Trump pounding and ridiculous playing to his choir about the Russia lie, he is getting pitiful to watch. He does throw in a calculated bone to his audience when he rails against actual bad things like climate change deniers or brats at private schools. Ohhhh, he is a real Democrat!!!

                  Reply
                1. integer

                  Here is another noteworthy Bill Maher interview, from 2007, with an ex-CIA agent. The guys name is Michael Sheuer, and he used to be the head of the CIA’s Bin Laden unit. I’ve cued the video up to the most interesting exchange, in which Sheuer states that the existence of Israel is not worth an American life or an American dollar. Needless to say, that is not what Maher wanted to hear.

                  Reply
                  1. The Rev Kev

                    Thanks for that integer. Interesting when you not only touch the third rail in politics but go out of your way to pee on it and watch people like Maher flounder.

                    Reply
      2. a different chris

        >after growing up to a different type of football,

        I have a standard mode of making fun of *your* sort of football – I mean, human being’s manual dexterity probably separates us as much from the rest of the animal kingdom as our brains, or the two anyway pushed each other. So naturally somebody invents a sport that you aren’t allowed to use your hands. Um, OK. Even chess requires your hands, for chrissake.

        But last night…. sigh, you can grind that one right into our faces for quite a while I gotta admit.

        Reply
        1. ShamanicFallout

          Ugh. This “standard mode of making fun of your sort of football” drives me nuts. Does a sport have to pass some narrowly defined version of the relationship between sports and evolution? What about track and field events? What about downhill/ slalom skiing? Speed skating? Remember those image depictions of the evolution of humans where the first image is an ape on all fours, the next one more upright, the next almost standing and holding a spear, and the final image ‘modern man’? I once saw a version of this where the first image was an American Football center on all fours ready to hike the football leading to the final image of an upright man with his foot on a soccer ball.

          Reply
        2. Tom in Sydney

          I’m surprised that the Rev Kev didn’t come back to set you straight — so I will. You obviously didn’t click his link to the Grand Final or, if you did, you must be really thick to think that rugby league can be played without using the hands. Sheesh.

          Reply
    3. polecat

      The Stuper Bowl is about the most wasteful event there is .. All that misplaced energy and hype .. for what ??

      Bernaisian Bucks and Oligarchic Quatloo Accumulation for the betters, further Idiocracy for mopedopes !

      Murica – F#ckin A !!!

      Reply
      1. Inode_buddha

        There is a reason I call it the Super Bowel. I haven’t read a newspaper or owned a TV in something like 10 years. It’s all BS.

        Reply
          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            $5,000 per ticket, for 50,000 people.

            That amounts to $250,000,000.

            Not sure who can afford those tickets. Many Americans don’t have $400 to cover an emergency.

            Reply
            1. Wukchumni

              Bread (players salaries-coliseum costs-seat costs-food* & booze costs-parking costs)

              et

              Circuits (where 99.99% of those watching the game are in attendance, and really where all the bread is as far as the NFL is concerned, from long term tv contracts)

              * the announcers made a point of saying that a hot dog and a soda were only $5 @ the SB this year, which I thought odd in pointing out. It was as if major league sports knows that a $13 Bud Lite ain’t right, so you can buy a duo of 2 noxious products on the cheap, ok?

              Reply
  6. zagonostra

    >Police State Watch

    Florida schools to allow real-time video monitoring by the police.

    Broward County, Florida school board officials have authorized police to conduct real-time monitoring of students in school via video surveillance cameras. The action is one of a number of new police measures being instituted nationally in what President Donald Trump called the “hardening” of schools in the aftermath of the mass shooting last year in Parkland.

    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/02/04/poli-f04.html

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      All in the name of “security!”
      This is obviously a conditioning program. After the ‘students’ become inured to continuous surveillance in school, the same at home will be next. A literal invocation of 1984; “Big Brother is Watching!”

      Reply
      1. a different chris

        >After the ‘students’ become inured to continuous surveillance

        “Inured”? I actually am almost welcoming this development. Teenagers are a force of nature, and if anybody can bring the surveillance state to it’s knees it would be them. Brains firing on all cylinders (sometimes in opposition to the other cylinders, true, but they will sync up at times), full unrelenting focus on anything that irks them, no property to be threatened, and just a bad attitude towards being told what to do.

        Yeah I like those odds.

        Reply
      2. polecat

        So let me guess .. these scools are either being run by 1.) The Russians !!! … or 2.) Those shifty-eyed commie Venezuelans …

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Well, it is Broward county. I hail from Dade County just to the south of there. That part of Florida is awash with a phantasmagora of Latins. So, yes, since the Venezuelans are the latest “superior” wave of southern immigrants, they would end up as school administrators.
          But no, the ‘desplacados de Venezuela’ are the “doctors, lawyers, and Indian Chiefs” of Venezuela. Just like the original Cuban wave attack. They will end up as Ultra Revanchists, and make the Tea Party types look positively Trotskyite in comparison.

          Reply
            1. ambrit

              “Cerebros! Mucho gusto! *Nom nom nom nom….*”
              I can just see in my mind’s eye a zombified Cookie Monster lurching towards the camera.

              Reply
    2. Tom Doak

      On my last two international departures, both on Delta Airlines (to England and to Argentina), the airline used facial recognition software to board the plane – they said they were testing it – no chance to opt out.

      The first time, I was unprepared, but the second time I didn’t look at the camera, kept my head down and turned slightly away. Didn’t matter one bit, it recognized and cleared me right away. My guess is anyone who has used one of those electronic kiosks to clear immigration in the past few years has their face scanned and in a govt database for good – and the recognition software is “scary good” as they say.

      Reply
  7. Alex Morfesis

    As to ft Lauderdale… Coming from st Pete/Tampa bay and then driving back is a bit of a run…that being said…since moi does not drink, would be willing to be the return driver that evening if there were folks from this bay imagining a run and back…

    Reply
  8. Mark Gisleson

    “‘Some Democrats That Ran on Medicare for All Are Backing Away from It Now’ New York Magazine. I’m shocked.”

