Links 5/12/19

Dancing honeybees use democratic process when selecting a new home ScienceDaily. From 2010. Still germane!

Scientists Discover Nearly 200,000 Kinds of Ocean Viruses Quanta

A Flightless, Chicken-Sized Bird Keeps Re-Evolving Into Existence Because It DGAF Buzzfeed (DK). Original.

Uber’s IPO Joins Ranks of Wall Street Flops Bloomberg

1 big thing: Uber’s IPO got caught in perfect storm Axios

Uber’d Eschaton. Just spitballing here, but what if there’s so much capital sloshing about that Uber’s VCs backed it as a form of social engineering: To destroy public transportation, increase traffic, degrade employment law, pioneer an immiserated labor force of gigsters, and so forth. What’s not to like? Uber’s inability to ever turn a profit would have then been a secondary consideration, and Uber a sort of hobby farm for the 0.1%. Oh, and Uber (along with Facebook) pioneered the idea that “move fast and break things” applies to the law, as well. And what’s wrong with freeing capital from such antiquated fetters?

Playing DICE with Life on Earth: Nordhaus’s Damage Function Steve Keen (part one).

‘Huge Moment for Justice’: Landmark Verdict as UK Jury Acquits Extinction Rebellion Co-Founder Who Argued Necessity Defense Common Dreams

Internal documents show 3M hid PFAS dangers for decades Detroit Free Press (MN).

Brexit

The Brexit effect: private equity firms shun UK for Europe FT

Brexit BOMBSHELL: New poll puts Brexit Party AHEAD of Conservatives for General Election Express

Proportional Representation in Regional Constituencies. How does it work? Richard Corbett, MEP

Is Jeremy Corbyn really anti-Semitic? Spectator

The latest multi-billion pound move in NHS privatisation – is the endgame in sight? OpenDemocracy

China?

China’s Vice-Premier Liu He says ‘small setbacks’ will not derail trade war talks and Donald Trump warns China to reach a trade deal now, or face a ‘far worse’ one if I get re-elected South China Morning Post

The “Clash of Civilizations” Model is a Poor Fit for Conflicts in East Asia The National Interest

India

PM Narendra Modi Interview: ‘Khan Market gang hasn’t created my image, 45 years of tapasya has… you cannot dismantle it’ Indian Express

Syraqistan

US builds up forces in Middle East FT

Media Amplify Iran War Propaganda – Play Up Intelligence Lies Moon of Alabama

Armed militants storm luxury hotel in Pakistan attack Guardian

Army strategists much better at planning fantasy wars instead of war in Afghanistan Duffel Blog

Venezuela

The Latest: Guaidó asks for relations with US military AP

National Assembly VP Detained and 55 Armed Forces Officers Expelled in Attempted Putsch Fallout in Venezuela Venezuelanalysis

Yikes:

Trump Transition

Trump seeks to limit judges’ powers on injunctions after legal blows The Hill

The dangerous precedent of Congress demanding Trump’s tax returns The Week

Border detention cells in Texas are so overcrowded that U.S. is using aircraft to move migrants WaPo

Dems warn Shanahan new border actions could break civil-military law Military Times

Education Secretary Betsy Devos Hires Private Accounting Firm to Audit the Student Loan program: Asking For Bad News Condemed to Debt

Warren, Nadler introduce bill to allow student loan borrowers bankruptcy relief The Hill (UserFriendly). Looks like it’s S1414. Let me check the co-sponsors… Nope, Joe Biden’s not on there. Would you believe it!

Congressional Staff Hosted at Anti-Medicare For All Retreat The Intercept. Of Democrats: Clyburn (D-SC), Hoyer, D-MD, Lipinski, (D-IL), Schrader (D-OR), Torres Small (D-NM), Trone (D-MD). “Officials from the Blue Dogs, Problem Solvers Caucus, and the New Democrats were also in attendance.” The resort looks nice.

2020

Why Joe won’t blow it Michael Tracey, The Spectator USA

Obamamania and its Legacy: Why Biden Leads John Halle

Sanders: I Can Defeat Trump By Speaking To His Base, “Exposing Him For The Fraud He Is” RealClearPolitics

Trump backers applaud Warren in heart of MAGA country Politico. Warren is obviously a Russian puppet.

Our Famously Free Press

The Last Family-Owned Daily in Mississippi The Atlantic. If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Millions of people uploaded photos to the Ever app. Then the company used them to develop facial recognition tools. NBC

Harvard Drops Harvey Weinstein Lawyer as a Faculty Dean NYT. The unwoke do not deserve legal representation.

Class Warfare

Back Row America First Things. Chris Arnade. Today’s must-read.

The Gross Inequality of Death in America The New Republic

Not No Longer but Not Yet LRB. Review of the collected writings of Mark Fisher, author of Exiting the Vampire Castle. Even if Fisher didn’t invent “Mighty woke of you” (drumlin woodchuckles) he surely would have, given the appropriate conjuncture.

What’s Scarier Than Student Loans? Welcome to the World of Subprime Children NYT

Walmart store managers average $175,000 a year. Many employees still earn below the poverty line. Guardian. College administrator territory! Of course, it’s not like being an adjunct and a shelf-stocker are in any way similar….

Congress could help nearly 8 million working moms this Mother’s Day if it raised the federal minimum wage EPI

Why We Join Cults Areo. “We”? And if you’re looking for an explanation of the various *DSs ( ____ Derangement Syndromes) that we seem to be accumulating, they don’t fit the criteria given for cult in the article. Interesting nonetheless.

5-HTTLPR: A Pointed Review Slate Star Codex

Antidote du Jour (via):


Bonus antidote, osprey cam:

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.

224 comments

  1. The Public Must Suffer

    Uber “In distributing the stock, Uber prioritized shareholders — particularly institutional investors”

    Pension funds. VCs transferring their losses to the public. Another example of privatizing profits, socializing the losses.

    Reply
    1. JEHR

      Re: Uber’d

      Why not do the same to public transportation as is being done to politics (and education, sports, etc.): first, make sure that the old system no longer works through competition from an untenable and unsustainable source; then, once the old is considered broken and no longer workable, introduce another system designed to make the rich richer; finally, when we no longer have a workable system replace it with one that makes money for the 1% rather than serving the public and let the public go hang! Destroy the old and replace it with the profit-making new. What a future to look forward to!

      Reply
      1. Cal2

        “make sure that the old system no longer works”

        You mean like eliminate the electric motor, overhead wire streetcars that once allowed cities and suburbs to thrive, and replace them with diesel buses that then had to be eliminated because of the material and economic needs of war production? Been there, done that.

        https://www.lovearth.net/gmdeliberatelydestroyed.htm

        Then once suburbs were car dependent, build housing projects in old ethnic neighborhoods to destroy the inner cities and get the apartment dwelling, walk to work, bus riding workers out of town and into the car showrooms, furniture stores and mortgage markets of the suburbs.

        Now, the car dependents can become neofeudal motorized serfs to the elite everywhere.

        Reply
        1. Svante

          Funny, how nobody ever mentions that Federal Interstates, Urban Renewal and much of white flight were basically the obvious culmination of The New Deal; not to mention what all that new concrete, oil, methane, coal, coke and industrial agriculture did to the climate? Urban electric traction was dying by the Depression but WWll rejuvinated it enough to warrant National City Lines’ coup de grâce https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Motors_streetcar_conspiracy (§ Other Factors) https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2018/08/where-ride-hailing-and-transit-go-hand-in-hand/566651/
          https://www.truthdig.com/articles/we-finally-know-when-the-human-impact-on-climate-began/

          Reply
          1. Cal2

            I posit that without wartime housing, housing projects and social engineering, or tickets back to the south for war workers, the cities would have remained viable and pleasant places though the 1960s and 1970s. Therefore urban renewal, a.k.a. would not have happened. Look at the restored and renewed neighborhoods of San Francisco, architecturally at least, then compare them to the 60 square blocks of old buildings, often of high quality, emptied of Japanese Americans, turned into housing for sharecroppers brought up from the south to work war plants, then torn down and ‘renewed’ a few miles away. Result, a hidous mishmash of concrete, stucco and decades of abandonment.

            Civic decay is profitable, to some.

            Streetcars could have been updated with new equipment. There’s nothing wrong with buses per se, as Curitaba, Brazil, which has a magnificent bus network demonstrates.

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

            When the financial and military industrial complex wants something, it happens, as our country’s history illustrates.

            Reply
            1. Svante

              Looks like our reading lists overlap? I am always wishing someone would do a series on Gene Smith and Teeny Harris, in the Hill’s after hours bop bars, Leicas & Speed Graphics teetering atop the bar? My brother actually bought a 1948 Shaker Heights PCC car for a Museum. They were running up and down 12% grades in snowy Appalachia, every 8-15 minutes (bituminous powered, natch), it was a different planet, I recon?

              https://documentarystudies.duke.edu/books/dream-street-w-eugene-smiths-pittsburgh-project

              Reply
          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            I don’t think that Federal Interstates, Urban Renewal and the white flight were the obvious culmination of the New Deal. I think they were steps on the long anti-New Deal Counter Revolution waged by the Upper Class, both personal and corporate.

            The early and mid New Dealers were very concerned with eco-restoration and eco-sustainability. Henry Wallace was driven out of the Vice Presidency to make sure he would not become President and to begin erasing that eco-restorative sustainability part of the New Deal.

            Historians of the New Deal Fade-Away should really study this period if they haven’t already.

            Reply
            1. Svante

              Actually, in preponderance, I believe we’re in agreement (though I’m presuming reaction is simply built-in) Henry Wallace, et al. were stomped by both parties, whod’a thunk? Red-lining, destruction of competing Black, Latino and Asian business districts, feeding all returning veterans to the jackals… I’d love to see just who was on the late 40’s PCC cars, going to shift work union jobs, saving up for a car? We had no car, a girlfriend from Philly and a pal from Cleveland, the same. There was just no need back then.

              Reply
      2. Olga

        “Why not do the same to public transportation…” – what makes you think that this has not already been done? Some years ago, PBS ran a documentary on exactly this topic: how the auto industry destroyed the public transportation in the US with the purpose of growing car sales. I am not sure this is the one – but Taken for a Ride tells the same story:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-I8GDklsN4
        (The cartoon at the beginning is just too funny.)
        The story can be summed up in this comment: “In 1958, GM backed a new bus line between Milwaukee and Chicago. This competed with the North Shore rail line. They subsidized it, so it undercut the North Shore Line in price. In a few years, the North Shore Line was out of business. Then GM shut down the bus line. Today, you drive if you want to go to Milwaukee.”
        And don’t forget that the building of the national highway system – considered one of the big accomplishments of the Eisenhower administration – may be just as well viewed as a giant taxpayer subsidy to the automobile industry.

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          It wasn’t the whole auto industry. And it wasn’t just the auto industry.

