2:00PM Water Cooler 8/14/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

2016

Policy

“Rather that a lot of what he says makes sense. [Trump’s] policies aren’t as crazy as people make out, and people who support him aren’t as stupid as the media pretends” [Ian Welsh].

Money

“But eight years’ worth of Bush’s emails with his former colleagues and employees in state government portray a former public official hard at work utilizing the relationships he had made in office. For the benefit of clients, friends and allies, he leveraged his political connections to shape outcomes on everything from online education to insurance regulation, from disaster management to a proposed bike trail near a golf course where Bush’s father and brother were members” [Business Insider]. Ka-ching. Maybe I should file this under corruption. Then again, maybe I should file everything under corruption.

Criminality

(I’m filing the Clinton email saga under criminality (a) because it’s demonstrably corrupt, and (b) because if an official privatizing their public communications isn’t criminal, we should find a way to make it so.)

clinton From the [New York Post], in links today. Generally, I’ve restrained my desire to snark on the personal characteristics of the candidates, but this photograph (granted, a file photo, not a Clinton reaction shot to the story) makes Clinton look like butter won’t melt in her mouth. “Yeah, I wiped the server. And?”

Raising, as the Gilded Age cartoonist Thomas Nast raised, this eternal question:

Caption: UNDER THE THUMB. The boss: “Well, what are you going to do about it?”

It has occurred to me, further, that the three leading candidates: Trump, Sanders, and Clinton, all share one characteristic: In this campaign, they (as the kids say) “Give zero f*cks.” They are all happy warriors, doing exactly what they’ve been waiting for the chance to do for years, things that only they can do. Trump is being Trump. Sanders is giving the hour-long policy speech of a lifetime, in front of thousands. And Clinton is defending her all-important dynastic network by giving a gigantic upraised middle finger to the press, the Republicans, and an ongoing Republican investigation. Do what you love!

(Adding: Clinton isn’t the only thumb in the game or on the scales, of course. But in all cases, “What are you going to do about it?” applies.)

The Voters

“A closer look at the polls shows that [Sanders] is simply not within striking distance of winning the nomination. His support has run into a wall: women, blacks and Hispanics continue to support Mrs. Clinton by a wide margin, as do white moderate and conservative Democrats” [New York Times].

Sawant returned to Seattle City Council [Seattle Times].


The Trail

Excellent roundup on the Sanders field operation [Buzzfeed].

Right now, the supporters at Sanders’ huge public events are being funnelled into a digital campaign run by Sanders’ longtime digital aide, Kenneth Pennington. Outside huge Sanders rallies in Portland and Seattle, teams of volunteers wandered among the queues of supporters waiting to get in and gathered email addresses and phone numbers on clipboards. Inside the event, supporters were admonished to send a text message to Sanders’ campaign, logging them and instantly signing them up for offers to volunteer and attend future Sanders grassroots events in their area.

UPDATE Clinton staffer Michelle Kwan gives tour of Clinton Brooklyn headquarters [Elle]. Kwan: “It does take a village. It is like a family. Since people are just at the other side of the office, it’s like instead of writing that email you just get up and go and ask. It’s that kind of environment.”​ I have a headquarters in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you….

“Iowans are mad as hell, and they know who to turn to — Donald Trump” [Politico].

“The groundwork laid by Trump’s sizable Iowa staff, with 10 paid operatives and growing, is the clearest sign yet that the unconventional candidate is looking beyond his summer media surge and attempting to win February’s first-in-the-nation caucuses” [WaPo]. I think most of us make a distinction between “serious politics” and kayfabe; the hope then becomes that at some point reality will assert itself and Trump will drop out. But for Trump, the kayfabe is the reality. It’s as unsurprising that he would have Iowa staffers as it is that he would hire actors to cheer him at his announcement, or refer to the other Republican debaters as “contestants.”

Trump to appear at Iowa State Fairgrounds by helicopter, proceed to the butter cow after presser [Des Moines Register]. Perhaps a Donald Trump parodist — with toupee — could arrive by kick scooter. Where is the parody Donald Trump? And don’t tell me Trump is his own parodist.

Gore not running, says Gore spokesperson [Politico]. The press hedges its bets [WaPo].

“The Democratic Party deserves to steer its own future. Not just lash itself to the RMS Hillary” [Wall Street Journal, “The Clinton Ship Takes on Water”]. It’s so precious when Republicans pretend they’re giving Democrats good faith advice. But the S.S. Clinton, eh?

Clown Car

Carly Fiorina goes anti-vax [WaPo].

