2:00PM Water Cooler 7/23/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“U.S. farmers look past trade fears to cash in on China’s hog crisis” [Reuters]. “The U.S. trade war with China initially forced U.S. pork exporters to scour the world for new markets but as the swine fever crisis deepens they’re gearing up for new opportunities to supply the Chinese market later this year and next. The catch for U.S. hog farmers is that if they want to take advantage of the surge in Chinese pork demand, they can’t feed their pigs with the growth drug ractopamine which is widely used in the United States but banned in China. In recent years, the European Union has provided roughly two-thirds of China’s pork imports, excluding offal, with Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Denmark the main suppliers, according to Chinese customs data. Potential demand is so huge, however, that the EU alone can’t satisfy it.” • Chlorinated chicken, pork à la ractopamine…


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

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

“2020 Democratic Presidential Nomination” [RealClearPolitics] (average of five polls). As of July 23: Biden still climbing at 28.6% (28.4), Sanders down at 14.8% (15.0%), Warren flat at 14.6% (14.6%), Buttigieg steady at 4.8% (4.8%), Harris flat bump 12.6% (12.6%), others Brownian motion.

* * *


Harris (D)(1): “Kamala Harris once opposed legalizing marijuana. Now she wants to decriminalize it” [Yahoo News]. “The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, which was written by Harris and co-sponsored in the House by Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, implement re-sentencing or expungement for prior marijuana-based convictions, and tax revenue generated by the marijuana industry, with 50% of it used to create three trust funds…. he California Democrat, however, hasn’t always supported fully legalizing marijuana. Nine years ago, Harris opposed legislation that would have legalized marijuana in California.” • People do get to change their minds. But it’s always nicer when they do the right thing all along.

Klobuchar (D)(1): “2020 Candidates Delayed Paying Staff to Look Richer on Paper” [Daily Beast]. “For some campaigns, the ability to put off a payroll payment—whether by design or coincidence—made a substantial difference. That’s most true for the Klobuchar campaign, which reported $186,000 in salary expenditures on its last reported pay day, June 15. Federal Election Commission records indicate that the campaign was otherwise paying staffers on the 15th and last day of each month. But no paychecks went out at the end of June, according to its second quarter financial filing…. And at some point, she will either have to make all wage payments or simply not pay her staff. And by kicking the can down the road, she has been able to avoid taking the hit on a campaign finance filing for the time being.” • It’s gonna take an awfully big binder for Klobuchar to keep track of all that. Oh, and collective bargaining in the Sanders campaign is a big, big scandal. Potential wage theft? Not so much.

Warren (D)(1): “The Coming Economic Crash — And How to Stop It” [Elizabeth Warren, Medium]. “The [yield] curve has inverted before each and every recession in the past half century — with only one false signal.” • I’m not sure that’s entirely correct. From the Financial Times: “Prof [Campbell] Harvey’s research indicates only an inversion of at least three months is a reliable recession indicator. The curve briefly inverted in 1998, at the peak of the turmoil caused by Russia’s default and the blow-up of Long-Term Capital Management, but quickly normalised before a subsequent, more durable inversion in 2000 preceded the dotcom bust. The latest inversion only lasted five trading days.” In any case, a recession call at some point in the future is not a hard call. Still, good piece!

Warren (D)(2): “Warren warns of ‘coming economic crash'” [Politico]. How Politico summarizes the article above: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Monday predicted an imminent economic crisis unless the Trump administration and Congress quickly pass legislation to regulate the financial sector and significantly reduce middle class household debt.” • That’s shockingly bad and wrong, even for Politico. Warren recommends reducing household debt, monitoring and reducing leveraged corporate lending, strengthening manufacturing, and limiting potential shocks to the economy. Her recommendations are bulleted, ffs.

* * *

“‘She/hers’: In progressive move, 3 presidential hopefuls add pronouns to their bios” [NBC]. “Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s bio on her official presidential campaign Twitter page is touting a new addition: her pronouns. Earlier this month, her bio was updated to “U.S. Senator, former teacher, and candidate for president. Wife, mom … grandmother, and Okie. She/hers. Official campaign account.” She is one of three 2020 presidential hopeful to add pronouns on an official campaign Twitter account, along with Julian Castro and Bill de Blasio. On the surface, it’s just two words. But the inclusion of “she/hers” on a major candidate’s social media profile is no small feat in the eyes of LGBTQ advocates. Among the LGBTQ community and its allies, including pronouns in social media profiles has become increasingly common to avoid misgendering and to indicate solidarity with transgender and nonbinary people.” • Which is great, and one can only hope leads to solidarity with working class people.


“Mueller testimony could be frustrating for both parties” [The Hill]. “Democrats want Mueller to breathe life into his 448-page report and demonstrate to the American public that Trump is guilty of obstructing his investigation — a verdict Mueller’s team purposely avoided in issuing its findings. Republicans will try to throw Mueller off his game, vowing to focus their questions on whether it was even proper to launch the investigation in the first place.” • I’ve noticed a tendency on the Twitter for liberal Democrats to assign work to others; here is the same tendency with Mueller. Why can’t they “demonstrate to the American public”? Meanwhile, I bet poor old straight-shootin’ Bob Mueller longs for the days when he was only greenlighting fake WMD evidence. Life was simpler, then.


“Rashida Tlaib: Minimum wage should be $20 an hour, not $15” [The Hill]. “‘By the way, when we started [#FightFor15], it should have been $15. Now I think it should be $20. Make sure America Rising hears that. It should be $20 an hour — $18 to $20 an hour at this point,’ Tlaib said.” • And it also shouldn’t take six years to kick in. That’s even longer than ObamaCare took!

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – July 20, 2019” [Tony Wikrent, Ian Welsh]. • Interesting wrap-up.

Stats Watch

Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index, July 2019: “Fifth District manufacturing activity unexpectedly fell into contraction in July” [Econoday]. “The surprising weakness of today’s report contrasts with the Philly Fed and Empire State regional reports last week showing manufacturing rebounding in these regions. Despite the reported increase in input and output prices, the marked deterioration in the region’s manufacturing survey to the lowest level in six years is likely to bolster the dovish case for cutting the Fed funds rate at the FOMC meeting next week.”

FHFA House Price Index, May 2019: “FHFA had been holding up better than Case-Shiller but data for May point to less gradual slowing underway in home prices” [Econoday]. “Easing imbalances in housing are probably a plus for the long-term health of the sector but are perhaps unexpected given this year’s still strong job growth and the drop in mortgage rates.

Existing Home Sales, June 2019: “The housing market firmed in the early Spring but has since flattened out” [Econoday]. “Lack of momentum in housing, which is unexpected this year given the strength of the jobs market and the fall in mortgage rates, will be one factor that doves can cite at next week’s FOMC meeting in favor a rate cut.”

Shipping: “Trucking spot market underperforms expectations by 10% in June” [Freight Waves]. “The DAT US National Long Haul Van Freight Rate Index which measures the average long haul spot rate for dry van truckloads in the U.S. excluding fuel and other accessorial charges averaged $1.50/mile in June. This number fell well below expectations according to the freight futures settlement price which started the month over $1.66/mile, meaning futures market participants expected rates to be much higher than they were this June.

Tech: “Industrial robots are proving adept at picking up venture-capital funding. Logistics technology startup Fetch Robotics Inc. is adding to its support with a $46 million funding round…. which the Silicon Valley company will use to expand its range of products for the growing warehouse automation market” [Wall Street Journal]. “Fetch is working in a growing area of industrial automation focused on ‘collaborative robots’ that work alongside humans and can be easily integrated into existing operations. That can boost productivity without adding staff, a potential big plus for logistics companies as warehouse operators compete for workers in a tight jobs market.”