          It was a three-way conspiracy formed specifically by General Motors Corporation, Standard Oil of New Jersey and Firestone Tire and Rubber. The conspirators were sued and taken to court.
          The plaintiffs won. The judge conceded that the defendants had broken the law, but the judge decided that they were find upstanding Corporate Citizens who had done no harm. The judge fined them each One Dollar.

          Always remember: its not a theory if it happened.

          Reply
    2. JE

      I feel like the whole rideshare industry needs to be “Craigslisted.” All it would take is a basic free app. An out of work developer could knock out a rough draft in a few weeks. Most drivers and I’d think users will go where the money is. Cut out uber or lyft’s vig and the drivers keep more and the riders pay less. I’d use it, and i don’t use uber or lyft as rentiers.

      Reply
      1. Joe Well

        The reason we don’t have this is because the VCs and the mutual funds and now the greater fool retails investors are subsidizing the Uber and Lyft rides. Who could pass up the opportunity to take money from those nice people? And who could compete with that?

        Reply
        1. Summer

          Well now that the VCs have passed it on to the greater fools, hopefully the greater fools don’t feel compelled to save Uber stock over all other considerations in the economy and stock.

          Yes, now would be the best time to “Craigslist” the ridesharing companies.

          If they don’t see the monopoly happening, I could see it being “Craigslisted.”
          But WHO is a the top of Uber stock pyramid will say more about what will happen than any economic theory or formula.

          Reply
          1. Arizona Slim

            The Craigslist thing is already happening. I found a rideshare driver on Nextdoor, the social media site for neighborhoods.

            Reply
            1. Cal2

              Have seen two examples of that in wealthy? Suburbs lately.
              Nice new cars parked overnight in front of houses with signs:

              “Available to run errands and drive you around. Call xxx xxx xxxx.”

              How will insurance handle this? Already we have to report our mileage to get the good driver discount.

              Maybe future insurance polices will only cover people in your car who are blood relatives. Of course you’ll have to give a DNA sample and this will go in the database. The possibilities are endless.

              Reply
      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        This sounds like something only a leaderless rebellion . . . formless and diffuse . . . can achieve. People who have separately decided they don’t believe in anti-taxi “for profit” ride-sharing companies and will ride share themselves in the teeth of LyftUber to nibble those companies to death by ducks.

        The other side of that rebellion would be enough people taking enough real taxis often enough to keep the taxi companies in bussiness.

        Reply
        1. Carey

          “This sounds like something only a leaderless rebellion . . . formless and diffuse . . . can achieve.”

          And not just WRT Uber™.

          Imagine the possibilities, which are becoming necessities for many of us.

          Reply
      3. Fiery Hunt

        Ah, but this is where REGULATIONS come in…Ya’ll may want to hop in any car (and yes, people do in Oober and Lifted ) but there will be a WHOLE lot of grifters, crooks, and killers who would use a Craigslisted anonymous system to ply their trade.

        It ain’t that hard.
        Just fix the taxi industry.

        Reply
    3. Bill Smith

      Uber “In distributing the stock, Uber prioritized shareholders — particularly institutional investors”

      How does that transfer losses? The “pension funds” go the stock at a pretty low price. The VC’s now have market price on their stock which doesn’t look too good.

      Doesn’t this deal have a lockup period of 180 days? At this point the VCs are stuck?

      Reply
  2. Wukchumni

    The Latest: Guaidó asks for relations with US military AP
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Would be usurper seeks good times and walks on the beach barefoot with the 101st Airborne, where we’ll share candlelight MRE dinners as the last of the light peters out and we clutch in a warm embrace. I’m looking for a meaningful relationship leading to off spring takeover.

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      Re that Spectator fluffer–it makes some arguable points. The basic premise is that Biden is politically born again after his eight year association with Obama and that this will wash away the sins of the past. Add in a sympathetic press corps and widespread Dem TDS and you can’t dismiss the possibility that Biden will go the distance even if it’s all tea leaves at the moment.

      Reply
      1. richard

        Had dinner with friends last night, seattle professional liberals (professions include: lawyer for county gov’t, software, non-profit, labor negotiator, corporate media writer/editor) The way our social thing goes, we don’t see each other for weeks or months at a time, and I don’t social media. So my perspective on them since 2016 feels like a slowly developing picture.
        New characteristics I notice: tds (full blown in one, symptoms in all of them but one), a tendency to answer without listening, More hopelessness and paranoia. One friend stated that she had “always voted for children all her life” and how is it that never feels reflected in policy? Another friend is strongly considering moving to Equador, and others mooted joining him last night. None of them (except for my labor friend) shows much interest in leftist politics or popular struggle, and tend to change the subject when I bring it up. Often they will reframe a class issue into idpol. This has all become somewhat more pronounced since 2016.
        On one level, this makes me unbearably sad. I shared as much as I could last night, but I feel myself drawing further away from them. It feels sometimes that they are responding to a kind of shadow puppetry, images cast by msm. They are personally as complex as can be, yet respond to big, social/political stimuli in such a shallow, skittery, surface reading manner. I have a hard time connecting.
        On another level, I am more convinced than ever that “defense against corporate media” skills should be taught to all usians before age 18. Aside from the political benefits of having a more skeptical citizenry, we’d see an improved mental health. It turns out being lied to and gaslighted non-stop can really f*&^ you up.

        Reply
        1. KB

          Richard:
          I see the same thing and indeed it is sad….and also agree with your remedy..Thanks for sharing that.

          Reply
        2. Janie

          I think you’ve analyzed the mood well. Agree about teaching scepticism regarding MSM and would add critical analysis of corporate-sponsored studies.

          Reply
        3. Brindle

          My experience very similar. I tried bringing up MMT with some friends and responses were bewilderment and on the dismissive side. They all were Obama supporters–but measured.

          Reply
        4. Swamp Yankee

          Rings very true, Richard.

          Indeed, I’ve lost many friends since 2016. But the true core, the ones who are old red Commonwealthmen like myself — they have remained. The former crew weren’t really friends anyway when it came to the important things, like not seeing the country and my people immiserated, so it’s actually better without them. F— ’em.

          I am convinced however that as a class the 10%er professional-managerial crew have to be thoroughly crushed, it’s now them or the the rest of us.

          For all his faults, which are many, old Andy Jackson woulda’ “whipped the britches off of ’em!” Ditto FDR.

          Now’s the time for Bernie to follow their examples!

          Reply
          1. Keith

            If I were you I wouldn’t cite Andy Jackson in the same manner as either FDR or Sanders. Jackson was responsible for the spoils system, the Indian Removal Act and opposed abolition among other things. He was a friend of the common man only to the extent the common man was white and voted for him.

            Reply
            1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

              FDR saved Capitalism by making a deal with the Devil. Sorry i mean Wealthy Industrialists.

              Reply
        5. Cal2

          I’ll second or sixth that, whatever.
          I have encountered example after example of this among the “educated and professional class”.

          When we mentioned Obama’s, who we supported the first time, signing of the NDAA and destruction of habeus, as well as droning, the response from an otherwise educated and socially aware was, “You’re just jealous of a beautiful black man in the white house…” and a refusal to discuss anything unpleasant as far as policy, or the consequences of it.

          Dicussed over cocktails; “Children being detained at the border, the horror!”
          “What about children in Yemen?”
          “Oh, that’s a right wing talking point…”
          General Political Paresis.

          The political financial evolutionary social consequences of this are, IMHO, that these people are heading for extinction, just as did the blue collar high school educated paterfamilas with the fishing cabin and a lawn to mow.

          If you want a dose of political, social and financial realism, I suggest you talk to your local plumber, electrician, carpenter, school bus driver or school teacher. They are usually nicer people too.

          Reply
          1. lambert strether

            > The political financial evolutionary social consequences of this are, IMHO, that these people are heading for extinction, just as did the blue collar high school educated paterfamilas with the fishing cabin and a lawn to mow.

            First they came for the working class….

            Reply
        6. lambert strether

          Liberal Democrats haven’t used their base well, have they? Except financially; I assume none of your interlocutors were in trouble of that sort.

          I agree it’s sad. “These are my people,” as I keep saying.

          Reply
          1. Richard

            No, no big financial trouble at all I’d say. But also no members of the 10%.
            With the exception of my friend in media, none of us have experienced much in the way of major economic disruption, 2008 included. I am a union supported elementary school teacher, by the way.
            But nobody is wealthy either. One couple among us nearly owns their place outright. Another couple paying it off with 1 kid; everyone else is renting but not precarious.
            I don’t want to overcharacterize my friends as clueless or anything. They are definitely awake through everything that is happening to them, and I think we had very close to a common understanding of how depraved our health care system has become. I could even say there was a class consciousness on this subject, since it encourages fellow feeling and common cause with the despised deplorables. So what a good place to start, and good on Bernie for seeing that.

            Reply
            1. Cal2

              “how depraved our health care system has become…”

              Nice turn of phrase, add to that “predatory”.

              Not far from “Parasitical”.

              Reply
        7. Chris Cosmos

          As I often say, we live in a post-rational society one where people crave and search out mythological frameworks. This has developed in all areas particularly in those with college and graduate degrees. In a funny way the strong anti-intellectualism always present in the working class has gone into the intellectual class with a vengeance. I find more awareness and intellectual curiosity in my working class friends than in those in my own class.

          Reply
          1. Carey

            I strongly agree with your last sentence.

            “Rayciss!… Sexiss!… Transphobe!”

            I know which group I’d want with me in a fight.

            Reply
      2. lambert strether

        > Biden Spectator fluffery

        Nonsense. Judged on form, the first day of a Biden presidential campaign is always the best day.

        That does not mean that Biden is not, as it were, a bad idea whose time has come. There’s a perfectly good case that Biden will be a force in this campaign, and Tracey makes it. It’s theorizing in advance of the facts, as Sherlock Holmes would say, to think otherwise.

        2020 is not 2016 with different candidates. Sanders did extraordinarily well against Clinton, but he was also very lucky in his (single) opponent: Voter hatred for Clinton was deep and wide. Not so with Biden. We have another example of this in 2018: O’Rourke did extraordinarily well against the punchable Ted Cruz, also widely hated, locally and nationally. But in 2020, different opponents, and O’Rourke is suddenly meh.

        For that percentage of Democrats who want a restoration of the Obama administration, Biden is just fine. And since the even the idea that Obama’s Presidency was not West Wing shiny would be shocking to many Democrats — because the electoral left, including Sanders, never made it — it’s hard to make the case that a restoration would be a sure recipe for Trump 1.2, and then Trump 2.0.

        Reply
        1. Brindle

          In the past week I’ve become somewhat resigned to the strong chance or probability that Biden will be the nominee. He would have a good chance of beating Trump—as long as the Dem centrists don’t trash the progressives so much that they stay home on election day. Biden is a mediocrity–but that is often a plus in USA politics.

          Reply
          1. Carolinian

            often a plus in USA politics

            It’s often an inevitability. Nixon was our last truly wonkish president and look what happened to him. It’s a political job. Even if Sanders wins he’ll have to sell those things he advocates.

