Links 2/19/2020

Former inmates start forestry company after working as firefighters in prison ABC

Ransomware Shuts Gas Compressor for 2 Days in Latest Attack Bloomberg

Why Syriza’s Defeat Still Haunts the Left Jacobin. No point fussing about victories that were never there to be had.

Brexit

Britain’s row with Greece over treasures spills into Brexit tensions Reuters

Syraqistan

Netanyahu Boasts That He Destroyed Free Speech in America TruthDig (KS).

#NCOV-19

When will the coronavirus outbreak peak? Nature

New virus cases in China fall again as deaths top 2,000 Associated Press. Big if true.

* * *
Remdesivir and chloroquine effectively inhibit the recently emerged novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in vitro Nature

In The Fight Against COVID-19, Labs Look To Create Coronavirus Antibodies NPR

Tobacco-Use Disparity in Gene Expression of ACE2, the Receptor of 2019-nCov Preprints

* * *
Japan enters “new phase” of coronavirus outbreak NHK News. 500+, 454 from the cruise ship.

Quarantined vessel or virus incubator? Scientists skeptical of Diamond Princess protocols Japan Times

* * *
Evidence of SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Returning Travelers from Wuhan, China NEJM

As COVID-19 death toll exceeds 2,000, Russia imposes blanket ban on entry of Chinese nationals International Business Times

Investors hunt for alternative data to track coronavirus shock FT

‘The disruption is enormous.’ Coronavirus epidemic snarls science worldwide Science

Coronavirus: As crisis drags on, cracks show in global supply chains South China Morning Post

China?

Supply Chains and Factory Openings: An AmCham Shanghai Mini-Survey American Chamber of Commerce, Shanghai

Chinese Companies Say They Can’t Afford to Pay Workers Now Bloomberg. “What’s good for containment has been lousy for business.” Social stability, social stability….

Macao casinos set to reopen after being shuttered amid coronavirus outbreak ABC

Govt partially lifts travel ban to HK, Macau Manila Times. For helpers.

Chinese companies sell ‘coronavirus bonds’ to boost balance sheets FT

Reading between the lines in China Asian Media Centre

New Cold War

The Con in the Constitution – Kremlin Loses Control of The Amendment Process, Delays Duma Vote, Orders Election Commission to Stop Answering Telephone Dances with Bears

Respectable Racism: Only backward savages in Russia have oligarchs. Civilized Americans have “rich guys.” Yasha Levine, Immigrants as a Weapon. And see also.

UkraineGate – Inconvenient Facts Consortium News (part four. Parts one, two, and three).

Trump Transition

The bipartisan plan to save the Post Office The Week

The 2020 Census Is Showing Some Strong Iowa Caucus Energy Rolling Stone

Trump pardons Michael Milken, face of 1980s insider trading scandals CNBC

US forces 5 Chinese media outlets to register as foreign missions ABC

Diss Barr? Trump Returns To Attacking The Justice Department Jonathan Turley

‘Somebody is making money off those ladders’: Smugglers use ‘camouflage’ ladders to cross border wall El Paso Times

2020

NBC News/WSJ poll: Sanders opens up double-digit national lead in primary race NBC. Hence the hysteria.

Polls Show Bernie Sanders Way Ahead in Nevada New York Magazine

Regular Democrats Just Aren’t Worried About Bernie Peter Beinart (!), The Atlantic. But the elites are.

Labor’s civil war over ‘Medicare for All’ threatens its 2020 clout Politico

When Bloomberg News’s Reporting on China Was Challenged, Bloomberg Tried to Ruin Me for Speaking Out The Intercept

Sign of the times: A pro-Warren super PAC Axios

Democrat Pete Buttigieg overstated pledges of support from black leaders, public figures ABC

Health Care

Death or Debt? National Estimates of Financial Toxicity in Persons with Newly-Diagnosed Cancer American Journal of Medicine (JT). “Across 9.5 million estimated new diagnoses of cancer from 2000–2012, individuals averaged 68.6±9.4 years with slight majorities being married (54.7%), not retired (51.1%), and Medicare beneficiaries (56.6%). At year+2, 42.4% depleted their entire life’s assets.” But at least they had the consolation, on the way down, of loving their insurance.

Boeing 737

Boeing’s small suppliers plagued by uncertainty over 737 Max FT

Boeing finds debris in 737 MAX jetliners: company memo Reuters. Not ladders or strings of lights, one hopes.

Imperial Collapse Watch

The Only Way To Win A ‘Great Game’ Is Not To Play The American Conservative

Trials are down, workload is up. Discovery reform fosters new normal in Queens criminal court Queens Daily Eagle

Class Warfare

Coronavirus triggers boom in private jet enquiries BBC

Privatizing Sovereignty, Socializing Property: What Economics Doesn’t Teach You About the Corporation Law and Political Economy. Interesting, but I’m not sure on the thesis. Try to change “entity shielding,” and you’ll be seeing plenty of “natural persons” who are very unhappy, and keen to share their unhappiness with others.

The First Molecule In The Universe Scientific American

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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

255 comments

    1. Wukchumni

      If we only showed the same admiration for the brave men & women who fight wildfires, as we do in a forced way for buck privates & the like who enlisted in our never ending wars, well, that would be something.

      That is to say, there is little money in maintaining Pulaskis or other firefighter gear or clothing, no Fire-Industrial-Complex, and your adversary can show up anywhere when you least expect it.

      It’s funny, our national forests have extensive savings accounts, all too often looking like a hoarder reality show in the hovel that has accumulated on the ground floor, because no way-no how were we ever going to let a fire run it’s course.

      There is so much longterm work to be done in a CCC-like project aimed specifically at bringing our forests back to life, by clearing the clutter and burning it on our terms. The 30’s-40’s CCC employed 3 million men participating in total, when the population was 130 million.

      With that, i’m off to ignite another burn pile.

      Reply
  1. SlayTheSmaugs

    If the article about Bloomberg silencing reporters because of his unwillingness to anger China had been about Trump, all the D Bloomberg supporters would be up in arms about how he couldn’t be President b/c he would be compromised by his financial relationship with China.

    Reply
      1. shinola

        Caught a TV news item this a.m. about that. Reportedly, Bloomie has declared that, if elected, he will place his holdings in a blind trust & sell the company.

        Reply
        1. SlayTheSmaugs

          Well that would be good; it’s he right promise to make. I wonder tho if Bloomberg Co can be sold in a timely way. And how much is just, he needs to sell stock, and how much is, he needs to resign from boards/positions etc., and how will that affect value, etc.
          Regardless, there are so many reasons to not vote for him. Just, when I read that story about caving to Chinese pressure b/c of business interests, I could hear the howls if it were the exact same story written about Trump.

          Reply
          1. lyman alpha blob

            He may have mouthed the right words but does anyone actually believe that Bloomberg would have no interest at all in the company he spent a lifetime building up?

            Reply
            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              Name the subject – minimum wage, civil liberties, gun control, race relations, Social Security, banker bailouts, health care, taxing investments – and you will easily find Mini Mike forcefully and on multiple public occasions arguing for the opposite position that he has “evolved” to during his so-called “campaign”. The man served as a Republican, then was Independent, and we’re now told he is a “Democrat”.

              If Trump had said 1/10th of what Bloomberg is on public record saying over many years about women we would have a five-alarm fire on CNN and across the #MeToo universe. They destroyed the career of Garrison Keillor for the unspeakable crime of temporarily placing his hand on the back of a woman in a backless dress. At every Bloomberg public appearance there should be throngs of angry women in pink hats protesting.

              What does it say about our so-called “solidarity sisters” parsing every last utterance of every other candidate but giving the absolute king of criminal misogynistic actions a complete free pass?

              Reply
        2. False Solace

          Trump made similar noises but never actually executed on them, as I recall. I think his kids still run the company. There’s nothing blind about it.

          Nobody with power seems to care.

          Reply
        3. campbeln

          Would he have to pay taxes on the sale, or would he get the proceeds tax-free due to the “necessity” of sale? If so, that’d justify the “investment” he’s making in his campaign.

          Reply
      1. SlayTheSmaugs

        The link is above; it describes how a Bloomberg journalist followed the money the money back to Xi in ways that the Chinese government did not like. In the wake of the first story, which was published, death threats and how Bloomberg Co. responded is discussed; the second story was killed by Bloomberg Co. on the eve of publication. Lots of detail about the company’s behavior.

        Reply
  2. vlade

    on the link of ACE2 with smoking, here’s a fascinating tidbit (not from the paper..):

    “In 2009, the authorities of Gongan County attempted to increase consumption of locally produced cigarettes, by demanding that local officials smoke up to 23,000 packs of Hubei-branded cigarettes per year. This measure was intended to bring much-needed revenue to local enterprise; quotas were issued by county authorities to offices under its jurisdiction, which in turn were fined if they failed to consume the demanded quota of cigarettes, or if they were found purchasing other brands of tobacco products. This decision was reversed after public outcry and coverage by international press.”

    The mind boggles.

    Reply
    1. Kevin C. Smith

      It is worth noting that Angiotensin Receptor Blockers [“ARB’s”] like telmisartan et al have a vastly stronger affinity [bind ~3,000 to ~10,000 times as strongly] to ACE1 than to ACE2. This is important because if you block ACE2 you can cause serious cardiac and other problems.

      Also, ACE2 receptors are common in the kidneys and in the testes [!] and now there is some evidence that COVID-19 can enter and perhaps damage THOSE important tissues.

      We should monitor a cohort of the infected to see if they show evidence, for example, of COVID-19 related slow onset cardiac, renal or testicular damage, which might not have been apparent or which might have escaped notice during the acute phase of illness.

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        Add that to “Sperm Counts of Western Men Plummeting, Study Finds,” And you get maybe Mother Nature applying correctives to another plague, https://www.cnn.com/2017/07/25/health/sperm-counts-declining-study/index.html

        Still looks like more than enough fertility left to keep the population clock chocking up ever more bodies with needs and wants.

        One of the guys I worked with at the US EPA was doing a lot of work on trying to figure out why sperm counts were headed steeply down, way back in 1979-80. His conclusion was that it was the bouillabaisse of chemicals we are immersed in, cradle to grave, thanks to that champion of progress, the Chemical Industry.

        And there’s enough in that pot to go all the way around the table, men and women: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/low-doses-hormone-like-chemicals-may-have-big-effects/

        Reply
        1. Foy

          I’m sure the chemicals are one issue for the falling sperm counts. Another reason is the increase in Electronic Magnetic Radiation (EMR) that started increasing dramatically in the environment around that time.

          When men put mobile phones in pockets for 4+ hours a day they have approx 50% less sperm than those who don’t, due to the EMR from the phone, according to one study. Sperm exposed to 12 hours of mobile phone EMR stops swimming (there is video of this in the link below at 30:22 in the link below). This is a great presentation from Dr Erica Mallory Blythe on the whole mobile phone EMR health issue. I have timed the link to start at the point where she discusses reproduction and sperm count isssues.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNFdZVeXw7M

          Can’t wait for the 5G effects… And the former head of the FCC Tom Wheeler, said in a presentation a while ago we do not have time to wait for health testing and standards, the economy needs 5G immediately immediately. Of course he has since used the revolving door to return to the industry from whence he came has a lobbyist after finishing up at the FCC, job done.