Tech: “How Amazon uses 18-wheelers to transfer heavy data loads to the cloud” [CNBC]. “Moving petabytes of data to a cloud like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure just by sending it out over the internet can take years. Some companies would rather not wait that long. So the cloud providers have come up with special-purpose hardware that can be filled up with data and then mailed to the cloud vendors for much faster migration. Using this equipment can save money, too, because moving data over a network in the usual way can get expensive. One business with big data, DigitalGlobe — a subsidiary of Maxar Technologies, came up with a more radical idea. It had AWS send over a truck over for faster delivery. AWS wound up announcing its Snowmobile 18-wheel truck for this exact purpose in 2016. None of AWS’ cloud competitors have followed suit — yet.” • The cloud turns out to have a pretty heavy footprint.

Manufacturing: “The prolonged grounding of the Boeing Co.’s 737 MAX is starting to ripple through the U.S. economy. The problems with the jet are cutting into U.S. exports and clouding the outlook for airlines and parts suppliers” [Wall Street Journal]. “The impact of the grounding and Boeing’s production cuts highlight the deep reach the aircraft manufacturer has across a range of high-value supply chains that have been all but idled while the company seeks a solution. Economists say Boeing’s production cuts likely weighed on U.S. gross domestic product in the second quarter, and warn the impact could intensify if the plane maker can’t resume deliveries as hoped in the fourth quarter. Companies ranging from engine maker General Electric Co. to smaller parts suppliers have tied the halt in deliveries of the aircraft to financial damage, or suspended profit guidance.”

The Biosphere

“Melting ice sheets, storm-damaged homes: For some, it’s a business opportunity” [Grist]. For example: “Worldwide demand for air conditioning is only going to increase, according to investors and those in the industry. ‘The hotter it gets, the more your business increases,’ John Staples, president and CEO of US Air Conditioning, told the Verge back in 2013. And he was right — by 2050, two-thirds of the world’s households are predicted to own an air conditioner. But it’s a bit of a catch-22: As the planet warms, access to A/C can save lives, but the more we use it, the more the world heats up. And though people are certainly making money off this boon in the HVAC market, they aren’t investing in developing new, greener methods of cooling.” • The capitalists will sell themselves the rope…

“WASTE ONLY: How the Plastics Industry Is Fighting to Keep Polluting the World” [The Intercept]. “China’s decision in 2017 to stop receiving the vast majority of plastic waste from other countries blew the flimsy lid off our dysfunctional recycling system. That year, when the Chinese government announced the National Sword policy, as it’s called, the U.S. sent 931 million kilograms of plastic waste to China and Hong Kong. The U.S. has been offloading vast bundles of scrap this way since at least 1994, when the Environmental Protection Agency began tracking plastics exports. The practice has served to both mask the mounting crisis and absolve U.S. consumers of guilt. But in fact, much of the ‘recycled’ plastic scrap that the U.S. sent to China appears to have been burned or buried instead of being refashioned into new products. Although China’s turnabout made the failure of the plastics recycling system suddenly and undeniably obvious, in truth the plastics problem has been with us as long as plastic has. Over the decades, as production has grown exponentially, we’ve never managed to repurpose even one-tenth of our plastic waste.”

“This Is What America Could Look Like When Our Coasts Are Under Water” [Vice]. “Depending on how we do it, we face very different coastal futures. In one scenario, our coastlines will be dotted with derelict ruins—the haunting remains of communities that weren’t given a chance to get out of harm’s way. Cities will exist behind walls built that protect from the ocean, and there will be no access to the shoreline. In a more egalitarian vision, U.S. shores could be reclaimed as public land. A national shoreline could serve as a natural buffer to the ocean, and if paired with affordable housing, community investment, and employment, moving away from the coasts could promise survival but also, better quality of life. ‘The question isn’t whether we will retreat, it’s how we will retreat,’ said A.R. Siders, an environmental fellow at the Harvard University Center for the Environment. ‘In that, we have a lot of choice and a lot of opportunity.'” • Oh, there will be “access.” For a price.

“Was the Automotive Era a Terrible Mistake?” [The New Yorker]. “When the people of the future look back at our century of auto life, will they regard it as a useful stage of forward motion or as a wrong turn? Is it possible that, a hundred years from now, the age of gassing up and driving will be seen as just a cul-de-sac in transportation history, a trip we never should have taken?” • Um, hysteresis. We can’t just back up and go in another direction. That’s not to say cars will persist in their current form, just that cul-de-sac is the wrong metaphor.

“‘Climate Grief’: Fears About The Planet’s Future Weigh On Americans’ Mental Health [Kaiser Health News]. “Therapist Andrew Bryant says the landmark United Nations climate report last October brought a new mental health concern to his patients. ‘I remember being in sessions with folks the next day. They had never mentioned climate change before, and they were like, ‘I keep hearing about this report,” Bryant said. ‘Some of them expressed anxious feelings, and we kept talking about it over our next sessions.'” • Today is my day to be kind, so I’m going to cancel my curmudgeonly response to this.

“How Airplane Contrails Are Helping Make the Planet Warmer” [Yale Environment 360]. “[T]he condensation trails produced by the exhaust from aircraft engines are creating an often-invisible thermal blanket of cloud across the planet. Though lasting for only a short time, these ‘contrails’ have a daily impact on atmospheric temperatures that is greater than that from the accumulated carbon emissions from all aircraft since the Wright Brothers first took to the skies more than a century ago. More alarming still, researchers warned late last month that efforts by engineers to cut aircraft CO2 emissions by making their engines more fuel-efficient will create more, whiter, and longer-lasting contrails — notably in the tropics, where the biggest increases in flights are expected. In a paper being widely praised by other experts in the field, Lisa Bock and Ulrike Burkhardt of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany, forecast a near-tripling in the ‘radiative forcing’ from contrails by 2050….. Research in the American South and Midwest has concluded that when contrails are around, they raise night-time temperatures sufficiently to reduce the day-night differences by 3 degrees C.”

“Community Roots – Let’s Plant Some Trees!” [Richmond Tree Stewards]. “Homeowners in the City of Richmond will receive free a limited number of trees (2 or 3 depending on availability) from our gravel beds…. In Richmond we celebrate Arbor Day in October rather than late April because that is a much better time to plant trees in Virginia.” • This sounds like a great program!

Health Care

“A look at people who have persistently high spending on health care” [Peterson-Kaiser Health System Tracker]. “Those with persistently high spending, while few in number, are some of the most expensive users of care – the 1.3% of enrollees with high spending in each of three consecutive years (2015-2017) had an average spending in 2017 of almost $88,000, accounting for 19.5% of overall spending that year. The predictability and extent of their spending suggest that any efforts to reduce the total costs of care and improve health system quality must focus heavily on this group of people.” • Yes, “Peterson” is that Peterson. Ugh.

“Verma touts site-neutral pay policies, blasts hospital consolidation” [Modern Healthcare]. “CMS Administrator Seema Verma on Monday took swings at Medicare’s ‘hospital-centric payment model,’ touting the Trump administration’s recent site-neutral payment policy and decrying provider consolidation. Verma condemned Democratic proposals for a public insurance option at a policy summit for the Better Medicare Alliance, which represents Medicare Advantage plans. … ‘The secret of the public option is that it’s only cheaper because it uses the force of government to strong-arm doctors and hospitals into accepting below-market payment rate,’ she said. ‘But the government cannot wave a wand and impose lower rates on some providers while holding everyone else harmless.’ She touted another policy, hated by hospitals, that determines some Medicare payments: site-neutral payment regulations that cut Medicare dollars for some hospital services that can also be performed in physicians’ offices… From there, Verma doubled down on another topic that makes major health systems nervous: the growth of hospital monopolies and the ‘upward trend in provider consolidation.’ ‘Hospitals are buying up physician practices, and mergers of large health systems and health plans are a common occurrence,’ she said. ‘But without competition in a market, consumers have fewer choices, prices go up, and incentives to improve quality go down.'”

“The great plague of 2019, or how the United States got single payer health-care” [Alice Marshall, Medium]. “A few of Pence’s team went to a book party for a famous conservative commentator. Within a week everyone at the party was dead, but not before they spread the disease to their think tank, law firm, and trade association. Several staffers from AHIP and PhRMA were there. By the end of the month they had to close their DC office as everyone was dead.” • Not entirely implausible, even as wish fulfillmennt.

