Links 11/15/19

Cows swept off island during Hurricane Dorian found after swimming for miles Guardian

A Million Geysers of Plasma Spout from the Sun, and Scientists May Finally Know Why Space.com

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales launches Twitter and Facebook rival FT

How Amazon’s quest for more, cheaper products has resulted in a flea market of fakes WaPo. “Despite Amazon’s algorithms designed to detect fakes, shoppers can type the phrase ‘YSL dupe’ into the site’s search bar and find knockoff handbags with Yves Saint Laurent’s logo.” Of course, the WSJ broke this story back in September.

Amazon suing Pentagon over $10B cloud contract, alleging ‘bias’ Politico

Uber Hit With $650 Million Employment Tax Bill in New Jersey (3) Bloomberg Law

NTSB Investigation Into Deadly Uber Self-Driving Car Crash Reveals Lax Attitude Toward Safety IEEE Spectrum (DL).

Is There a Threat of a New Global Economic Crisis? Valdai Discussion Club

Brexit

U.K. Politicians Fight First December Election in Almost a Century Bloomberg

Policy Failure LRB. “Cowling’s mantra, in short, was that in the study of the past, there is only history, not theory; in the study of political history, there is only politics; in fighting the battle for power in Britain, there is only party.” Of the 30s….

Brexit: decline and fall EU Referendum

U.K. Labour Pledges to Nationalize BT’s Openreach Broadband Unit Bloomberg

Boris Johnson Is Not Britain’s Donald Trump. Jeremy Corbyn Is. The Atlantic. I guess that’s why the Five Eyes are gonna cancel him (I mean with respect to intelligence sharing. Or do I?).

Life expectancy in UK falls amid rise in avoidable deaths in disadvantaged communities, report shows Independent

Le Mesurier Gets Cross Craig Murry

Tempers flare over rebuilding of Notre-Dame spire Agence France Presse

Venice’s legendary ‘waterproof’ bookshop overwhelmed by floods The Local

Syraqistan

The worst-case scenario in Lebanon: Civil War Elijah J. Magnier. More volatility:

Bolivia’s Senate votes to appoint new chamber head, deputies Reuters. On the lithium theory, thread:

As Lula Emerges From Prison, US Media Ignore How Washington Helped Put Him There FAIR

India

After years of falling, poverty in India may have risen again since GST and demonetisation Quartz

A fungus is financing families in Pithoragarh People’s Archive of Rural India

South Korea

South Koreans and Americans Agree on How to Deal With China Council on Foreign Relations

Trump hikes price tag for US forces in Korea almost 500% as Seoul questions alliance CNN

Behind the scenes of the $27bn Yahoo-Line merger Nikkei Asian Review

China?

Hong Kong protests: government under fire from across political spectrum for inaction as protesters take over campuses, close Cross-Harbour Tunnel, block roads and firebomb rail tracks South China Morning Post

* * *

The Only Word You Need to Understand Emerging Markets Bloomberg

How to Conduct Business with Chinese Companies That See a Dark Future China Law Blog

Analysis of official deceased organ donation data casts doubt on the credibility of China’s organ transplant reform BMC Medical Ethics

Vietnam Needs to ‘Struggle’ More in the South China Sea The Diplomat

New Cold War

“…Tucker Carlson Criticized for Saying ‘Russia Poses No Threat to the United States At All'” Sic Semper Tyrannis

Ukrainegate impeachment saga worsens US-Russia Cold War (video) The Grayzone. Aaron Maté interviews Stephen Cohen.

Ukraine For Dummies Ray McGovern, Consortium News

Impeachment

Trump Exposed: A Brutal Day for the President Politico

What to Make of the First Day of Impeachment Hearings LawFare. Case for the prosecution.

What Impeachment Really Reveals About Ukraine The National Interest. Case for the defense.

The Two Irreconcilable Realities of the Impeachment Hearings Masha Gessen, The New Yorker. “The side of Reality One is acting as though this were a legal prosecution. The side of Reality Two is denying the prosecution’s legitimacy.”

Impeachment Is Redeeming the Blob Foreign Policy. So it’s all good.

Top Democrats privately concede major shift in public opinion on impeachment is unlikely CNN

2020

Senate Democrats Join GOP to Back ‘Automatic Austerity’ Bill That Would Gut Social Programs, Hamstring Bold Policies Common Dreams. Getting up on my high horse for a moment: I really can’t think of a worse characterization for austerity proponents than “deficit scold,” though for some reason liberal Democrats like it. “Deficit scolds” are slaves to the ideas of long-dead economists and have caused a lot of suffering and death. They’re vicious sociopaths, not scolds.

Warren Wealth Tax Could Slow Economy, Early Analysis Finds NYT. From the from the Penn Wharton Budget Model: “[The model] assumed that the tax revenue would be used to reduce the national debt, a move that encourages growth in the Penn Wharton simulation.” All of a piece with the story above.

Andrew Yang wants to tax digital ads and launch a new algorithm regulator The Verge.

L’Affaire Joffrey Epstein

Jeffrey Epstein wasn’t trafficking women — and he didn’t kill himself, brother says Miami Herald

Health Care

‘I live on the street now’: how Americans fall into medical bankruptcy Guardian

Boeing

Southwest pilots union warns Boeing may be rushing 737 Max return Boeing

Imperial Collapse Watch

Climate Change May Be Blowing Up Arms Depots Scientific American

Missing the Big Picture on Poverty Reduction Project Syndicate. More on Banerjee, Duflo, and Kremer.

Against Economics David Graeber, NYRB (TW).

Antidote du jour (via):

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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.

223 comments

  1. Livius Drusus

    Re: Top Democrats privately concede major shift in public opinion on impeachment is unlikely.

    From day one I have considered impeachment to be very risky for the Democrats. The likely result will be an even more energized Republican base with little to show for it on the Democratic side.

    Partisan Democrats, the type of people who care a lot about a Trump impeachment, are already in the bag. But I suspect that many young people, minorities, working-class and poor people probably do not care that much. What these folks want is an inspiring message that addresses their problems. I imagine that to them the impeachment looks like typical Washington infighting.

    I am not saying that people like Trump or think that he did nothing wrong, but I just don’t think impeachment will be a big vote winner in 2020. If people think that I am putting politics above the law, I will remind people that the Democrats are pursuing impeachment of Trump while they let George W. Bush and his administration off the hook for far worse. This is why I don’t buy all of the hyperventilating about Trump’s wrongdoing.

    Reply
    1. Carl

      Thanks for writing what I’ve been thinking for the last two weeks or so. The Dems are shooting themselves in both feet.

      Reply
      1. hunkerdown

        No, they aren’t. They are happy to throw elections to the other guy if it means bourgeois class interests (which are bipartisan) are served. They’re winning by keeping the left out of power, as has been their function since 1963 or thereabouts.

        Reply
        1. Kevin

          Both parties have a vested interest in seeing the other stay in power. Until people see this – nothing will change.

          The supposed “deplorables” are the ones who actually figured it out – they went with an outsider, they just hitched onto the wrong guy and they will stick with him because there is no other “outside’ choice and they know the other two choices have been nothing but poison.

          Reply
          1. Robert McGregor

            “they will stick with him because there is no other “outside’ choice and they know the other two choices have been nothing but poison.”

            @Kevin, Bernie Sanders would be another “outside choice.” Even Yang. But all the others–No.

            Reply
            1. Kevin

              Hello Robert – by outside, I meant outside the Republican and Democratic parties.

              Understand, the deplorables have watched these parties take turns traipsing in and out of the white house, while their lives have continue to spiral downward – neither party offers them any benefits in their eyes.

              Reply
                1. JBird4049

                  When compared to the both parties of fifty years ago, the leadership and general membership of those parties are not either Democrats or Republicans are they?

                  They both either need almost complete reform or go the way of the Whigs.

                  Reply
        2. Pookah Harvey

          Remember that any Senate impeachment trial will keep both Warren and Sanders off the campaign trail. Did Biden’s slipping in the polls have anything to do with Pelosi deciding to initiate impeachment?

          Reply
        3. HippoDave

          Your theory is that Kennedy was killed in order to thwart his leftist agenda? That would be weird, considering Lyndon Johnson almost immediately instituted dozens of the most progressive/leftist programs in US history. Which Kennedy had only given lip service to.

          The erasure of LBJ as one of the top three, if not Numero Uno, progressive Presidents ever, is really weird. And maybe related is the very strange deification of Kennedy, who did basically nothing in office, legislatively.

          (sorry if I mistake your point, but “1963” as the day the left died seems to refer to the assassination of JFK. If that’s your point it doesn’t seem based on any facts at all. That day was actually a boon to progressivism, imo.)

          Reply
          1. JBird4049

            LBJs ramping up of the Vietnam War, which did destroy him, is used to mark him as a non-progressive. Much of the writing on his presidency was done by those who lived through the ramp up and that prejudices their interpretations, and therefore ours, of him.

            Reply
    2. Big River Bandido

      I think the voters you mentioned don’t care about the “inspiring message” anywhere near as much as the “addresses their problems” part. It’s that second clause where the Clown Car Democrats run straight into the buzz saw.

      Reply
    3. Ignacio

      I think that democrats, stablishment democrats, having lost the progressive agenda are poised to make mistake after mistake in their search for a leit motive for voters. They have nothing attractive to offer.

      Reply
        1. epynonymous

          On Cory Booker and the VP.

          Made some assumptions last night. Biden cant really be VP again because of optics I guess. Then the centrists hate Bernie/Warren but it’ll be interesting to see how they play out, so probably its good timing for Booker.

          Reply
    4. Off The Street

      The impeachment hearings give teachers and students many opportunities to dive into the US Constitution for further discussion and elucidation. They may also enjoy reviewing notions such as hearsay evidence, logic and rhetoric.

      Once upon a time, in a world far, far away, the Trivium was a promising curriculum. Will the modern world continue to succumb instead to the trivial, supplemented by bait and switch, tabloidism and prevarication? How many teachers and students are discussing such concepts now?

      Reply
    5. Ignim Brites

      Dems are clearly hoping the hearings provide an OMG moment that dramatically shifts PO against Trump. They have to hope that because otherwise there is no clear exit for them. They are on a treadmill that risks producing the opposite of what they want. But there may be a way out. They could force Adam Schiff to resign and then Speaker Pelosi could announce there just isn’t enough time to reorganize the hearings under a different chairman.

      Reply
    6. Pavel

      I just heard Krystal Ball on the Hill propose a rather fascinating theory: Pelosi is in favour of the impeachment process as if/when it goes to the Senate, Sanders and Warren (and Booker and Harris) will then have to “serve jury duty” (my phrase not hers) in DC for 6 weeks or so starting in January or February. This would take them out of the campaigning to a great degree and tip the scale to Biden or another centrist.

      The sad thing is that this is actually plausible.

      Reply
      1. Katniss Everdeen

        That is a theory that’s floating around. The Iowa caucas / start of the primaries is Feb. 3, I think.

        It’s also being reported that Ron Johnson (R-WI) has stated his intention to call the “anonymous whistleblower,” both bidens and adam schiff as witnesses in the event of a senate “trial.” Could be bad for biden / dems.

