2:00PM Water Cooler 5/15/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“[OBAMA: ] The issue with respect to myself and Elizabeth has never been personal” [Talking Points Memo]. “Sweetie.”  And reinforcing, by repeating “Elizabeth,” that Obama would rather the fight be about personality than policy, understandably so. But it’s still nice to see Obama leveraging his arrogant and pissy character for what he considers to be good.


“If people don’t like the guy in the White House, it’s almost impossible for a member of his party to be elected to succeed him” [Cook Political Report]. “The magic number for Obama – and ultimately Hillary’s chances – is somewhere around 47 percent. … Below that number, especially if Obama is in the 45 percent range or below, it will be hard for a Democrat” to win. The nut graph:

How Obama is perceived by voters in the presidential battleground states is more important than his overall national approval rating. … In looking at data from five swing states (all of which Obama carried in 2012), Obama’s approval ratings are not only significantly below his pre-election showing in 2012, but they also fall below the political “Mendoza line” [ouch!], with no state giving him better than a 45 percent job approval rating. One of the most surprising is Obama’s weak 40 percent approve to 56 percent disapprove in Pennsylvania, an important brick in the Democrats so-called Blue Wall.”

At this point, we remember that Rob Portman, a Republican, is against TPP, and comes from Ohio. And that Casey, a Democrat, is against TPP, and comes from Pennsylvania.

O’Malley outlines fundraising plans and unveils website [WaPo], and will announce May 30 [Fox]. Guess the Baltimore Police Department thing was just a bump in the road. Anyhow, he flew to New Hampshire in a private jet.  Why not a van?

The S.S. Clinton

“Four in 10 Democratic insiders in the early states warn that Hillary Clinton is not spending enough time on the campaign trail” [Politico]. You can’t be the people’s champion and stay silent at the same time.

Republican Establishment

Jebbie’s “Right to Rise” SuperPAC is unprecedented in scale and scope. $100 million by the end of this month; and “he intends to outsource many traditional campaign functions, such as voter mobilization and polling, to this super PAC.” And there’s a second non-profit, able to accept unlimited contributions: “Right to Rise Policy Solutions,” which will develop his campaign platform and policy positions” [The Week]. Remember Halliburton, Blackwater, and CACI during the Iraq War? Like that. Outsource everything but the troops. Guess W. won’t have to sell any paintings to help his brother raise money.

Republican Principled Insurgents

“Heavily redacted records released Wednesday by the Wisconsin Supreme Court provided the first glimpse into arguments from Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign defending the legality of the fundraising and coordination he acknowledged doing with political groups that purported to be independent” [Wisconsin State Journal]. The “John Doe” investigation, which is criminal. FWIW, my impression is that this is like Christie’s Bridgegate, where state-level operatives were playing over their heads for a potentially national candidate.

Republican Clown Car

John Bolton decides not to throw his moustache into the ring [MSNBC]. Thank heavens. No intra-cranial splatterfest for Lambert at this time.

Population density and voting behavior with handy chart and good map [Reuters]. “The Big Sort.”

Orwellan Rewrite of Iraq History by the Political Class

Time presses, so I will only say without links: I was there, since my first summer blogging was at Eschaton as part of Atrios’s first class of summer fill-ins (hat tip, Atrios), in 2003. And we played whack-a-mole with one fake WMD story after another: The yellowcake. The drones. The white powder. Judy Miller. Curveball. Cheney at the CIA. As soon as we would whack one story, another would pop up. And then Colin Powell, bless his heart, went to the UN and regurgitated it all (to his subsequent regret). Only subsequently did we come to understand (from the Downing Street Memo) that “the facts and the intelligence were being fixed around the policy,” and that the reason it felt like we were playing whack-a-mole is that we were; Bush’s “White House Iraq Group” was systematically planting stories in our famously free press.

Repeat after me: The Iraq intel was not poor. It was falsified. And nobody Serious in the political class will admit that, to this very day, including Jebbie or Hillary.

The Hill

“Numerous” woman staffers are “not allowed to spend one-on-one time with their male bosses” [National Journal].

Stats Watch

Empire State manufacturing survey, May 2015: “Soft”  [Bloomberg]. “The manufacturing sector, hurt in part by weak exports, looks to be more and more of a drag at a time when economic growth is supposed to be on a springtime rebound.”

