2:00PM Water Cooler 1/20/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, this is longer than it should be, but there was too much 2016 material!


“Independent economists: TPP will kill 450,000 US jobs; 75,000 Japanese jobs, 58,000 Canadian jobs” [Boing Boing].

But a new working paper from Jerome Capaldo and Alex Izurieta, economists from Tufts University’s Global Development and Environment Institute and Jomo Kwame Sundaram — formerly the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development takes a critical, independent look at the economic modeling performed by the TPP’s proponents and finds it based on a set of nonsensical, nonstandard assumptions about how economies perform.



“[B]illionaire investor Warren Buffett is scheduled to host a $33,400-a-head fundraiser for Clinton and Democratic Party groups in Washington on Jan. 31, the day before the crucial Iowa caucuses” [International Business Times]. I like the timing. Classy. “Buffett’s fundraiser for Clinton — which follows previous Clinton fundraisers he’s appeared at — will occur just weeks after senior Democratic lawmakers on the House Financial Services Committee excoriated him over a joint report by the Seattle Times and Buzzfeed about a mobile home company owned by his investment firm, Berkshire Hathaway. The report alleged that Berkshire’s subsidiary, Clayton Homes, ‘systematically pursues unwitting minority homebuyers and baits them into costly subprime loans, many of which are doomed to fail.'” Pragmatic! And whenever you hear “pragmatic,” think “ka-ching.”

“Exclusive: Billionaire green activist Steyer not ready to back Clinton, open to Sanders” [Reuters]. Best thing he could do is give Sanders $30 and encourage everyone else to do the same thing.

The Trail

“Bernie Sanders Does His Own Laundry (and Grocery Shopping): Inside the Family Life of the Down-to-Earth Democratic Candidate” [People (!)].

“But more than any other topic on Tuesday, [Sanders] sought to wind up his backers with talk of Wall Street, specifically zeroing in on Goldman Sachs, which he in Fort Dodge called a ‘zillion-dollar institution.’ That emphasis was rivaled only by his familiar criticism of super PACs. When he started his go-to riff on the topic in Underwood, he was interrupted by a voter who yelled, “Crooks!” [Politico]. Sanders smiled and said, “I have no comment on that,” before demurring.”

“Can ‘socialist’ Bernie Sanders win a general election? It’s a fair question” [Greg Sargent, WaPo]. “The Sanders campaign argues that head-to-head polling matchups show him performing better against the GOP candidates than Clinton does, and that only he can win over independents in the necessary numbers. But head-to-head general election polling right now is meaningless; Sanders has not been subjected to sustained attacks; and the general election audience knows Clinton far better than it knows Sanders…. The Sanders camp points out that only he can motivate younger and newer voters, as evidenced by what we’re seeing in the Democratic primary. The question of whether Clinton can motivate those voters is a very serious concern, one that has been raised by veteran Democratic pollsters such as Stan Greenberg, and one that really does call into question whether Clinton will be able to win in November. Meanwhile, to my knowledge the Clinton camp has not meaningfully addressed the fair point that she made similar ‘electability’ arguments against Barack Obama in 2008, which turned out (obviously) to be very wrong.”

“[Sanders’] favorability ratings are over 90 percent in the state, which is basically where Michael Jordan’s favorability ratings would have been in Chicago in 1993” [WaPo]. You know, the People’s Republic of New Hampshire? The state with “Live Free or Die” on its license plates?

“Debunking the case against Sanders: Bernie’s liberal critics, like Jonathan Chait, resort to fatalism and blind trust in the status quo” [Ben Norton, Salon]. Imagine if politics were football: “This forward pass thing is a flash in the pan. My advice: Stay pragmatic and stick with what you know!” Or “Sure, helmets will prevent brain damage, but the owners just won’t accept it. It’s not politically feasible!”

“How Bernie Sanders could win it all: What it would take for a democratic socialist to become president” [Bob Cesca, Salon]. “One thing we can predict with 100 percent certainty: In addition to other lines of attack, the GOP will deploy every red-baiting hellfire missile in its arsenal against Sanders, and it’ll be relentless about it.” Which is why the Clinton campaign has already deployed that particular demonizing tactic.

“Said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO): “The Republicans won’t touch him because they can’t wait to run an ad with a hammer and sickle” [New York Times]. Let ’em try. And I like the way McCaskill shifts responsibility for her own red-baiting onto the Republicans. Can’t Democratic regulars take responsibility for anything?

“Hillary Clinton’s Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri, responding to reports that GOP operatives are trying to help Bernie Sanders, says he is “taking his cues from them, using a Karl Rove attack to go after her,” according to e-mail statement” [Bloomberg]. Well, Sanders can’t be the second coming of Karl Marx and Karl Rove’s acolyte at the same time. Could be the Clinton campaign is throwing all the mud it can in the hope that some will stick, or they’re panicked and flailing. Or both!