Lessig: “I want to run to build a mandate for the fundamental change that our democracy desperately needs. Once that is passed, I would resign, and the elected Vice President would become President” [Medium]. So how does that work? The VP moves up, and then — under continuity of government rules — the Speaker of the House moves up? So John Boehner becomes VP after a Lessig victory? 

“Fifty-four percent of Garden State registered voters believe that Christie should step down, compared to 41 percent who want him to remain governor, according to a new Rutgers/Eagleton poll” [The Hill].

Stats Watch

Producer Price Index, July 2015: “A rise in costs for trade services pushed wholesale prices up slightly more” [Bloomberg]. “Fed policy makers have been waiting for the prior effects of the oil collapse to fade and for year-on-year trends to improve to their 2 percent policy target. But is that happening?” But: “The Producer Price Index year-over-year deflation continued – and deflation marginaly grew over last month” [Econintersect].

Industrial Production, July 2015: Motor vehicle production surged, but “excluding vehicles, however, manufacturing rose only 0.1 percent. The lack of strength here is the result of business equipment which edged only 0.1 percent higher after declining 0.2 percent in June” [Bloomberg].

Consumer Sentiment, August 2015: “After easing in July, consumer sentiment is expected to stabilize in the flash August reading” [Bloomberg].

“[Gross] is betting that investors are overpaying to shield themselves from big swings and that markets ultimately won’t move too much in either direction” [Bloomberg].

“The record lows in claims are inconsistent with the sharp drop in withholding tax collections. It suggests that regular weekly incentive pay, such as sales commissions at some retailers, auto dealers, and the like, has collapsed over the past month. If that is the case, then it won’t be long until the layoffs begin” [Econintersect]. Note my priors: A Maine bear.

“The labor market recovery so far has made up less than half of the prime-age employment lost in the recession”  [Bloomberg]. “Made up” assumes that there’s an equilibrium, a mean to which employment will revert. Na ga happen, absent political intervention. Say, a jobs guarantee.

TPP

Chile: “In Chile, where the administration of President Michelle Bachelet has moved forward with the TPP negotiation process, opposition is strong in the legislature. Even Bachelet’s minister of foreign affairs has indicated that Chile won’t sign the agreement if the TPP doesn’t meet certain criteria” [Foreign Policy in Focus].

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Ferguson’s ‘Lost Voices’ camp out over a year to push peace, protest police brutality” [RT].

“Just because they don’t have a driver’s license doesn’t deserve to lose their life. Just because a person’s on the street corner selling cigarettes, maybe he’s doing that to make ends meet so he can pay his utilities or take care of his situation at home with his kids. That’s the reason why we’re out here on these street corners.”

But those are not demands. At some point, shouldn’t that happen?

Police State

“A Wall Street Journal analysis of the latest data from 105 of the country’s largest police agencies found more than 550 police killings during those years were missing from the national tally or, in a few dozen cases, not attributed to the agency involved. The result: It is nearly impossible to determine how many people are killed by the police each year” [Wall Street Journal, “Hundreds of Police Killings Are Uncounted in Federal Stats”].

NYPD’s Bratton thinks more people need to be in jail [Vice].

Militia Watch

“Three members of a border militia group are behind bars, charged with conspiracy to sell cocaine. They were caught in an FBI sting operation, involving an undercover agent, a plot to steal drugs and money from cartel smugglers, an offer of murder for hire and a high speed chase through the streets of Phoenix” [KPHO]. Probably as trustworthy as any other FBI sting operation but nevertheless… 

Gaia

“This is the year of the heatwave. We’ve had heat waves off and on for the last few years, but it seems that there are more now than ever before. While some have tried to argue that global warming can’t really cause warming (sometimes expressed as heat waves), it does” [Science Blogs].

“Some honeybee colonies adapt in wake of deadly mites” [Cornell Chronicle]. Agricultural beekeeping, as a monoculture, was vulnerable.

Water

“World without Water: The Dangerous Misuse of Our Most Valuable Resource” [Der Spiegel].

“Even though California has historically seen wet winters during strong El Niño events like the one now underway, experts say, there are at least four or five major scenarios in which this El Niño could fail to end the state’s drought” [San Jose Mercury-News].

“The Glendale club and other private golf courses swept up multimillion-dollar rebates to replace turf despite the fact they were already irrigating with treated wastewater, one of the most environmentally-friendly sources” [Los Angeles Daily News].

Health Care

“Fifty hospitals in the United States are charging uninsured consumers more than 10 times the actual cost of patient care” [WaPo]. “All but one of the facilities are owned by for-profit entities. … ‘For-profit players appear to be better players in this price-gouging game,’ said Ge Bai, an assistant accounting professor at Washington and Lee University and a study co-author.” Boy, that’s a shocker!