Industrial Production, April 2105:  “Stalling” [Bloomberg]. “The industrial economy remains flat and is holding down what is supposed to be the economy’s springtime bounce.”

Consumer Sentiment, May 2015:  ” 5 points below Econoday’s low-side forecast” [Bloomberg]. “The drop in current conditions hints at softness in this month’s jobs market while the drop in expectations is a downgrade for the outlook on jobs.” Mosler comments: “Even this has suddenly broken” [Mosler Economics].

“Rail softness continues” [EconIntersect]. Echoes trucking.


Republicans vote to cut Amtrak budget, including safety [Truth-out].

Market failure in the spectrum prevented Amtrak from implementing Positive Train Control, which would have prevented the accident [International Business Times].

Time to get serious about infrastructure [New Yorker]. The Democrats are pushing this now, but they didn’t do squat when they had control of Congress — especially in the stimpack and state and local employment — so why should we think this is anything other than revolving heroes?

Health Care

“Enrollment workers who have been using HealthCare.gov say their biggest challenges now come from the intricacies of its various rules for eligibility, not the performance of the site itself” [Wall Street Journal]. So now ObamaCare is only broken by design, as opposed to being broken in the implementation, too.

“A May 5 government report claims that over 16 million Americans have obtained coverage as a result of the Affordable Care Act. This estimate, as well as others that are being or will soon be circulated, are based on rapid turnaround surveys conducted by telephone or over the web. …  in the past such surveys have been shown to underestimate the number of people who lack coverage.” Methodologically sound results from interviews are coming [Health Affairs]. The article kindly says that HHS was responding to “tremendous interest,” which — reading between the lines — means that the Obama administration rushed out a poor survey they knew would skew high. Film at 11.

“1 in 4 adults had insurance but still couldn’t afford medical care” [WaPo]. But the important thing is that they wrote a check to the insurance company, so kwitcherbellyachin.

The U.K.

Mancunians petition to join Scotland via Twitter [Manchester Evening News].


“Baltimore landfill closed amid FBI investigation” [Baltimore Sun].

Black Injustice Tipping Point

You’re twice as likely to die on the job as a garbage collector than as a cop [Bloomberg]. #WasteManagementSpecialistsMatter. Which of course they do. There’s a lot of good data in this post, rendered unscannable and practically useless analytically by the mobile-friendly page design. For example, it gives supervisor death rates as well.

Complaints about NYPD chokeholds increased last year [WaPo].

Class Warfare

“1/4 of employment decline in American manufacturing from 1990 to 2007 was from competition from Chinese imports” [The Economist]. And the headline: “Fighting the secret plot to make the world richer.” So, doing God’s work. Well and good. Where’s our cut?

“A series of reports over the last few weeks have shed more light on the increasingly predatory enforcement of misdemeanors across the country, and how this trend disproportionately hurts the poor” [WaPo]. A comparison of St Louis and Miami. The missing piece: In St Louis, the institutional motivation was revenue. Was that true in Miami? The story does not say.

San Francisco hotel workers union: AirBnB nukes not only hotel jobs, but affordable housing [Al Jazeera].

“Only One-third of Millennials Say They’re Millennials” [Public Religion]. BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!! What a great headline! Translation: “You will identify as a Millienial.”

Imperial Collapse Watch

Documents detail US complicity in Operation Condor campaign, where a Chilean diplomat was whacked on US soil. Also too torture, disappearances, assassinations [Ben Norton]. I wonder who’s Kissinger now? [hums]

News of the Wired

  • If somebody steals your Apple Watch, they can easily reset the password [iDownloadBlog]. Not such a big deal with the watch that only costs $300 bucks or so, but what about the solid gold, diamond-encrusted model?
  • New mobile phone’s selling point: It makes you less connected [Short List].
  • Rural China never adopted Weibo [Global Social Media Impact Study].
  • The hunt for Satoshi Nakamoto [New York Times]. Newsweek got it badly wrong, but the story is still worth following.
  • “We have invented bioconcrete — that’s concrete that heals itself using bacteria” [CNN]. Awesome!
  • “7 percent of the nation’s poultry that has either been killed by bird flu or is being euthanized to prevent its spread” [New York Times].
  • Thai verdict in Yingluck case “a foregone conclusion” [Deutsche Welle]. Not a shocker, but note the definition of “corruption”: “Buying votes” is what we would call delivering promised material benefits to voters; for example, farm subsidies.
  • Pope Francis comes out against the arms industry [CNN].
  • California judge rules against abstince-only sex agnotology [Mic].
  • Yoko Ono finally gets a real show at MOMA [Vulture].
  • Men’s rights activists outraged by new “Mad Max” film [Guardian]. I haven’t been to the movies in years, but now I’ll go. Pass the popcorn.

