2:00PM Water Cooler 5/26/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, this Water Cooler is very TPP-heavy, which bugs me, because it means malefactors are getting away with something somewhere else, but there’s a lot happening.


TPP’s “Living Agreement” clause is even worse than ISDS [American Thinker]. “Living” like what? A zombie? Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL):

[SESSIONS: ]According to the Congressional Research Service, our own group, the TPP’s Living Agreement provisions is unprecedented. Indeed, I’m one of the few I think that went to the secret room to read the secret document, and when it described the Living document, it said it was “unprecedented.” I presume I won’t be arrested for making that quote from the secret document.

The United States Trade Representative’s website is very candid about the purpose of this living agreement provision. It is to “enable the updating of the agreement as appropriate to address trade issues that emerge in the future as well as new issues that arise with the expansion of the agreement to include new countries.”

It creates a commission, another commission, consisting of representatives from each member nation, which has vast powers to govern the agreement, and govern, to some degree, the countries who participate in it.

When Congress approves these treaties, it will be delegating its right to amend these treaties to the Commissions created by these treaties.

Alea iacta est or, as Ben Franklin said, “A Republic. If you can keep it.”

Malaysian Minister of International Trade and Industry, Mustapa Mohamed: “Regarding our Tier 3 position on human trafficking, this could be resolved if a Tier 3 country is seen to be taking concrete steps to implement recommendations in the Trafficking in Persons report” [Malaya Mail]. Anti-slavery advocates will naturally be interested in how the “concrete steps” formula was arrived at; it seems likely to me that the administration already cut a side deal with Malaysia on State’s Tier 3 designation. So it would be interesting to see a copy of that side deal. Maybe an anti-slavery, anti-TPP Republican (they do exist) could ask Hillary whether she’s aware of any email to that effect.

“If Congress grants the administration fast-track (also known as Trade Promotion Authority), it will mean two to four months for public comment before Congress gives the deal an up-or-down vote, with no amendments or debate” [NPR]. I wonder if that’s time to FOIA all the side deals?

“[Mustapa Mohamed] today urged the Malaysian public to defer judgment on the controversial Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement until July, when a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) will be released” [Free Malaysia Today]. July?

Limbaugh: “Republicans are providing the necessary push to get TPP passed, which kind of bothers me. Since it’s an Obama deal, the odds are it isn’t good. Since it’s an Obama deal, the odds are the United States is gonna take it in the shorts, as we have on so much of the Obama agenda, both domestic and foreign policy” [HuffPo]. No doubt Limbaugh would be more supportive of a trade deal under Republican branding — the RomneyCare -> ObamaCare play, just in a different direction — but the good guys can use the help, regardless.

“If that sounds more like a Tea Party American than a liberal, you’ve noticed a political convergence surrounding free trade” [Baxter Bulletin].

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.): “I am confident that the legislation will be defeated in the House” [HuffPo].

“As of yesterday (May 24) no new date had been set for the next Trans Pacific Partnership ministerial. … It has also been argued that since this matter won’t go to the House of Representatives until June because of a Congressional recess, and because neither the Democrats or Republicans want it to be an issue in the presidential election, that TPA might not be approved until after January 2017” [Rabble.ca]. ‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished, but don’t relax. Note, however, that this timetable dovetails perfectly with Hillary’s verbal crawfishing and waffling.

“[T]he [“]Progressive[“] [“]Coalition[“] for American Jobs [sic] (PCAJ), which is advised by former Obama campaign officials” “is running a series of digital ads this week backing senators who voted for a fast-track bill that is vehemently opposed by the left” [The Hill]. Digital ads in 11 states, starting Wednesday [Politico]. But digital, mind you, is cheap.

“We want our elected leaders to know that we appreciate their support for this critical legislation, we have their backs, and we’ll continue to stand with them as the conversation continues around free and fair trade,” PCAJ Executive Director Chris Wyant said in a statement.

Note the smarmy “conversation,” favorite word of Democratic apparatchiks everywhere. And the word “leaders,” the airport bookstore-level managerial jargon favored by the political class as a whole. More seriously, when did Obama ever have anybody’s back but his own?

“TPP would cut Japan’s agriculture output by 3 trillion yen ($24.6 billion) while the economy would get a boost of under one percent, the government estimates, although Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has touted it as an engine of reforms needed to drive growth” [Reuters].

“More than 70 organizations including the National Corn Growers Association is hailing the Senate passage of the Trade Promotion Authority Legislation” [WNAX].

About that Senate deal: “The Senators who flipped had obtained other concessions, on issues like the Export-Import Bank and currency manipulation—but tellingly most of the concessions were promises to let something be voted on, not commitments to pass them” [Econwatch]. Kayfabe, then.


The S.S. Clinton

Clinton is the overwhelming favorite [Vox]. Well, 531 days is a long time in politics.

“Clinton Foundation Donors Got Weapons Deals From Hillary Clinton’s State Department” [International Business Times]. Sirota’s doing great work, but look, film at 11. How do we compare the scale and scope of corruption between candidates and dynasties? That’s the more important question.

The Republican Party’s Josh Duggar problem [Politico]. Lots of Duggar grip-and-grin pictures with wingers.

Republican Principled Insurgents

Handy list of all the Walker scandals [Political Environment].

