2:00PM Water Cooler 2/2/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, this is a good deal shorter. Late night last night! –lambert

TTP/TTIP/TiSA

“None of the promises made by the lobbyists about NAFTA, the WTO and China trade came true” [Buffalo News]. “Anyone who cares to look can see the results by driving past “the industrial corridors” of Buffalo, Cheektowaga, Lackawanna and Niagara Falls. These sectors, and those like them in other poor cities like Detroit, Rochester, Flint, Mich., and Gary, Ind., are where good-paying industrial jobs were. They are now empty.” To be fair, private equity helped! And then there’s this:

The custodian of the largest bulk of unemployed black Americans, and others who have resigned from the workforce, is the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Under pressure from the Obama administration, it has just endorsed the TPP, more concerned with the steady flow of welfare benefits and food stamps than entry-level jobs.

Under the leadership of Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the conference of mayors bit deeply into the servings of malarkey that always precede these trade sellouts.

She claimed the TPP will increase incomes and exports, and will be “a shot in the arm” for local economies because the agreement promotes “exports from small and medium-sized businesses that are the backbone of our Main Street communities.” The mayor of one of the poorest cities in America, she got her talking points from the right-wing Peterson Institute.

Black Misleadership Class in action…

2016

Policy

After Iowa squeaker, Clinton headfakes left on health care [The Nation]. “Claiming turf that Sanders has occupied, she said she was ‘honored to stand in the long line of American reformers who make up our minds that the status quo is not good enough. That standing still is not an option. And that brings people together to find ways forward that will improve the lives of Americans.'” Let’s roll the tape again:

According to Clinton, Medicare for All will “never, ever come to pass” (background on ka-ching here). Yet now, in her victory speech, Clinton claims: “I know that we can finish the job of universal health care coverage for every single man, woman and child.” Really? If Clinton’s not going to get to universal coverage with rugged, proven, effective, and cheaper single payer, what are the “details” of her proposal? Because there’s nothing on Clinton campaign website issues page that says “universal” care (let me pause here download the page). Clinton really shouldn’t “make it up as she goes along,” eh?

“[W]hile Mr Sanders has built his campaign on a jeremiad against wealth inequality and corporate greed, he isn’t, properly speaking, a socialist—or even a democratic socialist. The better term encapsulating Mr Sanders’ positions is ‘social democrat’, a label that jibes with his rather mainstream embrace of ‘private companies that thrive and grow in America’ and belief that ‘the middle class and the working families who produce the wealth of America deserve a fair deal’. To clarify matters, Mr Sanders flatly disavows the very heart of socialism as defined by Karl Marx: ‘I don’t believe government should own the means of production’, he says” [The Economist, “How much of a socialist is Sanders?”].

Cruz: “The scientific evidence doesn’t support global warming. For the last 18 years, the satellite data – we have satellites that monitor the atmosphere. The satellites that actually measure the temperature showed no significant warming whatsoever” [NPR].

Money

Jeb Bush spent $2,888 per vote [International Business Times]. “The candidates whose campaigns and affiliated super PACs spent the most on such ads did not end up winning the race — and in some cases, the biggest spenders were among the night’s biggest losers.”

“Sanders also seems to be gathering steam at a time when other candidates are flatlining. His campaign says it pulled in an additional $20 million in January, a pace of fundraising that’s ahead of where Sanders was during the last three months of 2015. His campaign ended the year with $28 million in the bank, second only to Clinton’s $38 million. With plenty of cash on hand and more flooding in, Sanders’s small-money campaign will outlast some of the big-money ones.” [Yahoo].

The Voters

“Establishment Republicans might be relieved that Donald Trump didn’t win in Iowa, but the caucus results still show it has reasons to worry: Roughly two-thirds of Republicans caucused for an anti-establishment candidate (Ted Cruz, Mr. Trump, or Ben Carson) and half of Democrats went for Bernie Sanders” [Wall Street Journal, “Three More Takeaways From the Iowa Caucus Results “]. Simply put, there’s massive discontent in both parties, and the Iowa results are another shot across the bow of “the establishment.”

“The two Jackson campaigns—1984 and 1988—have become lost from the political narrative of the following 30 years, but they are an undeniable historical source modern progressive Democratic politics in general, and for its manifestation in the Sanders campaign this time around” [Charles Pierce, Esquire].

“Still, it’s hard to see this week as anything but a reminder that the Clinton campaign is not the sure thing Democrats once hoped. She is leaving Iowa tied with Sanders, dogged by her emails, and struggling to excite Democrats about her candidacy. This is not the juggernaut of a campaign that led virtually every viable Democratic candidate for president to sit 2016 out” [Ezra Klein, Vox]. “Democratic elites have put themselves in a position where Sanders is their only viable alternative to Clinton — and they don’t see him as all that viable.” Well — 2010 *** cough *** 2014 *** cough *** — they’re the experts in non-viability, so I suppose we should listen to them.

Hmm. I thought youth was part of the “Obama Coalition”?


“A personal note: A few years ago OFA wanted to screen around America the movie Jake Kornbluth and I did about widening inequality, called “Inequality for All” – but only on condition we delete two minutes identifying big Democratic donors. We refused. They wouldn’t show it” [Robert Reich, LA Progressive]. In other words, the Democrats gutted OFA; a movement is the last thing they want. However — and here is where I’m not seeing what I’d like to see — I don’t see anything institutional being done for movement-building on the Sanders campaign. Voting and contributions, even $27 contributions in the millions, do not a movement make. Now, movement-like entities like MoveOn and DFA have gravitated to the Sanders campaign, but a mailing list isn’t the same as a movement either. So what about it?

The Trail

Sanders: “We are in this for the long haul. We’re going to be there fighting until the day of the convention. There are a lot of states out there and we now have a strong volunteer base in many, many states. We have the resources, we have the energy to continue the struggle and I think at the end of the day we’re going to surprise a lot of people. I think we’re gonna win this thing” [CBS]. Ulysses S. Grant: “I propose to fight it out on this line, if it takes all summer.”

“Retreating Clinton Campaign Torches Iowa Town To Slow Advance Of Sanders Volunteers” [The Onion].

“Clinton, who saw a 50-point lead in Iowa dwindle to single digits” [The Nation]. And Clinton didn’t win by even a single digit: 0.3%. She won not by a nose, but a whisker. “Another such victory and I am undone,” as Pyrrhus said.

“Results from Iowa’s Democratic Party, announcing 100 percent of the precincts counted, gave Clinton a whisker-thin margin: 49.8 percent to Sanders’s 49.6 percent” [WaPo]. “At the very least, Sanders’s competitiveness portends a longer, more costly and more difficult primary battle than predicted when Sanders entered the race six months ago. He has money and enthusiastic support to carry on his fight.” So much for two talking points: Clinton’s election is not inevitable, and Sanders is electable.

“‘As Hillary supporters, we’ve been instructed to, if we see it slipping away, to go over to O’Malley,’ [Chris Haines] said, who is running a distant third to Clinton and Sanders” [The Roll]. That wasn’t necessary, but kudos to the Clinton campaign for using O’Malley as a straw.

“The Iowa Democratic Party informed the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernard Sanders late Monday night that it has no results for 90 precincts across the state, which could account for as much as 5 percent of the total vote. And the party has asked the campaigns for help in getting a tally for those missing results” [Roll Call]. Apparently, the various caucus glitches have been resolved, but this is the sort of thing a functional party apparatus has to do; basic blocking and tackling. (Interestingly — and I know this will come as a shock to you — the Iowa Dem Party chair, Andy McGuire, has a “known allegiance” to Clinton.)

