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While the West sleeps, Putin wows at Valdai...

I find it utterly remarkable, no, incredulous, the western media, in its continued demonazation of Putin, had almost nothing to say about Putin's speech at Valdai. It may well prove to be his best speech ever and go down in history (no joke) as the most important speech yet of the 21st century. Yes, it was that good. And important.

The video is here, it’s just over 3 hours long. I strongly recommend “you” view it. If not all of it, at least Putin's part at the beginning. Read below the fold...

ObamaCare Clusterfuck: Obama destroys public support for universal coverage

NEJM:

Over the past decade, there has been a cultural shift in Americans' attitudes about the principle of universal health care coverage, one of the main rationales for the ACA. In 2007, during the presidential primary season, public support for the view that the federal government has a responsibility to make sure all Americans have health insurance coverage was at 64% (Gallup, 2007). By 2014, this number had declined to 47% (Pew, January–February 2014). In addition, there has been a decline in overall public trust in the federal government to handle domestic problems such as health care from 51% in 2012 to 40% in 2014, which may also play a role in depressing public support for the ACA (Gallup, September 2014).

Now, to be fair, NEJM goes on to attribute this drop to paid advertising by ObamaCare opponents: Read below the fold...

But the Democrats are incompetent, too!

Check out this fund-raising letter from Debbie Wasserman Schultz:

Read below the fold...

In the garden: The wood arrives

Well, next to the garden, in the driveway.

Two cords, one "wilted" -- cut down with the leaves on it, meaning respiration sucks moisture out of the tree. Could be, given that some of the wood is pretty light. (It's not only inefficient to burn wet wood, it causes creasote to build up in the chimney.)

The wood covered with my beautiful canvas painter's dropclothes (also useful for shielding plants from frost) against the rain. Read below the fold...

Light Reading: "Profiting without Production: How Finance Exploits Us All"

After I explain wages, I must (as Okanagen pointed out) explain rent; indeed, unlike industrial times, rent may be more important to the political economy than profit. So I got a very dense neo-Marxist tome, by Costas Lapavitsas: Profiting without Production: How Finance Exploits Us All. Nobody better than the Marxists for following the flow of capital in specific places and times; and I'm hoping that a proper data structure using intersectionality, and a binocular vision with the other lens being slavery (human rental; human sale) will prevent me from being reductionist. Here is a great heavy slab of prose, but read it and see how true to life it rings:

Three underlying tendencies characterize financialization.... First, although monopolization remains a charactertistic feature of mature contemporary economies in terms of both trade and foreign direct investments, monopoly capitals have become "financialized." Large multinational corporations are typically able to finance the bulk of their investment without relying heavily on banks, and mostly by drawing on retained profits. Insofar as they require external finance they are able to obtain significant volumes in open financial markets, relatively indpendently of banks. Even the wage bill of large non-financial corporations is frequently financed through the issuing of commercial paper in open markets. Successive waves of takeovers, furthermore, have led to corporations becoming heavily involved in bond and equity trading in stock markets, thus developing skills in independent financial operations and trading.

Seems clear enough so far. I mean, conventional wisdom, almost, right? We think of GM before the bailouts, where the only profitable arm was GM Finance. Read below the fold...

2014 Election & Plutocratic Psychopathy

Thread: 

Barry Grey and Patrick Martin in “The US elections and the American plutocracy” declare that the Democratic and Republican parties agree on austerity, government spying, tax breaks for the rich and war.

Hunger, homelessness, joblessness, Detroit’s bankruptcy are not worth seriously addressing by either of them in this election cycle. Read below the fold...

Ferguson learns from Hong Kong

Common Household Remedies Request

Gaah.... Not so much a request for technical help, but for good thoughts. The boiler has been especially cranky this year, and I have a terrible feeling its on its last legs, or feet, or appendages, or fundament, or whatever boilers have. Read below the fold...

Light Reading: "Spectres of the Atlantic"

Since Empire of Necessity came up on the charts, the idea that slavery -- although in opposition to wage labor as a social relation -- was nonetheless essential to the formation of what we know as capitalism and moreover, thrives today, not merely metaphorically, as debt slavery, but actually, in the soccer stadiums of Dubai, the shrimp boats of Thailand, and indentured servitude Silicon Valley. So, Spectre of The Atlantic, by Ian Baucom. Read below the fold...

