2:00PM Water Cooler 4/2/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Bilcon To Sue Canada For $300 Million After Winning NAFTA Ruling On Quarry” [HuffPo]. ISDS in action.

“[U]nder existing ISDS/corporate sovereignty provisions in NAFTA, Eli Lilly is currently suing Canada for $500 million because Canada refused to grant it some patents” [Techdirt]. ISDS in action. I wonder how long it’s going to be before there’s a suit under ISDS where a corporation sues a government because the government failed to regulate them and then they did something stupid.


Sanders: “Yes, I do think that if I ran, I could win” [Fusion]. So what are you waiting for?

O’Malley: ““It seems like one party is entirely owned by big money, and the other party is nearly intimidated by it, and people expect better” [The Hill]. That’s hardly fair. I don’t think the Republicans are nearly as intimidated by big money as O’Malley seems to think.

Hillary Clinton launch will probably involve “listening tour,” including early primary states [Politico].

Warren-supporting activists plan to show up at town halls and rallies to call on Clinton to adopt policies such as breaking up big banks and expanding the Social Security retirement program [Reuters].


Jebbie “is viewed pretty heavily negatively, and yet there he is, floating on top of the field, enjoying the view from that rickety balcony” [WaPo]. Heh. Name recognition.

Jebbie’s “team has been quietly taping his private appearances in hopes of pushing back on false narratives dished by donors to reporters and to have a record to disprove any misinformation wafting from closed-door events” [National Journal]. It’s like pre-oppo.

“[L]egislation which Bush signed into law in 2006 shields key details of the state’s pension investments from Florida’s open records statutes” [David Sirota, International Business Times]. How cozy!

Bundlers lose power as fundraisers with rise of outside groups (non-profits, SuperPACs) as pioneered by Obama in 2008 [Bloomberg].

How-to use Opensecrets.org, the campaign contribution database [Another Word for It].

“The SEC also regulates pay to play in both the municipal bond and public pension fund markets. … Mary Jo White has real power to fix the dark money problem on behalf of the shareholders of publicly traded companies” [Brennan Center]. Hmm.

Freedom to Hate

“Business, civic and sports leaders who have strongly called for a fix to the divisive ‘religious freedom’ legislation flanked Indiana Republicans as they announced sexual orientation and gender identity will be explicitly protected in the new law” [Bloomberg]. I don’t get this. The gospel promise is that you don’t have to be around icky people. What’s happening to this country?

Jebbie walks back his “Pence did the right thing” comments on talk radio in meeting with Silicon Valley funders [New York Times].

Michigan Republican Governor Snyder would veto legislation similar to Indiana’s [Free Press]. The entire episode shows what thirty years of activism can accomplish (a lot) and also the limits of licit activism (identity).

The Hill

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) will return contributions from indicted New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez [CBS]. And who else? Menendez distributed his moolah widely.

Herd on the Street

Amazon introduces Home Services, a “marketplace” that connects customers with nearby builders, plumbers, mechanics, music teachers, etc. [The Economist].

Record cold increased egg consumption and created record prices, because consumers wanted protein-heavy breakfasts [Bloomberg].

Stats Watch

Jobless claims, week of March 28, 2015: “Initial jobless claims fell very sharply in the March 28 week, down 20,000 to 268,000” [Bloomberg]. Caveat: “seasonal adjustment tied to Easter which is a difficult holiday period to adjust for given its year-to-year calendar shifts.”

Gallup US Payroll to Population, March 2015: Workforce participation among US adults was statistically steady from the 67.0 percent measured in February to 66.8 percent in March [Bloomberg].

Consumer Comfort Index, week of March 29, 2015: “[R]ose for a third straight week, capping the best quarter in almost eight years” [Bloomberg].

Factory Orders, February 2015: “After 6 straight declines, factory orders finally moved to the plus column, up 0.2 percent in a February gain, however, that is tied largely to an upward price swing for petroleum and coal products,” that is, the cold winter? [Bloomberg]. “Durable goods show broad weakness.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Chris Rock keeps getting pulled over for Driving While Black, documents with selfies [HuffPo].


Rahm blocks release of emails to top donor, private equity weasel Michael Sacks, as well as “details about tens of millions of dollars in shadowy no-bid city payments to some of Emanuel’s largest campaign contributors” [International Business Times]. Chuy?

Chicago cops whack 14-year-old Pedro Rios, providing a case study of CPD data manipulation to minimize death toll through misclassification and records destruction [Truthout]. Chuy?