            Reply
          2. curlydan

            Biden has a good chance of beating Trump? I think Trump could beat Biden fairly easily. I think many swing voters crave authenticity. Trump may be an ignorant [bleep], but he’s an authentic ignorant [bleep]. Biden eventually will be exposed as two-faced and inauthentic like most of the Dem leadership. The Trump haters will emerge to vote against him, but I think Trump can still get the votes he needs.

            There are few Dems who have enough authenticity to beat Trump.

            Reply
            1. RopeADope

              Trump normalized lazy, corrupt and stupid as criteria for being leader of the ‘free world’. Biden now has a decent shot at being president where he had none prior to 2016. The questions come down to 1) Is it better to be more of these things or less? and 2) between Trump and Biden which is which?

              Reply
              1. flora

                Trump normalized lazy, corrupt and stupid as criteria for being leader …

                I thought it was W who normalized those vices. “Heck of a job, Brownie.” heh.

                Reply
              2. Fiery Hunt

                Trump beats Biden, hands down.

                I’ve already decided to hang a huge
                “Bernie or Trump
                You decide.”
                banner outside my East Bay shop the week of the California primary. That’ll not go over well with the 10%ers but…Truth hurts.

                Reply
          3. neo-realist

            A big key will be that more democratic voters will be inclined to get off their duffs to vote for a mediocrity like Biden than they did for Hillary. A lot of dems, either sat on their butts, voted for Trump in protest, or voted 3rd party because Hillary was hated so much by independent and left democratic voters. Having experienced 4 years of Trump might be an additive to the democratic vote count in 2020 and cause many to hold their nose to vote for a relatively inoffensive mediocrity that they don’t despise with a passion. Biden, I suspect, will be helped by lip service if not the promise to act on progressive policy initiatives.

            A key for Trump will be that he grows his vote count rather than holding on to the vast majority of people who voted for him in 2016. If not, voter suppression on steroids in the battleground states may be enough to give him the electoral vote count to win.

            Reply
            1. Mac na Michomhairle

              I think that the 10% will vote Biden, and a few other deep Democratic constituencies, but people underestimate the level of disgust that more and more of the 90% have for the ‘system’ and its representatives.

              Trump attracted voters by signaling that he was an ordinary guy who would also give the ‘man’ the finger. Biden is a creature of Washington with a long political history. Backslapping will not erase that. People are fed up. That doesn’t mean being fed up translates into understanding or common understanding, but they know who they don’t like.

              Reply
          4. VietnamVet

            I will never vote for Joe Biden for his messing around with Ukraine for family profit and restarting the Cold War with Russia. I can never vote for Donald Trump. I am afraid my 2020 vote will be in vain as it was in 2016. I will vote in the Maryland Democratic Primary for Bernie Sanders or Tulsi Gabbard. At this point I hope to get a meaningful vote.

            Reply
  3. Wukchumni

    Come and listen to a story about a man named Guaidó
    A GQ Venezuelan, barely kept his movement led,
    Then one day he was in a infidel mood
    And up through DC came a bumbling dude.

    Bolton that is, unintentional comedy gold, mustache rides for free.

    Well the first thing you know bold Guaidó’s our man over there
    Admin folk said Maduro move away, ya hear?
    Said exile is the place you ought to be
    So they loaded up the military and went out to sea.

    Takeover, that is.
    Swimming pools of oil, heavy crude

    The Bolivar Hillbilly

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      Guaido–Californy is the place he ought to be. He can join those Iranian and Saudi and Russian oligarchs in the hills of Beverly.

      Reply
  4. Romancing The Loan

    Chris Arnade’s conversion from Wall St. trader to underclass chronicler has its own air of myth about it, appropriate to the religious experience he’s writing about now. I hope it doesn’t end with him getting shot by the cops and resurrected in glory though.

    Reply
    1. Krystyn Walentka

      I just want to quote his last few paragraphs here for those with short attention spans, because it is too wonderful to miss. I cannot wait to buy his book.

      Like most in the front row, I am used to thinking we have all the answers. On Wall Street, there were few problems we couldn’t solve with enough smarts, energy, audacity, or money. We even managed to push death into the distance; with enough research and enough resources—eating right, doing the right things, going to the correct medical specialist—the inevitable could be delayed, and mortality could feel distant.

      With a great job and a great apartment in a great neighborhood, it is easy to feel we have nothing for which we need to be absolved. The fundamental fallibility of humans seems outdated, distant. It’s not hard to imagine that you have everything under control.

      On the streets, few can delude themselves into thinking they have it under control. You cannot ignore death there, and you cannot ignore human fallibility. It is easier to see that everyone is a sinner, everyone is fallible, and everyone is mortal. It is easier to see that there are things just too deep, too important, or too great for us to know. It is far easier to recognize that one must come to peace with the idea that we don’t and never will have this under control. It is far easier to see religion not just as useful, but as true.

      St. Francis of Assisi come to to mind, no doubt he experienced this lack of control to be freed from the illusion most of us have about life. There is a great liberation in letting go of that control. This is why I think stopping climate disruption is fundamentally spiritual, because it is not about what we have to DO, it is about what we need to stop doing. I told this to a friend recently, that I am going to “do nothing” to stop climate disruption. Like St. Francis, do nothing, buy nothing, travel nowhere, read nothing, know nothing…

      Reply
      1. rippledub

        The greenest guy on earth is the one blissfully snoring, stretched out in a hammock, with honey bees sipping from a half full glass of home brew slowing spilling into his lap.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          A good friend i’ve backpacked/hiked perhaps 3,000 miles with all over the Sierra, bought me & him hammocks for xmas around the turn of the century.

          Initially we were pretty much charter members of the great hammockracy, although as of late I see more and more backpackers using them. All you need is a couple of trees 10-14 feet apart, and you’re good to go.

          It’s almost as if I was sleeping in a bed, that comfortable.

          Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          I see us as Portugal just before the Lisbon earthquake, and then fading as a force henceforth.

          Reply
    2. jo6pac

      Todays must read is right on and I don’t care if he finds religion only that he keeps writing about another world inside of Amerika.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        I was in the habit of taking walks, sometimes as long as fifteen miles, to explore and reduce stress, but now my walks began to evolve. Rather than setting out with some plan to walk the entire length of Broadway, or along the length of a subway line, I started walking the less-seen parts of New York City. Along the way, I talked to anyone who talked to me. I used my camera to take portraits of people I met.

        I always enjoyed this Edward Abbey quote, which pretty much sums up slowing down to the pace of a biped…

        “There are some good things to be said about walking. Not many, but some.” Walking takes longer, for example, than any other known form of locomotion except crawling. Thus it stretches time and prolongs life. Life is already too short to waste on speed. I have a friend who’s always in a hurry; he never gets anywhere. Walking makes the world much bigger and thus more interesting. You have time to observe the details. The utopian technologists foresee a future for us in which distance is annihilated. … To be everywhere at once is to be nowhere forever, if you ask me.”

        Or another from A.J. Liebling, a favorite author of mine.

        “You can hope for lucky encounters only if you walk around a lot.”

        …bonus Liebling quote:

        “I can write better than anybody who can write faster, and I can write faster than anybody who can write better.”

        Reply
        1. Chris Cosmos

          Ivan Illich wrote long ago that the maximum speed limit should be 15 mph for a more healthy and convivial world. I agree with that.

          Reply
          1. Carey

            Illich’s ‘Tools for Conviviality’ helped me see how so much
            “innovation” benefits only the Few. A good book.

            Reply
      2. Amfortas the hippie

        “Fieldwork”
        or “there but for the grace of god go i”
        it’s good that one of their own(who grew up in a mildly socialist home?) did this safari…and that he did it with such humility as he did.
        like exchange students…except that they ain’t ready for the reciprocal exchange.

        Reply
        1. RWood

          Here, believing

          The writer Pankaj Mishra is right in arguing that neoliberalism has created a society in which compassion is now viewed with disdain and empathy in a market driven society becomes synonymous with a pathology.  He writes:

          The puzzle of our age is how [compassion as an] essential foundation of civic life went missing from our public conversation, invisibly replaced by the presumed rationality of individual self-interest, market mechanisms, and democratic institutions. It may be hard to remember this today, amid the continuous explosions of anger and vengefulness in public life, but the compassionate imagination was indispensable to the political movements that emerged in the nineteenth century to address the mass suffering caused by radical social and economic shifts. As the experiences of dislocation and exploitation intensified, a variety of socialists, democrats, and reformers upheld fellow feeling and solidarity, inciting the contempt of, among others, Friedrich Nietzsche, who claimed that the demand for social justice concealed the envy and resentment of the weak against their naturally aristocratic superiors. Our own deeply unequal and bitterly polarized societies, however, have fully validated Rousseau’s fear that people divided by extreme disparities would cease to feel compassion for another…. One result of mainstreaming a bleak survivalist ethic is that “most people, as they grow up now,” the psychoanalyst Adam Phillips and the historian Barbara Taylor wrote in On Kindness, “secretly believe that kindness is a virtue of losers.”
          Henry Giroux
          https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/05/10/critical-pedagogy-fascist-culture-and-hope-in-dark-times/

          Reply
          1. newcatty

            That was, and is, the plan for the power hungry neoliberal. Continue to create a society in which survivalist striving is ever more difficult for most of the people. This can lead to dark nights of the soul. To come out of them, one must remember that compassion and kindness are still there like a tiny bird singing in morning light. Losers are what they, the power hungry, define them to be in their world. We can’t let them do that now. Religion was turned on its head… became like kindness being called a “virtue of losers”. I know people who are in a religious community who believe in God, Goddess, reincarnation, and attend Mass with love and humility. As we get older, maybe a saving grace is that you do let go…Mystery and quiet peace is enough.

            Reply
            1. Janie

              The article included the phrase “noblesse oblige”, which seems to be out of date. I rarely see it now. It needs to be revived, along with “to whom much is given, from him much will be expected”.

              Reply
              1. JBird4049

                In the wars Americans have been in the upper classes used to be in them even Vietnam. Maybe never to the same levels but still there. It was partly because of patriotism and partly due to that noblesse oblige.

                Not so today. It I brought up such archaic beliefs people would laugh. Yet we still have all those wars and the entire national security state being covered over by a besmirched zombified patriotism.

                Reply
    3. rd

      We keep talking about term limits in Washington for politicians. Maybe the big problem is that we don’t have term limits on Wall Street. It seems like the people who get off the rat-race treadmill there and go somewhere else pretty much always have the same reaction – total surprise there is a world on the other side of the Hudson River.

      So maybe we need to require a 10-year sabbatical starting at age 35 where they go off and simply can’t do anything in finance or in NYC metropolitan region.