* * *

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 fifth of Garden Week (Perry):


Perry writes:

These miniature iris are bordering my fish pond which needs spring cleaning before I turn on the recirculating waterfall.

That’s one of my projects for this year; a “water feature.” Readers, please send me more pictures of your gardens; it’s occurred to me that I started asking too early, before people really got rolling outside.

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. It’s the soil, seeds, flats, and planting season!


(Readers will notice that I have, at long last, improved the hat!)

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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. prostratedragon

    Small plug, but timely: untill 4pm Eastern, music honoring B.B. King, his own and that of his world, streaming from jazz/blues radio at wemu.org.

      1. RUKidding

        Thanks. I sadly figured that BB King was on the way out. RIP. A great, for sure. I am lucky to have seen him perform several times over the course of his long career. Always exciting.

      1. tommy strange

        you might want to read up on clapton’s politics.And quotes of his of how ‘he is carrying on the blues’. The guy is a fascist ya know.

    1. frosty zoom

      Oh I done got wise to you baby
      You ain’t the only bird in the sky
      So now don’t you ask me no questions
      And you know I won’t, I won’t tell you no lies

      thanks, riley

  2. RUKidding


    Sometimes, journalists in the United States are the targets of government investigations. The Obama administration has been particularly aggressive about going after reporters to get their sources, claiming that leaks compromise national security.
    Sometimes, the government just wants to mess with a reporter.

    An fyi for Yves & Lambert (and others) about blogging and shield laws (or not) for bloggers who consider themselves journalists. Of course, this is about CA, so I don’t know what the laws are in other states and/or what protections are afforded to bloggers.

  3. Peter Pan

    Mad Max: Fury Road – Men’s right activists view women as being easily subjugated as slaves for sex or anything else? I bet these are the guys that keep sending their money to those penis enlargement advertisements.

    1. Jack

      The MRA ‘movement’ is a rabbit hole of insanity. All of it toxic as hell. The whining about the Mad Max movie started on Men Going Their Own Way, a website for totally straight guys who feel they don’t need icky girls anymore. If you’re genuinely interested in these types, I would suggest only observing them through the filter of http://wehuntedthemammoth.com/, which regularly mocks them. I can’t in good conscience recommend exposing yourself to their bile in its raw form.

      1. Lexington

        The MRA ‘movement’ is a rabbit hole of insanity. All of it toxic as hell

        Painting with a very broad brush there.

        I wonder what the reaction would have been had you made the same statement and simply replaced “MRA” with “feminist”. I think it bears pondering.

        I question how much you actually know about the movement (or more correctly, movements) given your vitriolic unqualified generalization and the fact you actually suggest that rather than read the material themselves and draw their own conclusions people should instead suspend all critical judgement and give themselves over to a polemical feminist blog devoted to denigrating it – which frankly is a lot like saying the best way to learn about environmentalism is to watch a documentary funded by Dow Chemical.

        For those whose minds aren’t nailed shut I would recommend Ian Ironwood’s The Manosphere: A New Hope for Masculinity as a good introduction to the topic.

        1. Jack

          Actually, my experience is spending many hours directly browsing MRA websites and subreddits. You have no idea how much a bunch of clowns you look to the normal outside world.

          1. Lexington

            Yeah, that’s obvious from your sophisticated and nuanced critique.

            And from the fact that “normal” is whatever you say it is.

            You have no idea how narrow minded and banal you look to anyone who hasn’t drunk the Kool Aid.

            Btw I don’t count myself a member, but I have a low tolerance for the self appointed guardians of ideological red lines.

    2. RUKidding

      Funny you mention it. I lived in Australia when the original Mad Max debuted. Then it was more or less an Aussie movie that jumped the big pond and became big, plus kick-started Mel Gibson’s career.