“Hillary Clinton’s national lead is slipping faster in 2016 than it did in 2008” [WaPo]. With handy chart:


“But at an Upper East Side dinner party a few months back, Ms. [Lena] Dunham expressed more conflicted feelings [than she did on the campaign trail]. She told the guests, at the Park Avenue apartment of Richard Plepler, the chief executive of HBO, that she was disturbed by how, in the 1990s, the Clintons and their allies discredited women who said they had had sexual encounters with or been sexually assaulted by former President Bill Clinton” [New York Times].

“In an added sign of bonhomie between Clinton and the top Planned Parenthood executive, [Cecile] Richards’ daughter, former Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Lily Adams, signed up last spring with the Clinton campaign as Iowa press secretary, a high-profile portfolio for a campaign eager to shore up support in the important early state that rejected Clinton in 2008” “[Politico]. Not that there’s anything wrong with being part of the Democratic establishment.

“Clinton Library set to release Donald Trump records” [Politico]. “The files could revive questions about the friendly relationship Trump had with President Clinton and Hillary Clinton before Trump launched his presidential bid last year and began taking a withering line against the Clintons.” The records come in response to a FOIA request. Politico does not name the requester.

“Trump Touts ‘A Good Day’ After Palin Endorsement” [ABC]. “In the statement announcing the endorsement, Trump’s campaign described Palin as a conservative who ‘helped launch the careers of several key future leaders of the Republican Party and conservative movement.’ The statement also quoted Cruz as once saying he ‘would not be in the United States Senate were it not for Gov. Sarah Palin. … She can pick winners.'” Ouch!

“‘Palin’s brand among evangelicals is as gold as the faucets in Trump tower,’ Ralph Reed, the chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, told the New York Times. ‘Endorsements alone don’t guarantee victory, but Palin’s embrace of Trump may turn the fight over the evangelical vote into a war for the soul of the party.'” Hilarious, when you think about it, since Palin was made a national figure by none other than John McCain, establishment Republican.

“Evangelicals who revere Palin may not be the dominant force in American politics. But they know the locations of the auditoriums and halls where Iowa Republicans will be caucusing in short order” [The Nation].

The full text of Palin’s Trump endorsement [Buzzfeed]. Please don’t ask me to break out my Magic Markers. But keying off a link in yesterday’s Water Cooler: “Trump rambles. Trump steps on lines that could, untrammeled, become applause lines. This is not because he is bad at speaking, and from time to time, he obviously is repeating a thought to make sure it connects.” So I wonder if Trump is risking brand confusion, because Palin has the same issue with loggorhea: “[R]ambling, pandering, chock full of empty catchphrases” [The Federalist]. And part of Trump’s appeal is that he is The Donald; unique, sui generis. I don’t think voters want to see Trump and Mini-Trump, and if they do, it will diminish Trump, and not enhance Palin.

“While criticizing President Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, on Tuesday, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush incorrectly pronounced Malia Obama’s name as “Malayla” [Talking Points Memo]. Poor Jebbie. I have pity for the guy, I really do.

Stats Watch

I know I should be excited when the market goes down, because the market is always supposed to go up, but where’s the link to the real economy? It’s hard to fall down when you’re flat on your back. [Financial Times, “Free Lunch: Market mayhem mystery”]:

“Olivier Blanchard, the former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund who is now free to share his personal thoughts on the economy, argues that there is nothing “fundamental” that can justify the market rout. There is ‘no evidence’ of a collapse in Chinese growth; and it’s ‘difficult to think’ that any negative effects of lower oil prices outweigh the positive ones. Here, Blanchard strikes a slightly different note than his IMF successor Maurice Obstfeld and Paul Krugman, as we discussed yesterday. But these are shades of nuance, not categorical differences.

Instead, Blanchard puts the market turmoil down to “herding”, or financial markets’ tendency to self-fulfilling dynamics.

Hmm. I’m not sure that “herding” is really an appropriate metaphor.

Alfred Jacob Miller (American, 1810-1874). 'Hunting Buffalo,' 1858-1860. watercolor on paper. Walters Art Museum (37.1940.190): Commissioned by William T. Walters, 1858-1860.

Or perhaps it is!

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of January 15, 2016: “A drop in rates during the January 15 week fed a sharp jump in refinancing applications, which rose 19 percent, but not for purchase applications which fell 2 percent. But purchase applications did surge in the prior week and remain 17 percent higher than a year ago which is a positive indication for underlying home sales” [Econoday].

Consumer Price Index, December 2015: “Consumer prices are showing a little pressure but not a great deal. Though the CPI slipped 0.1 percent in December, the core rate did edge 1 tenth higher” [Econoday]. “Lack of inflation, the result of both falling energy and commodity prices and also general weakness in demand, is a major policy risk for the FOMC which meets later this month. Some FOMC members have been expressing doubts that inflation will begin to move to target, and today’s report does little to allay those concerns.” But: “The year-over-year core inflation (excludes energy and food) rate grew 0.1% to 2.1 %, and now is slightly above the target set by the Federal Reserve” [Econoday].