Stats Watch

New Home Sales, April 2015: “New home sales bounced back solidly in April, up 6.8 percent to a 517,000 annual rate that is on the high side of Econoday expectations. Strength is centered in the South” [Bloomberg]. “The [volatile] housing sector is still trying to get off the ground but indications, taken together, are improving.” “That is a solid first four months!” [Calculated Risk]. Exclamation point. “[I expect that] distressed sales will continue to decline and be offset by more conventional / equity sales.” Sales in Detroit were up, and I wonder if that supports CR’s theory that “the distressed gap” will continue to close.

Case-Shiller HPI, March 2015: “House prices are far from frothy to say the least but nevertheless are hinting at second-quarter strength for the sector” [Bloomberg]. Case-Shiller authors: “Given the long stretch of strong reports, it is no surprise that people are asking if we’re in a new home price bubble. The only way you can be sure of a bubble is looking back after it’s over” [Econintersect].

FHFA House Price Index, March 2015: “The FHFA house price index rose a lower-than-expected 0.3 percent in March, not confirming a much stronger 1.0 percent gain for the S&P Case-Shiller index” [Bloomberg]. Same “far from frothy” qualifier as above.

PMI Services Flash, May 2015: “Growth in new orders is the slowest yet this year with the build in backlog orders at a 10-month low” [Bloomberg].

Durable Goods Orders, April 2105: “The capital goods sector is showing life, helping to limit April’s aircraft-related decline in durable goods orders to a roughly as-expected 0.5 percent” [Bloomberg].

Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index, May 2015: “Employment growth is down while shipments are in contraction for a 4th month. Price readings are flat” [Bloomberg]. “First it was Empire State, then the Philly Fed, then Kansas City, all showing weakness this month and now including Richmond. Data from the Dallas Fed, also released this morning, is especially weak. The manufacturing sector is having a tough time gaining momentum, held down by weak exports and contraction in the energy sector.”

Dallas Fed Mfg Survey, May 2015: “Contraction in the energy sector continues to pull the Dallas Fed report into deeply negative ground” [Bloomberg]. “The energy sector is hurting badly.”

Consumer Confidence, May 2015: “confidence is stabilizing at a solid level” [Bloomberg]. “Job readings are mixed with the assessment of the current market down as more, now 27.3 percent vs April’s 25.9 percent, describe jobs as currently hard to get. This reading is closely watched.”

State Street Investor Confidence Index, May 2015: “Up a solid 7.0 points.” “Strength is centered in North America” [Bloomberg]. “The report attributes the region’s gains to a retracement for the dollar, stabilizing energy prices, and reduced expectations for a Fed rate hike.” Does that translate muscling Yellen for moar free money with the threat of a capital strike?

Black Injustice Tipping Point

St Louis PD: Yes, we’re tracking your cellphones, but we’re not going to tell you about it [St Louis Today].

“AP source: Cleveland reaches deal with Justice on policing” [AP]. A little late?

“After Two Nights in Jail, More Than 50 Nonviolent Protesters and Observers Released On Monday Morning ” [Cleveland Scene]. Excellent reporting from the ground.

“The FBI’s Response To Another Killer Cop Set Free? More Surveillance of Protestors” [Alternet]. Cleveland, the Brelo case. So what’s their point?

Cops whacking Native Americans at about the same rate they whack blacks [Mic].


“Sheldon Adelson to face allegations of graft, ties to Chinese organized crime in U.S. court” [Haaretz]. What a shame. Newtie’s meal ticket.

Class Warfare

“How to turn a liberal hipster into a capitalist tyrant in one evening” [Guardian]. A variation on the Stanford prison experiment.

“Public-Sector Jobs Vanish, Hitting Blacks Hard” [New York Times]. Uniquely among past recessions/depressions, state and local employment actually dropped after the Great Financial Crash. Had the stimulus package been adequate, that wouldn’t have happened, so thanks Obama. Also, the foreclosure crisis had to have tanked local property tax revenues, and MERS sucked $200 billion in fees away from localities. So it’s hard to see those vanishing jobs as anything other than a state-weakening neo-liberal feature, and not a bug.

News of the Wired

  • The next Roomba may recognize your household objects [Wired]. I’m not sold on the Internet of Things. Not at all.
  • “R. Crumb Describes How He Dropped LSD in the 60s & Instantly Discovered His Artistic Style” [Open Culture].
  • “[P]eople consistently underestimate how much they will enjoy seeing a show, going to a museum, visiting a theater, or eating at a restaurant alone” [WaPo]. Not INTJs!
  • Now there’s dog flu? [CNN].
  • Eyewitness reporting from Waco biker shootings [WaPo]. AFAIK, nobody knows how many bikers the cops shot. Did I not get the memo?
  • American and British Workmen and Machinery [American Machinist, November 24, 1892].

* * *

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 second of Gardens, Week Four (Chuck):


Chuck writes:

This is the first Iris to bloom in our garden this year. More will bloom soon.

Still waiting on mine….

NOTE: My contact form has a poor user experience: It defaults to my email when you don’t fill in yours. I have to fix this, but in the meantime, please remember to fill in your email if you want me to contact you!