      Was curious about this new release. I like the lead actor Tom Hardy and the original director George Miller is back again. Then I noticed a huge amount of vetching about feminism – most of the attributes ascribed to “feminists” were totally unrecognizable to me – but I couldn’t really figure out how it tied into the Mad Max movie.

      On the IMDB there were long long long blogs on the user boards with a lot of ranting and diatribing. Couldn’t bear to read most of it, which seemed to boil down to: Feminists are the EVIL SCOURGE who ruined EVERYTHING.

      If anyone has any insight into how these opinions/feelings tie into the Mad Max movie – and why there is so much vehemence about it – I’d love to know (really). I’ll probably see the movie eventually. Not expecting much but just for a hoot… the original was just silly, too but had good scenery shots. Hear this one doesn’t rely much on CGI, which makes me more interested. Sick of overdone CGI bs.

      1. Jack

        It isn’t about the new Mad Max movie per se, its only ‘crime’ is having a central plot that apparently revolves around rescuing captive women, and a trailer filled with said women. MRAs go ballistic at anything that even remotely touches on the subject of female victimization. Or female empowerment (they were also complaining about Charlize Theron’s character shouting orders at Max). Or really female anything. It doesn’t take much to tick the MRA crowd off. Injecting women into anything they weren’t featured in in the past or having a female be anything more than background eye-candy is seen as a sign of feminism, which they view, as you said, as an evil scourge that has wormed its way into everything.

        Mad Max is merely the latest target to have wandered into their sights. They’re especially vocal in video game circles. The MRA crowd has significant overlap with both the rape-tastic pick up ‘artist’ subculture and libertarians. Stefan Molyneux is a popular figure among them and… well, here just watch this and you’ll have some idea of the type of person we’re talking about here:


        Incidentally, the two guys featured in this video have since taken their fundraising money and run.

        1. jrs

          I thought the only people who took Mad Max seriously were survivalists of the misguided sort …. because any actual survivalist future is unlikely to actually function anything like Mad Max.

          1. Jack

            It’s about the women getting a more prominent role in a macho action movie franchise, I guess. The original MRA article that kicked this off was written by someone who freely admitted he hadn’t seen the movie; he was raging at the trailers. These people will literally complain about anything, including perceived complaints (‘whining’) from those dastardly feminists.

            1. Furzy Mouse

              The sadism bestowed upon women in the previous Mad Maxes is nearly incessant…so I’m guessing the MRA’s are just hoping for more, and no fighting back allowed!!

      2. PlutoniumKun

        I would guess the whole thing is deliberately orchestrated by the films PR company – some obscure idiot who hasn’t seen the film has a rant about feminism on a blog somewhere, suddenly you have multiple articles about it popping up everywhere and a dubious twitter storm. It all just smells of opportunistic marketing. I love the original film and I’ve heard the new one is great, but this sort of cynical marketing nonsense just puts me off going.

  4. rich

    The One Percenters’ Tax Loopholes and Unindicted Frauds: Audacious Oligarchy

    Langone is a walking, squawking, self-delusional example of the credibility trap in action. And he is certainly not alone. He has a lot of brothers among the uber-wealthy, and kissing cousins in the Congress and politicians in general, and throughout the media, think tanks, and universities.

    This is why there will not be any kind of meaningful internal reform until the people clip the wings of the moneyed interests from buying elections, and politicians, and the networks.

    And this should be an object lesson to any people overseas who think that the terrible consequences they have suffered endured from the exports of fraudulent paper and practices of the Anglo-Americans over the past ten years have changed.

    They have not. And the utterly distorted, unrepentant, and unreformed world view of the unfortunately powerful one percent is the reason. Why stop when you are winning…

    Here is a link to the interview on Bloomberg in case the embedded version is not working for you.


    word of caution: if viewing video, refrain from eating.

  5. jo6pac

    John Bolton decides not to throw his moustache into the ring [MSNBC]. Thank heavens. No intra-cranial splatterfest for Lambert at this time.

    This is the most disappointing news of the day, I think the more clowns the better.

    1. Peter Pan

      If John Bolton had become the Republican nominee, then the Democrats could’ve re-run those LBJ ads from 1964 with the mushroom shaped clouds.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Rerun? Please, I know Goldwater had Hillary’s endorsement, but I would vote for Hillary if he ran. We would need ads for a much reader war. Krypton, Melmak, Alderaan, AbramsVulcan, Praxis, and Thermia would all face destruction with Bolton in charge.

