SocraticGadfly: 3/12/17 - 3/19/17

March 18, 2017

Irish myth — Northeastern urban mudsills?

Why can't some Irish-Americans honor the spirt
of reconciliation behind the center bar of the flag
of the Republic of Ireland?
A very interesting piece here at Pando about Irish history from John Dolan, who also does The War Nerd podcasts.

Let's dig into the headline of this post more.

First, there's a historic error related to the Battle of the Boyne. It was the Union, not Confederates, that named Civil War battles after rivers. You won't find Douglas Southall Freeman talking about "Bull Run"; it's "Manassas" for him. Now whether that's an accidental error or a deliberate one, I don't know. But, I find it "interesting" that a person who self-identifies as "The War Nerd" would make such a mistake, if mistake it is.

Because, from there, he talks about "The Twelfth," namely the Protestant gloating, and worse, the day after the Boyne, on the 12th of July, and how that became an Ulster tradition that carried into the New World.

Now, back to the Civil War and full circle to tie to that bit of history.

You know what started a day after 'The Twelfth"? The New York City draft riots, which ran July 13-16, 1863. And largely involved Irish. And, besides them attacking Protestant churches (understandable) also included terrorizing and lynching blacks. At least 120 were killed, probably well more than that. Lincoln had to recall troops from the field, fresh from Gettysburg, to help suppress the riot.

Hence, my "mudsills" reference.

Something I've blogged about before, in fact, more than once, in reference to Trump's election.

Anyway, from there, Dolan talks about 1870s Irish-Ulsterman turf wars in New York. This goes merrily on without note of how the Irish "turf warred" blacks out of New York City and into Brooklyn in the aftermath of the draft riots. (Per Wiki's link on The Twelfth, there's little evidence it was regularly celebrated in the US as it was in Ireland — and Wiki specifically mentions Canadian celebrations.

Dolan does mention the draft riot in passing. He doesn't note the date connection, nor whether Ulsterman celebrated The Twelfth in style the day before. Nor does he note that, per Wiki's link on the riots, nearly 25 percent of New York City's 1860 population was German-born. A fair chunk of Germans were Catholics, too, though not normally tormented by north German Protestants.

Anyway, he talks one place earlier, before his brief mention of the riot, about Irish-American "versus" African-American:
But in America, the economics of cotton planting made Africans the more significant, “visible” and persecutable, minority, victims of choice for a predominantly pale-skinned polity. So, to their own surprise, the Irish were allowed to pass, after a few miserable generations as America’s lumpenproletariat, into the blur of middle-class America. And when they did, all the horrors that came before were dissolved in America’s huge shark stomach, one of those shark bellies of urban legend that when opened contains only a trace of what fed the animal—a boot, a bone, a set of keys to a tenement apartment in Jersey City. America has digested the Irish so thoroughly it thinks they’re cute, if a little slow.
A problem here.

The Irish didn't try to move to the South. And slavery existed only in Southern states at the time of the Famine. And, it was more native-born whites who worked in New England's pre-war textile mills. 

(Speaking of, it's funny that they're taking a similar attitude as those of the very same Ulsterman Scotch-Irish in the South who called them "white Negros," which in turn gave them two mudsills below them — the Irish, and the actual Negros of African-Americans.)

Back in Ireland, the Great Famine was a horrible tragedy. Holocaust? I think not, and I don't reserve that word just for the Jewish Holocaust; I have no problem calling the Ottoman Empire's actions against Armenians a holocaust. Given that, among other things, Catholic emancipation's major legislation had been passed by 1829 and that lesser degrees of potato blight hit the Scottish Highlands as well as elsewhere in Europe, the idea that Englishman were committing genocide? Tosh.

Some of this almost — almost, not totally — comes off like Serbs still lamenting Kosovo, which was a full 300 years before the Boyne.

Mudsills? You make the call.

Besides, Dolan and others of his ilk — probably mainly Irish-Americans trying to be more Irish than those in Dublin, need to move on. Per David Rieff, too much remembrance is a bad thing. Besides, the flag of the Republic has the orange of Ulster as well as the green of Erin in it — and deliberately so.

March 16, 2017

#MarchMadness #FinalFour #RockChalk

Below is my NCAA tourney bracket. Thoughts below the pretty picture.