    Even New York Magazine headline writers now use “that” for “who”?

    Reply
    1. allan

      The language in the article from the congress members fundraising worker bees themselves is of more concern:

      Hill, who joined both the New Democrat Coalition and the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said it was “time for universal health care” in a campaign ad and name-checked Medicare for All in a Facebook video. But since the election, Hill seems to have decided that the time for Medicare for All is, instead, at some unspecified point in the future. “Katie believes that Medicare for All is a system we should be striving towards,” said Kassie King, Hill’s communications director, in a statement to Intelligencer. “Getting it right will require infrastructure and investment. Katie supports creating that infrastructure so that when the time comes that it makes sense to implement Medicare for All, it has the tools to succeed.

      It’s like taking a generic DCCC-approved issues page and running it through Cuisinart.

      Reply
      1. a different chris

        And in that parallel world where Sanders becomes president, these are exactly the people that will sabotage his efforts. Not because his ideas are unworkable, not even just because they are corporate tools… but because it wasn’t their pet idea.

        If it worked that would mean “Katie” was wrong. And can’t have that.

        In politics your seemingly closest friends are so often your concern-trolling enemies.

        Reply
      2. marym

        Hill, who joined both the New Democrat Coalition and the Congressional Progressive Caucus

        hmmm….

        Also: Someone needs to tell Hill that, although there’s work (including de-crapification) that needs to be done, the Medicare infrastructure has been in place since 1966, one year after the legislation was signed into law.

        Reply
      3. polecat

        Everyone is like Trump ! .. er .. Obama ! .. um .. Billery ! ……..

        Voting, for myself anyway, is evermoarrrr, becoming a lesson of futility ‘progression’.

        Every Politician a Liar, Every Policy a Farce !

        Reply
    2. rd

      Good comment in the links about erasing Canada. Canada is the country probably closest to the US in urbanization/suburbanization/rural, economic make-up, etc. If the Democrats were serious, they would bring down people from Ontario, BC, Manitoba/Saskatchewan, and Alberta to speak at Congressional hearings on healthcare. Each province has its own healthcare system (there really isn’t a “Canada” system) designed around its specific provincial needs. These provinces would represent an array of characteristics that would span most of the US states, so the similarities and differences required in state-by-state systems could be understood..

      So bringing up Canada is something that is anathema to the entire US healthcare sector because they have actually been able to make “Medicare-for-all” work at a fraction of the cost of US healthcare. But there aren’t a lot of healthcare billionaires in Canada, which makes the Canadian system unpopular in the US. So indicated “socialized” medicine must be like Europe, not Canada, is a feature not a bug in the US propoaganda.

      Reply
        1. newcatty

          My spouse is a “lost Canadian”. His mom was born in Alberta and brought to US as a baby. She, to make long story short, never made any effort to have dual citizenship in some given time period to do so, as an adult. We looked at how the fact that we had some proof that she was, indeed, born there. Got a lot of good Spirit from the idea from Canadians we met on trip to BC. But, seems like there isn’t much enthusiasm on part of the Canadian government for old people from the US to immigrate there. Hmmm…read that if we had something like $800,000 in a bank account then we would be welcome. We are retired with income, but no big nest, sigh. Realize an argument could be made from gov’t pov that we would need to be in their health care system. OK, but we would also add to economy as residents. Not really sure we would go North, but disappointed can’t even have option. BTW, think we could live there as Americans for 6 months in a Year’s time. Not interested in any part time deal. If things drive climate refugees North, maybe they will have a quota preference for long lost Canadians ( and immediate family).

          Reply
      1. Chris Cosmos

        The reason the Canadian system is unpopular here is because almost every time I’ve ever mentioned it the stock answer is that there are long waiting lines, people can’t get care they need and come down here to get it. I don’t know where this rumor comes from but I’ve heard is often enough to wonder.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          Everything you’ve heard is true and daresay worse. The queues are indeed long, so much so that people have very politely died in place, not wishing to make a fuss over things, stacked perfectly one after another in an upright manner, in no way attempting to draw attention.

          Reply
          1. Olga

            Is this sarcasm? ‘Cuz I did not think you live in Canada…
            In fact, few waits… MRI (totally non-essential) took less than 1.5 months… and was totally free.

            Reply
          2. marym

            Why do you make such a claim? Especially in a discussion about alternatives for healthcare in the US, where currently, for people who can’t afford care, wait time can literally be forever?

            Reply
        2. marieann

          Canadian healthcare does have it’s flaws, but it is better than the alternative as in the US unless you are independently wealthy.

          We do have waiting lists…..but not ones that kill you, elective surgery is just that, you have a problem needing fixed and so you wait a few months. Emergency surgery will be done right away, granted sometimes the elective does become emergency after a few months but the normal wait times are mostly fine.

          I can get into see my doctor the same day. I can have diagnostic tests/ labwork done within the week. I had an MRI done a few years ago within the week it was ordered.

          If anyone asked me I could come up with quite a few suggestions on how to improve wait time/ medical care and not one of them would involve making it private.

          Reply
          1. Richard

            with me it is not so much about waiting,
            the canadian system sounds about as efficient as a decent usian heath care “policy”
            judging by the wait times you listed
            more important for me is not having health care tied to my job
            ANYMORE
            and i am free to live as i please and still be cared for when i am sick
            get the market out
            of health care, and retiring, and finding a place to live, and getting educated, and every other damn thing that’s actually important
            get the market out
            no one gets to get rich
            because its part of a social contract we make

            Reply
      2. a different chris

        > If the Democrats were serious, they would bring down people from

        Didn’t they bring down a doctor to speak to Congress? Follow-up isn’t a D specialty, I admit.