        The decision to start this process in such close proximity to the election may prove to have been a fatal miscalculation on pelosi’s part. It’s hard to imagine her not realizing that she may not get the last laugh, particularly in view of the fact that these inquiries don’t seem to be moving the needle to the required extent.

        Reply
        1. Pavel

          I think this impeachment attempt will backfire completely on the Dems. Obviously it will strengthen the Repubs’ base. The independents show signs of being further disgusted with both parties and in this case especially the Dems for not focussing on the real issues. Any of the Dems who support this would vote against Trump in any case. So where is the strategic benefit, given there is virtually no chance of conviction in the Senate?

          (Not to mention it opens a whole can of worms for Joe and Hunter Biden.)

          DISCLAIMER: I think Trump should be impeached, but for war crimes in Yemen — along with his fellow war criminals in the past (Saint Obama, GWB, and Bill Clinton to name a few).

          Reply
          1. Johan Telstad

            There’s a way out for the Dems, though. They can go through the televised hearings, and then just censure the President.

            Reply
            1. Procopius

              Thanks, that had not occurred to me. It does seem like a better solution, although all the TDS victims will howl and scream.

              Reply
    7. DJG

      Livius Drusus: I agree. I read the article given above by Ray McGovern about Ukraine, which shows that the sudden whingeing over foreign policy in Central Europe by the Democrats is pure fakery. And foreign policy tends not to have a great influence on the voting patterns of the U.S. electorate. Then, throw in the article given above about Tim Kaine (sensitive soul, helpmeet of Hillary) and other Democratic Party knuckledraggers–including Saint Pelosi–trying to out-austerity the Republicans.

      The current impeachment fandango is starting to make Ken Starr look like a rational person.

      Nevertheless, you have to keep in mind that mainstream / liberal Democrats operate as a fan club. Posting about the depredations of Trump in Ukraine and cheering impeachment is de rigueur on many Facebook pages now.

      I submit that, for many Democrats, part of their disgust with Trump involves taste. It is a kind of clash of home-decor TV shows (not esthetics). And taste is not a good tactic for running the government. Today, Pelosi has discovered bribery. Next week, not enough White House fish forks.

      As a leftist, I can only say that I understand why, during revolutions, the “liberals” have to be de-fanged, too.

      Reply
    8. sleepy

      Yes, the impeachment hearings were pitched by both the dems and certain of the networks as something energizing the public, shocking the electorate with live revelations of Trump’s evil machinations. In fact, it’s been mostly a snooze job, no dramatic John Dean moments or anything new for that matter. It’s a parade of witnesses crowing about their resumes and patriotism, attacking Russia, and marinading in their own virtue.

      I don’t condone bribery if Trump in fact committed that, but the decision to impeach shows how clueless the democrats are about the politics of it all. And of course, all those congress critters are bribe takers themselves.

      Reply
      1. barefoot charley

        +10 on both points. The witnesses were unreconstructed cold warriors (like olden Democrats, before Clinton and Obama taught them to smile, identitize and ignore real policy in public). Shocking that such policy-barnacles aren’t all dead or revolving-door-ed.

        And on bribery, Nancy says offering a President 400 anti-tank missiles (for his personal use?) is bribery, but giving $600k a year to a Vice President’s son for ‘sitting’ on a board discussing a business he doesn’t know, in a language he doesn’t understand, isn’t bribery. What fools do echo chambers make!

        Reply
        1. Massinissa

          This is such a farcical statement. This is no more about bribery than the attempt to impeach Clinton was about “lying under oath”.

          Reply
          1. inode_buddha

            I think it was about lying under oath. You think anyone really cares if somebody completely ruins their marriage with affairs? Bear in mind, I was republican at the time.

            Reply
            1. Procopius

              Given the reality of Evangelical hypocrisy, yes, I think many supporters of Clinton’s impeachment believed it was about getting a blow-job from an employee.

              Reply
        2. integer

          I’ve read the transcript of the call and there is nothing in it that even approaches bribery, and the testimony from the rabidly anti-Russian ideologues from the State Department is so flimsy it’s a joke. Also, I suspect they, or a third party, are/is coordinating their testimony. Meanwhile Biden is on video bragging about how he used the threat of holding back a $1b loan guarantee in order to get a prosecutor who was investigating Burisma, a questionable company which for no discernable reason (other than political influence) was employing Hunter Biden as a highly-paid consultant at the time.

          Anyway, here’s a sample of what actual bribery looks like:

          I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. (Laughter.) He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.

          Joe Biden

          So, contrary to your assertion, the logical conclusion appears to be that if you are against Trump asking Ukraine to investigate Burisma and the Bidens, you condone bribery.

          Reply
    9. Deschain

      I don’t think Pelosi has the votes, full stop. A Dem Congressperson in a competitive district is going to say “Why vote for impeachment and damage my chances for re-election when it’s just going to die in the Senate? Why risk my job for virtue signalling?” which is of course eminently sensible.

      I think the explanation here is super simple. Pelosi wants to make this the story until the 2020 election (and not, ya know, policy). She’s going to drag this out as long as is humanly possible, and then hope the Dems win, obviating the need for an actual vote. Of course if Trump wins then this strategy blows up spectacularly in her face.

      Reply
      1. Drake

        I can’t read Pelosi’s mind any better than anyone else, but I’ve seen it so far as giving Schiff the rope to hang himself on a very accelerated schedule so she can excise that particular cyst before the election goes into full-swing. But neither this nor any other explanation makes much sense to me, since the risks seem to greatly outweigh the advantages. Perhaps the simplest explanation is that Pelosi has just lost control of things, and she’s trying to outlast the insanity. Whatever, she looks as weak as Schiff looks rabid.

        Reply
    10. Chris Hargens

      I’m in general agreement that until now the impeachment hearings have probably not had a great effect on public opinion — either yea or nay for impeachment. The most effective endgame, however, may not be impeachment per se, but, instead, a significant tear-down of Trump, one that would seriously weaken him in his bid for a second term. Given Trump’s volatility and his penchant for self-incrimination, we really don’t know what will be coming out the (black) box these next few weeks, and how that might affect support for Trump.

      Reply
      1. Garushulion

        Putting the pressure on Trump and hoping he self destructs seems to be the only way the Dems could possibly win on impeachment.

        Reply
    11. Chris Smith

      If Trump were part of the club, with a last name like Bush or Romney, and did act like a vulgarian, there would be no impeachment. (Fellow Sanders supporters and Warren supporters take note.)

      Reply
    12. Knot Galt

      FWIW, I find the testimony compelling and very believable. Although I voted for Trump, he has become an embarrassment and a regrettable risk even though he did depose Clinton.

      Only to become something obviously worse; a loose cannon. No one wants a loose cannon as President of the U.S.

      Reply
      1. Monty

        I can tell you WIW = This opinion + $1 will get you a Value Menu Hamburger at Mcdonalds. (If you’re in a state with no sales tax.)

        Reply
  2. dearieme

    “I paid my $300 copay. After the surgery, I started receiving all these invoices and came to find out the only thing covered was my bed because the hospital was out of network,”

    Can someone please explain to this foreigner how the patient could find out only after her treatment that “the hospital was out of network”. Is there no simple way to check such things? Did her (employer-based) health insurer not have an explanatory list? Did she overlook the problem because her illness made her subpar? (My own experience is that illness and worry can make you pretty tired and stupid.) Whatever the explanation why can’t such problems be swiftly cured rather than attention being diverted to implausible yarns about Medicare For All at some distant point in the future?

    Hong Kong My instincts are on the side of the protestors, but can anyone tell me what the devil is going on? What do they hope to achieve that might be realistic? What is the likelihood that they will be subjected to Marxist-Maoist slaughter? They do realise, do they, that there is not the remotest chance of foreign help?

    Reply
    1. Icecube12

      The whole out-of-network thing is one of the biggest scams in the sea of scams that is the US health industry. It’s been a while since I lived in the US, but if I remember correctly, you do get a book informing you of in-network providers. These can change every year, so one really has to pay a ton of attention, which, as you say, is difficult when sick. However, it is not so simple. Sometimes a hospital or doctor may be in network, but they may for example send your lab work to a lab that is out of network. This happened to someone I went to university with. She went to an in-network doctor, got some routine bloodwork done, and then got a bill for $1000. It seems the doctor sent it to a lab that was out of her insurance network. That was the fault of the doctor’s office (if indeed it was an accident), but as of a year afterward she was still fighting the charge…for all I know she still might be fighting it. And just think of the work that creates for doctors (and their assistants), having to figure out which service they contract with is in a patient’s network, when such things are changing all the time. It is an insane, illogical system.

      Reply
      1. FluffytheObeseCat

        It’s not an illogical system. The point of the entire, threaten-with-the-first-billing-notice process is to extract money (above and beyond the contract amount) from working people who do not have the time, know-how or resources to fight the bills. Rapid selling off of still disputed bills to collections agencies is part of how the patient is kept fearful and under the gun…. and therefore willing to ‘write off’ bills that he or she can afford, for services that should have been covered.

        It’s just large-scale, institutionalized fraud. Since the perpetrators are largely successful, it cannot reasonably be called illogical.

        Reply
    2. JohnnyGL

      Re: hospital

      You’re assuming this was a mistake, rather than a scam. Yves has covered this, Matt Stoller, too. It’s now part of the business model to send bills after the fact that are completely unavoidable for patients, no matter the prep work.

      Reply
      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Easy there, JohnnyGL. Don’t be misleadin’ the non-USians with that fake news scam stuff.

        We here in the u.s. LOVE our insurance companies and the “access” to care they provide. We’ve fought hard over the years for it, and don’t want it yanked away for some government-run program that includes everybody and is free at the point of service and has no networks.

        We can’t afford that anyway.

        Just ask the democrat party and their favorite presidential contenders. They have our best interests at heart, and I, for one, am grateful for their diligence. The people in this article are just whining because they don’t like having skin in the game. They wouldn’t be in this position if they’d been born into the right family and gone to harvard like they were supposed to. I’m not even sure these stories haven’t been made up just to make insurance companies look bad.

        You know I’m right.

        Reply
          1. Katniss Everdeen

            Might change the game significantly if they can pull it off. Which is why I think it will, at the very least, be “challenged” in “court.” Abuse of power or “proprietary” information or some similarly amorphous stalling tactic.

            Reply
            1. False Solace

              Yeah right. As if you ever know exactly which procedures you’re going to receive and it never changes as the last minute and they never throw things in just to surprise you with more charges. Have you ever actually read one of those bills?

              This is just more turd polishing.

              Reply
          2. xkeyscored

            From Trump Administration Announces Historic Price Transparency Requirements to Increase Competition and Lower Healthcare Costs for All Americans to which Off The Street refers:

            “Disclose on a public website their negotiated rates for in-network providers and allowed amounts paid for out-of-network providers. Making this information available to the public is intended to drive innovation, support informed, price-conscious decision-making, and promote competition in the healthcare industry. Making this information public directly helps the consumer, but, more importantly, creates new opportunities for researchers, employers and other developers to build new tools to help consumers.”