Housing Starts, December 2015: “Housing starts and permits both fell back in December but follow large gains in November” [Econoday]. “This report is below expectations and soft on a historical basis, but readings still point to respectable strength underway for new housing.” And: “Looks to have stopped growing about 10 months ago” (handy chart) [Mosler Economics].

“Royal Dutch Shell plans to make a total of 10,000 staff and direct contractors redundant as it continues its efforts to reduce its operational costs, and will step up sales of its assets to generate cash over the next two years” [Splash247].

“Gas Price Hits 47 Cents a Gallon in Michigan After Price War” [ABC]. Probably cheaper than lead-free water.

Shipping: “In July, Amazon proposed methods for regulating the kind of commercial drone use it intends to get involved in. It suggested that the government set aside a 200-foot-high stretch of sky for the vehicles to transit through. Misener reiterated the company was still backing this idea, and said the FAA and NASA both welcomed “the thinking that had gone into it” [CNet].

Shipping: “The world fleet doubled in size from 2010 to 2013. At the same time, China doubled its shipyard capacity and took huge orders for new ships as it sought to control the commodities trade” [Business Insider]. “In a normal market the rational decision would be to remove loss-making ships from the fleet, but this is anything but a normal market. The world shipping fleet is drowning in debt. [James Kidwell, chief executive of the London-listed broker Braemar Shipping] describes how ship owners who have financed their fleets with 60% debt and 40% equity have seen that equity become worthless. Meanwhile, the banks that provided the debt won’t pull the plug, as they would be forced to recognize the losses.”

“The U.S. Treasury Department wants to know if you’re worried about bond-market liquidity. Also, how you even define it” [Bloomberg]. “The agency released a request for information Tuesday — part of its first significant review of the market in almost two decades — where questions range from the technical to the philosophical.” Does this strike any other readers as odd, and oddly timed?

The Fed: ” Fed’s $216 Billion Treasuries Rollover Recalls Crisis Era Buying” [Bloomberg].

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 8, Extreme Fear (previous close: 11) [CNN]. One week ago: 14 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed).


Maybe I should just file all this stuff under “Guillotine Watch”….

“Climate change fails to top list of threats for business leaders at Davos” [Guardian].

“A mixture of corporate jargon, future-fixation and deployment of airy concepts intended to convey prescient wisdom is a linguistic hallmark of the World Economic Forum. In ambition and ambiguity, Davos-speak easily outdoes the quotidian office jargon, mocked by the television satire “The Office” in both its British and American incarnations” [The Economist, “The language of power”]. “The future will be contribution-defined, not benefit-specific.” Well, for some people.


“Legislation to allow an emergency oversight board appointed by the state to take over CPS – and also allow CPS to declare a Chapter 9 bankruptcy – is intended to save the school system, GOP leaders said Wednesday” [Chicago Sun-Times]. Oh, totally. Why am I suddenly reminded of those “Lucky millionaire wants to share the wealth” ads?

“Almost every year California’s labor unions are forced to spend millions of dollars fighting essentially defensive battles against right-wing corporate interests that engage in class warfare and seek to hobble workers’ rights. The money often flows in from Texas and other states with an agenda behind it that is clearly anti-California” [LA Progressive].


“The Walls Have Compound Eyes: Most Households Teem with Insect Life” [Scientific American]. “Yet the vast majority of bugs in what the scientists described as the “great indoors” are considered benign and go largely unnoticed by their human co-habitants. ‘I like to think of them as good roommates,’ says study co-author Michelle Trautwein, an entomologist at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. “They’re quiet and unobtrusive.'”

Guillotine Watch

“University president’s plan to cut struggling freshmen: ‘You just have to drown the bunnies'” [Raw Story].

“Uber CEO’s eight traits of great entrepreneurs” [MIT Sloan School]. Travis Kalanick: “Uber delivers ‘magic’ to consumers, he said, by giving people calm, joyful rides that save time and money. But, he said, ‘We get used to magic. There was a time when running water was magic.'” Not in Flint, eh?

“This photographer takes $150,000 portraits of Silicon Valley’s most powerful people” [Business Insider]. Court photographer…

Class Warfare

“With volatility and devaluation at home, Chinese investors have become the No. 1 foreign purchasers of U.S. real estate, and interest in the Seattle area is said to be running high” [Seattle Times]. It’s like the United States is a drain, around which global squillionaires are circling.

“[C]apitalism can’t run on pessimism” [The New Yorker].

“Eight years after the financial crisis, a full 63 percent of chief executive officers told PriceWaterhouseCoopers researchers that a lack of trust in business has become a significant worry — double the number who said the same in 2013” [Bloomberg].

News of the Wired

“After hospital care, elderly Siberian hermit to return home” [AP].

