2:00PM Water Cooler 5/1/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


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

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune


* * *

Biden (D)(1): Biden’s very first gaffe. Awwwwwww!

(Source.) Good question, and the same for being working class.

Biden (D)(2): “Joe Biden is the Best Republican in the Race” [Medium]. “If at a time when the cops steal more from Americans via Civil Asset Forfeiture than robbers do, we choose a man who introduced Comprehensive Forfeiture Act, and continues to support it even without an arrest or conviction, are we really concerned about a police state?” • I had no idea we had Biden to thank for civil asset forfeiture. That’s awesome.

Biden (D)(3): “Recent Poll Showing Biden in Lead Confuses and Distorts Support for Bernie Sanders” [Grit Post]. • Unsurprising. More on the CNN poll:

Biden (D)(4): [hums] How do you solve a problem like Obama:

One can hope that the extremely long campaign season will sort this out.

Biden (D)(5): “Twentieth-Century Man” [The Baffler]. “Most of the Democratic candidates last week went with a variation of the “Joe Biden is my friend” line. It’s the idea Biden will be selling, too: that he’s the warm, good-hearted, everyman who will out hustle and outshine Trump. The grief and heartache that Biden has experienced in life—losing his first wife and an infant daughter to a car wreck, and more recently losing his son Beau—make him warm and sympathetic to others who have suffered such grief. And yet, somehow he has not translated his identification with ordinary Americans into much of a record of accomplishment for them, much less to a set of public policies that speaks to our time of racial injustice, inequality, and governmental servility in the face of corporate prerogatives.” • “Somehow” is doing more work there than any adverb should ever be asked to do.

Biden (D)(6): Wowsers:

Not often you get a “(!)” from a New York Times political reporter.

Biden (D)(7): “Joe Biden wants us to forget his past. We won’t” [Adolph Reed and Cornel West, Guardian]. “An unrecognized irony of the South Carolina primary’s current importance as a gauge of African American support is that it and other southern primaries figured prominently in the late 1980s and 1990s strategy of the conservative, pro-business Democratic Leadership Council – of which Biden was a member – to pull the party to the right by appealing to conservative white southern men, in part through stigmatizing and scapegoating poor African Americans. Biden was one of the lustiest practitioners of that tactic. In fact, that’s what often underlies Biden’s boasts about his talent for “reaching across the aisle”. In 1984, he joined with South Carolina’s arch-racist Strom Thurmond to sponsor the Comprehensive Crime Control Act, which eliminated parole for federal prisoners and limited the amount of time sentences could be reduced for good behavior. He and Thurmond joined hands to push 1986 and 1988 drug enforcement legislation that created the nefarious sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine as well as other draconian measures that implicate him as one of the initiators of what became mass incarceration.” • Brutal.

Biden (D)(8): “Assessing who Putin’s preferred 2020 candidate will be” [The Hill]. “Moscow’s disinformation and influence operations will have two primary aims: to help foster confusion and conflict during the U.S. election campaign and to prevent the election of former Vice President Joe Biden.” • Holy moley, it’s starting early!

Buttigieg (D)(1): “Buttigieg makes new effort to talk race, reach black voters” [Associated Press]. Buttigieg: “I’m ready to make sure I’m understanding the concerns that are top of mind for the different audiences I speak to.” Can that dude code-switch, or what?

Buttigieg (D)(2): “In Harlem, Al Sharpton tells Pete Buttigieg to be himself” [Yahoo News]. “When Pete Buttigieg asked Rev. Al Sharpton for advice on campaigning for president in the South’s Bible Belt as an openly gay white man, the civil rights leader responded, ‘I think you should say, ‘I am who I am.’ … ‘We need to deal with homophobia in the faith in the black community,’ said Sharpton.”

Sanders (D)(1): “New Bernie Sanders App Democratizes Organizing” [The Intercept]. “The skepticism appears rooted in (hostility to Sanders and) a basic lack of familiarity with how campaigns work. Voter rolls are public, and the Democratic Party has long been aggregating additional information about voters to aid with fundraising and turnout operations, data that all major campaigns have access to. The difference is that the Sanders app democratizes the process with the goal of expanding the electorate, while the party operations are aimed at identifying existing supporters so they can be motivated to vote. The party data is generally available to campaign volunteers, but because Sanders lowers the bar to volunteering, more people will now have access to the data. The goal, though, is to get more people to vote for Sanders, not to attack Sanders opponents. To that end, they’ll be relying heavily on supporters.’We don’t think, in the national office, that we have all of the answers,’ Sanders said. ‘Trust me, we don’t. Every person out there knows your own community better than we do. Can you put on a concert, can you have a potluck event? Whatever it may be, bring people together. Develop a sense of community, reach out to people who might feel uncomfortable about being involved in politics.'” • If you want to expand the base — and surely that’s a necessity — then you have to get contact information for people you don’t already know about. Now, I can imagine very bad narratives emerging from a plant or a mole in the Sander volunteer community. But I don’t think that’s a systemic issue, and for Obama and Clinton loyalists in a moral panic, I don’t see a difference between this tool and Obama’s tool in 2012, or OFA, for that matter. Here is a thread on the Sanders tool (and database backend or “voter file”) and the DNC VAN tool (and database):

What I would really like to see is a video demonstrating how to step through the screens, and exactly what the screens are.

Sanders (D)(2): “Dozens Of Civil Rights Groups Ask Presidential Candidates To Support Letting People In Prison Vote” [HuffPo]. “More than 70 civil rights and advocacy groups are urging candidates seeking the presidency to allow people to vote while they are incarcerated, signing an open letter on Tuesday to push an issue already dividing the Democratic field. Only Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has said people incarcerated should be able to vote. He is the only 2020 presidential candidate so far to take that stance.” • We’ll see what happens in the general when the Willie Horton ads start rolling out, but what Sanders has just shown primary black voters is that he’s willing to take the hit for a principled, risky stand that benefits them.

Sanders (D)(3): Watch with the sound down:

“We Asked All Of The 2020 Presidential Candidates Their Thoughts On Vaccines. Here’s What They Said.” [Buzzfeed]. Good idea!

The Civility Police beat down another unsuspecting citizen:

Actually, I think the “Candidate Pledge” (the Indivisible page is a little hazy on what the name of the pledge actually is). Rule #1: “Make the primary constructive.” Surely being constructive includes — nay, necessitates! — creative destruction?

Realignment and Legitimacy




The group portrait is such a nice touch.

“Schumer says Trump and Democrats agreed to $2 trillion figure on infrastructure” [CBS]. “A Democratic aide confirmed there was “not a single mention” of oversight, subpoenas or investigations in the meeting, and Mr. Trump even shared some white Tic-Tacs with the speaker, which he has done before.” • Apparently, as with Bush and Michelle, all you have to do to get a Democrat to roll over — Trump is, let us remember, a senile lunatic, a fascist, a white nationalist, The World’s Worst Human™, and not a legitimate candidate — is offer them candy. Good to know.