            I read drive innovation … promote competition … creates new opportunities as meaning expand the bloated health insurance scam even further, whether that’s Trump’s intention or not.

            Reply
        1. WheresOurTeddy

          if I could retire one phrase forever, “skin in the game” would be a contender.

          Invokes the image of flaying of poor people and forcing them to throw part of said skin in the middle of a poker table. Which isn’t a terrible metaphor for medical billing in the USA.

          Reply
        2. larry

          You are wrong that the government can’t afford it. It can. The question is whether the country has the resources to support such a proposal in the short term. Have they prepared for it? Probably not.

          Reply
      1. inode_buddha

        Makes me wonder, how does the amount they collect from patients, differ from the amount they would have billed the insurance companies? That sort of thing should be highly publicized.

        Similar note: I was trying to arrange a surgery for myself a couple of years ago, not one area hospital would quote me. They wanted to leave it all open-ended and bill me later. I finally caved in and got the health insurance that put me under water.

        Reply
        1. polecat

          IF I were of the vengeful sort, I would wish to see the top CEO heads of these insurance & hospital consortiums rolling into a basket ! … followed by any living members of the political class that enabled the grift to get to this level of turpitude.

          Reply
          1. inode_buddha

            In visiting their corporate HQ (local to me) I noticed that it is much like the Social Security office: Concrete building with few or no first-floor windows. Bulletproof glass in the lobby. Security guards.

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              Right. They know that “hard times” are coming and are preparing.
              Something like liquor stores in “rough” neighborhoods.

              Reply
    3. Pat

      In answer to your question, depending on your insurance no it is not simple to find out the extent or lack of a network. Networks change regularly. Hospitals are not treated as a single entity. Lots of doctors, etc can be out of network in a supposedly network hospital. And worst of all in our sadistic greedy system it is to the benefit of both the insurance company and the hospital that your treatment be out of network so why would they tell you that none of your doctors, tests, medications be covered. The insurance company doesn’t pay and in most areas of the US the hospital can charge the individual much higher rates for services than the insurance company would pay them.

      There is NO simple reasonable way to navigate insured healthcare by design. And no there is no solution outside of Medicare For All, every other plan is also designed to continue to serve to keep the insurance companies and private equity owned practices and hospitals in record profits.

      Guard your system well, our oligarchs and your oligarchs who have learned from them want nothing more than to plunder your citizenry in the same manner.

      Reply
      1. dearieme

        I’d rather our system were replaced by the system of France, Germany, Spain, Singapore, Iceland, …..

        There’s an easy explanation why nobody else copied “the envy of the world”. Because it isn’t.

        Reply
        1. Robert McGregor

          Yes, you notice there is a big faction in the US (M4A) who wants a healthcare system more like the other advanced countries. Why aren’t there politicians in those other countries running for office on making their system more like the US? Hmm.

          Reply
        2. Pat

          I think most of us would want France’s if we matched wishlists with systems.

          Just letting you know it could be far worse, and some of the needed changes your system has experienced and/or been threatened with are neither necessary or improvements but means of allowing renters to profit. And many times this is urged not just by your greed heads but by American multinational investors. (And I can say that to most everyone with a functioning universal system no matter where on the wish list fulfillment scale they fall, see moves by the Macron government…)

          Reply
      2. Summer

        I’ve experienced plans where the insurer doesn’t even bother to get the correct office phone number for the doctors in their plan.
        If I’m sick of anything, it’s the governments promotion of this trash system.

        Reply
    4. Big River Bandido

      There is no simple way to check such things.

      Medical “providers” in this country do not state their prices up front, nor must they, nor is it easy to find out that information either.

      JohnnyGL’s characterization of this sector is correct: health care in America is a scam.

      Reply
      1. Procopius

        Almost 60 years ago I was a junior accountant at Peat, Marwick, Mitchell, one of the (then) Big Eight international auditing companies. I was sent for a day or two to assist on the audit of a non-profit hospital. For some reason the hospital administrator spent several minutes chatting with me, and commented that they had no way of finding out how much their procedures actually cost.

        Reply
    5. NotTimothyGeithner

      Awww. ..you are so naive about the U.S. Our health parasite system Is that bad. Even good reforms would undermine the parasite class.

      As for Hong Kong, the closest thing to a meta goal held by the protesters was access to more western movies instead of say a mass suffrage goal that might expand out of Hong Kong. As soon as the Union Jacks started going up, the project was doomed as the Union Jack is not exactly synonymous with freedom in the world.

      I’ve noticed a distinct lack of Cia bots in the matter altogether. It’s like an anti-Putin protest of 20,000 in Moscow as a matter of political consequence. With the trade war and other low labor countries, Beijing has an image concern, but all they have to do Is be less repulsive than say the storm troopers of Western powers.

      Reply
    6. sinbad66

      Thanks, dearieme.

      To answer your question: well, yes, but it also depends upon your geography. If she lives in an area whereas there is only one hospital nearby, then she’s pretty much stuck. You’ll be surprised how many areas in this country where this is the norm. Another situation that sometimes happens is that certain hospitals can only handle certain medical conditions, so they referred her to one that can handle the procedure that she needed. And it just so happens that this particular hospital is out of network. When you are in pain, are you going to quibble? And, do you want to travel many more miles to get this work done? Can you? Medicare For All seems pie in the sky, but her situation illustrates why it is desperately needed…

      Reply
    7. jefemt

      Divide and Conquer.

      Byzantium rules!

      Complex systems

      Complexity happens slowly, incrementally, over a period of time. —Collapse, defined as the loss of a complex way of life, happens relatively quickly. —Our modern complex civilization is trapped in its complexity. There is no way to lessen complexity and avert collapse.
      The Deliberate Agrarian: Complexity & Collapse(An Interview …
      thedeliberateagrarian.blogspot.com/2014/10/complexity-collapse-interview-with.html

      I keep seeing folks roun’ here referring to The Jackpot

      Reply
    8. Krystyn Walentka

      Wanna hear a good story? I am on Medicare and after voluntarily going to the ER for psychiatric care I was INVOLUNTARILY committed to a PRIVATE psychiatrist hospital that I could not refuse as a treatment center.

      Now I am getting bills from the head “psychiatrist” (that was the ONLY psychiatrist in the whole hospital they would let me talk to) for thousands of dollars. This is on top of the thousand$ the hospital is billing me as well! No choice for me whatsoever!

      But I don’t care. I just throw the bills out. That is the good thing about being put through the ringer, you’re all wrung out. Medical bills are the only bills I never pay.

      Reply
      1. Monty

        How do they know your address? Please send future communications back with “not known at this adddress” scrawled on the unopened envelope.

        Reply
    9. Monty

      “why can’t such problems be swiftly cured”…

      The market participants the with power to change things wouldn’t agree that there are any problems, or they would already have fixed them already. Don’t you know about the invisible hand and the wisdom of free markets?

      Reply
    10. Janie

      Each of the 50 states had its own insurance licensing bureau; each state has its own medicaid (for low-income) set of standards. These are subject to federal laws and regs but vary widely state to state.

      Contracts between medical providers and insurance providers run on various calendar dAtes. One can go for a preset procedure and discover that your insurance company’s contract expired yesterday.

      There is no way to get prices in advance.in most cases and no way to be sure that all of your work is in network.

      If you need an ambulance, well, each municipality contracts with a provider and that’s who you’ll get. You will be taken to the nearest hospital, regardless of network.

      Et cetera, ad nauseum.

      Reply
  3. The Rev Kev

    “Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales launches Twitter and Facebook rival”

    Jimmy Wales also announces that the Chief Editor/Moderator for this project is to be a newcomer to the industry – Mr. Philip Cross, a former British Army officer with the 77th Brigade.

    Reply
    1. mistah charley, ph.d.

      i went and looked at WT.Social – there’s apparently not much there yet

      to join without being waitlisted is $100/year – not appealing to me, as a retiree – where is the beef/plant-based protein? i read here, and elsewhere, have more info available to me already than i can process, have a lifetime of being lied to as a foundation for my skepticism, and as an oldster have more mistakes behind me than opportunities for choice ahead of me

      ymmv

      Reply
    2. ambrit

      Wait a minute. I seem to have seen the name Philip Cross somewhere on the Internet, perhaps Colonel Lang’s blog, in connection to ‘Deep State’ intelligence services. The name is common looking, I admit, but, ???

      Reply
      1. Monty

        It’s a joke, he’s been popping up a lot lately. Philip Cross is the nom de plume of a PR company or state agency that edits wikipedia 24/7, cleaning establishment friendly bios and erasing ‘consipiracy theories’, whilst smearing outsiders.

        Reply
      2. xkeyscored

        This page from Wikispooks outlines some of the activities of Philip Cross, whoever or whatever that might be.
        As for the British Army’s 77th Brigade, this is from their own website:
        WHO WE ARE
        77th Brigade is an agent of change; through targeted Information Activity and Outreach we contribute to the success of military objectives in support of Commanders, whilst reducing the cost in casualties and resources.
        Our outputs are a fundamental part of the Army’s Integrated Action model.
        Aside from the delivery and support of Information Activities and Outreach we have a role in planning and advising across the Army and wider Defence.

        SOME OF THE WAYS WE HELP
        Conducting timely and appropriate audience, actor and adversary analysis
        Planning and integrating information activity and outreach (IA&O)
        Supporting and delivering IA&O within pre-designated boundaries
        Supporting counter-adversarial information activity
        Support to partners across Government upstream and post-conflict institutional development/reform
        Collecting, creating and disseminating digital and wider media content in support of designated tasks
        Monitoring and evaluating the information environment within boundaries or operational area

        Reply
        1. Monty

          I wonder if any members of the 77th stop by here? I get the feeling there are one or two who fit the bill. One in particular is starting to show signs of Stockholm syndrome.

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            Oh my. I’m enjoying this jape.
            Next up, a visit from Sergeant Fett from the 501st Legion to show the class how the Empire protects us all.

            Reply
            1. Susan the Other

              kinda like a new thing. in all the history of us humans we have never had the means to proceed with our inherent knowledge and our evidence of malfeasance… but now we have the internet. we can trace the liars.

              Reply
          2. Procopius

            77th Brigade is British. I think they come under the Ministry of Defence. Related psyop entities funded by the British government are Belling Cat, Integrity Initiative, and the Atlantic Council, according to. They are funded by the Foreign and Colonial Office. See Craig Murray’s blog. I don’t know the names of the U.S. equivalents. They’re illegal, and somehow have managed to maintain operational security.

            Reply
          3. integer

            Yes, to my mind there is one commenter in particular that fits the bill. Said commenter has a distinctive writing style and I believe he or she has changed usernames multiple times over the last few years, however as there no way for me to conclusively prove this I shall refrain from mentioning their (current) username. In any case, it’s no big deal; almost all comments made by this individual receive significant pushback from the commentariat.

            Reply
    3. Olga

      From today’s Craig Murray’s post:
      “It should surprise nobody that Le Mesurier intersects with the Philip Cross propaganda operation which, with the active support of arch Blairite Jimmy Wales, has for years been slanting Wikipedia in support of the same pro-war goals as pushed by the “White Helmets.””
      What a nice, neat circle!