“[O]n Twitter, you cannot assume that you know the audience. In particular, you cannot assume that an audience beyond the one you intend will recognize the difference between sarcasm and sincerity” [James Fallows, The Atlantic].

“Everything should tweet, including your front door bell, your car, your printer, and the speakers on you desk. Everything. Twitter should be the notification system for everything and everyone. The company should stick with short messages as the best differentiator, but take it to a global scale and own the short message market” [Inc]. Twitter controls a global tuple space. That ought to be good for something.

“Open Source at the US Census Bureau” [github.com/uscensusbureau].

* * *

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 (Isolato):


Like a tapestry!

* * *

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. Winter has come, I need to buy fuel, keep the boiler guy and a very unhappy and importunate plumber happy, and keep my server up, too.


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About Lambert Strether

Lambert Strether has been blogging, managing online communities, and doing system administration 24/7 since 2003, in Drupal and WordPress. Besides political economy and the political scene, he blogs about rhetoric, software engineering, permaculture, history, literature, local politics, international travel, food, and fixing stuff around the house. The nom de plume “Lambert Strether” comes from Henry James’s The Ambassadors: “Live all you can. It’s a mistake not to.” You can follow him on Twitter at @lambertstrether. http://www.correntewire.com


    1. Isolato


      Rocks. That’s my front “yard”. The incredibly thin soils that have built up since that mile thick ice melted 15000 years ago dry out depending on their depth and so the grasses pass through the seasons at different times. The sheer multitude of varieties astonished me when I first saw it happen. Red grass, purple grass, yellow and green. It is quite a spectacle. I shot this w/a 6X12 cm rollfilm back on my view camera w/a 600mm lens.

      Not to say there aren’t dog and deer pies out there…

  1. craazyman

    wow. if somebody pay $1.5 million for a picture of a potato, then next time take a picture of a sack of potatos! sooner or later somebody will figure that out.

    It’s hard to tell if that’s inflation or productivity, since the price would likely go up but the price per potato would go down.

    It’s astonishing that NASA has now admitted — just today in fact — that Ed Wood was right in his famous movie Plan 9 from Outer Space. Now that NASA admits there’s a huge planet they’re callng Planet 9 orbiting around beyond Pluto. Evidently Ed Wood’s channeling was pretty dam good but he just missed the “et” (No pun intended). That’s the way it is with channeling, you usually don’t get all the details right but you get the rough idea.

    1. low_integer

      Abosch’s iconic black backdrop shots have become something of a status symbol among the tech and entertainment elite.
      Last year he sold this photograph of a potato for 1 million Euros

      I’m speechless.

        1. craazyman

          maybe if you take a picture of a yam you can get $1 million for it

          there’s really nothing all that special about a potato if you think about it

          and It sure beats a day job.

          1. low_integer

            Edward Weston’s photo of a pepper is pretty good, but I always liked Dave LaChappelle’s (not to be confused with the comedian Dave Chappelle) iconic photo of fruit. Of course it did have Naomi Campbell laying on top.

            1. craazyman

              yes I’ve seen LaChappelle’s stuff. on the internet, pretty damn good for sure

              A while back I suggested him as a photographer for a contemporary version of Delacroix’s Lady Liberty Leading the People with Yves as Lady Liberty. She’ have to get partly naked for it, or at the very least show some serious shoulder and upper chest, but that’s art for you.

          2. craazyboy

            3 million for a yam. They cost twice as much as potatoes.

            Personally, I’d try organic, out of season, asparagus and go for double digits

        1. craazyman

          I don’t know but it’s certainly not food.

          this could be a problem if potato farmers here about it, they could start seling pictures of potatos and stop growing them. since all potatos look pretty much alike, they could cut their expenses incredibly and potato prices would soar. That could make French fries and potato salad unaffordable

          1. Oregoncharles

            Haven’t seen purple potatoes, have you?

            There are purple sweet potatoes, too. Seriously ugly.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            It’s expensive, but food can be art.

            And if one is hungry enough, art can be food, or at least, for some of them, provide fuel for a camp fire.

          3. different clue

            Only Abosch or someone equally famous and high-chargin could sell a potato photo for a million dollars. If Picasso had painted a picture of a potato, that would be worth a million dollars too. But not for the “potato” in the picture, but for the “Picasso” in the signature field.

  2. polecat

    either way is fine by me….i like both… though I prefer stepping onto rocks, over cow patties!

  3. Anon

    Found this while casually browsing Twitter:

    We Might Just Get that Trump-Sanders Race

    From the article itself:

    There’s no question that Hillary is in real trouble. As Peter Wehner noted in Commentary, “Mrs. Clinton is now running as basically the third term of President Obama. She may tweak what he did here and there, but she is fully embracing Mr. Obama. In an election year in which anger and disgust at the political establishment and business as usual are dominant and in which only a quarter of the American people believe the country is headed in the right direction, that is a dangerous strategy to adopt. In addition, there’s a historical burden Mrs. Clinton faces: Since 1948, a political party has won three straight presidential elections only once, when George H.W. Bush succeeded Ronald Reagan, who was much more popular at the end of his second term than, in all likelihood, Mr. Obama will be.”