Class Warfare

“The Most Gullible Man in Cambridge” [New York Magazine]. • Yikes.

“Jeffrey Epstein doled out millions to Harvard and others. Is that cash tainted?” [Miami Herald]. “The multimillionaire hedge fund manager lavished at least $30 million on universities, scientists, politicians, cultural organizations, think tanks — as well as his local police department, according to records of three of his charities. Records for a fourth were not available. That $30 million figure includes at least $2 million doled out following a short stint in the Palm Beach stockade that resulted when a 53-page federal sex trafficking indictment got whittled down to a pair of minor prostitution-related charges late in the last decade. For those organizations that hung onto the money, is there a moral obligation to give it back, or alternatively, pay it forward to organizations that would benefit, for example, young sexual assault victims like those Epstein allegedly victimized?'” • Lol, no.

“Student Debt and Racial Wealth Inequality” (PDF) [Marshall Steinbaum]. “This paper analyzes the effect of cancelling student debt on racial wealth inequality using the 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances. It concludes that cancelling student debt reduces racial wealth gaps as measured by the ratio of white wealth to black wealth at a given wealth quantile, across the wealth distribution. It then discusses why cancelling student debt disproportionately increases the net wealth of black households and thereby reduces racial wealth gaps.” • As surely all universal benefit programs must do?

“Baby born on 7-Eleven Day at 7:11 p.m., weighs 7 lbs., 11 oz., gets 7-Eleven college fund” [USA Today]. • Just another kind of legacy admission….

News of the Wired

“Dream Of Retiring Abroad? The Reality: Medicare Doesn’t Travel Well” [Kaiser Health News]. “After paying into the Medicare system for decades, it’s no wonder some expats are frustrated that they can’t generally use the program outside the United States…. And retirees should honestly consider whether they will spend the rest of their lives overseas.” • And spend the last days of my life drugged and strapped to a bed in a nursing home room with a TV I can’t turn off? I’d rather die in a ditch in the tropics.

“Don’t Put Your Work Email on Your Personal Phone” [OneZero]. “Here’s one reason: Your work account might be spying on you in the background. When you add a work email address to your phone, you’ll likely be asked to install something called a Mobile Device Management (MDM) profile. Chances are, you’ll blindly accept it. (What other choice do you have?) MDM is set up by your company’s IT department to reach inside your phone in the background, allowing them to ensure your device is secure, know where it is, and remotely erase your data if the phone is stolen. From your company’s perspective, there are obvious security reasons for installing an MDM on an employee’s phone. But for employees, it’s difficult to tell what these invisible profiles are collecting behind the scenes, as they provide people at your company with invisible control over your device. That’s why when it comes to your phone, no matter how much you trust your IT department, it’s a good idea to keep work and pleasure separate.”

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

JL writes: “Mystery tree”!

* * *

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Howard Beale IV

    How Amazon uses 18-wheelers to transfer heavy data loads to the cloud” [CNBC]

    Never underestimate the bandwidth of an Airbus 380 carrying a payload of 1 terabyte-sized microSD cards.

    (Back in the old days it used to be never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon carrying magnetic tape reels…)

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Amazon uses 18-wheelers to transfer heavy data loads to the cloud. What a great opportunity for an inside job! And Amazon employees have so many reasons to be loyal to Amazon.

  2. Samuel Conner

    Re: the great 2019 plague and

    “Not entirely implausible, even as wish fulfillment.”

    I am reminded of Frank Herbert’s “The White Plague”. (I stopped reading Herbert after that one, as I realized that his books consistently made me feel depressed)

    The Medium article premise is “accidental” pandemic. Herbert’s premise (intentional — a vengeful scientist) might make a good movie adaptation, and as the film companies seem to be running out of ideas …

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      What do you mean film companies are running out of ideas? There are plenty of ideas they have used before, often more than once. Who needs new ideas?

      [Sorry … I do have to live up to my pseudonym.]

      1. anonymous

        I keep waiting for a Netflix series where each episode we learn what people do when they can’t pay their medical bills.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Trump collapsing of a massive apoplectic stroke while tweeting? Not as unlikely as it sounds. One of the last Roman Emperors had a notoriously foul temper and when a tribal delegation was sent in, he started screaming and shouting at them over some misdeed. Then, to the consternation of everybody in that room, the Emperor suddenly stopped shouting, was silent a moment, and then fell over dead. It happens.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Of course, Pence digging Trump up and putting him on trial while Team Blue elites pray to Mueller for guidance will be really bizarre.

        1. The Rev Kev

          What is the bet that when Mueller is put on the stand, that he will try to read the entirety of his report as his testimony and then refuse to answer any questions while taking the 5th Amendment.

          1. Carey

            That’s close to what I expect. Wonder when the many will tumble to
            the fact that it’s all theater; mere distraction, as the few’s henchpersons™ kill off the great majority of the citizenry.

      2. Some guy in Beijing

        According to something I heard on the Dollop Podcast, Trump is hopped up on the stimulating ingredient from fen-phen, which is not far removed from an amphetamine. This is likely why people always say he’s such an energetic old man.

        I wish he’d just die already. A Pence “re-election” campaign wouldn’t get very far

    3. Lee

      The Medium article premise is “accidental” pandemic. Herbert’s premise (intentional — a vengeful scientist) might make a good movie adaptation, and as the film companies seem to be running out of ideas …

      Wasn’t that done in the movie 12 Monkeys? A pretty good film as I recall.

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        Great Film!!! Brue Willis and Brad Pitt at their best!

        V for Vendetta has a plotline about Britain poisoning the world.

        28 Days later and pretty much any zombie movie. Flu is a good one out of S Korea.

        1. Chef

          Steven King’s The Stand (Capt. Tripps virus) – great read, movie not so much.

          Robert McCammon’s Swan Song is the nuclear war version of that tale.

      1. Stormcrow

        Interesting comment today from the thread at Moon of Alabama:

        Epstein is the real story of our time. One that could bring down AIPAC/Israel and all of its spies, the Clintons, Trump, and certain elements of the deep state once and for all, and free US from the shackles of Zionism.

        I don’t expect to see this, of course, but it’s not impossible.

      2. Carey

        The chances that anything comes of this week’s scandal (epstein! ohdear!) are about one in a trillion, IME.

        yadda yadda yadda

  3. Sam Adams

    Can’t really move to Europe as the banks are closing American’s bank accounts with greater frequency as it’s getting even more difficult to open bank accounts because of US reporting requirements. Now if it’s a Zuckerberg sized account, not such an issue. But if you make it over with enough income and assets the healthcare system is better.

  4. Dan

    “Don’t Put Your Work Email on Your Personal Phone…”

    Best $27 bucks a month that I ever spent was for service on a five dollar used flip phone,
    with a private phone number that only my friends and family know.

    Allows me to turn off and ignore the other cell phone and unplug the landline all weekend and at night.

    There is no law that says you have to give a cell or landline number to anyone.
    Memorize and use a fake phone number for all commercial transactions like rewards cards etc.

    “What is your email?” A question asked everywhere these days.

    “How much is that data worth to your company? I take cash only.”

  5. Martin Oline

    I love the ‘concept’ illustration in the VICE article about raising sea levels. Des Moines, Iowa, at an elevation of 955 feet is under water. Oh My! When the ice sheets melted around 12,000 B.C. the worlds oceans raised by 350 to 400 feet. I wonder where they got the water? Oh yeah, it’s a ‘concept’.