“If there is such a thing as controlled chaos (that’s likely an oxymoron) the process of cajoling supporters to leave their groups for another candidate epitomized the overall scene at the caucus I attended. The Democratic caucus rules were bent and broken in an attempt to keep attendees from leaving before all of the business of the caucus could be completed” [LA Progressive]. Again, basic blocking and tackling not done.

“Hillary Clinton Gives Victory Speech In Iowa, Even Though A Democratic Winner Hasn’t Been Declared” (with complete transcript) [Bustle]. AP wouldn’t call it; the Iowa Dems themselves wouldn’t call it; but Clinton called it. (The speech is carefully parsed; Clinton is, after all, a lawyer. However: “So as I stand here tonight, breathing a big sigh of relief — thank you, Iowa!” If she’s not “relieved” at (putative) victory, why is she relieved?)

Multiple House panels investigating Clinton email server in conflict over jurisdiction [The Hill]. The Clintons have always been lucky in their enemies.

* * *

I shouldn’t give in to this, but:


“The Texas Republican had to have a win in Iowa — and he got it. Evangelicals, who spurred Mike Huckabee to victory in 2008 and Rick Santorum to a win in 2012, constituted roughly two-thirds of Iowa Republican caucus-goers, according to entrance polling, and Cruz won them convincingly” [WaPo].

Stats Watch

Gallup US Economic Confidence Index, January 2016: “[S]table last month compared with December. The index score of minus 11 in January is higher than most monthly averages since 2008, but still below the post-recession high of plus 3 from January 2015” [Econoday]. “Americans’ assessment of the U.S. economy continues to skew negative, as it has for most of the past year. This is the case both in their view of current conditions and their sense of the economy’s direction.”

“With GDP growth near flat employment growth implies more employees are being hired to produce the same levels of output, which sends up a red flag for downward revisions to employment” [Mosler Economics].

“[Alphabet, the parent company of Google] now has a market capitalization of just shy of $565 billion based on its recent post-market movement, according to Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices. That’s above the $539 billion Apple boasts” [Marketwatch].

Bonds: ” Deutsche Bank’s Jim Reid: Just Wait ‘Til Corporate Bonds Go Negative, Too” [Bloomberg]. “Corporate yields in Switzerland previously turned negative to coincide with the country’s pioneering work in the field of government bond yields below zero.”

“One railroad executive perfectly laid out the problem facing the US economy” [Business Insider]. Pat Ottensmeyer, president of the major railroad Kansas City Southern: “We’re in an energy-market depression, an industrial and manufacturing recession, but somehow the consumer is doing OK.” This Maine Bear agrees. Readers? What do you think? And if this is true, why is it true? And doesn’t it make you feel like this?

coyote

And if not, why not? (NOTE to Business Insider: For maximum click-bait-y-ness, the headline should begin: “This one railroad executive….”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 25, Extreme Fear (previous close: 27) [CNN]. One week ago: 17 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed).

Water

“Lead pipes can be found in much of the U.S., but surveys show they are concentrated in the Northeast and Midwest. Nobody really knows how extensive they are today: A 1990 study estimated that 3.3 million utility service lines contain lead—plus twice as many connecting pipes, and countless amounts of lead solder. In addition, many homes have plumbing that contains the hazardous metal” [National Geographic]. “Flint’s mayor has said replacing the lead pipes could cost $1.5 billion – plus the cost of possible health damage. By contrast, Edwards says the treatment chemicals that would have kept the lead out of the water would have cost $80-$100 a day.”

“Flint Begins The Long Process Of Fixing Its Water Problem” [NPR]. Stop right there, NPR. A lot of people contributed to making this problem, and Flint was way at the end of the line. I’d start with the Clintons (NAFTA) and private equity (deindustrialization). And throw in a big dose of racism, too.

Our Famously Free Press

“Who’s Going to Keep Paying For This Crap?” [Gawker]. “After November, then, Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen, Mark Halperin, and John Heilemann—arguably the biggest superstars of modern political reporting—could all be without platforms.” Because Politico’s editorial department has Robert Allbritton when they want Marty Peretz, and Bloomberg wants to feed the terminal, not that sucking money pit of a website.

Gaia

“Groundhog Day: Punxsutawney Phil sees early spring” [CNN]. “The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration pegs Phil’s accuracy at about 45%.”

Militia Watch

“Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who led a standoff with the federal government in 2014, wants the protesters in Oregon to stand their ground — directly defying the message of his son, Ammon” [Raw Story].

Corruption

“$4 billion ‘misappropriated’ from Malaysia, Swiss Attorney General says” [CNBC]. That’s a lot of money!

“Swiss wreck efforts by Malaysia to contain 1MDB scandal” [CNBC]. “John Pang, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, said the Swiss statement undermined Mr Apandi’s claim that the funds paid into Mr Najib’s account were a donation from the Saudi royal family.”

“Swiss 1MDB probe holds fat tail risks for Malaysia” [Reuters]. “Even by the standards of Malaysian politics, it has been an extraordinary few days. The Swiss findings implicate former Malaysian officials and current and former ones in the United Arab Emirates. Four companies are in the frame: PetroSaudi, a privately-held Saudi oil company; former 1MDB subsidiary SRC International; Malaysian conglomerate Genting, and ADMIC, a joint venture with Aabar Investments – which is ultimately backed by Abu Dhabi royal Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan. The findings are also uncomfortable for Goldman Sachs as the Wall Street bank, which helped raised $6.5 billion for 1MDB, was closely involved with two of these entities.”

“The former head of Petrobras’ international division was jailed for more than 12 years on Monday for his role in the ongoing graft scandal at Brazil’s state-run oil company.

[Splash247]. “Jorge Zelada was found guilty of money laundering and corruption for accepting huge bribes to favour US company Vantage Drilling Corporation in a 2009 contract award.” Wow, you can do that? Jail an executive for corruption?

News of the Wired

“The U.S. military is working to develop a new chip technology that, when implanted, will connect human brains to computers — making cyborgs” [Military.com]. “Should the chip succeed, it could have nearly limitless possibilities.” No doubt!

“U.S. Air Force Sells A-10s to ISIS” [Duffel Blog].

“Senate Homeland Security chairman: Encryption law could ‘do more harm than good'” [Daily Dot].

“Thomas Tamm, a former U.S. Depart­ment of Justice lawyer who leaked information to the press about warrantless domestic spying under President George W. Bush, is facing legal ethics charges in Washington” [National Law Journal]. “In charging papers released on Jan. 26, the D.C. Office of Disciplinary Counsel accused Tamm of violating local ethics rules when he went to a New York Times reporter — instead of his superiors at the Justice Department — in 2004 with concerns about the surveillance program.” That’s right: DC lawyers are charging a whistleblower with an ethics violation. (Which actually makes perfect sense, if your sense of ethics is totally inverted.)

“Engineer who refused to OK Challenger launch report donates papers to Chapman University” [Los Angeles Times]. “‘I’m hopeful that some of the material will be accessed by future generations and may prevent them from making the same mistakes,’ [Allan McDonald] said during a visit to the college.”

* * *

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 (Marin Twain):

cactus

No snow here!

* * *

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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

121 comments

    1. TedWa

      UFR – thanks for that link. Corruption is the game everywhere and where is our government on this? Taking their cut of the action through fines they tout as the biggest ever, Whoopee. Shouldn’t those fines paid go to the people that were wronged?

  1. Anon

    Re: Iowa

    0.3% is pretty impressive, even with the glitched software provided by Microsoft. I hope that firewall doesn’t hold up in the South, yet African-American voters still look at the Clinton presidency fondly, despite screwing them over the hardest.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      1996 and 2000 were record lows for black turnout. Clinton’s war on inner cities didnt sit too well with African Americans. Obama beat Hillary for the black vote. I’m not sure Clinton Inc.is that popular.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      To be fair to Microsoft, which isn’t easy for me, my understanding is that the glitch was in registering new voters (which would hurt Sanders) but not in vote tabulation.

