Links 1/16/16

Sean Penn says Mexico wants him in crosshairs of Chapo’s cartel Reuters

Switzerland defends migrant assets law BBC

No asylum seekers allowed in German city’s public pool because of sexual assaults WaPo

A far-right, pro-Israel France? Expert says this is where all of Europe is heading Jerusalem Post

The U.S. Radically Changes its Story of the Boats in Iranian Waters: to an Even More Suspicious Version Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept

The Pakistani Dystopia The New Yorker

Oil Collapse

Credit-Market Fear Gauge Soars as Oil Price Triggers Global Rout Bloomberg

Oil Prices Plunge As Readers Fear a Wave of Iranian Oil Oil Price

Stock Market Ends Sharply Lower as Worries About Economy Surface The New York Times

U.S. Junk Bond ETFs Fall to Lowest Level Since 2009 as Oil Drops Bloomberg

El-Erian: ‘Massive’ Supply Disruption to Lift Oil Prices Yahoo Finance. This looks like some wishful thinking from El-Erian.

Stock market plunge dents Democratic narrative Politico

The New Inequality Debate Robert Kuttner, The American Prospect

The Productivity Slowdown: Mismeasurement or misallocation…or both? Jared Bernstein

Top Dems Ask Feds To Probe Warren Buffett’s Mobile-Home Firm BuzzFeed News

Deutsche Bank Said to Probe Subprime Auto Securitizations Bloomberg

Jeremy Corbyn announces plans to ban senior executives from receiving vastly higher salaries than junior employees The Independent

Revealed: how Jeremy Corbyn has reshaped the Labour party The Guardian

How Alexis Tsipras Has Overplayed His Hand Social Europe

Toxic Disaster Watch

This is how toxic Flint’s water really is WaPo

White House Open To Flint Disaster Declaration Over Water Crisis Huffington Post

Efforts to plug Porter Ranch-area gas leak worsened blowout risk, regulators say LA Times

California’s Gas Leak Disaster Signals a State of Emergency for Us All me, The Fiscal Times

Chipotle will close Feb. 8 for companywide meeting on food safety Chicago Tribune

NYPD Demands $36,000 “Copying Fee” for Access to Cops’ Body Cam Footage Gawker

Regulator to Scrutinize ‘Safety Hurdles’ From Rail Mergers WSJ

Secretary Jewell Launches Comprehensive Review of Federal Coal Program U.S. Department of the Interior

Lew Urges Congress to Send Puerto Rico Bill to Obama by March Bloomberg

Investigation faults U.S. Army lab’s leaders over mistaken anthrax shipments Reuters

Wal-Mart to Close 269 Stores WSJ

2016 Clown Show

Bush donors await green light to jump ship Politico

Ted Cruz Rejected Job Offer In George W. Bush White House Talking Points Memo

Ted Cruz ‘Apologizes’ to New York Bloomberg Politics

NY Times Produces Audio of Trump Endorsing Tariff He Swears He Never Endorsed Mediaite

Clinton’s lead is evaporating, and anxious Democrats see 2008 all over again Washington Post. Yeah, 2008 was just a terrible time for Democrats, what with the enthusiasm-generating primary contest and resounding general election victory.

New York Company Claims Trademark Rights to “Yosemite National Park” Mother Jones

A major new finding about the impact of having a dad who was drafted to Vietnam Washington Post

I Watched Michael Bay’s Benghazi Movie at Cowboys Stadium With 30,000 Pissed-Off Patriots Gawker

Standing Up To Sexual Harassment And Assault In LA’s Comedy Community Buzzfeed

Tokyo Olympic stadium architect denies copying Zaha Hadid design The Guardian

Antidote du jour (courtesy Digby):

Screenshot 2016-01-15 at 1.14.40 PM

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About David Dayen

David is a contributing writer to Salon.com. He has been writing about politics since 2004. He spent three years writing for the FireDogLake News Desk; he’s also written for The New Republic, The American Prospect, The Guardian (UK), The Huffington Post, The Washington Monthly, Alternet, Democracy Journal and Pacific Standard, as well as multiple well-trafficked progressive blogs and websites. His has been a guest on MSNBC, CNN, Aljazeera, Russia Today, NPR, Pacifica Radio and Air America Radio. He has contributed to two anthology books, one about the Wisconsin labor uprising and another on the fight against the Stop Online Piracy Act in Congress. Prior to writing about politics he worked for two decades as a television producer and editor. You can follow him on Twitter at @ddayen.

94 comments

    1. Yves Smith

      The Iranians have been trying to make nice to the US of late. They don’t have any reason to play provocateur right now. And the fact that the US has changed stories (“boats drifting” is a completely different scenario than “GPS set incorrectly”). The US clearly implicates the boat crew which strongly suggests they can’t blame this on accidents or interference. And that further suggests that the decision was taken higher up but now the guys on the boats are being blamed.