          Reply
    2. Amfortas the hippie

      that’s 63 packs per day,lol.
      almost 3 packs per hour, if one doesn’t sleep(the hacking cough would keep you up, i’m sure)
      perhaps the intention was to encourage their use as local currency….
      yet another way the world becomes prison.

      Reply
      1. vlade

        I don’t think it’s per official.. If it would be, it’d be a family business..

        On the other hand, if it’s 23k packets for all officials, it’s probably a few per year, so not much difference.

        Reply
        1. Susan the other

          If China is growing tobacco and mfg. their own cigarettes they are using maximum chemicals to do so because tobacco requires it for big production. So somebody please do an analysis of the pesticide and chemicals used in this production. So far only the ACE2 receptor has been implicated for smokers – that smoking increases these sites. And also too, what about all the godawful air pollution in Hubei province? Is SARS a consequence more of air pollution than anything? Much like obesity.

          Reply
            1. polecat

              Back in the olden polecat daze, I used to roll my own .. papers & a bag of Bugle. My grandad .. Now He was the supreme expert, in that he could roll em ‘one handed’.
              Tis a lost art.

              Reply
              1. human

                I had an elderly friend who, when he was a youngster, knew an elderly Native American women who could roll one in each hand! He also recounted anecdotes of basements full of proscuito and cured meats that everybody had, being immigrants and continuing to do things the “old” way. Damn.

                Reply
            2. Kurt Sperry

              My neighbor in Italy, Mario, is a farmer who has around fifteen hectares of tobacco for cigar wrappers. He says most tobacco farmers use more chemicals than farmers of any other local crop. He also says he’d grow bio/organic (like he does for other crops he grows) if there were a market for it. He thinks being capable of successfully growing bio crops separates the true farmers from the hacks.

              Reply
    3. Lee

      Over 70, former smoker here. Haven’t smoked in quite a few years but did smoke for quite a few years resulting in COPD. Living in the San Francisco bay area with two household members who work on the ferries in direct contact with commuters and tourists. As my Irish granny would have said, whale oil beef hooked.

      Reply
    4. xkeyscored

      The French in Indochina would take a crate of opium to a village, and tell them another would arrive in a month, when they’d have to pay for the first. And so on.

      Reply
  3. bassmule

    As I recall, the British Museum’s claim for keeping the Marbles was that Greece did not have an appropriate place to show them. The “…acquired by Elgin under a legal contract with the Ottoman empire” argument is new to me. Is that correct? Because there is an appropriate place in Athens now.

    https://www.theacropolismuseum.gr/en

    Reply
      1. DorothyT

        About the Marbles: “time to give them back”
        Same message goes to Britain regarding Northern Ireland … time to give it back.

        Reply
        1. a different chris

          I thought the whole problem was really that the now oldsters of NI didn’t want to be “given back”. Stupid religious idiocy (is that redundant? Good).

          On balance the English would gladly get rid of them, is my impression. But this is an example of how a minority with strong feelings generally overrules a majority that doesn’t really care that much.

          Now that the old NI guard is aging out of existence, some miracle has brought the South’s economy to life for I think the first time ever, and Brexit, things are changing.

          Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Here is an article on how these marbles got to be in the UK-

      https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/magazine/2017/03-04/parthenon-sculptures-british-museum-controversy/

      The justification was that the Turks were letting these be damaged. But since the Turks had to leave there nearly two centuries ago, then why the insistence on keeping them? I am sure that 3-D printing could leave the British Museum with a faithful copy for their own display purposes.

      Reply
      1. Quentin

        Elgin had a firman or some kind of Ottoman document to remove the sculptures from the Parthenon, if I’m not mistaken. Of course under Ottoman rule the document was perfectly valid and would still be today because it was then. The Greeks can’t convincingly claim that the Ottoman Empire was illegal in retrospect. That would open an inconceivably virulent can of worms.

        Right The Rev Kev, let Greece and Britain each keep half the originals and reproduce the other half by the best available means: casts or 3-D printing, whatever. No mortal would be able to see the difference with the naked eye.

        Another nasty can of worms is the notion of the repatriation or restitution of all illegally obtained Greek and Italian antiquities in European museums. Just the determination of the term illegal in this context would lead to decades of litigation to the great delight of lawyers on both sides of the issue.

        As a student of ancient Greek pottery I am entirely and totally sick and tired of this politicization of ancient western art: for whose benefit? Such issues are easily solved with honesty and good will. But there is none on either side.

        Reply
        1. Robert S

          Quentin, see my post below: no such official document has ever been found; and the only document produced to justify the sculptures’ removal plainly does not give the permission Elgin subsequently claimed.

          Reply
        2. Wukchumni

          What’s the difference between the Elgin Marbles and all of the ancient Greek pottery in the old Getty Museum?

          I feel certain none of the Kraters on display were dug up in Malibu.

          Reply
          1. lyman alpha blob

            None – those should go back too.

            However there are a lot more examples of ancient Greek pottery than there are Parthenon sculpture. Most of those are hidden away in museum basements because there isn’t enough space to display them all, and the majority aren’t all that spectacular anyway. The one excavation I participated in dug up literally tons of pottery, the vast majority of which will never see the light of day again now that it’s been warehoused.

            Perhaps if other countries asked nicely, Greece might be willing to allow non-Greek museums to continue to display them so long as actual ownership reverts to Greece.

            Reply
            1. Wukchumni

              It’s a slippery slope when it comes to antiquities. Just about every ancient Greek & Roman coin existent comes from a dig, sometime huge hoards.

              This is a favorite more recent find, all debased silver-washed ancient Roman coins, from a time when ‘high tech’ allowed the Empire to mint money that had no value aside from what they claimed it did, sound familiar?

              Although all the coins in the hoard are nominally silver coins, and should have about 90% silver content, most of them are severely debased, containing as little as 1% silver.

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

              Reply
          2. MLTPB

            Then there are those Egyptian obelisks all over the world, including Constantinople.

            I think Caesar or Augustua shipped what they could back to Rome.

            Reply
            1. Wukchumni

              Most of the ‘good stuff’ from the cliff dwellings @ Mesa Verde NP is in a museum in Helsinki, although said museum did give a small amount of it back, recently.

              After more than 100 years in a museum in Finland, the ancestral remains of Native American tribes that once called the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde National Park home are coming back to Southwest Colorado.

              Last week, it was announced human remains and funeral objects from the ancestral Puebloan people, which were unearthed by a Swedish researcher in the 1890s and sent off to Europe, would be returned as part of an agreement between the United States and Finland.

              https://the-journal.com/articles/154741

              Reply
              1. MLTPB

                Alexander of Macedon was to be interred at either Babylin or Vergina, except Ptolemy hijacked it to Egypt.

                When its found, should it be returned to either Greece or Iraq?

                Reply
            2. HotFlash

              I have heard (cannot verify due to negligible records) that the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto has one of, if not the, finest collection of Norse armaments outside of the Scandinavian countries, very little of which is now accessible due to space restrictions. A Nihonophile friend also complained that while he was permitted to see and handle some Japanese swords he was horrified that they were (antiquarians be strong) wrapped in newspaper.

              I have heard of these but cannot verify. However, I do know first-hand that the ROM had a spectacular instrument collection, I have seen it in the past and I have seen the catalogue. Very little remains on display these days, although !!Dinosaurs!! and !!Spiders!! However, a large amount of floor-space that once had the Japanese armour collection, the antique keyboard instruments, the minerology displays, and the Canadian Indian dioramas (we would say First Nations these days) is gone, gone, gone — to coat storage, an ice cream parlour, a sandwich shop, and a McDonald’s. So, as I had an opportunity a few years back to ask the Director why did he have a sandwich shop when I could get a sandwich a lot of places on Bloor Street, but not see a display of early keyboard instruments in very many places, he told me what his hydro bill (that’s electricity bill, for US-ians) was (for temp and humidity controlled bldg to keep artifacts safe). It was pretty steep.

              OK, so the culprit is govt starvation of funds. ROM gotta pay its own heat-and-hydro, and yes, we have corps that pay minimal provincial and federal taxes.

              Oh, and corp’s proportion of taxes have fallen over the years — Toronto Star Project explains since before 1920, gets interesting in 1952: https://projects.thestar.com/canadas-corporations-pay-less-tax-than-you-think/.

              “Don’t mourn, organize,” said Joe Hill in 1915. Mumia Abu-Jamal reminded us as recently a 1/17/2019, “Organize, organize, organize.” Similar to the message of that guy on the *other* side, Lewis Powell, The Powell Memo.

              Well, da-yum, we didn’t and they did.

              I am in Canada, and I really, really envy you your organizer in chief, Bernie Sanders. First time in 5 decades I have ever thought of going “home”.

              Reply
        3. lyman alpha blob

          Britain can keep half the originals just as soon as BoJo the Clown sends half of Stonehedge over to Greece.

          Or, as you said, Britain could simply act honestly and show some good will and return the marbles, and stop clinging to their last remembrances of the good old days of imperialism.

          To me this particular issue is cut and dried now that the Greeks do have their own museum to house them. I visited the acropolis museum many years ago now and it already contained the original Caryatids from the Erechtheion as the rampant pollution in Athens was damaging them. The statues currently attached the original temple are reproductions. The Brits argument that they were keeping them due to Greek pollution was a valid one (albeit a retroactive one), but not any more.

          Not all similar issues are so simple though. There were a few Assyrian palatial reliefs in the art museum of the small liberal arts college I went to and I later found out that similar statues were scattered throughout colleges all over the northeast US. They were pillaged at about the same time as the Elgin marbles by a guy called Henry Layard if i recall correctly. I used to think those should be repatriated too, however if they had been, they quite likely would have been destroyed by ISIS. Now of course if the US hadn’t set the middle east on fire, that likely wouldn’t have been a problem…

          Reply
    2. Robert S

      Yes, it does seem that the argument has changed now that the Acropolis has a museum.

      The wikipedia page for the marbles has a pretty good summary of the legal controversy. The most recent searches have still found no official document giving permission. But you can read a translation of a translation of a letter, and (assuming it’s a genuine document) it’s pretty clear that Elgin did not have permission to hack off and take away the sculptures. He was given permission to put up scaffolding in order to record and take casts of the “ornaments and visible figures”; and he was also given permission to excavate to look for blocks of “inscribed stone” perhaps preserved in the rubble; and he was given permission to take away “pieces of stone” with inscriptions on.

      Elgin’s friend, giving evidence to a parliamentary committee (which was deciding on the purchase of the marbles from Elgin) indicated that local officials were induced to broaden the scope of the permission…

      My own view is that arguments about the bare legality are beside the point. See the sculptures in the British Museum and you will be moved by their beauty, accomplishment and history. But you might also come away feeling that one of the greatest works of art in human history has been hacked to pieces and scattered to the four corners. Every effort should be made to reunite those pieces in their proper place.

      Reply
      1. c_heale

        Couldn’t agree more. I have no idea why anyone doesn’t think reuniting the the sculptures isn’t the best option. I’ve seen them in the British Museum and they are terrible, just a piece of hacked up marble.

        Reply
  4. jackiebass

    The press is supporting the USPS Fairness act. They cite it removes the burden of pre funding benefits. There is nothing else mentioned. I would like to know if there are other things in the bill? I’m a suspicious person. In my opinion the title of a bill give you clue about it. Unfortunately the title usually implies just the opposite of what the bill does. Is this the case for the USPS Fairness ACT? Are there poison pills hidden in the fine print? I think there probably are. Tell me everything in the bill so I can objectively judge it.