Light reading: "Empires Without Imperialism"

Since I am temporarily in funds, I decided to buy some books, and when I get into bookbuying mode, I always buy too many; I can't just sit down and read a whole book anymore; maybe I should restructure my time so I can do that again; perhaps if I pretended I had a long commute again. When I was a courier, picking up advertising checks for a weekly, just coming up, I took public transportation around Boston, and I read several long novels on the trains and buses: Dickens, Zola, Balzac, James. Heavy books. I used the checks as bookmarks.

Anyhow, the first book I bought was Empire Without Imperialism (good luck with that) by Jeanne Morefield. Here she describes the theme of the work in the Introduction. After Staff Sergeant Robert Bales whacked a sixteen Afghani civilians, including nine kids:

President Obama responded to these events ... by claiming "It's not who we are as a country." His words prefigured and echoed almost exactly those of Hillary Clinton, Leon Panetta, and General John Allen, all of whom rendered some version of the same sentiment: This is just not who we are.

Except it is, isn't it? Read below the fold...

In the garden: The fisheye

I'm trying to like the fish-eye, but I dunno....

Not so fishy close up, where I'm sorta faking a wide angle. Read below the fold...

Richard Wolff: How class works

letsgetitdone's picture

Cantor Repeats the Same Old Nonsense: Shows He Hasn't Learned A Thing From Defeat

Eric Cantor weighed in today at Quora on the balanced budget Amendment. This is what he said:

Once created, government programs build constituencies of special interests determined to keep the money flowing, whether or not the particular program is effective. There have been many times when the House has placed wasteful and duplicative programs on the chopping block, only to see pressure from the spending lobby win the day in the Senate.

Near-term spending cuts are necessary to alter the course, but they will not be enough without long-term changes. Likewise, promises of cuts 10 years from now mean little without a way to enforce them. The only way to truly guarantee delivery from future elected officials is for the Constitution to demand it.

To that end, the House has scheduled a vote on a balanced budget amendment that would require supermajorities in both chambers to run a deficit, raise the debt ceiling, raise taxes and spend more than 18% of the GDP. With the balanced budget movement gaining momentum, members of the spending lobby want to argue that Congress and the President already have the ability to control spending. Ability and discipline are not the same. If Washington actually had the discipline to live within its means over the long-term, every American citizen would not owe $46,000 toward the national debt.

In my view, the importance of these upcoming votes cannot be overstated. The adoption of a Balanced Budget Amendment would make reckless borrowing a thing of the past, and will ensure that our children enjoy futures full of opportunity.

Democrats and Republicans should join together to do the right thing, pass this amendment, and make a real difference for the future of our country.

Read below the fold...

ObamaCare Clusterfuck: Marketplace "consumers" denied the information they need to shop

The Times:

With health insurance marketplaces about to open for 2015 enrollment, the Obama administration has told insurance companies that it will delay requirements for them to disclose data on (1) the number of people enrolled, (2) the number of claims denied and (3) the costs to consumers for specific services.

For months, insurers have been asking the administration if they had to comply with two sections of the Affordable Care Act that require “transparency in coverage.”

In a bulletin sent to insurers last week, the administration said, “We do not intend to enforce the transparency requirements until we provide further guidance.” Administration officials said the government and insurers needed more time to collect and analyze the data.

The mind boggles, doesn't it? Remember, the whole (flawed) rationale for ObamaCare (assuming good faith) was that consumers, by shopping in the marketplace, would bring costs down by forcing competition on insurers[1]. Suppose -- bear with me, here -- I were ordering health insurance from Amazon.com; not so far fetched when you remember Obama compared using the marketplaces to buying a flat screen TV at Best Buy. At Amazon, you'd see (1) how many people bought the product ("the number of people enrolled"), (2) whether the shipper actually delivered on the product ("number of claims denied"), and (3) how much the product costs ("the costs to consumers for specific services"). On this last, yes, I know services are supposed to be covered by the policy, but with narrow networks and formularies, along with high deductibles and co-pays, it's hard to know. For example, I'd want to make damned sure, with a high-priced procedure, that the service provider was in network. Price breakouts would help with that.)

So, Obama wants you to be a smart shopper; he just doesn't want to give you the information that would make you smart (again, assuming the idea that shopping makes you a better consumer of health care works, which it doesn't). That's some catch. Read below the fold...

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