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


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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. Carolinian

    Not pertinent to the above links but a deeply interesting article that relates to much of what gets discussed around here.


    The author reviews a new book about the post WW2 push to link capitalism and “Judeo-Christian” tradition. In the process she debunks the notion held by many liberals–including yours truly–that the Founding Fathers were a united phalanx of Deism and church/state separation. In fact a strong Christian evangelical strain is as old as the country itself.

    In 1967, the sociologist Robert Bellah wrote that in the United States, civil religion denotes “a collection of beliefs, symbols, and rituals with respect to sacred things” that have been institutionalized in American culture since the country’s origins. It is more capacious than Christianity, yet still more concrete than “religion in general,” rooting political rights in divine decree rather than human authority. Scholars have been grappling with the contents and implications of that civil religion ever since.

    At any rate the article is worth a look, and particularly for we Boomers who grew up in a world where churches and people like Billy Graham and C.B.DeMille were being used to beat back Communism. Since lefties are mostly secular they may underestimate the role of religion in the imaginations of our opponents. It’s not a new thing….in fact it’s very old.

    1. sleepy

      Along those lines, I think it’s somewhat forgotten that throughout the 60s, the concept of “separation of church and state” was a real battlecry of religious conservatives, particularly the Southern Baptists, who feared that the federal government would be giving financial aid to Catholic parochial schools.

      Times change, don’t they?

      1. James Levy

        When the old coalitions that had made up the Republican and Democratic Parties broke up in the 60s and 70s, evangelical Protestants found themselves one of the last coherent constituencies with real regional clout. They could deliver votes the way that the Grange, or the unions, or the big-city machines, or the KKK once could. As voters became atomized and participation in political parties and voting went down, right-wing Protestants and the NRA became two of the last block voting groups, and the Republicans took incredible advantage of that, especially in local and off-year electioneering. This is how the old money, main-line Protestant sects like the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians lost out so tremendously, as they lost cohesion and influence over time, being replaced by a more grasping and rapacious brand of capitalist and a more compelling and organized brand of religion. The result is that we now have the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover (a very bright and well-educated man), and Eisenhower overrun with people who think that science is bunk and the world was created 6000 years ago and that Noah ran around with dinosaurs. Fifty years ago the old stalwarts of the party could keep those nudniks out of the debate, but no more. And yes, I’m an elitist for thinking that’s a bad thing.

        1. Carolinian

          From the Nation article.

          “Our form of government has no sense unless it is founded in a deeply-felt religious faith, and I don’t care what it is.” Scholars seem to quote this sentence more often than anything else that Dwight Eisenhower said in his long military and political career. They often cast him as spiritually indifferent, a president committed to standing strong against the godless Soviets but too pragmatic to be bothered with the details of theology (he wasn’t even baptized until he reached the White House, when his neglect of the rite began to appear unseemly). Yet Kruse reminds us that Eisenhower was steeped in serious Christian faith from childhood. His mother named him after the great evangelist Dwight L. Moody. As an adult, Eisenhower rarely went to church, but he “could quote Scripture by the yard,” according to one of his wartime aides. He retained a fundamental respect for all biblical religions and their affirmation of “the ‘spiritual ideals’ and ‘moral values’ of the American Way of Life,” wrote the sociologist Will Herberg.

          Stalwart or “nudnik”? It’s just possible that it is in fact the left that has been making religion the unnecessary center of the debate and in the process are doing themselves a lot of harm. It’s hard to win people over when you keep calling them boobs. It’s worth remembering that religion has also been a driving force behind much left-wing activism including abolition and opposition to Vietnam.

          1. hunkerdown

            Well, that’s the point, isn’t it? The BOURGEOISIE (ahem) has been making religion the unnecessary center of debate. It’s their social purpose to fix the game of Simon Says so that the underclass stays under.

            Cosmopolitan and effete does not always equal leftism, and I really wish we would stop being so lazy as to admit of any but the most cosmetic leftism among Democrats.

            1. cwaltz

              So let me get this straight your point of view is to not to debate them and just let women, gays and everyone else who they consider to be second class citizens thanks to debate that occurred centuries ago by men actually BE second class citizens? Or are you living in imaginary land like the person who essentially said Roe v Wade should never have been fought because if it hadn’t then the 30 states that didn’t allow it at all would have all of a sudden decided that women really should have access to the procedure(nevermind that real live human beings would have died in the interim?)

          2. James Levy

            Believing in Noah’s Ark or the six days of creation makes you a boob, just as thinking Allah is going to send you straight to heaven if you die massacring a bunch of bewildered bystanders. I can’t change that by playing some variant of the politically correct. It’s nonsense, pernicious nonsense, like thinking that blacks are inferior or Jews are plotting to rule the world.

    2. cwaltz

      The reality is that just like today the nation was split on religious values and whether or not they belonged part of the new country. However, it is important to note that there was at one time a bill to make this a “Christian” nation and IT FAILED. Patrick Henry, it’s originator, took a governorship and Adams went out of his way to push for Jefferson’s statute of religious freedom and the rest is history. It’s revisionism to call us a Christian nation when the majority supported Jefferson’s statute.