And now, the airing of the grievances, etc.

First, of course I'm picking the Jayhawks! See the header.

Second, there have to be a few upsets here and there. Gonzaga is the best starting point, and Nate Silver and gang at 538 are full of shit if they think the Zags have the best odds of getting to the Final Four of any team. So, that one's not really an upset.

SMU seems to be peaking at the right time, in the East, and the Dookies still seem a bit fragile.

Roy Williams seems to have righted the Heels' ship, and I see the WuShocks as underrated, but not to get all the way to the final weekend.

Related to the upset potential? The Ponies in the Final Four, without Larry Brown as coach but perhaps still benefiting from Larry Brown's cheating, would be a fun side story.

OK, if I'm right this far?

Great semifinal No. 1. Another rematch of Heels and ’Hawks. Huggins, on the other side, strangles the Ponies in the crib with his patented press.

Jayhawks, unfazed by that and led by Frank Mason III, win!

Madcow Maddow and Trump's tax return

The screengrab from Facebook says it all. Link is here.

First, for anybody who objects to the exact phrasing of my name for Rachel Maddow, it's alliterative and semi-rhyming. It's not meant to be sexist. What if I called her Bum Steer Maddow, to be politically correct and follow Texas Monthly's annual awards for numbnuts Texans?

As for the last lines of the screengrab? This. The Russian government claims that Clinton campaign representatives met with the US ambassador to Russia last year. Just like Jeff Sessions. And, yes, Putin said he preferred Trump. Doesn't mean that he wouldn't have worked with Clinton. Doesn't mean that Trump was a Manchurian Candidate. I know Clintonistas still grasping to that #PutinDidIt straw don't like to admit that.

(And, no, that doesn't mean moral equivalence. That said, if you can't take time to Google "Frank Giustra" plus "uranium" plus "Clinton Foundation" to see the millions that the Clintoris Foundation got from atomic Friends of Vlad, and why, let me help you. (Oh, and contra Bloomberg or whatever, no, Hillary did indeed try to hide this, through not disclosing it, despite an agreement to do so.)

Also, Glenn Greenwald informs us — I Tweeted the link to Maddow — that more and more national-level apparatchiks of the Democratic Party, including those like James Clapper who have little compulsion about lying when necessary, are informing us there's no silver bullet, there's no smoking gun, there's nothing close to that.

At the same time, the man likely to have been named Clinton's CIA director is admitting there's nothing behind Trump-Putin collusion claims, which is the flip side of the same coin. Also per Morill, the Christopher Steele documents are bullshit, including paying informants.

In addition, Jeffery Carr reports that the Russians who allegedly hacked Yahoo were independent actors, not carrying out an official mission.

In fact (foreshadowing) there's not much more than a nothingburger, both on the tax returns and the "Putin did it" nonsense.

That said, her Tuesday night show illustrated to a T just why I've had minimum high regard for her — to use the Congressional floor put-down — for more than half a decade. She's a Dems-only liberal who often can't even think to the left edge of the Democratic Party, let alone beyond.

Don't take just my word for it, though.

Read friend Brains' brief skewering. He's not the only friend of mine to reference Geraldo Rivera Jerry Rivers and Al Capone's vault.

Or take the more in-depth account of Bob Somersby, "Headlong pursuit of the nothingburger."

His first big take?

"Maddow's tweets touched off a stampede among two growing demographics—the highly gullible and the easily excited."

But here's the real big take:
The stampede about the nothingburger had wiped a wide range of weightier topics from last night's cable air: 
Gone was discussion of the GOP health plan, which had been imploding. Gone was discussion of the expectation that information would drop today about Trump's wiretapping claims. 
Gone, long gone, was Donald J. Trump and Russia. Instead, we had our silliest cable star pimping a tiny bit of information which basically seemed to serve the interests of Donald J. Trump. 
It's very hard for liberals to see what a self-adoring circus clown Maddow has become. Last night, she staged a giant stampede over the latest shiny object—over a nothingburger. 
Is it possible that Donald J. Trump leaked the shiny object himself? In the very first words out of his mouth, that's what Johnston had said. 
Final point: 
Also gone from last night's air was any discussion of Chris Hayes' trip to West Virginia. [That's the trip where Bernie Sanders met with coal miners.] The trip had produced an hour of powerful politics only one night before.
That's a pretty good summary.