Egypt and Ethiopia agree on big Nile dam project [Al Jazeera].

“[Governor] Brown, in an executive order, directed the State Water Resources Control Board to impose a 25 percent reduction on the state’s 400 local water supply agencies, which serve 90 percent of California residents, over the coming year” [New York Times]. Hmm. So the local agencies do the triage? Not that I’m in favor of lawns, but still…

“New peer-reviewed research published by the American Water Works Association (AWWA) shows that water scarcity linked to climate change is now a global problem playing a direct role in aggravating major conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa” [Middle East Eye].

Handy map of California water usage by water district [New York Times]. But get this: “Many parts of the Central Valley don’t have meters to tell them how much water they’re using, or some districts charge a flat fee for unlimited use of water” (!).

Health Care

Obama claims PPACA saved a good chunk 50,000 lives, which WaPo factchecks as more or less true. Crucially, however, the cause is not coverage, but hospital administration [WaPo]. So what’s wrong with saving additional lives by covering everybody?

House “doc fix” bill is a step toward privatizing Medicare [PNHP].

Among the many structural changes in this massive bill are two that, if adopted, will seriously undermine the future integrity of Medicare: (1) its limits on first-dollar supplemental Medigap insurance coverage, and (2) introduction of means testing whereby higher-income Americans would pay more for their Medicare coverage.

But then there’s this:

It is unfortunate and misguided that Democrats are taken by this SGR ruse to transform Medicare. They are seeming to cave to the Republicans without concern for the bill’s long-term implications. They need to read the bill and stand up in defense of traditional Medicare. It is inappropriate for them to congratulate themselves on a “transformative” success that is such a long-term threat to the most vulnerable among us.

No. Do not accept narratives of Democratic weakness. The Democrats are trying to gut Medicare because they believe in privatization, just as much as Republicans do. They’re just sneakier and more dishonest about it.

Class Warfare

Living in a community with high income inequality is bad for your health [New York Times].

Zappos and its “no bosses” approach [WaPo]. “[T]he new system replaces the conventional command-and-control workplace with a series of self-governed teams, known as ‘circles.'” Sure, but isn’t the next logical step collective ownership of the company? Why not?

“In America today, being poor is tantamount to a criminal offense” [WaPo].

“Brain scans of 1,099 children and teenagers in nine major cities shows the poorer kids have less surface area of the brain” [NBC]. One damned atrocity after another.

McDonalds raises pay in corporate, but not franchise, operations [New York Times]. To $10.00 an hour. Hoo-boy!

News of the Wired

  • The unique selling proposition of the Apple Watch is to protect us from the incessant demands of the iPhone [Wired].
  • “Opportunistic encryption” in Firefox 37 [Ars Technica]. Less secure than https, but still better than nothing.
  • “[A] quarter of single-stream recycling goes to the dump” [MPBN]. So if you’re in the landfill business, single stream guarantees you a revenue stream.
  • The Arctic permafrost problem [WaPo]. More trouble.
  • Pearson is the Monsanto of educational testing [Texas Observer].
  • “This Sharpener Turns Tiny Stubs Into Longer Pencils” [Gizmodo].
  • “At mid-century, Muslims will nearly equal Christians – the world’s largest religious group – in size” [Pew Research].
  • Churchill: “[A] lot of jolly little wars against barbarous peoples” [Independent]. Sad.
  • Squillionaire Peter Thiel shorts DC [WaPo]. Why the ingratidute. As if the Fed’s free money wasn’t the direct cause of all the money sloshing around Thiel’s bailiwick in Silicon Valley.
  • “MERS has won victories in courts in many states in the last two years over borrowers facing foreclosure who challenged the company’s authority to act as mortgagee or assign the deed of trust, including Illinois, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Ohio, New Hampshire, Montana, Idaho, Arkansas, and Texas” [DS News].

* * *

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, the third of “I Wish It Were Spring!” week three (IME):


Keukenhof, the Netherlands.

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Talk amongst yourselves!

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Garrett Pace

    Apple watch

    The BS is strong in that one. I’ve seen enough wired business articles about organizations I am familiar with to not take anything seriously.

    This is precious:

    “Apple team broke away from the company’s long-standing practice of offering a narrow range of options. Instead they made three very different levels of Watch”

    Three whole options!

    1. Garrett Pace

      I should say this business of narrow options is the opposite of what Apple has ever intended with smartphones etc.