      Reply
  4. John B

    On “How Amazon’s quest for more, cheaper products has resulted in a flea market of fakes.”

    I can’t get too worked up over YSL logo fakes. The purpose of buying YSL-branded items is purely conspicuous consumption — flaunting your wealth and making everyone else feel crappy. So, if someone subverts that by making identical-looking products available to the proles for cheap, I have some sympathy.

    Reply
    1. Monty

      I have never received a counterfeit item from amazon if I had ordered a brand name. As long as they keep that under control I am not that bothered. They do have a load of unknown-branded chinese stuff on there that I have had good experiences with, especially cables, batteries and running shoes. I should imagine the big brands don’t like it to be shown what the actual price of similar products can be, without the brand name mark up attached.

      Ali-express is where all the outright fake and/or possibly illegal products are for sale. e.g. A possible order might include a thomas the tank engine stun gun, some synthetic amphetamines and a star wars themed marital aid. It’s actually quite entertaining to look at, in that ‘foreign bazaar’ kind of way. A true free market.

      Reply
      1. Robert Valiant

        I bought counterfeit Tesla badges for my daughter’s almost 20 year old Ford Focus from AliExpress. They’re quite realistic. My daughter is convinced that the kids at her community college will now give her the level of admiration she so keenly desires.

        Not really, of course, but she and I have a similar sense of humor.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          I also share that sense of humour.
          I once severely pissed off a Trekkie by admiring her Star Trek themed bumper sticker. The missive stated that: “My Biological Offspring and My Credits Go To Star Fleet Academy.” She became quite cross when I pulled up next to her at a red light and shouted over through her open passenger window; “There is no money up there. It’s canon in the Trekverse!” She flipped me a big middle finger and roared off in her KIA hatchback.

          Reply
      2. ewmayer

        “I have never received a counterfeit item from amazon if I had ordered a brand name.” — If it’s a high-quality fake, how would you know? Of course the flip side of that is if the fake is of quality similar to the real, why would you care? (This is especially true for items designed solely for conspicuous consumption.)

        Reply
        1. Monty

          It certainly raises some philosophical questions about the what it is that carries the essence of a mass produced item’s realness, when the “fake” items are made in the very same Bangladeshi sweat shop!

          Reply
      3. False Solace

        I got counterfeit items from Amazon so frequently I stopped buying from them except as a last resort. These were items sold by Amazon, listed as new, brand name, etc. (I say this because I know you will try to blame me for somehow not being vigilant enough.) If it hasn’t happened to you yet you’re not paying attention. Always check the recent reviews — people complain. If there are no recent reviews or all the reviews are fake, YOYO.

        If something’s important, you buy it in person or from a retailer who lets you inspect it when you pick it up. If you don’t do that you’re going to get scammed and broken or counterfeit junk.

        Reply
    2. Procopius

      Dean Baker has pointed out that there is a difference between “counterfeit” and “unauthorized copy.” We used to have really good fake Rolex watches you could buy in Patpong Road. $10, and they would keep perfect time. Nobody thought they were real Rolexes or that they were being ripped off when they bought them. Unauthorized copies. Counterfeit is when you buy a Hermes scarf and it was made in a sweatshop in Bangladesh that was not hired by Hermes.

      Reply
    3. Jokerstein

      Seventeen-year ex-Amazon employee here (today was my last day as I got sick of working there). There are a huge number of knockoffs which get shipped out from Amazon, especially things like SD/Micro SD cards. and other relatively low-cost computer consumables and parts.

      The problem is exacerbated by something called commingled stock. This is where items from third-party sellers who use Fulfillment By Amazon are mixed in with identical items actually sold by Amazon. There is no way at all for the pickers to know whether the item is genuine from Amazon, knockoff from Amazon, knockoff from 3P, or genuine from 3P. This a huge source of customer dissatisfaction, and costs the company many tens of millions per year, possibly hundreds. I never worked in the fraud department but I know people who did/do and the cost is gigantic.

      The retail side (as opposed to AWS/Digital) went down the crapper about ten years ago, and can never now recover, IMHO. This coincided with Bezos losing interest in that side of the business, and handing over to Jeff Wilke, who screwed the pooch.

      Reply
  5. katiebird

    Why does this stuff keep happening? These programs need more funding, not less!! After all these years, I am still sickened by Democrats like these. And somehow it is apparently being driven by Pelosi!

    Senate Democrats Join GOP to Back ‘Automatic Austerity’ Bill That Would Gut Social Programs, Hamstring Bold Policies

    A handful of Senate Democrats joined forces with Republicans last week to advance sweeping budget legislation that would establish an “automatic deficit-reduction process” that could trigger trillions of dollars in cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and other social programs—and potentially hobble the agenda of the next president.

    The Bipartisan Congressional Budget Reform Act (S.2765), authored by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), passed out of the Senate Budget Committee on November 6. The legislation is co-sponsored by five members of the Senate Democratic caucus: Whitehouse, Mark Warner (Va.), Tim Kaine (Va.), Chris Coons (Del.), and Angus King (I-Maine).

    The vote to advance S.2765 out of the Senate Budget Committee came after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Democrats must commit to so-called “pay-go” rules, which require all new spending to be offset with budget cuts or tax increases.

    “We cannot just keep increasing the debt,” Pelosi told Bloomberg earlier this month.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Because Team Blue voters especially older ones have made so many obviousoy bad faith compromises over the years, they have a choice of reveling in ignorance or acknowledging their own support for Team Blue has been support for the worst of the worst. For the boomers, they were making these terrible choices when they were younger, so they can’t blame senility.

      Reply
      1. katiebird

        Well, this boomer has been fighting this trend her whole life! My first vote was for McGovern (cast at the primary caucus when I was still 17) …. And My parents fought it their whole lives too! (And brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins.)

        When I was a child my parents taught us to end our evening prayers asking God to “help the poor people, the sick people, and the people who don’t have enough to eat.” In my family, every news article was evaluated with them in mind.

        But, what power did we have to change the trend? Pretty much none.

        On top of everything else why to I have to be insulted because of my age and generation for things I’ve had no control of?

        That is not what I come here for.

        Reply
        1. Geo

          Don’t take it personally. We all know there are exceptions but it is true that there has been a lack of support for progressive politics for a few generations (mine included). As a Gen X’er I accept my gen has been complicit while taking personal responsibility to not be like the majority of them and make different choices.

          All generations get stereotyped. Boomers, as a whole, deserve the scorn for the world they are leaving behind after all the benefits they entered with. Keep being an outlier and doing what you can to make up for the errors of your fellow boomers and I’ll do the same for my apathetic and selfish generation.

          Reply
          1. flora

            People, voters, the dem base keep getting offered these bait and switch candidates like Jimmy and Bill and O who all talked old New Deal policy on the campaign trail and switched to neolib policy once elected. O promised to clean up the banks and promptly switched to saving the banks and ignoring the homeowners, for example.

            Progressive Dem voters are in a tough spot: vote for the guy who talks New Deal but is, uh, lying? and who promptly goes full Wall St once elected (and how do you tell ahead of time), vote 3rd party, or don’t vote and get vilified either way. The candidates who do seem to mean it when they talk New Deal policy get taken out of contention by the establishment’s refusal to support or active undermining to the benefit of the GOP candidate. See Montana and KS house races in 2018, for examples.

            As for blaming an entire generation for something; isn’t that a form of collective punishment?

            Reply
            1. False Solace

              I agree that class is the most important marker. At the same time, boomers are far more conservative than Xers, Millennials, or Zoomers. They’ve been the largest voting cohort for decades. They run the government. They’re the core supporters of hucksters like Biden. And their policies ensured the poorest, most left-leaning members of their generation died first. So why is it “collective punishment” to speak the truth about Boomers?

              Reply
              1. flora

                Ask yourself what image comes to mind when you say ‘boomer’? Is it a late middle aged or 65-70ish, prosperous white guy? Or at least a white guy? Or is it a 60 year old black farmer? Or a 65 year old white waitress? Or a 59 year old coal miner? Or a Latino?

                ‘Boomer’ has become an id pol classification, imo, that eliminates most of the boomer generation while technically by its original definition encompassing all of it.

                Also: the post-WWII generation, named “boomer” by Madison Ave advertising agencies in the 1950s, as a voting block is now greatly outnumbered by the younger generations. Please vote.

                (And don’t let Madison Avenue pit you against each other, ala Gen-x vs Millenias vs. etc)

                https://www.statista.com/statistics/241488/population-of-the-us-by-sex-and-age/

                Reply
              2. Darthbobber

                Why would it have any explanatory value to attribute massive changes and dislocations in any given period to the collective virtue or lack thereof of members of something as nebulous as the statistical artifact that is a generation. There’s a reason why no serious history of any period falls back on this as a primary explanatory motif.

                And must we forget anything at all we’ve ever known of sociology and related disciplines? Generally there are a host of causes for periods of elite control and triumph of reaction. Which are so much the norm in American history that it is the periodic antisystemic movements that require explanation.

                How did the nation move in the space of a couple decades from emancipation and the 14th amendment to the height of the gilded age and a restored white (and rich) supremacy. If we just aggregate the people of the era by generation and attribute it to the later arrivals individual poor political decisions do we advance our ability to comprehend the matter? Or do we just head down a rabbit hole?

                Reply
          2. David B Harrison

            Born 1964(last year for the boomers) and I have two older boomer siblings(born before 1960 and they hate Bernie Sanders).I know exactly what the boomers did.I learned from NC that those of us born from 1960 on where mostly screwed.The reason that I support the thesis that boomers are the problem is that the early to mid boomers enjoyed the prosperity of their parents and the economy as a whole.They were the first generation to have a large number of college graduates(for which they paid ridiculously low prices).They created the concept that education was primarily for personal gain.They used their voting choices to destroy the working class(neoliberalism) and the younger generations of college graduates.They as an educated class had the ability to make sweeping positive changes(medicare for all,etc.)and chose to fill their bank accounts and live a bourgeois lifestyle.They had the power and ability to change things.If you doubt any of these statements just look at the polls which show how the 60+ year olds support the neoliberal candidates and hate Bernie Sanders.P.S. katiebird an exception does not make a rule and I say that as an exception myself.

            Reply
            1. flora

              There’s a flaw in your analysis. Half the boomers, say the lower income half at risk of the draft and spending a year in ‘Nam, expected to work in the manufacturing sector, a good factory job with steady income and benefits, or small business, or office work, etc. They didn’t go to college (if they had they could have largely escaped the draft – Cheney got 5 deferments).

              So it still comes down to economic class, not age cohort. I’d agree that a lot of the upper income economic boomer cohort worked against the lower income economic boomer cohort, worked to destroy the boomer working class economic security and the economic opportunity of their children.

              The top of the Dem estab are all boomers and have no use for the working class boomers. boomer vs boomer. It’s economics not age that’s the divider.

              Reply
              1. flora

                To put too fine a point on it: I’d expect young GOP boomers starting in the 70’s to oppose working-class boomer economic interests. The shocker was watching so many young, upper income, Dem boomer politicians trash FDR’s legacy and side with the GOP against working-class economic interests. Those Dem politicians perfectly fit your description of “chose to fill their bank accounts and live a bourgeois lifestyle”, imo.