      1. RUKidding

        So does that mean The Donald will run for POTUS, and his combover will be his Veep?

  6. Carla

    Senator Rob Portman of Ohio has not come out against the TPP, despite the fact that NAFTA has savaged Ohio jobs. He is concerned about currency manipulation and so has co-authored an amendment with Sherrod Brown, but he just voted pro-TPP twice this week, on Tuesday and on Thursday.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Ah, my bad. I saw/see the currency manipulation bill as a poison pill, whether as part of the TPP package or standalone. I’ll have to keep closer track of the swing state critters.

      1. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

        Currency manipulation won’t pass, but the TPP might.

        Portman is a snake in the grass. He’s my other Ohio Senator. The scumbag one.

      2. Kokuanani

        I was surprised to see that Cardin [D-MD] changed his original “yes” vote [in committee] to “no” when Fast Track came to the floor.

        Must have been my persuasive e-mails, and those of my husband + adult kids.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Film at 11. More good work from DwT, too:

      Sen. Chuck Schumer, soon-to-be Leader, got his wish, a Fast Track bill that would pass the Senate, plus a separate currency bill that “pro–billionaire-controlled trade” senators can use for ground cover

      Of both parties, apparently!

      1. Pat

        My Senator, I’m sure you can imagine how proud I am to come from a state that has elected both Schumer and Cuomo on more then one occasion. Two such stellar examples of two-faced self-serving Democratic corporate boat lickers it is hard to find anywhere else. At least not in state’s that don’t have huge Conservative numbers to provide cover.

        If the question is ‘is our electorate learning?”, NYers make it clear the answer is ‘Fuck NO!’

        1. Propertius

          I wonder what Schumer’s response will be (or Feinstein’s for that matter) when foreign arms manufacturers sue for lost profits due to state and local gun control measures under TPP.

          I’m going to need more popcorn.

    2. jrs

      What are the chances Fast Track passes the House next week, oh maybe on Friday, in time for a 3 day memorial day weekend?

      I don’t know. If we’re lucky we’ll just get Patriot Act renewal and not Fast Track. And if course if democracy was functional there would be more debate than that. But our government is so bad it has made us need to be wary of our days off! We can’t even enjoy them in peace. When we finally get a lousy day off from our lousy jobs and being screwed by the bosses, it’s time for DC to screw us even worse. No rest for the weary.

      Phone your House critters.

    3. Jack

      I’ve been skimming various ‘progressive’ sites like Daily Kos, and it appears that Obama’s insane TPP push is turning away even previously committed Obots. Seeing him and Golden Girl Warren in direct combat seems to be causing a lot of people to have an internal crisis. Though even now many of the comments critical of Obama are tentative, with lots of qualifiers. It’s really quite pathetic.

      Daily Kos also had a recent post belittling ‘conspiracy theories’, which seems aimed squarely at anyone suggesting Obama is working for corporations or looking ahead to his post-presidency days and looking to secure a steady gig on the corporate speaking circuit.

    4. RUKidding

      I hate to say it (or maybe I don’t), but TPP was a “done deal” a long long long time ago. All we see is now is the usual Kabuki Show. Sorry couldn’t be bothered to contact my egregious Senators DiFi (ick) & Boxer. Why bother? They were “in” for it a long time ago. Ditto for any reps. I am not in Ami Bera’s voting district (CA 7), but a lot of us worked very hard to get him elected as an alleged “progressive” or whatever. Of course, Bera came out over 2 weeks ago resoundingly in FAVOR of TPP.

      Such a bunch of sell outs. The District of Criminals is only for the .001%. Get used to it.

  7. OIFVet

    In the future it will no longer be sufficient to obey the law, comrades. David Cameron: ““For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone. It’s often meant we have stood neutral between different values. And that’s helped foster a narrative of extremism and grievance. This government will conclusively turn the page on this failed approach. As the party of one nation, we will govern as one nation and bring our country together. That means actively promoting certain values.” The Guardian. So you see, you now have to not only obey the law but embrace officially sanctioned values as well. Or else…

  8. blurtman

    I am puzzled.

    OK: According to the Economic Policy Institute, rise in the trade deficit with Mexico alone since NAFTA was enacted led to the net displacement of 682,900 U.S. jobs by 2010.