      1. optimader

        What I guess happened is along the lines that the boats Nav system had a course composed by someone who new what they were doing,,, a series of circuitous waypoints that curved in an arc to stay clear of Iranian waters. Some jughead ordered, or elected to move an upcoming intermediate waypoint to avoid chop or possibly maybe make way on a more direct heading to not miss chow time, shore leave drinking games or something equally ill-considered initiative..

        AMAZINGLY they did not have a layer on the Nav system turned on that would make an otherworldly howl like you just asked it to run the ship on a reef, or at the least highlighted a no navigation zone and not accept the route modification.

        Whomever was in command and a couple other responsible cannon fodder contestants presumably did a little End of Career Cadaver Dance of excuses when being debriefed until they finally had to fess up.
        Cockups like this are presumably career ending

        I think if I FUBAR that badly, I’d have considered opening all the seacocks, blaming the Iranians and hoping for the best.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Its very hard to see why they would want to do that to a couple of gunboats, even if they were capable of it. In the circumstances, the Iranians would be letting the US know a lot about their spoofing capabilities for very little gain (in comparison to the very valuable Reaper they captured previously, allegedly using spoofing). The ability to spoof US navigation equipment, if they have developed it, would be a highly sensitive tech secret for the Iranians, its inconceivable they would let it be used for such a low value target.

      I think that Occams Razor suggests either that the commander of those two boats is very stupid, or someone at a higher level decided to order them to probe Iranian territorial waters as a deliberate provocation. I wonder if the crews even knew if this is the case, as it would have been entirely possible that the Iranians could have opted to blow them out of the water.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Essentially, anyone trying to sabotage the agreement with Iran. Thats a hell of a long list of suspects. But more significantly, if it was done deliberately on the US Navy side, then it means someone willing to carry out an act against the orders and interests of POTUS.

        Incidentally, the reason I think its unlikely that some hard liners on the Iranian side was behind this, is that if they were trying to sabotage the agreement, they would have launched missiles at those boats, that would have been far more effective.

  1. YY

    Flint toxic water. Has anyone else been bothered by the non-disclosure of the name of the emergency manager responsible for the disaster? It is strange to constantly hear the person referred to by his/her title, if indeed it is a human, and not have the name be familiar after all the media coverage (Dem Now is particularly bad at naming the person).

    1. Uahsenaa

      More than likely because not only was he not tarred and feathered and run out of town, but he is now the head of Detroit Public Schools.

      The church of management at its worst.

    2. Greg Marquez

      It’s like a campaign slogan:
      Darnell Early, doing for Detroit’s schools what he did for Flynt’s water.

    3. Vatch

      The scandal of lead in Flint’s water is infuriating. People should definitely be imprisoned for this.

      I spend a lot of time and effort trying to convince people that human overpopulation causes or worsens a large number of environmental problems. I sincerely believe this is true. However, some very serious environmental problems are caused purely by greed or stupidity, and in these cases, overpopulation is completely irrelevant. The outrageous scandal in Flint is one of those cases. Pure greed, seasoned with stupidity. The manager and the governor deserve hard time in prison.

      1. Carla

        +100.

        Michael Moore and Bernie Sanders are saying Synder should resign. That’s B.S. Indict the SOB and his flunky, Early.

      2. bob

        “overpopulation is completely irrelevant”

        Under population-. Water system too big, too old, can’t afford to take care of it, can’t afford to replace it.

        That’s the root cause.

        Did switching water supplies help? No. Could the problems have been foreseen? Absolutely.

  2. nothing but the truth

    reminds me of the time when in some NY county where the “management” (Dems) were paying themselves a bit too healthily and a local reporter asked for the city payroll expenses….

    the response by the govt was that it would take tens of millions to produce that report, which the reporter would have to pay…

  3. Kokuanani

    Wow, the Michael Bay movie — and particularly the reactions it stirs up — sounds really scary. Too bad Gawker is one of the few places denouncing this trash.

    And John Krasinski should be ashamed of himself — not just for playing a role in this dreck, but also for promoting it.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      It is no doubt trash, but it is interesting that it seems that popular culture is tapping into a sort of pro-military but anti-intervention mood. What I can’t help noticing is that the main stream news seems to be ignoring that Trump, among other things, has been noticeably anti-foreign intervention and few of the Republicans seem to be as gung-ho as they have been in the past. In the last election they seemed to be competing with each other to identify countries they wanted to bomb, noticeably much less so this time.

      I suspect the neocon view is waning on the right, which leaves the liberal interventionists on the Dem side as the main supporters of Empire, if you want to put it like that. I think this is yet another area where Sanders has the potential to tap into a blue collar vote issue which Clinton can’t reach. A policy stance of minimal outside intervention, a more purely ‘realist’ foreign policy, along with stronger support for Vets would seem to be a winning stance. Sanders can do this, Trump can do this, Clinton (and the likes of Bush, etc), can’t.