    This will be an interesting year.

      1. Dave

        Saw a homemade bumper sticker the other day:

        “Clinton v Trump = “President Trump”

        Sanders v Trump =”President Sanders”

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Perhaps Clinton + another woman does not > Trump.

          But I think Clinton + an African American > Trump

          Also Clinton + a Hispanic American > Trump

          1. HotFlash

            Very triangulaty! But somehow, I doubt it. They can always pull in a women, too. Seems like the Sarah is auditionoing for the Donald’s VP?

              1. Steven D.

                Identity politics might possibly win the nomination for Hillary, though I doubt it. Smacks of desperation. But it’s a definite loser in the general. People are tired of that BS. They’re weary, weak and worn. They want answers, not tokens. Also. Obama’s a sinking ship. Lashing herself to that mast may get Hillary through the primaries, but she’ll go down with the ship in the fall.

          2. efschumacher

            What about Sanders – Clinton,
            where Bernie does the economy and HRC takes the Cheney role?

    1. grayslady

      If she’s embracing Obama’s policies, my guess is that she’s afraid Bernie is making inroads among black voters. Obama still has a 92% approval rating among blacks, and I think she’s still counting on black voters to be her true “firewall”.

    2. Christopher Fay

      So Clinton would be the third representative of the same party to be president. Bush, near oligarch, Obama, pander to oligarch. Clinton, is oligarch with that $2.5 bill war chest for the dynasty
      Are you saying Clinton is bound to lose?

    3. RWood

      Jonathan Haidt:

      …rising cross-partisan hostility means that Americans increasingly see the other side not just as wrong but as evil, as a threat to the very existence of the nation, according to Pew Research. Americans can expect rising polarization, nastiness, paralysis, and governmental dysfunction for a long time to come…This is extremely bad news for science and universities because universities are usually associated with the left…we can expect increasing hostility from Republican legislators toward universities and the things they desire, including research funding and freedom from federal and state control…This is a warning for the rest of the world because some of the trends that have driven America to this point are occurring in many other countries, including: rising education and individualism (which make people more ideological), rising immigration and ethnic diversity (which reduces social capital and trust), and stagnant economic growth (which puts people into a zero-sum mindset).

    4. different clue

      Perhaps Billary are running as Obama’s third term because Billary saw Gore lower his possible margins by running “away” from Clinton instead of running as Clinton’s third term.

      If he had just figured out some way to say ” all the peace and prosperity, none of the cigars” and left it at that, he might have done better.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      There is no danger unrealistic stress tests can threaten that abolishing Mark-to-Market and easy money can not fix.

  4. mle.detroit

    “Legislation to allow an emergency oversight board appointed by the state to take over CPS – and also allow CPS to declare a Chapter 9 bankruptcy – is intended to save the school system, GOP leaders said Wednesday” [Chicago Sun-Times].

    Sure, Chicago, because Detroit. Our current DPS Emergency Manager is the highly regarded Darnell Earley, former city manager of Saginaw (which has no downtown left), former Emergency Manager of Flint, Michigan…oh, wait…

  5. curlydan

    Good water cooler! Don’t hold back, Lambert. Let’s all help keep the boiler running!
    1. Maybe I’m too in the tank for Sanders at this point, but I’m still ticked off Planned Parenthood endorsed Clinton this early. I can understand if it were a labor union or another issue where there is a significant difference of opinion, but either Clinton or Sanders is going to support Planned Parenthood. The conflict of interest you brought up is another good reason just to hold the endorsements until later.

    2. Oliver, Oliver, Oliver: You say there is nothing “fundamental” to justify a market rout. You seem to forget that there was nothing fundamental, save perhaps QE and buybacks, to justify the market gains. For you guys and the first-class passengers, it only makes sense going up.

  6. B Tilles

    Regarding the Illinois state proposal for a chapter 9 bankruptcy filing for the Chicago Public School System, should we regard this as another Republican attempt at union busting? Or at least union weakening given that the teachers are currently I believe in contract negotiations with city.

    1. grayslady

      It’s not just the teachers. State employees were promised a contract last July and they still don’t have one. Additionally, they are owed back pay that they haven’t received. Rauner is right up there with Rahm as one of the most hated people in Illinois.

        1. grayslady

          We do, but it’s difficult.

          “The new amendment allows voters to recall the Governor of Illinois. It requires that at least 20 state representatives and 10 state senators, equally balanced from each party in each chamber, sign a notice of intent to recall the governor before a petition can begin to be circulated.”

          Getting the Dem legislators to agree would be easy, but the Repubs won’t go along. The constitutional amendment was primarily designed to address criminal activity rather than political or economic activity.

