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Category: General

EpiPen Gougers Dissemble To Congress

[ 15 ] September 28, 2016 |

Epipen

This is…less than surprising:

Mylan NV on Monday clarified the profit it said it made from its lifesaving EpiPen drug, days after House members badgered the company’s CEO to justify the device’s steep price increases.

Testifying before a congressional committee last week, CEO Heather Bresch said Mylan’s profit was $100 for a two-pack of the injectors, despite a $608 list price.

But in response to questions from The Wall Street Journal, Mylan said Monday that the profit figure presented by Ms. Bresch included taxes, which the company didn’t clearly convey to Congress. The company substantially reduced its calculation of EpiPen profits by applying the statutory U.S. corporate tax rate of 37.5%—five times Mylan’s overall tax rate last year.

Without the tax-related reduction, Mylan’s profits on the EpiPen two-pack were about 60% higher than the figure given to Congress, or $166, it said in a new regulatory filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission Monday. The company said it expects to sell about 4 million EpiPen two-packs in the U.S. this year.

It’s Donald Trump’s America — we just live in it.

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The Ballad of OLDMAN CAT versus the CANDIED INSECTS

[ 2 ] September 28, 2016 |

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Part One

1. I take a nice long bubble bath in an apartment empty but for me and the OLDMEN CATS

2. I sleep for eight hours alone but for me and the OLDMEN CATS

3. I awake to find half my house covered in tiny black insects carrying eggs that are neither ants nor fleas nor anything else about which the Internet knows

4. This place is weird

5. And hopefully they disappear as quickly and magically as they appeared

UPDATE: There were half as many invading insects early this morning and about a third of half by noon, so if my math’s correct they should all have un-infested my house by day’s end

Part Two

OLDMAN CAT: WANT CANDY DAMN IT

SEK: No, you don’t.

OLDMAN CAT: WANT CANDY DAMN IT

SEK: Repetition isn’t argument.

OLDMAN CAT: WANT CANDY DAMN IT

SEK: I’ll bite. What’s candy?

OLDMAN CAT: WANT CANDY DAMN IT

SEK: What KIND of candy?

OLDMAN CAT: CANDIED CEILING FANS GEOCITIES RECENTLY DRIED PAINT TURKEY

SEK: I could have sworn I was awake.

OLDMAN CAT: WANT CANDY DAMN IT

SEK: Or maybe you’re just weird.

OLDMAN CAT: CANDIED HERRING PIE SOLAR POWER SEAT RAIL THOSE INSECTS ALL OVER ALL THE WALLS

SEK: Definitely asleep — wait, what insects all over all the walls?

OLDMAN CAT: CANDIED ONES DAMN IT

SEK: Have I lost my mind, am I still asleep, or are you saying you want actual insects made of actual candy?

OLDMAN CAT: WANT CANDY DAMN IT

ALL LINKS RESOLVE AT MY FACEBOOK PAGE OR OLDMEN CATS’

At least it’s an ethos

[ 55 ] September 27, 2016 |
The Boar or pig, A New Complete, and Universal Body, or system of Natural History, 1785, From The Library at The Mariners’ Museum. - NOAA

The Boar or pig, A New Complete, and Universal Body, or system of Natural History, 1785, From The Library at The Mariners’ Museum. – NOAA

Picking up on part of the excerpt in Lemieux’s latest breaking news: In order to understand why Donald Trump continues to say disgusting things, start with the premise that he isn’t talking to you. Unless you already agree with Donald Trump.

What’s remarkable about the Fox and Friends exchange, other than its cruelty, is that Trump brought up the Miss Universe moment unprompted. It was a moment during the debate that looked bad for Trump, and he had to have known that.

But Trump couldn’t help himself. Much like when he kept attacking the family of a fallen Muslim-American soldier who criticized him at the Democratic National Convention, Trump couldn’t help trying to reassert his dominance after being publicly called out for saying something shameful. And he just didn’t seem to understand how cruel and offensive his comments would sound to most people.

To the idea that Trump knew or could know that launching yet another sexist attack on a woman looked bad for him: It is (unintentionally) the opposite of true, so no.

He made sexist comments about Megyn Kelly and Carly Fiorina and is now the Republican’s nominee for president. There’s no reason for him to think anyone who matters will care because he attacked a Venezuelan-born woman. I’m sure it looked great to the economically insecure rotten people who voted for him.