      1. montanamaven

        Right on! The “conservatives” here are defensive. They have their guns and three years supply of beans. They wouldn’t join a revolution or Occupy anything. They want the US to MIND ITS OWN BUSINESS.
        Spend money here at home. Spend money on Vets and not sitting duck aircraft carriers. They are right libertarians so they glorify individual acts of bravery and saving their buddies and protecting their piece of land. And at the same time, Montana sent the first woman to Congress, A Republican, Jeanette Rankin. She voted against both WW I and WWII. And those were the views of her family too. (See Hilary, that’s what women are supposed to be good at; Working for Peace.) The debate between Hilary and Trump on who is more tough I hope would open some eyes. But if Bernie gets the nod, he better follow your advice and take a strong non-interventionist stance while advocating raising the pay of our “warriors” (hate that word) to defend not invade.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          People called them Luddites and Isolationists, then said, ‘Let’s move on. Nothing to see here.”

          ‘Carbon emitting internal combustion engine is the future,’ it was written in the history books for a long time. “Welcome to modernity. Those Luddites are laughable.”

          ‘Who will be your Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense? Any names? What qualifications will you be looking for? Can you rule out Geithner at the Treasury, and not let on for us to think it might be Volcker or someone like him.’

      2. fresno dan

        I agree with your sentiments.
        I don’t know if the preponderance of the repub candidates have toned down there gung ho attitude. You still have hope and I am a total pessimist. Some of the things Fiorina and Christie have said makes the dialog from a Michael Bey movie sound profound. The rest of the republicans put their war mongering in Washington speak, but it is just as appalling, if not more so, for the political calculus that goes into trying to actually bring it about.
        There is a real cognitive dissonance in which the repubs aren’t willing to say Iraq was so successful, le’ts go back and do it again. But on the other hand, the constant assertion that America has to “lead” is just dog whistles for more interventionism. Can anyone say that interventionism has served the interest of the vast majority of the American people? Why is it SUCH an integral part of the repub campaign????
        How much of what they say is for rube consumption? Now consider a truly terrifying thought – they BELIEVE what they say – and I put forward again the proposition that Trump is the least TRULY dangerous repub on the platform. Those other repubs actually have the ability to get us into another war.

        The Lindsey Graham juggernaut apparently rolled to a stop because the accolades, hosannas, and 66 year old women tossing their panties to Lindsey was more adulation than a modest South Carolina senator felt he could responsibly shoulder.
        The establishment repubs, with the massive Graham support spurring them on, doubles down on, but not explicitly, the Lindsey doctrine of boots on the ground….just boots…. no pants, shirts, or solders. We will talk FORCEFULLY, and our “allies,” where ISIS gets all of its support from will, after not fighting ISIS for years, will now do so. Sooooooooooo simple. Speak LOUDLY, but carry no stick…
        Nevertheless, the repub DNA that more middle east involvement is actually what a majority of Americans want shows….What??? It really strikes me as a religion. Faith, the belief in something that cannot be rationally explained or defended is the only explanation. If your not seeing the visions, your not self flagellating hard enough…if we only lose enough blood and treasure, all will be clear.

        We are getting in my view very near the breaking point – where it is becoming more and more obvious that the agenda of the “establishment” (i.e., the 0.1%) and the vast majority is not merely no longer coincident, but diametrically opposed.
        Does anybody believe that the 2020 election will be more moderate, more sedate, more tranquil? That inequality will be less in 4 years? I don’t think we’re there yet, but step by step, we’re in for some interesting times (and by “interesting” I mean dismal). I think Sanders and Trump exposes that the emperor has no clothes. A very large fraction of both parties will not eat the dog food – the only question will it be a majority this year, or later?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          If, to help a civilian here, we have to put one US military personnel and several people in other nations at risk, that is an exceptionally provincial perspective.

          There is a better way – re-direct spending priorities.

  4. jack white

    Re: drafted dads. The Selective Service drafted the sons of the poor, the rich got deferments, or enlisted as National Guardsmen. Poverty leaves a mark across generations.

    1. ambrit

      The Government did away with the draft partly due to their experiences with ‘poor citizen soldiers’ fragging junior officers, obstructionism of all sorts, and said citizen soldiers being real citizens by agitating against the war when they came home. For a variety of reasons, todays soldiers are more in the category of Clients than Citizens. The American “Founding Fathers” were, by and large, against standing armies for very good reasons.
      One of the marks poverty leaves is that of the Lash.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Another deferment was to go to college to study financial derivatives or fracking-related geology.

      And if you wanted to study future-weapons-enabling pure physics, you would be sheltered as well.

      “Smart people are special. Let’s only send dumb ones. Too bad they are not so smart or have parents who have smart genes that can be inherited un-taxed.” (Let’s do something about inheritance tax – if you get your genius IQ from your parents, that should be taxed.)

    3. Gio Bruno

      Jack White is closer to the truth than the WaPo article.

      l dodged the draft by being at University from 1967-71, but lived with four Vietnam vets (white guys) for three of those years. These guys came from poor backgrounds but used “early out” mechanisms to serve only 13 months in ‘Nam and then receive GI Bill benefits to attend (in their case) a community college. They were initially drafted, but two “enlisted” to select the type of training/deployment they would expect to see. These guys were NOT part of the draft lottery that began12/1/1969. They each had contact with each other in ‘Nam (but not in their childhood).