    1. Joe Well

      Re: retiring overseas

      Hospitals around the World Detain Patients Who Cannot Pay Medical Bills

      1. You don’t qualify for their national health plan.
      2. You won’t qualify for any international private health plan at all after 65.
      3. No, AFAIK hospitals in Western Europe/Australia/NZ/Japan/Korea don’t hold people hostage, but if you could afford to retire there this wouldn’t be an issue.
      4. Foreigners in tourist/resort areas often get gouged by private hospitals.
      5. Ambulance/EMT service in North America and the UK is among the very best in the world. In many countries, it’s shockingly bad. If you’ve fallen and you can’t get up…
      6. There are North American and British retirees stranded in countries around the world, particularly Mexico and Thailand, because they can’t afford to go home.
      7. No, the embassy won’t help you.
      8. There is a whole “retire abroad” industry trying to convince retirees the above facts aren’t true.

      If my older relatives said they were thinking of “retiring overseas” I’d be very nervous. You need a few hundred K $ plus have done all your homework regarding medical care, including emergency medical care.

      1. sleepy

        It’s a different world now, I know, but decades ago I cut my hand in Mexico slicing some tomatoes. I was naturally worried about the doctor costs. Went to the local clinic, got 5 stitches, a tetanus shot, and an antibiotic. Total cost was something like $3.00 and they treated me without asking for payment first.

        Was told that if I was a Mexican citizen it would have been even less.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          A dfferent world indeed, today vs. decades ago.

          In one ‘Leave It to Beaver’ episode, where he faked sickness, the doctor came to the house and got the Beavor to confess he wasn’t ill.

          Today, people here would be totally shocked at doctors house-calling.

          The other things one notices watching those old shows are that they eat dinner together, and usually, they have milk or water on the table (can be seen in the show, Happy Days, too).

        2. Joe Well

          @sleepy, let’s be serious. The reality is that a person over 60 has an extremely high chance of eventually needing far more complex care than a bandage and antibiotics. That is why the Mexican government will no longer allow new expat retirees on the national insurance.

          I have paid out of pocket for surgery in Latin America, and while it is a fraction of what it would be in the US, it is still thousands of dollars even for outpatient stuff. For a long hospitalization, I can only imagine. There are state hospitals but they won’t let you in except for an acute emergency and then you’re out the door as soon as you can be put in a wheelchair.

      2. laughingsong

        This doesn’t sound right to me. Not that I know a whole bunch of folks living as expats but when I was in Dublin, and used the ambulance, the hospital, and a few clinics, it was great (I wasn’t even a citizen yet), and there were many people from other countries there and no one was complaining, being held against their will, or being asked about insurance or payment.

        Talking to others who spent time in France, the Netherlands, and Italy (specifically), using the health care services there, they had nothing but good to say (no other ambulance stuff but still).

        This AP/CBS article is the only one I ever saw to claim something like this. Until it comes from a few more sources I trust better, I will hold this as dubious.

        1. Greg

          Tourists pay full cost in NZ. Still cheaper than US care but only residents get the subsidy to zero.
          Im not sure how hard it is to become a resident when old, without marrying.

          Of course if you can’t pay we’ll probably send you home after treatment. Which yes the nz gov will pay for the deporting flight.

        2. Joe Well

          I specifically said this didn’t include Western Europe. But the average non-EU citizen has no chance of retiring there. Retirement = live most of the year, not just hang out for 3 months as a tourist.

          Also, @Martin Oline, I’m so sorry for replying to your comment by accident. This isn’t the first time this has happened. I’m not sure why it happens but I am going to check very carefully from now on before hitting Post Comment.

          1. Monty

            Don’t be silly Joe. Everyone knows entering a country gives you the right to stay permanently and avail yourself to their welfare system. It would be immoral of them to try to remove you for simply being there, especially if *sob* you had some kids with you. Only fascists like Trump and ICE would countenance deportation under these circumstances.

            Oh wait…

      3. Tomonthebeach

        Most of my expat pals have dual citizenship. Of course, that requires some advanced (pre-retirement) planning. Marrying an EU member helps, and often is the reason for the move to Europe in the first place. Then there is that pesky language problem, although 90% of our friends speak English anyway.

        Of course, as some have already commented, the cost of care is often way lower than the US, as are meds. My last 2 week dose of antibioltics in Bulgaria cost a whopping $14.

    1. Liberal Mole

      I ended up showing the picture to my gardener. It’s psoralea pinnata, sometimes known as the kool aid bush. The flowers really do smell like grape kool aid!

  6. Linden S.

    “Today is my day to be kind, so I’m going to cancel my curmudgeonly response to this.” 100%. Hope we get past these “climate grief” stories quickly.

  7. petal

    The Most Gullible Man in Cambridge was a neighbour of mine when I lived there-just around the corner. Passed that house about a million times. Wow. What an insane read-like something out of a movie.

    1. Cal2

      The overarching question is, are we The Most Gullible Society in The World, to accept, normalize and codify the narcissistic mental illness demonstrated by these charlatans that this supposedly educated guy accepted, hook line and sinker?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The whole article is amusing because it really just boils down to “man believes he is such a sexual dynamo he turned a lesbian (bleeding heart version).”

    2. Bugs Bunny

      The comments on this overly long (did NY mag fire their copy editors?) story are hilarious. Why are we supposed to feel sorry for this entitled, precious fool?

      And I’m willing to bet that his ex wife was a student of his at Harvard Law. Partially explains the decision to not drop the Title IX claim.

        1. richard

          i can’t stand either part of your compound word.
          it sounds like something a eugenist would say

  8. Adam1

    “People do get to change their minds. But it’s always nicer when they do the right thing all along”
    I may be a bit too cynical, but I’d be willing to be her funding priorities changed. As a prosecutor she needed to look tough on drugs. Now she’s free of that and there’s lots of marijuana money to fund her campaign.

    1. Geo

      Considering her recollection of smoking to Tupac back in her early days I’m betting you’re right. Obviously didn’t see it as a personally harmful drug.

      Though, too bad she wasn’t into East Coast rap. She’d have loved the Biggie song “It’s All About the Benjamins”.

  9. martell

    I doubt that this she/hers business is great. Judging from how things have been going lately, this new bit of etiquette is quite likely to become compulsory in academic settings. Within academic philosophy, for instance, calls to allow for debate about recent, quite remarkable claims regarding gender have been met with threats of punishment (apparently, some philosophers have threatened never to read Peter Singer again, precisely because he signed a letter calling for academic freedom as it pertains to these issues). While this use of the pronouns is sometimes based on a desire to express solidarity with (some of) the oppressed, it is also sometimes intended as a means of de-normalizing so-called cisgender identity. This de-normalization program is tied to a voluntarist or subjective metaphysics of gender (roughly, the view that one is as one makes oneself or as one perceives oneself to be). It’s also associated with certain views about speech. Verbal misidentification is hurtful, supposedly so hurtful as to sometimes cause the misidentified person to commit suicide. Thus, misidentification in speech is supposed to be something like hate speech, a performative tantamount to violence. For my part, I don’t buy the voluntarist/subjective metaphysics of gender. I think the associated views concerning speech make for terrible politics. And I’m in favor of academic freedom, which, I think, should include the freedom not to give voice to metaphysical and political views that I regard as erroneous. So, no, not on board with this one.

    1. Cal2

      “Sheit” a good all around neutral inclusive term to save the typing of many letters.

      1. ambrit

        That word you mention, Sheit, is not uttered aloud in nice surroundings here Down South.

    2. dearieme

      Preferred pronouns: do I get an entirely free hand? Instead of he/him/his can I use dog/fox/hen? We don’t want to speciesist, do we?

      1. polecat

        How ’bout ‘Tix’ .. as in : “They’re bloody sucking Congressional Tix !!”

        It does have the sufficient and necessary gender neutral suffi x …

    3. Katy

      In my judgment, as a person who has thought a great deal about the legitimacy of announcing gender pronouns as a custom, it is not a good move for politicians.

      Because it is alienating to the general public. It singles out the subjective feelings of a very small group of people as being more important than others.

      When I say this to people, I get back the response, “You are disrespectful of transgender people, you bigot!” I also get “You are saying that nobody should ever identify their gender,” or “You are saying that gender shouldn’t exist.” Um, no. My main problem is that people are adopting the custom mindlessly, with total disregard for whether it ought to be a custom or not. College freshman are doing it because their academic advisors told them to.