      That doesn’t meant that the app can’t be hacked, but I’ve seen no evidence it has been.

      Since “election fraud” is perhaps the most toxic charge in American politics, since it corrodes the entire democratic system (such as it is, I grant) it’s best to work from evidence rather than assertion, even more than normally. I checked out Bradblog, but his information on the app is buried in a podcast. If anyone has time to listen…

      1. Anon

        I’ll give it a listen. Also, from Twitter:

        Allum Bokhari (of Breitbart) is claiming to have a pretty big piece of news about Iowa on the R side to be released today, as seen here:

        Tweet

        Also, no mention of the 1 in 64 chance of Hillary winning all six coin tosses anywhere? This is almost as fortuitous as turning $1000 into $100,000 on cattle futures…

        1. lambert strether

          The coin-flip story is deeply ridiculous, because while sortition worked for Athens, in America we pick Presidents based on voters voting, at least nominally.

          That said, I don’t believe that the 1/64 thing translates directly to election fraud, absent operational evidence based on the source of the coin and who controlled the flip. 1/64 things happen all the time. That’s why there’s horse-racing, for example.

        2. cm

          Here is a fun cover of the story.
          Any Democrat apologists out there? I’m curious about the lack of standards on the coin toss. Shouldn’t it be recorded on video (with sufficient resoluition to see the outcome) and called in the air? Were the coins inspected by both parties? The reporting on this has been abysmal.

      2. diptherio

        Brad says MS has been looking to get into the e-voting market for awhile now. He says it probably not too worrying in this instance, as Iowa has a very (locally) transparent caucus system. “If they do try anything, it should be very hard to get away with it without being caught by the public.” But stay vigilant.

    3. 3.14e-9

      Anon, did you see the video in the 2PM Water Cooler 1/28? Former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner, in an interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, said the Sanders campaign is working closely with the A-A community, and she bristled at the suggestion that Clinton has the A-A vote locked up. “You have to earn our vote, you don’t own our vote,” she said, adding that Sanders is doing everything necessary to earn it (starts around 3:35).

      There’s also a group called African Americans for Bernie Sanders, which is doing a lot of outreach. I get their FB feed and have to say that I often get links to campaign news from them before I read it elsewhere. In fact, that’s how I found the MSNBC interview with Nina Turner.

      1. RUKidding

        Thanks for that info. I fully admit that I haven’t done much homework on this whole alleged “fracas” or whatever vis the AA community and Sanders. I’ve tended to think it’s mostly made up, although there *may* have been some genuine concerns early on. I really don’t know, but a lot of the finger pointing seems to come the Clinton machine, or at least, that’s my take on it.

        I don’t see how AA/Hispanics can see HRC as someone more on their side than Sanders, but that’s just me. I really don’t know how those communities (who cannot be painted with one brush anyway) view either Sanders or Clinton.

        I know that Sanders has definitely been doing some outreach into the AA community. Unsure of any efforts from him with Hispanics or other minority communities.

  2. Jim Haygood

    Rate hikes will continue till the economy improves, says a Fed fortune teller:

    WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) – The recent stock-market selloff “is not all that unexpected” nor “necessarily worrisome” as investors were naturally going to readjust the pricing of risk in the wake of the December’s interest-rate hike, said Kansas City Fed President Esther George, on Tuesday.

    “Monetary policy cannot respond to every blip in financial markets,” George said in a speech on the economic outlook at the Central Exchange in Kansas City.

    There has been no “substantial shift” in the outlook that would justify pausing further gradual rate hikes, she said.

    http://tinyurl.com/h5mesal

    Ms Market will carry on puking until the FOMC fortune tellers capitulate.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Once they go negative, will we ever be able to return to zero?

      “In the good ol’ days, we got zero.”

      “No way!!! You must be kidding.”

      1. Chauncey Gardiner

        Re “Once they (corporate bond interest rates) go negative, will we ever be able to return to zero?”

        drip… drip… drip… “Ever” is a long time. All the debt will eventually be repaid under this policy. When that occurs, we will be able to return to zero as no debt will be outstanding.

        Certainly hints at which interests are winning. “Financial repression?!… What financial repression?”

    2. Jim Haygood

      Crude Earl closes under thirty dollah … at $29.88/bbl.

      “Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate farmers, liquidate energy.” — Stanley Mellon Fischer, FOMC Grand Wizard

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The weaker the economy, the less the demand for oil, but more for stress-related health care.

        I expect quite unhealthy, rampant actually, health care inflation.

  3. Daryl

    > “The Texas Republican had to have a win in Iowa — and he got it. Evangelicals, who spurred Mike Huckabee to victory in 2008 and Rick Santorum to a win in 2012, constituted roughly two-thirds of Iowa Republican caucus-goers, according to entrance polling, and Cruz won them convincingly”

    Here’s hoping he’ll have just as much success as Rick Santorum in the future.

  4. desmoinesdem

    I don’t think it was ever true that the Iowa Democratic Party said “it has no results for 90 precincts across the state.” I think that was a misunderstanding or deliberate misrepresentation for the fact that in 90 precincts across the state, no precinct chair had been lined up ahead of time.

    1. 3.14e-9

      The Guardian’s Dan Roberts was with Bernie Sanders on the plane to New Hampshire last night and reported that the campaign told him they had just been informed by the party that results for 90 precincts were missing. At least, that’s what I remember. I stayed up and followed the Guardian’s live coverage . I know there was an entire quote, and that Roberts was getting it directly from the Sanders people. But now that post is gone, replaced with a tweet from Roberts, “Apparently reason we are waiting for 90 Iowa precincts to return results is Democratic party failed to staff them.”

      According to several news reports, the Iowa Democratic Party asked the two campaigns to help them track down the the temporary precinct chairs who hadn’t yet called in their results. They also denied reports that some precincts hadn’t been staffed. But I could swear I saw an earlier statement (which also seems to have disappeared) in which a party spokesman said that the precincts that were without staff were not the ones who hadn’t reported in.

      An article in today’s Des Moines Register quotes a voter who said that there was no trained staff at her precinct, and that a neighbor of hers stepped forward to do the job. But he didn’t know what he was supposed to do with the results. He took the day off from work today to take the paperwork to his county Democratic Party.

      The Sanders campaign has asked to see the raw numbers, but I don’t know how that would prove anything unless they go through the paperwork for every precinct to make sure that the number of votes matches the number of people who signed in.

    2. lambert strether

      Well, that’s why I said “Apparently, the various caucus glitches have been resolved….” Some of this sounds like “heat of battle” stuff to me. But there are enough reports bubbling of, from multiple sources, of caucus glitches to make me keep watching this story with concern. I mean, I remember the Texas caucuses in 2008, and Ohio 2004, so it’s not like the parties don’t have the capacity to create and leverage chaos.

        1. flora

          Interesting. Iowa has been doing caucuses for over 40 years. Hard to imagine a snafu this big was caused by inattention to detail at state party headquarters.

          from the article:
          “One well-connected Democrat told the Guardian there “have been several hundred precincts with errors on caucus locations – wrong addresses, changed locations, or other things”. The Democrat added that many changes have happened this week. In contrast, another veteran Democrat who had long been involved in the caucus process told the Guardian that at this point before the 2008 caucuses, there were only several dozen problematic precincts in the state when the state had 1,784 individual precincts, 100 more than it has today. The Guardian understands Iowa’s two largest counties, Polk County and Linn County, each potentially have that many problematic precincts.”