Who does (and does not) matter to the Great Trumpkin also explains why he didn’t seem to understand why his remarks about the Khans would sound cruel and offensive. Because he did understand he was being offensive. And he understood that the people who matter to him (mainly Donald Trump, but his supporters as well) approve of the cruelty and offensiveness. That’s what they want from him.

At last, a leader who embraces Piss Off the Liberals as a political and personal philosophy!

Trade, Trump, and the Debate

[ 330 ] September 27, 2016 |

512045-ford-closure

Overall, Hillary Clinton embarrassed Donald Trump last night. But let’s not kid ourselves, Trump absolutely crushed her on trade in the early part of the debate. I found it highly disturbing to realize that if I didn’t know that Trump didn’t actually care about this issue and certainly doesn’t care about the workers of the world, I would find myself agreeing with him. NAFTA is indeed the worst trade deal in history. It was a complete disaster for the working class of the United States and it was a complete disaster for the working class of Mexico.

Trump also did a great job of connecting recent issues of capital mobility to his statements. The Carrier closure became a national issue because the announcement was filmed. And then the recent announcement of Ford that it was closing its unionized American factories that make its small cars like the Focus (guess I will be buying a different car next time I am on the market) and moving them to Mexico is basically Ford giving Trump the biggest possible assist it could. If all the jobs are moving overseas, why wouldn’t the white working class vote for Trump? What good reason do they have for not doing so? I know why the black and Latino working class won’t–because of the racism of the Trump campaign. But if you have no hope except for being white, why not vote for your racial dominance? That’s what Trump offers.

Now don’t get me wrong. I know very well that Donald Trump does not care about this issue. He will do nothing to solve this problem. If he has an allegiance, it’s to his business interests and to the business interests of other capitalists. He will do nothing to hurt them. And of course I know all the other ways that Hillary Clinton is actually better for the working class than Trump. But you can’t expect the average low-information voter to know that. And certainly Hillary Clinton can’t expect them to know that.

But Trump’s lies are not really the point. The point is that he has one great issue upon which he may well be elected. Hillary Clinton has no good answer because she ultimately is a supporter of free trade and has not really thought through the real hardships that the working-class faces when they lose their jobs because of capital mobility. The other point is that American policymakers have failed and continue to completely fail to take capital mobility and working-class unemployment seriously. From the beginning of the modern era of capital mobility in 1965, both Republican and Democratic policymakers have largely supported widescale corporate flight overseas in the name of profits. But they have never had good ideas for what those workers are going to do. They might give cheap bromides about education. They might vote to fund retraining programs for jobs that if they exist at all will pay far lower than the union jobs the workers lost. They talk dreamily about the creative economy and disruption creating new jobs. But new jobs for who? At what price? With what power for workers?

We are seeing this all over again in the mania for driverless vehicles. Let’s be very clear–the driverless vehicle fad may have some safety benefits. But it exists for precisely one reason: so that companies can profit on not employing truck drivers or taxi drivers. If driverless vehicles really become a real thing, 3.5 million truck drivers are going to lose their jobs. Overall, there is 8.7 million people employed by the trucking industry. The Obama administration is already creating a regulatory framework to ease these driverless vehicles on the road. But it, like all the administrations before it, have absolutely no answer or even any real beginnings of a vague plan on what those 3.5 million workers (if not closer to 8.7 million) are going to do.

That’s a gigantic policy failure on the part of every president from Johnson to Obama. It won’t get any better under either Clinton or Trump. Those who claim that ultimately this capital mobility and automation and disruption is a good thing have to live in the country this creates. That country may well vote Donald Trump into the Oval Office. Not taking unemployment and working-class despair in the face of millions and millions of lost union or otherwise high-paying jobs is part of the reason why. And if we don’t figure out how to fix it, with very real, concrete plans for these workers, no matter their color or political leanings, the political instability we are seeing in 2016 will continue and deepen, no matter who wins in November.

BREAKING! Donald Trump Is An Asshole Who Hates Women

[ 318 ] September 27, 2016 |

Here’s an exchange from last night’s debate:

CLINTON: You know, he tried to switch from looks to stamina. But this is a man who has called women pigs, slobs and dogs, and someone who has said pregnancy is an inconvenience to employers, who has said…

TRUMP: I never said that.

Let’s pause briefly here to note that he did.

CLINTON: …. women don’t deserve equal pay unless they do as good a job as men.

TRUMP: I didn’t say that.