    Reply
    1. Stephen V

      I’ve not researched this but word from postal employee relatives is that DHL has been poised to take over when privatization is er, inevitable.

      Reply
      1. Carla

        Here is the entire text of H. R. 2382/AN ACT :

        To amend title 5, United States Code, to repeal the requirement that the United States Postal Service prepay future retirement benefits, and for other purposes.

        Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

        SECTION 1. Short title.

        This Act may be cited as the “USPS Fairness Act”.

        SEC. 2. Repeal of required prepayment of future Postal Service retirement benefits.

        Subsection (d) of section 8909a of title 5, United States Code, is repealed.

        Passed the House of Representatives February 5, 2020.

        *****

        This makes me think that Stephen V’s relatives may well be correct, and that the USPS is simply being prepared for slaughter — uhm, privatization — at the earliest opportunity.

        Reply
          1. flora

            Reader peachy’s response in the thread:

            Making affordable shipping methods available is socialism. We will only achieve peak capitalism if it is $7.75 to send a letter

            Reply
            1. cnchal

              These people are experiencing peak capitalism with a three to four fold instantaneous increase in shipping prices, rammed down the peasant’s throats by the post office.

              On Jan 26th USPS fully joined the biggest shipping scam there is and began charging “dim weight” on all packages delivered to within the US.

              This is where a large four pound package is rated and charged at 30 pounds.

              The price increases are so horrific that UPS ground retail prices beat the post office by a mile, and these shipping refugees fleeing the post office are now using UPS for whatever sales remain.

              Here is some interesting wording from the treasury regarding the post office. From page 65.

              The USPS should explore new business opportunities that allow it to extract value from its existing assets and business lines.

              In addition to franchising the mailbox, the USPS should explore supplying services for Federal, State, and local government entities that have substantial scale, would generate revenue, and would not present a balance sheet risk to the USPS. For example, the USPS could expand government services by processing certain licenses, such as those for hunting and fishing. The USPS could also capture additional value from its existing retail offices by converting post offices into contract post offices or by co-locating with or renting space to complementary retail establishments. Given the USPS’s narrow expertise and capital limitations, expanding into sectors where the USPS does not have a comparative advantage or where balance sheet risk might arise, such as postal banking, should not be pursued.

              Signed by Mnuchin.

              They are going to totally crapify the post office and sell it for chump change to a bunch of insiders. It’s clearly a looting operation now.

              Reply
          2. notabanktoadie

            What’s antiquated, besides being inherently thieving, is our Gold Standard banking model now that fiat is, as it should be, inexpensive.

            To properly repeal our current system would require allowing ALL citizens to use fiat in account form at the Federal Reserve itself and local Post Offices could serve as convenient branch locations for the few services a Central Bank should be allowed to offer, not including “loans” since those would violate equal protection under the law.

            Reply
        1. flora

          After the banking merger mania of the 90s an 20s, a lot of small towns have been left with only 1 branch bank of a larger bank with a city charter. When the larger bank decides to close its branch in a small town because ‘not enough business’, that can devastate small town businesses. Enter the local Post Office as a lifeline for local business.

          Good story from American Banker. Behind a paywall, but you can search the title on the G00gle and find an open link.

          When a small town loses its only bank

          https://www.americanbanker.com/news/when-a-small-town-loses-its-only-bank

          Between the govt pushing small, community banks to sell themselves to the big banks in the late 80’s and 90’s, and the govt trying to close rural/small town post offices in the 2000’s, its like the govt was trying to destroy small towns and rural America.
          Maybe the govt has finally come to its senses about the importance of the Post Office.

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            The pizza place in town was a former bank until the 90’s, and they keep the dough in the safe deposit box area, which has a wildly inappropriate heavy metal door, for the flour.

            Reply
            1. flora

              The titillating, faux humor “ain’t we cool ’cause modern thinking ‘ “, makes its appeal to the to the youngsters of today.

              Aka, the olds of today are looking out for the welfare of the youngs of today, for when the youngs are older. imo. Shorter: don’t fall for the neolib sales pitch.

              Reply
        2. D. Fuller

          Privatization of The USPS would require a Constitutional Amendment considering that the USPS is specifically mentioned in The Constitution.

          Article 1 Secion 8 Clause 7 of The Constitution.

          Of course, since The US is no longer a rule of law nation… no one is going to quibble with the details. If The USPS is ever privatized or taken over? The look on the faces of all of those poor people who support privatization when sending a postcard cost $5.

          Is going to be amazing. They’ll complain. Ask them who they voted for… probably the people responsible… and then tell them, “You have what you wanted. Do not whinge.”

          Reply
    2. antidlc

      https://about.usps.com/who-we-are/financials/annual-reports/fy2010/ar2010_4_002.htm

      Retiree Health Benefits Prefunding
      Challenge

      Significant financial losses result from a legislative requirement that the Postal Service pre-fund its retiree health benefits.

      SOLUTION

      Adopting a traditional “pay-as-you-go” method would produce an average of $5.65 billion in additional cash flow per year through 2016.

      Unlike any other public or private entity, under a 2006 law, the U.S. Postal Service must pre-fund retiree health benefits. We must pay today for benefits that will not be paid out until some future date. Other federal agencies and most private sector companies use a “pay-as-you-go” system, by which the entity pays premiums as they are billed. Shifting to such a system would equate to an average of $5.65 billion in additional cash flow per year through 2016, and save the Postal Service an estimated $50 billion over the next ten years. With the announcement of our Action Plan in March, we began laying the foundation for change, requesting that Congress restructure this obligation.

      If the bill removes the pre-funding requirements, that’s a good thing, no?

      However, I wonder if something else will be added to this bill in the conference committee.

      Reply
    3. Calvin

      How about pension plans investing in Forever Stamps? Think of the funding!
      Damn good return on money invested.
      Bought them at .40 cents and now they are worth .50 each.
      Tax free…:-)

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        I like the Forever Stamps, as we’ve gone from 4 Cents to mail a letter when I was born, to now 55 Cents. Like everything, the rate of inflation has been quite the onslaught over time, practically begging you to spend-not save.

        p.s.

        You are no doubt aware, that Charles Ponzi’s scheme was based on stamps, right?

        Reply
  5. Amfortas the hippie

    re the LPE art. on corps(e):

    “Furthermore, if stockholders are neither owners nor authorizers, why are they given (in Anglo-American countries) the sole right of electing the board members? If the board’s authority comes from the state, and the state is constitutionally mandated to guarantee to its citizens a republican form of government (Article IV, Section 4), could it be argued that workers, who are the subjects of the board’s government, have a constitutional right to a republican form of corporate government, in which they elect the board? Similarly, does it make them quasi-public employees, deserving of some of the protections of public employees? Again, conventional economics can tell us little beyond making the obvious point that any governance alternative must at least maintain firm profitability to be viable.”

    if only the Actual Left had large sums of money for lawyers to pursue such things!!
    for all the yelling and adulting, from dems and especially repugs, about Liberty and a “republic if you can keep it”, this total takeover of everything by immortal fictions is what they were really up to all along.

    Reply
    1. Susan the other

      That was an amazing epiphany. It is the sort of analysis that could turn around all of our confusion so we can finally focus on what’s what. “Privatize Sovereignty – Socialize Property” by David Ciepley. All the economic contradictions contained in a “corporation”. It does shed some light on why corporations were given person status however – because they, in effect, do have rights that their mere shareholders cannot violate; and also too it makes the push for “shareholder maximization” make a little more sense because shareholders have no rights at all except to buy and sell the stock – i.e. loan money and call it in. Corporations are chartered as these weird entities by a state sovereign, but they are not in the public interest at all. Much like PPPs. Somebody’s gonna stand up and ask please sir, if corporations have rights mustn’t they also have responsibilities? And this is probably the nexus of the oxymoron-in-one-word: profit. It is really nowhere to be found in reality. What a great article.

      Reply
    2. Dirk77

      I think the point of the article is that since corporations are creations of the state, the state really determines their purpose, their charter. You are not forced to turn your company into an LLC, but if you do, you need to obey by the rules as specified by the state. And those rules could be anything really. So as stated, the idea that the purpose of corporations is to maximize shareholder value is just something Jack Welch or some self-serving shleb pulled out of their… And the only reason such an idea gained traction is that the law that created an LLC was not specific enough. It was a product if it’s time and left implicit things that clearly are no longer believed. The author of the article gives his views on how things should be made explicit. And you and Susan the other have yours. I don’t know what the “best” answer is, but I gather what we have now was not the intent of the creators of the law at all.

      Reply
    3. rtah100

      The article breathlessly reinvented the wheel. It was lovely to see somebody held prisoner in a “contractual nexus” Coasian basement emerge blinking into the sunlight but once he had freed himself, he might have read up on the topic.

      The first Anglophone incorporations are under his nose, being the English corporations created for specific purposes by Royal charter, such as the trading companies (Hudson Bay, East India etc) but also local corporations (I.e. cities), utilities (various bridges) and, most subtly, the Oxford and Cambridge Colleges. None of these is a joint stock company, the forerunner to companies limited by shares, but they all create a legal person capable of owning and reading property separately from its members / directors. The nonsense about shareholder supremacy is a recent distortion of company law, not the fons et origo.

      Amusingly, Oxbridge Colleges have three “estates”, the Master, the Fellows (academics) and the Scholars (students). Coming top of the lists is not just an honour but a lasting admission to the College corporation. Also, historically the colleges paid a regular stipend and… A variable “dividend” based on College property income to the Fellows.

      Some of these examples are over 600 years old, hence the amusingly breathlessness of his discover that corporations were created for purposes other than shareholder value!

      Reply
      1. eg

        I am suspicious that the “forgetting” around the origin and evolution of charters and corporations is NOT an accident …

        Reply
  6. zagonostra

    >Debt and Death

    Seems like nothing less than both is the penalty for getting cancer or some other terminal illness in the good old U.S.A.

    The disgust I feel for the political class/ruling elites and their courtiers who have conspired to create a society that preys on the vulnerable (sick/young/poor) makes me want to retch.

    This investigation spanning an initally-estimated 9.5 million newly-diagnosed persons with cancer ≥50 years of age found that 42.4% of individuals depleted their life assets 2 years following diagnosis, extending to 38.2% at 4 years following. A higher odds of asset depletion at year+2 was noted among groups with known vulnerabilities,

    Reply
    1. Steve H.

      : Survival estimates were 87.3% at year+2

      I’m making an assumption or two for the sake of argument here, but if the percentages hold true, 12.7% mortality * 42.4% asset depletion means that 5.38% are dead with assets depleted. Household size was 1.9, meaning the dead leave behind someone who is now destitute.

      This caught my eye:

      : 40%-85% of cancer patients stop working during initial treatment, with absences ranging up to 6 months.
      : 38% lost coverage prior to filing bankruptcy due to illness or job loss.

      Two stages of losing coverage: get sick and lose it, or lose job if not able to work, and lose coverage.

      This is brutal. And someone is getting rich on the other end.