        Reply
    3. Geo

      I think it’s fitting. Using “who” would grant them personhood whereas “that” properly reflects their status as merely tools.

      Reply
    1. Tomonthebeach

      Good point. I found Trump’s responses to be entirely surreal babble. He, like many billionaires, seem detached from reality. It likely because in their world, their wishes are typically someone else’s command, and poof-doink wishes become reality (Think pederast Michael Jackson’s sham little-boy wedding ceremony). Alas, our current president does not seem to live in the same reality the rest of us do. A great example is how, despite already declaring ISIS defeated, he says that very soon he will announce the 100% demise of the Caliphate. What? He already announced weeks ago that he did that and our troops were leaving immediately. Of course, the only genuine withdrawal his announcement triggered was by his Defense Secretary.

      Because nobody buys his lies anymore, Trump seems to think that repeating what he fantasizes will force the “real” world to change. Sadly, there are some Americans who are happy to buy his fantasies and bleat them to the MAGA sheep. Sean Hannity is the high priest of Trump bleats. His sidekick Judger Jeanie is more like Hannity’s sheepdog – trying to scare strays back into the fold. Of course, all they achieve is getting people to share Trump’s delusions – not force the world to change.

      Many Americans understand that it was not the Intel community warning Bush of WMDs, but the other way around. Few if any experts validated the WMD mythology. But their political appointee bosses said they did. And that is what counted in the end. Because it was mythology, it does fit nicely with Trump’s belief in his Fantasyland view of the world.

      Reply
  9. DJG

    Clever, Lambert: worthy of a fox.

    a fragment attributed to the Greek poet Archilochus:
    πόλλ’ οἶδ’ ἀλώπηξ, ἀλλ’ ἐχῖνος ἓν μέγα

    Many things knows the fox, but the hedgehog, one big one.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Thanks for that, and for inspiring me to look up Wikipedia, which has this to say:

      Berlin expands upon this idea to divide writers and thinkers into two categories: hedgehogs, who view the world through the lens of a single defining idea (examples given include Plato, Lucretius, Dante Alighieri, Blaise Pascal, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Friedrich Nietzsche, Henrik Ibsen, Marcel Proust and Fernand Braudel), and foxes, who draw on a wide variety of experiences and for whom the world cannot be boiled down to a single idea (examples given include Herodotus, Aristotle, Desiderius Erasmus, William Shakespeare, Michel de Montaigne, Molière, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Aleksandr Pushkin, Honoré de Balzac, James Joyce and Philip Warren Anderson).

      With this division of the writers and thinkers, is Berlin a hedgehog (only one way to divide writers and thinkers), or a fox (are the many other ways to divide them)?

      Reply
  10. The Rev Kev

    “MICHAEL BURLEIGH: The real reason Trump’s ripped up the nuclear treaty that’s kept us safe since the 1980s? Fear of China”

    Could be another one. One reason that Trump pulled out of the treaty was that times had changed and more countries now had nuclear-tipped missiles and not just the US and Russia. So the logical thing would be to renegotiate that treaty to include all those other countries that have the same ability like the UK, France, China, India, Pakistan and North Korea. Update it to the 21st century. But then comes the spanner into this idea. What about Israel? Everybody knows they have nukes. Almost certainly missiles to carry them as well and Germany has sold Israel submarines that can have missiles launched from them. But Israel won’t confirm those details and of course Washington will make sure that Israel is never put into this position of being the outer. This could be one reason why renegotiating this treaty was never brought up.

    Reply
    1. Chris Cosmos

      We live in a very, very different world so the old treaties not only make no sense but “treaties” as such are kind of obsolete as, we have seen, the period of “international law” is over. “Deals” are what we have now that are based on administrative procedures between states negotiated in secret so no one knows or understands the actual international order. For example, agreements between various financial institutions, international organizations, sovereign funds, and a number of other actors to maintain the world’s financial stability are mainly secret agreements so that this unofficial consortium can take actions to shore up the dollar or stop markets from plunging and so on. I’m sure the same is true for “security” concerns as we have seen with the strange dance between major powers than DID NOT result in serious confrontation which I thought was a real success. No one in Washington wants to admit to cooperating with “the bad guys” but they do.

      Reply
    2. polecat

      You know TRK, I think Kirk, Spock, and the Federation historians had it all wrong ! … it was in the 21st Century .. not the prior, that the world came to the brink of atomic destruction ..
      The question now is : who, with their ‘higher intellect’, will reign over us .. Who will be our ‘Prince’ .. our ‘Khan’ ? And will they be gifted with supreme benevolence … or ….. ??

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Nerd alert, but WWIII and the Eugenics Wars were different conflicts, both likely asymmetrical. World War III ended 10 years before First Contact. Clips in Enterprise suggest the various war on terror were efforts to root out or covers for combat against Homo Superior, but Kahn and his nature weren’t widely known, hence why Kirk doesn’t simply recognize Kahn. My memory is the later TNG Era writers considered WWIII to be a number of smaller conflicts amid nuclear armed terrorists which devastated much of Europe, Southeast Asia including Japan (George Takei and Sulu are both from San Francisco), and South America. Africa which develops at least two federated states (Uhuru and Geordi are born in African federation types outfits), North America, and the USSR had their own internal problems but remained relatively isolated from other problems.

        Reply
        1. polecat

          Ok .. Ya got me ……. I bow down in awe to your supreme intellect !*

          *all in jest, of course .. except where the Borg are concerned … Our Borg, not theirs !