CLINTON: And one of the worst things he said was about a woman in a beauty contest. He loves beauty contests, supporting them and hanging around them. And he called this woman “Miss Piggy.” Then he called her “Miss Housekeeping,” because she was Latina. Donald, she has a name.

TRUMP: Where did you find this? Where did you find this?

CLINTON: Her name is Alicia Machado.

TRUMP: Where did you find this?

CLINTON: And she has become a U.S. citizen, and you can bet…

TRUMP: Oh, really? CLINTON: … she’s going to vote this November.

Note that when Trump was accused of calling a Latina woman “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping” he didn’t deny he said it, although he spent much of the rest of the evening interrupting Clinton to deny saying things that he has said. Even Trump, if not capable of shame, is capable of recognizing that some of the idiotic stuff he spews is politically damaging, but he was proud of this one. So it’s not surprising that he would reiterate his characterizations sua sponte:

On Fox and Friends Tuesday morning, Trump brought up that moment again — and doubled down on fat-shaming Machado.

“That person was a Miss Universe person, and she was the worst we ever had, the worst, the absolute worst” Trump said. “She was the winner and, you know, she gained a massive amount of weight, and it was a real problem.”

Trump added that Clinton “went back into the years and she found this girl … and talked about her like she was Mother Teresa, and it wasn’t quite that way, but that’s okay.”

What’s remarkable about the Fox and Friends exchange, other than its cruelty, is that Trump brought up the Miss Universe moment unprompted. It was a moment during the debate that looked bad for Trump, and he had to have known that.

But Trump couldn’t help himself. Much like when he kept attacking the family of a fallen Muslim-American soldier who criticized him at the Democratic National Convention, Trump couldn’t help trying to reassert his dominance after being publicly called out for saying something shameful. And he just didn’t seem to understand how cruel and offensive his comments would sound to most people.

[…]

According to Machado, not only did Trump call her “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping” — he publicly humiliated her for gaining weight after the pageant by inviting reporters to watch her work out at the gym. Machado also said Trump refused to pay her what she was owed for the commercials and promotional work she did after the pageant.

After that ordeal, Machado said she struggled for five years with anorexia and bulimia.

Note as well Trump stiffed Machado financially, another one of his common practices Clinton pointed out and Trump didn’t deny.

One of Clinton’s necessary tasks last night was to throw Trump’s grotesque sexism into sharp relief, and did she ever.

I enjoy being a girl!

[ 227 ] September 27, 2016 |

davidfrump-160926

To review, The World’s Rules for Women are:

1. If a woman is doing anything, she is doing it wrong.
1a. If a woman and a man are engaged in the same activity, the man’s efforts must be viewed in a positive light.
2. It is the right and duty of every man to correct any woman who is doing anything.
3. Don’t frown like that dear, you’ll get lines.

This Day in Labor History: September 27, 2002

[ 21 ] September 27, 2016 |

ilwuprotestinglockout_2002

On September 27, 2002, 29 ports on the West Coast closed when the Pacific Maritime Association, a industry group of shippers, decided to lock out their workers affiliated with the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union (ILWU). The lockout, which halted the United States’ international trade continued for 11 days until President George W. Bush invokes the Taft-Hartley Act to end the lockout and call for a cooling down period. This struggle eventually led to a major victory for the ILWU.

The ILWU had been a thorn in the side of west coast shippers for decades. Once led by the radical Harry Bridges, the ILWU slowly lost its aggressive edge as Bridges aged, but it remained a strong and independent union. After a bitter strike in 1971, the ILWU and the shippers had fairly decent relations for three decades. But in 2002, employers decided to push the union hard to take back much of what they had given away. Employers wanted to introduce new technology that would track the goods as they moved. The union opposed this because it would automate out of work many of its members. The PMA wanted to severely cut back on medical benefits for employees. The ILWU rejected that entirely and wanted higher wages as well. As 2002 wound on, short contract extensions kept negotiations going but on September 27, the employers decided to shut down the ports, putting over 10,000 workers out of a job.

The PMA claimed that they had no choice because ILWU members had engaged in a work-to-rule slowdown that was costing employers profits. Work-to-rule is when employees follow rules to the precise letter of the law and nothing more. In this case, the PMA accused the union of not breaking dock speed limits and following the safety rules. The horror! The ILWU denied it and said the PMA wanted to divert attention away from its refusal to negotiate. While a couple of employers bucked the lockout and made agreements with the ILWU, the vast majority of west coast trade ended.