                Read Thomas Frank’s “Listen, Liberal”.

                Reply
                1. Procopius

                  Or read Al From’s The NEW Democrats and the Return to Power. The New Deal is outdated and must be destroyed in order to persuade Wall Street to give us money. Labor Unions are no longer needed nor desired.

                  Reply
            2. Darthbobber

              You just described a generation as a class. “They as an educated class”… An educated class of which an overwhelming majority still lacked a college degree. I have difficulty taking this seriously.

              As to inventing neoliberalism, when Mr. Reagan was elected the very oldest boomers were 35 and the youngest were still a few years shy of being able to vote.

              BTW, the idea that education’s main point was personal gain was drilled into me and my cousins by our parents. And I suspect we were hardly the only kids of the greatest generation’s working class to get that message.

              For a good take on how many pursued university education in the 1920s and 30s, you might see Upton Sinclair’s “the Goose Step. ” American higher education has a strong “career advancement component for our entire history, mythologies aside. J

              Reply
              1. David B Harrison

                I described the early to mid boomers as a class(if you look at economic and voting factors).They are jealously guarding their gains at the expense of people born after 1960.Not every boomer won at the game and some that did are now losing.They are losing because they feel like temporarily embarrassed millionaires.If they would stand together with the working class then maybe their fortunes would change.Instead they call them deplorables (just like the boomers who won).

                Reply
                1. Darthbobber

                  Data to support such a sweeping generalization? None of course. And of course the bulk of boomers, like the bulk of every generation, are/were working class. So they fail to stand with-themselves?

                  And then out of somewhere in the deep end, you dr
                  Again in deplorable, a term used to denigrate Trumpies. Which would seem to imply that the class/generation/whatever that you prefer to vent your spleen at is monolithically antiTrump as well as being monolithically conservative/reactionary.

                  None of this is terribly coherent, unsurprisingly so since a “generation” is almost useless as a unit of analysis in politics.

                  It is of course true of every generation that had they all behaved differently things would not have been the same. But this is obviously useless for purposes of understanding anything. It may be helpful when preaching sermons inveighing against collective sin (ye generation of vipers, etc,) of which you seem to be doing a secular version.

                  Reply
      2. D.M. Dunkle

        Which older boomers are you talking about? I’m a life-long retired political futurist. I would have registered Indie (and have) decades ago ‘cept I live in a closed primary state. Not all of are are senile or vote for Third Way/Corporate fake Democrats.

        Reply
    2. flora

      Ah Nancy… From David Dayen on Nov. 5th:

      First, let’s examine Pelosi’s remarks on Bloomberg over the weekend, where she managed to denigrate Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, and the wealth tax—the very issues that have driven the most interest and discussion nationally—in the space of a short interview. “What works in San Francisco does not necessarily work in Michigan,” Pelosi said, somehow arguing that a city where one out of every 11,600 people is a billionaire would have a friendlier attitude toward taxing wealth than the working-class enclaves of the Great Lakes State.

      From yesterday’s article about the idiocy of the new rules:

      Republicans Propose Automatic Cuts – and Democrats Help Them.

      https://prospect.org/politics/republicans-propose-automatic-cuts-critical-programs/


      As Kogan points out, the past three budget resolutions passed by Congress would have, under this bill, forced automatic reconciliation deficit cuts with a staggering total of $9.5 trillion.
      ….

      This symbolizes the disproportionate party responses to the budget. Republicans only care about deficits should a Democrat threaten to darken the door of the White House. They just used reconciliation to cut trillions of dollars in taxes on the rich, and now they want to use it to slash spending. Meanwhile, Democrats pride themselves on responsibility and seriousness. They value process more than progress. There’s nothing serious, of course, about an automatic trigger to cut Medicare and food stamps based on a highly uncertain number conjured up by unelected budget scorers.

      The ranking Democrat on the Budget Committee is Bernie Sanders, and given his presidential campaign, he did not play a role in the markup. However, Sanders released a statement on S.2765 after committee passage, opposing the bill and decrying the automatic reconciliation trigger. “At a time when Senate Republicans came within one vote of kicking 32 million Americans off their health care, the last thing we need is a new Senate procedure that could help speed through a repeat of that effort,” Sanders wrote.

      I recommend both articles as good take downs of Dem party perfidy on the deficit issue.

      Reply
      1. polecat

        For congressional Democrats, millions of Americans with adequate, affordable health care is like Fusion, it’s fruition is ALWAYS a decade or two away ..

        As a former small d partisan, I despise these people to my core !

        Reply
    3. flora

      Longer comment in moderation. If the sky gods don’t release it soonish I’ll try to repost.

      Shorter: Nancy declares herself spokeswoman for the real progressive liberals because she represents San Fran (where, incidentally, 1 out of every 11,000+ persons is a billionaire. way more progressive outlook than working class Michigan or Wisconsin. snark.)

      Reply
    4. Eclair

      No, no, katiebird! Focus on The Impeachment! Let Ukraine/Russia/Bribery/TrumpBad!!! occupy your every waking thought. Our Billionaires know what is best for us. Austerity is good. It’s what we deserve for not working hard enough. Aarrgghhhh!

      I listened to a lot of youtube this summer while I was painting rooms and finishing floors. Mark Blyth was a favorite, ’cause he makes me laugh. Through the tears. But I remember him, in a talk on austerity and debt and such, spinning the narrative (from an 18th century political economist, I believe) about the establishment of government debt. When we know, from MMT, that for a sovereign government with its own currency, debt is not necessary.

      The wealthy and powerful want certain services that can be afforded by a strong government; protection of private property being paramount. But they don’t want to be taxed to pay for these services. Enter, government bonds! The wealthy buy them, providing funds for the central government to provide those essential services like armies and police and courts. Bond holders then possess an asset, one that provides them with an income stream (tax free, usually). What’s not to love!

      And, when the peons catch on and start to whine and riot, they use the fact of ‘huge, unsustainable government debt,’ to withdraw basic services from the masses. Thereby starving them (us) into submission.

      I admit, as an explanatory narrative, it really grabbed me. I’m open to contra-narratives from commenters more versed in economic history and theory than I.

      Reply
      1. False Solace

        Blyth isn’t on board with MMT. For example he seems to believe that MMT is only in effect for the US, the controller of the reserve currency. I don’t know exactly why he believes this but it’s worth noting that his opinions do not square with MMT. At any rate, governments in the 18th century were operating under the gold standard which is a totally different kettle of fish (as you know) than today. The key at the time was transitioning from a system in which kings personally guaranteed debt — or repudiated it — to a system in which the commons guaranteed the debt, which could not be repudiated. Bondholders preferred the latter.

        Reply
        1. eg

          Blyth draws a distinction between households and businesses on the one hand and governments on the other with the latter’s intergenerational capacity to tax. He’ll occasionally ridicule the comparison between the hausfrau and government with a throw away line about “does she have a printing press?” but it is clear that MMT is not central to his analysis.

          I’ll take my allies where I can get them, though, and as a staunch and voluble critic of austerity he comes very handy indeed.

          Reply
        2. Eclair

          Agreed, False Solace, a government operating under the gold standard differs from one using fiat money. But, am I correct in understanding that MMT declares that government debt, in the form of bonds, is not a not a necessary precondition for spending? One keystroke and money is ‘created.’ No need to go through the intermediate step of trying to get people to ‘lend’ it to the government. Bonds (debt) are useful only as one means of removing ‘excess’ cash from the economy and preventing inflation. And, why not just tax? Except of course, mounting government ‘debt’ is a great excuse to keep the masses in line by imposing austerity.

          Reply
    5. xkeyscored

      Why does this stuff keep happening? These programs need more funding, not less!! After all these years, I am still sickened by Democrats like these. And somehow it is apparently being driven by Pelosi!
      I think it’s only surprising if you assume that Democrats are necessarily progressive, or have the interests of all, or at any rate all within the USA, at heart.
      This may be true of a few Democrats, but I see no reason at all to assume it is generally so. On the contrary, I find the differences between the two main US parties much less, on the whole, than the similarities.

      Reply
  6. The Rev Kev

    “Trump hikes price tag for US forces in Korea almost 400% as Seoul questions alliance”

    So Trump wants South Korea’s contribution to go from $924 million annually to over $4.7 billion annually. That is the problem with a protection racket – they always come back for more. Well I should think that the solution is obvious. Right now there are roughly about 23,500 American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines stationed in South Korea.
    All that has to happen is that South Korea reduces the number of American military to a fifth of this number – about 4,700 people – and then they can keep on paying that $924 million annually once again. There – problem solved.
    It’s not like the US is sure of South Korean loyalties anyway. Recently a survey was taken in South Korea asking if Japan attacked North Korea, who would they favour supporting. And the majority chose North Korea over Japan. How about that.

    Reply
    1. John A

      I remember during the 2016 campaign, Hillary Clinton telling an audience (probably bankers, cannot remember exactly) that the US would absolutely prevent any possible reunification in Korea. Look what happened in the Olympics when the two Koreas played some footsie together.

      Effectively, S Korea should call the US’s bluff. That the US troops are there to threaten N Korea and encircle China rather than to protect S Korea. So if the US still wants to do this, they can foot the bill, otherwise, leave and let the 2 Koreas gradually come together.

      Reply
      1. sleepy

        I wonder what the likelihood is of a US instigated color revolution if South Korea decided the US should leave. Maybe just an old-fashioned coup–and I may be dead wrong here–since I assume the South Korean military might side with the US.

        Reply
    2. Quanka

      Notice the article didnt even mention the # of troops stationed there. Its like what are they paying for, CNN? Just go ahead and say it already!

      Reply
    3. Carolinian

      All that has to happen is that South Korea reduces the number of American military

      Perhaps that’s what Trump secretly wants but he can’t get the “interagency” to agree.

      Have to say though that–after Bolivia–Trump is being hoisted on his own petard with the whole impeachment thing. There’s even a nutty Christian dominionist (Pence) waiting to take his place. Maybe there’s a giant, unknown stash of lithium somewhere out West.

      Reply
    4. Jeremy Grimm

      Seoul is within shelling range of North Korea. Almost any part of South Korea can be reached in with a 5 minute jet flight. When I visited year ago I was told there might slow but would not be sufficient to stop an attack from North Korea. The purpose for the US Army in South Korea was to act as a trip-wire to assure the South Koreans that the US would join in their defense.

      But I have the impression that South Korea feels less threatened by North Korea and hopes to establish closer relations. [I suspect they may be more interested in enabling an extension of the Trans-Siberian railroad through North Korea into Seoul rather than any near term re-unification. South Korea in not unaware of the problems Germany has had with its re-unification. An analysis I read — several years ago — suggested re-unification would seriously cripple South Korea’s economy.] I also believe the South Koreans may be wondering about the aggressive, even provocative stance the US government has taken in its relations toward North Korea. The US Army trip-wire could become a snare that would drag South Korea into conflict with North Korea through US provocations. I am sure the South Koreans are well aware of the way the US has of making sure its Imperial conflicts take place outside the US.