      Plus, it’s another opportunity to cause divisiveness. I could see it as becoming the next Black Lives Matter vs. Blue Lives Matter.

      1. jrs

        Elizabeth Warren is a woman because she was raised as a woman (well and her biological sex), and being raised so was probably LIMITING too.

        I doubt it ever once crossed her mind to be otherwise or as a choice, and why would it have then, even though in those days (and still some) men got all the plum prizes in the society, all the respect, all the valorization, filled the history books, were much of what you were taught in school etc..

        1. dearieme

          Mm, but she’s not a Cherokee even though she was raised (she says) to believe herself a Cherokee.

          Playing the race card is one thing: playing a palmed card quite another.

          1. Procopius

            I believe that what she actually says is that she was told one or more of her ancestors was Cherokee, not that she was a Cherokee. I believe that when she announced the results of her DNA test she stated that she was told she has some genes that are common with Cherokees. Of course I may have misunderstood, and will apologize if you have links to reliable sources (not the New York Times, thank you).

      2. Polar Donkey

        I have been making lots of progress getting my family in rural Tennessee to see the importance of Medicare for all, free public college, needless foreign wars, fairer taxation, climate change. Then pronoun identification and transgender bathrooms comes up and it all get blown out of the water. Pronoun identification sounds so absurd, maybe the rest is absurd too. I don’t have a response. I just stand there and shrug my shoulders.

        1. Partyless Poster

          Bingo! +100
          That is why any Dem that embraces that will lose.
          I don’t think its bigotry or homophobia necessarily, people just don’t take kindly to activists redefining reality for them

          1. Carey

            As far as I can see, the corporate/idPol Dems embrace this stuff *in order to* lose, and thereby delegitimize any broad-based,
            people-oriented policy.

            It’s working, so far.

            1. Monty

              It’s all got to be the brain child of some devious rightist agent provocateur. An epic prank on the left. Set and sprung.

              Well played wingnuts, well played!

        2. ChrisPacific

          Pronoun identification doesn’t sound so absurd to me after several conversations with my kindergarten-aged child about which ones to use in situations where it’s not obvious. The more definitive tests are very much outside the bounds of socially acceptable behavior, and if you try to describe it in terms of cultural markers you end up sounding ridiculous (is gender defined by the length of your hair? Clothes you wear? Toys you like playing with?) More than once I’ve ended up feeling irritable that the structure of our language requires us to make a call one way or another every time we want to refer to someone in the third person, even when it’s completely irrelevant to the topic at hand.

          1. Chef

            In Chicago “you guys” can be for used for either.

            “Hey you” works too, though not as polite.

    4. JBird4049

      Verbal misidentification is hurtful, supposedly so hurtful as to sometimes cause the misidentified person to commit suicide. Thus, misidentification in speech is supposed to be something like hate speech, a performative tantamount to violence. For my part, I don’t buy the voluntarist/subjective metaphysics of gender. I think the associated views concerning speech make for terrible politics.

      So using standard American English is hate speech? Since what I write might be read centuries from now, when the people living then be feeling my hate when I do not use the then accepted pronouns?

      The average American is not really accepting, I think, and believes this is nonsense. Advocating the new and improved system of genders and their associated pronouns is a great way to enhance the splitting of Americans into separate, weaker, and more controllable groups. Prejudices against one’s race or one’s biological sex are clear assaults on a person’s immutable physical aspects and are usually easy to identify, but claiming the use, or lack of it, of socially newly created genders and their pronouns as hate or prejudice is something readily weaponized. It can be used as form of hatred itself in the effort to protect others from hatred.

      Western society is unusual in having only two genders, but every society changes what (social) genders it has and what defines them over time, even though the “standard” man/male – woman/female gender/sex are the most common elements of human society. Just not the only one. The sexual biology never changes of course, but the assigned genders can be very different. As for sexual orientation, the American/European historical heterosexual/homosexual and now the added bisexual is also not just the only system.

      However, I also believe that this weaponized politicization of social constructs like gender and pronouns is tool of control of by the delegitimization of a very large, perhaps the majority of, portion of American society. One might think of it as another formation of the Deplorables against the worthy.

    5. ewmayer

      Team D: All IdPol, all the time. New nickname for Warren: “Wokahontas”.

      (To be fair, EW is good on reining in the financial sector. But this virtue-signaling pronoun stuff is silly and distracts from the stuff that ails 90+% of the populace, irrespective of its preferred “Pronounciation”.)

      1. flora

        EW is good on reining in the financial sector. It’s her strong suit.

        When she goes on a hip-cool-youth-vibe thing, though, results are like her cringe inducing ‘drinking a beer’ youtube vid, imo. Her political instincts are fine for the faculty assemblies. Her political instinct for national politics are, uh, questionable.

        Why is this story even coming out now when the story about her right now should be about serious law she’s introduced to rein in PE financial abuses. Why does she keep stepping on her momentum? Who is advising her?

        1. Carolinian

          Dukakis in the tank?

          The candidates are mostly avoiding foreign policy but of course if elected it would be their main job unless the Congress goes all Dem. Warren’s FP statements don’t sound good.

    6. Plenue

      “Verbal misidentification is hurtful, supposedly so hurtful as to sometimes cause the misidentified person to commit suicide.”

      Or these people are mentally ill, with a neurosis that has been legitimized and exacerbated by too much time spent in internet thoughtbubbles, and are pushed over the edge when society refuses to indulge their self-delusion.

        1. Plenue

          Yes, I’m sure that’s what they’d claim. Meanwhile, in their own discourse, they don’t bother with micro anything. They just openly and regularly call for the deaths of everyone who doesn’t buy into their weird idpol cult.

          1. Monty

            Do they really though? Outside of what I’ve read and seen online (probably propaganda), I don’t think I’ve bumped into too many people like that, or heard anyone calling for deaths in anyone else. It’s probably just a few idiots, amplified by the internet as usual.

            1. flora

              I work at a large uni. I see it here in some people. One grown woman (not a student) was saying exactly this, a woman I once thought was sane. Now I’m not so sure. (Uni’s can be a hothouse sheltering all manner of ‘sociology’ thought that can’t survive outside the hothouse. imo.)

            2. Plenue

              Propaganda from who? Anti-trans people? Because if so, that’s a lot of photoshopping, and a lot of ghost accounts masquerading as trans-activists. The hate really is completely ubiquitous. At minimum it’s not a few idiots on the internet; it’s a lot of idiots on the internet.

              1. Monty

                Yes there are a lot of idiots, paid or suckered in, who are amplified the internet. All kinds of fringe beliefs are able get a lot more attention these days. However, they represent a very small minority of the country as a whole.

                Who benefits from this discussion being front and center? A very small slither of the population may get more rights one day, some people get to show how ‘nice’ and ‘woke’ they are by sticking up for them in the meantime… and the right wing gets handed a winning wedge issue to discredit more universally useful left wing ideas among “regular folks”.

    7. clarky90

      “The Unbearable Pettiness of Academic Race and Gender Politics”



      “(Early 2018), during a conference for scholars who study international affairs, Simona Sharoni, a professor of women’s and gender studies at Merrimack College, asked a crowded hotel elevator what floor everyone needed. Richard Ned Lebow, a professor of political theory at King’s College London, replied, “Ladies’ lingerie” (or, as Sharoni remembers it, “Women’s lingerie.”) Several people laughed. Was that sexual harassment?”


  10. GF

    If anyone is interested in the background story concerning the telescope protests at Mauna Kea, Hawaii, here are 2 links from yesterday’s Democracy Now! (that have transcripts) with Pua Case, an indigenous organizer, one of the leading activists defending Hawaii’s Mauna Kea from further destruction. The information presented is very informative as to why the protests are occurring:


    Here is a link to the 2nd part of the interview via the web:

    All of this is incredible stuff that most people haven’t a clue about.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Instead of just giving links could you elaborate a little for the lazy [like me] to motivate going to your links?