      Reply
    4. Jeremy Grimm

      I am not as impressed by Arnade’s piece as others in this thread. I view the success of religion in giving succor to the poor and forgotten as less a credit to institutional religions than a terrible indictment of current secular philosophy — particularly the philosophies encompassing Neoliberalism and its lesser cousin Libertarianism. Further I cannot forgive conventional religions for their congeries of belief and culture which have so effectively assured the truth of Malthusianism’s dire predictions. However nicely the arguments made that standard of living and education for women highly correlate to reductions in the tendencies toward overpopulation, arguments for nice liberal values, I am more convinced that access to birth control and some cultural ‘adjustments’ might more effectively limit population. Our society has proven very adept at cultural ‘adjustments’ through very well-tuned methods for manufacturing consent. But population control has never been on ‘our’ agenda because of organized religion ‘here’ and the advantages overpopulation provides to labor arbitrage ‘there’.

      Reply
  5. timbers

    Sucking up all your personal data via Neoliberal crapification…

    Quick share.

    I downloaded an firmware update on my 4K HDTV. Next day, multi colored lines appeared on the screen when I turned it on, so I called Sony Customer Service (I now refer to Customer Service generally as Customer U-Serve Us due this and other experiences).

    Customer U-Serve Us Rep starts off by trying to hover up all my personal data. I become irate and ask when are we going to talk about what I want to talk which is the point the call? I ask why does she need my email, rufuse to give it. Finally I get tell her the problem. She replies I’m past 1 yr warranty so she has to deal with me by email. I say I bought a second Sony same model a few months back and that’s within 1 yr. She says she has to know that date and other details because the computer screen requires it. I tell that will take time and research…I just want to know the fix, NOW, as to why your firmware destroyed my TV? She replies out of warranty people only get emailed response. I tell her if she won’t talk to me about my problem NOW as I stand here with a glass of wine poured because I was expecting to enjoy a 4K movie I just got on my Sony TV, I want to speak to her manager or someone who will help me.

    So, she says unplug your TV, wait 1 minute, then turn it back on. I ask are yes sure that will work?

    “Yes. This is widely reported problem with the update. I’m absolutely sure it will work.”

    I did as instructed, the fix worked, TV back to it’s brilliant normal self.

    It didn’t use to be that hard and I recall a time Sony had a good reputation on Customer Service.

    Reply
    1. whoamolly

      About ten years ago I was working with both professional and consumer grade Sony video cameras.

      When I occasionally called for assistance, I quickly learned that Sony had two support tracks.

      The pro track was excellent. Good response time, accurate answers, helpful people. The consumer track was the exact opposite. Sounds like they’ve stuck to that plan.

      Reply
    2. Oh

      Under the guise of authenticating you, they suck up more of your personal info. They also have a recording before answering the call: “conversation may be recorded for training purposes” meaning that they will also amke sure that their call responders don’t diverge from the training in any way.

      Reply
    3. flora

      So basically, Sony told you (finally) to cold reboot (turn off, wait a minute for internal electronics to really shut down, turn back on) your TV to sync the firmware update. Cold rebooting a firmware update is a pretty common requirement on PCs. But Sony wanted to grill you for personal and purchasing details before they gave you that simple answer??? That’s horrible customer service.

      Reply
    4. ewmayer

      My own most-recent experience in neoliberal crapification of everything is rather more mundane, but illustrative nonetheless. Needed a cheapie printer for occasional b&w document printing, e.g. USPS prepaid labels and tax forms. Ended up going with an HP Deskjet 1112 model, for $30. Then the fun began:

      o The power cord is poorly sized at the printer-side dual-plug end, it fails to give a tight connection there, and keeps coming loose on the slightest jiggling, cutting power to the printer.

      o No printer cable included! Some of the Amazon reviewers warned about this, but on a non-networked printer there’s simply no good excuse to not throw in a 50-cent (manufacturer’s cost) 5-foot cable. Here’s how stupid that decision is – it ends up costing both HP and the printer purchaser money. The purchaser is forced to shell out ~$5 for a separate cable, whereas I’m sure most folks would gladly pay an extra dollar for a printer that includes the cable, which would actually represent a small profit for the manufacturer.

      o Missing/hard-to-find printer drivers – Printer only includes setup disc for Windows. Mac/Linux users need to go on the web, and users of older versions of either OS are sh*t out of luck. I have my macbook frozen at OSX 10.6.8 due to its wonderful stability and because I have legacy software running on that machine which would be rendered unusable by an OS upgrade. I’m sure HP could very easily make drivers for newer-model printers backward compatible, they just didn’t bother to. The only reason I was able to use the printer at all is that a little Raspberry-Pi-style micro-PC I bought a couple years ago happens to have the needed drivers. But since I do all my daily work and e-mailing from my mac, that means copying the file to a thumb drive, plugging that into the micro-PC and printing from there, more pain-in-the-butt-ness, thanks, HP!

      o Print quality is lousy – not that I expected laser-quality from a $30 printer. Just barely good enough for e.g. b&w USPS shipping labels, but if you size-reduce those to any significant degree (say to fit a smaller package or envelope), the bar code gets pretty iffy-looking.

      Haven’t owned this unit long enough to tell if HP is up to its usual tricks like underfilling the ink cartridges that ship with the printer, or rigging its ink-level-detection software to give “low ink” warnings when there is in fact still plenty of ink remaining. It’s all about the rent extraction, baby!

      Reply
        1. ewmayer

          Thanks, flora – that *almost* works for me on my Mac. I saw the printer on the devices list, and was able to download drivers for the Deskjet 1110 series, but I when go to print a test b&w document, the printer icon pops up in the sidebar but then disappears a couple seconds later, and the printer in the Print & Fax menu printers list shows as “idle”. Retried several different ways, also power-cycled the printer, no joy. So close!

          Reply
  6. rd

    More on exorbitant US healthcare costs:

    I believe the technical term for this is chaos. https://khn.org/news/surprise-fixing-out-of-network-bills-means-someone-must-pay/

    The primary thing that the various healthcare systems in Europe and Canada did was get organizational structures in place to substantially reduce the chaos. There are several different systems that are working, but eliminating the chaos improved outcomes and reduced costs to a fraction of the US costs. However, extreme austerity (Britain’s NHS) doesn’t provide enough funding. So it generally seems that US-equivalent or better outcomes can be had for about 40-60% of the total per capita costs of the US healthcare system.

    The people who get the excess costs are working overcome to ensure that continues.

    Reply
    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      And we’re exporting! From the NHS link above:

      In January 2016 The Priory Group was sold for £1.3billion by the US Private Equity Firm Advent International to Acadia Healthcare of Tennessee, a substantial increase from its sale value of £289 million in 2002. Last year, Channel 4’s Dispatches programme included a senior figure at Acadia Healthcare who was explicit about some of the business opportunities offered by the NHS’s cutbacks to its mental healthcare facilities:

      “What we would look forward to, or hope does occur, is that the NHS continue to close beds and have a need to outsource those patients to the private providers. We think, that or are optimistic, that if the NHS closes more beds and outsources those, we would be the big winner there.”

      The US owned Priory Group is listed in the HSJ story as one of the private sector companies which will be involved in the new budget holding ‘provider collaboratives’. The others include Cygnet Healthcare, a subsidiary of Universal Health Services which is an American Fortune 500 company and one of the largest hospital management companies in the United States and Elysium Healthcare, which is backed by BC Partners, an international investment firm.

      Horrifying.

      Reply
      1. ChristopherJ

        yes, ‘we would be the big winner’, not the public.

        The only people who think this is good idea are those that have been bribed by mates setting up companies in that sector. Is one of the best models for them all to cash in on the publics’ money

        Reply
    2. dearieme

      The problem with the NHS isn’t “austerity” it’s the NHS. The design is Stalinist.

      As a broad generalisation, of the developed countries only the US has a dafter way of doing it.

      Reply
      1. John k

        It’s not daft. It was intelligently crafted to generate the max profits possible for pharmaceutical and insurance, and so long as they share the profits with enough inside beltway it will continue.

        Reply
      2. John A

        Sorry for my ignorance, but in what way is the NHS Stalinist, and what exactly do you mean by Stalinist?
        Not sure what you mean by on the US has dafter way, until Thatcherism, the NHS did the job very well. I know, I managed to make adulthood before the Thatcher curse struck.

        Reply
        1. jsn

          I’ve been seeing a lot of this lately: the rhetorical collapse of all space between hyper-exploitative NeoLiberal capitalism as practiced presently in the US and Stalinism/Maoism.

          The reality of all the other forms currently functioning is systematically excluded from consideration: Mao or Markets are the only alternatives…

          I’m told this is one of the marks of “social media”.

          Reply
      3. Redlife2017

        Have you used the NHS? I’ve had a child on the NHS and definitely had better care than my US relatives. I’ve had multiple heath issues which couldn’t / weren’t solved with private care but even in its decrepit state had better long term care. If it’s Stalinist then fine by me. Maybe more services should be considering the outcomes.

        Reply
    3. Carla

      “So it generally seems that US-equivalent or better outcomes can be had for about 40-60% of the total per capita costs of the US healthcare system.”

      Well, well, well. Since the government already pays about 66% of all healthcare costs in the U.S., we have the answer to how we’re gonna pay for universal healthcare — we already ARE paying for it, we’re just not getting it.

      Of course, some of us have been pointing this out for two decades, but there is a willful deafness in this country….

      Reply
      1. rd

        The US spends more public money per capita than almost any other developed country. Yet somehow, they figured out how to have universal healthcare without big supplemental private costs and we have not.

        The answer is probably that the US elected to use their experience with military contractors where they would request money and Congress would send it to them, few questions asked. In the US, all somebody has to do is say “that would be socialist” and any fetters on private contractors immediately go to the wayside because everybody knows the free market can do no wrong.

        American Exceptionalism means it is not possible for anybody else to have a better way, so there is not point in even looking.

        Reply
  7. Krystyn Walentka

    Re: 5-HTTLPR: A Pointed Review

    Great summation of the old “one gene” issue in genetic research and mental health. Many of us never fell for the single gene trap and knew that it must be polygenetic, or genotypes, that drives environmental susceptibility. This also means that neurodiversity will have its day soon.

    Also a great take down of these genetic testing companies, like Genomind, that preying on the gullibility of my friends depressed and suicidal teen. It is all just capitalism….and it has to end.

    Yes, GeneSight has ten or twenty studies proving that their methods work. Those were all done by scientists working for GeneSight. Remember, if you have bad science you can prove whatever you want. What does GeneSight want? Is it possible they want their product to work and make them $410 million? This sounds like the kind of thing that companies sometimes want, I dunno.

    Reply
    1. Craig H.

      You have to wade through a lot of poop to get to the corn kernels in Scott A.’s wordiness. But I do like this:

      This isn’t just an explorer coming back from the Orient and claiming there are unicorns there. It’s the explorer describing the life cycle of unicorns, what unicorns eat, all the different subspecies of unicorn, which cuts of unicorn meat are tastiest, and a blow-by-blow account of a wrestling match between unicorns and Bigfoot.

      Reply
  8. Henry Moon Pie

    “Back Row America”–

    Arnade’s new peripatetic lifestyle has awakened him to a critical insight:

    Getting there required a level of intellectual humility that I was not sure I had.