      South Korea has its own well-developed, well-trained, and well-equipped Army. I believe most of the US soldiers who have experienced joint maneuvers with the ROKs [what the Republic of Korea Army troops are called] come away with a high regard for them. South Korea is not the same country of farming communities the North Koreans invaded so many years ago.

      You say Trump wants to raise the charges for keeping the US Army in Korea? I am not sure the South Koreans are all that happy to keep the US forces in their country. That the South Koreans would stand by the North Koreans if Japan attacked North Korea seems hardly surprising. I watched the Korean movie “The Admiral” again recently. The Japanese have long and unflattering history in Korea. I believe the Japanese Imperial Army’s romp throughout Asia prior to and during World War II will be remembered for a very long time. Besides consider the hypothetical assertion “Japan attacks North Korea”. That implies a radical shift from the pacifism forced on Japan after World War II — a shift I believe more than a few countries in the Orient regard as ominous and unsettling.

      Reply
      1. Procopius

        That was the justification for stationing U.S. combat troops in Germany, even after the German Mark rose to the point where low-ranking troops who had brought wives over at their own expense needed charity from the Germans to live. After about 1960 nobody believed they could do more than slow the Soviet march to the Channel. Tom Clancy notwithstanding. They were meant as a tripwire, but that was stupid in its own way. It would have taken months to move the troops and supplies from America to France or Italy, even if they hadn’t been occupied by the Soviet hordes.

        ETA: The Korean soldiers embedded in U.S. units are KATUSA, not ROK. ROK is Republic of Korea, designates the country or the government, not the soldiers.

        Reply
        1. Jeremy Grimm

          The people I worked with called the Korean Army soldiers ROKs. I believe the exercises with the Republic of Korea Army include Korean Army soldiers and units which are not embedded in U.S. units.

          Reply
    5. Geo

      Paying for protection: If you pay you’re probably safe, if you don’t something bad will definitely happen. You’re paying to protect yourself from the “protector”.

      Reply
      1. Jokerstein

        And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
        But we’ve proved it again and again,
        That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
        You never get rid of the Dane.

        Reply
    6. xkeyscored

      Not that it’s likely to happen, but by rights South Korea should be charging exorbitant amounts in rent and danger money for their country being used as a base for US imperial machinations.

      Reply
      1. False Solace

        The spending that occurs as a result of military bases constitutes a form of welfare for the local economy which hosts them. It’s a way of recycling imperial dollars back into client states. Do you really think all those bases in Europe would still be open if the host countries didn’t want them? Check out any city in the US which had a domestic base close and see how their economy turned out. I’m not saying the bases ought to exist, I’m saying there are ramifications to closing them beyond the surface level.

        Reply
    1. Robert Valiant

      Great link!

      Good question: Am I willing accept a reduction in my wealth to a mere $98 billion, or am I willing to risk a guillotine some day in the future?

      Tough call.

      Reply
      1. hunkerdown

        My money, all $10 of it, says they’ll risk the guillotine. The lie of nobility must be preserved at all costs, better if it’s someone else’s.

        Reply
      2. False Solace

        This demonstrates why you must, at all costs, prevent them from amassing too large a hoard. The psychological pain of losing what you already have is so great it drives billionaires to all sorts of irrationality when they feel threatened. Stop them from getting it in the first place. Otherwise they’re just going to raise private armies and overthrow the government when you try to go after them.

        Reply
  7. michael hudson

    Not just deficit scolds using bad monetary and fiscal theory. The problem is neoliberal oligarchy trying to take over for itself the provision of social services, replacing the government as social planner.
    Here are some notes from a book I’m reading, James Tan’s essay in
    Monson, Andrew, and Walter Scheidel (2015), Fiscal Regimes and the Political Economy of Premodern States (Cambridge University Press).
    “Devoted to a diffuse system of patron-client relationships, the aristocrats saw nothing but danger in the rise of a centralized, powerful state … As a result, the usual incentives toward maximizing public revenues were absent. The elite privatized as much of the empire’s profits as possible, which increased inequality in society and ensured that it, and not the state, controlled the distribution of wealth at Rome.” In other words, just like today’s neoliberalism with the oligarchic takeover.
    222f. “If poorer Romans could access this separate pool of resources, then their dependence on the elite would be broken. It was therefore imperative that aristocrats control as much of this transplanted wealth as possible. The greatest threat to their monopoly was the state. … Government expenditure would replace the donations of patronage as the main vehicle for distributing the surplus, creating a kind of universal patron, and most Romans would become beholden to its favours instead of the social elite’s.”
    223 “Policy makers could have radically increased the resources of the treasury, but on the whole they decided not to.”
    225 “Rome’s rulers limited the state to its old functions, and (with some exceptions) prevented it from patronizing any new segments of the population through public expenditure.” In other words, opposing “kingship” meant opposing a strong state, to wage a class war of dependency against the population at large. “The old ties of patronage continued to dominate society.”

    Well, you get the idea

    Reply
    1. Summer

      I’ve been gettting the idea for a while now that any society doesn’t promote the exaltation Rome because it was a “republic” or “democracy.”
      It’s to promote oligarchy and empire as the way of the world…as TINA…so to speak.

      Reply
      1. xkeyscored

        Maybe it’s different in the USA, but in the UK, even at school, where we were fed all manner of obnoxious and preposterous propaganda, I don’t recall Rome ever being associated with democracy, while it was consistently portrayed as an empire imposing its rule over most of Europe and beyond.

        Reply
        1. Procopius

          Well, the Republic tried to portray itself as to some extent obedient to the will of the people. That was supposed to be the function of the Tribunes, after all. It was a lie, of course. The way the tribes were set up insured the wealthy had far more votes than the plebes. See SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome, by Mary Beard. I don’t think any society has ever come close to democracy.

          Reply
    2. Synoia

      Wonderful post. My snark meter just hit 100% and the needle is bent (to the right).

      Reads like a Current political DC road map to me.

      Is the book a history or a DIY manual? /s

      Reply
    3. Craig H.

      Great. Except.

      I looked to buy that book and the price is above my pay grade. I quickly searched to see if James Tan’s info could be accessed freely and I could not find it.

      Reply
      1. False Solace

        Google Books will allow you to read 1 page at a time, if you search for an exact phrase. Your best bet is to see if your local library will allow you to access it via an interlibrary loan request. It looks like the author is a lecturer at Sydney Uni.

        Reply
    4. skippy

      Which begs the question why some are so opposed to MMT – PK and supportive of oligarchical patronage …. oh yeah …. sound [????] money [tm] …

      Reply
  8. Henry Moon Pie

    Graeber and Economics–

    This is a natural topic for Graeber after Debt. It’s also not surprising to see an anthropologist take on the ridiculous homo economicus upon which neoliberalism is built.

    Again and again, we come back to the question of who we are. Since religion retains so little sway among the educated, the battle over our “fundamental” nature will be fought among the anthropologists like Graeber, evolutionary biologists and perhaps psychologists. How can we settle any questions about economics, political science or sociology until we shed obsolete or always mistaken concepts like homo economicus?

    I found myself and my affinity for anarchism challenged by one of these anthropological revelations while reading Jeremy Lent’s The Patterning Instinct. Lent relates how anthropologist Daniel Everett’s study of the Piraha, an Amazonian tribe still living as hunter-gatherers, revealed what the Westerner perceived as a paradox. The Piraha had mastery of techniques to preserve meat–smoking, drying,and salting–but they rarely employed them. When he asked why, a tribe member explained:

    I store my meat in the belly of my brother.

    Such a sentiment, arguably a necessary foundation for an anarchist or socialist society, does a nice job of exposing just how deeply embedded individualism is within each of us.

    Lent uses this research to contrast the hunter-gatherer worldview from the agriculturist who looks for security in her own planning, storing and foregoing of near-term reward rather than in membership in a group she trusts to provide for her. So it’s not only a question of empathy but also a matter of whom we rely upon to provide for our needs: the society of which we are a member or ourselves individually.

    I find that Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock” remains a beautiful statement of the dilemma we find ourselves in:

    Then can I walk beside you?
    I have come here to lose the smog,
    And I feel to be a cog in something turning.
    Well maybe it is just the time of year
    Or maybe it’s the time of man.
    I don’t know who l am.
    But you know life is for learning.
    We are stardust.
    We are golden.
    And we’ve got to get ourselves
    Back to the garden.

    Woodstock

    Reply
    1. Craig H.

      Have you seen Joni Mitchell’s story about how she wrote Woodstock?

      (It’s a lovely song but it’s kind of like the Lemonade Springs where the Bluebird Sings on the Big Rock Candy Mountain.)

      Reply
      1. Henry Moon Pie

        I believe it’s included in the YouTube clip of Mitchell performing the song.

        While Mitchell was not at Woodstock, she was exposed to the Woodstock vibe by more than “watching it on television” as she herself says. There is a YouTube video of the Dick Cavett show taped on the day Woodstock ended. Joni was there (that was why she didn’t risk playing at Woodstock), but several musicians joined the show who had played the festival: the entire Jefferson Airplane of Slick et al. along with Crosby and Stills.

        What I love about that song is how it captures both the questioning attitude I held at the time along with a fervent hope for deep change as exemplified by bombers turning into butterflies. There was something about Woodstock, plopped as it was into the violence and tumult of the later 60s, that provided a little hope that humanity could find a way to live together without violence and brutal hierarchy. Mitchell’s song sets up as an example of how the spirit of Woodstock effects change at both the personal and social level.

        Reply
        1. Roy G

          HMP, if you haven’t already, watch the recent Woodstock documentary. I was incredibly moved by the idealism in action, from Wavy Gravy and his group doing security and feeding everyone, to the Woodstock locals. Max Yasgur’s speech to the crowd and his subsequent TV interviews moved me to tears.

          I think we’ve been treated to 50 years of hippie punching because they really were onto something, and it scared the Establishment. If only we could get back to the garden!

          Reply
          1. Aumua

            Yeah well it’s just one more reason to despise the baby boomers, for actually having the ball in their hands and then dropping it so hard. Coming of age in the 80’s and 90’s, my generation (X) had nowhere near the opportunity to really change things as theirs did. Instead they let the system buy them off.

            Reply
            1. Henry Moon Pie

              The commenter to whom you’re replying wasn’t the only one moved by those words and images to tears. Many of us know what we lost.

              It was a bit more complicated than Boomers being bought off. There were events like Chicago ’68 and Kent State that played an important role in suppressing the ongoing revolt against the culture, There were also life events like marriage and parenthood that have a powerful conforming influence on most people. And yes, as Jackson Browne sang about as the era closed with a whimper:

              I’m gonna be a happy idiot
              And struggle for the legal tender
              Where the ads take aim and lay their claim
              To the heart and the soul of the spender
              And believe in whatever may lie
              In those things that money can buy.
              Who thought true love could have been a contender?
              Are you there?
              Say a prayer for the Pretender.
              Who started out so young and strong
              Only to surrender.