      1. GF

        It seems native Hawaiians don’t want what is left unspoiled (north plateau area I believe) to be destroyed by the construction process required to place a 30 meter telescope at the location. The site is sacred and the original 13 telescopes placed there did not take the native’s point of view into consideration when they were built. Of course there is much more to the story.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Thanks. I can see the islander’s point of view. There are more than enough buildings and change in Honolulu.

  11. ewmayer

    Re. Warren warms of coming economic crash – see my comment in today’s Links on that, it’s mostly good but there is a guffaw-worthy invocation of the scary debt ceiling bogeyman:

    The administration may breach the debt ceiling in September, leading to economic turmoil that top economists say would be “more catastrophic” than the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.

  12. Summer

    RE: student loans
    Debt relief…”disproportionately increases the net wealth of black households and thereby reduces racial wealth gaps.” • As surely all universal benefit programs must do?

    A way to kill debt relief is tying it to something that will “disproportionately” help black households. That’s historically been the go to way to reduce desires for benefits in this country.
    Just something to keep an eye on…

    1. JBird4049

      A way to kill debt relief is tying it to something that will “disproportionately” help black households.

      On one side, we have the pro-reparations brigade saying that reparations to African-Americans must happen because of slavery and Jim Crow while whites, even poor Americans like me, who have objections over being completely ignored are therefore racist deplorable losers, while on the other side, advocating for debt is wrong because blacks, who have received centuries of abuse and are therefore disproportionately poor, might receive a disproportionate benefit which somehow makes the suggested relief unjust?

      Hey, here’s a suggestion. Maybe we could make a fair, just, abundant and perhaps nice or even happy society for all Americans without taking a metaphorical measuring stick out to make sure all the all the advantages are apportioned out to each recognized group identity instead.

      I could swear that some people are trying to create another 70s Lebanon for America. Using group identity to apportion benefits, privileges, and rights did not end well for that country.

  13. curlydan

    Well, I looked at the Peterson-Kaiser health care study–not as noxious as I thought it would be. The authors seem to revel in the fact that x% (a small percent) of people account for y% (a large percent) of spending. Um, this happens in basically every [bleeping] system everywhere. It’s called the 80/20 rule or probably in this case the 20/80 rule.

    The authors found that people with HIV, Cystic Fibrosis, and MS are very likely to be in the super high spenders–not really surprising. Maybe most interesting was their finding that the super-high spenders (avg $88K per year in spending over 3+ years) also spent 39% of that $88K on prescription drugs. So that drove a ton of spending, especially relative to other groups studied. So if drug prices were somehow lowered, we’d save a bunch of $.

  14. Charles Leseau

    The 7-Eleven baby will be trained from the womb to be the future face of 7-Eleven advertising.

    If she is comely enough, she will get a personal trainer and they will create a superhero character for the next generation of X-Men in fifteen years or so. Her name will be Ellen Seven-Eleven. She will have mutant abilities that allow her to convert the corn syrup in Slurpees into a vomit spray projectile weapon that causes her foes to become calmed and happy in a way they’ve never felt before, ready to shell out $4.99 for something vaguely edible or drinkable at 3:00 in the morning.

      1. Bugs Bunny

        Hi Rev, I noticed this in the linked Wikipedia article:

        “Seven of Nine, again played by Jeri Ryan, is due to appear in the upcoming series Star Trek: Picard”

        That’s two Star Trek references in comments today. Yay.

      2. Mo's Bike Shop

        Uff-Da. I always think “Six of One…”. The introduction of her bodysuit, with her in it, and the travails of a Trill over at the mall in space were when I Just.Gave.Up. Then, when I was noticing that Enterprise was pretty good even through all the snow on UHF51, it died.

        So I find it sardonically appropriate that she was only two Kevin Bacons away from Obama’s rise.

      3. Charles Leseau

        Eh, guess I’m just not catchy. I should know better with this crowd!

        Best of luck,

  15. dearieme

    “U.S. farmers look past trade fears to cash in on China’s hog crisis”

    Some years ago my wife invited two new Chinese friends out for lunch. She said she’d welcome their views on a (UK) Chinese restaurant: would that be all right? Yes. So off they went. The general report was that they enjoyed the food very much although it wasn’t authentic to any one particular Chinese cuisine and the amounts were bigger than they were used to. The particular report was that the pork was far better than anything they ever got in the PRC.

    1. softie

      Though I don’t eat animal products, I heard lasy year in China that the pork produced by factory farms and sold in China’s grocery stores tastes terrible. I did a 10-day hike in Tibet where I encountered many free range pigs freely roaming vast hills and valleys, and the locals don’t feed them anything. And they told me it takes at least one and half years before they can be sold. Even at that age, they look slim and small, and they said people all over China are eager to pay significant higher premium for them.

        1. softie

          Unlike yaks, their pigs normally go back to their owners before it gets completely dark everyday, so they can be sheltered at night or in bad weather. The Tibetans I encountered there are in somewhat remote areas, but they seem to be doing very well even judging from the American standards.

          There’s no property tax in China and in Tibet there’s no income tax. They normally have recently built beautiful houses with on average 8000 to 10000 Sq ft in size with some separate large structures/barns for pigs, goats and yaks at night. They tend to grow some food in their backyard, normally 3 to 5 acres in size. Inside their large garages, you can see 2 offroad motorcycles, a 4×4 SUV or car, and a tractor or two, and 1 or 2 4×4 pickup truck. They have their own power generators, large freezers, and many other things such indoor plumbing, hot shower among other things. They tend to have 4 or 5 people per household, mom & dad with 2 to 3 kids. They told me the Chinese government allows them to have up to 3 kids per couple. But most young couples prefer having 2 at max. Tibet has the world’s best highway systems that I’ve witnessed for that kind of altitude, with many highway tunnels stretching over 30 to 40 miles underneath huge mountains, truly amazing engineering wonders.

        2. Lee

          Searching “Tibetan pig” brings up some interesting articles. Every day I come here I learn something new.

      1. Pablo

        That’s why the US south is full of feral hogs. They used to be diversification animals for farmers doing 10 other things too.
        The “max out on ONE enterprise” farm model of the 1950s made them such a commodity… that one year… they weren’t even worth catching. Especially when they made you get that fine “country ham” USDA rubber stamped to sell.
        Thing is for me all that agrabusiness has books that look a lot worse than you think… (I recall many died when it was good times in the early 00s and the capitalize for a 15 year shelf life financially. Going conglomerate may not have been that wise…) and I doubt they can actually maximize on this opportunity that much.
        Those modern factory pigs can’t survive outside in Santa Barbara! Without the hormones and an IV of antibiotics they may not be viable to get to market. Its like most commercial cattle\ chickens have all sortsa problems living past the due date. They say a commercial chickens heart is good for 3 months but it needs just 2.

  16. sleepy

    Re: medical care

    My son has a genetic disorder–which is treatable but takes a few years–is on disability and medicaid, which has been privatized here in Iowa. He went to the doctor in June and failed to check “No” on the box which asked if his visit was the result of a workplace accident. As a result, United Health denied the claim and then booted him from medicaid. After a few calls they said he would be reinstated in a day or two. Now they say it will be at least 30 days.

    Took him to the doctor yesterday and the clinic wouldn’t see him unless I ponied up $100 copay–after we explained that he is being reinstated.

    He also has drug costs of c. $1500/month which are all being denied, including Kepra (sp) which is his anti-seizure med. My wife and I are currently retired on SS and buying his Kepra in 3 day dosages–a day’s dose is $20–until medicaid kicks back in.

    At least he’s not diabetic.

    1. JBird4049

      I am only familiar with Medicare and Medi-Cal, but see if you can get some reimbursed for that from the state or press for it from the pharmacy. It should be doable to have it retroactive.

      It sounds like someone(s) made a mistake which takes more, and less routine, paperwork for the usually overloaded bureaucracy to fix. So they often either do not even know about the existence of the non routine programs, problems and solutions or have to do the required extra paperwork which takes training, or yet another special administrator to do. Also you can be lost in the shuffling. Or someone is just blowing you off.