          Reply
    3. David

      Well, there already is the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which has existed since 1968, and divides the world into acknowledged Nuclear Weapon States (US, Russia, China, UK, France) and everybody else. India, Israel and Pakistan are not signatories. There’s also various strategic level arms control treaties between the US and Russia. The INF Treaty was a product of a very specific place and time, when the Europeans were worried that the US and the Soviet Union had the capability to fight a nuclear war in Europe whilst keeping their own territories safe (the Asia Times article is not very reliable on the history). Circumstances have changed so much now that it’s hard to say that the Treaty has any real relevance, though I suppose you could argue that from the political standpoint any denunciation of a treaty is a shame. Incidentally, I found the conversion of the Daily mail to pro-INF Treaty hilarious. In the 1980s, the Wail was one of the main cheerleaders against any concession to the Soviet Threat, and it dismissed the massive demonstrations against US cruise missiles in Europe (which brought down several governments) as inspired and directed from Moscow. How things change. Or maybe not.

      Reply
  11. Felix_47

    The Haiti deforestation is happening in Guatemala and Honduras and El Salvador as well. If we cannot control population growth in these areas we will need to decompress the population some other way……the only way would be to open our borders fully to these people. Hopefully in a more prosperous land they will be able to decrease their rate of having children.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Induced famines are a traditional method of reaching that ‘policy goal.’
      This “Jackpot” idea is becoming more and more plausible with every passing day.
      That underlies one of the strongest arguments in favour of hard national borders. Feed your own population and to H— with the rest.

      Reply
      1. Ben Gunn

        See Kissinger’s Paper on population control in developing nations for more suggestions by the evil one himself.

        Reply
    2. Steve

      An alternative to controlling population growth, might include a socioeconomic development agenda which actually centered on the well being of citizens of the society, as opposed to the continued investment of both scarce local and significant shares of foreign development assistance dollars and of course “free trade” into systems and structures which further commodify all resources and allocate their supply via market “forces”.

      Reply
  12. Darius

    I mistrust a plane that is inherently unstable and requires a computer program to make constant adjustments to keep the plane from falling out of the sky. What if the computer fails?

    Reply
    1. Alex V

      The other two units take over.The likelihood of a complete failure of the computer hardware is no more likely than a complete hydraulic or electrical failure on a modern airliner.

      The software or wetware is of course a separate issue, with the latter causing by far the most crashes of aircraft.

      Reply
      1. Darius

        But pilots have been able to fly planes in hydraulic and electrical failures. If the plane is inherently unbalanced or aerodynamically unstable, a computer failure could be catastrophic. I don’t trust a technology overlay to Bandaid a problem created by cost-cutting choices. Eliminate the problem. Don’t address it by creating a new problem.

        Reply
        1. Alex V

          Please reread my comment. Fly by wire systems do not reduce the over all reliability of a well maintained aircraft. We now have decades of data from Airbus and Boeing showing that both systems of control are valid.

          Reply
        2. Alex V

          I guess one way to prove your theory is to cite an example of a commercial plane crash caused exclusively by computer failure. To the best of my knowledge that has never happened – other factors always play a role.

          Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            Well there was that crash in France in the early days of computer-assisted flying. The computer flew the plane into some woods insisting that it was at high altitude and the pilots did not have the ability to over-ride the controls. As you can see, I am a great believer in manual over-ride and fail-safe systems.

            Reply
      2. a different chris

        >The other two units take over

        They both can’t take over, otherwise you are going down for sure, a hapless victim of a bad marriage.

        But I know what you meant. Anyway can you give me a quick summary:
        1) The could both be engaged if it was basically a computer simulation of manual control. That is, give control seemingly back to the pilot but provide virtual hydraulics (one computer) and engine control (another). If he crashes it, his fault.
        2) Are they coded (question especially important if they are full “back up”, not like I outlined in #1) independently? Are they tested independently? Real plane, other systems not turned off but instead essentially shorted out, and over and over thru a lot of conditions?

        Reply
        1. Alex V

          This article has a good explanation:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fly-by-wire#Redundancy

          Virtually all commercial aircraft that use fly by wire have three flight control computers, all continuously calculating what the pilot intends to do based on control inputs, and translating this data into outputs for the flight control surfaces. The computers are also cross checking each other, as they should all be delivering the same answer. If one delivers a different answer it is excluded from the final result. One computer is however sufficient to fly the plane.

          To your second question – yes, they are tested extensively for basically every failure case. The code is not written separately for each unit. If anything, this would add more opportunities for failure. Thorough testing of the software is the approach used. Can it catch every possible situation? No. But can a human pilot successfully process every emergency case? There have been cases where fly by wire has saved the aircraft during a mechanical failure because the computer could fly the plane better than the pilot alone.

          The original commenter essentially stated that planes fall out of the sky if their computers fail. My point is that this is extremely unlikely to happen, and no more likely than for aircraft that don’t use fly by wire systems. I’m also assuming that the commenter is referring to aircraft that they fly on, not military aircraft. There are no commercial aircraft using relaxed stability approaches to flight control. Even if the flight control computers completely failed the plane would not immediately leave stable flight, just like a “regular” plane would not upon loss of control input to the flight control surfaces.

          Reply
          1. RMO

            There aren’t any “inherently unstable” civil transport aeroplanes that cannot be flown without constant computer aid. Stick shakers, stick pushers and yaw dampers have been used as long as the swept wings needed for high Mach number flight have been in use. This is due to the flight characteristics of these wings. Not telling the pilots about the added system on the latest 737 and the poor interface was the problem – and that is a BIG problem. A layer of redundancy in the system inputs seems like it is needed too (such as a cross check on horizontal and vertical speed through the air data computers and attitude information from the gyros as well as at least one more angle of attack sensor) , judging by the descriptions of how the system works as well.

            Reply
            1. Alex V

              From what I’ve read about this particular case, the pilots may have also failed to cross check “manually”. They have one air data computer each, plus another independent unit.

              Reply
                1. Alex V

                  The 737 MAX has two independent AOA sensors, one for each pilot, on each side of the plane. A faulty unit probably got them into the situation via MCAS, but the other one could have likely gotten them out of it, along with other instruments at their disposal.