    Not OK: Guilty pleas trigger a cascade of consequences. Banks may have to negotiate regulatory exemptions to avoid serious disruptions of business.

    It has been called the “Arthur Andersen effect” after the demise of the big 5 accounting firm after its indictment in 2002 over charges related to Enron Corp’s accounting scandal. Some 28,000 employees at the firm lost their jobs.


  9. geoff

    Thank you Lambert for the always welcome reminder that rationale for The Iraq war (round two) was based not upon “flawed intelligence”, but deliberate falsehoods and propaganda. The fact that no one in mainstream discourse can even say this over ten years later is the most damning indictment of out whole corporate media possible.

    1. Jim

      It was clear to many in the public in 2002/03 that the Iraq/ Sadam/WMD/terrorism story was all BS. Reading the stories in the NYT about Nigerian yellowcake and Wilson it stunk to high heaven. Not to mention that Al Qaeda was in Afghanistan, not Iraq. I was shocked at how many Democratic Senators voted for the Resolution.
      These fabricated stories seem to be the norm not the exception.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I forgot “slam dunk” (George Tenet). Kidz these days, they think they know what a steaming load of crap looks like, but I’m tellin’ ya….

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        ZOMG, I forgot Hans Blix, too! What a nutty time that was, to be sure. And now the myth of the “flawed intel” is firmly embedded in elite conventional wisdom; they even believe it themselves. Exactly like subprime.

        Move along people, move along, the real story is over there.

        “The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas,” says the Old Mole. But what it the ideas are not merely wrong — anybody can be wrong — but factually false, false at the most basic empirical level? It seems evident to me that such an elite cannot continue to function for long.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I don’t need to because the article does:

        These munitions were remnants of an Iraqi special weapons program that was abandoned long before the 2003 invasion, and they turned up sporadically during the American occupation in buried caches, as part of improvised bombs or on black markets.

        (Emphasis mine.)

        1. Furzy Mouse

          Often not mentioned, but all over the ‘net and media in ’01 thru ’03 was Scott Ritter…declaring loudly for all to hear that there were no WMD’s. He knew…he was an UNSCOM inspector in Iraq leading up to the war…


          William Scott Ritter Jr. (born July 15, 1961) was a United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 to 1998, and later a critic of United States foreign policy in the Middle East. Prior to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Ritter stated that Iraq possessed no significant weapons of mass destruction (WMD) capabilities. He became a popular antiwar figure and talk show commentator as a result of his stance.

  10. cwaltz

    One of the reasons Hillary doesn’t say the intel was falsified must be because even back during Bill’s admin we must have been creating intel to justify our policy. I remember reading that during the Clinton admin there was data that suggested that Saddam was a threat.

    1. frosty zoom


      i bet laura makes a great devil’s food cake, though.

      [hmm.. in response to “jim”]

  11. Pat

    “1 in 4 adults had insurance but still couldn’t afford medical care”
    One of the reasons I make a point of the fact that insurance does NOT equal healthcare. And have become pedantic about the fact that the Affordable Care Act is a hugely inaccurate title on more then one front.
    I fully expect those health fairs that so embarrassed our country a couple of years ago to pop up again. You know the ones – where thousands of people lined up, not just hours but even days in advance, just for the opportunity to see a Doctor and receive actual health care. They may still be around, but I’m talking the point where they can no longer be ignored.

    We are ruled by greedy, cruel people who are nasty excuses for human beings.

  12. Matthew G. Saroff

    While David Sirota’s analysis of spectrum issues with positive train control is technically correct, his analysis that this is the cause of delays is wrong.

    PTC does not require a slice of spectrum. It is low data and short range, and can function without dedicated spectrum.

    As Harold Feld, Legal Director of Public Knowledge notes, the requirements of PTC allow the use of open spectrum because the distances are small: (Facebook Link)

    I am furious that people died in Philadelphia train crash because we don’t have Positive Train Control installed. And why? Part of the issue is the obsession with finding dedicated spectrum when open, unlicensed spectrum will do just fine. PTC relies on close range radio communication between the train, sensors embedded in the tracks, and communication back to the Amtrak traffic control.