But, let's go back to Bob's nutgraf:
It's very hard for liberals to see what a self-adoring circus clown Maddow has become.
And, that's the bottom line — that she IS "a self-adoring circus clown."

She also, in her work to puff ratings, will tow the Comcast bottom line — twice! That's both for Comcast owning MSNBC and it being a cable channel, often going across Comcast coaxial.

That said, Somersby has liked kicking Maddow, in part because the problem above becomes more obvious as her viewership has grown post-election. Hit this search link for more. In short, to be blunter than him? She's become ever more of a ratings whore. Or a ratings pimp. Choose your language.

As for Maddow Maniacs' claim that "she would never do that? You're clueless at a minimum, and may have rectal-cranial inversion syndrome at a maximum. Or, per a new Somersby, you must be part of the cult of Maddow. And it is.

As for the nickname? While I acknowledge that claims of sexism are sometimes true, so too are claims of political correctness. Also given the riff on "mad cow disease," I'm staying with the nickname. (And, see the paragraph above.)

And, just because I choose to explain it, or defend it, doesn't mean I'm defensive about it. Even if you're not part of the cult, if you don't like it? I'm OK with that. In any case, it works for me.

(Update, March 25: I now see I'm not the only person to call Maddow "Madcow," and Tim Black gets paid public media commentator money [and from the left, not the right] to do just that!)

That said, if we're speaking of taxes, hey, Rhodes scholar, Oxford grad, Stanford grad, left-neoliberal Maddow? Why not reveal yours? Let's see how charitable a good liberal is. She makes an estimates $7M a year, and, actually, if she's almost an Eisenhower Republican, isn't that liberal. The truth about Ike, and her claims about Ike, are refudiated thoroughly here. All this goes back to librulzs' desperate romance with Al Franken et al on Air America, or Keith Olbermann, while ignoring the likes of Pacifica. (That said, the $7M actually leaves her as a bit of a piker compared to the pay scale for many teevee talking heads.)

Yes, that's a little bit of gotcha. And?


In turn, the self-puffery and other-puffery of the likes of Maddow show just what's wrong with mainstream liberalism's version of The Resistance.

An anonymous donor gives $1 million to The "The" New York Times for student subscriptions. Why not Counterpunch or Alternet? In turn, that reminds me of the high level of Peter Principle in today's media. And, yes, it's high. About as high, at national levels, as in the political system it purports to keep tabs on.

The lauding of Preet Bharara despite lack of criminal convictions of banksters is another puffery.

Don't get me wrong — the NYT is better than Breitbart and Bharara is better than Jeff Sessions. But, that's praising with faint damns.

But, seriously, if Democrats and their mainstream media allies expect a better-quality #resistance that will change the national-level electoral equation not just since 2016, but in some sense since the 2010 midterms, they need to up their game.

March 15, 2017

A Robert Eisenman, or DaVinci Code, wannabe fails

The Invention of Jesus: How the Church Rewrote the New TestamentThe Invention of Jesus: How the Church Rewrote the New Testament by Peter Cresswell
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Good on textual criticism; gobs of gibberish elsewhere

Cresswell does good work on textual criticism of Codex Sinaiticus, and related topics, such as its relation to Codex Vaticanus and the possibility that Sinaiticus was created to serve as an exemplar for the creation of 50 bibles Constantine wanted Eusebius to do.

Much of the rest of the book is rank speculation, and no, that comment is not coming from a conservative Christian, but from someone at least as educated in critical biblical scholarship as Cresswell.

First rank speculation is the idea that "Pauline Christianity" is largely derived from Mithraism. First, take the Eucharist, as first articulated by Paul in 1 Corinthians. Many Greek mysteries had similar fellowship meals; this isn't something unique to Mithraism. (Greek guilds also had monthly or so community leaders; the idea that this, rather than one of the mysteries or another, was a prime influence on Paul is the one good idea I got from an otherwise craptacular new book from Westar / the old Jesus Seminar.) Second, other themes allegedly from "Pauline Christianity," such as miraculous birth of the savior-god and a dying-rising savior god, were of course known around the eastern Mediterranean long before the rise of Mithraism. Indeed, a lot of scholarship shows that the development of Mithraism was itself influenced by these other mysteries, as part of what made it become a mystery religion itself.