      “digital add-ons that show relevant information like the weather and your activity level, to make your Watch uniquely yours”

      Just like an iphone…

  2. e squared

    Agricultural usage in CA is 80% of the water used. This portion is exempt. So 25% of the remaining percentage(20%) is 5%! 5% reduction will not solve the problem.

    1. quixote

      Yup. Also wanted to mention that the NYT water usage map is great. Coachella is a big date-growing area, so unless they’ve excluded agricultural usage, a good chunk of that 3x “normal” usage could be for growing the dates the whole country eats.

      That’s the tough thing about California ag. I don’t wanna do without almonds and avocados. (I know. Call the waahmbulance.) Thing is, there should be support (I know. Costs money.) to help the farmers switch over to Israeli-style drip irrigation. Don’t just let excellent fruit and nut trees go to waste.

      Here in soCal, they should just shut down the sod farms. Just shut them down. Give all the workers a one-year pension to help in readjusting. Sod farms (so you can buy your readymade green lawn) are the definition of a useless waste. And they use lakes’ worth of water.

      1. different clue

        I don’t know how much of the dams built in California are Bureau of Reclamation or other national-level taxfunded dams. I thought I remember once reading somewhere that any taxwater delivered in Irrigation Districts to would-be farmers in those districts could only be delivered to farms/farmers that were some small multiple of the Homestead Act’s traditional limit on the size-amount of land handed out to any wannabe homesteader. I further remember reading that land-based empire builders used various kinds of fraud to create their multi-thousand acre fruit and veggie plantations irrigated with taxpayer water. In other words, these big farms exist in defiance of laws limiting the size of farm that can be watered with taxwater, and therefor these large farms are all criminal enterprises. Am I remembering wrong and am I over-interpreting what I remember?
        In any case, if agriculture is shut all the way down in California, we don’t lose any survival staples. What we lose are all the fun foods that make life worth living. I could survive the winter on Midwestern tofu and potatos and cabbages, for example. But as long as California is able to grow and sell lettuce and cauliflower, I buy California lettuce and cauliflower. Its more fun than cabbage and potatoes.

        About installing Israeli-style drip irrigation over all the millions of California’s tax-watered farm acres, would that really be possible without vastly greater numbers of people living on the land permanently enough to manage all those brittle and fragile systems? And is there any way to allow for those vast numbers of people to live there without shutting down the criminal enterprise megafarms and re-homesteading all that land among a million or more devoted live-in-place owner-operator mini-farmers? (If indeed the megafarms are indeed criminal enterprises existing in defiance of Homestead-style limitations on how big a farm can be to receive taxwater?)

        1. quixote

          different clue, I’m sure there have been plenty of shenanigans, but I haven’t seen anything about large farms pretending to be homesteads. Doesn’t mean they’re not doing it, but nobody I’ve seen has mentioned it yet and people are pretty hot and bothered about the water situation here. So if that was true, I’d be surprised if it wasn’t mentioned by the kind of leftists I read.

          Yes, they could install drip irrigation wherever they feel like it. The reason they haven’t is it costs more than just mining the groundwater. But it’s entirely feasible, and a lot cheaper than running out of water (i.e. in the long run!).

  3. Kim Kaufman

    “Pearson is the Monsanto of educational testing [Texas Observer]. ”

    …and spying on and data collection of children.

  4. Ron

    The Puyallup Valley in Washington State looked exactly like Keukenhof, back in the 50’s and 60’s. Today it has become another victim of bad trade policy and urban sprawl. I understand that Anacortes Wa today is a large flower and bulb grower but have never driven up to see the show.

  5. DJG

    Interesting juxtaposition of Churchill and Thiel. Was that deliberate? Both are highly overrated. And both seem to seethe with resentment much of the time. Also, a limit on identity politics: Thiel is gay, but like Cook at Apple, he’s defined more by his social class and by the rapaciousness of the his environment. Much like Churchill.

    1. tyaresun

      Churchill is directly responsible for the Bengal famine that killed millions of Indians. There is no comparison between Thiel and Churchill.

      1. Massinissa

        He is comparing their personalities, not their deeds.

        The only reason Thiel hasn’t caused a famine for people he doesn’t like is because he doesn’t have that kind of power. Comparing Thiel to Churchill in terms of deeds is silly considering that Thiel will never have a tenth of the power Churchill threw around.