                  Reply
  13. Jason Boxman

    Did anyone see the NYTimes article on Social Security? The Democrat party wants to secure the program by raising payroll taxes, hooray! (And tax people that make over 400k, but not tax between 180k or whatever and 400k; huh?) What a mess. I certainly oppose raising taxes on the working class, particularly the payroll tax.

    Reply
    1. Another Scott

      Of course they don’t want to tax people making 250K, that’s the Democrats’ base. The uber-wealthy support Republicans, so it’s ok to tax them. Most people I talk to aren’t aware that there is a maximum amount that is paid into Social Security. They aren’t uniformed, it just never crosses their mind that it’s even possible because none of their friends or family makes enough where that is an issue. I think this provides cover for politicians who don’t want to raise taxes on their donors.

      We need to eliminate the cap in its entirety. If you count the employer’s portion as being paid by the worker (in other words, the worker would be paid 6.2% more), then someone making 85K a year has a higher marginal tax rate than someone making 200K or 500K, and is essentially equal to that of someone making 1 million. And there aren’t as many deductions that can be applied for Social Security.

      Reply
    2. Darius

      That caught my eye too. Raise the cap but don’t raise taxes on those already paying. This probably is a result of Nancy Pelosi’s paygo rule. That was fast. Democrats are celebrating this. Another own goal.

      Reply
      1. anonymous

        The tax component of the bill isn’t a new idea.
        Obama, campaigning for the 2007 primaries, copied Edwards on a proposal to expand the payroll tax to upper incomes, while leaving a donut hole. (http://archive.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2007/10/28/obama_proposes_increasing_social_security_tax_on_wealthy/?page=full). Citizens for Tax Justice analyzed his more fleshed out proposal once Obama was the Democratic candidate, when the top of the proposed donut hole was then 250K for individuals: https://www.ctj.org/pdf/obamasocsec20080707.pdf
        Only about 2% of taxpayers would have been affected, and many of the wealthiest would have been largely unaffected, because their income was not in the form of wages. The CTJ said that the program as currently structured is a pension program, not a welfare program; that benefits are limited for those with very high incomes; and that SS is already highly progressive, because low- and middle income workers at retirement receive higher benefits relative to the taxes they paid. It was mentioned that increasing the taxes of the high earners without increasing their benefits could endanger support for the program.
        The CTJ had analyzed eliminating the cap earlier, in 2006, when it compared eliminating the payroll tax cap with taxing adjusted gross income instead, as AGI would not show the same decline at high income levels: https://www.ctj.org/pdf/socialsecuritytaxearningscapnov2006.pdf
        MMT was not part of the discussion.
        The current bill does expect the cap to be eventually eliminated (https://thehill.com/opinion/finance/427835-a-bill-to-boost-social-security-will-finally-get-a-full-and-fair-hearing).

        Reply
  14. JohnnyGL

    https://www.politico.com/story/2019/02/04/howard-schultz-2020-democrats-1144286

    My take: Schultz is there as a safety valve to ensure “never sanders or warren”. If either of them win the primary, Schultz is there to split the never-trump vote and give trump a 2nd term as a last resort option to stop the left.

    He’s a billionaire, he can take the hatred and insulate himself. While the media pundit dems will smoothly redirect the conversation away from Schultz and lecture us constantly about how we have to accommodate the centrists in the next election cycle or we’ll get Pence (after Trump’s 2nd term is done).

    I think the challenge for Sanders is to beat the dems in the primary and STILL overcome Trump and Schultz in the general.

    Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Divide and conquer.

        I wonder if it’s “Bernie against Billionaiers,’ and not ‘Bernie, Warren, AOC, and the 99%, including Republicans, against billionaires.’

        Reply
    1. voteforno6

      I think Bernie would relish the chance to run against a billionaire on the one hand, and a pretend billionaire on the other.

      Reply
  15. JohnnyGL

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-02-02/freed-saudis-resurface-billions-poorer-after-prince-s-crackdown

    The inner-workings of Saudi Arabia are interesting for a variety of reasons, but one of the ones I find them interesting is there’s a somewhat unusual battle between those with money and those with power. MBS has demonstrated that raw power over the state apparatus will often overcome the less well-connected wealthy elites. While the wealthy are often strong enough to control the state, their wealth suddenly becomes very fragile if they’re not in power.

    For us on the left, I suppose it’s a reminder of just what it looks like when one part of the elite exercises real power over others, even others in the elite classes. These sorts of losses far exceed any kind of stock market or real estate market crashes.

    A lot of the media/political class spends a lot of time pretending the state isn’t taking action when it is, or is powerless to take action, or that it can only make things worse for normal people.

    Also, one of the important lessons of MMT is to reveal just how much power rests in the state and how much it really can do when it is mobilized to take action.

    Reply
  16. crittermom

    >”Bernie Against the Billionaires” Jacobin

    Excellent article.

    My apt manager is pro-Trump all the way & only listens to Fox News. He drinks gallons of the poisonous Kool-Aid.

    I’ve heard those same arguments as mentioned in the article when he bellows his beliefs, with the latest one regarding the inheritance tax: “Why would anyone want to make money then if the govt takes it all away? These people worked hard for it!” *cough, gag, choke*

    We have some heavy discussions regarding politics but I have yet to break thru his hard head & closed mind.

    Obviously, my work here is not yet done.

    Reply
    1. diptherio

      So if we impose a 70% (for instance) inheritance tax, your landlord is just going to give up and stop working (i.e. collecting rent from you)? Wow. Ask him if you can take over for him after the evil socialists tax away (some of) his unearned wealth. Sounds like a lot of job opportunities will open up if this thing goes through.

      Reply
      1. crittermom

        He doesn’t own it. He’s just the manager.

        The stupidity about it is that he’s on disability, as well as his wife.

        His daughter & her (now) 2 kids lived in subsidized housing until she was evicted for moving a boyfriend in, so they now live with her brother who is also on disability. (I believe her oldest child’s father is in prison).