Wikipedia, in its piece on Greco-Roman mysteries, lists a full dozen of them. Indeed, in its piece on Sabazios, it notes Jews were accused of worshiping this mysteries god, under confusion of Sabazios with either the Sabbath or Yahweah Sabaoth.

Third, for Paul allegedly incorporating so much of Mithraism into Christianity, at least in this book, Cresswell doesn't tell us what he considered genuine Pauline letters.

And, though not mentioned here, Cresswell would probably cite the Dec. 25 date of Christmas as showing Mithraic influence. Really? Why isn't that a sign of the influence of Saturnalia instead? Of more likely, of Sol Invictus? Or what about Christmas in early Egypt being placed at Nov. 18, which just so happened to be the date of a major Osiris festival — which gets us back to a non-Mithraic mystery?

Besides, a lot of the Mithra-Christ bullshit comes from that astrologically minded Gnu Atheist/New Ager, the late Acharya S., as the author of the History for Atheists blog explains in detail. That ignores Robert M. Price, who also seems to be more and more of a New Ager along with being a Gnu Atheist, and explains his favorable blurbing of so much of her stuff.

Next, on to the idea that Jesus and Davidic family members were quasi-Zealots not only revolting against Rome, but a dynasty of sorts. This Eisenman-Tabor-DaVinci Code idea has no support within the canonical New Testament and has little in other early Christian literature, until one goes mucking around in the Pseudo-Clementines or else taking a "sectarian" (I see what I did there) view of the Dead Sea Scrolls as reflecting a fight between Paul and heirs of Jesus, rather than being sectarian, non-Christian Jewish literature covering a wide range of issues.

Jesus might have been a revolutionary — with OR WITHOUT being being part of a Davidic dynasty. Or he might have been Geza Vermes' et al's Jewish faith healer. Or he might have been the Jewish Cynic of Burton Mack, and at one time of John Crossan. The fact is, the Second Quest for the historic Jesus and its extension through the Jesus Seminar etc has brought us no closer to a denouement than did the First Quest. Jesus might have been one of the Pharisees crucified by Alexander Jannaeus for all we know.

There's also an element of petard-hoisting here. While claiming limited historicity for gospels allegedly edited by the Constantinian and post-Constantinian church, Cresswell, Eisenman, Tabor et al will nonetheless do their own mining of the gospels for anything alleged to support their Davidic family dynasty ideas. But — how do you know Jesus family passages were edited? if we do have some evidence, how do you know what they were edited from? Cresswell does show some cases where we can know this. In others, he engages again in rank speculation, the biggest of course being that Mary Magdalene was Jesus' wife.

Elsewhere, Cresswell presents himself as having insightful learning only to later shoot himself in the foot. He rightly points out that the "barjona" of "Simon Barjona" in Matthew likely does not mean "son of John" but is the Aramaic for "outlaw." He then, later, laughably claims that "Arimathea," as in Joseph of, is a botched transliteration of "ab Maria," as in "mother of Mary." The reality is that it is a place-name surname, after a Jewish village. Indeed, Eusebius himself, so touted in discussing the text-critical history of Sinaiticus, makes the specific village identification.

That, in turn, undercuts a claim made elsewhere by Cresswell that such place-based namings were rare in the New Testament — a claim he (along with Eisenman and others) employ to claim that "Jesus of Nazareth" must be "Jesus the Nazorean." Truth is, per Joseph of Arimathea's name (and dispute over whether Judas Iscariot is "Judas the man from Kerioth" or "Judas the Sicarian") we don't know. But, re Nazareth, we now know convincingly Nazareth existed in the 1st century CE.

And I haven't mentioned until now that Cresswell's idea that the "we" sections of Acts reflects a separate document from the third-person narratives of Acts is also laughable. Sherwin-White in his "Roman Law" has addressed this, noting that switching to a "we" narrative was a literary commonplace in the 1st-2nd centuries CE in this type of literature whenever the protagonist was on a shipboard journey.

Also laughable is his claim that Matthew (in Cresswell's attempt to give credibility to Papias) originally worked with an Aramaic version of Q, combined with Mark, and wrote his Matthew in Aramaic.

And, all of this information undercutting Cresswell (and Eisenman, Tabor, et al, to the degree they hold it) is easy to find.