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        third way to lose coverage: nominal raise(Teachers in Texas last year)=>no longer eligible for Medicaid, because Texas hates poor people.

        our school has been remarkable to us, throughout the ordeal. wife took off(that wording implies fun time at the beach, or something) 3 weeks while in hospital, then another month or more(it’s hazy) after that, then a week here and there due to surgery or whatever…along with a day here a day there(at least 2 days, every two weeks for chemo and aftermath) the rest of the time.
        other teachers and administrators donated unused “hours” of Family Leave Act…some of which was paid…and the superintendent made wife’s FMLA applicable for the rest of the year, by fiat(backed by school board—really helps to know every one of these people…and/or be related to a majority of them)>
        the majority of her “days off” are unpaid…which is likely what’s keeping us from getting above Medicaid’s absurd income cutoff level, in spite of the raise the texas lege gave all texas teachers this year….i’ve been waiting for that shoe to drop since they announced it.
        only debt we have is from the first 2 weeks of our emergency…before medicaid kicked in and went retroactive(a convoluted and chaotic formula if ever i’ve seen one)—about $15K, off the top of my head(we don’t even look at the bills any more, since we can’t pay them any way)
        I understand full well how fortunate we are….house and land are paid for, no car loan(yet),extended family all around and a supportive, tight-knit community, and cheap as dirt to live out here….and i’m on the way to at least limited food sovereignty.
        so many others don’t enjoy those things, which are hard to put into dollars.
        the stories i read about the struggles of others, just about everywhere else, are scary…”there, but for the grace of god, go us”.
        it shouldn’t be this way…and all the nonsense about people loving their health insurance are almost certainly falling on mostly deaf ears.
        of the few thousand people i’ve talked to and eavesdropped upon since september 2018, only the suits defend the current system….and even they feel the need to hedge, and talk about it as if it’s a thunderstorm or something, that we must simply deal with, since it cannot be changed.
        (and to their credit, those suits “forgave” our giant debt to the hospital itself…as if we had transgressed, somehow. I wept, regardless, when i opened that particular letter.)

        Reply
        1. Carla

          Amfortas, I am deeply grateful to you for sharing this account (and so many, many others over the years) of your life and your community in Texas. The teachers at your wife’s school banding together to donate their “unused hours” to help her keep her job — and the kindness of the superintendent and school board — brought me to tears. Thank you.

          On another note I must add, in my whole life, I never had a health insurance policy that loved me back. Maybe I just didn’t love them enough? Could that be it?

          Reply
          1. S.D.

            Thanks indeed. Sadly the very concept of community you are so blessed with has become completely alien to most people in this country.

            Reply
            1. Amfortas the hippie

              I’m very aware of this uniqueness.
              I grew up in east texas Klan country(far underground, where local power lives), in the 80’s(“greed is good”, which these folks took to heart).
              and I was a genius weirdo freak.
              an eventual pariah…it was the natural, allergic reaction of the local machine to my presence.
              and i only belong way out here due to hermithood(small doses, both ways, so that neither they, nor i, are overwhelmed), being married in to a large mexican clan, and my wife’s cancer, in which i have , somehow, “proven” myself.
              (there are indications that i’ve set a new, higher standard, for what to do when one’s wife is diagnosed with cancer..ironically due to my own disability(freedom), for which i myself was mildly made a pariah a second time)
              Nevertheless,I’ll always be regarded, at some level, as a ‘ferriner’.
              it’s just how it is in this place…insular, clannish, isolated until very recently(when i got here, 25 years ago, it was still rare to make a trip to austin(100 miles away) to shop–30 years ago, there were party lines out in the county)
              after careful consideration, the benefits of living in such a place outweigh the negatives.
              strongly.
              I’d venture hands down.

              Reply
              1. Susan the other

                times will change and you will win. not to raise false hope, but have you researched the Cardiff University discovery (Wales) of the T-cell with a claw which is very effective in latching on to cancer cells and killing them? Touted recently (sorry no cite) as a cure for a long list of cancers. These sporadic reports of “cures” always disappear from the news cycle too fast.

                Reply
                1. Amfortas the hippie

                  I’m open to everything.
                  Medicaid, however, is not.

                  we’re not there, yet, any way.
                  “first line treatment” went well for more than a year…and we’re only on second line because of some confusion over some scans(hospital scan people didn’t have all the other, non-hospital scans), and oncologist said, “let’s go on ahead…”
                  (my translation)
                  decent odds that i have her for another 5 years.
                  the last half of those will be hard.

                  Reply
        2. notabanktoadie

          because Texas hates poor people. Amfort

          To avoid cognitive dissonance since one tends to justify the good or bad they do to others.

          “Daddy, why do white people hate us?”
          “Because of what they’ve done to us, son.”

          Reply
    2. skk

      I looked at the impact of insurance in that study and the results are quite odd. Here’s one study’s conclusion:

      Additionally, a higher adjusted odds of complete loss of net worth was associated with increasing age (especially ≥75 years of age), Medicaid, the requirement of continued cancer treatment, and being retired (P<.05). At both year+2 and year+4, protection against financial toxicity was associated with private insurance, being currently married, and the 2008 fiscal crisis (P less than.05)

      Now looking at Table 3(2 years section): the odds are Medicare- 1:1, Medicaid – 3.09:1, Private Insurance – 1.03:1, Uninsured – 1.22 :1

      That data point – where Uninsured have only a 22% higher odds of financial toxicity when Medicaid 200% higher odds of financial toxicity ( compared to Medicare ) cries out to be explained.

      On the other hand at year 4, the odds change a lot. No they are- Medicare- 1:1, Medicaid .75:1, Private Insurance- 1.10, Uninsured- 1.28:1

      Now that 4 year figure accords with intuition, though Medicaid lowering your chances of financial depletion compared to Medicare is odd. My guess is that the flow of people out of category into another between year 2 and year 4 impacts the results meaningfully. But its only a guess.

      I can just see how people would cherry-pick this data to support whatever obnoxious anti-poor conclusion they wanted to make. It would be good if the study discussed the meaning of the data in quite a lot more detail.

      Reply
  7. bwilli123

    Diamond Princess is COVID-19 mill. How I got in the ship and was removed from it within one day.
    Japanese Infectious Disease Control Specialist Professor Kentaro Iwata overcomes bureaucratic obstacles to go aboard Diamond Princess. Finds complete lack of medical & environmental controls, and worse.

    Accented but clearly understood English. On board description starts at approx 4 minutes in.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtHYZkLuKcI

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      That is a remarkable video that. What is Japanese for FUBAR again? With the level of expertise aboard that ship, if I had tickets to the Olympics in Tokyo I would be cashing them in right now. The “Diamond Princess” is not a ship. It is a 116,000 ton petri-dish. That ocean liner “Westerdam” was even worse by disembarking passengers in Cambodia before clearing them of Coronavirus.

      Not only did one passenger turn up positive – after flying to Malaysia and infecting god knows who else – but the Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen visited the ship, discouraged use of masks, and encouraged the passengers to tour the city.

      https://www.nst.com.my/world/world/2020/02/566562/cambodia-cruise-ship-passengers-scatter-take-bus-tours-despite-covid-19

      I know that ocean liners regard themselves as a law onto themselves on the high sea but this is criminally irresponsible. They should have landed the passengers from those ship on land in small group in an isolated location like a military base or the like and held them there until there was no sickness after the last person came down sick.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        I’ve mentioned it before, but 15 years ago 9 family members were on a cruise to Mexico from L.A., and within a day 6 of us were quite sick from Norovirus, along with the rest of the cruise liner. The ship’s store ran out of cold/flu medicine after 2 days, although you could still buy 49 different kinds of perfume/cologne. I remember going to dinner and looking at my plate full of food as if it was an unsurmountable challenge to finish, and it wasn’t just me, everybody was sick. One of the ports was Zihuatanejo, and I was curious how many passengers would get off, so I went to the departure lounge, and there were about a dozen people up to making the effort, out of thousands.

        Reply
        1. MLTPB

          With many factories still off, can this be considered as productive capacity destruction?

          Will gold bugs see hyperinflation from such destruction?

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            There hasn’t been one episode of hyperinflation involving cybercurrency.

            Any clues to how it could manifest itself and show us how it’s done?

            Reply
            1. Foy

              Hyperinflations usually involve destruction of the productive economy (eg Zimbabwe which ended up about 20% of the original GDP) and/or with large unpayable debts in a foreign currency (eg Weimar republic which had to pay war reparations in gold amounting to 11% of GDP per annum for years). Bitcoin is inherently deflationary as there is a limited amount of coins that can ever be produced, I imagine other cybercurrencies are similar.

              Reply
      2. Off The Street

        As a somewhat Japanophile, it distresses me to see their current Corona troubles. They remind me of the ongoing Fukushima disaster, so much of which was shockingly, myopically self-induced.

        Reply
        1. PlutoniumKun

          Yes, there is a bit of a paradox about the way Japan (both government and people) reacts to disasters. They are famously well organised and disciplined when faced with a predictable disaster like an earthquake or typhoon, but the rigidity of the system and culture means the first reaction to something unexpected is to simply pretend nothing has happened or to stare like a deer in headlights.

          In a system like that, nothing will happen when the unexpected occurs unless the people at the very top act decisively. Unfortunately, Abe and his crew are only really interested in money, so in a year of the Olympics it was always likely they’d try to avoid making any hard decisions.

          Reply
      3. xkeyscored

        I forget the exact timeline and details, but at the time the Diamond Princess docked, wasn’t the general advice more or less “no temperature, no problem”?
        Again, the details elude me, but didn’t Hun Sen get applauded by folk like the WHO for not spreading prejudice and panic?
        I fear we could hear a lot more about the Westerdam. The DP may have been a petri dish, but at least it was fairly contained. Many of the W’s passengers have already scattered far and wide, travelling openly on ordinary flights and so on.

        The next day, the American ambassador to Cambodia, W. Patrick Murphy, who brought his own family to greet the passengers streaming off the ship, also went maskless.
        “We are very, very grateful that Cambodia has opened literally its ports and doors to people in need,” Mr. Murphy said. Five other ports had said no.

        https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/17/world/asia/china-coronavirus.html

        A 66-year-old passenger from Australia, Ann-Maree Melling, tells TIME that after leaving the Westerdam, she and her husband stayed in Phnom Penh in Cambodia before flying to Bali, where they are now vacationing. The couple’s flight had a stopover in Singapore.
        https://time.com/5785109/coronavirus-confirmed-westerdam-cruise-ship/

        Reply
        1. PlutoniumKun

          And its just been announced that two elderly Iranians have died near Tehran from the virus. Looks like its moving along the Silk Roads, one way or another.

          That’s two deaths…. out of two reported cases. Make of that what you will.

          Reply
          1. MLTPB

            Iran’s economy, particularly the oil sector is hurting from China not buying much these days.

            That would make Beijing not a reliable business partner.

            Maybe even not contract agreement capable.

            Reply
            1. MLTPB

              That’s the old Silk Road. And not for the first time either.

              The current cases globally spread also along One Belt One Road which is new.

              Reply
        2. Oregoncharles

          Britain and France were infected from Singapore, by someone returning from a conference there. The attendees scattered to the 4 winds, of course.

          It’s out.

          Good thing some of those fabulously expensive antivirals appear to work.

          Reply
      1. Foy

        Probably. It’s been put up again under another name, see link below.