George W. Bush was no friend to organized labor, that is for sure. Neither were American corporations. But this was different. The lockout had the potential to shut down the rest of the economy in a way that perhaps no labor dispute had since at least the PATCO strike in 1981 and probably the 1959 steel strike. The shipping industry’s intransigence threatened the rest of American business and while they may have shared a mutual disdain for organized labor, it wasn’t enough to allow their own businesses to lose money. That businesses were preparing for the holiday season made this an even greater threat. Even with the short period of the lockout, the joint Toyota-GM NUMMI plant in Fremont, California closed, briefly laying off 5000 workers.

So the rest of American business urged Bush to use Taft-Hartley to bring the companies to heel, not the unions. No president had tried to use the Taft-Hartley Act to end the dispute and force an 80-day return to work since Jimmy Carter in 1978 and even then the courts refused the necessary injunction. The last time a president had successfully invoked it was the 1971 ILWU strike. But Bush fell in line with the rest of the business community. He issued the order and the courts granted the injunction. Said Tracy Mullin, president of the National Retail Federation, “Taft-Hartley is not the best option, but it appears to be the only option at this point.” In addition, it seems clear in hindsight that with the Bush administration preparing to invade Iraq, it viewed this labor dispute as a highly unfortunate distraction that undermined American preparedness. When Bush invoked Taft-Hartley, he called the operation of the ports “vital to our economy and the military” and he openly worried about how this would affect the movement of military supplies. Dianne Feinstein used similar language to encourage Bush to take this action. The lockout ended on October 8. Some economists projected that the 10-day lockout had already taken $10 billion out of the economy. It also took some weeks for ILWU members to unload the huge backlog of products waiting to move.

Unions were nervous about this. AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka was strongly opposed, fearing the Bush administration was trying to bust the ILWU. He stated “If every employer thinks the federal government will step in, why should they negotiate and let the natural bargaining process play out?” Teamsters spokesman Bret Caldwell expressed similar misgivings: “The whole strategy of locking out the workers and urging the president to invoke Taft-Hartley was clearly an employer strategy to get around negotiating a contract with these workers. It’s a bad precedent. It gives management the upper hand.”

But with the shipping industry’s gambit undermined, they had to negotiate for real with the ILWU. Both sides agreed to mediation. Trumka became personally involved in settling the conflict while Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service chief Peter Hurtgen took the lead in the negotiations. Both sides won a bit in the final contract. The companies did get to implement their cargo tracking technology. They also got a 6-year contract, providing labor stability and some changes to the arbitration procedures. In return, the shippers agreed to pay workers a whole lot of money. Full-time wages would rise to $85,000 a year by the end of the contract, with the possibility of going into six figures with overtime. The shippers also agreed to increase their pension contributions by 58 percent. In addition, while union leaders expected that the automation would eliminate about 400 jobs from the ports, all current workers in those positions were allowed to keep their jobs until they wanted to retire. Finally, non-union jobs in the port became part of the ILWU bargaining unit, extending the union’s control over employment. The members agreed to the contract with around 90 percent voting to affirm.

Ultimately, this was one of the biggest victories of the early 21st century for a union. Odd that George W. Bush played an important role in it.

This is the 194th post in this series. Previous posts are archive here.

The Clinton Rules

[ 248 ] September 26, 2016 |

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“Clinton seemed a little smug. Trump appears to be a carbon-based life form. Let’s call it even.”

OK, OK, this is cherrypicking. But how about the host of Meet the Press?

“The guy was completely unprepared. But the woman seemed kinda…over-prepared. Let’s call it even.”

I just hope these reactions — uncannily similar to the spin of the 2000 debates, only with an even more ludicrously inept and witless Republican candidate — will be the exception rather than the rule this time.
…also:

It only took 90 minutes, but Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump fell into a rut that reinforced both of their stereotypes. On most issues, Mrs. Clinton relaxed into wonkery – especially on national security – and delivered wooden lines about eagerly awaiting fact-checks. Mr. Trump’s reactions were a mix of favored rally themes and stream of consciousness boasts, and he interrupted with tangents and confusing non sequiturs, often in praise of himself.

In summary

[ 46 ] September 26, 2016 |

My Hot Take – any voter who claims he is Still Undecided but Trump-Curious after tonight’s debate is either having you on or a waste of carbon.