    Lets start with the fact that we have boatloads of fiber running alongside train tracks in the rights of way. If I were architecting this system, I could deploy it tomorrow using unlicensed spectrum and small cell handoff to the fiber. Probably can do it on the 900 MHz open spectrum, but can also go up to 5 GHz. We are not talking about needing a lot of bandwidth or range (although I expect train exteriors are fairly “noisy” from an RF perspective, but open spectrum is relatively robust).

    But NOOOOOOO!!!!!! PTC wants its own, exclusive, dedicated slice of spectrum. Why? Because God forbid you should ever be forced to share spectrum — especially when “life and safety” is involved. Never mind from a tech perspective this is stupid. It easier, cheaper, and more robust (and deployable NOW) using existing shared spectrum then it is to hunt for some sliver of spectrum, get primary use, deal with the background noise of whoever your neighbors are and appropriate spectrum mask. Most of the time you are not going to be in a particular noisy environment for 900 MHz, and if you are there is other open spectrum to fall back on.

    The obsession with exclusive licensing kills. Get over it. Our experience with cellular shows us that exclusivity is not the biggest factor in interference or overload.

    If they must get exclusive spectrum, let them share the D Block in 700 MHz. God knows it’s gonna take forever for FirstNet to finally build the damned network, which they are supposed to share with the private sector anyway to raise money.


    There is fiber running along every major rail right of way in the nation, so you need something to reliably carry less than 10 meters (basically WiFi distances to work).

    This could be implemented tomorrow.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      But surely the issue is not purely technical? What I’m not seeing above is signoff by the regulators.

      Adding: Please don’t do multiple posts of the same comment. They all end up in the queues, and it’s more work for the moderators. You’re also training Skynet to think you’re a troll, because that’s what trolls do.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          “the automatic train control system that notifies an engineer when a train is above the speed limit and automatically applies the brakes” … But I don’t think that’s Positive Train Control, the new system. I think it’s an older technology. Too lazy to find the link!

    2. Paul Tioxon

      The system is already being used for southbound trains approaching the curve where Tuesday’s derailment occurred.

      So, there is no reason that the other set of tracks can be operable immediately. This story just gets worse and worse.

      See Federal order to immediately install the safety controls in the link below.

  13. Jack

    Millennial is a phrase that needs to be thrown into a blazing inferno. I hadn’t even heard of it until a few years ago, and then suddenly it was everywhere. I was never consulted. Don’t go giving me labels, and then tut-tutting when I and others my age refuse to be your monkey and dance to your tune.

    1. jrs

      Do you think any generation is ever consulted? Was anyone who might be giving younger generations labels ever consulted on what they wanted their generation called? Do we assume Generation X and the Silent Generation so loved being called that? I doubt it as those are pretty bad names, really a variable name and being called Silent even if you are anything but. So I doubt it, and maybe Boomers hate being associated with the baby boom.

      But it wasn’t heard of until a few years ago as they were throwing out the term “Generation Y” for that same age group at least those who are now in the first 1/2 of their 30s (here have a variable name) until they settled on millennials (Gen Y is not much older than 35 because that’s definitely Gen X that is).

      They use the labels to chart demographic trends.

  14. Howard Beale IV

    CalSTRS, others can cash out of gun investment; Sacramento Bee

    Shortly after the shooting, facing an outcry from CalSTRS and others, Cerberus put Freedom Group up for sale. It was unable to find a buyer. Meanwhile, CalSTRS said it was hobbled by legal restrictions that made it unable to simply get rid of its $375 million investment in Cerberus.

    The California Federation of Teachers staged a “teach-in” at CalSTRS headquarters and Cerberus’ regional office in Los Angeles last month in an effort to pressure CalSTRS to walk away from the investment. The pension fund refused.

    The Times said Cerberus, in its letter to its investors, said it was frustrated with its inability to sell Freedom. “We are disappointed that we were unable to effect an outright sale of the company or other comparable transaction,” it wrote. It gave investors 30 days to accept the offer.

  15. Demeter

    If you are going to see a movie, see one that’s worth the price of entry: The Woman in Gold.

    It is a masterpiece (about a masterpiece) and should get every Academy Award out there.

  16. Demeter

    If the Democrats are toast for the White House, should I switch to GOP for the primary and pick the least?

    The thought makes me want to climb into the shower and drown.

    I’m going for Bernie. The whole nation may go for Bernie, just in disgust at all other alternatives. He’s the Third Party in disguise (at least, that is the hope).

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