  5. Isolato

    RE: The Allen Chapman story NPR did a piece on the engineers who KNEW the Challenger was going to blow up and how their urgent warnings were brushed aside. THEY are wracked by guilt! Like the FBI agents who tried to warn their superiors about the evidence that Saudis were training at flight schools in the US for all the wrong reasons, like the people who tried to warn us about the Tsarnaevs, the underwear bomber, so many others. Is there a more horrible curse than Cassandra’s?

    1. Steve H.

      Tioxon on Jan 19:

      – Einstein and Oppenheimer in particular faced the reality of their own powerlessness in the world no matter how smart they were and how invaluable their contributions to science, their knowledge was appropriated by those with more power than them.

      Substitute ‘ignored’ for ‘appropriated’ in this situation.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        If they knew their work was going to be used to make bombs for mass killing, would they still have gone ahead with their work?

        And related questions:

        1. Could they have known?
        2. Did they even ponder that question?

        Lastly:

        Given that experience, what moral and ethical standard should today’s would-be scientists adhere to?

        Can I expect my work to do no harm?

        1. James Levy

          They had the excuse that it looked in 1942 that 1) Germany could fight the war to at least a draw and 2) they might get their own bomb first. The best comment on why by the middle of 1944 when those two assumptions no longer held sway Oppenheimer et al. kept at it was delivered by Richard Feynman, who said that his moral failing was getting caught up in the thing: “I didn’t think” is how he summed it up. Given wartime groupthink and the “sweetness” of the problem and how close they were to solving it, very few did. The military also used secrecy and isolation to keep the Chicago team (which had finished their reactor and had time to think) from contact with the Los Alamos team (which was still hip-deep in the practicalities of building the bomb).

          The curse is you need a genius to get the ball rolling but once the basic outline of a solution is to hand then you can use the plethora of very clever men and women who are not geniuses to carry it to a conclusion. This leaves the geniuses with two options: jump ship and leave the credit to someone else, or stay on, finish the job, get the kudos, and worry about the moral implications later. Unless you are a Leo Szilard, you take the second course of action.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Thanks James.

            I should have written, ‘If they knew their work was eventually going to be used…”

            I was thinking around 1904, 1905…basic research, that kind of stuff.

            1. nowhere

              “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” – Albert Einstein

    2. Steve in Flyover

      If you guys think these kinds of decisions are this clear cut, I’m here to disillusion you. These kinds of decisions are made every day, in about every industrial and transportation industry you can name.

      And there’s always someone there to override your decision, because you know, we are a nation of “risk takers” Most of the time, the engineers design in enough “tolerance for deficiencies” that the risk takers get away with marginal decisions most of the time.

      But then, you get the guys who know about the tolerances, and the hard and fast rule book turns into a “Recommended Operations” book.

      As an aircraft mechanic, these questions come up all the time. A typical phone call goes like this: “We are hear waiting on the passengers to show up out here in BFE, the airplane is doing/not doing this, and there’s nothing in the Minimum Equipment List” about it. What do we do??????”

      The trouble is, you aren’t there…….you can’t see what it is doing, or if the pilot has missed something else while he has tunnel vision on the initial problem.

      If you say “Cancel the flight” more than a few times, you are looking for a new job, even it the cancellation is totally legit. Especially if you are working for one of the “rule-breaker/regulations are BS” types, that think “the rules” apply to someone else.

      So you try to identify the problem, with the crew, think about the “worst case scenarios” and the possibility of them happening, and come to a decision on whether to fly or not.

      If you want to know why there is a “shortage of experienced mechanics” read the above for Exhibit “A”. Expect many more bonehead moves like AirAsia 8501 in the future, as the old guys like me are retired (either voluntarily or involuntarily), and we are replaced by 25 year old college grads with an “Expert System” and zero experience actually turning wrenches.

      Nine out of 10 people don’t want the responsibility, or the stress, or have the knowledge to even make the call on whether to fly in the first place. And why do so, when the rewards/incentives/income for making these decisions are so poor? As a maintainer, your position and salary is “overhead”, not a “profit center”. At least until the SHTF, at which point “Well, that’s what we have insurance for……”

      A doctor can only kill one person at a time. Your typical pilot or mechanic is only limited by the number of seats on the airplane.

      1. lambert strether

        “Well, that’s what we have insurance for” <– That's a deep statement. Rather than eliminate risk with good engineering and knowledgeable, committed working people, we lay it off on the insurance company, because in a financialized world, everything is a trade.

  6. timbers

    “…there’s nothing on Clinton campaign website issues page that says “universal” healthcare….”

    Remember, Hillary said we must HAVE a path to universal healthcare, as long as we do not TAKE the path.

    And you know she’s leveling with you because that doesn’t even depend on what the meaning of “is” is because “is” isn’t even in the sentence.

  7. ekstase

    “Groundhog Day: Punxsutawney Phil sees early spring” [CNN]. ‘The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration pegs Phil’s accuracy at about 45%.'”

    Could we see six coin tosses, please? I think that would put everyone’s mind at ease a little more.

  8. Carolinian

    Re Trump loserdom, Slate weighs in on the media’s premature, er, climax.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2016/02/donald_trump_lost_in_iowa_that_doesn_t_mean_his_candidacy_is_doomed.html

    And speaking of billionaires, Showtime’s new series Billions is quite good despite (or perhaps because of) Andrew Ross Sorkin’s producer credit. It’s about a NYC federal prosecutor (Paul Giamatti) who decides to go after a big cheese hedge fund manager who likes to put his name on buildings. Defintely up NC’s alley.

    1. ekstase

      Ah, Trump will be missed… What’s that you say? Oh nooooo. Please make the scary merry-go-round stop!

      1. Carolinian

        If Trump dropped out what would CNN have to talk about?

        In the Showtime show Brit actor Damian Lewis adopts a gravelly Trump-like accent. He will live on in art.

  9. dcblogger

    Hillary won the spin war. When I got up this morning and turned on NPR the lead story was Hillary wins Iowa, same with Google News. That is what people will process, not that she “won” with less than 1% of the vote.

    1. Titus Pullo

      Where I live you can defeat the spin war by asking the people behind the counter if they would like to make $15/hr. I’ve only had one person say no (a clerk making more than that apparently). Tell them a couple more things about Sanders platform. Now adding in that he tied Hillary Clinton, so this is possible. Tell them that the times are changing. Tell them to go his website and facebook as well as the state Sanders facebook. And I carry voter reg cards (and stamps sometimes even), so I get them registered too.

      Just my little bit of organizing for the revolution. And I’m not even an official volunteer, just taking advantage of the space in the social relations where I treat a corporation’s employee as a the human being they are.

      1. RWood

        (Pardon snippiness)

        Half of the people can be part right all of the time
        Some of the people can be all right part of the time
        But all of the people can’t be all right all of the time
        I think Abraham Lincoln said that

    2. JohnnyGL

      I was listening on the way into work this morning and yelling at my car radio. They had no worries spending plenty of time providing sympathetic coverage to Jebbie’s campaign, in spite of his complete irrelevance to the race at this point.

      CNN/Fox last night seemed to be deliberately pumping up Rubio’s prospects. Have you ever seen so much excitement over a 3rd place finish?

      1. James Levy

        As someone who hates Trump and considers any thought of him being president anathema, he is being treated completely unfairly and almost no one in authority hides the fact that they are out to get him.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Maybe they are concerned that Trump will wreck the Republican party as we know it.

        In that sense, Trump is a partisan entropy-augmentor.

        He increases the Republicans’ entropy, with their love of ‘order.’

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Trump is enough of an outsider he can’t be counted on to not be a “reformer.” Who knows how Trump will use the domestic parts of the Patriot Act against businessmen who snubbed him.

          If Trump can’t have the biggest fortune, he could gitmo everyone ahead of him if the thought got into his head.