Stats Watch

ADP Employment Report, April 2019: “ADP sees private payrolls coming in [robustly] and much stronger-than-expected” [Econoday].

Purchasing Managers Manufacturing Index, April 2019: “Marginal improvement” [Econoday]. “New orders are at a 3-month high with backlog orders on the rise. Yet demand for exports, amid what the report describes as “trade tensions and slowing foreign demand” remains subdued. And hiring, held back by what the report says is a lack of skilled labor, was the slowest in nearly two years with production growth among the lowest of the last two years.”

Institute For Supply Management Manufacturing Index, April 2019: “In the weakest report in nearly two years, the April ISM manufacturing index came in far below expectations” [Econoday]. “[T]here are pluses in the report including a 3.5 point rise in total backlog orders….. This report is focused on strongly by not only forecasters and policy makers but also by the financial markets. Though one month is only one month, the results are likely to raise talk that the performance of the nation’s factory sector, which has been uneven since late last year, may begin holding back the 2019 economy.”

Construction Spending, March 2019: “much weaker than expected” [Econoday]. “in an unfavorable indication on discretionary spending and demand for building materials, spending on home improvements fell.”

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of April 26, 2019: Down sharply [Econoday]. “March was a very strong month for the housing market, evidenced not only by prior data on the month’s new and existing home sales but also yesterday’s surprisingly strong jump in the month’s pending home sales index. Yet April, based at least on this report’s purchase index, looks to have slowed significantly.”

Banks: “Bad Credit Card Debt Is on the Rise” [Bloomberg]. “The charge-off rate — the percentage of loans companies have decided they’ll never collect — rose to 3.82 percent in the first three months of 2019, the highest since the second quarter of 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Intelligence. And loans 30 days past due, a harbinger of future write-offs, increased at all seven of the largest U.S. card issuers.”

Banks: “The past, present and future of banking” [Tim Harford]. • Some capsule book reviews. More books to read!

Tech: “Facebook Wants to Connect You with Your ‘Secret Crush'” [Wired]. • No.

The Biosphere

Via Blame It on the Voices, from 2011:

2011 is early and right.

“U.S. Snowfall in 2018-19: The Haves and the Have Nots” [Weather Underground]. “The season of 2018-2019 produced exceptional snowfall in the Upper Midwest, Sierra Nevada, and northern Rockies, all of which saw record to near-record accumulations. Northern Maine also experienced deep snowfall, while for the rest of the nation it was a more average season snow-wise.” • Hence the Upper Midwest flooding.

“Twentieth-century hydroclimate changes consistent with human influence” [Nature]. “Multiple observational datasets and reconstructions using data from tree rings confirm that human activities were probably affecting the worldwide risk of droughts as early as the beginning of the twentieth century.”

“Iowa DNR goes year without permanent leader” [The Gazette]. “Thursday marks one year since the Iowa Department of Natural Resources has been without a permanent director, a lapse causing questions from environmental advocates about a lack of direction and advocacy for water quality and conservation efforts…. President Donald Trump recently said he likes acting directors in his administration because they give him more flexibility. But governance experts say companies or agencies can drift without a permanent leader. Max Stier, president and chief executive officer of the Partnership for Public Service, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit focused on effective governance, compared an acting director to a substitute teacher. ‘Formally, the substitute teacher has all the authority of the regular full-time teacher, but they’re not treated that way,’ Stier told Vox for an April 11 story. ‘They’re not treated that way by people on the outside, their students, other teachers, and they don’t self-perceive that they have that same authority.'” • Kudos to Austin Frerick for continuing to push these, and monopoly, issues for rural Iowa. It’s, er, smart considering Iowa’s 2020 role.

Step inside this massive cave labyrinth hidden under Borneo [National Geographic]. “[T]he limestone underlying [Borneo’s rainforest], beneath Malaysia’s Gunung Mulu National Park, is riddled with some of the biggest holes, widest tunnels, and most mind-blowing voids anywhere on Earth. If you are the kind of explorer who enjoys crawling down into wet, hot darkness in order to find more wet, hot darkness, Borneo is a dreamland, a Disneyland, and a Neverland, all in one….”• Gorgeous photographs and well worth a read (especially for those who took an interest in the Thai cave boys story last year).

Health Care

PNHP’s live thread on the House Rules Committee hearings:

About collegiality:

One thing seems clear: Barkan’s presence (enabled by pushback from the left on the original witness list) changed the dynamic. Since I find it hard to believe Pelosi connected Barkan to McGovern out of the goodness of her heart, if any, I’d like to know the back-story here….

“Democrats paper over rifts at ‘Medicare for All’ hearing” [Politico]. “The show of unity could be short-lived. National Nurses United — which is closely allied with the Congressional Progressive Caucus — quickly seized on the hearing to urge Pelosi to bring Medicare for All legislation to the House floor for a vote…. That rallying cry threatens to intensify in the coming weeks. The Congressional Budget Office will publish an analysis Wednesday on the single-payer concept, and House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth told POLITICO his panel will hold its own hearing on Medicare expansion proposals in late May.” • The issue here, unless things have changes since the 2009-2010 ObamaCare debacle, is CBO scoring can only consider effects on the Federal budget; it cannot consider whether #MedicareForAll nets out positive for the country as a whole.

“Gingerly, Democrats Give ‘Medicare for All’ an Official Moment” [New York Times]. “Yet the hearing — and the prospective hearing by the Ways and Means committee — also reflected Medicare for all’s progress from a fringe view to one firmly within the Democratic Party mainstream…. ‘I know this is a politically hazardous topic to go down the road on,’ said Mr. McGovern, near the end of the hearing. ‘But we have to do it.'” • Especially before Trump 2.0 steals it.

“Ady Barkan makes a moral case for single payer at first-ever Medicare for All hearing” [Think Progress]. “Barkan repeatedly made the moral argument for Medicare for All: if there’s agreement that health care is a human right and the status quo doesn’t treat it as such, let’s do something now. When faced with questions about costs, Barkan asked why politicians don’t ask where the money comes from when it’s about funding war. When asked about employer-sponsored insurance, he asked why other rights like education aren’t tethered to jobs…. rejecting the political realities of Medicare for All, Barkan called on lawmakers to act now.” • Liberal Democrats have only interpreted the world…..

“Ways and Means Committee to hold hearing on ‘Medicare for All'” [The Hill]. “Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the primary co-sponsor of the House Medicare for All legislation, told reporters Tuesday that committee chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) has pledged to hold a hearing sometime in the future. The bill from Jayapal and Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) has more than 100 co-sponsors in the House. The House Rules Committee on Tuesday held the first-ever hearing on Medicare for All, but it is not one of the primary committees overseeing health care. The other health care panel, the Energy and Commerce Committee, has so far declined to commit to holding a hearing on Medicare for All, illustrating the divide among House Democrats over the legislation.” • This is a big deal.