          1. different clue

            In Raumer’s next election, will the D opponent run on something real and specific? Or will the D opponent run on the same vague populist nothingisms as the D opponent ran on here in Michigan? In which case, why would the D opponent win over Rauner in Illinois?

              1. different clue

                Well exactly! That is the point . . . and the problem. . .

                We had an election here in Michigan. The broken and crumbling roads were an issue. The public was psychically readying itself for higher gas taxes and car taxes to start fixing the roads. The D candidate could have run on that specifically. “Here is my specific plan for raising the following taxes to fix the following roads and bridges”. And he might have gotten elected. In which case, he could have kept asking the Repuglan legislature to pass that tax plan, and every time they said “no”, he could have said “this is why we can’t have nice things”. It could have been the first step to a patient and careful defeat of many R representatives and senators in Michigan, followed by a majority “Taxes for Roads” D presence which would have demonstrated its ability to get the roads fixed.

                But the D candidate said no word about any of that. So of course Snyder won again.

  7. Free Market Apologist

    It will be entertaining to see how a mandated low-level airspace for drones will mix with Manhattan zoning, air rights, and building plans. It will be less entertaining to see how the payoffs and sausage making is done.

    “Oops sorry, Mr. Developer. Squillionaire’s Tower can’t be over 150 stories, because Amazon already has bought the right to the air up there.”

    That said, I might like having packages appear right on my balcony. It will save our mailroom some hassle…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I believe, or have faith, one day soon we can build castles in the air. Science hall not be the barrier to human aspiration. Worship no other god except technology.

      That way, drones can have their lower level and the demigods can have their higher levels.

      And with publicly funded biotechnology research projects, it’s possible to have billion-dollar-plus maintenance programs for the demigods to ascent to god-hood and dwell in heaven, or at least, levels over drones.

      1. Jake Mudrosti

        Or maybe humans will be eager to live underground as in H. G. Wells’ vision of an elite technological utopia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Things_to_Come
        Yes, underground, where (as the 1936 film makes perfectly clear) nobody ever sneezes due to allergies. And why would they, when there has never ever ever been a documented case of anyone ever sneezing due to bad indoor vented air, ever. Onward and downward, friends, to utopia!

        1. Propertius

          Or maybe we’ll live underground in the way he predicted in The Time Machine,
          and our Eloi betters will live above.

          I understand they’re delicious.

      1. Vatch

        I suspect they may have been shocked by the extent of the opposition to the TPP. They have to decide what to do — maybe there really were only 2500 or 2000 comments, and they’re going to write some fake comments in support of the TPP to bring the total up to 3221. Or as you say, maybe they just won’t make the comments public.

  8. Katiebird

    Put Bernie Sanders ‘Medicare for All’ to the Test with tis online calculator (Article)

    The Calculator

    Some people had trouble understanding what he meant, but now there is an online calculator that would show what Bernie Sanders meant. Taxes might go up for about three in four households, but expenses into insurance payments, co-pays, and deductibles should plummet for the average American and their employers, which some say might mean employers would finally be able to put employees back to work full time!
    The plan can be found online, and Bernie Sanders’ team boasts that the plan will cost Americans $6 trillion less than our current system over the course of a decade by cutting out what he refers to as the inefficient insurance companies, eliminating tax breaks that subsidize healthcare, and doing away with a special tax break for capital gains and dividends on household income above $250,000.

    1. Isolato

      Of course we are going to have to find real jobs for all those paper shufflers at insurance companies, as surely as we would have to find something useful for all the soldiers and defense workers if we cut the military budget. So much of our economy is simply “churn” to create consumers.

      1. katiebird

        I guess….. Am I selfish for wanting it anyway? My family saves $8200 a year according to this calculator.

      2. different clue

        We could let them find their own useful jobs. Or we could let them emigrate. Or we could put them on bare-minimum survival-unemployment for life.

  9. jo6pac

    “After hospital care, elderly Siberian hermit to return home” [AP].

    That what I call a real medical plan. Amazing.

  10. shinola

    Re: “Climate change fails to top list of threats for business leaders at Davos”

    There is a reason for this (& this may be the most cynical thing I’ve ever written):

    The type of people that are wealthy and/or powerful enough to be invited to Davos don’t need to worry much about it because they have the means to to avoid the worst effects.

    If climate change adversely affects the place where they live, they can move anywhere they want.

    They can buy any “environmental asset” they need.
    Clean water? Buy or build their own treatment facility.
    Clean air? The best, most sophisticated HVAC & filtration systems are well within their reach.
    Reliable electricity? Private generation facilities – even buying/building solar or wind farms.
    Etc. etc…

    The real upside of disastrous climate change is the potential die-off of large portions of the (excess) population. I mean depopulation would decrease demand for scarce resources and, maybe even decrease pollution & its nasty effects.

    Why would they worry too much?

    1. Vatch

      his may be the most cynical thing I’ve ever written

      Cynical? Perhaps, but it seems more like realism to me.