      3. RUKidding

        No, I cannot remember so much excitement over a 3rd place finish, and I’ve been paying attention for quite some time.

        It is clear that the Republican Establishment has it in for Trump.

    3. RUKidding

      NPR is heavily funded by the Kochs, amongst others in the 1%. NPR must be taken in small doses with large grains of salt. I, personally, gave up listening to most of nooz portions of NPR quite a long time ago because it is so conservative and so partisan and so NOT objective. The spin you get is what the 1% is paying for. Ergo, the big spin for HRC who “won” Iowa.

      1. Jason

        Same here. It used to be my preferred radio station years and years ago, wherever I was. Now I can’t help but think NPR stands for National Propaganda Radio. I don’t know if it was always so obviously shilling for the status quo and I became better informed, or if it gradually degenerated.

        But the end result is the same. You couldn’t ask for a better tool to keep liberally inclined, generally decent people thinking that they’re well-informed and on the right side of history, while simultaneously supporting and enabling an increasingly dysfunctional state in thrall to a few powerful interests.

  10. nycTerrierist

    From the WaPo piece:

    “On Wednesday in Newton, Clinton sought to comfort Annette Bebout, a retiree who lost the home where she had raised five children. Clinton patted Bebout’s arm and spoke of her hopes to better protect widows who lose Social Security income when their husbands die.

    “Hillary is a down-to-earth person and she just wants to help common people,” Bebout said afterward.

    Bebout added that she would show up to caucus for Clinton, and joked that she had no choice because a young organizer for Clinton “calls me every day” to remind her.”

    A chilling anecdote. Watching Iowa on tv last night (forgot which coverage, perhaps Democracy now?)
    it was stunning to hear low info voters say they supported Hillary bc she ‘worked hard for women and children’. What a load of crap. Very sad to see misinformation in action.

    1. so

      There has to be an invisible sun.
      It gives its heat to everyone.
      There has to be an invisible sun.
      That gives us hope when the whole day’s done. The Police

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In that sense, Hilary is very human, if being very human is very desirable in the aftermath of last night’s election.

      Here, we remind ourselves that it’s very human to lie, cheat, lust for power, be greedy, etc.

      We evolved to acquire those traits.

      No one Super Being gifted those to us.

    3. RUKidding

      I’m seeing blog posts from alleged D/liberal/progressive voters (I believe that they are), who are defending HRC despite gobs of evidence of her total allegiance to Wall St, her NeoLiberal/NeoCon policies and philosophies. These are people who, it appears, pay at least some degree of attention and have a better grasp of politics and what’s really going on.

      Some HRC supporters quite simply don’t care. HRC is their candidate, and that’s that. IF she’s in the pocket of Wall ST: so what? I’ve seen comments that pretty much say that verbatim, but then will turn around in the next paragraph and talk about how she’ll be so progressive.

      Denial is: a) not just a river in Egypt, and b) not something that only rightwingers engage in.

      1. hreik

        Just head over to dailykos to see that in action. Front pagers are all in for HRC. There are a couple exceptions, but very few.

        1. Katiebird

          So funny…. I was banned in 2008 for my support for her.

          Well that will never ever happen again.

      2. hunkerdown

        By what standard are you treating the ordo-simu-liberal[1] wing of the Democratic Party as not part of the rightwinger bin that engages in denial and any number of other means of defending their privilege? To me their nature, ideology and interests are clear, and they are those of Markos.

        [1] Ordoliberalism lets business work and cleans up after them. Ordo-simu-liberalism lets business rule and makes a great effort to be seen appearing to clean up their mess while creating billable events.

      3. Jason

        Of my liberal friends (which is most of them) about half have jumped on the Bernie bandwagon to some degree. The other half don’t like Hillary, but insist that she is the only Democratic candidate who can win. They’re convinced that her allegiance to Wall Street, devotion to the American Empire, and whatever other flaws they’re willing to admit she has is a price we just have to pay to appoint socially liberal Supreme Court Justices and, more importantly, keep those raving Republican fanatics out out of the White House.

  11. DJG

    Cruz: “The scientific evidence doesn’t support global warming. For the last 18 years, the satellite data – we have satellites that monitor the atmosphere. The satellites that actually measure the temperature showed no significant warming whatsoever” [NPR].

    It took me all of one search to turn up an image and a graph made from the data sent in by those satellites that contradicted Cruz. Warming has been documented over and over. Do it yourself.

    Is there any part of Ted Cruz that isn’t fraudulent? And here I thought that our ancestors all fled to the “New World” to get away from captious divines with a taste for letting the peasants suffer for their own good.

    And was the Princeton and Harvard education a waste? Or is Ted Cruz the best that Princeton-Harvard can do these days?

    1. DJG

      And said graph of warming temperatures is at AccuWeather, about as basic and unadorned a site as there is on the WWW.

      1. James Levy

        When you are in thrall to a book that tells you slavery is fine, having multiple wives is fine, stoning people to death is fine, but shellfish is an abomination, what the hell do you expect? Evidence is nothing. Faith is all. Out of a misplaced respect for freedom of religion we’ve allowed these attitudes to fester. They are now metastasizing. When the newly emergent diseases enabled by climate change start to kill off thousands, then millions, they’ll claim it’s god’s judgment and start slaughtering gays and Moslems. Here in New England I can only hope we will be organizing and arming against the tide of insanity that I see too clearly on the horizon, a tide whose crest is being ridden by Cruz.

        1. Christopher Fay

          Hey, you in New England. What are you so smug about? A lot of the people surrounding you are low info Hillary supporters. Hillary is to the right of Rubio/Cruz. And the security of Hillary is when she’s bought and paid for, she remains bought and paid for, so more war, more oil global warming, more bail outs, more big pharma.

          Good luck

        2. Laughingsong

          slavery is fine, having multiple wives is fine, stoning people to death is fine

          Not to mention throwing your brother into a well, slaughtering all the men in your sister’s boyfriend’s town, showing up in a land that your ancestors abandoned hundreds of years previously, telling the present inhabitants that their God gave it to them So bugger off….

          The only hope is that the rapture is real, and all of them really do disappear one day. It will take some adjusting to a sudden drop in population… Give it, oh, 7 years or so…. The afterwards there’s supposed to be 1000 years of peace…. Hey, maybe that’s not a coincidence……

        3. dale

          We are living during the Age of the Zombie. At first I thought it was just a horror movie theme, but now I see that what I thought was a metaphor for we have become is actually what we have become. We are the Zombies.

    2. Plenue

      Cruz is blatantly lying. Either that or he’s just massively ignorant, but I doubt that’s the case here.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gr6dSo6SrCE

      Firstly the satellite data is not “the best we have”, and him and others just repeating that ad nauseum isn’t going to magically make it so. On balance it’s probably one of the worse forms of measurement. The supposed 17 year gap in warming, if it even existed (which it doesn’t), was contradicted by more than a dozen other, terrestrial, measurement methods.

      But that gap doesn’t even exist in the first place. The famous measurement was done by John Christy and Roy Spencer, two long-time climate “skeptics”. It was eventually discovered that they had screwed up their calculations and didn’t account for the gradual orbital decay of the satellites. By literally just replacing a + with a – in their math the measured temperature change suddenly comes into alignment with all the other forms of measurement. So we have another Reinhart-Rogoff situation where someone screwed up on paper and completely misread the evidence. Christy and Spencer eventually admitted the error and revised their work; the new conclusions agreed that there was consistent warming.

      So Cruz is not only using a non-ideal source, he’s not even using the latest version of it. What a scumbag.

      1. Jason

        You’re making the assumption that Cruz (and those like him) are possessed of enough capability for reflection and self-awareness to be capable of lying. Cruz believes it, therefore he thinks its true. No lying required, just a fine-tuned ability to turn off the parts of reality he (or his programming) doesn’t like.