      2. Jack

        But he made nice speeches and stood up to Hitler, and isn’t that what matters in the end? That’s the sign of a great leader, obviously, flowery words and not just outright surrendering when your country is attacked. Knowing he was a classist, racist, imperialist douchebag would require reading and investigation, and that’s boring and difficult. The average British knowledge of him at this point doesn’t extend much beyond that he was that charming fat-jowled guy that appeared in a couple of recent Doctor Who episodes.

        1. OIFVet

          He also knew his percentages. And he was responsible for a famine that killed millions of Indians. But for some reason some Americans’ definition of evil begins and ends with Stalin…

          1. optimader

            He also knew his percentages.
            regarding the percentage agreement, Churchill was playing poker with an empty hand. Roosevelt was sick and ambivalent about Stalin’s intentions for postwar Europe, Stalin was predatory and disinterested in withdrawing from any occupied territory and Churchill was attempting a clumsy political triage because he was in no position to backup any military pushback of a predatory SU, England was spent strategic entity.

            So yeah the percentage agreement was in principle unsavory realpolitik by Churchill, but a rather academic exercise in reality.

            But for some reason some Americans’ definition of evil begins and ends with Stalin
            Begins and ends? A link on that?
            I would expect that attribution of evil would apply more to the affected subjects of Stalin’s fmr SU. Case in point, comparatively how many Americans have ever even heard of Stalin’s Road of Bones? I’m guessing not too many. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R504_Kolyma_Highway

            1. OIFVet

              Masterful exercise in apologia. Take a bow, good Sir!

              PS Just what is it that made the SU a predatory empire while that label does not [apparently] apply to the British and American empires?

              1. optimader


                Just what is it that made the SU a predatory empire
                In a word I’d go with Paranoia, but ask most any Polish/Hungarian/Czech immigrant in Chicago you can trip over in Chicago that survived WWII and the followon CW era..

                1. OIFVet

                  So the difference between a “predatory” Soviet empire and presumably benevolent Anglo-Saxon empires is paranoia? Interesting…

                  “Apologia?” 75-25, 50-50, 90-10. Surely imperialist mindset has got nothing to do with these percentages. And having it down in Churchill’s own handwriting surely did not in any way legitimize it either, I’m sure.

                  BTW, just completed a long swing through some of the Eastern parts. It was pretty hard to find any Bulgarian outside Sofia who would agree that the Euro-Atlantic present is less predatory than the communist past. Quite the opposite, in fact. Hungary is slightly less nostalgic. Very slightly. Slovakia: same as Hungary. Czech: skipped this time around. From past experience it is a bit more to your liking, but it is hardly the case of “Ask any Czech”. Didn’t go to Poland either , hate the place and the delusions of grandeur served with a heaping serving of xenophobia. No thanks. Austria was fun, it will take a while to lose the extra pounds I packed there.

                  PS You do realize that immigrants would be a somewhat less representative group than the people back in the old countries, don’tcha?

                  1. optimader

                    Hardly “apologia”. More like pragmatic historical observation. What actually would 75-25, 50-50, 90-10 have meant in reality? Any worse than being 100% subjugated by the SU?
                    If I understand you’re premise accurately, it is that the citizens of the European countries that were SU subjects post WWII enjoyed better quality of life (and are melancholy for a return), and those that were western aligned suffered a relatively more difficult and exploited existence? If I have that about right, I guess Ill need some of what your smoking.

                    . My own unscientific poll numbers are quite the opposite.

                    I was last in the CzechRep/Austria/Germany two years ago and I can say I did not interact w/ anyone who was melancholy for the return of the SU/puppet regimes.

                    In fact the older Czechs have a smoldering animosity toward the fmr SU, and the puppet regime they lived under, in fact, referring to themselves as “the lost generation” (as in lost opportunity). Maybe caulk up impressions against the ppl/generation we mix with?

                    PS You do realize that immigrants would be a somewhat less representative group than the people back in the old countries, don’tcha

                    Less representative of what, a legitimate opinion about the form of government they prefer? Only those that preferred life in communist regimes have representative opinions??
                    IMO those that did not have the opportunity to leave as well as those that got the hell out of Dodge have perfectly legitimate opinions.
                    Didn’t go to Poland either , hate the place
                    Noted, strong opinion about an entire country/ppl,

                    1. Vatch

                      The attitudes of people in the former Soviet subject nations will vary, at least partly, based on which empire was their long term historical oppressor. The people of Armenia, Serbia, and Bulgaria were oppressed by the Ottoman Turks for many centuries, and are less likely to see the Russians/Soviets as oppressors than are other subject nationalities. The Serbs were also periodically oppressed by the Habsburg Austrians.