        1. Carolinian

          I think the point of the article is not whether the US was established as a Christian nation by law as advocated by some Fox news type commentators and then swatted down by Huffpo. Rather it is making the distinction between “freedom of religion” and “religion free.” The founders and subsequent Presidents, says the author, unquestionably believed in the former–in the latter not so much. Of course we don’t have to agree with them, but neither should we deny that for much of the country’s history this was the accepted view.

          1. cwaltz

            I’ve never heard anyone, including the ultra liberal that I know, suggest we’ve ever been a religious free nation. I know that there are people who opine we’d be better off if it were separated from the state instead of shoved down people’s collective throats but the problem they have with religion is that “Christians” want their belief system encoded into law(as in no birth control or abortions for ANYONE because they believe these things are murder.) I tend to agree with that crowd. Someone has the right to believe abortion or birth control is wrong and not utilize them. However, they don’t have the right to insist that others should not have access to those things because it conflicts with their beliefs.

            1. Carolinian

              If you believe politics is mostly about economics–and hey we are at Naked Capitalism–then I think it’s a legitimate question whether the left has been wise in picking its fights. When it comes to these cultural wars the youth of the world are becoming increasingly secular and it’s therefore a fight the left would have won by attrition anyway. Meanwhile the cause of economic justice has been set back forty years by energizing the right over things like abortion and school prayer. This is precisely the argument made by Michael Kinsley when he said the left would have been a lot better off if they had never won Rowe v Wade. Many states at the time were already moving toward legalization whereas if you look at the situation today many states have virtually banned abortion.

              The article I linked is just a reminder of how completely religious the country was and not that long ago. It’s not a piece of advocacy, just history.

              1. cwaltz

                The problem with the left is too often it doesn’t fight or it compromises in the name of pragmatism. I disagree that anything has been won by attritition and I’d imagine the activists that have been fighting for rights would agree with me. As far as Roe v Wade goes I love how people can gaze into their crystal balls and see some alternate universe. The reason that court case occurred was because a human being was unable to obtain a medical procedure because the state she resided in restricted the procedure. As a matter of fact in 1973 abortion was prohibited in ENTIRETY in 30 of the 50 states and restricted in the 20 other. Childbirth was the leading cause of death prior to proper reproductive care being available for women and remains a leading cause of death for women in places where women don’t have access to options like abortion so you’ll forgive me if I don’t share your or Michael Kinsley’s sentiment(Surprise, surprise the guy who has no uterus has no problem sacrificing women so that “the left” has a better “winning” track record.)

                The piece you linked to was an opinion piece, one that was easily refuted. Jefferson’s statute passed 74-20. In other words, a person who claims that only Madison and Jefferson were against the establishment of religion by the state is full of crap. The majority ruled.

                1. Carolinian

                  I’m sure this discussion has gone on way too long but perhaps you should actually read the article including the paragraph that I clipped for the sake of brevity in my quote

                  In his introduction, Kruse alludes only briefly to this earlier history: “Like most scholars, I believe the historical record is fairly clear about the founding generation’s preference for what Thomas Jefferson memorably described as a wall of separation between church and state,” he writes. His characterization of the scholarly consensus is perplexing, because most historians emphasize the variety of opinion among the politicians of the early Republic on the relationship between government and religion.

                  In other words she is saying that Jefferson and Madison did not get the full “wall of separation” that they wanted. It has nothing to do with 74-20.

                  And yes the article is about history or, if you will, a revisionist take on history. The rest is just my opinion and you are welcome to disagree with it. That’s what we are here for.

                2. subgenius

                  The problem with the left is the same as the problem with the right…they are both fully entwined in a soap opera to keep the powerful elites in that position. The terms have absolutely no meaning, at least in the way everybody continues to argue.

                  This is provable by simply observing the words and actions of the players on both of these arbitrarily-named factions.

                  I just don’t understand how a popation of something over 300 million can be so fucking stupid as to continue this pointless debate.

                  1. cwaltz

                    I would agree that there are factions of the left just as there are factions of the right that treat issues as if they are a football game rather than real life problems that affect real life people. However, I do believe there are people on both sides of the aisle that genuinely care and genuinely disagree on how to resolve the problems people face.

                    I think we use the terms left and right because of how people choose to approach problems just as our founders had debates on things like states rights and a strong centralized government.

                    Quite frankly I’m not a fan of the Monday morning quarterbacks who opine that the left is doing it all wrong. Not only that but I’ve learned to become suspicious of anyone who suggests that we’d be better off if we’d just have thrown such and such “special interest group” under the bus. I seem to notice that the people insisting others be thrown under the bus for political expediency always seem to not be in the actual group or category that they suggest just surrender and tend to conveniently have nothing to lose if the fight is surrendered.

                    1. subgenius

                      THEY’RE ALL DOING IT “WRONG”





                      WHY IS IT SO HARD TO GET THAT THROUGH TO PEOPLE?????

          2. hunkerdown

            And reenacting the 18th century at gunpoint for the glory of dead people and imaginary friends is the height of delusion.

            1. cwaltz

              We agree on that. However, I’d suggest it’s the religious right that wants to bring back the 18th century, not “the left.”

    3. Vatch

      The top tier of the U.S. founding fathers, which included the first 5 Presidents (Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe), Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Paine, were all very irreligious by the standards of their time. If we remove John Adams from the list, they were irreligious by modern standards as well. Adams was a Unitarian Christian, and that denomination was not even legal in Britain until 1813. None of the others were Christians.