        1. lambert strether

          The difference between lying and bullshit. The liar cares what the truth is. Not so the bullshit artist.

  12. neo-realist

    Re the Conference of Mayors support for TPP, they see the food stamps and welfare benefits as soft power, e.g., soft riot control; that way, the crime doesn’t expand beyond the borders of those deprived communities into the “good ones”. Furthermore, I suspect many of them want to maintain those good k street connections for cushy jobs upon leaving office.

  13. Kurt Sperry

    Wow. This picture tells a story. #iacaucus pic.twitter.com/aDoLfELGjp

    The next person that tells me, “with age comes wisdom” is gonna get punched in the face. No. It doesn’t. Allow me to paraphrase a famous quote about science: progress comes one hearse at a time. Now there might be areas where wisdom accumulates, but political consciousness obviously is more likely to dim with age. And I’m pushing sixty, so this isn’t intergenerational bashing–it’s just the truth.

    1. yzd

      I wish I could find the link, but there was a study that looked at voting patterns of different generations (e.g., boomers, silent generation, gen x, millenials, and earlier generations) to see how true the old adage is that “If You Are Not a Liberal at 25, You Have No Heart. If You Are Not a Conservative at 35 You Have No Brain.”

      The study found that voting patterns of liberal vs conservative do not change with age, and that the boomers as a generation were conservative when they were young. With boomers as a reference point, the study found increasing liberalism the further (in both age directions) the generations got from boomers.

      The perception of boomers getting more conservative with age does not seem to be true, and is more a reflection of what subsets of the population the media focused on plus protesting against the draft in which people had a direct stake.

      1. Yves Smith

        I don’t buy this “boomers are conservative” meme. Boomers grew up with the politics of the 1960s as their formative experience.

        It’s the generation after that grew up with Reagan that is conservative. Middle of the road Reagan era (before the right wing and the Clintons succeeded in moving the country to the right) is now far left.

        1. JCC

          This followup is a little long but… I’m not so sure that boomers are conservative or not as a whole, but being one it often looks that way to me. I was born dead center in the middle of the boomer era. Half my friends and acquaintances that are close to my age are easily very conservative to middle-of-the-road (m-o-r), the other half primarily m-o-r towards liberal. In fact there was a recent discussion on an email group regarding this very thing, about 15 of us going back and forth, between the ages of 60 and 66.

          One specifically stated that he was a marcher against Viet Nam, Richard N., pro MLK etc. serverd in Viet Nam, and is now a died-in-the-wool conservative. In fact a lot swung that way as they got older.

          Me? I’m still m-o-r but not when it comes to modern finance and banking (thanks in part to NC :)… the problem(?) I’ve noticed is that many of the middle-class small town boomers have spent their entire lives working their butts off maintaining their small business, families, houses, etc. and had little time to do anything else but catch a daily hour of MSM at best, and little time for reading anything else but local papers…. and they are well propagandized because of this.

          One in the group, convinced I’m a “liberal” – I would not classify myself as such unless in the classical sense of the definition – specifically asked me if I was retired (we’ve been in touch over the years but not in direct contact much) since I had time to cite accurate references and various quotes from books, essays, etc. as well as blogs I’ve been reading over the years showing root cause problems relating to Wall St., today’s definition of mainstream economics, neo-liberal economics, etc. When I told him I was a) single, b) a couple of bouts of long-term unemployment as a direct result of NAFTA and the 2000 Tech bust with nothing to do but read, job-hunt, and go back to college for yet another degree, c) a poly-sci/finance major that had attended B.U.’s ply-sci dept. for a couple of years in the very early 70’s, and d) turned off my TV 16 years ago and dropped my subscription the the WSJ and NYT at least 14 years ago, not to mention GI time and Military contract time in Iraq (plenty of time to keep up reading and first-hand observation) well… he was surprised and said, “well, that explains a lot.”

          A little long, but my point is that boomers are all over the spectrum, and the busiest with jobs, business and families seem to me to be well-indoctrinated by the Republican Conservative meme. Many worked their tails off to stay in place on the treadmill… not what they thought was going to happen. But with never-ending MSM indoctrination (news as entertainment being their primary source of “political education”) they find it easy to blame everything that the Republicans blame for their predicament.

          Also, don’t forget, the end of the boomer era was 1964, and those late ones are the ones that became politically aware primarily during the Reagan Era, not to mention a swing towards conservatism during that time for the older ones – most of the “hippy” wannabees of the 70’s did not make good mentors or life-style examples.

          1. JCC

            Gawd… replying to my own post… but as an example, this is the sort of thing the average middle-class boomer doesn’t have the time or inclination to read, let alone Michael Hudson’s essays:

            http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2016/02/01/the-west-is-traveling-the-road-to-economic-ruin-paul-craig-roberts/

            (I must have passed around my copy of “Economic Hitman” – to me an prime display of how US Banking and Govt Policy was turning inwards after raping most of the South – to at least 10 different people, only one read it, the rest saying they just didn’t have the time).

        2. Darthbobber

          Well, the most common definition of the Baby Boom Generation is 1946-1964, sometimes broken into two cohorts with 1955 as the break point.

          And your foundational experiences may differ depending on position by age. I was born in 1955, which means that I was 13 when King and Bobby Kennedy were shot, and 17 for the McGovern-Nixon election. (I started ’72 as a fan of George Wallace version 2.0 and finished it as something else altogether.)

          For those who came somewhat later than me (who aren’t really part of the “romanticized” part of the generation), “movement” politics were pretty shattered and in full retreat by the time they were old enough to have anything to do with it.

          And boomers were not the dominant element in the electorate yet in the 60s or even in the 70s. The leadership and the lawmakers associated with the EPA, the Civil RIghts Act and the fight for the ERA among other things, were all of an earlier generation.

          (And Bill was the first big gift we gave the nation when we became the dominant electoral demographic.)

          1. Left in Wisconsin

            Yes, agreed. I’m born 1959 and what many of us realized in the 1980s was that:
            1. Many of the older baby boomers were entirely FOS, especially the male ones, many of whom seemed to be movement for the sex but were new happily ensconsed in comfortable positions where they could lecture the rest of us about how insufficiently radical we were (and hit on our girlfriends), and
            2. Many of our cohort, either in response or because they were just naturally d***heads, went head over heels for Reagan.

    2. hunkerdown

      The dating site okcupid once used their heaps of psychographic data to discover that people over 40 or so tend to swing authoritarian, as infographically reported by Fast Company.

      I don’t think it’s a lack of political consciousness at all. I see no reason to believe they’re not plenty conscious and expect to maintain their “earned” privileges as elders in the social order, as heavily informed by the Christian feudal ideal.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The people in their 20’s in the late 1970s and early 1980s skewed conservative too. It’s not a surprise they would remain conservative as they grew older.

        1. Carolinian

          Reagan was very popular with many twenty somethings (to my amazement at the time). Seems Obama may have been one of them. But there were lots of young conservatives during the 60s as well–the so called Young Americans for Freedom. Perhaps what changed is that conservative views went from being decidedly “uncool” to a lot more trendy. This may reflect rising levels of affluence compared to 60s kids who often had working class parents.

          1. Laughingsong

            Mm, I was 20-something in the early 80’s and hated Reagan’s guts. But then, I also grew up in CA and my family didn’t like him as Governor.

            I really liked the hippies when I was a little girl – they gave me hope that adulthood was not the end of fun. Plus I found it hard to believe that anyone could argue with their assertion that war was f**ked up. Really, I still goggle that people can defend it. I can’t understand how people can believe that war can be won.