“Medicare for All and the Myth of Free Markets” [The American Conservative]. An effective indictment of the calamitous current system, followed by this: “What can bring down prices? Genuine competition.” • Which would be why every other major industrial civilized nation has made this ideological choice. Oh, wait…

I don’t see how this can be right:

I don’t see how Anthem can just announce, unilaterally, that a contract is wrong, and if the contract was wrong, I don’t see now nothing changed with my benefits. Am I not getting this?

“Is health-care data the new blood?” [Lancet]. “We propose that health-care data records are digital specimens and should be treated with the same rigour, care, and caution afforded to physical medical specimens. We advocate that the use of these digital samples be limited to validated and beneficial uses for the donor and that patient privacy be fully protected.” • This is brilliant framing.

Class Warfare

Uber strike:

“Uber’s $9 billion IPO rests on drivers’ 80-plus hour workweeks and a lot of waiting” [The Conversation]. “Uber’s aim to provide consumers a ride within five minutes of a click was considered a key differentiator from taxis even before it launched in 2009. That availability necessitates a legion of essentially full-time drivers who spend many unpaid hours waiting – not “chilling” – until a fare comes their way. Drivers are only paid once they pick up a passenger. Every minute they spend waiting for a pickup or even driving to meet a rider they are simply losing money.”

News of the Wired

“Caster Semenya Loses Case to Compete as a Woman in All Races” [New York Times]. “The highest court in international sports issued a landmark but nuanced ruling on Wednesday that will force female track athletes with elevated levels of testosterone to take suppressants to compete in certain women’s races at major international events like the Olympics…. Restrictions on permitted levels of naturally occurring testosterone are discriminatory, the court ruled Wednesday in a 2-to-1 decision. But, the panel added, such discrimination is a “necessary, reasonable and proportionate means” of achieving track and field’s goal of preserving the integrity of women’s competition.” • Hmm. This should kick off some discussion.

* * *

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

Bodhi Sattva writes: “Harvest in the spring and late fall, roots winter over with last winter only killing off ~50% of planted Cicoria Grumolo Rosa. Last fall I got two harvests as we didn’t get a hard freeze until almost Christmas. Cut to crown late August for fall harvest, spring takes care of itself. Yum.” And what a lovely color palette!

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About Lambert Strether

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


    1. Arizona Slim

      And unions shouldn’t just be for employees. Freelancers and gig workers need them too.

      1. J

        An unemployed (wo)man’s union, too. That way previously politically powerless people (quite the alliteration, eh) can build a popular movement outside the walls of factories, offices, homes, etc. to not only gain material benefits but eventually access to the dignity of jobs. They can also coordinate with their brothers and sisters inside the walls of work to gain material benefits synergistically for both groups. I.E. striking workers could offer some act of solidarity to unemployed workers for not breaking the picket line. Full disclosure, not an original idea but one I read in Zinn’s, A People’s History.

        1. Summer

          Good point. That’s the main way the pressure for good job creation. Other unions focus is more job, pay, and benefit protection than job creation.

          1. J

            Howard Zinn described the situation in the 30s much like now that a lot of activism was hobbled by the cultural meme of joblessness as a personal failure. Such unions did then as could now reduce the stigma by in-group story sharing of capitalism’s responsibility for their precarity, instead of their own personal moral failure. Also, a group of angry unemployed workers is a lot harder to throw around than a bunch of ashamed, isolated individuals. They could no longer be the scape goat in pundit and electoral circles w/o serious voter pushback and possibly direct action on the streets if they were to organize. Maybe the Poor People’s campaign organizers could create an offshoot union/affinity group.

            1. jrs

              oh I like that a lot, and would love for something like the poor people’s campaign to take it up, but they may have their handful just with poverty (there’s overlap but obviously they are not equivalent).

        2. Oregoncharles

          J – that’s what the Wobblies, the IWW, were about: a universal union.

          They still exist – I know several, but they’re mostly academics. These days, it’s more of a political marker. Might be worth pushing, though.

      2. RopeADope

        College athletes could use a national union as well. Sports injuries, how revenue sharing plays out between the different sports and their facilities, lack of oversight of and accountability with corrupt sports departments are major issues. The death of Kelly Catlin illustrates that a better support structure is needed for student athletes.

        1. Epynonymous

          I just finished a business class on ‘online communtity management.’

          4 of 25 students spent their semester on the sports union issue…

      1. Montanamaven

        Read Robert Fitch’s “Solidarity for Sale”. Get rid of the way they pick leadership. In France, leaders come from the rank and file and paid similarly to a factory worker. The dues are not mandatory. So unions are run frugally. So no big pile of money for leadership to misuse. At least that’s what I remember from reading this eye opener years ago.

      2. rowlf

        The union leaders will sit up and pay attention if automatic dues check-off was eliminated. Make the membership send in the dues manually every month or quarter. This gives the leaders an incentive to do a better job and makes the membership pay more attention to the union’s activities.

        (I think payroll deductions should be be outlawed too. Citizens should mail in their taxes every month. You want my tax money? Earn it!)

        Changing unions is tough. The deck is stacked. It is an eye opener afterwards to read all the letters of agreement to a contract afterwards as you really get to see the recipe for making sausage, er, a contract. Some of the big unions really phone it in.

        1. Procopius

          I was a little surprised that Richard Trumka was “only” being paid $300,000 a year in 2016. I’m pretty sure Walter Reuther never made a lot more than the members of his union. Same with John L. Lewis and Eugene Debs. Even Jimmy Hoffa. I haven’t heard of the AFL-CIO having great successes in recent years. 300K isn’t a huge disparity, but it’s not confidence-inspiring, either. I’d like to see a bylaw in the Union rules that the President cannot be paid more than twice what the median member is paid by their most recent contract.

  1. pjay

    That Jeet Heer tweet says it all. Please let it be fired off as a response to anything Neera Tanden posts ever again!

    1. xformbykr

      Thanks! There is a link (at Pat Lang site) to interesting article
      on Seth Rich, Fox News etc.

    2. Procopius

      Pat Lang is pretty conservative (in the good sense), but he’s very critical of the ultra-Zionists. Surprised he hasn’t been demonized as anti-semitic. Yet. I check his blog every few days because he has the best information about the Middle East outside Juan Cole’s Informed Comment.

    1. MK

      But see, it was only a typo don’t ya know? They aren’t changing anything! It was brought to their attention when they started denying claims for those folks who went straight to the specialist. Those silly folks. We just wanted to clarify the typo, not change the contract! /s

      BTW – seeing a primary care first to get the referral will probably be a couple hundred bucks (either co-pay, or full shot with a HDHP) PLUS the cost of the specialist. See, two payments for one treatment!