I can’t wait to see the headlines for this debate. I’m predicting at least one “The tone of the debate: Brash and flippant,” because while Trump may have raised his voice and interrupted everyone including himself, it wasn’t civil for Clinton to run the verbal equivalent of very thin, very hot needles into him until he started barking clumps of syllables.

American Morons, or, An Open Thread on the Debate

[ 322 ] September 26, 2016 |

ditka_finger_photo

Against my better judgment I am going to watch the damn debate. I will hate every second of it. Trump’s moronic supporters including American Genius Mike Ditka, most recently giving a very important hot take on Colin Kaepernick telling him to get out of the country. I made fun of this on Twitter and was thus sited by one of our nation’s finest journalists as a supporter of Mike Ditka. Christ. I recognize Twitter doesn’t recognize irony well, but really. In any case, here’s an open thread for whatever the hell is going to happen.

Take the skinheads bowling

[ 66 ] September 26, 2016 |

earl anthony

This makes me feel a little better about tonight’s impending slow-motion car crashdebate:

Presidential candidate debates are kind of ridiculous under normal circumstances, but under these circumstances you can change “kind of ridiculous” to “surreal beyond the literary powers of James Joyce on LSD to describe adequately.”

I mean how do you “debate” somebody who doesn’t know anything about anything, who simply makes up whatever he feels like saying at the moment, and who is therefore essentially doing a kind of stand-up routine version of authoritarian ethno-nationalism, as opposed to “debating” in the conventional sense? We might as well decide some question of potentially existential significance via a bowling contest, except the winner will be determined by whoever Maureen Dowd thinks looks like a better bowler, as opposed to counting how many pins get knocked down.

Fucking Politics, How Does It Work?

[ 517 ] September 26, 2016 |

jillstein

There are really no good arguments for voting third party for president in the currently existing American electoral system. To the extent that third-party voting has any justification at all, there are three bad categories. The first is to argue that it doesn’t really matter because the major parties are essentially the same. Dr. Jill Stein, MD makes this argument:

Admitting Trump is the worst possible thing that could happen to the country, she also says that the binary options amount to “death by gunshot or death by strangulation.”

The main problem with this argument, as applied to the election of 2016, is that it is reflects massive dishonesty, massive stupidity, massive ignorance, or some cocktail of the three. American political parties are polarized to an unusual extent, and the Democrats are far better on a wide range of issues and worse on none.

If one admits the obvious truth that there are material differences between the two parties, there are a couple of terrible arguments one can trot out. The first is the hieghten-the-contradictions routine, which deliberately makes things worse in order to make things better. One example is Jill Stein’s contention that the lesson of Nazi Germany is that it’s better for fascists to take power than to form a coalition with liberals. Rarely has an argument been more convincingly self-rebutted. If one recognizes that heighten-the-contradictions arguments tend to be not merely wrong but monstrous, the next move tends to be “vote Jill Stein — it has no chance of affecting anything whatsoever, but will allow you to pat yourself on the back for being too good to be part of a mere political coalition.” Which doesn’t strike me as a very attractive argument, but whatever. It’s not really one that’s easily available to Jill Stein, however. So there’s another variant, the MORE EFFECTIVE EVIL theory:

“Donald Trump, I think, will have a lot of trouble moving things through Congress,” Stein says. “Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, won’t … Hillary has the potential to do a whole lot more damage, get us into more wars, faster to pass her fracking disastrous climate program, much more easily than Donald Trump could do his.”

The ignorance of basic facts about American politics that this reveals is astounding. The idea that a Republican-controlled House would pass Hillary Clinton’s climate change legislation is as stupid as the idea that Hillary Clinton’s climate change agenda consists entirely of “MOAR fracking plz.” Even worse is the idea that agendas are determined solely by presidents, the assumption that Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell have no agenda of their own when in fact they have a longstanding agenda they would pass and Donald Trump would allow to pass into law because he has no interest in public policy. The idea that Congress would stop Trump from pursuing military adventurism is comically ignorant of history. Then there’s the fact that she ignores the people Donald Trump would staff the federal judiciary and executive branch with, and also ignores that the only circumstances under which the Senate would fail to confirm is if Trump accidentally chose a non-wingnut. And so on. Although it least she doesn’t make the “sure, Republican presidents will do more bad things, but these bad things will generate more Uncle Sams on stilts” variant of the argument.

If you must vote third party because you’re too good for mere politics, I would again recommend writing in someone more knowledgeable about basic facts of American government, like Harambe.

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