        The professor said he had been working on the ground with patients of a number of previous epidemics, ebola, SARS, cholera. He said he never had fear of getting infection himself at any of these sites as he knew how to protect himself to protect others and how infection control should be. However on the Diamond Princess he ‘was so scared of getting infected because there was no way to tell where the virus is, no green zone, no red zone, everywhere could have virus and nobody was careful about it. There was no single infection control person inside the ship and no one in charge of infection prevention.’ ‘I’m very scared of being infected myself and infecting my family.’ ‘There is no CDC in Japan’. “Im not very surprised to see many new positive PCRs to be brodcasted every day’

        Fascinating to hear from someone on site who is an experienced infection control specialist in epidemic situations. Staff on the ship didn’t like his advice…

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7QUKFF2wS0

        Reply
        1. Edward

          Thanks for reposting the video. Somebody should shame the bureaucrats who obstructed Iwata’s assistance to the ship and did not arrange professional guidance for the ship.

          Reply
  8. allan

    “Nice” chart of growing inequality as measured by net savings rates of top 1%, next 9%
    and bottom 90% over the decades in this tweet.
    Time for some more tax cuts. Also too entitlement reform. /s

    Reply
    1. eg

      “The problem with America is people that make $700 per hour have convinced people that make $25 per hour that people who make $7.25 per hour are the problem.”

      Reply
      1. Dan

        A unionized public employee, a member of the Tea Party, and a CEO are sitting at a table. In the middle of the table there is a plate with a dozen cookies on it. The CEO reaches across and takes 11 cookies, looks at the Tea Partier and says “look out for that union guy, he wants a piece of your cookie.”

        Reply
  9. The Rev Kev

    “THE CON IN THE CONSTITUTION – KREMLIN LOSES CONTROL OF THE AMENDMENT PROCESS, DELAYS DUMA VOTE, ORDERS ELECTION COMMISSION TO STOP ANSWERING TELEPHONE”

    I know, I know – it was the meddling of Russian hackers at work again!

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      I intuited that all that was mostly shenanigans a long time ago.
      happy some of those people are chewing through the restraints.
      should be entertaining from under the Big Oak.

      what does “active management” mean to this guy?
      is that a technical term?
      like an antonym to “stocks always rise”?

      and just to drop this before the pain meds kick in: I’ve encountered the word “apotheosis” more in the last week than in the last 10 years.
      in reference to trump and bloomberg and buttgig and netanyahoo and the establishment itself, under various lenses.
      just something i noticed, like something stuck in your teeth.

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

      Reply
      1. WobblyTelomeres

        I guess it means that in 10 years the Republicans will build a Ford-class carrier, the USS Donald J Trump, where the coal-powered launcher will keep, confoundingly, slinging F35s into the sea after bouncing them off the superstructure.

        Reply
  10. PewPew

    in the NBC News/WSJ survey, while also finding that the most unpopular candidate qualities in a general election are being a socialist, being older than 75 years of age and having a heart attack in the past year.

    HAHAHA! I wonder how they managed to come up with such a specific set of qualities to ask about. Its something only experts would understand I’m sure.

    Its pretty brazen to stick this in an article explaining that he’s also the most popular candidate.

    Dear voters, we understand that you like Sanders, so what if you thought of him as an assembly of free floating qualities instead. Would you vote for a heart attack!?

    Reply
    1. Katniss Everdeen

      “….. an assembly of free floating qualities…..”

      Excellent characterization. I’d add the modifier “negative” to the “qualities.”

      An msnbs anchor “discussed” this “survey” this morning, cleverly asking her learned guest, “What’s going on here?”

      The answer that was NOT forthcoming: this candidacy must be destroyed and we’re gonna keep trying until we figure out something that sticks.

      Reply
    2. John k

      Not much there on policy… wonder what voters think of candidates promising more of the same. Or candidates proudly pointing out they’re not trump.

      Reply
    3. Samuel Conner

      It would seem that they unintentionally drew attention to the widespread popularity of Sanders’ policy proposals.

      FDR had some health issues too, IIRC.

      Reply
    4. Brooklin Bridge

      wow, that’s pretty vague. I would’a thought it would also have specified, “and having a name that sounds identical to and is spelled the same as: Bernie Sanders.

      Reply
    5. Dan

      Dear voters, we understand that you like Sanders, so what if you thought of him as an assembly of free floating qualities instead. Would you vote for a heart attack!?

      Brilliant!

      Reply
    6. D. Fuller

      AoC was on The View with Meghan McCain, who floated that “Bernie Bros” stereotype that was instigated by The Hillary Clinton Campaign back in 2016.

      Many Trump supporters will be posing as Sanders supporters, to reinforce that Bernie Bros stereotype. Should Sanders win the nomination.

      Yes, even McCain is reviled by many on The Right thanks to her father.

      Reply
      1. Procopius

        Oh, I don’t know, I don’t think that’s necessarily nepotism there. I think she has a real talent for creating revulsion herself.

        Reply
  11. The Rev Kev

    On an unrelated topic-

    So the NSW Rural Fire Service wanted to say a big “thank you” to all the Aussie and American firefighters who have worked so hard over the last few months. To do it, they did a big 70-foot high video ad in New York’s Times Square-

    https://twitter.com/NSWRFS/status/1229962192297947136

    They should definitely do it for groups like the Californian firefighters too.

    Reply
  12. Valuedlabour

    I had the great fortune to hear a seminar by David Ciepley while I was in the graduate econ program at DU. He put forward this thesis then. And while I do not disagree with its premise, I’d argue that the modern corporate firm indeed still (mis)behaves as Marx theorized. Sure, the modern corporate firm is not capital personified, but it is itself capital. The legal structure that has been authored by the state for its modern operations are just an extension of the process of capital, always in motion and always concentrating and centralizing. We’d be foolish to think that the state is not complicit in the process of capital accumulating itself to death.

    Reply
    1. Off The Street

      Agency, revisited.
      We’re the agents and you’re not. Therefore, we control, direct and manipulate as subjects, while you objects carry out, endure and succumb. Just try to pierce the veil and we will evade.

      Reply
    2. JTMcPhee

      I believe it is wrong to think of corporations and government as any kind of separate entities. There’s a power structure that connects them, and is the reason for the constant tightening of the screws on the thumbs of the mopery: “ Interlocks And Interactions Among The Power Elite The Corporate Community, Think Tanks, Policy-Discussion Groups, And Government,” https://www.foreconomicjustice.org/?p=19372

      In another life an ex-wife pressed me into joining the Union League Club of Chicago, a nest of power vipers if ever there was one. Her father was a past president of the Club, and was a senior executive at what used to be called U.S. Steel. I was an enforcement attorney with the US Environmental Protection Agency, way out of my comfort zone. The Club offered memberships (expensive, both initiation fees and ongoing costs) to various public figures, like US Attorneys (the ones that were not already members from prior employment) and politicians of various nominal parties. The “pillow talk” one heard in the Club rooms and dining areas and locker and steam rooms made it real clear how “business gets done.” I found it so repellent that my little pea brain could not even recall all the transactional stuff that I witnessed.

      So I don’t think of “the state” as any kind of separate agent and entity apart from the rest of the power elite. Cue the lines about revolution, with the recollection that Revolution usually just leads to Restoration…

      Reply
  13. The Rev Kev

    “Coronavirus: As crisis drags on, cracks show in global supply chains”

    The article says the disruption to supply chains caused by the Coronavirus outbreak may prompt some sectors to consider diversifying production. Whether the manufacturing is done in China or Vietnam or Timbuktu, would it even matter? What I mean is that with just-in-time delivery of components in supply lines, would it matter where it came from as, after all, any place could be effected by Coronavirus.

    Reply
    1. Samuel Conner

      Presumably diversifying one’s JIT supply chain into multiple geographically distinct networks that would be less likely to be simultaneously interrupted would allow one to continue production at a reduced level if only parts of the chain were disrupted by disease or other problems. That could be useful in terms of holding on to one’s workforce (reduced hours due to 20% reduction in parts supply when one of five suppliers is offline, for example, versus 100% shutdown if one’s sole JIT supplier cannot ship).

      This might also have the effect of weakening the monopsony power of the top-of-chain purchasers, a desirable side effect IMO; having multiple suppliers might mean that the suppliers themselves would have more customers.

      Reply
      1. a different chris

        But you literally can’t do this under neoliberalism.

        If Vietnam is 5% cheaper than Cambodia, then Cambodia has to do the honorable thing and go out of the business. And shortened hours for anything , lordy that might catch on everywhere! You can’t expect the rich to take their lumps on something like that, what would society be coming to? /s

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          In order to mettle in a race to the bottom, you have to train your workers to always be closing in on subsistence wages to the point where they can barely keep going.

          Reply
          1. MLTPB

            People there are tough. They can live on eating spiders, crickets, etc.

            And a workable diet it would seem as they were able to make Unclle Sam leave (but are back).

            Reply
          2. The Rev Kev

            Or better yet they could do an Amazon. Pay below subsistence wages and have the government make up the difference with things like food stamps. Even the ambulances that used to be stationed outside his slave factories to retrieve collapsed slaves were paid for by local taxpayers.

            Reply
  14. Ignacio

    RE:New virus cases in China fall again as deaths top 2,000 Associated Press. Big if true.

    According to documents published by the Imperial College of London, if R0 estimates are correct, all you have to do to slow the spread is to identify and quarantine at least 60% of infected people. And those should include the superspreaders. China has indeed applied very harsh measures including quarantines to whole buildings and the whole province of Hubei. According to the article inspectors go door by door checking for fever and the spread has been slowed by much but given how slippery is this virus, the moment you relax new clusters will appear. See how difficult is to eliminate it in Japan where clusters have been identified very soon. If you screen for fever you are missing those that may be infected without fever because they have a mild infection in the upper respiratory tract or are just in asymptomatic incubation phase. Whether new clusters would appear only in Hubei or in any of the other provinces it is to be seen. I still think it is illusory to believe this can be stopped like it was done with SARS Cov1 except by keeping these harsh measures indefinitely, but we will see.

    Reply
      1. Krystyn Walentka

        Well if it is true that infections are slowing in China it is thanks to these draconian measures. But can you imagine if they even attempted anything like that in the good ‘ol U.S. of A.?

        If the virus gets a foot hold in the U.S. it will be catastrophic because 1) people are obese and unhealthy and 2) “but mah freedums!”

        Reply
        1. MLTPB

          In a few cities in China, I have read about a ‘real name’ system of using public transportation..

          I doubt that will go well in the US. Sometimes people wanting mah freedoms makes things harder or slower.

          Reply
        2. Oregoncharles

          Far fewer smokers in the US; that would reduce deaths and hospitalizations, but might maximize mild cases that spread it.

          Reply
          1. polecat

            Mr. OC. … Did you hear about the joke, of the fleeing cruise ship comedian ?
            Neither did I … but it looks like you’all got a ‘former’ cruise ship comedian for real, come home !

            ‘you’re not going to like it ! .. Eugene.’

            Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      I’ve been speed reading a few academic articles my twitter feed have picked up, and the estimates for its likely transmission rates and peak are so at variance its really impossible to take any predictions at face value. At least one peer reviewed paper has said that it might have peaked already, but this paper made what seem to be very conservative assumptions about its R value. Another reputable paper has predicted that it will not peak until the middle of the year, with at least 6 million infected.