      Only one of them completed their formal education with a degree (and he eventually committed “suicide” in a PTSD induced psychotic shootout after a demented standoff with local police).

      And that is an essential element to consider in looking at outcomes. PTSD (or simply the ‘Nam experience) and a poverty background is not a recipe for success in America.

  5. JCC

    I have to admit I’m feeling a little cynical this morning… got up to early due to the kitty determined to clean my face non-stop at 3:45 AM.

    With that said, shouldn’t the article linked to The American Prospect, The New Inequality Debate be listed in the No Shit, Sherlock department? I’m not sure who is looking more foolish, the magazine for saying this is news, or the politicians and others that are slowly coming to this “realization”.

    1. diptherio

      That is indeed the proper department to file this non-news. Money is transferable into power – gasp! The wealthy exert out-sized political influence – no way!!

      And, of course, we’re supposed to congratulate them for how smart they are to have figured this stuff out–the same stuff I was mocked for bringing up while I did my degree. Mainstream economics is a clown show, and the clowns, ironically, are the only ones who can’t see it…

      1. Paul Tioxon

        Talk about last to know, no shit Medici, money and power, we’ll have to look into this state of affairs. It seems even Wall Street’s sharpest knives, Felix Salmon, sees a financial coup. It looks like bankers have a whole lot of power, because they make a whole lot of profits. Even more than GM and US Steel used to before we deindustrialized. Now, there are even more rich guys than you shake a stick at, and not just a few dozen named Vanderbilt, Carnegie and Rockefeller. Bankers taking over the economy, Holy Fugger Batman! What next, the poor getting poorer!

  6. Pat

    Clinton’s lead is evaporating, and anxious Democrats see 2008 all over again Washington Post. Yeah, 2008 was just a terrible time for Democrats, what with the enthusiasm-generating primary contest and resounding general election victory.

    Sometimes it is important to point out the obvious, in 2008 whichever candidate the public selected the ‘right’ people won. This time around there was not supposed to be a choice. There certainly was not supposed to be a real choice between someone who actually does support working class Americans and someone who ‘listens’ to them. And it sure as hell wasn’t supposed to be someone who was quietly if not obviously pointing out that the last eight years have been a betrayal to the very people who enthusiastically and resounding elected the current President.

    This time it isn’t just Clinton losing, it is the people who have owned her and her husband for decades. And to make it worse, this was supposed to be the year that they weren’t going to have to work so hard or spend so much, it was going to be Clinton vs. Bush and only the rubes would be in the dark that it did not matter in the least for whom they pulled the lever.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      In 2008, Democrats won 21 House seats and 8 Senate seats. That 21 figure is a tad deflated because 2006 was a huge victory for Team Blue too. Democrats are terrified a surge will retake Congress which given declining GOP turnout from cycle to cycle is easily possible. A minority party can’t gerrymander a majority without leaving seats at risk.

      1. Pat

        Yeah, funny how by 2009 all the state and local infrastructure that had made that possible had been dismantled. And the usual suspects could blather on about how Democrats don’t turn out for mid-term elections – even though they had been doing just that.

        It really does make the kabuki of ignoring what is best for the masses while getting the oligarch’s work done so much harder.

      2. edmondo

        In 2008, Democrats won 21 House seats and 8 Senate seats. That 21 figure is a tad deflated because 2006 was a huge victory for Team Blue too

        And all we have to show for that is a crappy health care law. And the Democrats wonder why no one showed up to vote for them in 2010.

        1. Kokuanani

          I sure don’t remember our “inspiring new President” [Obama] speaking out in 2010 and reminding Dems that they should get themselves to the voting booth, since 2010 was a census year and thus —> redistricting.

          The Repubs won governorships and state legislatures that year, to add to their spoils in DC.

          But even at that early stage, Obama had no f**ks to give.

    2. Pavel

      Pat — excellent summary. Especially the oligarchs’ assumption that it would be Clinton v Bush 2.0 and they’d be happy with whichever won.

    3. Paul Tioxon

      From the anecdotal to God’s Ears about Bernie Sanders having more than a snowballs chance in hell. I was talking to a friend of the family, my son’s lifelong best friend whose parents came from Pakistan. The young man has a masters degree and works for a federal police agency. And I asked him about Donald Trump’s ban the Muslim proposal and what his mom and dad had to say about such talk in a public race for the WH. The immediate reply was Bernie Sanders should be president. Not what I was expecting in a response to Trump’s Islam Pogram. Who knew? There may be more surprises in store for Hillary that are brewing below the radar. Maybe more surprises for America than can be nicely packaged for popular consumption with a free App download.

    4. Jef

      Of course money has nothing to do with it.