    2. JohnHerbieHancock

      I wonder if they have one of those really great binding arbitration clauses buried somewhere in their health insurance agreement? Typically they also contain an agreement (by the consumer) not to join any class action litigation.

      Of course, those typically have required the companies forcing them on consumers to bear the arbitration costs in exchange for foregoing the right to sue in court… so maybe if enough consumers called their bluff…

    3. Bugs Bunny

      Likely a clause allows Anthem to unilaterally amend the contract “from time to time” or some such. See it all the time. If it’s a paper contract you can strike it and put your initials next to it (YMMV, depending on jurisdiction).

      On another note, the marketing numbskull who decided to name an insurance company “Anthem” should have to spend eternity reading insurance contracts.

  2. JBird4049

    Biden (D)(1): Biden’s very first gaffe. Awwwwwww!

    “Being middle class is not a number. It’s a value set,” Biden says.

    — Sabrina Siddiqui (@SabrinaSiddiqui) April 29, 2019

    This quote on good old Joe Biden is followed immediately with this.

    Replying to @SabrinaSiddiqui

    I read Biden’s quote and suddenly I can afford my mortgage and healthcare. :-)

    2:41 PM – 29 Apr 2019

    It warms my funnybones it does.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner


        And at #5, we have Clarence Thomas!

        Not to overlook, Anita HIll’s treatment at the hands of both Biden and Thomas, but Biden’s fundamental failure has continued to have ramifications. Clarence Thomas was part of the 5 to 4 decision in Bush v Gore (2000). People use to joke Garret Wang was responsible for Barack Obama, but Joe Biden is responsible as anyone for George W. Bush.

        1. neo-realist

          I tend to think that even if Thomas had not been confirmed with Biden’s help, Poppy Bush would have selected a similar Republican, who would have voted with his/her team in Bush v. Gore. Souter turned out to be an exception, but Republican Presidents pick nothing but conservative jurists.

    1. jrs

      it’s a value set, probably several different value sets, but most of them involve ignoring the pain of others as one commonality, it’s always insular. I mean I think the middle class has certain values, but they aren’t flattering ones at the end of the day.

    2. ewmayer

      Lovable goofball uncle Joe B, working hard to turn that middle-class value set into the empty set!

    3. Fiery Hunt

      File under Field Work:

      In one of the stained glass classes I teach, I have 4 students: One a VP at a TBTF bank (as does her hubby), one is a economist at a Big Pharma corp, one is a 4th grade teacher (his wife is also a public employee), one is a mortician.
      I asked them “What do you consider rich?”

      The VP said, ” When you don’t need income to cover your debts.”
      I ask, “So, if you’re making $500,000 a year but you buy a private island…That debt makes you not rich, even if you’re making a half million dollars a year?
      She replies, “Yeah, you’re not rich.”

      The teacher who, along with his wife, together making $200,000 a year, full benefits, owns a home worth $800,000, just bought 40 acres and built a vacation cottage on it says, “I’m not rich. I have the same lifestyle that a factory worker had when I was a kid. Home, vacation, saving for retirement, etc..Middle class is not an income or asset level. It’s a lifestyle.”

      These are your SF Bay Area Democratic voters.
      Neither would disagree with Biden.
      And neither will the rest of the 10%ers.

      They are the enemy in the primaries.

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        if everyone under 60K voted their class interests, you’d have 2 extinct parties in short order.

        1. JBird4049

          A vacation cottage…what an idea. What a fantasy for me.

          You are right. If people were informed, the two main parties would be history.

          The average American net wage is just over $50,000.

          The average Bay Arean gross, not net, annual wage is $92,000 but as a one bedroom hellhole will cost $2000 per month (24,000 a year) and HUD (Federal Department of Housing) has anyone making less than six figures as qualifying for low income housing…

          1. Wukchumni

            A vacation cottage…what an idea. What a fantasy for me.

            Got $99,000 to spare? the cost of an upper end Tesla…

            This is a rare cabin available in Heart Meadow, near Buck Rock Lookout. The cabin is dated and mostly original, it has electricity and running water. The cabin is on Forest Service Land with a 20 year lease through the Forest Service. The lease has approximately 10 years remaining before it starts again at 20 years. This cabin would make a great retreat for you and your family in the Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park. There are plenty of activities available nearby; hiking, biking, horseback riding, etc. This cabin has seasonal access, unless you wish to use snow equipment for any type of winter use.


            1. JBird4049

              To once again to go to Sierras every year like I use to! Another dream. Poverty sucks.

              Wait, $99,000 for a ten year lease?

              I mean it looks nice and all. The type of place that I would love to go to…again. That’s still $9,900 per a year for seasonal use.

              1. ambrit

                Consider the strata of society that can afford that sort of expense and you get a glimmer of just what a “Class War” really is.
                To absurdicate Carlin; “It’s not a very big club and you’re still not in it.”

                  1. ambrit

                    I love that the film Robocop is set in a near future neoliberal Detroit.
                    Now the Oligarchs are trying like mad to make it come true.

                1. Procopius

                  I think it’s time to refurbish this one:
                  “In her book A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century, Barbara Tuchman writes about a peasant revolt in 1358 that began in the village of St. Leu and spread throughout the Oise Valley. At one estate, the serfs sacked the manor house, killed the knight, and roasted him on a spit in front of his wife and kids. Then, after ten or twelve peasants violated the lady, with the children still watching, they forced her to eat the roasted flesh of her dead husband and then killed her.

                  That is class warfare.
                  Arguing over the optimum marginal tax rate for the top one percent is not.”

          2. jrs

            There’s really almost no in-between, your are either kept up at night worrying about potential rent increases and suffering though job precarity OR you have a vacation house and/or engage in foreign travel each year.

            What exists in between is a very small sliver hardly worth thinking about because it’s tiny and could join one of either category at any time (but more likely the former as there is a lot more downward mobility than upward!).

            2000k a month rent sounds low for the bay area.

            1. JBird4049

              2000 a month is low, but there are a few places in the East and North Bay despite the bump prices due to Paradise’s destruction.

              During the last real boom in 2000 people were commuting from Sacramento and Sonoma to San Francisco because the rents were for California reasonable. Today the rents are unaffordable everywhere. Something has to give as there is nowhere to go to live. Much of the homeless and vehicles dwellers have jobs.

              The NIMBYism, the rental owners, the developers, the growing incompetence and corruption in both government and construction as well as in the state and local governments has stopped any efforts to deal with the housing crisis; it has been getting worse since at least the 1980s.

              Both political parties are useless for most Californians. They will prance about being saying this or that about taxes, guns, education, or healthcare, but actually doing anything besides passing feel good legislation or blaming the other party while looking fabulous and saying vacuous speeches? No.

      2. Jen

        If the things that are making you “not rich” are ginormous discretionary expenditures, you are rich.