      The second tier founders, which included people like Patrick Henry, were more representative of the populace as a whole, and held a wide variety of religious beliefs.

      1. Carolinian

        If NC will indulge me I’ll once again quote from this interesting article

        The story that Kruse tells builds on at least 50 years of historical scholarship tracing the development of civil religion in North America since colonial times, and which demonstrates that “under God-consciousness” and Christian libertarianism have always been a feature of American ideology. The business leaders of the 1930s and ’40s had a new enemy in mind—FDR and the emerging welfare state—and new technologies and methods by which to advance their vision, but the outlines of their basic project reflected a long American tradition.


        Jefferson spoke for few people other than himself and James Madison, and “the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment did not create the separation that Madison and Jefferson advocated,” historian David Sehat has written. In 1833, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that the Bill of Rights did not apply to states, leaving plenty of room for blasphemy laws, religious tests for office, and state constitutions like New Hampshire’s, which declared “evangelical principles” as the basis for “morality and piety”—what Sehat calls a “Protestant moral establishment” that the Court did not begin to dismantle until the 1920s.

        1. cwaltz

          Uh Jefferson’s statute passed 74-20. I’d say that makes this statement infinitely arguable,
          “Jefferson spoke for few people other than himself and James Madison, and “the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment did not create the separation that Madison and Jefferson advocated,” historian David Sehat has written.”

          1. cwaltz

            That the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavouring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world and through all time

            – Statute of religious freedom text.

            The Bible says crowd would have hated Jefferson because he had their number. You don’t get to call your belief set -God’s belief set.

            1. hunkerdown

              But throwing weight around works just fine for bourgeois liberalism. You ever try to get *those* people over themselves?

              1. cwaltz

                I’m glad that middle class and educated liberals act as a counter to people who insist that their belief set is God’s, so NO I have not nor do I intend to tell *those* people to get over themselves.

                Last I heard it wasn’t those bourgeois liberals insisting that gays and transgenders be treated like second class citizens because Leviticus and Romans says gay is wrong.

  2. grayslady

    Further info on the shill group PCAJ: from his LinkedIn profile, on Chris Wyant, the so-called Executive Director of PCAJ, he was a Deputy Field Director of OFA in 2007-2008, and Chief of Staff, US Trade and Development Agency, 2010-2012. In other words, he’s a stooge. Announcement of the formation of PCAJ was made by 270 Strategies, a group that appears to specialize in astroturf “movement” building. Interestingly, a huge photo on the front of the 270 Strategies website shows a tractor-trailer unit emblazoned with “Ready for Hillary”, mobbed by a group of young people. Smacks of a desperation toss by Obama, couched as a “progressive” young people’s grassroots movement.

      1. grayslady

        From their website:

        Our work in the political arena has included Cory Booker’s first run for U.S. Senate; Ready for Hillary; Terry McAuliffe’s 2013 campaign for Governor; Rahm Emanuel’s 2015 reelection campaign for Mayor of Chicago;

          1. Demeter

            You have just set Rosalind Russell and Lucille Ball rolling in their graves…and put Angela Lansbury’s life in danger….

            Hillary Clinton couldn’t hold a candle to Auntie Mame! She resembles Uncle Duke’s Chinese sidekick, Honey, more than anyone else I can think of, real or imaginary. Or, maybe, Margaret Thatcher….

  3. James Levy

    The article from 1892 about British and American workers and production methods is hard to gage, as Americans of that period (as is often the case today) would break their arms patting themselves on the back for how much better and more clever they are than all those stupid foreigners. But I found this line telling:

    “In some instances methods would become fixed in localities, and even in families, till skill appeared to become hereditary, and this state of matters was always associated with imperfect and primitive machines and tools. Thus personal skill became the most important factor, so that the employer was put more in the power of the employee. In America it is just the opposite, for machinery and methods are the most important factors, and are brought to such a high point that “any handy man” can be quickly taught.”

    Bingo! And years before Taylor. What perplexes the author the most seems to be the pride and ease with which the British worker operates in his sphere of expertise, working by hand and depending on his craft knowledge and his mates to make the product as a group and not, like the machine itself, functioning as a cog in a machine. The American writer seems baffled by this quaint habit of mind.

    American production technology was already the best in the world in 1892, but at the cost of trading higher pay for zombified work. The American worker had a better standard of living (although not as much as you might think as British free trade made the cost of living there lower) at the cost of alienation from any control over the process of his work and his subordination to the machine (both physically and collectively).

    1. cnchal

      That article is a riot to read. Thanks Lambert.

      I don’t think the author was perplexed about anything. His slagging of British workers, engineers and production methods is comical to read today.
      My first attention to mechanics was given to locomotive building, as I wished to solve some puzzling matters, such as the general claim that a given number of men in America will build over twice as many locomotives per year as the same number would in Britain,—that American builders can compete against the British for foreign orders and yet pay their men about twice as much per hour. This is rather a big question, but I satisfied myself that I found enough to account for differences as great as the above, partly as follows:
      In the matter of labor, pure and simple, the most important point in favor of America is the small amount of “hand-work,” as compared with machine-work; so great is this difference that in my first visit to an American locomotive works I actually asked where the bench work was done, after I had practically gone over all parts of the works. In the British works no such question would be necessary, for men literally swarm on what is called by them “fitting” (or bench work), filing, scraping and apparently “fiddling in their time” on work which would be almost finished by machines in America.