          2. NotTimothyGeithner

            I think there was an element of course culture. Its not like the Demkcrats were a together bunch in 1968. Can you imagine what MLK would have said about Daley? Of course, it’s more likely they are just the children of a conservative generation, and we are all much more like our parents than any of us care to acknowledge. Oh sure, certain issues change as we encounter different people and places. Is it possible they are just the children of the people who drove Dewey and recruited Ike?

            On the other hand, I think the lack of a decent Democratic or liberal alternative organizing structure is a major problem. Trump supporters exist, but it’s possible they are embarrassed to go out in public because the might face opposition. Carter instead of uniting the Democratic Party attacked unions, watched movies, and micromanaged. Without liberal leadership from Carter, the conservatives might just have gone nuts. The GOP huffed and puffed over Iran, but when Obama started to get angry, they scurried. Conversely ACA is a joke and it’s likely Obama knows it’s a terrible program which Obama intended to use to win GOP support. Since Obama only gives half hearted defenses and is more pleading, the conservatives kept harping even while people bought the “wait and see” canard. When Team Blue was somewhat forceful, McCain had to concede Healthcare needed to be reformed and proposed the old heritage foundation plan.

        2. Yves Smith

          I was in my early 20s, went to HBS and Wall Street, as you may recall.

          My class at HBS was older than I was. This was 1981-1983.

          Not a bad word was ever said once about unions the entire time I was there and HBS was famous for raucous case study discussions. Nor any kvetching about taxes being too high.

          I gotta tell you, all this stuff about where the center of gravity was in this country historically is monstrous revisionist history.

    3. clinical wasteman

      Perhaps the dimness is less a matter of age as such than of the asset ownership that (in certain demographics, and by no means always even there) tends to go with it.
      As far as ‘reformist’ projects go, I’d only half-unseriously suggest a reverse property qualification for enfranchisement: i.e. owners of real estate and/or financial assets above a given threshold* are already powerful enough, they don’t need to vote/hold public office as well.
      But this idea is just the Entitlement Mentality of an old and assetless immigrant. Please file under ‘statistical margin for error’.

      [*To be determined by soviets of the ‘surplus population’]

  14. Sam Adams

    RE: “The U.S. military is working to develop a new chip technology that, when implanted, will connect human brains to computers — making cyborgs”
    If this control chip connects to the soldier’s computers, can the administrator control the soldier? What could possibly go wrong? FUBAR.

    1. Steven D.

      I’ve been expecting this day since I watched the James Coburn movie “The President’s Analyst” one night on TV at my grandparents’ house 45 years ago.

    1. sleepy

      A problem that Sanders has is that he voted for Clinton’s Omnibus Crime bill back in the mid 90s, the bill that increased prison terms and incarceration rates.

      None of that means that he can’t renounce his vote and propose alternatives, but it makes it harder imho.

      1. 3.14e-9

        He voted for it with reservations. Its main selling point for him was that it included $8 million for programs in Vermont to prevent violence against women. I sure as hell hope he will use that if Clinton makes another disingenuous attack on his record. Here is his statement on the House floor:

        Mr. SANDERS. Mr. Speaker, I will be voting in favor of the crime bill today, despite some provisions in it with which I stongly disagree because, on balance, its positive initiatives to control crime outweigh the negatives. But I want to make it clear that in my view, no approach toward crime will be effective if we continue to ignore the poverty, despair and hopelessness which are the root causes of crime.

        Mr. Speaker, at a time when increased property taxes in Vermont are placing a very painful burden on our citizens, it is absolutely appropriate that the Federal Government play an increased role in helping our communities address the crime problem. Under this legislation the State of Vermont will receive at least $44 million dollars to hire more than 500 new Police officers; $6.5 million for drug and crime enforcement in our most rural areas; $3 million for our cities and towns to use in ways they feel useful, and $1.2 million for a variety of children’s programs.

        Perhaps most important to me, however, this crime bill will provide $8 million dollars to Vermont to allow us to deal with the epidemic of violence against women. In Vermont, there were six women murdered last year, and every single one of them was killed by an abusive spouse or partner–and God only knows how many other women were beaten and assaulted. This bill, through funding for a wide variety of services, will finally allow us to give women the protection that they have long been denied.

        1. Darthbobber

          The dangdest thing about “voting with reservations” is that the vote has a tangible effect and the reservations have none. But the real trouble with launching an attack on more than 2-decade old legislation is that people’s eyes glaze over. In this case, the further problem is that the bill had near universal support from Democrats in both houses (+quite a few Republicans who voted “aye” in spite of formal whipping against the bill on the grounds that it spent too much and wasn’t even harsher.) Kennedy, Wellstone and Boxer were yeas in the Senate. There was a single nay, and that was Feingold.
          The House vote was the same. They even had the confidence to pass it under a suspension of the rules, which caused it to need 2/3ds, which it easily cleared.

          So any really big attack specifically focused on the Omnibus Crime Bill would
          a) have to be accompanied with “yeah, I voted for it, but I expressed some misgivings so that doesn’t count.” and
          b) Would easily be met with: “Yes, we all acknowlwdge now that there were serious problems with this, but at the time it seemed like a great idea to virtually all of us, and was hugely popular among the electorate.”

          And since there are SO MANY more recent things to tag Clinton with, in which Sanders is not implicated, and which can’t be spun away so easily, this doesn’t really seem worth making a central part of the stump speeches.

          1. 3.14e-9

            Agree. I should have clarified that I’m not advocating that Sanders bring up the 1994 crime bill, but meant only that if the debate should come to a point where HRC pulls another “with all due respect, senator, you voted in favor of that bill,” his comeback should be that it had landmark funding for domestic violence against women in Vermont, which was epidemic in the state that elected him to fight for their interests. He gets a two-fer: he is a long-time advocate for women’s rights, and he knows who he works for.

  15. PPACA man ate my lunch

    A few deadlines on PPACA/Obamacare are up, I hope that the election hoopla doesn’t bury the coverage. Me thinks Sanders is on spot that single payer is the solution, and PPACA is a train heading for a wreck, but my intuition and scattered data isn’t a reliable indicator.

  16. rich

    Bill Clinton: Bernie Sanders Is No Obama

    Former President Bill Clinton on Tuesday said that, as candidates, Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama have “traumatic differences” in appeal — and dispelled any notion that the Vermont senator could beat Hillary Clinton, his wife, in the race for the White House.

    Bill Clinton told NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell at a campaign event in New Hampshire that President Obama had a different feel than Sanders, calling the president “new, different.”

    “Barack Obama is not Bernie Sanders, let’s not play cheap games here,” he said.

    Bill Clinton argued that Sanders policy positions are a red flag from some Democratic voters, an issue that was not a problem between the Democratic candidates in 2008.

    “[Hillary Clinton] and President Obama had enormous overlap on what they wanted to do and how they wanted to do it,” Bill said.

    http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/bill-clinton-bernie-sanders-no-obama-n509926

    Master of cheapness speaks and the overlap with a venn diagram is corruptness?

    1. Jason

      Bill Clinton: Bernie Sanders Is No Obama

      Sanders isn’t Obama? Best thing I’ve heard said about Bernie yet.

  17. ballard

    “As soon as the Muslim president (of France) has come to power, François receives a letter forcefully requesting his early retirement. But there’s a further option: he could convert to Islam and still teach.

    For a millisecond François attempts to suggest that atheism is a valid belief system. But because a Houellebecquian hero believes in nothing (“I am not FOR anything at all, as you well know,” says François to his lover), he agrees.

    The final chapter is told in a sustained conditional tense: “The conversion ceremony itself would be very simple”; “I would have nothing to regret”.