      3. JohnnyGL

        First off, no surprise on SF crowd. Coastal cities are like that to some degree or another.

        Separately, I’ve noticed that there’s a lot of people that equate ‘being rich’ with a kind of ‘freedom’. The bankers have decided that if you have debt, you’re not free. There’s a certain logic to that.

        Ever notice when people talk about what they’d do if they won the lottery, the first words out of their mouth are often, “pay off all the debts”.

        With things like a Job Guarantee and Medicare for All, and tuition free education, I’d love to see society de-link wealth from insecurity. We can afford to ease everyone’s fears and insecurities, we can NOT afford to make everyone wealthy.

        In any case, on a brighter note, I’ve got an old high school friend in CA (in that same strata) who admitted voting for HRC in the primaries in 2016 says he’ll vote Bernie this time. I’ve been feeding him links on Biden’s corruption. One voter at a time…

        1. jrs

          although some debts (like medical debt) can be harder to avoid than others, having less debt may not mean riches, say you have no mortgage debt because you can only afford to rent, you don’t have college debt because you don’t have much formal education. That’s probably not that rich a lifestyle.

          Unlike other debt credit card debt I suspect does indicate the existence of real financial struggles (unless it’s caused by true compulsive spending which is a disorder and does exist).

    4. dk

      Biden equates class aspiration to class attainment, one of the oldest fallacies in the playbook.

  3. Cal2

    “I don’t see how Anthem can just announce, unilaterally, that a contract is wrong…”

    It works both ways then:

    When signing your financial responsibility documents at the for-profit hospital, take your time, look for your eyeglasses, send the paper hod carrier away, make sure and read each line and write in tiny ink letters “Maximum payment $X” in the body of the paperwork away from your signature.

    Ask to see the original wet signature paperwork if and when you contest the bill. Dump it on your insurance.

    Help fight job destroying-crappification A.I.
    Electronic “kiosks” where hospitals have patients sign in, sign with your wrong hand backwards.
    “Witnessed by kiosk”, How will that stand up in court?

    1. crittermom

      “Ask to see the original wet signature paperwork…”

      I seriously doubt one would have any better results in securing those documents than when dealing with the TBTJ banks.

        1. crittermom

          But of course! Good ol’ Linda Green. “She” would be happy to sign and hand ’em over. Grrrrrrrrr…

          It infuriates me to hear of politicians (yes, including Warren) speak of making more laws.

          We don’t need more laws.
          What we need is a govt that will enforce the laws we already have, dammit!
          (And that includes insurance companies, as well as the banks)

      1. Todde

        Getting sued by a hospital right now.

        They have yet to produce one document with my signature on it.

    2. Kurtismayfield

      UMass hospital system changed the bills lately.. they no longer say patient.. they say “guarantor”.. legal definition of guarantor

      He who makes a guaranty. A person who makes a guarantee to pay the debt of another on an agreement should that party default. For example, a guarantor on a lease agreement agrees to cover all outstanding amounts due to a landlord for unpaid rent and default by the tenant. (B) contracts. He who makes a guaranty. 2. The guarantor is bound to fulfill the engagement he has entered into, provided the principal debtor does not. He is bound only to the extent that the debtor is, and any payment made by the latter, or release of him by the creditor, will operate as a release of the guarantor;

      I respect their honesty that they are defining the true nature of the relationship as a financial one

      1. Oregoncharles

        So who is the principal debtor being “guaranteed?” I think a good lawyer could go a long way with the poor choice of word. Of course, that might cost as much as the hospital bill.

  4. Sharkleberry Fin

    Off the top of the dome, France, Spain, and Germany do NOT have single payer medical insurance. These countries have multi-party, public and private payers, with co-financing between employer and employee. It will tough to break it to them that they do not belong in the League of Civilized Nations… Ok, sure all three republics have dated fascism, but it was a phase. The Napoleon Bad Boy is an attractive archetype when a country is searching for identity, war being a total transformational experience for society, and cool leather jackets. But doctors are providers. Brooding, misunderstood, suicidal, high-income bracket healers whose political allegiances run the gamut, from kale to Klingon.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      What they do not have is “competition in the free market” as conservative ideologues understand the term. All of those countries regulate the insurance companies extremely tightly. There’s simply no reason to think that would work in this country (and I have a sneaking suspicion that’s why wonks always present those countries as reasonable alternatives). My view on this is very conservative. Given that we are dealing with the health of millions, I don’t think it makes sense to run yet another experiment on the American people to see if we can get a market-based approach right this time. Fortunately, we can look for a natural experiment, and ask ourselves whether there is a multilingual, multicultural country, of continental scale, from the common law tradition, and with a Federal system and a mixed economy that adopted a health care approach more successful than our own. Surprisingly, the answer is yes! It’s Canada, and they’re even on the same continent we are! They adopted single payer with great success. We should do what they do, and not do what in this country would turn into a Rube Goldberg device. Again.

      1. Jessica

        Any policy change that does not directly and explicitly work to reduce the concentration of power in a few hands will wind up being used to increase the concentration of power in a few hands.

        1. martell

          As far as Medicare-for-all goes, it would be one significant way of de-commodifying labor, thus protecting working class people from the vicissitudes of markets while also improving their bargaining position vis a vis capitalists. Sounds like a dispersal of power to me.

      2. JBird4049

        There’s simply no reason to think that would work in this country (and I have a sneaking suspicion that’s why wonks always present those countries as reasonable alternatives)

        Intrinsically as a society for some reason or because we have gotten so freaking corrupt again? (To think all the successful efforts from the Progressive Era into the 1960s in shrinking corruption has been countered. Grrrrrrr.)

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Many of those progressive efforts were a series of gradual reforms or simple. The original Medicare legislation is a paragraph. Unlike post-war Europe, our society is more complex and less regimented.

          The systems pointed to by proponents of alternatives weren’t put into place in under three years, were multi-decade developments, and often rely on complexity and reforms in other sectors. German corporate government is radically different than the U.S., and so its reasonable for an employer to not be dedicated to squeezing the workforce.

          The work for 50 states simply hasn’t been done, and besides we already have a single-payer system.

      3. Oregoncharles

        There is no market in health care, and cannot be. For one thing, there is no equality of information, not even close. And do people look for the cheapest doctor? For a loved one, that would be unethical. Plus, patients are often sick or unconscious when making healthcare “decisions.” And my own city of 50,000 has an oligopoly, approaching monopoly, in health care. No competition.

        The market-worshippers are remarkably (/sarc) ignorant, or something, of what a market actually is.

        That, plus the hidden prices, mean there is no market.

    2. rd

      The single payer health system in Canada does not have comprehensive prescription drug coverage. but what they do is regulate the pricing of prescription drugs so that they are generally affordable (some recent patented or experimental drugs are still expensive). The negotiations are done by each provincial healthcare plan. A primary component of employer-provided health insurance in Canada is focused on paying prescription drug benefits so that part of the system becomes a co-pay system for the patient.