Class Warfare

“Those whom the Gods wish to destroy, they first make acquiescent” [Memex]. Because TINA. Though the author doesn’t use Hirschman’s exit, voice, and loyalty construct, they recommend exit via boycott.

“US DOJ: It’s unconstitutional to prohibit the homeless from sleeping outside” [Boing Boing]. “The law, in its majestic equality, allows the poor to sleep under bridges….”

“The crippling problem restaurant-goers haven’t noticed but chefs are freaking out about” [WaPo]. If only there were some market-based mechanism that would adjust the supply of human rental to the demand for it!

“The idea that Katrina was a sort of biblical flood that washed away liberal excess in New Orleans is taken as gospel by conservatives and corporate democrats alike” [Alternet]. The Chicago Tribune’s Kristen McQueary publishes an Op-Ed hoping a second Katrina will hit Chicago. “A sleeping city, forced onto the rooftops. That’s what it took to hit the reset button in New Orleans. Chaos. Tragedy. Heartbreak.” And, of course, thousands of dead ni– people. Rarely do see see Rule #2 of neo-liberalism expressed so openly; Kristen McQueary, clearly, is a vile human being. Here’s an excerpt from a more humane view: “Katrina’s World: Blues, Bourbon, and the Return to the Source.” Interesting to see the intersection of race and class interest in disaster and disaster capitalism.

News of the Wired

“Antidepressant drug trials criteria not generalizable” [Science Daily]. Sounds like a marketing problem…

“Walk about 100 meters east of the Observatory’s meridian line. Slow down to a crawl as your GPS approaches 0 degrees, 0 minutes, 0 seconds longitude” [Leap Second].

“After 63 years, Globetrotters drop rival Generals as primary opponent” [ESPN].

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant:

tomato

My tomatoes are coming along! This is Maine….

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. I need to keep my server up! And this is turning into a tough month…

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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.

68 comments

  1. willf

    I am having difficulty finding some information, and perhaps a member of the Naked Capitalism commentariat can assist me.

    A number of years ago it was revealed that Paulson (or maybe Geithner) was purposely under-investing parts of the Social Security trust fund in poorly performing investment vehicles as a way to starve Social Security of needed resources.

    Was it Paulson who did this? Can anyone provide a link? Or a place to start looking for this info?

    Thank you.

    1. Vatch

      My understanding is that the law requires Social Security funds to be invested in non-marketable securities, such as U.S. Treasury debt. So there aren’t a lot of options to choose from. I guess one of the points of this is to prevent the money from being flushed down an Enron or Worldcom drain.

      1. willf

        Thank you for your reply. My understanding was that these particular investments performed more poorly than simple Treasury bills would have. But I have yet find supporting evidence to match my memory.

        If anyone else has a suggestion, please feel encouraged to put it forth.

        (Had I known how awful Google was going to become I would have bookmarked everything I read religiously, starting back in 2001 or so.)

        1. Jim Haygood

          Treasurydirect.gov reports daily prices and yields of non-marketable Treasury securities, used in about 250 Trust, Deposit and Special Funds, including Social Security’s. Their quotes match almost exactly the prices and yields of marketable Treasuries reported in the WSJ:

          https://www.treasurydirect.gov/GA-FI/FedInvest/selectSecurityPriceDate.htm

          An analogy would be the spread betting available in the UK, but illegal in the US. Customers obtain results based on what traded markets do, but no actual trades are placed on their behalf — it’s just a betting contract with the broker. Until being outlawed in the US about a century ago, they were called ‘bucket shops.’

          The Treasury’s Federal Investments Program is basically a bucket shop for trust funds. The prices are honest, but no actual securities are purchased in the market.

        2. jo6pac

          I remember reading the same stories and I could find anything in 30min of looking. The closes I found was something at ZH but is was about fredy mae

          1. blurtman

            The money from the SS trust fund was borrowed and spent. Why do folks assume it was invested? You may as well ask what the money that purchase marketable UST’s is invested in. It is spent.

            The non-marketable UST’s are a ledger entry. The money is spent on wars and other budgetary items.

            You can argue that non-marketable UST’s should offer a higher return than marketable UST’s, as they appear to be more risky due to folks who would like to dismantle SS and make the obligations go away. But one must assume the return is equated to that of marketable UST’s by the folks who hopefully are tracking this. In that case, Yellen is screwing SS because of the very low interest rates.