      So prominently does this strike me that it would be little exaggeration to say that the Americans build a locomotive by machinery and unwillingly do a little hand-work; while the British make a desperate attempt to build it by hand, but cannot help doing a little machine work. The Americans “mill right to size;” the British “plane” and “slot” in an imperfect manner, and then add more expense, filing and scraping off the “allowance for fitting” which they leave.
      . . . The British forged wheel is expensive, ugly, and more liable to breakage than the cheaper, heavier, and better looking cast-iron wheel of the Americans.
      This foot-plate is intensely British, for it adds to the stiffness and clumsiness of the framework of the engine, so that if a curve is too sharp, so much the worse for the curve. The “driver” (engineer) stands on this footplate, behind the fire box, along with the fireman, and here another use for the foot plate appears; for it is proof even against their massive British boots.

      Both driver and fireman stand openly in the weather; but this is easily explained, for the Britisher is never happy unless he feels a drizzling rain in his face, and there is not enough sunshine to be considered. Still, there is a limit even here, for sometimes during severe snow or hail-storms, even the British “driver” running up against the wind at express speed, gets more than he enjoys, so the builders take this kindly into account, and put up over the fire box a “storm board,’” in which two panes of glass, about a foot in diameter, are placed, and the humble “driver” is grateful to his superiors.
      The British designer seems to put as much metal as possible in the framework; then he tries to make the moving parts heavy enough to break the frame, and he often succeeds. Hence the poor workman is loaded by everything he has to move; he has, therefore, to use more force, his motions are more clumsy and slow and he effects less. Where the British designer would throw in and out a feed with a stout lever, the American would do it more effectively by a little knob moved by the fingers.

      But my British friend says, “These little gingerbread Yankeeisms do not last.” Yes they do—if used by the American workman, for whom they were designed; and this is just the kernel of the matter; for the British workman would find it awkward to move a little knob with his fingers—he nearly always takes hold with his whole hand. Anything movable is with him a hammer, and everything stationary an anvil. This deficiency in delicate touch is very plain, and influences all his actions. He appears to have little sensibility in the points of his fingers; hence his tendency to grasp everything in a “clumsy-fisted” manner.

      Amongst unusually heavy tools I noticed the four-jaw chucks, and asked one of the tool builders I met for the reason, and he informed me that he had tried the American chucks and made a complete failure, as his workmen broke them in a short time, and he was compelled to build the heavy style. He did not dispute my assertion that the American workman with his lighter chuck, handled work quicker. Now, observe what the British workman gains by carelessly breaking tools of reasonable weight: he laboriously handles tools nearly twice the weight they ought to be, hour after hour, day after day, year after year.
      . . . In his works I found three of the most distinctly American machines, viz., universal milling, universal grinding, and vertical spindle chucking machines, all by the firm which has practically created them —The Brown & Sharpe Mfg. Co., Providence, R. I.

      These machines standing among first class British machines enabled me to make direct comparisons with this result. The British has a dead, heavy look, as if driven against its will; the American has a live, graceful look, and appears as if it enjoyed running. The British appears as if made from inert matter; the American seems to have a nervous system. The British is stolid; the American bright. The British is prosaic; the American the poetry of mechanics. The British is pessimistic looking: The American optimistic. The British looks as if built by a Calvinist who believed in hell; the American, the creation of a Universalist. The British is noisy; the American quiet. The British looks brutal; the American refined.
      This is in distressing contrast to the bright and easy spontaneity of the American. In Britain the workman will answer you in a short, gruff way, without lifting his head from his work, almost as if he said, “You ought to be aware that I am not supposed to know anything,” while in America he will surprise you with the knowledge he has beyond what he is doing, and he will not hesitate to stop work for a short time to explain anything you may ask about, and he is in no danger from foreman or manager by so doing, because they know that he is more efficient with this liberty than without it.

      The British workman is always a “workman”; he wears practically the same clothes the year round, and they are made and advertised for “workingmen.” He goes to and comes from his work in the same clothes he works in, and rarely washes his hands or face at the works, but comes home with all the dirt of the forge or the foundry, and often takes back quite a little of it next morning.

      Look at him carrying his coffee can; he does it so well that there is no hope. Note his gait—a “workman,” and for the future, still a “workman.” See his son by his side—the coffee can, the lunch, the gait, the heavy boots, the shoulders getting round, the stunted growth and prematurely wise face, the stolid expression, and you exclaim—a “workman,” hopelessly a “workman.”

  4. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit

    “[P]eople consistently underestimate how much they will enjoy seeing a show, going to a museum, visiting a theater, or eating at a restaurant alone”

    As an INTJ I’d have to say I’m not sure about the restaurant part, but then, after all, one is never alone when one has a book for company….

    1. neo-realist

      As an ISTJ, I’m all comfortable with the single patronizing of the arts and have been doing so for the bulk of my life, but tend to feel a little weird dining alone–worry about being the topic of conversation among diners in groups and couples. Tend to stick with diners/greasy spoon chains as opposed to “nice’ restaurants.