      If a pharmaceutical company wants substantially more money for a prescription drug than competitors with a similar drug, then they are put at the back of the line where the cheaper drugs need to be prescribed first and the expensive ones can only be prescribed after the cheaper ones have been tried and found not to be effective or have unacceptable side effects in that patient that the expensive ones avoid. Interestingly enough, Canadian TV has far fewer prescription drug commercials than American TV.

  5. Mark Gisleson

    In Wisconsin I was on Anthem. Before a year was up Anthem bailed out of Wisconsin. I withheld my final premiums and forwarded everything to the government asking why I paid regular health insurance rates for “term” health insurance.

    It took almost two years but I did get a small refund check from Anthem for a ‘rate adjustment.’ Not sure who the hero in the federal government was for that one, but I hope the feds clawed back some money as well.

    1. ambrit

      “Festival of Biden” immediately got me thinking of Pinyatas. (Noah Webster meets the Tilde.)
      Even better, two headed Pinyatas.
      Hours of fun!

      1. Wukchumni

        Beating a politician with a stick, in order to get them to divulge & disperse goodies they’ve been hiding with no regards as to who gets the rewards, does have some merit.

        1. ambrit

          Another fun Party game, presently being engaged in, is “Pin the Tail on the Democrat.” (With apologies to Will Shakespeare.) [Let it never be said that the Federal Budget is a Bottomless Trading Pit.]

  6. ambrit

    Oh my. I tried to ‘access’ the National Geographic story and got a ‘Screen of Death’ demanding that I ‘sign up’ for the usual invasive costermongering before viewing any content. I knew things would go to s*** over at Nat Geo when that Oligarch bought the rag.
    When the Oligarchs steal everything, as recompense they offer you a S*** Sandwich, plus charge you for the ‘intellectual property’ involved in the recipe.

    1. Wukchumni

      Yes, it isn’t lush photos of native African tribeswomen showing off their business in an ad hoc Playboy magazine that your parents subscribed to in the 60’s, is it?

      1. ambrit

        Oh H—! It isn’t even the “hidden” copies of Screw Magazine and After Midnight that I would find in the Big People’s closet. I knew a wag who subscribed to Hustler Magazine. It was delivered by FedEx in a plain brown wrapper. I saw exactly that happen one afternoon. {Don’t know whether or not to wax nostalgic about this aspect of the “Golden (Showers) Age.”}
        No one will ever go broke pandering to the “base instincts” of humankind. Just look at what passes for News Reporting today for an object lesson in that.

  7. laughingsong

    ‘ “Assessing who Putin’s preferred 2020 candidate will be” [The Hill].’

    Made my blood boil. How oh how can they get away with this meme that ‘America is divided because Russians sowing discord?’ Why is that being taken even slightly seriously? As if no American ever used controversy as a lever? It’s as if Nixon’s Southern Strategy, ‘the Moral Majority’, right-wing talk radio demonizing every progressive group on the planet, Fox News, or Dems’ cynical use of identity politics doesn’t exist, never existed. I’m waiting for the peckerheaded, Integrity-Initiative-Associated wankstain that blames the American Civil War on the effin Russians.

    Why is it that these very powerful people, some of whom have had their hands on the wheel for decades — either as electeds, appointeds, think-tankers, policy wonks, lobbyists, and donors — totally own their immense power when they push their agendas ad obviously affect events and lives, but have to find someone/thing else to blame when it goes pear-shaped, or denigrate the messenger when they are told it’s gone pear-shaped? I am tired of everyone else being to blame — feminists, bitter gun-clingers, 47%-ers, deplorables, Russians, Commies, immigrants — instead of those who, you know, ACTUALLY have power?!?!?

    I need a break, I am simply steaming.

    1. jrs

      On the other hand it doesn’t seem to working as the dogs weren’t eating that particular dog food. Read the comments: “No Democrat can be a Russian agent, only Trump is”, the only one’s who attack Bernie are right wingers who bleet out: “Commie! commie! commie!”. As if the USSR still existed.

      I know they are trying to start a meme but it’s not taking with that crowd, only a well educated liberal could be susceptible enough to propaganda to buy it (they seem easily some of the most propagandized people ever), and maybe not even them.

      1. laughingsong

        I tried to read the comments but my oh my! I am so spoiled by the NC commentariat that I just couldn’t. It was more like a cage match than anything remotely resembling debate, simply a succession of ‘zingers’ against each other. It actually pissed me off even more.

        Yeah, I do take your point, but Trump isn’t a Russian agent either, the “meddling”, such as it was, couldn’t hold a candle to the “meddling” Israel does, or America does worldwide, and of course no mention that 1) vote tallies were NOT affected, and 2) even if they were, and one was acting concerned, then why no mention of — yup, ya guessed it — ‘hand-marked paper ballots’?

        So you see I was not comforted by the comments, like I hoped I would be.

      2. Chris

        Being the right type of middle class Democrat voter is a value set. Specifically, a set of values that let’s you overlook obvious political and economic goals so that you can focus on Rooskies under the bed while your kids starve :/

      3. Hepativore

        Actually, the neoliberal leadership of the Democratic Party seems to be intent on pushing the meme that progressives like Gabbard and Sanders are Russian stooges. While it does not seem to be working, they are desperate to not let the Russia hysteria die down. This shows how shameless the party leadership really is.

    2. Carey

      They’re *just getting started*. (I agree with you, BTW.)

      Good to see that Adolph Reed / Cornel West piece on Biden, Lambert.

    3. WheresOurTeddy

      All misdirection theater to keep you from indentifying the Iron Heel for what it is

    4. ChrisPacific

      I was going to make a comment about how we know now which candidate the Clinton faction supports. But it occurs to me that the Russia thing has taken on enough of a life of its own that Clinton may not have any more control over it than Trump does over the white supremacists.

      1. ambrit

        Clinton plays with fire in resurrecting the Red Menace. Obama was starting to re-animate the corpse of the ‘Yellow Peril’ at the end of his reign.
        Plus, Trump never had any hope of having any ‘control’ over any White Supremacists. Rather, with the (as Pat Lang over at SST calls them,) Neo Neocons surrounding him and ‘shepherding’ him into the “Right” pathway, it can be argued that the White Supremacists control him.

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Why is that being taken even slightly seriously?

      One reason is projection*; if “outside agitators” caused the Democrat establishment to lose in 2016 — much as “outside agitators” were blamed by the (Southern, Democratic) establishment for the “uppity nigras” of the Civil Rights era — then the Democrat establishment does not have to look in the mirror and confront its own failures.