      Michael Pettis on twitter has said that he’s noticed that things have relaxed a little in Beijing, with some people going back to work. It might be that the government is now confident it can be confined to Hubei, and will deal with other localized outbreaks ruthlessly. But as you say, given what we know about the Japan outbreaks, its hard not to believe that its not incubating away in multiple cities all around China and elsewhere. So much depends on ‘unknowns’ like whether it is infectious without symptoms.

      The other huge unknown is repeat infections and heart damage. There are a few researchers saying that it can do serious damage to the heart, and those clips that were circulated on social media of older people apparently dropping dead in the street or in lines might well be victims of hidden damage. But again, there is no way of knowing now.

      I think – and again, referring to Michael Pettis – if the serious crack down lasts until March, then this will undoubtedly lead to a serious contraction – from what I can gather, there is strong political opposition within Beijing to allowing this to happen. But it would certainly be a neat trick if they could keep a nominal growth rate of 6% or so while most businesses are locked up and closed. Not least because its entirely possible many will have lost their orders and so will never open again.

      Reply
      1. Ignacio

        Yep, at some point it is simply nonsensical to keep such measures so, opposition apart, the leadership must have a deadline no matter the number of cases. We can talk about damage to international value chains but internally the impact on formal and informal economics must be much higher.

        Reply
      2. curlydan

        According to data from the WHO situation reports through 2/18, 1 out of 986 people in Hubei province (includes Wuhan) have a confirmed case of corona virus. In the rest of China, 1 out of 109,184 people have a confirmed case of the virus. So I could see why people in Beijing and other provinces may be relaxing a bit. But Wuhan and Hubei are right to be in total lockdown mode.

        https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200218-sitrep-29-covid-19.pdf?sfvrsn=6262de9e_2

        Reply
        1. John k

          But there are stories of companies trying to get back to work, bring back a few hundreds or few thousand workers, and find infected employees. If 1/100,000, such stories should be quite rare.
          And five million left Wuhan, going all over China. Did they track all five mil? Must be pockets everywhere.
          Vent systems on ships are designed to share air, they’re all petri dishes. As are factories and offices.
          China gdp growing at any rate is a laffer, it must be crashing. Companies saying can’t pay workers… of course they can’t, there’s no money coming in, plus many already stressed by trade war.
          Maybe I’m too pessimistic, but I’m suspicious of all Chinese stats… what number is best for the party? Just like us unemployment numbers.

          Reply
        2. MLTPB

          On Jan 23, 2020, Beijing announced lockdown on Wuhan and other cities in Hibei.

          The number of accumulated cases in Wuhan plus the rest of the province was 549 per Wiki Jan Timeline (from Jan 11 to Jan 23), and 61682 today. If you take out the one day when the definition was switched, that still leaves the number at around 50,000, or 100 times more than Jan 23., and the implied rate of 1 over (100×986), or 1 out of 100,000 in Jan 23, the the province was locked down.

          Right now, Beijing has 393 total cases accumulated, with one out of 109,184 infected. By either measure, Bejing or the rest of China today looks similar to Hubei on Jan 23.

          Reply
      3. MLTPB

        If it should become that those harsh measures need to be kept indefinitely, future historians are likely to speak of before 2020, and post 2020.

        Reply
    2. xkeyscored

      quarantine at least 60% of infected people. And those should include the superspreaders.
      I haven’t heard of any way to identify superspreaders, other than finding out after the fact, when they’ve already done at least some superspreading.

      Reply
          1. MLTPB

            When we know how fast it slows down, we can estimate when it will stop spreading.

            For how long it will stay there, not spreading, that is another question.

            Reply
            1. xkeyscored

              We might be able to estimate when it will stop spreading when we know ‘how fast it slows down’ (love the phrasing!), and I’ve seen a few estimates of the former based on estimates of the latter.
              But if those estimates are mainly based on Wuhan, Hubei and China, they could be highly misleading if new centres of spreading infection start popping up around the world. So far the hope has been that warmer weather will slow the spread if not snuff it out for this year. But we don’t know for sure that it can’t thrive in warmer climes, many people – especially the sort who take cruises – live and work in air-con environments if they live in hot countries, and anyway, as it warms in the northern hemisphere, it cools in the southern.
              So it seems to me like it could appear to be slowing, even stopping, then suddenly spring up again somewhere else, maybe several places at once. We’ll see.

              Reply
              1. MLTPB

                There is still the puzzling case of a Japanese couple getting sick after returning from Hawaii.

                Other than that, and before the snafu with Westerdam, I was thinking perhaps people can keep going to mass gatherings, like NBA or college basketball games, but with inflation due to production capacity (for the time being, could be indefitine) destruction.

                In that case, the election will be about WIN ( whip inflation now), and not so much on M4A or student loans (wiped out by inflation?).

                Reply
  15. The Rev Kev

    “Respectable Racism: Only backward savages in Russia have oligarchs. Civilized Americans have “rich guys.” ”

    Well it was former President Jimmy Carter that said back in 2015 that the United States is now an “oligarchy” in which “unlimited political bribery” has created “a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors.” And so what do you need for an oligarchy? Oligarchs! And if it walks like a duck…

    https://theintercept.com/2015/07/30/jimmy-carter-u-s-oligarchy-unlimited-political-bribery/

    Reply
    1. WobblyTelomeres

      “Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. To destroy this invisible government, to befoul the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of today.” – Theodore Roosevelt

      110 years or so ago.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        “We have become great because of the lavish use of our resources. But the time has come to inquire seriously what will happen when our forests are gone, when the coal, the iron, the oil, and the gas are exhausted, when the soils have still further impoverished and washed into the streams, polluting the rivers, denuding the fields and obstructing navigation.”~ Teddy Roosevelt

        Reply
      2. a different chris

        And they did it! Well, except maybe not realizing that the concept of “destroy” simply doesn’t apply in this type of situation. “Beat back” doesn’t have the same ring, admittedly.

        Don’t the RW crazies like to mutter that “The Price For Freedom Is Eternal Vigilance”? — well, they are actually correct in this case.

        Reply
    2. MLTPB

      They are ‘rich guys’ and not oligarchs because even commenters here dont use the latter term much at all.

      I don’t think people here have been coerced to not use it. I also dont believe all those here who use rich guys, or the rich, instead of oligarchs are virtue deficient in any ism.

      Reply
        1. MLTPB

          I haven’t see it used to describe rich Americans here all that often.

          Usually its squillionaires, or billionaires, or the elites or the rich.

          Reply
  16. drb48

    re: Labor’s civil war over ‘Medicare for All’ threatens its 2020 clout

    Floyd declined POLITICO’s request for an interview, but said his opposition to Medicare for All is “based on what is best for our members.”

    i.e. – “We got ours. Fuck everyone else.” Certain to win friends for organized labor.

    Reply
    1. Samuel Conner

      It seems weird, since Sanders’ M4A proposal is IIRC more generous than the union plans, which have been hammered out with input from the contributing corporations, so that M4A would improve the lives of union members.

      But from a union institutional perspective , having a situation in which union-members’ healthcare is better than non-union members’ of similar means could be perceived to be an argument in favor of organizing workplaces that do not yet have a union.

      IOW, in might not be “we got ours and we don’t care about anyone else” so much as “improving and leveling the healthcare field would weaken the incentives people have to join our organization”

      Or, more cynically, the suffering of non-union people is to the benefit of the actors in the institutional hierarchies that run the unions.

      As always, the question ” cui bono? ” can be illuminating.

      Definitely not a good look for the leaders of these groups.

      Reply
      1. xkeyscored

        IOW, in might not be “we got ours and we don’t care about anyone else” so much as “improving and leveling the healthcare field would weaken the incentives people have to join our organization”
        I’m really not sure I can see any significant difference. Union officials would no doubt spout the latter in public, but would it surprise you to hear the former on a hacked phone call or covert recording? Not me, I’m afraid.

        Reply
        1. Samuel Conner

          My thought was that in “what is best for our members”, the “members” in view are not the rank-and-file union members — whose lives unquestionably would be improved by M4A — but the members of the union managerial class, who would lose power if, due to Sanders-style M4A, non-union healthcare was as good as union healthcare.

          Reply
          1. a different chris

            M4A in generally could really be used to “heighten the contradictions”. With M4A, being a Right To Work state suddenly isn’t quite as bad.

            You would think the paleocons would, and some do as we’ve seen from a few NC links, get this.

            Divide and Conquer.

            Reply
      2. inode_buddha

        Sure, decent health care plans are a big draw, but remember, for the working classes, the dollar is the bottom line. Union wages are generally 2x what nonunion wages are for the same job description. At the end of the day, that is the figure that matters most. Anything else on top of that (defined benefit pensions) is just gravy. Source: lived experience.

        Reply
    2. danpaco

      What’s lost in this M4A thing is this. In Canada prescription drugs, dental care, eye exams, some physiotherapy etc.. are not covered. That is where the private insurance industry and unions have the ability to stake their claims.
      I don’t recall ever hearing about supplemental insurance providers in Canada facing financial ruin!

      Reply
      1. mpalomar

        Healthcare in Canada is under assault and pharma, dental care and other vital but non inclusive national health care items provide the insurance companies the wedge or leverage to divide and conquer. It’s an area progressive forces should be way more focused. I know many Canadians are concerned but there is a dangerous level of complacency. I suspect insurance companies require a stake through the heart to put them them out of our misery.

        As I recall the NDP in Ontario offered to include pharma and dental as part of provincial health care and still lost to Ontario’s version of Trump who promised to open Ontario up for business.

        Reply
    3. False Solace

      Sounds like quite a stretch when employers cancel the health insurance of workers when they go on strike. Union officials are just another layer of corrupt elites we have to scrape off.

      Reply
  17. Carolinian

    Last night’s PBS Frontline on Amazon was competently done and worth a look. It can also be viewed via streaming.

    https://stories.frontline.org

    The show is mostly a backgrounder on the history of Amazon and the various controversies. Their interviewer is not exactly Mike Wallace and arguably they are much too gentle on the seamier side of the company. But the Amazon spokespeople provided (not Bezos) don’t make a very convincing case for themselves. And they definitely take a whiff on Bezos’ various failed ideas (i.e. drone delivery) while implying that he is some kind of business genius rather than a beneficiary of market conditions and gaming the system.

    Reply
    1. Phil

      “[H]e is some kind of business genius rather than a beneficiary of market conditions and gaming the system.” These are the same thing.

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        “Behind every great fortune there is a great crime”? Perhaps you are right that he is a business genius–just not an actual genius.

        During the show early days Bezos quotes Edison’s definition of success–one percent inspiration, ninety nine percent perspiration–and that certainly applies to him. His method is to throw it against the wall and see what sticks (that “experimentation” they talk about). Mere workers are an afterthought and Bezos has made no secret of the fact that he’d just as soon replace all of them with robots if he could. Meanwhile government AWS contracts and lax tax laws prop up a retail business model that arguably lacks sustainability. The show makes an apt comparison between Amazon and 19th century railroad barons–also great beneficiaries of government largesse and labor exploitation. Guess we’ll see if home delivery retail lasts as long as the railroads did and still do.

        Reply
        1. False Solace

          Google does a lot of “experimentation” too, mostly ones that fail after 1-3 years. I think the only businesses they and AMZ succeed in tend to be where they have a monopoly or the equivalent in crushingly strong network effects. Which, if antitrust laws were enforced, would be broken up.