    Like most in the front row, I am used to thinking we have all the answers. On Wall Street, there were few problems we couldn’t solve with enough smarts, energy, audacity, or money. We even managed to push death into the distance; with enough research and enough resources—eating right, doing the right things, going to the correct medical specialist—the inevitable could be delayed, and mortality could feel distant.

    With a great job and a great apartment in a great neighborhood, it is easy to feel we have nothing for which we need to be absolved. The fundamental fallibility of humans seems outdated, distant. It’s not hard to imagine that you have everything under control.

    The illusion that there were few problems Arnade and his former banker buddies couldn’t solve is a big part of what has brought us to the edge of the cliff. It’s an affliction endemic to not only bankers but also academics, politicians, generals, doctors and scientists. It’s how we ended up pouring chemicals into our bodies and on what’s left of our precious soil. It’s why we destroy villages to save them. It’s what provided the breeding ground for CDOs and other WMDs of financial origin. It’s what enabled the promotion of a farce of an excuse for losing an election that has become a driver toward both nuclear and civil war.

    Arnade has discovered that the arrogance that has put the health of the planet and the survival of human civilization at risk is not a human trait. The residents of the Bronx, “clinging” to their religion in a world beyond their control, don’t suffer from it. It’s the “successful,” drunk on materialism and puffed up by their skill at playing an anti-human, indeed anti-life, game, who have been driven mad.

    Reply
    1. bassmule

      I am most definitely not inspired. I’m furious. School children in Rhode Island–or anywhere else, for that matter–should not have to depend on the largess of billionaires.

      Reply
    2. Joe Well

      I am outraged! Those kids are supposed to have skin the game! Their means were tested and their privileges checked and now the white male yogurt brodude is appropriating their cultures! Or is it always OK when a billionaire does it? /s

      Reply
  9. Summer

    Re: Uber’d

    “Just spitballing here, but what if there’s so much capital sloshing about that Uber’s VCs backed it as a form of social engineering: To destroy public transportation, increase traffic, degrade employment law, pioneer an immiserated labor force of gigsters, and so forth…”

    The same page that I’ve been on about it. It is all about the ideology around deregulation and labor laws.
    And of course public transportation would be on the hit list – just like public schools, etc.
    The demographics are changing. Why would they want to fund a “commons”?

    Reply
    1. Summer

      And I’ll add it isn’t even good demographic planning. Will people keep piling into cities no matter what?

      Reply
  10. The Rev Kev

    “US builds up forces in Middle East”

    I don’t see anything significant here. These are just pressure tactics. Sure they sent B-52s but Iran has Russian S-300 missile defense systems that would take them out unless those batteries were suppressed first. Yes a carrier has been sent but only one where a true effort would require a coupla of them.
    The Pentagon has the same problem with Iran that Israel has with Hezbollah. Sure they could hit them but they could hit right back and hard. All this effort remember was based on an Israeli report that Iran was going to do something in this region, maybe against US troops, and that was all she wrote. So more chaff this effort than wheat.

    Reply
    1. dearieme

      It may come quite soon that some country will lose patience with the US and sink one of those big carriers. They must surely be very vulnerable close to shore. Where “close” might mean – what? 5 miles? 50 miles? 500 miles?

      Maybe it’s only the fear of being nuked in response that stops people trying. So someday somebody seeking martyrdom might give it a go.

      Reply
  11. s.n.

    Perhaps the players of the B-Team (Bibi, Bolton and the al-B’s of KSA & UAE) have not completely thought out their next moves. Or perhaps they have…

    Amid US pressure, Iran warns Europe of another ‘wave’ of refugees

    https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/05/iran-nuclear-deal-ultimatum-europe-afghan-refugees-drugs.html

    Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi has declared that Iran would consider asking Afghan refugees to leave the country if the United States continues to apply economic pressure in the aftermath of President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and promises to increase economic sanctions on the country. Subsequent statements by Iranian officials hinted that the Afghans would likely then look toward Europe for refuge…

    Araghchi added, “Right now, more than 3 million Afghan citizens live in Iran,…

    The large number of refugees who have fled to Europe over the past few years, although far less than what Iran has absorbed, sparked a crisis on the continent. The prospect of millions of Afghan refugees also setting their sights on Europe’s shores would almost assuredly get the Europeans’ attention.
    .

    Reply
    1. Synoia

      And hand each Afghan a complementry rifle and ammunition to speed their reintegration into Afghan society

      Reply
    2. Oh

      That’s not gonna deter the neo-cons. Europe’s the one that’ll take the hit anyway. They don’t care.

      Reply
      1. flora

        an aside: ‘Moby Dick’ is truly the great American novel. From wiki’s description:

        Moby-Dick; or, The Whale is an 1851 novel by American writer Herman Melville. The book is sailor Ishmael’s narrative of the obsessive quest of Ahab, captain of the whaling ship Pequod, for revenge on Moby Dick, the white whale that on the ship’s previous voyage bit off Ahab’s leg at the knee.

        Obsession for control, revenge, and wealth; but mostly obsession for revenge against some thwarting object. That seems part of the American character box of available features; in politics, in business, and in foreign relations.

        Enter the neo-cons, imo.

        Reply
  12. jhallc

    From the Intercept Article on Anti-M4A Health Care Retreat comment Section:

    “The payment system you currently have would be equaled in remuneration by a heavily unionized public employee payer. You would be saving no money there.

    Anyway, most of the cost you incur at present is that of providers, and hospital corporations, and drug and device manufacturers. They saw you keep purchasing insurance against their services no matter how many times they increased their billing rates. It’s on you–you’re the one who kept purchasing the insurance to cover for ever escalating service costs.

    If Abbybwood is willing to buy insurance that covers provider rates that rise by double digits every year, then what incentive does that provider have to hold costs in check? The answer is “None.” The provider is going to keep building ever more elegant surroundings, paying its staff ever more generous salaries. You’ve given her tacit permission to do just that.”

    Not only are we up against the $$$ in DC but, we have to deal with folks that think like this. I’m guessing this person performs their own surgery. My estimate of Human existence just keeps getting shorter.

    Reply
    1. Kurtismayfield

      Wait, it’s the customers fault for paying for a product they have very little choice about, and had an inelastic demand curve? The problem is that the author l thinks that the customer has a choice! I bet he/she will say “move or get a new job” is a solution.

      Reply
      1. Summer

        I look at it more like this: Poor people keep insisting on living so the price gets upped.
        People don’t want to believe this economic system is the population control hedge against the life-saving discoveries.
        It’s obvious.

        Reply
    2. Pat

      Apparently they have missed the part where insurers are NOT absorbing the escalating costs. Not only do they “negotiate” provider rates, many times demanding cuts not increases, they frequently eliminate both drugs and services from their covered services. Mind you this is a battle of spoils division between the grifters at the top.

      When you have no defense blame the victim.

      Reply
    3. crittermom

      Grrrrr. The Rep for the district I currently reside in was named as being there. Xochitl Torres-Small (D-NM).

      I had occasion to meet her when she visited this dying city last Fall. My first question was regarding her view on M4A.

      She was pretty, personable and polished. My gut twisted.
      She told me she wasn’t behind it, instead preferring expansion of ACA.

      She was quick to move on to someone more receptive to her after my question, but I continued to follow her around taking photos (which I sensed made her a bit nervous at times). I never got another opportunity to press her further as she ‘sucked up’ to those adoring supporters.

      It says this retreat was the weekend of April 5-7 so I just checked out her tweets.
      Hmm… It seems she also did an interview for NPR on the 7th, in which she talks about the need for more health care for the MANY currently entering this state at the border.

      Why not? That’s a ‘feel good’ cause for her while the majority of us get screwed regarding healthcare.

      Oh, yeah. She doesn’t mention anything about that retreat in her tweets, either. Ha!

      I’ve never joined Twitter but am tempted to as I’d like to inquire why she didn’t mention that? Grrrrrrr. (I noted some comments have been removed on her tweets. Not really knowing anything about how that bird works, can she just delete comments she doesn’t approve of? The ‘hard questions’?)

      https://www.npr.org/2019/04/07/710867473/new-mexico-congresswoman-concerned-that-border-patrol-is-not-quickly-adapting

      Reply
  13. The Rev Kev

    “Why We Join Cults”

    I think that this study of cults could be extended you know. Try re-reading this article and thinking of, say, a high-tech firm like Apple as an example. A charismatic leader? Steve Jobs. Cutting off members form their roots & families and expecting devotion. Yeah, sounds right. I could go on but I think that you get the picture. Seen in this light that article does make rather uncomfortable reading.
    If you really want to push this idea, think about the people that Chris Arnade was talking about in that article “Back Row America”. No, not the people that he was visiting but the people that he lived and worked with. But this cult believes in a system that they are a part of rather than a leader. It was partly self-selecting but I found their lack of faith in anything else disturbing.

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      From the article

      The explosive growth of cults began at around the same time as 24-hour global news, after the Vietnam war was televised in 1965.

      Of course this isn’t true, or at least it isn’t true that this is some kind of recent phenomenon. 19th century America was rife with cults as was the period between the World Wars in the US. Those Pilgrim forefathers were cultists so for this country the cultism was always baked into the cake. Blaming it on television or the internet feeds into current establishment paranoia, although that doesn’t seem to be the main thrust of the article.

      Reply
          1. polecat

            There are many such ‘islands’ floating in the oceans of cyber and meat space, waiting to be fully accreated into an archipelago of common sanity ..
            Whether that happens before we collectively sink into the abyssinal trench remains to be seen.

            Reply
            1. Svante

              Probably, just so much schmutz built up in our betters’ tiny cerebral cortices (dope, solvents, CAFO and agriculture chemicals, toxic crap) thatboth the 10% ‘Baggers and Resistance cult behavior is beyond our ability to grasp? They simply need somebody to blame for the inevitable fall of the empire we got to be serfs in? Once their retirement portfolios crash, both CNBC & MSNBC will point at us, wailing in hate.

              Hhttp://downwithtyranny.blogspot.com/2019/05/which-members-of-congress-raised-most.html?m=1

              https://fair.org/home/failed-coup-a-fake-corporate-news-story-designed-to-trick-venezuelan-soldiers-and-us-public

              Reply
      1. petal

        Reading about the Burned Over district of NYS is fascinating stuff. Southern Wayne County was Ground Zero for the Mormons, Spiritualism, etc. The Shakers had been in my hometown (a wonderful animal sanctuary resides there now). The background information definitely helps shed some light and perspective on these groups/movements/cults/whatever you want to call them.

        Reply
      2. Wukchumni

        TV was a one-way medium, whereas the internet has allowed like minded loonies to align.

        Say, why is ‘cultured’ a nice word, and cult not so much?

        Reply
      3. Plenue

        It could be extended much further if we stopped pretending there’s a difference between cults and ‘proper’ religion.