      Honestly — I won’t say I’m despairing, because I’m a meliorist, but — the scale and the intensity baffles and bewilders me; I’m so old I remember when Democrat were “the reality-based community.” That a substantical portion of the professional classes which are the Democrat base has self-stimulated itself into an orgy of warmongering and xenophonia over “Russian meddling” when, AFAIK, there is as yet no evidence that a single vote was changed, let alone critical votes in swing districts, absolutely boggles my mind, and I don’t have a good account of it. (The account would not need to be merely psychological, but would, perhaps, consider the projection as a deformation professionelle. Perhaps Thomas Frank’s next book will do that.) These are all highly credentialed, well-educated people who (no doubt) pride themselves on their thinking, and yet are wandering around in a maze of CT. (To be fair, conservatives have different mazes.)

      NOTE * WikiPedia (sorry): “Psychological projection is a defence mechanism in which the human ego defends itself against unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others.[1] For example, a person who is habitually rude may constantly accuse other people of being rude. It incorporates blame shifting.”

      1. Pat

        Anecdote from the trenches. Was having a conversation on public transportation where I made the assertion that Israel messes with our elections more than Russia does. Had a self proclaimed MIT graduate tell me I didn’t understand how Facebook worked and the limited number of ads (vs. Clinton’s huge presence) was exponentially shared. I pointed out that I understood FB to have left in 2008 because of their excessive claims regarding post ownership and extensive tracking, when had they left? My concerns had been meaningless and they left in protest after the election. I asked what about Cambridge Analytica, which flew over their head. Muttering about bigotry they got off. The random person I had been talking to said I guess they missed AIPAC, and asked what I meant by tracking. After explaining about FB data collection, they shook their head and remarked the other rider paid too much for their fancy degree.

        Everyone is susceptible to information bias, but I really do hope I don’t entirely jettison flaws in the logic. I now think of people who miss obvious issues for distractions and excuses “But I am a graduate of MIT!!!

      2. Redlife2017

        The Archdruid has a blogpost just out on that very question. It’s some of his best work on this issue for a while as he doesn’t lump everyone who isn’t a republican or libertarian into the same classification. I consider it a must read as it feels like he is really getting the heart of Trump Derangement Syndrome: https://www.ecosophia.net/present-at-the-death/

  8. DJG

    I get The Sun on paper. They are a tad cagey about what gets links at their web site, but the lead interview with the ever-insightful, ever-democratic Ralph Nader is worth a read. I especially like his reminiscences of his parents, their restaurants, and their active political lives:


    And, no, Nader didn’t cost the Democrats Florida. They lost Florida on their own. Ever wonder why none of the penny-loafer rioters were ever arrested and charged? In Miami?

    NaderNaderNader has been the amuse-gueule leading up to the intoxicating heavy hors d’oeuvre called RussiaRussiaRussia. It shows that the Democrats (or maybe Americans in general) always think that an outside agitator and no-good-nik has his finger in the vichyssoise.

    1. Elizabeth

      I’m happy to hear of another “Sun” reader – I thought the May issue was quite timely with an interview with Ralph Nader. Thank you for posting it online. My hope is that he takes on Boeing the same way he took on the Corvair.

      It’s amazing that after all this time since GW Bush’s election, people still blame him for the Dem loss – facts don’t matter anymore.

      1. The Rev Kev

        And in twenty years time they will still be blaming Susan Sarandon for Trump winning back in 2016.

      2. jrs

        never mind that people voted for Nadar because he was a GOOD candidate. They voted FOR Nader, because of who Nader is and what he stands for, not just against Gore/Bush (not that there is anything wrong with a protest vote).

        Florida was stolen but Dems allowed it.

        1. Stillfeelinthebern

          Precisely why I voted for Nader.
          Have never for a moment regretted that vote.

          1. ambrit

            We did the same in Louisiana. We haven’t looked back. I also voted for Perot. I guess I favour “Lost Causes,” like a true Sothron. (I was born in London. The South of Britain.)

        2. Dwight

          Nader gets blamed for Iraq War, as if Gore would have acted differently. Joe Biden gave lie to that by playing a central role in pushing the Iraq war resolution through the Senate. Stephen Zunes has written about it and Scott Horton interviewed him about it.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I’m happy to hear of another “Sun” reader

        There really is a lot of good writing out there these days. If only there were some way to find it on the Internet!

  9. Montanamaven

    Tucker Carlson had a segment last night asking “Would Venezuela Uprising be good for the US?” He had on journalist Anya Parampil who said the Fake News was misreporting on what is really going on in Venezuela.
    Only Mainstream media show I’ve heard that is not taking the corporate neo con line on overthrowing Maduro. At it’s on Fox News. Criticism of coverage of Venezuela uprisings

    1. Procopius

      I’ve been bemused by Tucker Carlson the past year. He’s done some real reporting, actually presenting facts, and even good analysis, mixed in with the most egregious bullshit. Don’t know what’s been wrong with him. Some kind of mental aberration.

  10. DJG

    The nice-nice pledge, which seems to be coming up all over these days. Appeals to civility are always appeals to hierarchy. And if you can’t appeal to civility, then make a puritanical appeal. So I’m not buying any of it. I recall full well all of the caterwauling on Facebook four years ago when the Hillary supporters were insisting on rallying around the primary winner—till HRC started to lose primaries. Then the “problem” of uncivil misogyny kept coming up.

    I am reminded, too, that profiles of the wonderful poet Marianne Moore often noted that she didn’t suffer fools gladly. There was a time when many Americans didn’t suffer fools gladly. Sometimes, a fool has to be reminded of his or her foolishness. Pricking the foolishness of the inflated is not something one has to guarantee to do civilly.

    1. DJG

      Wowsers. Quite a thread of comments. The replies sniveling about Bernie Sanders start in immediately. And we’re talking genuine sniveling.

      Why am I having flashbacks to 2015 and 2016?

    2. Carolinian

      There was a time when many Americans didn’t suffer fools gladly

      Where’s H.L Mencken when you need him?

      We do have lots of insult comics these days–all the rage?–but they seem to mostly talk about sex.

  11. Schöner Döner

    There’s a whole universe of DCCC-cozying canvassing apps… keeping the Consulting Class afloat and tethered to high dollar campaign spending.

    Not sure who else will get access to data collected by the Bernie campaign, but they will probably be able to have their money go further by only paying for a single canvassing app than for a whole ecosystem of companies jockeying for influence instead of producing a useful tool.

    1. Duck1

      Are they doing a docu on the crazy chops that went into creating the ACA user interface? FDR level leadership there my friends.

  12. Jeff W

    From Splinter’s “It’s Time to Stop Being Polite About Medicare For All” here:

    It is time to start being meaner to politicians, Republicans and Democrats alike, who don’t support single-payer. Remind them what they do support when they say they want to preserve a system that includes $6,000 deductibles and people dying from rationing their insulin. Remind them what it means to say they want to preserve the private market when that means preserving a cost barrier to care. This is not some wonky debate over taxes and premiums; it is a moral emergency.