So, contra breathless blurbs, this is NOT a "pivotal" or "groundbreaking" book, other than on the textual criticism areas, perhaps.

March 14, 2017

TX Progressives discuss Trumpcare, Voting Rights Act ruling, more

The Texas Progressive Alliance was fake before but is very real now — as real as the Kansas Jayhawks — as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff looked at two different analyses of the Harris County Democratic sweep of 2016.

SocraticGadfly takes a look at some of the key issues as of this time in an overview of the Wikileaks Vault7 dump.

Obamacare has morphed into Trumpcare, which is actually DonTcare, and PDiddie at Brains and Eggs notices that Republicans on both sides of the right aisle want to kill it.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme notes Republicans aren't even bothering to hide their ugly war on women and children.  Increases in maternal deaths?  No problem.  Torture the children of immigrants? Go for it.

Metaphoric of current social and political circumstances, Neil at All People Have Value took a picture of a Houston dog living in a not fully nice home barking and growling a stray dog out on the street that had nothing. APHV is part of

Texas Leftist notes how state businesses are becoming progressive allies for now by banding together against Lite Gov Danny Goeb's bathrooms bill, SB 6.


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Grits for Breakfast reiterates his opposition to a statewide texting while driving ban.

Streetsblog highlights Austin's three-year plan to expand bike access.

Out in SA reports on the opening of a Human Rights Campaign field office in San Antonio.

Heather Busby strongly disputes Sen. Lois Kolkhorst's definition of feminist values.

Rachel Romoff says that the Senate bill on "wrongful births" is a threat to women's health.

Paradise in Hell bemoans the effect the Trump Wall would have on wildlife.

Space City Weather explains why meteorologists use different dates for seasons.

The Texas Election Law Blog does his own roundup of election law-related news stories.

The AP reports how open records request denials are soaring.

Speaking of Danny Goeb, Rep. Jessica Farrar, irked that the Lege continues to assault women's rights, has filed a bill that would fine men for masturbating.

March 13, 2017

Does the US need a full-blown British National Health System (updated)?

I've regularly berated Dear Leader for not pursuing single-payer national health care. As part of that, I've regularly mentioned the lack of cost controls in Obamacare, including stating that electronic patient records may have been a neoliberal's techie idea of what might work as cost control, but actually don't, at least not so far. I've also talked about cost controls as an issue in general, such as when Vermont decided to end the idea of a state-level single-payer system.

And now we have a new president, determined to undercut Obama's idea, and with Obama himself having given him the tools to do so. And Democrats defending O-care instead of promising single-payer.

That said, I'm now ready to think that, if we'd had a president with both balls, and convictions, back in 2009 (the only conviction Obama has is for being worse than Bush in the War on Terror, as I see it, along with being worse than Bush in thinking technology + capitalism will solve anything), we should have gone to a "Medicare for All" or other single payer system.

And, beyond.

To exactly what my header says.

A full government-run health care provider system. And, not just one that makes doctors, nurses and other medical staff into government employees, but one that nationalizes for-profit hospitals, which are their own type of vulture, and (since the NFL is a non-profit organization) carefully controls non-profit hospitals.

We need to drop a neutron bomb on the entire current U.S. health care system, raze it to the ground, and make it publicly controlled. (Just like Obama should have taken over banks in 2009, but there you go.)

What's brought me to this point?

A column by Chris Tomlinson noting that within Wall Street's own "1 percent," it's led by two industries: High-tech (no surprise) and health care.

And, this piece showing one health care company CEO getting $100 million, in 1 year. Back in 2009, when Obamacare was being discussed!

And, per my patient records link, not only is it not saving money, it's costing money and the companies who make programs for such record-keeping are making a killing.

And, as of early 2017, a second issue has brought me even further to this point. American hospitals offering spa-type luxury, pseudomedical treatments, or both, are wasting insurer dollars, and would waste taxpayer dollars if we had single-payer national health care without attacking this as well.

We should have had a president with balls and convictions enough to say something like this:

Dear Americans: The only way I can reasonably see to take full control of spiraling health costs, to not only cover all Americans with medical insurance but also to keep that cost from spiraling onward and upward, is to create a true National Health System, like Great Britain has.