        Reply
    2. steve

      …and then consider

      5-HTTLPR: A Pointed Review Slate Star Codex

      and I believe, as the author suspects, The Front Row is awash in equally fantastical beliefs only dressed in the fineries of science. They believe they pray at the alter of truth, the measurable, and their affirmation is found in material benefits accumulated and the accolades of peers.
      I wonder if the ills of our current class of High Priests has not always been.

      Reply
      1. Steve H.

        Right now I’m finding the article terrifying. ‘Seek and ye shall find.’ At least with the material world and dark matter, we know we understand no more than 5% or so of the universe. What is this?

        Reply
    3. dearieme

      A religion is a cult that’s lasted long enough. Presumably the original Hebrews were just a cult among Canaanites. Jesus’s message to his early followers is indeed reported as being that they should abandon their roots & families and give him their devotion. The Mormons are/were transparently a cult.

      Reply
      1. MichaelSF

        Frank Zappa said “The only difference between a cult and a religion is the amount of real estate they own”

        Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          I’ve heard it expressed that you are born into a religion but a cult is one that you join.

          Reply
          1. LifelongLib

            It can go from one to the other pretty quickly. A while ago I talked to a Hare Krishna guy who was setting up a new temple near where I live. He said almost all the members now are children of people who joined 40 years ago. Job seekers come to him asking for work, not because they are enthusiastic but just because they want a career. He said that when he joined, Hare Krishna was a fiery spiritual movement. Now it’s just a church like any other.

            Reply
        2. Oregoncharles

          Or “a cult is a religion without power.”

          Having grown up in a mainstream Protestant church, and having lost friends to an actual cult, I don’t actually believe this. There’s a huge difference in the amount of control the respective religions exercise. I do agree that the Mormons were and are more like a cult, though they’ve now been around long enough that there are plenty of half-a**ed Mormons, just like Presbyterians or Catholics.

          Originally, a “cult” was a practice within a larger church, like the cult of Mary among Catholics.

          Reply
    1. ChristopherJ

      Amazing. The family’s name is the Potamkins

      People ask me how I could up with the some of the outrageous plot elements in my novels.

      I tell them I never have to make anything up

      Reply
      1. newcatty

        Ahem, Christopher. Truth really is stranger than fiction. It’s all in our heads. All the world really is a stage. We really are players. Who says you are not in your right mind? Unicorns and dragons are real somewhere or elsewhere. Thoughts are reality. Magic is there whether you see it or not. OK, l will stop now.

        Reply
  14. The Rev Kev

    “Education Secretary Betsy Devos Hires Private Accounting Firm to Audit the Student Loan program: Asking For Bad News”

    One possibility comes to mind why Devos hired an outside firm to conduct an audit of the student loan program. Let’s assume that by next year that US Presidential candidates like Sanders have once again been rolled by the Democratic National Committee and that good old Joe Biden has been selected to run for President for the Democrats. I do not see this an unlikely scenario as “where else can those voters go” but vote for Joe? Well the answer is to stay home like 60 million did back in 2016 but that is irrelevant.
    So this audit will find that the federal government holds $1.5 trillion in outstanding student loans and probably more. The system is so broken and so many people are being impoverished that there is nothing good to be said about it. And that is when Trump will step forward next year and say that he only inherited that broken system. That the return address for that audit is the Obama and Biden team. He will then point out that Biden was the one pushing to make sure that these debts can never be written off but will stay with them till death. As this issue effects tens of millions of students and their families, this will probably sink Biden and this give Trump four more years in the White House.

    Reply
    1. Summer

      You’re kind of saying the election will be about policy over personality.
      That would surprise the punditry.

      The MSM’s favorite two parties think of policy talk as “rhetoric” to be used as bait. Big donors set policy. They scream about their “norms” when any elected official continues to push or try to legislate for the benefit of the populace.
      And then say their critics are “cynics” after the cynicism I just described.

      Reply
    2. anon y'mouse

      we need a movement to NOT stay home, but to protest that no one up for voting is worth our vote. that the system does NOT represent us.

      granted, i guess this is just the same tactic being used by the pretender of Venezuela to “claim” the crown there.

      hoist by our own petards.

      Reply
    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      What if the 60 million who stayed home before and might stay home again . . . came out instead and cast their 60 million votes for 60 million separate choices among the random and whimsical third . . . fourth . . . fifth parties which are indeed are on the ballot?

      There is a Libertarian. There is a Natural Law Party person. There is sometimes a Green. There is a Constitutional Party slot. And sometimes one or two others.

      60 million votes spread among all these Establishment non-sanctioned choices would show up as 60 million votes against the 2 brand name choices.

      Reply
  15. Louis

    With regards to the article about Wal-Mart and store manager pay, I’ve worked store-level retail, though not at Wal-Mart.

    While I won’t dispute the claim that store managers make the much at Wal-Mart, the kind of salary is probably not as common in retail as people might think. $175,000 a year is possible as a District Manager, or higher, especially for a major chain and that kind of salary might be possible for a store manager at a large store like Wal-Mart.

    Nonetheless, store managers for many other stores (including chains) are making less than half that, or maybe $100,000 a year if they are at a high-volume store. Furthermore, at many other stores the first level assistant managers can be making only a few dollars more per hour than the associates.

    Reply
    1. Polar Donkey

      For a short time, I worked for AutoZone finding locations for stores to be built. I would use gis to find areas and then real estate guys would search for specific locations. Sometimes we would have conference calls with regional store managers. A regional store manager would run 10 to 30 stores. That is a lot of responsibility, but they didn’t get paid much more than I did making maps and crunching some numbers. It was around $60,000 those managers got in places like California and New Jersey. A Wal-Mart store manager in rural parts of the country pulling $175,000 is high living. I guess it isn’t easy finding people that will replace workers with robots and issue the beatings till morale improves.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        As part of my “fieldwork” I talk to anyone and everyone, including several WalMart employees during my ‘normal’ day’s perambulations.
        A woman I know enough to trust her judgement has been at WalMart in several positions for a decade now. Last week I met her in the aisles. I was shopping, she was stocking.
        “What brings you to this sorry pass? I ask.
        “After the store got the big self check-out lanes up and running, they cut employee hours sharply. Those of us with some experience were offered a ‘multi-task’ position. We basically now have to do everything in rotation.” she replies.
        I ask, “So, your hours are cut too?”
        “Oh yes, and this work is harder than registers or Customer Service are. I now have to come in at four in the morning to stock, and then fall back into my old job.”
        Thus ends the report.

        Reply
        1. Carolinian

          Interesting. I wonder if Walmart is being smart with this big push into self-check. They are after all the store that once had Wilford Brimley types greeting you as you entered. The main excuse for self check used to be convenience (if you knew how to work the thing) but now you wait in line for the self check as the less techie inclined fumble with it.

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            The self checkout lanes are also prime venues for “mispricing” and plain old shoplifting. That’s why, my sources tell me, WalMart now has aggressive “Receipt Checkers” at the exits. Those functionaries have hand scanners to check the receipts for not only contents, to be matched with the physical contents of the carts, but also time and date, to watch out for “fake receipt” scams.
            A friendly ‘exit checker’ told me a few weeks ago about a character caught trying to walk out with an expensive piece of electronics and using a week old receipt for the same merchandise, gotten from who knows where.
            As times get tougher, those wily “deplorables” get craftier.

            Reply
            1. Wukchumni

              Yes, as late as 6 months ago, a Wal*Mart ‘exiter’ would give your cart the once over as he or she was looking at your receipt, and acting as if they were actually accounting for every item. It felt as if one was being subjected to shoplifting deterrence, as more of a psychological forcefield.

              They run your receipt through a hand scanner now,

              Have you seen the parking ‘Lot Cops’?

              Now, that’s pretty trippy~

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_Vn4PAbU04

              Reply
              1. Wukchumni

                p.s.

                Another wrinkle that makes it difficult for retailers, is in California, plastic bags are verboten or can be bought’n for a Dime, and most everybody has their own cloth bags, which makes it easier for a shoplifter to assume the position of having paid for it.

                Reply
            2. Carolinian

              That accounts for the one way entry gates now in many stores. However my store has not yet implemented the system you mention. It may just be for expensive items that have rfid chips, not, say, a banana. Checking through everything that’s bought would be quite time consuming.

              Reply
              1. a different chris

                >Checking through everything that’s bought would be quite time consuming.

                Yeah, you’d like have to have somebody you go to with your selections, and have them take them one by one, examining them with maybe some sort of scanner before bagging them. I wonder what kind of world we would need to afford those kind of jobs? :)

                Reply
                1. Carolinian

                  Personally I don’t think swiping things past a laser beam all day would be a very fun job. I’d rather be pulling grocery orders which is one of the jobs the former cashiers are apparently tasked with. No word on whether they are being tracked by electronic minders (a la Bezos) and told to hurry up.

                  The new Walmart config also features a giant orange ‘pickup tower’ that dispenses online orders without human intervention. It’s bizarrely big. I do have my doubts whether all this “innovation” will please the typical Walmart shoppers that Walmart–whatever you think of it–does care about (as long as they aren’t employees).

                  Reply
        2. Tom Bradford

          Confirms what I suspected. I refuse to use self-checkout even though it often means having to queue for longer at the single (wo)manned check-our available and have on occasion abandoned my trolley if that queue is over-long in an attempt to get me to use self-checkout.

          When I’m approached by a staff-member and politely invited to use the self-checkout I refuse, pointing out that I’m trying to save their job.

          Reply
      2. Louis

        $100,000 a year is definitely possible as a district manager (next step above store manager) and even possible as a store manager at a large, high volume store. However, $175,000 a year is more
        in line with either a district manager or regional vice president (next step above district manager). in most parts of the country.

        No matter where you are on the food chain, in retail, a lot of responsibility for not of money i unfortunately the nature of the beast.

        Reply
    2. skk

      I really appreciate you guys going into more detail about the salaries and thus making people understand the wrongness involved in stating A NUMBER.

      Really, data from people like you shd be collated and stated in that 2D form, range and peaks, frequency distribution instead of the somewhat BS that we get lumbered with in the MSM.

      Reply
  16. Eclair

    RE: Chris Arnade’s “Back Row America” and “The Gross Inequality of Death in America.”

    Turning to the Bible and ‘religion’ is one way of coping with a worldly life of increasingly early and painful death, disease and misery. As well as with a planet and climate that have become, instead of a stable and predictably changing part of our lives, a system that turns upon us with floods, wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes and droughts. The unthinkable has happened and most of us need a life raft to cling to, or a drug to blot out the reality.

    We just drove through the middle part of America; Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas. In the last six months, enormous billboards have sprung up on the plains and cornfields: “GOD IS REAL. Call xxx-xxx-xxxx for proof. ” “ONLY JESUS WILL SAVE YOU!” Plus the usual: “THANK YOUR MOM FOR DECIDING ON LIFE!” And the TRUMP signs.