    [link in original]

    I’m not so sure that I’d describe confronting people, especially our representatives, with the realities of our current “health care” “system” as “meaner” but it’s definitely called-for.

  13. crittermom

    Lambert, that was an interesting article you linked to following the pledge article.

    With the title “Creative Destruction” however, I wasn’t sure if it would be an article, or another example of ‘big boys & their big toys’ (cranes, backhoes, etc). ;-)

  14. allan

    They hate us for our freedoms, south of the Mason-Dixon Line edition:

    GOP-led states move the war on voting to a new front: voter registration [Vox]

    The 2018 midterm cycle saw a historic surge in voter turnout that helped deliver wins to a number of Democratic politicians across the country.

    Now, months after the election, Republican lawmakers in a handful of states have introduced measures that would impose stricter rules on voters and voter registration groups, a policy shift that voting rights groups and advocates say could have a chilling effect on upcoming elections and introduce a new wave of voting restrictions in the US. …

    The Tennessee bill, which has been publicly endorsed by Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, is targeted to groups that pay people to help register voters. The measure would fine voter registration groups who “knowingly or intentionally” submit incomplete or inaccurate registration forms.

    The penalties are based on the number of “deficient” voter registration forms they submit; groups submitting more than 500 incomplete forms could be fined as much as $10,000, while those submitting more than 100 incomplete forms could be fined as much as $2,000.

    According to the Associated Press, the bill also makes it a Class A misdemeanor — which is punishable by a maximum $2,500 fine and/or jail time — for registration drive organizers to miss training sessions led by state officials …

    In Texas, lawmakers are considering a measure that would make it a felony, punishable by jail time and a fine of up to $10,000, for a person to put false information on a voter registration form (which is currently a misdemeanor) or to vote despite being ineligible to cast a ballot. …

    Voting rights advocates say the measure is written in a way that would expose people to prosecution for making unintentional errors when voting or registering to vote, and that it creates a number of new election-related offenses. …

    But surely the Voting Section of the DOJ Civil Rights Division under fugitive from Congressional subpoena
    Attorney General Barr won’t let these laws stand.

  15. The Rev Kev

    Matt Stoller: ‘Dems are going to be confused and upset at the constant stream of populist-sounding arguments from Republicans which are accurate. Biden’s going to have to defend the Obama record and it’s not defensible.’

    So what happens if the Republicans run a campaign to the left of the Democrats in 2020? Trump did it himself back in 2016. That could be devastating that approach.

    1. neo-realist

      If anybody but Sanders or Gabbard is the candidate, it might work, particularly with Biden. Besides, I suspect Trump might have difficulty defending an anti-populist agenda after running as a populist. He had no track record to defend in 2016, so lying was easy. The hard core republicans will be fine with that, but the independents who took a chance on him after voting for Obama may be a different story.

  16. Kurtismayfield

    Lambert you will love this one:

    Girl gets charged $143,000 US dollars for snake anti-venim

    My favorite quottes:

    Snakebites can be painful and scary. But they may seem like weak nips after the hospital’s billing department sinks their teeth in.

    I love this writer

    Emergency treatment for a copperhead bite in a 9-year-old Indiana girl last summer cost a jaw-dropping $142,938, according to a report by Kaiser Health News. The bill includes $67,957 for four vials of antivenin. That works out to $16,989.25 for each vial—more than five times the average list price of $3,198. The bill also included $55,577.64 for air-ambulance transportation.

    Now the $55k for air rescue seems reasonable compared to the cost of the anti-venim.

    Though it’s a straightforward process, relatively few people end up needing an antivenin of any kind—less than 50,000 per year in the country. And that leads to steep prices.

    Oh so that is the excuse! So $17k per vial times 50,000 = $850 million in revenue. I would love to see the company’s balance sheets. The best parts:

    In her 2015 editorial, Boyer lamented the prices for a scorpion antivenin her group also helped develop, which ranged from $7,900 to $39,652 per vial in the US. A sister drug, meanwhile, cost around just $100 in Mexico.

    Now that is a price gouge!

    “[W]hen price points are set after marketing approval of these lifesaving antidotes, the impact of development costs is magnified, together with that of bureaucracy and the profit motive,” Dr. Leslie Boyer wrote in a 2015 editorial on the matter. She’s the founding director of the VIPER Institute (Venom Immunochemistry, Pharmacology, and Emergency Response Institute) at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center in Tucson, which helped develop Crofab, among other antivenins, using government grants.

    This is US capitalism in action folks! Have the government fund development of a treatment, then gouge the health insurance company and patient for profit. This entire read tells you how far gone our system is from a realistic model.

      1. Kurtismayfield

        Thank you Yves, I don’t get a chance to read the links everyday. It’s too much to keep up with all the material posted here!

    1. ambrit

      Wore my Red shirt today while shopping. Alas, almost no one hereabouts knows what May Day is about.
      But, but, deconstructionism at such an advanced gauge? Broken train of thought run out of town on rails

  17. Phacops

    Re:“Caster Semenya Loses Case to Compete as a Woman in All Races”

    Why hasn’t it occurred to people that to succeed in athletics one needs to be a freak of nature? It isn’t all training and development since the acquisition of physical skills is also innate and physiological.

    Why not let competitors even the field with drugs that mimic the freaks we laud. At least we can compete with skilled drug use rather than celebrating the already drug-addled or biochemical monstrosities in professional sports.

  18. allan

    Moderate Democrats fret they made a ‘big mistake’ backing Barr [Politico]

    Who could possibly have predicted?

    … After revelations that special counsel Robert Mueller took issue with Barr’s presentation of the Russia investigation‘s findings, a pair of centrist Democrats said they are having second thoughts about supporting Barr earlier this year.

    Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), who is the most vulnerable Democratic senator up for reelection next year, said he is “greatly, greatly disappointed in what I am seeing in the attorney general.” …

    Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), another Barr supporter, said if Mueller’s issues with Barr “proves out, absolutely I have buyer’s remorse. I would have made a big mistake.” Manchin said he will lean on Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to bring Mueller in for a hearing, though Graham has already said he has no plans to do so.

    “It’s troubling, absolutely. The difference between the interpretation between what Mueller really meant and what he intended. And he thought he didn’t present it properly. And Barr said he basically did represent properly,” Manchin said. “We’ve got to get that cleared up. And I would encourage my friend Lindsey Graham to bring Mueller in as quickly as possible.” …

    “greatly, greatly disappointed” and “my friend Lindsey Graham”. Just the kind of fire-in-the-belly rhetoric that
    will boost voter turnout. I’m will to have Roy Moore and Don Blankenship in the Senate if that’s what it takes
    to get rid of these jokers.

  19. Lambert Strether Post author

    Happy to report that Google’s Captcha forced me to confuse bicycles and some Lime scooters. Not that I’m happy about a robot car plowing into either, of course.

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