Therefore, I am asking Congress to pass complete overhaul legislation where doctors, nurses and other professionals who want to be paid by our Medicare for All program will become government employees. In turn, we will provide generous assistance with medical education tuition, financial stability and speed in cost reimbursement and more.

This is how you force cost control through the whole system.

Doctors and hospitals would have to tell pharmaceutical companies: Sorry, we can't afford anything but generics until you lower your costs. Ditto for makers of medical devices. And, don't boo-hoo that that might cost a lot of American jobs. The pharmaceutical companies have international plants already; ditto for device makers.

Insurance companies like United Health and its $100M CEO could make money only by charging rich individuals cash. But, that would be true under a single-payer system even without the NHS. It's just that an NHS would start at the python's mouth and force the pig of cost control into the whole health care python.

And, if even some Democrats had opposed that, you could have negotiated down to "Just" a single-payer system, with doctors remaining private employees, but with rates and charges under more control than now.

Beyond all the above, Obamacare's been as much clusterfuck as success. And, enough of "Obamacare" has actually had its implementation delayed that we don't even have it, not fully.

Of course, that's another one of Dear Leader's biggest problems — he has consistently negotiated "compromises with himself" in public before ever bringing legislation to Congress. It started with the stimulus bill in 2009.

And, if you think using Twitter as a callout is the modern version of TR's "big stick," that further shows the technie-neolib cluelessness/sellout.

Per the one label on this post, I have long called such stupidity "salvific technologism."

And, we need it more than ever.

Pro Publica has some of the best evidence yet on how doctors and hospitals, just like insurers and Big Pharma (and medical device makers, etc.) rip off the hypercapitalist health care system.


Update, 2017: A basic version would put a government medical clinic in every county in the United States. It would also let national standards trump state ones on what medical professionals could treat what; ie, a lot of it could be done by physician's assistants and nurse practitioners. Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar shows how bad the doctor shortage is here. At a minimum, a partial NHS, with a government health clinic in every county, is a sine qua non.

We could then combine that with some version of national health insurance. But, having national CARE for basic and preventative services would immediately start the ball rolling on de-capitalizing our current system.

And, THAT is how you do things bottom up. People get used to the government taking care of their kids' vaccines, their own routine physicals and other preventative care, and basic medicine, and they get OK with it. States realize that non-MDs are doing this just fine and accept because they have no other choice.

The US government already runs TWO hospital systems. The VA is not bad, though certainly not perfect. Most its current problems stem from the government not adequately increasing its funding in light of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The other? The Indian Health Service hospital systems have quietly chugged along for decades.

If we had a free clinic in every county in the US, we could then mix and match otherwise.

We might have universal insurance coverage at private hospitals paid by either the government, private insurers or a mix. Many countries with national health care use a two-tier system like that. Government insurance covers all basic medical and surgical needs. You buy private care for elective and experimental surgery and other things.

And thus, per a Vox piece, throwing aside the code phrase of "Medicare for all," I would be OK with a single-payer system with copays and deductibles IF we got the free clinics along with it. Beating for-profit medicine over the head will help make things less expensive than Vox frets.


Update 2, 2017: Tomlinson links to another Chronicle business-section staffer who reports how, here in Texas at least, ER doctors are deliberately ripping off patients with insurance shenanigans and how their hosting hospitals are basically ignoring it. And, yes, Tomlinson himself notes that that's basically what hospitals are doing.

(That also brings to mind a fault with Texas' medical system in general, of how doctors technically aren't employed by the hospitals at which they work. And, I think most other states have similar arrangements.)

Beyond that, insurers do have some fault.

The system as a whole has the biggest fault, though, and doctors, who would benefit more from a universal-payer system, even if not an NHS, still aren't fighting enough for change.


Update 3, May 31, 2019: Arguably, per a longform by Ed Yong on what the next possible plague could do, an NHS would leave us better prepared to fight said plague.


Update 4, June 27, 2019: And, we're now almost at 2020, and while more Democrats say they favor some version of Medicare for All, NONE of them favors making doctors and hospitals take a haircut. And, if you don't, the government goes broke on health care costs, not individuals, but somebody still does go broke. We're not addressing the capitalist camel inside the tent. Kick all of it out, including the nose.