      The real upside of disastrous climate change is the potential die-off of large portions of the (excess) population.

      This is a very important reason why I try so hard to encourage people to have smaller families. If the world’s population avoids some of the higher projections that I’ve seen, maybe we can avoid the worst of the looming die-off.

    2. Oregoncharles

      “If you aren’t cynical, you aren’t paying attention.”
      “I’m not cynical, I just read the papers.”
      or NC.

    3. vidimi

      you could have the population decrease by 40% but consumption would only decrease by about 5%. those most vulnerable are the ones have the least and consume the least.

  11. steelhead23

    As regards Sanders’ potential for success in the general election: Were I advising his campaign, each and every time someone stated that by being a self-declared democratic socialist he has made himself unelectable he should answer thusly, “Not that many years ago the views of many political pundits was that it would be impossible for an African-American to become the president of the United States, yet Barack Obama was elected twice. How did he break that glass ceiling? By focusing on the issues important to American voters. That is what I am doing. Voters are responding. I expect to win.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The Nobel peace laureate got in the first time amidst exploding financial high-energy devices.

      It’s like when we focus enough electrical charges on two sharp ends, the particles will make their leap-of-faith jumps cross the chasm.

      It was a very stressful situation.

      Will Bernie get the chance? Stay tuned for the next episode.

    1. Lambert Strether

      Well, Stalin did his own laundry. That was why he was so ticked off all the time. Then again, doing his own laundry gave him to stamina to resist the Nazi hordes. So you never know.

  12. Chris in Paris

    Re Bernie Sanders does his own laundry…

    Anecdotal but the only Democrats in my entourage who are against Sanders are those who don’t do their own laundry or grocery shopping.

    Food (and ironing) for thought.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Nationally, doing one’s laundry would mean cleaning up the mess one has made, say in some arid region of the world, oneself.

    2. HotFlash

      Reminded of the anecdote told of A Lincoln:

      Gentleman: “Mr Lincoln, you shine your own shoes?”
      Mr. Lincoln: “Why, yes. Whose do you shine?”

      1. craazyman

        I enjoy shining my own shoes. Believe me, there’s guys that are REALLY into shoes. Shoes as art objects. They will study shining techiques, but I”m nowhere near that level. I just enjoy the physical activity and the way, actually, it’s relaxing kind of. it frustrates me bit that my technique isn’t so good, and i can’t get a good mirror shine. It may be the formula of the wax and the techique. I’ve seem instruction videos where a guy will spend half an hour over two days to get a perfect shine. I’m too lazy for that, but I admire the result. Frustratingly, my Crocket & Jones dark brown Westfields don’t hold a shine very well. It’s a little disappointing. I’m not sure why. My black Alden cap toe brogues hold a shine quite well. Although I have had those shined by a real pro — a young lady from Guatemala in the shoe stand down the street. I don’t know what she does but it looks like a mirror almost.

        The Edward Greens may well be in my future. It’s like a black hole sucking me in. I can’t help it. probably those or maybe Gaziano & Girling. once I get them I’ll be too good for the peanut gallery and I’ll feel an urge to make brief skewering witty comments that criticize the poor taste displayed by all you commoners. I will be an elite individual and you all will still be suburban types wearing factory shoes. The only problem is, I’ll be too reverential of the shoes to actually wear them. That might get them scuffed up and I don’ tthink I could do that to a pair of $1500 shoes that look like a sculpture from a master artists. But just having them in the closet, knowing they are there, that’s enough so I can feel superior and elite in that way those of taste feel when they gaze upon the seedy spectacle of what passes for ‘fashion’. There are gentlemen and there are the masses. I’ll leave it there.

        1. craazyboy

          Should the Edward Green craazyman come to pass someday, we will still fondly remember the old Crocket & Jones Westfields craazyman. It may even be curable, they are doing wonderful things in medicine these days. Then again, they say a ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

        2. Optimader


          Brown Shoes Dont Make It

          Frank Zappa
          Brown shoes don’t make it
          Brown Shoes don’t make it
          Quit school, why fake it
          Brown shoes don’t make it
          TV dinner by the pool
          Watch your brother grow a beard
          Got another year of school
          You’re okay, he’s too weird
          Be a plummer
          He’s a bummer
          He’s a bummer every summer
          Be a loyal plastic robot
          For a world that doesn’t care
          That’s right
          Smile at every ugly
          Shine on your shoes and cut your hair
          Be a jerk-go to work
          Be a jerk-go to work
          Be a jerk-go to work
          Be a jerk-go to work
          Do your job, and do it right
          Life’s a ball
          TV tonight
          Do you love it
          Do you hate it
          There it is
          The way you made it
          A world of secret hungers
          Perverting the men who make your laws
          Every desire is hidden away
          In a drawer in a desk by a Naugahyde chair
          On a rug where they walk and drool
          Past the…

  13. Synapsid


    “…ship owners who have financed their fleets with 60% debt and 40% equity have seen that equity become worthless. Meanwhile, the banks that have provided the debt won’t pull the plug, as they would be forced to recognize the losses.”