      “Big-money outside groups have spent more than $143 million in the presidential race in the six months since any of them were required to reveal their donors, according to a POLITICO analysis of campaign and advertising records.
      The origins of some of that cash will never be revealed, while the rest of it won’t become known until midnight on Jan. 31 ― meaning that voters won’t know who funded the majority of the ads in the presidential race until just hours before Iowa voters head to their state’s pivotal caucuses.”

      http://www.politico.com/story/2016/01/undisclosed-dollars-dominate-campaign-spending-217599

  7. Brooklin Bridge

    How Alexis Tsipras Has Overplayed His Hand

    is a complete crock.


    Tsipras and Varoufakis fearlessly kept trying to make the threat of Grexit credible. They wanted to show the rest of the world that they were willing to take the situation to the extreme ends; that they did not care if the economy was slowing down, if banks closed, if unemployment rose. They would never succumb to the demands of the other side, even if they had to claim they were crazy.

    Yes, Tsipras and Varoufakis both demonstrated brilliantly what NOT to do in negotiations, but thier mistakes were more or less the opposite of what this author asserts: They both were absolutely explicit at the beginning of their term in office charade that Grexit was OFF THE TABLE. Rookie mistake number one. Next, they did absolutely nothing to prevent capital flows from the banks. Everyone know being desperate gives one a strong negotiating position and If you want to get desperate, get broke. Mistake number 2. Next, they both assumed good faith on the part of Merkel and the Troika and boy were they taken for a ride. Anyway, Alexios Arvanitis was clearly watching another TV channel (no doubt paid programming – or advertisement in the form of a broadcast).

    1. GlobalMisanthrope

      I agree. Just terrible. I’m thinking Dayen posted the link as a provocation.

      Among the many things it gets wrong, the Troika were not forced by Syriza’s “provocations” to double down on Greece. That was a completely gratuitous and arbitrary choice made pour encourager les autres.

      Whatever one thinks of Syriza’s failures, the fact remains that the Troika holds all the power and were never really “negotiating.” At least now the undemocratic EU structure has been exposed for what it is. I see some hope in that.

  8. allan

    Police decry feds’ move to quash forfeiture funds

    … two significant changes the feds made to the program in the past year or so have cut off the supply of funds, leaving law enforcement officials here and nationwide decrying not only the loss of what they say is an important tool in combating crime, but also an important way their departments have outfitted officers with state-of-the-art equipment and training at no additional cost to their local taxpayers. …

    Investigative reports have uncovered agencies across the country spending the funds on items ranging from helicopters to mobile command centers to more questionable expenses such as fancy coffee makers, clowns and in one case, even a Zamboni.

    “You don’t just throw the baby out with the bathwater,” said [Greece, NY, police chief] Phelan, acknowledging that some law enforcement agencies haven’t always used the forfeiture funds for good purposes. “You can’t take extreme examples and characterize them as the norm, which is completely wrong.”

    And, he said, some of the odder purchases, the Zamboni for instance, could actually have a valid law enforcement purpose and be a permitted use of the funds if the department in question had a vibrant youth hockey program as part of its community outreach.

    1. diptherio

      …an important way their departments have outfitted officers with state-of-the-art equipment and training at no additional cost to their local taxpayers

      This is where they pull you over and take all the cash you’ve got on you, even though you haven’t been charged with anything, right? So how is that “no additional cost to…local taxpayers.” Do the 5-0 only do this to out-of-towners or what, because if the police take the $2,000 you just withdrew to go buy your sweetheart an engagement ring, I’m pretty sure that counts as “additional cost.”

      1. BEast

        Not just cash. Jewelry, too. Electronics. Anything with cash value that they can claim they think was connected to crime.

        Gets worse with kids in the car.

        In one infamous case they tried to seize the old lady’s house after the grandson was busted in a couple $20 pot stings. Total crap.

        They tend to go after poor people who can’t afford to file to get their property back, in places where the lawyers won’t go up against them. And even when people do file suit, the property can be found “guilty” on a “preponderance of evidence.”

    2. cwalsh

      “You can’t take extreme examples and characterize them as the norm, which is completely wrong.” he says without a hint of irony.
      Why that would almost be like profiling …

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Let’s confine forfeitures to a few blocks of Wall Street and test it for a few years.

          1. McKillop

            I hesitate to comment on events particular to the U.S.A.ian politics but I wonder how there is much difference in the sentiments expressed here and the sentiments behind the militia movement (beyond the obvious extreme threat in militia protests. Both the militiamen and some commentors here point out the corruption and abuse of your governors both demand change.
            If the politicians in both parties are criminal and corrupt -at worst- or merely incompetent and self-serving (criminal and corrupt to a lesser degree) would it not be more palliative to add support to the people of the differing factions?

    3. fresno dan

      Zambonis – take a bite of the thin top layer of ice out of crime!

      A cynic might say, what with global warming, the hockey stick welding thugs who skate through so many of our megalopolis’s will be curtailed, and out long national nightmare of thieves slip sliding away will end…and the need for midnight hockey leagues will end.