      Even if I am wrong on the specifics, if you qualify and have a life threatening health problem, it should not take thirty days to first get onto, never mind back on, the insurance. Check out the local online forums, research the state and insurance sites. Politely make waves. Emails, phone calls, letters, and office visits too. It is not fair for you to have to do the research to find out the magical secret phrases, rules, and loopholes to tell the administrators, but sometimes you have to.

      Just think of it as a game. I do. It helps me stay sane. :-)

  17. Jeff W

    Rashida Tlaib:

    By the way, when we started [#FightFor15], it should have been $15. Now I think it should be $20.

    I dunno—I always regarded the $15 amount as pretty arbitrary and, when the SeaTac workers adopted it as one of their strike demands in October, 2012 (fast food workers in New York adopted it as the FightFor15 a month later), too low, not being sufficient as a living wage and not reflecting proportionately productivity increases of the previous 40 years.

    The $15 amount seemed high at the time only because the frame of the debate then kept the upward boundary absurdly low: President Obama had talked about raising the federal ninimum wage to $9.50, an amount that would be risible today, and even James Galbraith, in April, 2012, giving a “very substantial amount” for a minimum wage, mentioned $12/hour.

    Sure, it’s great that Tlaib is all for raising the minimum wage to $20/hour now—I’m thrilled that someone is advocating that—but saying “it should have been $15” in 2012 ignores the anchoring bias of the numbers bandied about before the $15 amount became commonplace and of the $15 amount itself. If, instead, we had talked about a minimum wage of $21.72 (as some did [PDF] in 2012), a minimum wage of $20 might seem pretty uncontroversial (anchoring bias working in the opposite direction).

    1. rd

      Two people with full-time jobs would pull in $80k/year with a $20/hr minimum wage. The median household income is currently about $60k per year.

      The current federal minimum wage is substantially too low but I think these folks are getting way ahead of rational points.

    2. jrs

      my basis is usually what it costs to live here (SoCal) and well $15 is not making it at all potentially, homelessness a very real possibility, $20 is poverty but might be survivable for some.

      1. foghorn longhorn

        And that 80k is gross income, probably closer to 60k after taxes and such.
        Nothing to sneeze at, but you ain’t getting rich either.
        Thought I saw where bezos makes a couple of million a day, just for perspective and all.

    1. sleepy

      Hope the public demands his firing, and if the school board won’t do it, demand their resignations as well.

      Public schools should have free lunches for all.

      But of course it’s all about shaming and teaching “lessons” to debtors.

  18. Jeremy Grimm

    This is not a comment to any of the links. I am commenting on my experience yesterday in a thunderstorm, wherein I experienced a series of tipping points in the network of systems supporting this wonderful way of life we enjoy in the US. The weather service has warned of local flooding as a weather hazard for years — often missing the predictions when rain never appeared or appeared but never rained past a certain rate. Yesterday was different. A storm rolled in — remarkably quickly and violently [I moved to inside lanes to avoid the trees bending over the road in case they decided to drop a branch] but I continued on toward my destination in an effort to make some use of a long trip I had to make for other reasons. The rate of rainfall exceeded the capacity of the drains to let it runoff from the roadways, and the rate of rainfall was only slightly greater [by my less than expert observations and judgment] than the rainfall in a more typical thunderstorm. Tipping point number one was exceeded — resulting in substantial flooding of the roadways. The traffic lights in many areas around where I was trying to drive were flashing yellow in one direction and red in the other [The amount of cross-traffic made this response pattern exceedingly problematic.] The storm and heavy traffic on the roadways when the storm hit resulted in many serious accidents. This slowed traffic to stop-and-go, blocked all lanes with traffic, and resulted in multiple calls for police, fire, and ambulance crews. Because of the blockages emergency calls could not receive a rapid response. Because of the many accidents and emergency calls the local police were overwhelmed. Tipping point two exceeded — police and emergency crews slowed substantially in responding to emergencies. As the flooding reached levels where the roadways were unsafe to drive through because of the level of water, there were no police or public officials available to shut the roadway and direct traffic to alternate routes … although I don’t know that there were any alternate routes. Just for fun the flooding occurred at an underpass where a large local thoroughfare tied to a local freeway, and to make things even more fun the thoroughfare connected one large population area with many large shopping centers located past the flooded area. The thunderstorm started as traffic peaked with people trying to return home from work.

    The thunderstorm tripping all these tripping points was NOT that remarkable. In my inexpert opinion it was only a little more windy and rainfalls a little heavier than similar thunderstorms in this area. And we definitely are NOT talking about a rain-bomb like some areas have been hit with. As far as I know the total rainfall for this storm did not exceed an inch and it wasn’t an inch in a couple of minutes. In normal conditions our local highways are inadequate. There is frequent stop-and-go and occasional grid-lock. The drainage system has been adequate for a long time. As far as I know it performed better in the last tropical storm that passed through as the remains of a major hurricane. As far as I know the increment in the rate of rainfall for yesterday’s thunderstorm is not substantially greater than the rate of rainfall experienced in the past — it just crossed line.

    1. Lee

      Reminds me of when our house was on fire some years ago and we got a busy signal when calling 911. A PG&E natural gas pressure valve failure started a couple of hundred minor and about two dozen major house fires in our town. We were in the latter category.

      1. Dan

        PG&E is running two nuclear reactors on top of earthquake faults at Diablo Canyon, California.

        Have you watched “Chernobyl” on HBO yet?

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I’ve watched “the Stalker” a couple of times and I collect images posted about the after. Nothing like the empty public spaces and playgrounds. Although the empty shopping malls are growing close in their eerie creepiness.

  19. dk

    “Rashida Tlaib: Minimum wage should be $20 an hour, not $15” [The Hill]. • And it also shouldn’t take six years to kick in. That’s even longer than ObamaCare took!

    Agreed on all counts but national Federal wage law coming after decades (almost four!) of disproportion will have catastrophic impact on depressed rural communities and the remaining local businesses there already struggling at the margins.

    For example: Torres Small breaks ranks to vote against wage hike

    “I’ve heard a lot from people in my district in places like Roswell and Santa Rosa about the bill,” the 2nd Congressional District representative said. “We have to be able to help small businesses keep their doors open so they can pay their employees well.”

    … She said many rural residents in the state were already having to commute to work and grocery shop because of a shortage of businesses in their communities.

    Torres Small said there were attempts at a compromise, including taking a regional approach, which she felt had merit.

    “It’s time for the federal minimum wage to be raised, but in a way that considers the unique factors of each region’s economy,” she said. “What works in places like New York City or Seattle doesn’t always work in more rural areas like the ones I represent.”

    In 2018 Torres Small flipped the NM-2 seat that had been held by Republican Steve Pearce since 2009 and had only on Democratic term since 1980. The district went to Trump in 2016 50.1% – 39.9%.

    Better wages should alleviate some of the distress of these communities, but the transition will be a shock. I feel that business has a role here, to invest and return jobs that have been displaced from these mostly rural areas, but of course that is not a current trend or even discussion. And for example Amazons ongoing tightening of its marketplace impacts small businesses everywhere, but hits these communities even harder.

    This is not an argument against hiking the minimum wages, but for more policy development and other constructive tactics, particularly articulation for the roles business investment can and should play.

    1. foghorn longhorn

      NM district 2 is the heart of the Permian Basin oil fields, the median income is 42.5k.
      Joe Skeen (R) held the seat from 1980-2002, in the last 17 years it has had 2 dems.
      Tough ass place to make a living, most of my relatives are still there, couldn’t get out of there fast enough myself.

  20. anon in so cal

    China’s hog crisis:

    It’s perplexing why meat consumption keeps increasing. But I guess it directly correlates with demographic growth, duh. Plus the fact that most people have no idea of the horrors involved in factory farming.