                    2. OIFVet

                      You really need to stray further away from the tourist routes next time you find yourself in those parts. The fact is that most people were rendered “losers” by the transition and lost a lot of ground in financial and social terms. People may not have had choice of thousands of utterly disposable, engineered-to-be-obsolescent consumer crap, but they had a large measure of economic and social security. Now they hag none. What the US and the West is going through now, the East underwent in the 1990s, and while Prague may be better off the countryside is a different story. As for Poles, if you like xenophobia than so be it. I am rather sick of hearing about how everyone else is responsible for Poland’s woes but Poles themselves. Some introspection can only help.

                    3. optimader

                      You really need to stray….. find yourself in those parts.
                      We try and stay with friends or friends of friends and I host accordingly here when the opportunity arises. If that’s not possible we will rent an apartment in a neighborhood for a week or two if we intend on dropping anchor in a city. It ends up being cheaper than hotels. We enjoy how we travel , but thanks anyway for the advice.

                      but they had a large measure of economic and social security. The present economic circumstance is felt by most everyone in Europe, that’s for sure. The notion that (subjects of communist regimes) had “economic and social security” is of course an illusion when living in a countries with failed economies.

                      People may not have had choice of thousands of utterly disposable, engineered-to-be-obsolescent consumer crap

                      No instead those subject to retention in communist regimes had rare to non-existent, shoddily produced, obsolete consumer crap. Case in point, the Trabant, the only vehicle ever built that would collect squashed bugs on the rear window instead of the windshield.

                      What the US and the West is going through now,…countryside is a different story.

                      Yes, well who/what are you differentiating from who/what?
                      There are affluent, middle class, and poor people in Prague as well in the rural areas of the Czech Republic. True throughout Europe as well as in North Central and South America. Who has “Security” actually ? My friends in Italy, France and Spain have their retirements pensions delayed. Are they better off than a peer in Romania, Bulgaria or Russia? Yes, probably.

                      As for Poles, if you like xenophobia than so be it. I am rather sick of hearing about how everyone else is responsible for Poland’s woes
                      Well, ok then! Maybe your point is Pole’s harbored unreasonable expectations about not being invaded/killed/deported during WWII?

                    4. OIFVet

                      “…countries with failed economies.” I guess that explains the present day US. The difference being, the West engaged in total economic warfare on communist countries, whereas in the US there is a total economic warfare on the 99% by the 1%. In any case, there was economic and social security for all, regardless what your ingrained American-capitalist exceptionalism leads you to believe.

                      “Trabant” I will see your Trabant and raise you a Corvair. What, you thought the free market capitalist enterprise doesn’t practice shoddy production and obsolete designs?! How very touching, your faith in this best of all possible economic systems…

                      “classes” So you think that the explosion of inequality following the fall of communism is a good thing. So what’s your problem with Obama then? He does growing inequality exceptionally well too…

                      “Poland” If they don’t like being invaded they should take personal responsibility and repel invasions rather than moaning about them. Besides, they did their fair share of invasions, including invasions of Russia. I never heard a Russian bitch and moan about that…

            2. JerseyJeffersonian

              Predatory, eh? You omitted the little bit about how several of those Soviet-occupied countries had, in alliance with the 3rd Reich, just sent their armed forces to kill Soviet citizens, and despoil their nation. In consideration of this trifling fact, perhaps Uncle Joe did have a point in wanting to stop that from happening again? No, the occupation was not pretty, not pretty at all; but for you to gloss over historical facts in an effort to cast the Soviet response as being motivated by sheer, inexplicable malevolence is purposefully disingenuous. Hungarians, Romanians, Italians, Dutchmen, Finns, among others were part of the invading forces that attacked the Soviet Union.

      3. Vatch

        There’s no doubt that Churchill was bigot, and his response to the Bengal famine was shamefully slow. Many lives would have been saved if Churchill’s government had acted more promptly. But according to Churchill’s Empire, by Richard Toye, which is the source for the linked article’s account of the Bengal famine, Churchill did not cause the famine. The famine was caused by the loss of rice imports from Burma due to the war, a cyclone (called a hurricane or typhoon in other parts of the world), and wartime inflation. Go to http://books.google.com, search for “Churchill’s Empire”, and look at pages 234-236, which are included in the preview. The hero was the new viceroy, Archibald Percival Wavell, who demanded relief which finally ended the famine.