      1. subgenius

        As an intp I am comfortable with being alone, luckily – as I have few-to-no friends (apparently I am unsociable in the extreme, despite my attempts to be accepted) …but find it difficult to make enough money to actually go anywhere. My best paying job this month is unloading a truck (as it turns out the guy I am building a website/application for values my time at less than $10 an hour…)

        1. OIFVet

          I don’t think that these personality types are completely static and rigid, and they should be taken with a grain of salt. I am an INTP also, and generally I am in agreement with the description – with certain exceptions. But I do notice that some things change as I get older – becoming a tiny bit more extroverted and definitely far more able to relate to others. When it comes to dining out, I find it hard to dine out by myself, unless I am travelling. It has nothing to do with what others might think, I couldn’t care less about this sort of thing Eating is one of the most inherently social activities, so a dining out with a group of good friends and loved ones is one of the things that makes life enjoyable. I get the feeling that the author of the article is hostage to the McDonaldization of eating.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Back when I was a hot shot consultant, I found few pleasures comparable to sitting down to a really leisurely excellent meal, while perusing excellent subject matter. Except for that time I set my Financial Times on fire, of course. There was a woody scent, that I first attributed to the mushrooms….

            1. OIFVet

              Majic shrooms or the more standard variety? Speaking of leisurely meals of excellent quality, I find the ability to take a siesta after lunch to be an invaluable contribution to my well-being. We Mediterranean types had it figured out, until the Anglo capitalists had to take this healthy physiological need away from humanity and ruin lives and public health in the process.

          2. subgenius

            Lol I wish I found I had a growing understanding of others…mostly I just learn how far out of whack my perceptions are… I see the utter idiocy of the financial system that dominates my life…based on absolutely false precepts that are in fact killing the world…and all I seem to be able to do is slowly die – unable to play by its bullshit rules, and wanting somebody not to take the piss. But in the last few years all I get is a succession of talentless fuckwits for employers, or unemployment. I prefer the latter, but can’t work out how to continue to only die slowly with no income..

  5. EmilianoZ

    Re: TTIP (the European cousin of the TPP)

    Although still in negotiation, it has already been used to undermine European regulation on endocrine disrupting chemicals:

    Début mars 2013, le lobby américain des pesticides (CropLife America) et celui de la chimie (l’American Chemistry Council) font passer au secrétariat général de la Commission, par le truchement de leurs consultants, le message selon lequel la réglementation escomptée « apparaît en contradiction avec les négociations américano-européennes en vue d’un TTIP ». Quelques jours plus tard, une délégation de CropLife America est reçue par le secrétariat général.


  6. Garrett Pace

    “The next Roomba may recognize your household object”

    “While connected thermostats, egg trays, and even forks can beam data to apps and offer phone-based controls, this isn’t exactly what we were promised from this technology.”

    The internet of things is so corporations will have complete awareness of everything you do. I’m not sure it really promises anything other than that?

    1. subgenius

      There ia a slight issue with this internet of things…well…several…

      First, all the microwave emissions (as covered recently) that will be bathing us with their healthy glow…

      Second, all the power required for (a) those transceivers and processors…and (b) those massive server farms required to collect and mine all that new data…

      I mean, you have to leave bandwidth for pr0n, surely?

      …or is it just my misguided “not with the program” speaking (as usual…)?

  7. JTMcPhee

    Interesting, how “modern, sophisticated” habits of thought crapify pretty much anything.

    I ran on some videos of people who pursue traditional trade skills, like weaving and blacksmithing and stuff. Apologists for modern sophistication point out how much more “efficiently” our modern sophistication lets a few people, or none, make nails and cloth. Efficiency being warped from an appreciation of how artful motions, conservative of energy and material, used to be part of “making stuff.” Watching people with incredible depth of knowledge of materials and “tricks of the trade” do things I could never do, shoeing horses or making iron cringle rings for canvas sails or producing those tartans and saris and kimonos, acts of mostly beauty (turnable to other purposes, of course, than readying for the plowing or harvest, or childlike exploration of the water planet “steeped in its dreams” now trending nightmare, or covering our nakedness against weather and scorn…) Too bad “efficiency” could not remain a stable concept bound to art and skill.

    What would the planet be full of, if “we” ever developed, e.g., 3-D printing into Star Trek’s “synthesizer,’ that somehow in that universe did not just fill the planet with more titillating trash and short_term_buzz junk? Which seems increasingly likely, we humans are so smart —

    When Star Trek becomes reality: NASA to build ‘universal food synthesizer’ 3D printer to boldly make pizza from insects and algae!

    NASA is investing in a 3D printer which can create food [NASA can “INVEST?” Who knew?]
    The company behind it believe it could solve the earth’s looming food shortage
    Meals would be made from cartridges containing carbohydrates and protein powders
    Insects, grass and algae could replace meat and vegetables as the main sources of our protein


    And now human composting is, er, “on the table,” http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/mar/10/a-greener-afterlife-is-human-composting-the-future-for-funerals, right along with “Progressive” pushes for the right to kill ourselves, http://www.businessinsider.com/r-california-lawmakers-introduce-oregon-style-assisted-suicide-bill-2015-1, a convenient path for Elites to open up to us mopes as a way to stop us at our useful-by date from going on to being Useless Eaters, and likely franchise-able and profitable too. And see how neatly that segues into “Soylent Green” as the very model of the modern business success story?