    There are regularly scheduled vigils held for the pigs at
    the Farmer John Packing Co. in Vernon, California. The only vigil I personally participated in
    was last July, and it was amazingly well-attended with at least 100 people, maybe more. A large number of the participants had invested in expensive (and heavy) water storage equipment and had to haul this quite a distance from their cars to the side of the plant where the trucks pull up and the vigil takes place. The purpose of the vigils is to call attention to the psychotically brutal treatment of pigs, at every phase of their short lives, and to provide them water as they wait, jam-packed in giant trucks, to enter the slaughterhouse. Prior to being driven to slaughter, the pigs are deprived of all food and water for three days. The pigs arriving at the Farmer John plant are principally trucked from Utah, which means across the hot California desert in scorching heat, for more than four hours. Some of the pigs die en route.


    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If pork eating doesn’t stop, there will be other packing houses.

      But if pork eating stops, there will be no need for these places/factory farms.

      It seems, then, that getting people to eat less or stop eating pork is more fundamental.

    2. softie

      I am a plant-based eater simply because of ethical reasons. When I visited China last year, I learned most Chinese can’t live without pork in every meal each day. Many of them are well aware of what’s going on in factory farms. For example, it’s a widely known fact in China that they force feed pigs with lots of water right before they slaughter them, so that a slaughter pig can weight more. In the process, many pigs die from a horrible torture. They even have a word for it.

      They are brainwashed by the western fake science that believes animal protein is essential for good health, milk/dairy is good for bones, carbohydrates causes diabetes, and etc. Of course they are paying dearly for those lies.

      1. Oh

        Hey Softie, what do you do for protein? /s [this is a common question to vegetarians from people who don’t know that primary protein comes from non animal sources]

  21. The Rev Kev

    “This Is What America Could Look Like When Our Coasts Are Under Water”

    Of course for the government, there would be a minor advantage. At present, the US border has a 100 mile interior zone where the US Constitution is merely an act of faith and about two-thirds of all Americans live in this zone-


    So as the seas rise and the coastlines shrink inland, then that 100 mile border will have to shift inland as well which means even more Americans will live in this US Constitutional free-fire zone. So, no dark cloud without a governmental silver lining here.

  22. Lee

    Chris Arnade on Amanpour & Co. tonight. I’ve not seen him on TV before. Might be interesting.

    1. flora

      Leaking all this Bernie-embarrassing stuff to the press was a clear union bid to force the campaign’s hand. So much for gratitude.

      Or maybe, I dunno, Union leadership is in the pocket of the Dem estab?

      1. flora

        adding: the Dem estab has been trying to paint Bernie as a hypocrite for a long time…
        ‘Calls himself a socialist but he has a $700 coat!
        ‘Calls himself a socialist but he has 2 homes!’ (most congressmen have 2 homes)

        Bernie has been marching with unionizing efforts and in solidarity with workers… more than Union leadership has, imo. The Leadership has always preferred whatever Dem estab is in power, imo, nevermind what the majority of the rank-and-file prefer or think.

        This looks like a setup to me. Sanders is right that labor negotiations and complaints aren’t handled through the media but through the negotiating parties. Now the MSM can crow ‘hypocrite’ again. They have a ‘reason’ to ‘back’ their stories that Sanders is ‘falling in the polls’. It was a very clever smear, imo. I see this as a setup (as I saw the Harris attack on Biden as a scripted setup). My 2 cents.

        1. flora

          adding: there are 2 good articles in today’s links about the Dem estab taking out Sen. Frankin just as he was hitting his stride as a progressive voice in the Senate.

          The current Dem estab does not want effect progressive voices in their ranks. (I saw how they treated strong progressive a House candidate in Kansas who came within a whisker of winning, even though the Dem estab cut off his funding and ignored his campaign. )

          1. Oh

            I read the article and it looks like Al was unfairly accused by the ultra right wing media and the Dims panicked. However, the type of skits that Al and others before him performed for the US Forces (through USO) are misogenistic.

            1. flora

              1.Yes, Al’s skits were offensive and needed to be addressed. however…
              2.Railroading someone out of office with no ethics hearing, without giving him the opportunity to present his side, was spineless (or calulating) of the Dem estab. Soft McCarthyism by the Dems is as bad as what it claims to ‘fight against’.

              an aside: The railroading makes sense imo if, like on a US football team, there are 2 Wall St subteams in Congress: the GOP playing offense for Wall St against Main Street and the Dems playing defense for Wall St against Main Street. If a Dem playing strong offense for Main Street somehow gets elected the Dem estab want them gone.

              Remember the Howard Dean microphone episode – he was supposedly screaming out of control in a quiet ? The mic was a noise cancelling type that only picked up his voice and cancelled the surrounding noise in the room. So he’s in a room of happy, yelling, screaming supporters, and he’s making as much noise as them to be heard. But what the mic picked up and what the MSM broadcast was what sounded like him deranged screaming in a quiet room. The Dem estab has form.

              1. flora

                And when later recordings of the event that were picked up by non-noise cancelling microphones came to light and showed how noisy and loud the room was, Dean’s supporters celebrating another primary win , the damage had already been done and the media said something like, ‘oh, huh, guess we made a mistake, sorry.’

                (Isn’t that what they always say)?

      2. anonymous

        Yes, in 2016 no candidate drew crowds as large as Sanders, which required greater police presense. Sanders was the only candidate Dem or Rep to pay the union overtime rate for police.

        1. anonymous

          Should specify that it was in NYC that Sanders paid Union scale overtime. He may have paid it elsewhere, but I am only certain of NYPD.

  23. TonyinSoCAL

    More econoday garbage on the housing market. It’s tanking and the housing market brown nosers are all out of excuses. It’s been particularly fun watching Larry go from “just a blip” to “it will bounce back” to “the market is evening out” to now this when discussing the clearly weak housing market:

    “It doesn’t make economic sense,” said Lawrence Yun, the NAR’s chief economist.

    Don’t believe your lying eyes Larry. Poor guy is just out of BS to fling!! It just don’t make no sense!!

    As E Warren points out this is a big debt fueled bubble BS economy with junk corporate debt piled into garbage CDOs and sold around Wall Street. We’re headed for another pop!!! The only question this time is how big the bank bonuses will be after they get their infusion of tax dollar bailouts.

    1. edmondo

      It’s nice to see that Bloomberg is so interested in workers rights!

      OTOH – Bernie campaign is being run by certified idiots. I suspect he will be in single digits by Halloween.

    2. Knative

      I think he’s got some moles in his campaign. He shouldn’t be trying to save the Democrats. Let them burn.

    3. richard

      k. kulinski covered that story pretty well
      though the lense of a tucker carlson smear
      it’s a nothing burger
      which isn’t to say that some people won’t still pretend chew on it very noisily

  24. Chris

    Your daily dose of stupid economists on parade, courtesy of The Atlantic.

    They discuss everything but social class issues and the bottomless piles of money being thrown at colleges from multiple which is encouraged by the “student as customer” concept.

    Why has credentialism run rampant in the US? The tenured professor of economics at George Mason University doesn’t say. Is there something else learned from reading classical literature and learning English composition, as opposed to technical writing? The author dismisses such questions out of hand. Would more people get more out of college if they didn’t have to work to support themselves or to manage the onerous debt a college education can require? The author doesn’t seem to care. Could this be one massive experiment in survivor bias, given that the most successful college students tend to be the ones coming from families with significant resources, and therefore need college less to be successful in their post-collegiate life? No, no, of course not. The lesson to be learned here is that we’re pushing too many people to go to college. What would we do with the professions, like engineering, if there were no colleges? Again, no mention of that result from the author’s questioning. The article is just an excuse to kick the humanities and those foolish enough to appreciate them.

    Trust an economist to write a book about something and still know nothing about the subject.

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      I would very much disagree that Caplan is stupid. He knows exactly what he is doing.

  25. Carey

    That story on the Harvard prof-dude Hay was really quite something.

    Good thing we have seven-syllable words like ‘intersectionality’
    and such, for purposes of clarification, and stuff like that.

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