        There’s also a Wikipedia page, which indicates that there is still uncertainty, or at least disagreement, about the events:


        Although Churchill did not cause the famine and can’t be blamed for all of the deaths, his inaction for several months deserves severe blame. Richard Toye says on page 235 of his book:

        “…it seems impossible to avoid the conclusion that maladministration made the consequences worse than they need have been, and that Churchill’s own reaction was grossly inept and, it is tempting to add, callous.”

        1. Jack

          No, it’s not temping, it’s required. Had it been a famine in Britain, or even just a far-flung white part of the empire, he would have acted much more quickly.

            1. optimader

              It’s not the case that the Sun never not set on the Empire because the English were altruists.

            2. vidimi

              the article demonstrated that churchill was extreme, even for other aristocrats of the time.

  6. diptherio

    On Zappos:

    Collective ownership and management are both important, but if I had to choose one or the other, I’d take collective management. Plenty of ESOPs still suck to work for…

    1. afisher

      ZAPPOS: need details, but this sure sounds like another twist on the Uber model – if there are no employees, then there is no need to worry about employee pay / compensation, etc. The Libertarian model that is great for the owners and screws everyone else.

    2. keithmo

      Zappos and its employees are fortunate to be granted independent management by it’s corporate owner — Amazon. Amazon employees are not so lucky.

  7. WanderingMind

    “MERS has won victories in courts in many states in the last two years over borrowers facing foreclosure who challenged the company’s authority to act as mortgagee or assign the deed of trust”

    It is important to keep the distinction between the note and the mortgage in mind when reading this type of story, which simply looks like a regurgitation of a MERS press release. The court ruled that a MERS mortgage can be assigned by MERS because, as stated in the article and in the case, the borrower explicitly gives MERS the authority to do that in the mortgage instrument itself. However, the mortgage will also invariably say that MERS is not the Lender, i.e. the holder or owner of the note.

    The appeals court did not consider the other arguments which it says were made in the original complaint, including:

    – the assignment of the deed of trust from MERS to Chase was invalid because MERS’s Procedures Manual states that MERS does not have authority to transfer any beneficial interest in loans; and

    Chase did not own the borrower’s note because the original lender did not endorse the note to Chase

    In a state like Massachusetts, where the court has ruled that the entity which forecloses must also be in control of the note, this means that a faulty chain of title with regard to the note can be the basis for challenging a foreclosure, even if MERS is capable of transferring the mortgage. The decision upon which the article is based did not reach that issue, as stated above.

    So, borrowers who have uncovered chain of title issues with the note and those who have uncovered MERS’ failure to follow its own rules when it assigns the mortgage, should not give up hope.

    1. alex morfesis

      MERS wins badly pled cases…so would anyone else…as the appeals court pointed out in its ruling in the article…any attorney with half a brain would not test and annoy the appeals court by trying an argument “de novo” that was not presented nor preserved at trial…

      but MERS does not publicize lender plaintiffs are regularly losing cases AT TRIAL in Florida…

      and in Trust Deed states….


      ask the trustee to get you a copy of their trust and agency agreements…you are also a beneficiary as the trustee owes you clean hands and good faith…these trustees are not asking the “servicer” to provide them with the required documentation as the servicer must prove its agency relationship with the proper party to be able to instruct the original trustee to resign and allow the default trustee to proceed…remember…your trust deed is NOT a mortgage (it is a financing mechanism) and they are not foreclosing on the mortgage and equitable arguments…they are moving under the contract part where you have (without an attorney present usually) given a financing party the “power of sale”…if you can show the court, PRIOR to their taking action…that the “trustee” did not properly respond to your requests…the argument is then the case must be foreclosed on in equity…taking away the right to use the power of sale…

      happy hunting…

  8. JTMcPhee

    Re TPP and “stop me before I do something stupid and then I’ll sue you for stopping me”:

    Years ago in Seattle a big-law-firm partner who specialized in land use and environment wanted to build a mansion on the geology overlooking Elliott Bay and Puget Sound. The “view” bluffs are glacial till, and slump regularly into the salt water. The particular blessed street had lost quite a number of estates to Mother Nature that way — rainwater packs the solution channels in the permeable mix of silt and gravel, a critical point of expansion and lubricity is reached, and away it all goes.

    The partner got an engineer to attest, on his license, that the engineering fixes like compaction and perf pipe and pilings put in to stabilize the slope would do so. The City said “We would have to be stupid to give you a building permit there,” so the partner sued them for wrongfully denying the permit. And because he was well connected, he won, got the permit and damages too. Built the house, and after a period of persistent rain (in Seattle?) the inevitable occurred, house in splinters in the Bay.