          Reply
      2. a different chris

        >These are the same thing.

        Bingo but so few understand that, at least on this side of both Ponds.

        The people who write the hagiographies, aka the “Business Press”, are as good examples as you will find of Sinclair’s “it’s hard to get a man to understand something if…”

        Reply
      3. jrs

        Well no, not having to pay sales tax for years and years is not by most definitions a “market condition”. It is simply gaming the system.

        Reply
  18. allan

    The Hill’s review of John Solomon’s columns on Ukraine [The Hill]

    … Starting in March 2019, Solomon wrote a series of columns on Ukraine, former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, as well as U.S. diplomats in Ukraine. Solomon discussed his columns on television, most notably on Sean Hannity’s opinion show on Fox News. These appearances amplified the reach of Solomon’s work at The Hill. …

    In certain columns, Solomon failed to identify important details about key Ukrainian sources, including the fact that they had been indicted or were under investigation. In other cases, the sources were his own attorneys. …

    Giving new meaning to attorney-client privilege.

    Reply
    1. pjay

      My suggestion is to watch the Ukrainegate video at Consortium News posted in today’s links (it’s the fourth installment; I’d recommend the others as well). Then, let’s discuss which narrative is likely to be more accurate — Solomon’s, or that of the establishment defenders of Biden, Yavonovitch, et al.

      Because someone screwed up and gave Solomon a MSM establishment forum for a while (until The Hill could get rid of him), he had to be “defenestrated”. This was done by claiming that Solomon’s sources were unreliable. But if you read Solomon’s articles (I have), you see that he has many sources for his claims, including MSM stories, other US officials than those named here, a number of more reliable Ukrainian officials, etc. The tactic used by the establishment to undermine Solomon’s reporting was to focus on a few shaky sources, mainly Lutsenko at first, then Parnas and, of course, Giuliani. I’m not defending any of these. But Solomon’s main narrative never relied on these sources alone, or even primarily, as even this article makes clear if you read it carefully. He has written several articles defending himself in recent months that are chock full of — guess what — *sources* for his claims; claims that certainly appear to be factual to me, despite The Hill’s whining that hey, he was just an “opinion” writer for us!

      One could go through this article paragraph by paragraph and point out how it is skewed, and what is left out. But what the f**k good would it do? Facts don’t matter.

      Reply
      1. Procopius

        I wasn’t able to get the video to start on any of the four links. Do they take more than five minutes to load? The player shows the indicator that they’re loading, but never completes. I use the Chrome browser. Do I need to enable Flash on the site?

        Reply
  19. notabanktoadie

    At year+2, 42.4% depleted their entire life’s assets.” But at least they had the consolation, on the way down, of loving their insurance. Lambert

    But their heirs, not so much?

    Reply
  20. Ryan Lougee

    >Reading between the lines in China

    How is this reading between the lines at all? They were completely lying and the author is basically saying that if they admit anything is wrong at all things are much worse than they appear.

    Reply
  21. Chris

    Regarding the discussion people here have been having about political will, Bernie, and Medicare for All (M4A), I had an interesting conversation with a friend the other day. They said that the establishment pushing on Bernie and his supporters so hard, so soon, was a mistake because it was preparing them for a hard fight if he is elected. That the best way to sabotage the reforms that they’re clearly against would be to stay out of it except to make it seem like he’s really not as popular as they think he is and then go all out if he is elected.

    I have to agree that making it such an obvious fight now is the best kind of training for the fight that will happen if Bernie is elected. Perhaps if the political will to pass some of the popular programs that Bernie supports cannot be found in Congress before the election, the people in the streets will make their representatives find it after the election.

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      I suppose to be fair to them, their first strategy was to try to ignore him, they only attacked him when it was clear that this wasn’t working.

      But its a good point that its strategically a bad idea to attack an opponent too early – there comes a point where people stop listening to the attacks or they start to think ‘hey, with enemies like that, maybe he is worth listening to’. People should remember that when complaining about Bernies lack of aggression against his opponents. By simply rebutting those attacks without counterattacking, he is making them look more and more desperate – its a judo move, and its very effective judging by the latest polls. He is making them look like fools – this is much better than making them look corrupt or evil. Its no wonder he has Trump worried.

      Reply
      1. Plenue

        I agree we’re already at that point. The Sanders campaign keeps sending me emails and text messages saying how much they’re being outspent on ads in Nevada; the airwaves are apparently blanketed with attack ads now.

        Yet his numbers, both in Nevada and nationally, keep going up.

        His strategy of mostly not attacking other people, and only on policy when he does, is clearly, well, a strategy. Going back years he’s been criticized as an idiot, a sheepdog, etc. But he’s clearly banking on presenting himself as a genuine, nice person who doesn’t alienate people who don’t support him (a strategy helped immensely by the fact that it also happens to be true). We’re about to see if that was the right approach.

        Reply
        1. Procopius

          I wonder about those people identified as BerniBros who are making nasty attacks. The old proverb, “The first person to recommend violence is a police spy,” seems apt here.

          Reply
    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      The problem is the Team Blue establishment is heavily linked to the Clintons and the resulting patronage jobs. “OMG Russia” served to protect them, but lets be honest, “centrists” have been warning about McGovern for 50 years. HRC and Robbie Mook and friends actually dropped the ball on a slam dunk election.

      M4All isn’t the issue here at the moment for this courtier class. This is about funding for CAP and Neera Tanden. They can’t work together because they are thieves who are all out for the top job. Pete Buttigieg is representative of this change. The people Bill Clinton sold the party are looking for return on investments.

      Can you imagine these people trying to get real jobs? Because of Biden’s campaign foibles in recent days, I have seen quotes from an acquaintance who works on the campaign in print, and all I could think of is how does that guy keep getting hired? He’s genuinely stupid. The answer is patronage, but he wouldn’t cut it in a dynamic work environment that you would find on a Sanders style operation.

      Reply
  22. diptherio

    This seems like it might be important.

    Wang Yi: It Is the US, Rather Than China, Is Threatening Others
    https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/zxxx_662805/t1745348.shtml

    From a commenter on Reddit:

    For the Chinese foreign minister to declare any country as a threat to China, and then for state media to echo the statement is totally without precedent in modern PRC history. I don’t think something like this has happened since the Korea War. Even when fighting against India and Vietnam no such declaration was made, at least not before hostilities.

    Everyone in the diplomatic community is waiting for the other shoe to drop. The other shoe being China’s annual national defense assessment report. If the US is declared a threat in that report as well then it’s official.
    https://old.reddit.com/r/Sino/comments/f679kk/prc_declares_the_us_as_a_threat_to_china_for/fi32fep/

    Anyone who knows the China scene care to comment?

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      It would indeed be a very big deal if this was the case. But I’d be very sceptical – its simply not in China’s interest now to ratchet up confrontation with the US. So far, their strategy has been to play the very long game. Taking such a confrontational stance would mean blowing away a lot of their long term leverage.

      Having said that, there is plenty of speculation that Xi is in internal trouble and may end up having much of his power stripped away – it could be that this is an indication of internal strife, and this could be a sign of either mixed messaging, or a deliberate attempt to use nationalism as a political weapon.

      Reply
    2. MLTPB

      I try to see what practical implications would be.

      Does Beijing require selling all assets and homes in the US?

      And is the dollar’s reserve currency status part of the threat?

      Reply
      1. Procopius

        The dollar’s reserve currency status isn’t under threat as long as people like to use it. Currently it’s still the easiest to exchange and the one most universally accepted in payment. Jamie Galbraith pointed out in The Predator State that the status as reserve currency is one of the causes of the trade deficit — as long as other countries want to use dollars they need us to keep sending them dollars instead of selling them goods, and they will keep undervaluing their own currency to promote that.

        Reply
      1. Toshiro_Mifune

        Does a lich really have health records? Further, are they also going to release Buttigieg’s source code? *

        * Apologies for both jokes.

        Reply
        1. notabanktoadie

          Then what can you say about the brains of those who support a system (our unethical money system) that enables heartless people to steal?

          Reply
          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            My gut is the Team Blue types who wanted Bloomberg to run after seeing Biden! simply went through this process:

            -kids love Bernie Sanders
            -what does Bernie Sanders have?
            -Bernie Sanders is old, Jewish, and a former mayor
            -we’ll get our own old, Jewish, former mayor, but way richer.
            -Now, the kids will love capitalism.

            Reply
  23. ChrisAtRU

    Here’s a good one for #2020:

    Bloomberg camp’s “dire” warning: Sanders soon unstoppable

    #MoneyQuote

    “In a “State of the Race” memo to Bloomberg gurus Sheekey and Howard Wolfson, senior adviser Mitch Stewart and states director Dan Kanninen argue:

    If Biden, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar remain in the race despite having no path to appreciably collecting delegates on Super Tuesday (and beyond), they will propel Sanders to a seemingly insurmountable delegate lead by siphoning votes away from [Bloomberg].”

    Needless to say, Twitter’s #BadJohnBrown nails it with this.

    Reply
    1. Samuel Conner

      MB can surely offer these competing candidates sufficient funds to induce them to withdraw. The tax on large gifts is high, but not high enough to deter someone with such large means, and that law can be changed in 2021, anyway.

      Reply
      1. John k

        That they’re complaining indicates they haven’t yet been able to buy the others off. Hope springs eternal? Price too high even for Bloomberg?
        I posted earlier that Bloomberg might offer Pete big bucks, say a book deal, plus veep… granted he can only promise veep to one person… well, one non gullible person…
        I sure hope the neolib mob stay in at least thru March 3. Unstoppable Bernie has a nice ring to it.

        Reply
        1. ChrisAtRU

          Ding! Ding! Ding!

          This is suggestive of the potential limits of the relationship between kleptocrats and their plutocrat minders. At what point do kleptocrat politicians realize that billionaires who can elect themselves by buying elections are a form of cutting out the middle man, where the politicians are the middle man? Look at how Bloomberg’s campaign has sucked up most of the human resources available for politicking. That self-preservation instinct better kick in for establishment democrats. The writing is on their wall … if Bloombergs succeeds in getting any one of them to drop out.

          Reply
  24. Grant

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/18/fix-primaries-let-elites-decide/

    “It’s time to give the elites a bigger say in choosing the president”

    An infuriating article.

    1. Our country is crumbling because elites have been controlling the system. Trump did not emerge from the void, he emerged from a context the elites created.

    2. These elites are not unbiased beings that just call balls and strikes. They are impacted by policies, they benefit from some policies and are harmed by others. What benefits them harms most working people and vise versa.

    3. Not only do studies show that there is a large and growing gap between what people want on policy versus what the state does, but long-term macroeconomic trends show that things have been getting progressively worse for most of the country. Decades of stagnating wages, massive inequality, crumbling infrastructure, widespread corruption and an environmental crisis that the elites are not serious about.

    4. No analysis of long-term trends, structural issues or whether those elites offer policies that will solve our societal issues.

    5. The article has big picture of which candidate? Sociopath Pete. Telling. That is who she has in mind, who the elites should be able to essentially force on people.