              Jackson Browne, “The Pretender”

              It seems a worthwhile project to me to examine in some detail why that cultural revolution failed so that we might do better when the next opportunity comes along. One thing I’m pretty sure of: cross-generational solidarity will be important. We sure didn’t have it in the 60s.

              Reply
              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                We live in an oligarchy and we have a Presidential candidate running against “the billionaire class” and yet people take “Boomer” and “Millennial” as serious, primary, analytical concepts. One despairs. Since generations don’t have political agency, there is by definition no such thing as cross-generational solidarity (which is exactly why major media venues push this delusion so hard, as in The New York Times’ recent endorsement of “ok boomer” (but never, ever “ok billionaire,” or even (say) “ok credentialed professional.” Why, one might wonder, would that be?))

                Reply
                1. Darthbobber

                  And the generational blather invariably fails to yield either strategic or tactical guidance about how to intervene effectively in the present.

                  Reply
            2. Darthbobber

              You seem to have bought the romanticized version of how revolutionary the 60s supposedly were. (and how representative hippies or their counterfeits were.) And I can’t for the life of me see what superpowers a person coming of age in the late 60s or 70s had to effect change that were mysteriously taken away from those born later.

              Reply
              1. Aumua

                I admit that my post was blithe and inaccurate. I was just going along with the momentum of the other “boomer” thread in this discussion. Accept my apologies, my boomer brethren. You guys rock, and you did what you could.

                Reply
                1. Darthbobber

                  If I recall correctly, we were enthusiastic in many directions, highly confused, and all over the map ideologically. As were most of the young, at least since the age of capital began and the society in which people lived became a thing constantly changing.

                  I think the central problem is that when it comes to the economy the economic royalists of each generation have won all the decisive battles since at the latest the end of the Roosevelt administrations. Nearly 75 years at this point. How that has happened across a good many generations, and what is to be done about it now are the key questions to me.

                  A Bloomberg or Musk of whatever age are my enemy. Of that I’m pretty sure. A Sanders or Ocasio Cortez of whatever age deserve my support at this juncture in time.

                  Movements need to be built and need to fight even while being built.

                  An octagenerian comrade is a comrade. A 20 year old comrade is a comrade.

                  Reply
          2. Henry Moon Pie

            I have seen it and agree. It was quite moving.

            And I also agree about hippies being onto something. At least, they were asking the right questions, questions that remain very much unresolved. It’s like our society is stuck, unable to move forward because those questions haven’t been addressed.

            Reply
      2. Carolinian

        No but maybe you have a link? I know that she wasn’t even there at Woodstock with her friends. Not that it matters because Joni Mitchell was/is a great artist.

        And Graeber article seemed very good to this anything-but-an-economist. He says

        According to Skidelsky, the pattern was to repeat itself again and again, in 1797, the 1840s, the 1890s,

        So wasn’t the “free silver” versus “cross of gold” argument of the previous Gilded Age an earlier version of the money supply debate?

        Reply
    2. zephyrum

      That’s a lovely story of the Piraha, but clearly they are able to trust that the flow of meat will reverse as needed. Not exactly a strength of western society, now is it?

      Reply
      1. Henry Moon Pie

        It reminds us that the anarchist or socialist society does not only depend upon empathy but also upon the nearly absolute trust of the individual in the community of which she is part. While it is not the case that the look-out-for-number-one, agriculturist attitude is intrinsically human, it is true that this compulsion to provide for one’s future has been a major driver of individual human behavior for a long time. What we have a hard time getting our heads around is that concern for the future is a positive, indeed necessary trait for a society, but it leads to property, hierarchy and other nasty things if it is favored personal trait.

        Reply
    3. Susan the Other

      Graeber’s review of Skidelsky’s “Money and Government…” on the very nature of money written by an insider is more than revealing. It should be noted that Skidelsky comes on the heels of our MMT, but still it is a good confession. The Quantity Theory of Money – QTM is barbaric. It isn’t money in the modern fiat sense of the word as money is a “social arrangement” – so that what actually matters is spending. Spending. Old Monetarism fails to even recognize this important function – that of the actual spending of money, let alone the critical juncture of spending for the advance of civilization and the betterment of society versus the frivolous spending of the overly privileged classes on ostrich feathers and leopard skins. Etc. As if ostrich feathers could support the “value” of money any better than nuclear missiles. Money is a hard concept to grasp. So far no governments have successfully done it because there are those at the apex of control who oppose it. To their eventual downfall.

      Reply
    4. False Solace

      Indeed, so mysterious why economists always give answers that benefit the wealthy. The mistakes always go the same direction, as Lambert would say. Sort of like why a religion started by a guy who told people to give up their possessions was taken over by guys who told slaves to obey their masters and built solid gold palaces. Graeber wasn’t wrong to draw a comparison between economists and priests. They serve the same purpose: justifying the policies of the powerful under all circumstances. Otherwise there’d be no gold palaces and no tenure.

      Reply
    5. Oregoncharles

      “contrast the hunter-gatherer worldview from the agriculturist who looks for security in her own planning, storing and foregoing of near-term reward rather than in membership in a group she trusts to provide for her. ”
      The difference springs directly from their physical circumstances. Foragers are mobile, moving camp every little while, and (except for the Plains Indians) didn’t have beasts of burden. Carrying around stored food was not practical. Unless they had a place to stash it, there was no point in drying it.

      Agriculturists, OTOH, stay put and generally build houses. Furthermore, much of their product is readily storable – that’s the advantage of grain. So they could accumulate and benefit from it.

      There was an interesting example from a TV program a while back: Odd structures perched on mountainsides in a valley in the SW. They were hidden granaries, so the people could store food and go away – probably hunting, or raiding. But foragers don’t usually do that; fo rone thing, stored meat is an even bigger prize for animals or other people than stored grain. The NW Coast natives were an exception because they lived in fixed villages. Much of their food came up the streams and threw itself at them (salmon) at certain times of year, so they smoked or dried it and stashed it in their longhouses.

      The point: material circumstances, not esoteric psychology.

      Reply
      1. Henry Moon Pie

        Very true when we’re talking about why those differences arose.

        The problem is that some of that hunter-gatherer’s trust in his neighbor would sure come in handy these days because if individuals in a society all rely on themselves individually to provide for the future, we end up with the kind of pervasive worldview and society that we have today: look-out-for-number-one. It makes little sense to berate billionaires when they take this self-reliance to the point where they have their next 10,000 years well covered. It’s insane, but it’s driven by the worldview.

        In a way, the situation is even trickier because granaries and food storage are obvious pluses when considered at the societal level. It’s when those granaries and stored food become private property, something that’s inevitable if the worldview says we have to rely on ourselves individually, that we get problems.

        Is it possible for humans to be sedentary and retain or recover some of that hunter-gatherer worldview when it comes to trust in the group? Can sedentary humans come to trust in their neighbors or even their government rather than in their planning and providing for themselves individually?

        Reply
      2. Titus

        I don’t think so. Read “Agaisnt the Grain’, by James Scott if you really want to understand exactly that has gone down in the last 17k years go. This book is about actual hunter ‘gathers v. the rise of the ‘state’ and how in every way not living in a ‘state’ was better for you. Science based. Full of facts.

        Reply
        1. eg

          Something to be mindful of in the debate between the nomadic vs settled living arrangement is the relative force projection capabilities of the rival approaches.

          There’s are reasons that states have colonized the earth at the expense of hunter gatherers, pastoralists and other nomadic peoples, as books like Scott’s outline.

          Of course, when the environment changes, so do the optimal survival strategies for any species — it is not outside the realm of possibility that the advantages could tilt in favour of the nomads once more …

          Reply
  9. The Rev Kev

    “Amazon suing Pentagon over $10B cloud contract, alleging ‘bias’”

    Looks like it is not enough that Amazon has the CIA cloud contract. They want the Pentagon cloud contract as well. That is Amazon all over – they want to have control over everything and I would not be surprised to learn that they want every single government cloud contract eventually. That is what monopolies do and are all about. Myself, I say eggs – meet single basket.

    Reply
    1. Katniss Everdeen

      “We [amazon] also believe it’s critical for our country that the government and its elected leaders administer procurements objectively and in a manner that is free from political influence,” the company added.

      Right. That’s why bezos and his ilk spend the bulk of their waking hours buying….er “cultivating”….. “political influence.”

      Looking at it “objectively,” maybe taking over the washington post and turning it into a rabid anti-Trump propaganda rag was not the best business decision the genius entrepreneur bezos ever made. He’s going to have to sell (below cost) and deliver an awful lot of cheap, chinese junk to make $10 billion.

      Boo hoo.

      Maybe he can negotiate the sales tax back down to zero as a consolation prize.

      Reply
      1. Synoia

        There is a good precedent out there, The Amazon of the day in the 1770’s got an exemption from collecting taxes, and used the exemption to crush its smaller competitors.

        I believe it was called The East India Company.

        Reply
        1. Off The Street

          How soon until the US discovers tax farming as the next great public-private partnership? Hedgies, dirty VC, information arbitrageurs and others must be salivating at the trillions up for grabs. /only halfway s

          Reply
    2. voteforno6

      It’s pretty standard for companies that lost out to protest contract awards. With $10 billion potentially at stake, it’s not a surprise that Amazon is suing. If they had won, Microsoft would’ve done the same thing. I almost want to laugh at the whole thing – there is no one to root for here, just everyone to root against. I suppose the funniest outcome is if DoD changed its mind, and decided to cancel the whole thing.

      Reply
  10. Jason Boxman

    The obvious solution to weapons cache explosions is to simply stop having so many munitions in the first place, by deescalation.

    It does bring to mind the Halifax explosion, where a ship fully loaded with munitions collided with another ship. The resulting explosion leveled part of the city and killed 1,000 people. It could have been even worse:

    The death toll could have been worse had it not been for the self-sacrifice of an Intercolonial Railway dispatcher, Patrick Vincent (Vince) Coleman, operating at the railyard about 750 feet (230 m) from Pier 6, where the explosion occurred… He returned to his post alone [to warn inbound trains]… Passenger Train No. 10, the overnight train from Saint John, is believed to have heeded the warning and stopped a safe distance from the blast at Rockingham, saving the lives of about 300 railway passengers. Coleman was killed at his post as the explosion ripped through the city.”

    I doubt a single person from our Establishment would engage in such heroism. Too much moral flexibility for that. People like Biden are too busy inflicting human misery; many of them would do the most good by simply staying home for the rest of their lives, living big with their grifted wealth.

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

    Reply
    1. eg

      My mother tells the story of how in Halifax that morning as a child her aunt defied her own mother, taking my grandfather from his room to play with the baby. The house was far enough away to withstand the blast, but every window shattered into projectiles, costing my great Uncle Charlie an eye.

      After recovering her wits from the explosion, great Grandmother had run to the baby’s room to find the crib full of glass shards. She was probably never so relieved in all her life to be disobeyed …

      Reply
  11. Summer

    RE: “Jeffrey Epstein wasn’t trafficking women — and he didn’t kill himself, brother says” Miami Herald

    Not one mention of the daughter of Sir Robert Maxwell.

    Keep checking that omission in stories…

    Reply
    1. Geo

      Watched an hour long BBC Autrailia piece on it the other day and she was barely a blip in the narrative.