    Despite its vaguely futuristic setting, and the realism with which the party’s rise to power is depicted, Soumission doesn’t seem to be a parable. It’s really a novel-length gag about what would suit that kind of man: Islam offers François an extension of his sexual fantasies, with which he has otherwise become rather bored. When his boss gives him a book called Ten Questions About Islam, he skips straight to chapter seven: “Why polygamy?”

    Is Houellebecq provoking violent acts or anticipating them? It’s hard to see how he could be blamed – perhaps he could even be praised for his prescience. In a passage about the Greek myth of Cassandra, he offers, via François, an eloquent meditation on the political blindness of others.

    Why is the figure of Cassandra used to denigrate people for inappropriate attempts to predict the future, he asks, when Cassandra was right all along?”

    (excerpts from a book review in The Telegraph, of Michel Houellebecq’s novel, “Soumission”)

  18. Darthbobber

    I’ll bite on the Economist’s piece “How Much of a Socialist is Bernie Sanders”, largely because it apes a great deal of pedantic quibbling over the use of an always contested word.
    1) The article could more appropriately be titled “How Much of a Marxist is Bernie Sanders?” since it seems to try to relate his program largely to the Communist Manifesto. To dispense with the obvious: It was called the COMMUNIST manifesto for a reason. Marx and Engels found the term “Socialism” already in common use, by tendencies they saw as ranging from outright reactionary to “heart in the right place, but theoretically misguided.” Communism was coined to differentiate THEIR Socialism from other Socialisms.

    2) The coinage didn’t really take, and by the late 19th Century the European parties with a heavy Marxist influence were formally called either Socialists or Social Democrats. A simplified Marxism was, during the pre-Bolshevik revolution years, the dominant trend without ever being the only one. (Jaures, the French Socialist leader, for example, was a highly unorthodox Marxist if he was one at all.)

    3) During the seeming era of Keynesian triumphalism, most parties that used the word Socialist in their names dropped nationalization of all the means of production from their platforms (and most of the Communist parties in western Europe retained it only as a vague objective in an infinitely postponed future), buying into the idea that you could “manage” the rates of investment and consumption in such a way that ownership did not matter. So in this sense, we could say that Sanders is as “Socialist” (probably more so) as PASOK, the French Socialist Party, the Spanish Socialist Party, the assorted Italian Socialist AND Communist parties, usw, usw.

    4) In the United States, it became very common to describe ALL forms of government involvement in economic life as Socialist and to attack them on that ground. Which, to the extent that mere choice of vocabulary can have such an impact, makes Sanders’ decision to adopt it as a positive label more “radical” than it might be in other settings.

    5) By whatever name one calls it, his program remains what it is. Marx did mention that “by changing the names of things we do not change the things themselves.”

  19. dk

    I don’t think the consumer is doing OK, and I think I see why some people think the consumer is OK.

    The consumer is or isn’t okay depending on how one defines “okay” (although I don’t think spelling it “OK” is as significant).

    Reading up on how the Consumer Confidence Index is measured, key topics for CCI are:

    ii) business conditions for the next six months,

    iv) employment conditions for the next six months,
    v) total family income for the next six months.

    (leaving aside the selection strategy for the 5,000 US households as currently immesurable by me)

    What effects would an industrial and manufacturing recession have on iv and v? They would drive down job prospects and income…. at the outset. As the recession trough levels off (which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not in free-fall by some measure, just that it has stabilized in terms of job/payroll and price impacts), anticipation of jobs and income prospects levels off too, maybe even turns somewhat optimistic, relative to the previous phase. Jobs and payrolls have already been wrung out, energy prices are lower than they have been of years… and it’s an election year, when the moneyed interests are dumping tens of millions almost directly into the main street economy (supplies, local staff, travel and hospitality, rentals, etc.). I don’t think most consumers consider that last one, but I think their gut feelings aren’t far off in the current scenario. But this is a temporary situation, if nothing changes by next year.

    But this in no way means the consumer is doing well. The consumer’s confidence (and spending) is relative and ephemeral, and shouldn’t be compared to responses for completely different economic landscapes. Relieved anticipation of relative stability for the next six months of the new normal shouldn’t be mistaken for actual optimism.

    As a Clinton famously said, “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” Suspending cynicism, one may see that this is actually a generally valuable question of semantics that could be asked more often.

    Also, I suggest that actual quality of end-consumer goods and services has declined, and continues to. This is an incremental, gradual creep distributed across many sectors. For example, single-portion sizes of various items (potato chips are a good example, so is yogurt) keeps shrinking, this can mask price increases, also reduces shipping and storage costs. Every time you see a new label on a product, check for changes in ingredients, note new items like “natural sweeteners” (xylitol, stevia, etc, reducing amount and cost of sugar/corn syrup). Sometimes it’s an increase in cost for a new product effectively equivalent to the previous version (occurs a lot in pharmaceuticals). This kind of activity succeeds in masking what might be otherwise recognized as net inflation.

  20. Darthbobber

    My, I’m opinionated today.
    “However — and here is where I’m not seeing what I’d like to see — I don’t see anything institutional being done for movement-building on the Sanders campaign. Voting and contributions, even $27 contributions in the millions, do not a movement make. Now, movement-like entities like MoveOn and DFA have gravitated to the Sanders campaign, but a mailing list isn’t the same as a movement either. So what about it?”

    I suspect if this is to happen, it can’t really be the job of the Sanders campaign to do it. The main efforts I’ve seen to do this linked to a specific politician’s organization would be OFA itself (never intended at the “central committee” level to ever be a “movement” in any meaningful sense) and the Rainbow Coalition, which did have an initial base and SOME good faith from some of the Jacksonians. But it turned out that the requirements of a movement are different from those of an electoral politician, and the connection HAS to be broken.

    Roosevelt, of course, “built” no separate specific movement. The Wagner Act assured a huge growth of the labor movement, and ensured that it would be broadly loyal to the New Deal economic agenda, but the unions also always maintained a certain level of tension with the politicoes.

    One of the problems with a lot of contemporary activism is this tendency to see petitions, mailing campaigns and “social media” pressure as THE action. (In 2010, for example, the only folks showing a tangible street presence were the Tea Party folks.)

    So-I guess I didn’t exactly “answer” the question.

    1. lambert strether

      Well, maybe not. But if it takes a movement to get Sanders’ policies through, and Sanders isn’t going to build (or inspire or spark) the movement, isn’t that a bit Underpants Gnome-y?

  21. 3.14e-9

    There are contributions and mailing lists, but there also is a growing army of volunteers. I don’t know what the numbers are, but just in my small town, there are many volunteers actively working to help get him elected. These people are organizing fundraising parties, phone banks, information booths, flyer distribution, and other events — and on their own. There is structured guidance from the campaign, but people already were organizing before the campaign had its act together, and events are still planned on a local level, not top-down.

    A spontaneous group came together in my community last summer to host an information booth at the annual street fair. There was no help or guidance whatsoever from the campaign, which at that point had almost no money or staff. Progressive Democrats of America had been organizing for him for months, but they had no resources for outside groups. Community organizers had to print their own bumper stickers and T-shirts, their own banner for the booth, information brochures, and other materials. Those who were able contributed funding upfront. The event made more money than anyone expected, so the campaign got a nice check — again, before it was set up to solicit contributions by e-mail — as well as a substantial mailing list of people who wanted to get involved. And that was just in one small town. I should also mention that a couple of activist groups joined in the effort and promoted their own causes, one of which was a petition to overturn Citizens United. If it’s happening here, then it’s likely happening all around the country.

    It’s hard to foresee what the volunteers will do after Sanders gets elected — or if he loses the nomination — but this does seem to be a movement, or at least a solid foundation for one. The people I’ve met are so invested that it’s hard to imagine they’ll all drop interest.

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