        That same daughter is in her 30’s but I don’t believe she’s ever worked, so she ‘lives off the govt’ so to speak.
        Always has, & now raising her kids the same way. Supported by social programs! (Her boyfriend doesn’t work, either)

        My manager claims her & her kids as dependents on his taxes so he gets back more than he pays in.

        I’ve brought up the point about his daughter & grandkids ‘living off the system’ whenever he talks about ‘socialist’ or such programs & he just hangs his head & says, “I know.”

        So while he & his family use the ‘socialist’ programs, he bashes socialism! *heavy sigh*

        Makes it hard to educate someone who’s blindly ignorant in such ways, but I’ll keep tryin’…

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > he just hangs his head & says, “I know.”

          It sounds more complex than blind ignorance, then. So any of our conversational experts — paging Amfortas the Hippie — have a way to move forward here?

          Oops, I see JohnnyGL does, below.

          Reply
    2. JohnnyGL

      I’d start with some points of agreement and work from there. Tucker Carlson has been critical of elites and very anti-war, anti-neocon.

      You can also take some shots at dems to show you’re not a partisan hack. I’ve found a lot of what gets the right riled up is hatred for scheming, phony dems like Clinton and Obama. They get a lot more receptive when you turn your guns on their records of failure and destruction.

      Reply
      1. Richard

        my idaho sister was raised in, and and has lived her entire life in a 100% conservative environment: the boise area.
        so her vistas are somewhat compromised
        she’s resistant to idealism, and even suspicious of reform, because if the lies and decaying social fabric she sees around her every day
        but she also dislikes bible bangers, and is sometimes responsive to framing issues in terms of equity, dog eat dog but we all “start” at the same place sort of thing
        because of her bad situation with ACA, and I’m sure some other reasons,she f*&$ing hates obama. she is a part-time ultrasound tech, and she and her husband, who’s retired, have just enough that she gets no subsidy.
        just unaffordable premiums for s&^* care.
        With her, yes, starting out with an attack on dems is a good idea! She was moderately skeptical of med4all when I brought it up (how will we pay for it). I asked her how we payed for what we have now?that was a thinker.

        Reply
      2. crittermom

        Oh, believe me. I take plenty of shots at Dems in my arguments, too!

        At least he listens to me, but has yet to ‘come around’.

        At times he’s antagonizing to those tenants who dislike Trump.
        He enjoys going on his rants in front of one tenant in particular just to rile her up, at which times I just sit back & try to pick the popcorn out of my teeth during the show. Lots of yelling by both.

        I know he’s just playing a game at that point & so does she, yet she still allows him to upset her.

        My serious attempts to educate him come only when we’re one-on-one because he’ll actually listen then.

        Reply
        1. JohnnyGL

          There’s always people that just like having fun and getting a rise out of others. It’s okay to have fun. Trolling and joking aroudn about politics keeps things from getting overly heated. You gotta break things up a bit.

          I know there’s a few right-wingers that have a sneaking admiration for a Bernie or an AOC because they see someone who’s passionate, unafraid, and not overly careful and calculating and deceptive in their word choice.

          Warren does better with regular true-blue educated dems, but she’s got less cross-over appeal to conservative types. The academic background seems key here.

          If he’s a veteran, show the guy some of those Larry Wilkerson clips where he tells Paul Jay we’re becoming like the late Roman Empire, always at war because of the war profiteers. They did a replay about Dick Cheney on TRNN recently where Wilkerson says Colin Powell told him he (Powell) has gotta get rich if he wants to futher his political career because that’s just how it works in Washington, DC. If you haven’t gotten rich-as-F, then DC elites don’t trust you.

          Separately, don’t assume you aren’t getting into someone’s brain, at some level. My dad got weird in the last election and he’s a life-long defense industry employee who’s a devoted Fox News watcher. He got ticked off and voted Stein as a protest vote. Guy couldn’t stomach Trump.

          Another guy I work with (in stoutly conservative banking industry) hated Clinton so much that he voted Bernie in the primary.

          Don’t assume you’re getting a full picture of what’s going on in someone’s head based on what you hear coming out of their mouth. That’s just the selected thoughts they’re offering up. :)

          Reply
    3. Geo

      I’d love to see the world’s billionaires all “go Galt”. It would open up a lot of opportunities for the rest of us while they build their libertarian utopia on Mars.

      Reply
        1. newcatty

          Lambert, are you familiar with the Biosphere 2 fiasco that was ,( and I’m think bought out by U of A or some other university) in a town near Oracle, AZ? We lived in southern AZ then and it was surreal and downright strange to hear about it first hand from people ,who knew about the great venture , and it was a scintillating mediia story. Funded by a billionaire named Bass, who started the project with some “visionaries ” from some commune in New Mexico. As the name implies: this was to be a self contained new biosphere for their get-away to a Mars colony. BTW, not making this up, ha. A lot of stuff didn’t work out as planned. One hilarious thing that happened right in middle of the project, one of the “scientists” cut her hand badly. They all shared in “domestic duties”…she was cutting a veggie or something from the garden. They had to break the seal and bring her out to the real world! Even though they had a doctor in the bubble. This was poo pooed and glossed over, blah, blah. No answer as to what would have happened to her on Mars.

          Reply
        2. Geo

          You’re more optimistic than I am. I give it less than 24 hours before some technical malfunction (we’re talking Silicon Valley era tech crapification guys, not old school NASA tech guys so you know their “smart” colony will crap out quickly). Then they’ll realize their regulation free colony didn’t build to code or have fail safes or enough backup supplies (there was only room for backup supplies or a spa on the spaceship, not both!) and all heck will break out as they realize there’s not enough oxygen or supplies to all survive for more than a week and “survival of the fittest” will take over.