        3. craazyboy

          It’s not true. There has been much BS circulated about SS. The Trustees “buy” interest bearing non-marketable Treasury Bonds created by the Treasury. They are non-marketable so no one can take them thru the Revolving Door and cash them in from a non-extradition country like Brazil.

          The interest rate is set comparable to the market rate for long term treasuries.

            1. craazyboy

              But in the movie National Treasure staring Nicholas Cage, we found out the government has a secret underground cavern in Washington DC where they are storing all the gold and jewels handed down thru the ages by the Knights Templar.

              We are really rich!

                1. craazyboy

                  One bad apple like Madoff can’t derail the entire country. I’m sure the Neo-Templars will make it back for us!

    2. abynormal

      i’m looking…backed into this: Bernie Sanders Introduces Bill To Lift The Payroll Tax Cap, Ensuring Full Social Security Funding For Nearly 75 Years – Today, Sanders announced that he will introduce legislation that would strengthen Social Security without cutting benefits to any of its beneficiaries. Sanders’ legislation would eliminate the income cap that currently exists in the payroll tax that does not tax income above $106,800: To keep Social Security strong for another 75 years, Sanders’ legislation would apply the same payroll tax already paid by more than nine out of 10 Americans to those with incomes over $250,000 a year. […] Under Sanders’ legislation, Social Security benefits would be untouched. The system would be fully funded by making the wealthiest Americans pay the same payroll tax already assessed on those with incomes up to $106,800 a year. Sanders points out that President Obama himself endorsed this idea on the campaign trail in 2008. “What we need to do is to raise the cap on the payroll tax so that wealthy individuals are paying a little bit more into the system. Right now, somebody like Warren Buffet pays a fraction of 1 percent of his income in payroll tax, whereas the majority…pays payroll tax on 100 percent of their income.
      http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/08/25/304387/bernie-sanders-introduces-bill-to-lift-the-payroll-tax-cap-ensuring-full-social-security-funding-for-nearly-75-years/
      back down the rabbit hole for me

  2. Jim Haygood

    “US DOJ: It’s unconstitutional to prohibit the homeless from sleeping outside.”

    That’s nice. But another U.S. law — the USA Patriot Act — makes it impossible to open a bank account without a street address (exactly what homeless people don’t have).

    Without a bank account, they probably don’t have a good credit rating. And without a credit rating, it’s very difficult to get a job or rent an apartment.

    The system is set up to produce ‘cascading failure,’ in anti-Roach Motel fashion: they check out, but they don’t check back in.

    1. Louis

      I believe some jurisdictions allow homeless people to use a shelter as an address for voting registration, so maybe something similar could be used for bank accounts.

  3. McDee

    If the office of Vice President becomes vacant the President shall appoint a new Vice President who will take office upon confirmation by both houses of Congress. 25th Amendment. Sorry Boehner!

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      Correct. Boehner would be next in line only for the interval, if any, between the effective date and time of the president’s resignation and the confirmation of the new VP. Or would it be until he or she takes the oath?

      1. Chris in Paris

        Precedent for this – Gerald Ford replaced Nixon and then picked Nelson Rockefeller as his VP. Only unelected President & VP in US history since Ford had replaced the elected VP, Spiro Agnew, after his resignation.

        I think the lesson is that things can, will and have gotten get pretty, pretty, weird.

  4. unorthodoxmarxist

    What a sad joke Lawrence Lessig has become. He was implored directly by many people – including myself -to use the Mayday PAC to support independent and third party candidates in their races against Democrats and Republicans, especially Greens and others who are wholly committed to campaign finance reform and public funding of elections. He categorically refused and reiterated his support for Dems & Reps who, I believe, lost wholesale in the general election.

    Now he is attempting to raise money to compete in a Democratic primary he will lose, and lose badly, disappearing (if he ever appears) by the early summer of 2016. He could, instead, donate that money to Jill Stein & the Green Party, and have a candidate in the race with ballot lines, a voice, and an organization attempting to build a real alternative, and a candidate that would be on the ballot until November of 2016 raising his issues. Or he could run for the Green line and do the same if he won.

    Instead he chooses one of the most daft and bizarre strategies, one that will result in head-scratching amongst all but the most isolated Harvard Law profs.

    1. Jason

      The problem I’ve had with Lessig for years is that he seems to think the problem with corruption in American politics is an emergent function of it structure, and that the criminality and wickedness of the individuals involved is of no matter. It’s a mirror image of a destructive thread that winds through American society, from the military, business, education, and beyond: the idea that if we just have the right processes, the quality and ability of the individuals carrying them out won’t matter. And in the process we lose good judgement, responsibility, and accountability.