      That said, after watching it, I don’t trust the pro-bono lawyer repping the victims anymore either. At this point, anyone who knows anything that isn’t making it public is complicit. Journalists, lawyers, all of them. Why have no other people been accused (other than the one inbred prince) in what was a global operation? Name them all.

      Reminds me of the famous DC Madam case where ABC buried the names of her powerful clients and the “scandal of the decade” quietly disappeared.

      https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/8qje7b/inside-the-us-postal-services-investigation-into-the-dc-madam-v24n3

      Reply
  12. Oguk

    World’s Biggest Public Lender Announces End To Fossil Project Funding
    https://theenergymix.com/2019/11/15/worlds-biggest-public-lender-announces-end-to-fossil-project-funding/

    “In a blockbuster announcement yesterday, the European Investment Bank pledged to end most or all of its financing for fossil energy projects by the end of 2021 and devote future financing to “accelerate clean energy innovation, energy efficiency, and renewables…”

    “The gas lobby has unfortunately managed to get Germany and the European Commission to insert some loopholes into the policy, which leave the door open for funding of dangerous fossil gas projects,” she added. “…it is weaker than the original proposal as a result of blockers like Germany and the European Commission, who pushed for fossil gas loopholes.”

    Reply
  13. jef

    On Theas comment “why now” for a coupe in Bolivia. The bigger picture here is the concerted effort to stop and even reverse the “Bolivarian Revolution” aka social democracy or anti-imperialism, anti-neoliberalism, that was spreading throughout South and Central America by the US.

    This seems too obvious to mention but I have yet to see it show up in the analysis. This explains so much of what is going on everywhere but all are loath to tie it all together to one bad actor.

    If they will go to such extremes to kill off social democracy, which pretty much defines US foriegn policy for the last 50, 75, 100, 200? years, then what chance does Sanders have?

    Reply
    1. hunkerdown

      That depends on how much we muppets/mopes/citizens/people decide to interfere with and make unpleasant the lives of those who run business as usual.

      Reply
    2. polecat

      Regarding Bolivia .. WWSt.GD ? .. towing, as it were, all those NGOs behind that proffered sailing vessel she rides, free-o-charge, to Europe !

      I’m all ears, in wait of her response…

      Reply
  14. Mike

    Re: The Grayzone. Aaron Maté interviews Stephen Cohen.

    Some disappointment – to whit, Cohen’s question to Maté addressing policy factions:

    “Let me sit in your chair a moment. I mean, just theoretically, what could…what imaginable reason could anybody in Washington have for not wanting to see peace between Ukraine and Russia?”

    — But then, on Yanukovich and the coup:

    “It had been a fairly clean election, especially when he had already agreed to move elections up. I think within nine months you could vote him out. Why would the United States, therefore, immediately, within hours, this being President Obama, support … essentially a street coup? I mean, it’s a blow to constitutionalism, the very cause that we claimed to be promoting, so we need to think about that.” … “And, you know, to be candid, with Trump as our president, Obama looks a lot better to a lot of people than he did at the time, but the truth is, is that Obama was an exceedingly unsuccessful foreign policy president, and one of his failures of foreign policy was this, the way he handled this whole Ukrainian thing.”

    — Yup, but he was not “handling” it- Clinton, Nuland, Pyatt, Biden and intelligence were. Did Obama have unrestricted rule of foreign policy?

    On Crimea- “…even though Russia acquiesced into Crimea’s kind of assignment to Ukraine, nobody in Russia actually thought it was real. And to tell you the truth, if you have look at the lack of investment or caring about Crimea, it wasn’t clear Ukraine even cared about Crimea, but the reality is, …in history, in folklore, in sentiment, in culture, Crimea has always been, in the Russian mind, Russian.”

    — No mention of Black Sea trade routes, the Sevastopol naval base, dismantling Russian defenses? Just cultural identity…

    And Kolomoisky talks (source here):

    …Mr. Kolomoisky [..] told The Times in a profanity-laced discussion, the West has failed Ukraine, not providing enough money or sufficiently opening its markets … Instead, he said, the United States is simply using Ukraine to try to weaken its geopolitical rival. “War against Russia,” he said, “to the last Ukrainian.” Rebuilding ties with Russia has become necessary for Ukraine’s economic survival, Mr. Kolomoisky argued. He predicted that the trauma of war will pass … Mr. Kolomoisky said he was feverishly working out how to end the war, but he refused to divulge details because the Americans “will mess it up and get in the way.”

    — Did either of them know of this? What of Israeli weapons exports to Ukraine, US reactions to this development, Zelensky’s future?

    Reply
      1. Mike

        Gut response – they are copying the supposedly “foreign” cronyism and murderous practices to bring it home. Reward? Common access to corporate money until necessary to fuse with the Repugs and drop the scam. Meanwhile shelters for their elite buddies are being built where missiles and arrows will not go, with network access to offshore cash squirreled away for Armegeddon. They will then get together with their class buddies who survived, and have a tea party. The world will be cleansed of us dregs and they will have their sycophants and servants reproduce a new world, genetics guaranteed.

        Hey, I see a novel coming… except it’s already written. Born too late.

        Reply
      2. Mike

        This is bigger than the Dems and Repugs – both have interfered and investigation should prove Republicans just as nosy as Democrats. The purpose of US interference worldwide is of concern, and what experts wish to remember or not is more concerning regarding public knowledge and dissemination of “secrets”.

        Reply
  15. altruisticpunisher

    Re: the thread from Thea Riofrancos, Vijay Prashad’s article in Counterpunch lays out more relevant details. The elephant in the room is the deal Prashad mentions with China that was announced in February 2019. While I would avoid blanket statements, e.g. “the coup was ONLY about lithium”, the fact that China made a deal that Bolivia could live with (compared to what other competitors were offering) should not be ignored. Varoufakis has spoken about the Chinese government’s willingness to renegotiate contracts concerning Greece’s ports that were far more equitable than anything offered by the “West” (while voicing his concerns about the authoritarianism of the CCP). The election “scandal” manufactured by the OAS served as a useful trigger event for the coup but it does not mean issues that were building for the last 10 years were irrelevant.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-bolivia-lithium-china/bolivia-picks-chinese-partner-for-2-3-billion-lithium-projects-idUSKCN1PV2F7

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/11/13/after-evo-the-lithium-question-looms-large-in-bolivia/

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Did Bolivia have to make a deal with anyone?

      Do poorer nations must always make deals with richer countries?

      Reply
  16. Cian

    That Atlantic argument on Boris and Corbyn is terrible. The writer should delete his account and maybe cover Hollywood gossip for a while as a penance.

    It’s all bad, but some random criticisms: Johnson has challenged the UK business and finance elite – while whatever one might think of him Corbyn obviously cares deeply about due process, liberal (in the social sense) values and democracy. He’s about as far from a demagogue, or despot, as you can find in British politics (Boris Johnson on the other hand despises democracy – always has).

    The core of his argument against Corbyn seems to be that Johnson is a defender of US hegemonic values, whereas Corbyn has a different conception of what British foreign policy should be… Oh and anti-semitism – always with the baseless anti-semitism charges…

    Reply
    1. Darthbobber

      Once you take into account of the atlantic’s dislike of substantive democracy (a pretty constant position of that publication for nearly 150 years) the article makes a certain sort of sense. Though more as pathology than as an actual argument.

      Reply
  17. xkeyscored

    A Million Geysers of Plasma Spout from the Sun, and Scientists May Finally Know Why Space.com
    As so often happens, an eye-catching headline that over-dramatises the story. The spicules have been know about for over a century, and the idea that they are due to magnetic reconnection is neither new nor confirmed.
    According to the scientists, these findings suggested that spicules might form because of an effect known as magnetic reconnection. When two magnetic regions with differently oriented field lines encounter each other, those magnetic field lines can clash, break and reconnect with each other, explosively converting magnetic energy to heat and kinetic energy.

    Reply
      1. Plenue

        “Many people appreciate NNT”

        Who, exactly? I stopped paying attention to the Intellectual Yet Idiot after the bizarre episode where he attempted to bully Mary Beard by claiming he was cited in papers more than her.

        Reply
  18. ewmayer

    “Cows swept off island during Hurricane Dorian found after swimming for miles | Guardian” — Just sent Yves+Lambert a Reuters version of this story (late getting to Links today, even by my US Left Coast standards), along with the note:

    Better headline would’ve been “For these castaway cows, Hurricane Dorian meant mooving day”.

    Inquiring minds want to know: which of the cows will be played by Tom Hanks in the moovie version of the drama? Picturing good ol’ Tom, in full-on Elsie-nore cow costume, wailing plaintively about his lost milk-carton friend: “Booooooooooorden!”

    Reply
    1. Drake

      Tom Hanks playing a cow? Wouldn’t that violate several PC considerations — male playing a female, human playing an animal, possible skin color violation as well depending on the breed?

      That said, Christian Bale wouldn’t even need a costume. He’d gain 300 lbs and grow horns and a functional udder, giving milk every day until shooting wrapped.

      Reply
      1. ewmayer

        “Christian Bale wouldn’t even need a costume.” — Ha, Christian Bale, not content with merely milking his fame, stars in The Mecownic.

        Reply
  19. ewmayer

    “How Amazon’s quest for more, cheaper products has resulted in a flea market of fakes | WaPo” — With apologies to Messrs. De Morgan and Swift:

    Big fakes have little fakes inside their platform to bite ’em,
    And little fakes have lesser fakes, and so, ad infinitum.

    Reply
  20. Oregoncharles

    “Boris Johnson Is Not Britain’s Donald Trump. Jeremy Corbyn Is.

    Corbyn and Trump are both populists and in a battle with ‘the swamp.’ Brexit aside, Johnson is not.”

    Not actually clickbait, despite all the caveats: first of all, it’s the Atlantic. And he buys into the inexcusable Israeli/Tory/Blairite propaganda about “anti-Semitism on the left.” And everything I know about Corbyn and Johnson I learned right here, so can’t claim close-up knowledge.

    Nonetheless, I think his point about the roles, potential and actual, of Corbyn and Trump is legitimate, allowing for radical policy differences. Both are essentially populist, at least in their appeal, and both are inclined to blow up the system. I’ll take his word for it about Johnson being boringly conservative on most issues. Trump is certainly not boring, and Corbyn apparently isn’t a vulgarian. But the structural similarities are striking.

    As a 3rd-party person, I have a stake in the system being blown up. I think we all do.

    Reply
  21. Oregoncharles

    From “Is There a Threat of a New Global Economic Crisis?”:

    “The unprecedented debt load of major economies, like the United States, China and the EU is fraught with a disastrous threat for the entire world.”

    One of those does NOT have a sovereign currency (or even a sovereign) and therefore could not just print money to pay its debts – although it did, to a degree, last time around. The article doesn’t distinguish consistently between public and private debts, either.

    Still, it’s interesting for its fairly extreme pessimism (Jackpot time) and the Russian POV. It’s actually about the unintended (?) consequences of relying entirely on monetary stimulus – hence, near-zero interest rates. The result, of course, is an enormous overhang of debt.

    Reply

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