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      My second favorite quote(Lambert had my first one in watercooler, yesterday):
      ” Fortunately for us, there have been traitors and there have been heretics, blasphemers, thinkers, investigators, lovers of liberty, men of genius who have given their lives to better the condition of their fellow-men.
      It may be well enough here to ask the question: What is greatness?
      A great man adds to the sum of knowledge, extends the horizon of thought, releases souls from the Bastile of fear, crosses unknown and mysterious seas, gives new islands and new continents to the domain of thought, new constellations to the firmament of mind. A great man does not seek applause or place; he seeks for truth; he seeks the road to happiness, and what he ascertains he gives to others.
      A great man throws pearls* before swine, and the swine are sometimes changed to men. If the great had always kept their pearls, vast multitudes would be barbarians now.
      A great man is a torch in the darkness, a beacon in superstition’s night, an inspiration and a prophecy.
      Greatness is not the gift of majorities; it cannot be thrust upon any man; men cannot give it to another; they can give place and power, but not greatness.
      The place does not make the man, nor the sceptre the king. Greatness is from within.
      The great men are the heroes who have freed the bodies of men; they are the philosophers and thinkers who have given liberty to the soul; they are the poets who have transfigured the common and filled the lives of many millions with love and song.
      They are the artists who have covered the bare walls of weary life with the triumphs of genius.
      They are the heroes who have slain the monsters of ignorance and fear, who have outgazed the Gorgon and driven the cruel gods from their thrones.
      They are the inventors, the discoverers, the great mechanics, the kings of the useful who have civilized this world.”
      -Robert Ingersoll

      *–Medicare For All

      Reply
    2. jrs

      I for one welcome Jeff Bezos choosing our President. No more of these elections we can’t seem to run legitimately anyway, no more Iowas, just go before Bezos, and ask: “who shall be our President now?” And Bezo’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

      Reply
      1. Dan

        And if you’re a Prime member, you qualify for next-day anointment of your new president, in addition to all the other Prime benefits you already receive.

        Love Prime movies? You’ll love Prime President even more!

        Reply
    3. Shonde

      “With Iowa in mind, should voters have this much say in who gets the party nomination?
      Maybe it’s time to bring back the smoke-filled room (smoke-free, of course).”

      That was the headline of a Mpls StarTribune opinion piece lifted from the Chicago Tribune way back on February 6th. Makes me wonder how many opinion pieces essentially saying let the super delegates decide are out there. Anybody else feel we are being set up for a 1968 style candidate selection in Milwaukee?

      http://www.startribune.com/with-iowa-in-mind-should-voters-have-this-much-say-in-who-gets-the-party-nomination/567634582/

      Reply
      1. jrs

        Of course it was not the voters (or caucus attendees) who screwed up Iowa. It was the elites, their fingerprints are all over. So the elites are at least incompetent, for their incompetence they blame the masses, then they demand more power for the elites to deal with the problem. Rinse and repeat.

        Reply
    4. Michael

      I wrote an utterly disgusting op-ed in the high school paper that suggested military school for 90% of the students and something more intellectually rigorous for the remaining students.

      I should have stuck with it. I would likely have a daily column in the Post and would probably be a talking head of some import.

      Reply
  25. antidlc

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/bloomberg-bankrolls-a-social-media-army-to-push-message-11582127768

    Bloomberg Bankrolls a Social-Media Army to Push Message
    Campaign is hiring workers for $2,500 per month to promote Bloomberg to all their contacts

    Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaign is hiring hundreds of workers in California to post regularly on their personal social-media accounts in support of the candidate and send text messages to their friends about him.

    The effort, which could cost millions of dollars, is launching ahead of California’s March 3 primary and could later be deployed nationwide, according to people familiar with the matter and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. It is one of the most unorthodox yet by the heavy-spending billionaire…

    Reply
      1. antidlc

        I was wondering…

        Are they going to hire people to monitor the social media accounts of those who take the money?

        And do you then hire monitors for the monitors?

        Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite ’em,
          And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum.
          And the great fleas themselves, in turn, have greater fleas to go on;
          While these again have greater still, and greater still, and so on.

          Reply
      2. jrs

        I’m all for stealing from the super rich (taking their money dishonestly to enrich oneself) but there is a point where ANY publicity becomes good publicity.

        Witness Trump, sure the publicity he got was often for saying horrible things and just generally being a horrible human being. But still he got publicity, overwhelming amounts. And there he is IN THE WHITE HOUSE. You want to do that for Bloomberg? Get him elected just due to sheer quantity of publicity? And there are a lot of people in this country who apparently like horrible people (witness Trump’s approval rating), so pointing out how horrible they are only leads to “right on! he’s my kind of jerk! That Bloomy is a real @hole, I can’t wait to vote for him!”

        Reply
  26. antidlc

    “They’re not even pretending anymore. When you are literally giving a candidate’s money manager a television platform to attack his client’s opponent, it’s not an accident — there is a very deliberate intent at work.”

    https://twitter.com/davidsirota/status/1230176093501452288

    MSNBC has
    @SteveRattner
    on to attack Bernie

    Rattner’s website: “Steve Rattner is the Chairman and CEO of Willett Advisors LLC, which invests former NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s personal and philanthropic assets” https://stevenrattner.com/bio/

    Think about that.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      My suspicion is despite Eric Holder’s claim that prosecuting crimes is hard the actual effort needed to round up much of the country’s billionaire’s and fortune five hundred ceos might not be that much without violating any constitutional protections. Chris Matthews fears might not be too off base, not that there would be executions, but I could see whole neighborhoods becoming ghost towns.

      Hell, some of Trump’s pardons were announcements that any criminal could be saved if they just come home to the GOP.

      Reply
  27. Wukchumni

    This is fairly atypical of the sort of political candidates we get in the CVBB, sadly. They tend to make Devin y Kevin seem like perfectly normal people.

    According to public records Mr. Maaske has two DUIs, has been married five times, had a temporary restraining order (TRO), had his driver’s license revoked, spent 30 days in jail, has been sued multiple times for fraud, been pursued multiple times by collection agencies, has been sued and has sued multiple times in small claims court, and has had to pay multiple fines.

    He is currently practicing with a restricted real estate license and is being investigated by the Fair Political Practices Committee (FPPC.)

    https://www.ourvalleyvoice.com/2020/02/05/political-fix-6-february-2020/

    Reply
  28. Wukchumni

    Ransomware Shuts Gas Compressor for 2 Days in Latest Attack Bloomberg
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I don’t want to be casting aspersions, but betcha the Persians are ‘cold calling’ a little revenge served old.

    Reply
  29. xkeyscored

    Apropos of nothing, but several readers seem to love the redwoods:
    “Sprouting seeds and spreading spores grow alongside words in this delightful animated and illustrated poem evoking the redwood forests of Northern California.”
    https://emergencemagazine.org/story/forest/
    [It looks a bit weird at first, you have to scroll.]

    Reply
  30. Kurt Sperry

    The Bloomberg analysts’ breakdown of the state of the primary is a must read. Things are getting dangerously close to a Sanders nomination and the DNC lifer apparatchik and donor classes have to be in a state of absolute apoplectic panic. Being cocooned in unassailable privilege for so long, they aren’t too bright or capable, even at the best of times. For the most part they’ve never been in a real, non-kayfabe fight before. This could get ugly.

    Reply
  31. Shonde

    http://www.startribune.com/minnesota-pastor-leads-campaign-to-try-to-shift-evangelical-vote/568007902/?refresh=true

    “Pagitt’s campaign hopes to convince wavering evangelicals that the presidents’s character and actions are so out of sync with Jesus’ teachings that it’s a moral imperative to remove him from office.”

    How do we convince this guy to say the same thing about Mayor Mike. I truly believe Bloomberg and Trump are two of a kind.

    Nice to know at least one evangelical pastor has read the teachings of Jesus and has come to the right conclusion.

    Reply
    1. notabanktoadie

      Nice to know at least one evangelical pastor has read the teachings of Jesus and has come to the right conclusion. Shonde

      Now if evangelicals would only take the Old Testament seriously wrt social justice since 2 Timothy 3:16

      Reply
  32. Daryl

    Voted for Bernie in a very red part of Texas. He was #5 on the ballot (as on the sample ballot), I detected no chicanery other than the use of electronic voting machines which has been going on here as long as I’ve been voting.

    I also received an invite to the Democratic county convention. Have half a mind to go there and just vote against whatever they’re selling, but I probably won’t bother.

    Reply
  33. Oregoncharles

    “Former inmates start forestry company after working as firefighters in prison ABC”
    Heartwarming. As I wrote before, inmates consider firefighting a plum job, if only because it gets them out in the woods and doing some good in the world. We’ve also encountered a convict crew doing trail maintenance. They were pretty cheerful.

    Reply
  34. Oregoncharles

    From “Privatizing Sovereignty, Socializing Property:”:
    “From where, then, does the board’s authority come? From the charter, which comes from the state.”

    Corporations are creatures of the state, existing entirely by virtue of the law. This is not true of partnerships (essentially an arrangement among friends) or families; they pre-exist the law.

    This is one reason anarchists are anti-corporate – though it’s possible to imagine a corporate anarchy, as in “Stone Canal,” by McLeod. Bit of a dystopia, though. Long run, the corporate form and limited liability are a root problem; a disaster for most of us.

    And yes, of course, those who benefit would be very upset if it went away. In the US, that would require at least a constitutional amendment and probably a revolution, as the Constitution protects contracts unless they were illegal when made; possibly its most reactionary provision – though it’s worth saying that the contracts, unlike the corporations, are or can be personal property.

    Reply
  35. mpalomar

    Thanks for the Jacobin article on Greece and Syriza. Is it the left’s fate to forever be parsing defeat with erudition and endless theoretical skirmishes after waging quixotic and hopeless tilting with TPTB, in this case EU windmills, (ah but I might as well try and catch the wind).

    One wonders if the UKs exit from the EU is going to result in less or more pain than Greece’s capitulation to the troika, “The IMF thought the Greek economy would contract by just 5.5% as a result of the troika’s policies, when in fact it contracted by 17%. Greece’s national income fell by 28%, the Greek banking system lost 30% of its deposits, and the economy was plunged into a recession with exceptionally high unemployment. It is estimated that 1 in 6 Greeks went hungry.”

    So what lessons learned from such a thorough trouncing? Was Syriza set up to take the hit for a European banking crisis? Varoufakis I believe has concluded reform likely must be at the EU level. The resources of the neoliberal establishment seem to forever give them the upper hand. If they run into popular resistance at one level of power they can always shift the confrontation to another more controllable level.

    Reply
    1. neighbor7

      Keep an eye out for the recent Costa-Gavras film, “Adults in the Room,” about the EU manipulation of Varoufakis. Mixed reviews, and it’s largely a talking heads movie, though I thought fascinating and very skillfully done. Played at Cannes (and one showing in L.A.) but I don’t think it’s been picked up for release yet.

      Reply
  36. Jeremy Grimm

    I found the following message scratched onto a piece of lost notebook paper on the ground near the tree where a murder of crows meets each morning and sunset:

    On behalf of all crows, ravens, and their kin — We strongly object to COVID-19 as the name for this new flu virus! COVID-19 is just an ‘R’ short of besmirching our good name.

    Reply
  37. polecat

    It’ an easy mistake to make, just that one letter. When the WHo made that pc name change, I read it as Corvid and thought the same .. before realizing my error.

    “CAWCAW!”

    Reply

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