    Next act? Sue the City for wrongfully ISSUING a building permit for such an obviously hazardous location. Any question of the result? The taxpayers of the City got to “make the bastard whole” by paying damages, losses, pain and suffering and of course attorney fees and prejudgment interest to the well-connected partner.

    Isn’t Living Large just Grand?

  9. NOTaREALmerican

    Was in the Portlandia area last weekend.
    The wine area is booming. Gonna be hard to tell the top 20% they’ve got to buy cheap wine swill in order to share their loot with the peasants in the bottom 80%. Just don’t see that happening, especially when the top 20% own all the politicians making all these “important” decisions.

    1. James Levy

      I think it’s closer to 7%, but that’s 21 million people, and they make up such a huge proportion of those in media, finance, law, politics, and elite higher education that they might as well be “everyone” from their own perspective. The concentration of wealth is not just material, it’s spatial and occupational. These people live, work, and interact with people just like themselves and reinforce the notion that things aren’t really all that bad. People who are members of this group who fall in the world just disappear–my wife saw it in a very wealthy North Shore school district. Suddenly, a student was gone, someone would whisper something about the dad losing his job or getting his hand caught in the cookie jar, and bingo, they’d be removed from the yearbook and flensed from the memory. Maintaining relationships across class divisions is almost impossible. As Barbara Ehrenreich wrote many years ago, everything in America is organized so that a plumber and a lawyer are never friends.

    2. Jack

      Oregon as a whole seems like it’s headed towards a doomsday scenario where it in large part survives many of the drastic environmental changes that seem pretty much inevitable at this point. And then it will become an Eden of sorts that people flee to en mass, with disastrous results. How much longer will the California drought have to go on before people just start heading straight north?

        1. ambrit

          Seal which border, the northern one, or the southern ones? (Forget about the waters edge. The Lobsters are in control.)

  10. Anon

    How to Use Opensecrets.org. The writer makes an interesting statement:

    Be aware that creating a commonality of interest can include supporting causes you might not otherwise care to see as law. Increased military spending would be one for me. But I would gladly see the DoD budget increased if it mean crippling mass data collection at the NSA, which has already been found to be ineffectual. It’s a trade-off. Everyone wants something and it is a question of finding out what that something is.

    I thought that the ideal solution was to cripple the military budget and pass that money onto infrastructure (which we desperately need), unless I’m missing something.

  11. human

    [Warren-supporting activists plan to show up at town halls and rallies to call on Clinton to adopt policies such as breaking up big banks and expanding the Social Security retirement program.]


    “The votes are in, and the top-ranked question — out of 70,000 submitted to Obama’s site — asks for an investigation of torture and spying.”

    Yeah…Petitioning politicians is soooo effective.

  12. wbgonne

    ISDS in action.

    Thanks for posting these examples. ISDS tribunals place globalism under the thumb of corporatism. Instead of using international power to protect the commons and ensure human rights and dignity, ISDS perverts globalism by using that international power to protect corporate profiteers and punish people for self-rule and self-protection.

    1. JTMcPhee

      What a curious notion, that globalization has, had, or ever could have a positive expression. An initio, it was all about DESTROYING the Commons… And “think globally, act locally” is no motto for the globalizationalistcators, but for those trying not to be crushed and stripped by them.

    2. different clue

      That was the whole, sole and only point of Globalism right from the beginning. The purpose of Globalization is to flush societies down a drain to the sump. Something like a race to the bottom. Liberal Nationalism began as fight for power and rights against the Family Dynasties of pre-national Europe. Perhaps liberalism will seek survival through becoming nationalist again. For example, the only chance America has to reduce its own carbon skydumping is through economic nationalism and protectionism whereby we could exclude economic relations and contact with countries based on dumping more carbon per unit of activity than what we dump. Free Trade is designed to stop us from protecting ourselves against carbon dumpers in China or elsewhere.
      Protectionism would allow us to ban imports from China and restore production of all those things in America again at less carbon dumped per thing made. Of course China would ban our food/coal/etc. exports in return.
      So what? Enough Americans making enough money making every thing used in America would be able to afford to buy the food grown in America . . . which would no longer need desperation export opportunities.