Update, Aug. 12, 2023: Pseudo-socialist Jacobin and PNAP reps talk about a National Health System, but without once mentioning the phrase "fee for service medicine." Nice head fake and I told them that.

Newspapers are dying, reasons 641, 722 and 816

Sleeping with the Internet enemy, which is becoming sleeping with Google as well as Facebook, is never a good sign. Not only are you letting them control how your  stories get disseminated, you're doing this while continuing to maintain all your legal liability yourself.

Here’s the bottom lines, and PR flak, on Google’s side:
The growing pact between large publishers of news and large platforms for social media is an alliance born out of desperation on the part of publishers and opportunity on the part of technology companies.  … 
 Google has been exploring the benefits and drawbacks of publishing for some time; being an entity protected by the First Amendment and freed from the obligations of utilities can be useful. Taking on expensive publishing risk is less convenient. However, just as the temperature of regulation in Europe heats up, with the government always trying to rein in the giant search company, Google has maneuvered its friendly tanks up the drive and into the garage of publishing houses. … 
 First of all, this is a clear signal of Google saying explicitly that while it might not employ many journalists (yet) it sees itself as being in the news business—not an accidental platform through which news moves, but an active ingredient in shaping how journalism is formulated and consumed. 
Sounds like a publisher in all but name.

And, here’s Facebook’s spiel:
Last month, Facebook disclosed it was negotiating with a number of news companies in the US to embed video and text within its own site from major publishers including The New York Times,National Geographic, and Buzzfeed. … 
 Two weeks ago at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia, Andy Mitchell, head of Facebook’s news partnerships, held the line that Facebook itself was staying out of publishing, even though the evidence is very much to the contrary. George Brock, a professor at City University in London, asked Mitchell whether Facebook felt any responsibility for the integrity of its news feed. Mitchell gave the perfunctory Silicon Valley answer that the company cared about improving the “user experience.” Brock suggests that this denial of responsibility is insulting to audiences.
Also sounds like a publisher in all but name.

And, “legacy” newspapers, in addition to not getting control over story dispersal, are leaving the ad dollars more and more in Facebook’s and Google’s hands. Oh, I’m sure any such arrangements will give the newspapers a percentage of the cut on Facebook ads, or Google ads that appear with stories either in Google’s news feed or online to G+. Will that offset likely further loss of onsite online ads? Probably not.

Indeed. The dynamic duo are attracting 99 percent of digital ad growth. No, not a misprint, it seems.

And, if you’ve got a paywall, like the NYT, how’s that going to affect your online circulation revenue? Not well, I’d think.

I don't know if the smell of desperation in the morning is like that of napalm, but it can't be too good.

Meanwhile, newspapers, especially in mobile versions, are looking at following the social media world down another rabbit hole. Just as ads are becoming ever more "targeted," and per the top of this story, newspapers are looking at doing the same with stories.

So, do blacks in more impoverished portions of the city of Baltimore get a different version of the Freddie Gray story than whites in west-side suburbs? Do poor people get different versions of Wells Fargo marketing subprime credit cards and opening accounts in their name without authorization than do rich people?

If so, then the news industry is taking a major step backward; might as well let Google and Facebook have the keys.

Finally, I don't doubt that fear of social media magnifying mistakes is paralyzing or at least constricting reporting.

The community newspaper world, both smaller dailies and non-dailies, still has a chance to avoid going too far down this rabbit hole. At some times, I'm semi-optimistic; some newspaper companies still officially state they are NOT "digital first."

On the other hand? You have a newspaper ownership company called Digital First Media. (And, it's had not one, but two, rinses in bankruptcy.)

And beyond that, at the non-daily world, being semi-addicted to Facebook Live videos, for which a publisher should know FB pays just pennies on the dollar to big dailies, and fractions of mills on the dollar to small non-dailies, may mean that perhaps your digital marketing advice may not be perfect.

There is still a future in newspapers, even as that future continues to shrink around the edges. It will probably involve more creativity on the digital side, but, for community papers, whether non-daily or daily, it should still be (both as an economic statement and a quality-commitment statement) print first.

Fortunately, some community newspaper ownership groups recognize that more than others, and are doing their best to avoid some of the mistakes big dailies made in the past.

Add in that print-vs-digital readership may reach a point of stasis, as has happened with ebooks vs books, and some newspapers may wind up not dying after all.