  9. diptherio

    Wasn’t it just a few months ago that the Guardian and everyone else were throwing a fit about how Corbyn was going to destroy everything for Labour? Could it possibly be that all those experts and very serious people were…wrong? One shudders to think…

    1. Uahsenaa

      I think the reshuffle was a wakeup call. With Polly Toynbee permanently fixed to her fainting couch, the hysteria at the Graun was at a fever pitch for quite some time. I think they presumed that Corbyn would boggle something and resign in disgrace within a matter of months. What actually happened was the leader sacked from the front bench two shadow ministers who were waving their hands a great deal but had no real threats to back it up. The supposed resignation of 10 senior PLP shadow ministers turned out to be 3 nobodies, when push came to shove. Corbyn exercised his authority as leader and wasn’t really punished for it, because Blairites are weasels with no spine.

      That, and I think this is the big point of departure, there’s the extensive coverage of what has been happening in constituency Labour party meetings. The membership has surged under Corbyn, and as much as New Labour types fear the terrifying “hard leftist,” I think they care about winning more.

  10. Anon

    Re: Buffet’s Mobile-Home Firm

    So, what are the odds that we get any form of prosecution out of this? I mean, I’ve already lowered my expectations to where I think that no one high-level is going to jail for this, so that leaves a fine, which won’t even equal a month’s worth of profit.

  11. fresno dan

    http://jaredbernsteinblog.com/the-productivity-slowdown-mismeasurement-or-misallocationor-both/

    On the other hand, my intuition is that computers got a lot better—faster, with better web access—up until maybe a decade ago, and since then, their pace of improvement has slowed. It is possible that the trend above in IT prices is directionally correct.

    But either way, how big a difference does this make? A Federal Reserve analysis of this issue points out that another symptom of this price mismeasurement is that we’re also probably importing more IT stuff, in real dollar terms, than the current accounts reflect. Remember, imports are a negative for growth. “Thus,” the Fed economists conclude, “the overall effect on observed GDP would likely be small, as the additional business investment would be largely offset by lower net exports. Similarly, the recent modest labor productivity gains would also not be revised up appreciably…”

    Goldman Sachs economists dove into this question (no link available) and came to a different conclusion, arguing that a good chunk of the decline in productivity growth is a result of this pricing problem, along with missing all the benefits of free apps, websites, wifi, Google searches, and so on. For example, they report that Google’s chief economist estimates that the time saved by free searches may be worth $150 billion a year, or almost 1 percent of GDP (a bit like asking your barber to value your haircut, that).

    Jeez, I dunno. They must be right about the direction. A lot of this stuff adds way more value then we pay for it (especially when it’s free!). But assigning magnitudes has got be largely hand wavy, and deciding that those magnitudes have grown—remember, they’ve got to prove not just mismeasurement, but increased mismeasurement—tends to invoke another layer of speculation.

    It must also be the case that some technology makes life worse, i.e., that deteriorating quality adjustments would raise the prices of phone menus, robocalls, air travel. Are the national accounts accurately reflecting the efforts, costs, and downtime lost to fighting against computer viruses? Weirdly, economists virtually never consider that side of the equation. Some hand-waving is inevitable here but I worry about unidirectional hand-waving.
    =================================================

    “…but I worry about unidirectional hand-waving.”
    Well, exactly. Always bigger and better – – – or at least the advertising tells us so….
    The tomatoes that taste like Styrofoam, the phone trees that do not even allow for the eventuality that you may want to discontinue your relationship with your telephone, cable, wine club, etcetera. The myriad products composed of plastic that break if subject to any stress greater than would break a Faberge egg. Computer viruses? What about all the hacks? Do these hackers just do it for fun, or did they actually steal stuff? How much? How is that measured????
    If someone designs software that overcomes my popup blocker, is that software designer productive?
    If anyone has ever been in a hospital and gotten poked several times when it appears doctors deciding what they want would have alleviated the helter skelter approach and undoubtedly been easier on the patient, and maybe cheaper, but if the doctors get paid by the poke, productivity be damned.

    The point of all this rambling is that “productivity” can be a pretty slippery concept. Sure, it keeps economists off the streets, but it doesn’t provide me with tomatoes that taste like tomatoes…
    But at least Bernstein acknowledges that maybe the numbers don’t make sense.

    1. sd

      I’ve really come to hate words that include “productive” in their base. Brings my hackles up to the point where I can’t read whatever the treatise is trying to address. Its boardroom speak for f*cking over workers.

  12. Ian

    In regards to Hillary, how do the super delegates come into play? Is the massive backing that Hillary has in this regards overcomable regardless of popular support?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      A super delegate victory would usher in a Trump Presidency and Tea bagger Congress as well as destroy the public careers of any super delegate. Don’t worry about it.

      Hillary didn’t try it in 2008, and she had an argument, winning more votes and the anti-Democratic nature of caucuses which did undermine her senior voters.

          1. allan

            First-time voters and liberals are now officially the enemy:

            According to Democrats close to the Clintons and involved with her campaign, Mrs. Clinton and the former president are also unnerved by the possibility that Mr. Sanders will foment a large wave of first-time voters and liberals …

            1. cwaltz

              Nothing new. Punch the hippie is a routine game the Democratic party plays. Liberals are always the enemy. we tend to get in the way of the DNC mission, no different than the GOPs, to collect as much money from their wealthy patrons as possible.