    3. wbgonne

      Both JTMcPhee and different clue raise valid points. One on which they seem to agree is that globalism is necessarily destructive. I don’t agree with that (assuming we are using “globalism” in its broad sense, not in its current neoliberal incarnation). International cooperation can be beneficial. The United Nations was conceived for beneficial purposes. As to resolving global problems like AGW I believe that an international framework is necessary. I do agree that, at present, no such international framework will work becuase the major actors like the U.S. are not committed to the effort. While the U.S. theoretically could unilaterally use its economic might to force global carbon fuel reductions that won’t happen for the same reasons: the U.S. is not committed to the effort.

  13. Like a rug

    Project Mockingbird hack Mark Bowden horks up some choice propaganda on the Boston Marathon show trial, contradicting the fact that the defendant pled not guilty in the second sentence, then veering off from his unsupported presumption of guilt to irrelevant insanity trivia. His article purports to prove that good-cop Judy Clarke is “ferocious.” But then Bowden grew up fapping with his GI Joes. His hack career includes kissing unlimited ass to get the party line for Blackhawk Down, and writing VFW pulp about the Operation Overlord sideshow. Hey, he’s a starving adjunct with a pity job from his own mediocre alma mater, he has to work for CIA. Integrity doesn’t pay the rent!


  14. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Amazon introduces Home Services, a “marketplace” that connects customers with nearby builders, plumbers, mechanics, music teachers, etc.

    So people would really rather fork over their money to Amazon to be an unnecessary middleman as opposed to say, opening the damn phonebook?!?! PT Barnum is having a good laugh somewhere…

        1. ambrit

          That depends on how wide your social network is. As part of my Big Boxx Store job I regularly met people who didn’t know anybody outside of their church circle. When I would suggest to them that they ask someone down the street they lived on, or someone at the Neighbourhood Association about reliable trades people, I would invariably get a blank stare in reply.
          E M Forsters’ “The Machine Stops” is becoming more prophetic with every day that passes.

  15. Jim Haygood

    Welcome to the police state:

    The Department of Homeland Security is seeking bids from companies able to provide law enforcement officials with access to a national license-plate tracking system — a year after canceling a similar solicitation over privacy issues.

    ICE and DHS privacy officials developed policies aimed at increasing “the public’s trust in our ability to use the data responsibly,” according to a senior DHS privacy officer.

    The largest commercial database is owned by Vigilant Solutions, which as of last fall had more than 2.5 billion records. Its database grows by 2.7 million records a day.


    Steve Jobs used to lease a new Mercedes every six months, so he could roll with an evergreen temporary plate.

    Many of us can’t afford to lease a new Mercedes twice a year. But with a scanner and a little graphics savvy, you can make your own homebrew temp plate to monkey-wrench the database state.

    If you get caught, do what Hillary would do: wipe your hard drive, and blame it on someone else. ‘I had every expectation that my license plate was properly registered,’ one confidently intones.

  16. hidflect

    “Hillary Clinton launch will probably involve “listening tour,”…”

    Don’t be fooled. Her handlers, minions and minders will have already been listening for some time already, carefully monitoring all the news, blog posts and comments about her to triangulate what plays and what doesn’t.

    And I think the reason for a lack of sound to date from Clinton’s trumpets blaring is they’re still trying to calculate how to address the enormous negative sentiment about her they’re finding even on liberal blogs.

    Understand, of course, there isn’t a shred of principle or idealism involved. She’s got her paymasters policies written down and the trick now is just to find a way to get the rubes to check off the “OK” on her presidency so she can proceed and implement their schedule.

    1. Vince in MN

      Polling to find out what “the base” wants so she knows what to promise that she will never do.

  17. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    Just stopping by to report my strong chronic GAG REFLUX at the mere mention of the word “Hilary”.
    Maybe after the coronation I can settle down a bit. At least with our Manchurian Basketballer-in-Chief we had a brief flush of cognitive dissonance before the utter disgust and revulsion and apoplexy set in. Maybe there’s a neat, long German word for it: “Irrational hopefulness despite inner certitude something will be a colossal disaster”.

  18. Demeter

    Don’t believe a word Rick Snyder says. He’s a proven serial liar.
    “right to work”
    enough said.

    And what really frosts my Wheaties is, because he’s a resident of Ann Arbor and taught a course at the U, Snyder gets a free pass from Ann Arbor’s Democrats, who have lost all their social justice since I moved in circa 1996. They are all fools, living on borrowed time and probably borrowed money….thinking that the crisis is over, and they survived due to their superior worth as humans.

    We don’t have a newspaper worthy of the name locally anyway, so it’s all imaginary.
    Never in a million years would I have guessed that we would have gotten to this point. Lo, how the mighty have fallen!

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