      1. hunkerdown

        All that Anglo-Saxon woo-woo about aristocratic values isn’t particularly useful if one no longer wishes to live in or among an elective aristocracy with all its pathologies.

        Imagine, for example, the impact of a universal, absolute, people’s right of recall, such that 75% of any electorate can strip any official of their office and all its privileges by the fact of the vote having occurred. Think of how powerful that is compared to throwing the bums to K Street.

  5. Mark Gisleson

    The VP becomes President, and then appoints a new VP. I think that appointment is subject to Senate approval.

    Kind of shocked a news story would have such an easily researched question in it.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I thought it was a Continuity of Government thing, but of course that applies (by definition) when the House isn’t in session. Oops. The 25th amendment:

      Section 1. In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.

      As I said. This is the issue:

      Section 2. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.

      So whereas under COG Boehner would become VP after Lessig’s resignation, under the 25th Amendment he only has a chance, depending on who holds the House and Senate….

  6. Brindle

    Clinton/ NYT

    Article is is an example of the static view that the media elites have of the electorate and the assertion that Clinton’s policies are favored by voters.Clinton inevitability seems to be something of a religion for those who have access.

    —Her policy views are smack-dab in the middle of the Democratic electorate, denying Mr. Sanders much room to challenge her on the left. She has won the so-called invisible primary, the behind-the-scenes competition for elite support that helps decide the nomination. She has more endorsements and cash than just about any candidate in American history.—-

    1. ProNewerDeal

      Amen, Brindle.

      I’ve seen a few times the DLC/Hellary Dems like Sen McCaskill, & the cable TV politics “experts” like Hoover’s grandaughter, state “Sanders is a far-left socialist, too left for the Murican voter”, etc.

      Sanders needs himself & some “surrogates” to get on to BigMedia frequently, and state that his policies are mainstream/centrist, and the DC poli-trickians & Media are right-wing.

      Just go down the list of Sanders economic policies that have majoritarian support, but Hellary/Jeb!/etc oppose. Hence Hellary/Jeb!/etc are too right-wing & out of touch for the Murican voter, not Sanders

      1. Medicare For All, Murican ppl & Sanders support; Hellary/Jeb!/etc oppose

      2. $15 min wage

      3. No Grand Ripoff of SS/MCare

      4. Wall $treet Sales Tax aka Financial Transactions Tax

      etc

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      That’s what I think. Clichés are clichés because they express certain truths, but that piece feels pretty recycled to me. My pet peeve is “white working class.” Can’t we just say “working class”? Because #BlackSinglePayer matters?

      1. David

        Yup, it’s inevitable.

        8/9/2007

        WASHINGTON (CNN) — Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York retains her position firmly at the front of the pack of Democratic presidential candidates, with a poll Thursday giving her 44 percent of the vote, nearly double the 24 percent garnered by the next-closest candidate, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.

        Peak Hillary was eight years ago, IMO.

    3. neo-realist

      But will the elites help seal the deal to diminish Sanders by not allowing his surrogates access to the Corporate media to make the case that he is a mainstream/centrist democratic politician——as they used to be about 40 plus years ago?

  7. ProNewerDeal

    By chance do you have a status update on the likelihood of

    1. The Grand Ripoff of SS/MCare

    2. The TPP

    Are these hopefully dead at least until the Nov 2016 election? Will the Nov-Dec 2016 Lame Duck period be dangerous for these horrible policies?

    AFAICT 0bama really wants these 2 treasonous horrible polices. OTOH Bush43 half-heartedly wanted to privatize/crapify SS, but he really cared about was Neocon Wars and MIC Contractor Welfare.

    I hope the next Pres does not have 0bama’s “passion” for further decimating the We Muricans’ Economic Rights. I don’t want to fear and feel I have to check every 3 months or so on the status of these 2 heinous policies. The oligarchs who want to serf-ify & feudalize Muricans have their lobbyist tools like Simpson/Bowles pushing this as their full-time job, whereas we Muricans have maybe a few outspent overwhelmed advocates like Social Security Works, journalists like NC, and lack the time ourselves to keep up with The Evildoers’ (0bama/Boner/Simpson/etc) secretive machinations.

    Thanks again

    1. craazyboy

      Out of 20 candidates currently running, in the recent LA rally Sanders quickly mentioned “expand SS/MC” and generally Nay on TPP.

      Only other thing I heard was a dire warning from Christy that SS “‘will bankrupt the country!”. I assume he meant the USA. He also quickly mentioned there are IOUs in the Trust Fund – that does sound scary.

      1. cwaltz

        If by ious he means treasury bonds(or in other words an investment vehicle often used) then Christie is correct.