            2. nycTerrierist

              good catch

              “foment” — wow, that is shameless. Nice ‘objective’ reporting
              from the Times. Save our democracy from ‘first-time voters’!
              oh, the humanity!

            3. petal

              The other night at the Sanders event at Dartmouth, there were people going through the line with voter registration cards to get folks(students) signed up to vote.

      1. Ian

        There was a corporatist Obama in the wings though that the establushment were fine with. It would fully expise the fraudulant tweedist nature of the system, but I can,t help but think that Bernie is considered in a different light then Obama

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Using unelected people to steal the election would usher in Trump and a Teabagger gang eager to erect gallows for Team Blue members. Hillary didn’t try because Palin/McCain ticket would have stomped a Super delegate Hillary nominee. People are only angrier now.

  13. JTMcPhee

    Not that it matters, in the way “we” conduct our political economy, but one little link from the Intercept is ofvsome interest in the health care thingie: https://theintercept.com/2016/01/16/in-1993-meeting-hillary-clinton-acknowledged-convincing-case-for-single-payer/

    An often used trial trick is to get the witness to absolutely confirm a point, then ask them to confirm an earlier 180-degree-out statement, then ask, “Are you lying now or were you lying then?” Impeachment, the word, has several meanings…

    Not that our world of universal prevarication in pursuit of personal and corporate gain, impeachment means jack sh1t, unless it’s part of some Narrative one aligns with…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Very smart people can always get out of it by claiming, ‘the situation has changed.’

      We are just not smart enough to realize that.

      I have run into many in my life. Today, broccoli is the best thing in the world, and you must agree. Tomorrow, it’s coffee, don’t you know? And it’s always very convincing every time. You gotta give them that. Very smart people.

  14. Elizabeth Burton

    Call me paranoid, but after reading the article on the Benghazi movie, I see a much more sinister purpose underlying it. On the other hand, I’m learning to analyze for propaganda, so…

    When Rumsfeld became DefSec, his first act was to begin the privatization of a broad range of activities formerly done by the military, including hiring bodyguards for US power players and their friends instead of using soldiers. I haven’t seen the film, but the description strikes me as a well-done commercial for those private mercenaries. It glamorizes hired killers while subtly implying the true authorities are incompetent by showing them as unwilling to “make the hard choices.”

    By making the CIA agent into a hopeless incompetent, it also sends the message that we really shouldn’t worry about what our spooks are up to because, obviously, they’re essentially just harmless bureaucrats.

    Not. Not, not, not.

    To put it another way, I don’t see an action movie. I see a powerful piece of propaganda, and not just for the “kill ’em all and let God sort ’em out” crowd. And that scares the crap out of me.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Another aspect that scares is, of course, how readily so many of “us” respond so “positively” to this stuff . There are good reasons to resonate to that bit about “Resistance is futile.” We humans, unfortunately, are what we are…

    2. Andrew Watts

      This movie is typical Hollywood shtick in the spirit of ‘Black Hawk Down’. It’s art designed to reinforce the aura of invincibility that Americans believe surround their country… even in defeat. The American public doesn’t know how to deal with the ambiguity of loss. Entertainment is used as a coping mechanism.

      The intelligence community, represented by the CIA operative, is being used as a scapegoat to cover-up the incompetence of the policymakers. In the case of Benghazi only national command authority (ie; the president) could’ve legally authorized a rescue mission. It was Hillary’s job to make that request.

      That’s why the Republicans are hoping this movie hurts the Clinton campaign. But if they weren’t a bunch of idiotic pikers they would’ve been able to accomplish that during the House hearings.

      1. Andrew Watts

        Although I don’t think the CIA will object too loudly to their negative portrayal in the movie. They’ll use it as an example of being hobbled by ‘crats and laws and everyone will nod their heads in understanding. Which isn’t all too different from when some folks were being tortured and everybody understood this was necessary because 24 makes you an expert on counter-terrorism.

        Uhh, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily wrong. There is a fine legal line between breaking other country’s laws and following US law. I just don’t believe the CIA is capable of managing that.

  15. GlobalMisanthrope

    Re: Chipotle

    I wish there was more information in the news about their problems. Of course properly storing, cooking and holding food is essential, but in my experience cross-contamination is almost always the culprit in food-borne illness. That’s why I won’t eat at places where the people cooking or assembling the food wear gloves. I keep them in my kitchen for protecting hands, like if someone has a cut or is processing a big batch of jalapeños. That’s it. I don’t allow my cooks to wear them otherwise.

    Gloves give people a false sense of cleanliness. With gloves on you can’t feel any of the sensations that would otherwise tell you that your hands were dirty. Also, though the protocol is to wash your hands before donning gloves and after removing them, most kitchen workers skip at least one of the washes and many skip both.