          Reply
  17. Wukchumni

    Art on the Superyachts: Beware of Wine Corks and Unruly Children Bloomberg
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    All of the various dogs cheating @ poker rendered on black-velvet artwork adorning the walls here, are insured by Mutual of Tijuana…

    The art bubble has been the biggest gainer with brand names, take this missive from a Rockefeller, in terms of appreciation in 58 years:

    It was also Alfred Barr who persuaded David Rockefeller in 1960 to purchase Mark Rothko’s painting White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose), 1950. After Rockefeller sold it in 2007 for what was then a jaw-dropping $72.84 million, he remarked casually in a phone call to a friend: “Not bad for a painting for which I paid $10,000.”

    https://fineartmultiple.com/blog/david-rockefeller-art-collection/

    Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        To put things in perspective, my parents bought their first house in L.A. in 1960 for $12,000, and it now Zillows for $600k.

        What were thinking, not buying a Rothko, instead?

        Reply
        1. katiebird

          My parents bought their first house in Mill Valley, CA for under $5,000 …. It is now valued at $1.17 million…. I don’t know anyone who can afford a house there anymore.

          Reply
          1. newcatty

            Oh, yes. Most of us in My Generation have stories of those golden times. My parents, lower middle class, bought a house in a small town near that special paradise in AZ called Sedona. I vaguely remember that they looked at a custom built, two story house on a nice amount of land, walking distance to the fabled ceek. The house was $4, 000 dollars more than the older, three bedrroom, (actually two with a small room accessed through the larger bedroom). The small house is now worth at least 30 times what they paid for it. The creek side house… well, imagine.

            Reply
  18. Richard

    The news from Seattle: No school today! Our first actual snow day (and not a cursed “late start”) in years! I am one of the few teachers I know who likes these. We do have to make it up in June, and my colleagues tend to hate that. But for me, tralala…

    Reply
    1. polecat

      We’ve received about 5 very dry inches as of this morning in Port Angeles … with more predicted thoughout the day. Our hens aren’t as yet ‘cool with it’ .. I’ll give it a day or two before they make tracks. Long-range forecast shows snow, in dribs and drabs, though the middle of the month … we’ll see. Fortunately, the Olympics are give their due. ‘:]

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        We haven’t had snow in the Sierra foothills in about 3 years, and the forecast keeps giving us hope, in that a few inches might fall on us overnight. It’ll be melted off by the afternoon. The only X factor being that the Buckeye trees have been leafing out for 10 days now, and snow is heavy and can break branches laden with hundreds of cupfuls of it that all more or less comes at once.

        …stay tuned

        Reply
      2. Richard

        Hmm, you make me less happy, polecat, with your dribs and drabs and continuing snowiness. It’s now dawned on me I have no boots, or proper snow gear at all.
        There used to be a sears up the street with all the gear, but the gods of commerce said NO
        I always forget about this, we have snow so rarely in the city
        hmm, tra
        la
        la

        Reply
        1. RMO

          We had a light dusting here in the Vancouver area too – it’s been damn near t-shirt weather prior to this though. The snow was remarkably dry for here. Usually it comes down like a vanilla Slurpee: heavy and wet. Then it gets packed down into a layer of ice under a layer of slush. I love seeing the reactions of people from east of the coast mountain range to a typical Vancouver snowfall when they first experience it. They suddenly realize why the little amount we typically get can be such a big problem the minute they attempt to drive in it or shovel it.

          Reply
          1. wilroncanada

            We got 2 or 3 cms here on eastern Vancouver Island. Hope it doesn’t kill off the blossoms already out on some of the Japanese cherry trees in Victoria. Early spring flowers already budding will be OK; they’ll just stop until it warms again.
            My wife has a cousin in Sequim, so was wondering how much snow fell there. More likely until warming again in about 2 weeks (according to forecasts) because outflow winds from the northeast bumping up against the Olympics.

            Reply
  19. Di Modica's Dumb Steer

    Really gonna try to make the Buddha meetup, though like some said, 5:00 is a hair early. SoFla, being a giant, sprawly suburb, makes everything regarding travel difficult (and our public transport is truly AMAZING /s). That said, I DO want to show support.

    Reply
        1. ambrit

          Nah. This is up in Broward. She’ll be cool.
          Now, if she were in some place on South Beach, I’d suggest that she bring the ‘shooting stick’ and keep it handy.

          Reply
  20. Geo

    And article from a few years ago reviewing the follow up book Confessions of an Economuc Hitman said this about Venezuela:

    I wonder what he would think of Venezuela today. Despite the country’s vast oil reserves, the socialist government established by Hugo Chávez seems to be collapsing, surely heading for a right-wing coup. Are the food riots and blackouts just due to mismanagement and the drop in oil prices, or have the jackals arrived to look for communists under beds?

    https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_11203198

    At this point our efforts to topple governments that try to own their nation’s resources is so common its template can be predicted years in advance. Yet, even mentioning this stuff in polite society still leads to being labeled a tinfoil hatted conspiracist.

    Reply
    1. JohnnyGL

      Perkins himself addressed the ‘problem’ of Chavez and Venezuela in his original ‘Confessions’ book. His understanding was that Venezuela didn’t get sufficient attention or the full weight of US imperial strangulation because the Bush II team was busy going after Iraq.

      That may be partially true, but I think there’s a risk of under-estimating domestic forces in Venezuela and tactical mistakes by the original coup-plotters in 2002.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Coup d’etat.

        According to Wikipedia,

        Chavez led the MBR-200 in an unsuccessful coup d’état against the Democratic Action government of President Carlos Andrés Pérez in 1992, for which he was imprisoned. Pardoned from prison after two years, he founded a political party known as the Fifth Republic Movement and was elected President of Venezuela in 1998

        Perahps it was a blessing in disguise that he failed in 1992.

        Had it worked, Maduro would look weaker today, or maybe not – Beijing defeated KMT back in 1949 or there about, and it seems its gun-barrel backed authority is not being questioned by the world.