        Using that logic though foreign investors municipalities and others who buy government bonds and securities also have a pile of ious.

        1. craazyboy

          Also too, “IOU” was the term GWB used to describe the Trust Fund contents, back when GWB made his incoherent attempt at trying to convince us SS was in dire need of something. Also the term used by Pete Peterson in his ‘Murica IOU movie or whatever he called it.

          Actually any piece of financial paper, public or private, could be [very] loosely described as an IOU – even that green debt-money stuff in your wallet, if you’re the type that likes to stretch a point that far.

          Maybe we’ll get a humongous government warehouse full of rolls of toilet paper – then we’ll have something real we can put our hands on.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      TPP looks dead for now, even though it’s twitching. Japan got what they wanted — remilitarization — and now have no incentive to make trouble for themselves. Australia, Canada, New Zealand are all hung up on dairy. New Zealand is super hung up in dairy, and its electorate is on ISDS. Malaysia is a hot mess. As we see today, Chile is dubious. And McConnell wants to make sure Kentucky tobacco growers are protected (a new demand IIRC). All this translates to not being able to sell the deal to powerful electorates. My thought is that Obama could introduce it in the lame duck session of 2016 at the earliest.

      1. Skippy

        An additional two for Australia would be IP shelf dates, Oz wants to keep it a 5 year min [especially pharmaceutical – medical] and sugar [our tobacco ind.]

      2. JEHR

        I hope that Canada will vote in any other party but the conservatives (ABC) in the election in October. If that turns out to be true, then TPP should die a natural death. My question is, Why is Harper making trade deals with all 196 countries in the world? I can imagine drinking milk from China, vegetables from Fukushima district, beef from Argentina, rice from Malaysia, beer from Ukraine, etc. What’s the point of having home-grown food if we are going to export it so we can import from somewhere else? Are all these deals so that the corporations can do ANYTHING they want in order to get lower cost food from one area and sell it at a higher price in another area–and that is my guess plus ISDS.

        Man, I am so tired of neoliberalism that my head aches all the time!

        1. vidimi

          i don’t trust the liberals one bit. just like they were on board will c51, they will usher in the TPP. you know, because it’s the pragmatic thing to do.

  8. Jim Haygood

    Bloomberg:

    The FBI is seeking to determine whether data from Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server may still exist elsewhere, a U.S. official said.

    After acquiring the server on Wednesday, agents are attempting to determine whether e-mails may have been backed up on another machine, said the official, who asked for anonymity.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-08-14/fbi-said-to-examine-whether-clinton-e-mail-was-backed-up

    If true, this is an absolute neon-sign, air-raid-siren show stopper.

    The US justice system takes an extremely dim view of people who play silly hide-and-seek games with evidence.

    Hillary is cruising perilously close to an obstruction of justice indictment.

    1. RabidGandhi

      Isn’t she married to that dude who was impeached for witness tampering and lying to a grand jury? Whatever happened to that guy anyways? I assume the crack US justice system has him holed away in solitary next to Chelsea Manning.

    2. Kurt Sperry

      Does there exist any prosecutor anywhere in the land who would have the stones to indict Hillary while she is the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee even if she strongly appears to be guilty? I’d bet she believes the answer is “no”, and I’d bet again that she is right in so believing. She, in that position, is very, very close to above the law–and she damn well knows it. An indictment of Clinton would open the door wide for Sanders and change the political dynamic of the election overnight. That cannot be allowed to happen, there’s too much at stake. Like the cartoon says, “Well, what are you going to do about it?”

      1. Jim Haygood

        From the WaPo:

        Whether any files remain on Clinton’s server “depends on the level of technical competence of the people doing the damage control,” Joseph Hall said.

        In this case, he added, “I would expect this to have been wiped. Not just wiped but, since they had some time, thoroughly wiped.”

        The investigation is being overseen by two veteran prosecutors in the Justice Department’s National Security Division. One of them helped manage the prosecution of David H. Petraeus.

        http://tinyurl.com/qfpwkl6

        Uh-oh. This is getting too close for comfort.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        All to be filed under “the quaint notion that the law of the land applies to the elite”, anyone who has been paying attention knows what a laugh that is. The Cookie Monster from Arkansas can Telfon her way all the way to the Oval Office where she can then continue the important work of ensuring all of the various forms of WW III (On Drugs, On Privacy, on Workers, On Dark-skinned Others) proceed without a hitch.

      3. Yves Smith

        She does not need to be indicted. Keeping her twisting in the breeze with stories of continuing “criminal investigations” by the DoJ and the FBI will sink her.