    Substitute “shale drillers” for “ship owners” and “wells” for “fleets” and the substance of the statement is unchanged.

  14. optimader

    “Can ‘socialist’ Bernie Sanders win a general election? ”

    How was BClinton’s polling in New Hampshire before the primary in 1992? It’s a fair question.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Bill was lucky he had Hilary. Team work has always been very important.

      Buy one and get the second free.

      1. optimader

        Not that I’d self identify as a socialist,, but jeeze talk about political redmeat baiting..

        Can ‘Babykiller’ Hillary Clinton win in a general election? It’s a fair question

        it’s meme quality..

          1. optimader

            HA… no kidding…..

            Who do you want in charge of your DeathStar?
            Actually, that would be a pretty good The Onion spoof commercial.. (it’s probably been done)

      2. JerseyJeffersonian

        Actually, Billy the Ceegar Twiddler (or Diddler?) was fortunate that Mr. Perot was in the race when it came to the big show. I voted for Mr. Perot the first time, and also the second time when I saw what kind of a “principled Democrat” Bill turned out (living up to my expectations…) to be.

        And then Hillary slipped on her hair band, and got to work undermining any chance of a rational national health care system that we might have had (with significant help from others for the ensuing debacle, to be fair to her). So much for any analogy with Eleanor Roosevelt if anybody were to be deluded enough to entertain this as a real possibility. Not working behind the scenes to exert pressure on Bill for a more equitable society across the board, but rather like Lady Macbeth, maneuvering for a better personal outcome.

        I did vote for her in the primary against Obama, though. I did not like her overmuch, but in contrast to that callow ass, she was preferable. In the general, I went with Cynthia McKinney.

        But you might have a point, although not the intended one perhaps, MLTPB, as grifters often have enhanced success working in pairs.

  15. albrt

    OK, so Clinton’s people have now established that calling someone a member of the Democratic party establishment is a terrible, Karl Rove level insult.

    What is her next branding exercise for the Democrats?

  16. Oregoncharles

    ” the fair point that she made similar ‘electability’ arguments against Barack Obama in 2008, which turned out (obviously) to be very wrong”
    “Electability” was irrelevant in 2008, because Bush had already guaranteed that the Democrat would win. It is not irrelevant this year, because it’s the Republicans’ turn and Obama’s poll ratings are low enough to cripple the Dems.

    1. Lambert Strether

      “Bush had already guaranteed that the Democrat would win”

      Making it all the more amazing that McCain was close all the way, until Lehman blew up. Obama had a terrific organization, but as a candidate? Meh.

    1. bob

      So, he’s mob? Also known as “the bond insurance industry”.

      spitzer- why are is NYS still paying into the monolines for insurance?

      Two days later-


      munis were the only ones PAYING into the monolines, at that time. Everyone else realized quickly the monolines were all BK, and they were making claims as quickly as they could, while the munis were still keeping the monolines solvent.

  17. Oregoncharles

    My take on “‘You just have to drown the bunnies’”:
    The “cuddly bunnies” should occupy his office and smoke his cigars until he goes away.

    OTOH, I think it’s a Catholic school. Might be pretty tame bunnies.

  18. Synoia

    Everything should tweet,… Everything. Twitter should be the notification system for everything and everyone. The company should stick with short messages as the best differentiator…

    Fuck off, already.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Is this a ten-bagger venture capital idea – Shout to compete with Twitter?

      It would be just like Twitter, just louder.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        A simple format tweak.

        Only all caps allowed.

        Of course, the idea needs to be patented first to prevent copycats.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Actually, the author is right, given proper filtering (a big assumption). What Twitter has is a global message space where users can invent their own topics via tags and discover others through using them. (Note this is nothing, nothing at all like Facebook. The two platforms are completely distinct.)

      This is an amazing asset, technically, socially, and also politically (“hash tags”) but because Twitter is driven by stupid money, and because Twitter is run by stupid managers who hate their users, they are in the process of squandering it.

  19. Synoia

    The Walls Have Compound Eyes: Most Households Teem with Insect Life

    Finally, an explanation of the Internet of Things I fully understand.

  20. Kim Kaufman

    A week or two ago I went to a PDA (Progressive Dems of America)/Bernie thing which was loosely to raise money and set up future house get togethers. I asked the PDA person on the speaker phone why there wasn’t any voter registration happening. He said the plan is to wait until the general to do that. All those young people supporters of Bernie… wonder if they’re registered. Possibly not. So I guess they’re leaving it to the usual old white primary voters show up to vote in the primary?

    1. petal

      They were furiously handing out voter registration cards at the Sanders Dartmouth rally last week trying to make sure as many people as possible were registered. It was a very young crowd.

      Also, here is a new poll about how he would do against GOP candidates in NH.

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