        Reply
  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Independent UN rights expert calls for compassion, not sanctions on Venezuela UN News

    Not justice, but compansion alone, to combat sanctions?

    Then we have the more recent news of France, UK, Germany recognizing Guaido.

    U.S. Coup Attempt In Venezuela Lacks International Support Moon of Alabama

    Even while they oppose Trump on Iran.

    Why one and not the other?

    Reply
      1. RMO

        Oh? I’m hoping to find out some more details – I emailed the CBC story to NC last night because I figured there’s probably even more happening here. I figured if anybody would get to the roots of the mattr it would be the people here. Looking forward to hearing more!

        Reply
  22. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    When the Suffrage Movement Sold Out to White Supremacy Brent Staples, NYT

    Today’s diveristy push – is it selling out to capitalism? For example, the mandatory female representation on public companies.

    “If you can’t beat them (Captialists in this case), join them?”

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Well there has been some progress made. Those suffragettes only sold out their black sisters but today’s feminists have sold out their not-so-rich sister as well so it is a class thing now. Why do you think all this talk about glass ceilings is such a big thing? You only get ceilings at the very top (its in the name). Remember when Clinton was going to make her victory speech in November of 2016 in a place that had a glass ceiling? Not much time to spare talking about ordinary working women whatever their colour with modern feminists. Now that is progress that you can believe in! /sarc

      Reply
  23. Oregoncharles

    At least there’s some good news: “Thanks to education, global fertility could fall faster than expected “.

    I just knew education had to be good for something.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Way back, when monasteries were the few places to get an education, monkhood and learning also led to depopulation (in the sector…though not zero population growth…”This baby looks llke someone we know…”)

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        Monks have little effect on the birth rate, but nunneries are pretty important.

        Both were a big factor in Tibet’s balance with the carrying capacity, which is very limited. Not an ideal way to do it, from our point of view.

        Tibetans also practiced polyandry, to avoid dividing properties that would only just support a family.

        Reply
  24. ewmayer

    o Re. “Florida readers: I wouldn’t go so far as to use the phrase “chewing our hands,” but we’re a little concerned about attendance at the NC Fort Lauderdale Meetup this Thursday, January 7…” — I think I see the probelm right there – it’s hard to drum up interest in a January meetup when it’s already February! (Not to mention that Jan 7 was a Monday.)

    o Thanks to education, global fertility could fall faster than expected | The Economist — Is it education, or is it the depredations of neoliberalism making the world ever more unlivable? (Not that the likes of the Economist would ever admit to such a thing occurring.)

    Reply
  25. Oregoncharles

    “As Pelvic Mesh Settlements Near $8 Billion, Women Question Lawyers’ Fees”
    Why just women? It was used for hernia repairs on men, too. Not sure I’d sue, it’s probably better than nothing, but it isn’t satisfactory, either. Nader actually weighed in on this, couple of years ago, recommending a Canadian clinic that doesn’t use it.

    Reply
  26. ewmayer

    o The Rams Really Made A Mess Of This | FiveThirtyEight — Right, it’s not like the New England defense and game-plan had anything to do with that. If Nate Silver had been running his site way back during the 70s, I expects its headline following the famous Rumble in the Jungle would have been “Big George Foreman Really Made A Mess Of This”. True in its way, but only telling one-sided version of the story.

    o Michelob Ultra, Pringles, TurboTax Super Bowl ads try to make you feel better about AI taking over, with sad robots CNBC (Furzy Mouse) — Oh, but there was also a splashily somber Washington Post ad, featuring the visages of their heroic reporters who died in the line of duty this past year, with the ending shot being of the phrase “democracy dies in darkness”. Oddly, the phrase “dismal propaganda rag” was nowhere to be seen. How does so-called democracy fare when illuminated only by the light the world’s richest man and the Washington Consensus crowd approve of? Inquiring minds want to know. (“Inquiring minds” alas excludes the WaPo readership.)

    Reply
  27. Plenue

    >Select Reactions to the INF Treaty Crisis Arms Control Association

    The difference between the international reactions and the US domestic ones is…interesting. Internationally it’s a whole lot of “Russia violated the treaty, and rendered the treaty worthless. The US is right to withdraw”, but domestically it’s “THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT PUTIN WANTS!!!1oneone”.

    Reply
  28. Oregoncharles

    “TAKEN: How police departments make millions by seizing property”
    Again: this practice was ended in Oregon by an initiative that makes forfeitures dependent on convictions. It was extremely popular; even conservatives voted for it, because property rights. And corruption.

    That doesn’t restrict the federal cops, but I don’t hear about them doing it here, either. Maybe because it would cause too much of an uproar.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      This one is really bizarre. Maybe it is my Anglo-Saxon roots but this has always caused me outrage as you are supposed to be found guilty of a crime before being punished. And accusations are not enough but that you have to have proof and it is the State that is forced to prove your guilt and not for you to prove to prove your innocence. This is Magna Carta territory that we are talking about here and is fundamental to western justice. Otherwise you are talking about a “shakedown” by the police and not the crims. Or do I repeat myself here?
      It is ironic. In the early days of law enforcement, a major function of the law was to make the roads safe from highway-robbers, bush-rangers or whatever the locals caused them. Now it is the law here that has become the new highway-robbers but with a veneer of legality supplied by lawyers where they say that it is the money that is being charged with guilt and not the person that it was taken off. That is where you get the concept of say, Maryland vs. $3,457 in a court of law. John Yoo and Jay Bybee would be proud of the reasoning behind these cash confiscation laws.

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        You’re right – civil forfeiture is flagrantly unconstitutional as well as against Anglo-saxon traditional law. It’s another case of the SCOTUS making law, to the benefit of the police. I just thought it was worthwhile to highlight an example of successful resistance..

        Reply

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