        And Obama looks to have his fingerprints all over this. The State job was a clear poisoned chalice, “keep your enemies close” move. She could not say no if she wanted to be Prez, yet she’d have to own Obama policies as hers.

        Obama has not raised a finger to support her. Biden threw his hat into the ring as the “FBI/DoJ” investigations continue. The FBI and DoJ are not independent, despite precious myths otherwise. The Administration is out to sink her, not by sending a nuclear missile after the SS Clinton, but by cutting a big below water line gash in her hull and sitting back and watching her list.

  9. spooz

    I’ve been enjoying my vine ripened tomatoes for the last couple weeks here in Wisconsin, but my plants are suffering from blight for the third consecutive year. The fruit isn’t affected, but the foliage is a mess. I’ve rotated the beds and kept the infected foliage out of my compost, but it hasn’t helped. It seems the problem is pretty widespread; even the tomato plants purchased from the local Amish are suffering from blight in my area this year (who knows, maybe they are spreading it with their saved seeds). Next year I plan on trying blight resistant seeds.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I make sure never to touch the tomatoes at all, because that spreads the blight. I just let the vines be vines. For blight, which does come around this time of year (carried on the prevailing wind or brought in from a big box garden center) I use copped dust or spray.

      I also found that sheet mulch really helped, beause now I never water, and water splash would contaminate the lower leaves with the blight microbes or spores or whatever since it lives in the soil.

      1. Norb

        I must second the sheet mulch technique as a simple way to improve your tomato yield and to protect against soil born infection. I laid down a thick sheet of hay around the entire bed- no soil exposed and only water directly to the base of the plant keeping the foliage dry at all times. So far no problems this year while many of my fellow gardeners who didn’t mulch are experiencing blight.

        Mulching your beds is probably the most important technique you can employ to reduce labor time, watering, and general gardening grief around.

        I also tried a foliar spray of fish emulsion a few times this season and was pleased with the results. The plants quickly responded in the most positive way. They looked healthy and strong.

    2. petal

      Spooz, is it late blight? Here on the VT/NH border, someone will hear of late blight over in another part of VT somewhere and then it’s just a matter of time before it shows up for us. I believe the spores are spread on the wind, so sometimes there isn’t anything you can really do about it other than use a copper spray and hold your breath.

    3. ambrit

      The blight is pretty much endemic here Down South. We’ve just had a week of 100 plus degree days in my neck of the woods. All the watering in the world doesn’t really help. It’s almost time to try for a fall crop with some volunteer tomato seedlings from out of the compost pile.
      Let us know how the blight resistant seeds do next Summer. (Agriculture is a long term endeavour.)

    4. jrs

      Hybrids are often breed for disease resistance that heirlooms won’t have of course (if it’s saved seeds, yea it’s probably heirlooms). Nah hybrids don’t particularly bother me, they are not of course equivalent to GMOs.

      1. spooz

        After looking at your link, I think it may be Septoria leaf spot. It says that fruit is rarely infected, which is the case with my tomatoes. There is one seed I found that is resistant for SLS, Iron Lady, so I may try that next year.

        http://www.highmowingseeds.com/organic-non-gmo-seeds-Iron-Lady-F1-Hybrid-Tomato.html

        It looks like copper spray works for SLS, so I’ll try that on the other varieties I plant next year (glad to see that its organic), and maybe try the sheet mulch, which would keep the weeds down too. I also plan on leaving extra space between plants and avoid watering late in the day.

        I’m lucky the plants didn’t get infected until after they had set fruit or I wouldn’t be enjoying my tomatoes this year. I’m already a little behind on putting them up.

  10. New Deal democrat

    The article on withholding taxes on Econoinstersect (an aggregator) comes from Lee Adler of the Wall Street Examiner. I think he updated his own article after it got aggregated, because here are his last two statements this week on the subject:

    http://wallstreetexaminer.com/2015/08/withholding-taxes-bouncing-back-in-august/

    “Withholding tax collections are bouncing back in August after a weak July.”

    http://wallstreetexaminer.com/2015/08/state-by-state-initial-unemployment-claims-weaken-slightly/
    “I track the daily real time Federal Withholding Tax data in the Wall Street Examiner Pro Trader- Federal Revenues report. The year to year growth rate in withholding taxes in real time is now running +2.5% in nominal terms. That’s equivalent to around 0.5% to 1% adjusted for wage inflation.

    “Withholding tax collections tend to rise and fall in a cycle lasting three to four months. The growth rate had dropped sharply in July after being remarkably consistent around +5-6% in the second quarter. It has begun to recover in the first 11 days of August.”