    Hand sanitizers contribute to the problem. They tend to get used when time pressures make hand washing inconvenient. But unless you sanitize as thoroughly as you’re supposed to wash (25 seconds of soaping before handling to-be-cooked food, 40 seconds with a nail brush before handling ready-to-eat foods) and are sure to get the sanitizer under your nails and into the cuticles, it’s pointless.

    I came up before gloves or sanitizers were in widespread use in kitchens. We had a box of gloves by the first aid kit because having to work with a cut or burn was the only time you used them. We also only had one hand-washing sink in the kitchen. Someone was virtually always at that sink. And, yes, all that hand washing took time and caused disruptions and distractions and encouraged a worker to stop on her/his way to say something to someone working in a different area who s/he didn’t get much of a chance to talk to, etc. So management types see inefficiency and pounce.

    Ask yourself, when was the last time you saw a food worker washing her/his hands? Yep. This is yet another way that supposed workplace efficiencies end up hurting the consumer.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In drought stricken California, it’s either reducing hand-washing water usage or hurting already vulnerable our fracking industry.

      Perhaps taking fewer and shorter showers will help, as we have to wash hands more often.

      “Hey, you don’t sweat as much in winter.”

    2. cwaltz

      What? I thought that people who work in restaurants are unskilled labor. Who knew that food handling could be important(tongue firmly in cheek.)

      1. GlobalMisanthrope

        Thanks for teeing that up.

        Here in Texas the legislature overhauled the Health and Safety Code in 2006. The portion covering restaurants was written by lobbyists for a huge Texas chain. The changes are completely geared toward big corporate operations precisely because they want to rely on unskilled, low-wage workers. So you’ve got all kinds of micromanagement now in code and much of it sounds serious and scientific, but has nothing to do with health or safety except in a totally CYA way. And none of it has to do with quality.

        Plus the inspectors are bullies (who would rather be cops but don’t have the guts) and have no food knowledge whatsoever. An inspector once made me throw out a half wheel of Roquefort because it was molded. I had my sous triple bag it and we retrieved it from the dumpster after he left. I’ve had inspectors order me to throw out duck confit (preserved in fat) because it was more than 7 days old. That same inspector made a point of repeating over and over that everything had a 7 day kill date. And I’m thinking, yeah, those scallops are gonna be great on day 6…

        I could go on and on. But I’m going to stop because I’m on vacation, dammit!

  16. tongorad

    Love this bit from the Gawker Benghazi article:

    Things took a turn for the worse. Chris Cornell of Soundgarden rose to sing a song. Things again took a turn for the worse: He sang another.

    Hollywood’s current hard-on for imperial military glory makes the 1940’s propaganda look subtle by comparison. Support the troops!

  17. susan the other

    the Aliso gas storage at Porter Ranch. Those pipelines were not built with sufficient shut-off valves in case of a blowout. And now there is nothing anybody can do. The gas is mostly methane. The very worst. Extra bad for CO2 going straight into the atmosphere. A catastrophe as bad as BP Deep Horizon? – I’m thinking it is far worse because it is compounding global warming exponentially. Government officials, including Jerry Brown himself who is tight with the natgas industry in California, simply gave the industry a pass and did not require them to install shut-off valves. Unconscionable. And it raises the very uncomfortable question of how many other politicians are giving a pass to the natgas industry?

    1. Synoia

      1. Light it. Then it won;t be methane.
      2. The lead is a reservoir leak, not a pipeline leak.
      3. The leak is through a hole in the ground.
      4. It will continue to leak until it is empty.

      Climate Change is baked in. Expect 6.5 Billion to die.

      5. Move to a climate where is is hard to keep warm (Siberia, Canada).

  18. allan

    The Destruction of Progressive Wisconsin [NYT]

    At the start of the GOP race, I thought Walker was the scariest of the lot – somebody who had proven he knew how (with a lot of outside help) to leverage a tiny electoral advantage into a brutal destruction of his opponents and a perhaps irreversible dismantling of honest government in Wisconsin.
    He might still show up on the VP line.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      With the way, he folded and did nothing in the race. I would start looking at one of the other governors as a running mate. I try not to watch these debates, but has Kasich attacked anyone in the debates? Fiorino collapsed when her business record was exposed. Nikki Haley maybe? Sure she’s a dope, but Dan Quayle was once Vice President.

      1. JTMcPhee

        It seemed to me thatQuayle was there, inter alia possibly, plus attracting the looney Right, to discourage attempts at assassinating Bush, who in hi life certainly built up a huge list of people who had reason to take stab.

        On the other hand, a then-current “Liberal” joke was if anyone managed to burn the Bush, the Secret Service had standing orders to shoot some Quayle…

  19. bob

    “I Watched Michael Bay’s Benghazi Movie at Cowboys Stadium With 30,000 Pissed-Off Patriots Gawker”

    Not sure why, but I started…

    “It is, at its most basic level, an actual human tragedy, one of an uncountable number this country has been party to in the last fifteen years. ”

    Complete and utter nonsense.

    You could make a case for comedy, but tragedy? No, not at all.

    The inside-outside view. He’s being objective, you understand…..

    I won’t go into any more detail, I don’t believe in encouraging texans.

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