    My spouse’s cousin’s memorial service was yesterday. A bachelor farmer, white, male, high school education, who raised a full array of veggies as well as beef cattle, hogs and chickens, he died at age 58. The first speaker at his service, talked, not of his and his family’s deep roots in the area, of commitment to the land and to providing the local community with excellent food (as well as jobs) but of his fear for years that our cousin had not ‘accepted Jesus.’ And, so was doomed to hell. Fortunately, the speaker continued, our cousin had ‘accepted Jesus’ on his deathbed, and so, was saved.

    I was raised as a Catholic and so was taught that if, on our deathbed, we confessed our sins and were anointed by a priest, we would go to heaven, no matter what evils we had done in our life. I find this a most pernicious argument. It allows unkindness, immorality, disdain, apathy, despair, rudeness, sadism and a general attitude of “I just don’t care,” towards our fellow humans, towards the earth, towards our four-footed, and winged, and crawling and swimming relatives, to flourish. We just need to make a last minute confession, just ‘accept Jesus’ in our dying moments, and we will be happy in heaven. Never mind that our actions have left behind psychologically wounded family members, customers dead from opioids, bombed cities and legless infants, ravaged forests, dirty air and dying oceans.

    But when this life becomes intolerable and scary, it makes sense to concentrate on a life after death. Anything that gives us hope. And, no one is going to return from death to tell us that the accommodations are substandard. I can see the attraction of such a philosophy. I just can’t subscribe to it.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      My childhood neighbor died about a decade ago and we went to the service, and to set the stage, he and his family had become evangs in the early 70’s and were quite fervent, always volunteering to do this that or whatever, teaching bible class for kids, the gamut.

      So for around an hour the preacher talks of how he hopes Herb made it into the hallowed hereafter as if it was the only thing that mattered, the dress rehearsal called life-of little value sadly, it’s all about the jackpot awaiting after you’ve left this mortal coil.

      Reply
    2. DJG

      Eclair: Thanks. The Arnade article is thought-provoking, but I also can’t subscribe to the idea that the Bible and faith are going to get people out of their predicament. I also am not completely in agreement that the credientialed class has made a mess of everything–or that science has led us to the precipice. All of these are simplifications.

      Both “acceptance of Jesus” as one’s personal savior (which often is a deathbed experience) and extreme unction are hard to give much credence to.

      And, I recall, that Saint James, in his epistle, mentions that faith alone cannot get a person into heavy. Good works matter. So there is always skepticism among Catholics of that death-bed confession by the local turd in the punchbowl.

      I was at a family event yesterday, and my family is all Catholic. But we are descendents of Lithuanians and Sicilians, so our Catholicism is flawed and spooky. Most of us are dogmatically terrible Catholics, barely believers, but we are cultural Catholics–we still know the prayers by heart. And there are the saints, like Saint Francis of Assisi, who came up, and who is un-get-around-able. Like Lambert Strether, and maybe like Francis, I’m also veering toward animism. I talk to trees and know that the lares are lurking in the house.

      What seems to be going on for many of the people described by Arnade is that religion gives a structure, externally imposed. But philosophy and the great teachers of ethics like Epikouros or the Stoics or even Plato believed that the impulse to live a good life had to come from within. Externally imposed ethics fail and fail–which is why we see so much abuse of power among the clergy, for whom power and external trappings are what matter most (and this goes across all religions, as the article about joining cults describes).

      But Arnade is still a visionary. Kudos to him.

      Reply
      1. eg

        I theorize we are all animists, consciously or not. As a Catholic of dubious practice myself, this gives me some solace.

        Reply
      2. Tom Bradford

        In his 2006 published “The God Delusion” Richard Dawkins points out that:

        As long ago as 1954, according to Robert Hinde in his thoughtful book Why Gods Persist, a Gallup poll in the United States of America found the following. Three-quarters of Catholics and Protestants could not name a single Old Testament prophet. More than two-thirds didn’t know who preached the Sermon on the Mount. A substantial number thought that Moses was one of Jesus’s twelve apostles.

        My guess would be that a similar poll today for the USA would be no better. My suspicion is that to claim ‘Christianity’ is not to adopt a philosophy or belief system but an identity. To fit in with society anywhere outside the big cities, where there is no community and hence no society, requires a common dress-code, language, sports code (who you ‘root’ for) and religion. All are mutable and purely superficial – and one needs to know only enough about them to ‘fit in’.

        Reply
      3. witters

        Marx as always: “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”

        Reply
    3. polecat

      In my mind, there is no life after death .. only a dissipation of energy and a return of the elements to this blue rock … for other living beings to consume. I can find comfort in that.

      Reply
    4. boz

      You’re pointing to no small thing: that “God could love / forgive a monster like them/me”.

      I agree that the notion is outrageous.

      Gettting one’s head around that is a lifetime’s work.

      As is taking God out of the box we have put God in.

      All of us, at some point or another, will be considering our shortcomings and wondering if we will be worthy of forgiveness.

      The door is always open.

      Reply
    5. MichaelC

      I also was raised Catholic.
      The absolving death-bed confession must be sincere.
      I know I’m incapable of making it sincerely.
      If the promise of heaven or hell are real,
      Purgatory is the place I’ll be satisfied to spend eternity for my sins, all of which were genial. I don’t regret those sins.

      I never believed in an afterlife, but I’ve (and we) lived my life among those who do, we need to come to terms with it.

      We’re all headed to Purgatory or nothingness if we’re going to live full loving lives honestly.

      Reply
  17. The Rev Kev

    “This is the psychopathic Governor of Rio de Janeiro who – among other things – has been using helicopter-snipers & drones to execute people from the sky. Here he proudly shows himself flying over a favela as the police shoot, including at evangelicals mistaken for drug dealers”

    Why is it that I have a feeling that these are the same sort of people that want to take over again in Venezuela?

    Reply
    1. Henry Moon Pie

      I worry that Greenwald is about to become a man without a country. I believe his partner is active politically and outspoken in favor of equal rights for LGBTQ folks. Courageous–and dangerous in today’s Brazil.

      Reply
      1. petal

        Agreed. I worry about them. David is a Federal Congressman and is quite outspoken. He was elected to be a replacement for Jean Wyllys, who announced in January that he had left the country due to death threats.

        Reply
      2. polecat

        Greenwald could of disseminated all that wikileaks data, with the understanding that he and his might have to later relocate to safer environs … but instead chose to remain in virtuous situ .. !

        Reply
        1. Joe Well

          What does that mean? The only word I understood in all that was “wikileaks” and Greenwald has never worked with them and has been a big critic.

          Reply
          1. Phenix

            Tye Intercept has not published 95% of Snowden’s leak. He Boss is connected to Obama. The Intercept gas also burnt two whistle blowers. Basically they are safe.

            Reply
        2. jo6pac

          Yes, release would be nice but I’m sure now gg could move to just north on Langley. I’m sure he’ll and partner will be safe along with his new puppet master.

          I was a reader of gg back in the days of his blog and up until he joined the intercept.

          Reply
  18. flora

    Ebay says it no longer accepts PayPal, as of yesterday as far as I can tell. Don’t know if this is coming from ebay policy or some ebay vendors’ payment acceptance.

    Yesterday, looked on ebay for a part. Found what I was looking for and attempted to pay and checkout. Payment options listed were GooglePay, ApplePay, and a CC number. I use PayPal and wasn’t going to sign up for G-Pay or A-Pay or give ebay my cc number. I cancelled that purchase and looked for another ebay vendor.

    Again, found desired item, attempt to pay, and was not offered PayPal as an option. Again cancelled purchase and went back to find item from yet another ebay vendor. Found item and this time my attempt to pay included the PayPal option. I completed the purchase.

    Moral of the story: it’s tough raising algorithms. You have to repeat yourself over and over until they learn. ha.

    Reply
    1. Svante

      EBay’s been ever more difficult to use (without their app, without PayPal being perpetually on, with 2-stage security on an Android 8+ phone or tablet, running anti-tracker/ pop-up blocking software in Firefox or DuckDuckGo) anyoldway. Scary thing is, a number of my cohorts agree, we’re buying more stuff on EBay (any other e-merchant NOT owned by Jeff Bezos) than we did living in the woods, back when all of these WORKED well, and you actually looked forward to dealing with individual vendors?

      Reply
    2. Bugs Bunny

      There are sellers out there who don’t accept PayPal any more because the PayPal dispute resolution process facilitated a scam by “buyers” who claim to have never received the purchase and get a full refund. I’ve run into it.

      Reply
      1. ewmayer

        Bugs, I occasionally sell stuff on eBay … especially for higher-value items, will paying the $2 extra for USPS signature confirmation prevent this form of scammery?

        Reply
        1. Bugs Bunny

          It’s apparently on international orders – the buyers say that “someone else signed”. At least that’s the explanation I got. I’m a frequent buyer from abroad so maybe it’s different for me?

          Reply
  19. chuck roast

    “A Flightless Chicken Sized Bird”

    If you liked this article, you would love The Snoring Bird by the estimable Bernd Heinrich.

    Reply
  20. Synoia

    And hand each Afghan a complementry rifle and ammunition to speed their reintegration into Afghan society

    Reply
  21. dearieme

    This is the psychopathic Governor of Rio de Janeiro who – among other things – has been using helicopter-snipers & drones to execute people from the sky.

    Why not give us a photo of Mr Obama? He was keen on droning people to death too.

    Warren is obviously a Russian puppet. Pah! No true Cherokee would be a Russian puppet.

    Reply
    1. nycTerrierist

      Lest we forget:

      “The president’s specific words: I’m “really good at killing people,” authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann write in “Double Down: Game Change 2012,” The Daily Mail reported.

      They get their claim from a Washington Post report that buries the statement as a brief anecdote in an article, in which the president is described as speaking to aides about the drone program and then making the claim.

      The White House hasn’t responded to the book — but a spokesman did indicated on Sunday talk shows that the president hates information leaks.”

      https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/nov/4/obama-brag-new-book-im-really-good-killing-drones/

      Reply
  22. skk

    Re: PM Narendra Modi Interview: ‘Khan Market gang hasn’t created my image, 45 years of tapasya has… you cannot dismantle it’ Indian Express

    Thanks for this. Its a loooooooong read, quite suitable for a Sunday morning.

    I read outlookindia.com regularly but that’s all. The recent increase in curated links about India in nakedcapitalism has made me aware of important gaps in outlookindia content that need to be filled.

    Reply
    1. Bugs Bunny

      It’s a very enlightening article. Take away the Hindu nationalist context and he sounds just like Trump. Bombast, egotism and paranoia.

      Reply
      1. Skk

        Just like Trump ? Modi’s self-discipline, listening skills, austere living, daily hard-work, background of being the son of a street corner chai-wallah, a chai-wallah himself, command of facts has been well-known. Here’s a western Indophile, who’s hostile to Modi – Dalrymple- report that states these aspects about him – https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2014/05/narendra-modi-man-masses.

        Then he was the chief minister of a state and accused of involvement and condoning during a period of violence when 800 Muslims and 300 Hindus were killed. I think Trump missed that education and experience.