    —–

    I measure withholding taxes two ways: # of days into the month, and a 20 day rolling sum ending each Thursday. I think Adler may use a 5 day rolling sum, but I can’t be sure.

    Anyway, taxes paid yesterday stunk so here is the measure 9 *reporting* days into August this year vs. last year:

    $76.9 Billion this year vs. $77.4 Billion last year, or -$0.5 Billion.

    But here is the less volatile 20 day rolling sum ending Thursday this year vs. Thursday last year:

    $152.5 Billion this year vs. $142.2 Billion last year, a YoY improvement of 7.2%. That is right in line with (actually, a little better than ) what the rolling average has been basically all this year.

    Just google “Daily Treasury Statement” for the site if you want to check any of the math.

  11. allan

    Class Warfare, v. 2.0

    BuzzFeed’s founder and CEO Jonah Peretti has told staff that he doesn’t think unionization is “the right idea” for BuzzFeed.

    “I think unions have had a positive impact on a lot of places, like if you’re working on an assembly line,” Peretti said at a company meeting. In such cases, “if you’re negotiating with management it can make a huge difference, particularly when labor is more replaceable.”

    In contrast, he said BuzzFeed patterns itself after companies like Google and Facebook, which compete for less replaceable talent by offering better compensation and benefits.

    “They’re all trying to get the very best talent. That’s how I see BuzzFeed as well,” Peretti said. “We need to provide amazing benefits. We need to provide as much incentive for people to pick BuzzFeed over any other company.”

    At least Jay Gould had the decency to tuck in his shirt.

    1. cwaltz

      Lol.
      Does he mean the same Google who just had to settle with the DoL for wage fixing behind the backs of its employees? If I were a Buzzfeed employee I’d see what Google did as a stronger reason to unionize.

  12. wbgonne

    Lambert, I want to compliment you on this and your other excellent Watercoolers. You are an outstanding writer and this blog, including the commenters, is an oasis of sanity. Muchas gracias.

  13. steelhead23

    Lambert, you probably don’t need or want any gardening tips, but your tomatoes will ripen quicker and produce more if you remove most of the leaves from the plant. Leave one leaf below each sprig of berries and trim the rest away. Trust me, this works.

    There was a quote in the Politico’s Run Al, Run piece I just have to repeat: “Running for president is like having sex. No one did it once and forgot about it. If you can do it, you want to do it again, it’s something you don’t get out of your system.” This made me think that we would be far better off if most of those running were addicted to sex, not politics.

    1. wbgonne

      your tomatoes will ripen quicker and produce more if you remove most of the leaves from the plant. Leave one leaf below each sprig of berries and trim the rest away. Trust me, this works.

      Can you elaborate a bit? What do you mean by “one leaf below each sprig”? Do you cut out non-producing branches altogether or just remove the leaves? Thanks.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Two points:

      1) Pruning the vines sounds like work. I don’t like work. I prefer to let the vines be vines. Very conveniently for me:

      2) I believe that blight is spread through touch. And wearing gloves and dipping my gardening tools in Clorox sounds like work, so see point 1.

  14. Jay M

    Remarkably bad advice to use a non-governmental server. Getting to triumvirate levels of dysfunction, I guess.

  15. different clue

    Here is a police killing story I have just found on the Reddit. The victim and the victim’s family are white.
    Does his life matter? Or are black lives the only lives that matter to #BLM and its left-wing supporters? My personal feeling is that if white lives don’t matter, then black lives don’t matter either. The # BLM community can either seek shared common-cause interest with the white victims of police crime, or they can resign themselves to their police problems being their own problems alone, and nobody else’s problems at all. Here is the link. Left wing readers might well want to take a look at this story and then decide if they wish to continue thinking that if it isn’t “black” injustice, then it isn’t injustice at all. Here is the link.
    http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20150814/PC16/150819609/sled-declines-to-release-video-amid-new-allegations-in-seneca-police-shooting

      1. different clue

        Good. Perhaps eventually “civilians” (as in not-police) of all races might create a #CivilianLivesMatter movement . . . to bring violent dangerous police forces under control.

  16. alex morfesis

    clown car express…so by early november “the donald” has worn out his welcome wagon…who will be left standing…??rubio??…

    and as for the diamondkratz…who will show up once hill and grandpa fade away…carter came out of nowhere…bill clinton came out of nowhere…prez obama came out of nowhere…

    and the two pigeons are too old…

    the democrats have not presented a nominee that ended up winning who was over 55 since before lincoln (presidency by assassination discounted).. bernary sandton are too old…

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