        OTOH. His companies haven’t gone bankrupt 6 times though. Nor married 3 times. Nor to a model who’s posed nude in near-porn poses. Nor been exposed as paying off to suppress accusations of adultery. So Modi’s experience is limited in this category.

        Reply
  23. Oregoncharles

    “The Brexit effect: private equity firms shun UK for Europe” – paywall at FT, but my thought, considering the reporting here:

    This is a bad thing?

    Reply
  24. Oregoncharles

    “Congressional Staff Hosted at Anti-Medicare For All Retreat The Intercept. Of Democrats: Clyburn (D-SC), Hoyer, D-MD, Lipinski, (D-IL), Schrader (D-OR), (clip) ”
    Yes, Schrader is a problem, a good example of how “principled” Democrats are (they still support him), even in a deep-blue state like Oregon. In theory, Schader’s district (next door to the one I’m in) is Blue Dog, roughly balanced between Dems and Reps – but everybody else run about 40%, as in the country as a whole. A Social Democrat who campaigned well could easily win there. No Republican has been elected in at least 10 years.

    Note: it was staff members, not the Congress members, who attended that retreat.

    Reply
  25. JEHR

    Re: Osprey antidote

    There is something irredeemably sad about watching a wonderful predator looking dolefully at a paved parking lot, two lanes of traffic and the green hills beyond. Sometimes I think that if humanity does lose to climate change, at least the animals, birds and ocean life will have a better go.

    Reply
    1. anon in so cal

      +10000

      Somewhat relatedly, the other day the latest extinction report was released and various environmental orgs listed steps that might mitigate the disaster. Not one that I could detect listed demographic growth.

      Reply
  26. Kokuanani

    Re “Congressional Staff Hosted at Anti-Medicare For All Retreat ”

    We Maryland voters are sure a bunch of losers: we’ve sent to Congress Steney Hoyer and David Trone. Trone’s my current Congress-critter, but I’m hoping that when they re-draw our district as a result of the MD gerrymander case we’ll get put back into Jamie Raskin’s district.

    And then there’s Cardin.

    Reply
  27. rd

    The Catch-22 in green energy is that big public utilities have big transmission systems that need to be supported. So you can’t have local micro-generation because the big transmission system won’t have anything to transmit.

    So PGE has figured out a novel solution to this conundrum. They are going to simply turn off the big transmission lines whenever the wind blows and tell you that you are on your own! This is going to force electricity users to be able to supply their own electricity. So California is going to become a leader in local micro-generation green power whether or not they intend to be. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-05-12/california-may-go-dark-this-summer-and-most-aren-t-ready?srnd=premium

    It is likely that this is going to be a major kick-start to building a viable market for developing local green energy generation and storage, either on an individual basis or a subdivision basis. I expect there will be lots of innovation and cost-reductions happening in this sector once PGE shows they are serious about turning large swathes of California into a Third-World country with the energy reliability of Iraq.

    Trump and the GOP are focusing on AOC, but it is going to be the failure of big business and public utilities that will really push a Green New Deal to the fore. Who needs legislation to push it if you are receiving Africa-level energy reliability?

    Reply
    1. JBird4049

      We have had multi year droughts, heatwaves, and strong winds before without any major fires from the grid. The problem are the PG&E cutbacks on maintenance especially on brush and tree trimming along the electrical lines as well as the routine repair or replacement of the power lines and towers. The company does not want to spend the decades of backlogged work created by money being diverted to bonuses, pay increases and stock buybacks. This is Neoliberalism on steroids.

      Reply
  28. Wukchumni

    ‘It could change everything’: coin found off northern Australia may be from pre-1400 Africa

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/may/12/it-could-change-everything-coin-found-off-northern-australia-may-be-from-pre-1400-africa
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Coins travel well and end up in the oddest places, an example of this would be ANZAC soldiers going through the Panama Canal en route to the battlefields of WW1 Europe, or coming back, and at the time Panamanian & American coins circulated in the canal zone, and one of the most striking coins of the era was the Buffalo Nickel, and it was very common for 1916 dated coins to show up in both Aussie & NZ in the 1980’s in really good condition, as once they made their way into the back reaches of a desk drawer or wherever, they never circulated again.

    A 1916 Buffalo Nickel in extremely fine condition is no big deal, worth $20, but there’s a rare error variety where the date is strongly doubled, and those are worth $20,000.

    Down under was the happy hunting ground for the latter, which turned up often.

    https://www.pcgs.com/coinfacts/coin/1916-5c-doubled-die-obverse/3931

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      I happen to own a Roman coin that I brought back with me from Europe. Can you imagine the consternation of an archaeologist a thousand years from now if he finds this coin among the remains of my house buried in the strata? The logical conclusion would be that there was a Roman trade route that went through to Australia.

      Reply
  29. Cal2

    U.K. Jury, necessity defense…

    Have a university divest from oil and gas? That’s a good and symbolic action.

    Better, and more local, question to ask–if one is really serious about fighting climate change:

    Why does the California state government not collect a fossil fuels severance tax?
    Could it be that the state Democratic government, controlled by the Brown family for over half a century, [two governors, 5 terms, one state treasurer, one supervisor, one mayor] lives off a blind trust stuffed with Occidental Petroleum stock?
    Armand Hammer is more than a brand of baking soda. An amazing coincidence, another “global climate change” fighter tied to him as well.
    https://publicintegrity.org/federal-politics/how-the-gores-father-and-son-helped-their-patron-occidental-petroleum/

    The Brown’s climate change fighting solution? Encourage millions of “migrants” to come to the L.A. basin and millions more to the state’s high distance driving existence, [now over half the state’s school children their descendants], give the illegals sanctuary status, build unworkable rail transit systems, then pass statewide laws to force the building of high rises around any new transit to “combat climate change,” thus enriching the building trades, developer and finance donors. Rinse and repeat, decade after decade.

    Climate change fighter Governor Jerry Brown is now retired to his
    ranch raising cattle. So, it’s time to finally maybe

    https://www.naturalgasintel.com/articles/117416-california-again-considering-oil-gas-severance-tax

    Of course, this could all just be a big coincidence.

    Reply
    1. RopeADope

      Jerry Brown reverted to his class during his tenure as Oakland mayor, he had had the requisite code installed from his Robert Bork programming at Yale Law School so it was an easy switch. Prior to his mayorship he was still the same idealist from his first term as governor and the ’92 Dem primary candidate for president.

      I left Oakland around the time the previous mayor Harris was being forced out due to the lack of oversight of the recycling contract and from what I recall there was an issue with self dealing within the kindergartens or lower level schooling in Oakland. If I were to hazard a guess I think Brown came in and had no idea Oakland was in such disarray. It seems he turned to the neoliberal way during that term which is to court affluent developers to gentrify a city, the easy way out for people that do not know how to build up power from the ground level.

      Once he was captured by the neoliberal network it was downhill ever since for Jerry. Which was a shame because RFK’s Silent generation had a real chance to advance America past that fail ideology. Bernie is probably the last chance for that generation to leave it’s mark on America as they have never made it to the highest office. Biden does not count because he belongs in the GOP. I know of FDR Democrats that voted for Clinton who will vote for Trump as a FU to the Democratic Party if the even more right-wing Biden is the nominee in 2020.

      Reply
  30. ewmayer

    Re. Sanders: I Can Defeat Trump By Speaking To His Base, “Exposing Him For The Fraud He Is” RealClearPolitics — It’s rather funny how if you replace ‘Trump’ with ‘Biden’, the headline still works.

    Reply
  31. JBird4049

    Welcome to the World of Subprime Children

    Maybe we should just stop shilly-shally around and just recreate inheritable debt peonage or since the rule of law is going away our betters could just impose it on our society.

    It is de jure illegal everywhere, but there are places where it is de facto legal and people can be enslaved by the debts of their grandparents.

    Reply
  32. crittermom

    >”Dancing honeybees use democratic process when selecting a new home”

    Thanks, Lambert, for that link. A good read, which is even more relevant today.

    From the article: “Humans can learn much about democratic decision-making by looking at bees, Seeley says.”
    After reading it, I wholeheartedly agree!

    Reply
  33. Musicismath

    I’ve found it interesting to read the reviews of K-Punk: The Collected and Unpublished Writings of Mark Fisher that have been coming out over the past few months. In particular, I’ve been interested to see where the reviewers stand on the “Vampire Castle” essay. To me, this will probably be the one of the classic essays people turn to in the future to make sense of early 21st-century social media. The fact that Fisher was vilified (I guess in 2019 we’d say “cancelled”) for writing it just adds to the power of its critique.

    Most, if not all, of the hit pieces on Fisher were basically call outs for speaking out of turn, or to put it more bluntly, the impertinence of writing the thing in the first place. None of the responses I saw dealt with the actual contents of his argument. Most simply dismissed him on the basis of his identity and his choice of target. This to me says everything about the class aspects of Fisher’s critique, and why the subjects of that critique were so unwilling to listen. Reading the piece again, what strikes me most is how uncontroversial (in other contexts) the argument is. The thesis of “Exiting the Vampire Castle” is pretty much the same one Wendy Brown put forward in 1995 in her Nietzsche-informed critique of academic liberalism, States of Injury. That book has 3873 citations, according to Google Scholar, remains highly influential, and is still in print with Princeton University Press. So why does Fisher get hung out to dry for essentially saying the same things Wendy Brown has been saying for decades?

    To me, the answer to that is simple, and goes right to the heart of what Fisher was writing about: class. Fisher, a perpetually fixed-term-contract academic of working-class origin from an unfashionable bit of Britain (East Midlands), well: his “face didn’t fit,” as we put it in this country. The LRB review admits as much while at the same time perpetuating the classist denigration of Fisher that ultimately “cancelled” him out of existence. The reviewer looks on him with suspicion, suggesting (in a classic smear-tactic move) that his use of the priesthood metaphor for describing the moralism of Left Twitter aligns him with Nick Land and the alt-right. To me, it’s much more likely to come directly from Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals, a text I suspect Fisher would have taught for years as part of the Philosophy A-Level curriculum. It’s this basic unwillingness to the connect the dots–to see what Fisher was writing about in the context of his lived experience as a member of the academic precariat; to take his actual influences seriously–that’s part of the particular pitilessness and willful ignorance of the pile-on culture he was critiquing.

    Reply
    1. JBird4049

      It is interesting that somehow class is used to smear, denigrate, or just erase people even in the ostensibly “classless” America; the writer’s or speaker’s place in society somehow filters the how their words are imbibed. The same words change from Night Train to Champagne.

      However, the same tactics are used by supposed conservatives and liberals when bringing up issues. Global warming, guns, abortion, poverty all have class markers on them. The educated and Godless liberals, the Deplorables, those People. It is amazing how everyone is poor, stupid, immoral, or has a debased nature.

      Reply
    2. Carey

      Thanks very much for this comment. I’ll make sure to give Fisher’s ‘Vampire Castle’ essay a careful reading after this.

      Reply

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