    Roddenberry hoped “plenty” would do away with the flaws and frailties, enough to keep the species alive I guess. Apparently “Lagom” is not a possible end point. Somehow I expect more along the lines of political economy as imagined in Phillip Jose Farmer’s delightful thought experiment, the “Riverworld” series. http://www.tangentonline.com/classic-sff/247-classic-sff/1474-the-riverworld-series-philip-jose-farmer

    Striding toward an ethos of comity, in seven league boots? Or just kids running with scissors, looking for knives to turn into firearms…?

    1. hunkerdown

      Complexity as a transpersonal strategy of exclusion has been the bourgeois liberal way for quite some time. And being a bourgeois, liberal nation according to most sources (if only in spirit), it wouldn’t be too surprising to see it rebooted time and again in the USA.

      Roddenberry didn’t quite grok that the same ambition that drives humans to the stars also blinds humans to satisfaction.

    1. Oregoncharles

      “To save on costs, California is reportedly in talks with Oregon, another state struggling to afford its exchange, to merge their exchanges,”

      ???That’s very weird. Oregon doesn’t have an exchange; it failed dramatically and they’re suing the contractor. Oregon uses the federal exchange. I wouldn’t trust this article.

      1. cwaltz

        Hmmmmmm I wonder if they are talking about the people they initially signed up before June when they ditched the state run plan? Anyway I always thought Medicaid modelling was a horrible idea. I suspect that the GOP had it halfway right and the administration chose this model because later on they’d be able to shift costs to the state. However, one of the things that Medicare gets right is that it is able to leverage the fact that it’s a pretty significant portion of the population.

  8. ScottW

    RE: Sirota article on Clinton Foundation. Wow–got to hand it to the Clinton Foundation. It doesn’t deal in chump change. Boeing “donates” $5 million and says it it just part of its charitable giving program. Right. The sale of jets to Saudi Arabia. Completely unrelated. Pure coincidence.

    The list of defense contractor and foreign government donors is jaw dropping. Over a hundred million of “donations” in exchange for hundreds of billions in arms sales.

    Hillary Clinton makes former Rep. Duke Cunningham look like a fool for taking so little money.

    I know, I know. No proof of quid pro quo. Just a bunch of defense contractors and foreign dictatorships, I mean monarchies, donating tens of millions for the public good.

    The Clinton Foundation: Saving lives and protecting people around the World.

    1. kimsarah

      These people are so detached from the law of the land that applies to common folk that even when quid pro quo is established, they remain unfazed.

    2. NOTaREALmerican

      Well, if we had more non-austerity none of this corruption would be necessary, as the money would be provided as part of the non-austerity spending packages (in a non corrupting way, of course).

      1. hunkerdown

        So why don’t you like to talk about the distribution of corruption? It’s as if you actually believed in the Great Chain of Being and Calvin’s and Plato’s other trash.

        1. NOTaREALmerican

          Re: distribution of corruption

          Corruption is distribution of loot to the adults of society.

          The children (those with morality OCD) can only complain (and don’t get any distributions, unless… they have duplicity in which case they can participate but the Morality OCD keeps chattering).

          Re: Great Chain of Being and Calvin’s and Plato’s

          I don’t recall the “Great Chain of Being” in Calvin and Hobbs. Unless you are taking about Stupendous Man !

  9. The bats in Wisner's belfry

    How do we compare the scale and scope of corruption between candidates and dynasties?

    Hmm. The Bush dynasty, bankrolled by Brean Murray Chairman Alan Quasha, treasurer of the CIA slush fund, versus The Clinton Dynasty, founded by William Jefferson Clinton, comprador of the Mena Airport drug trade, promoted to president by Terry McAuliffe, who worked for Quasha at Brean Murray…

    A dynastic viewpoint is not apposite in this case. Both families are CIA cadres. The question’s not corruption but preferment.

  10. NOTaREALmerican

    If the neo-conservatives are against it, that means the “we” must be for it? But, the neo-conservatives are also for “austerity”. But “we” are for non-austerity (in a non-corrupting way, of course) so that means we must be against it?

    When is somebody gonna invest the word: neo-austerity?

    1. jrs

      I’m surprised the term austerroism hasn’t taken off (terrorism by means of austerity – obviously see Greece for an example)

  11. ian

    “Malaysian Minister of International Trade and Industry, Mustapa Mohamed: “Regarding our Tier 3 position on human trafficking, this could be resolved if a Tier 3 country is seen to be taking concrete steps to implement recommendations in the Trafficking in Persons report”

    In other words, it may not be a deal breaker.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      It’s not a deal breaker if the Menendez amendment is removed. That’s the only thing that makes the “concrete steps” verbiage work, because the Tier three standards most definitely do not permit that.

      And it’s the procedural issues that make the Menendez amendment difficult for Congress to remove in a practical time-frame. I say “difficult,” not impossible, but it’s a genuine obstacle.

      And AFAIK, we still don’t know the name of the Republican Senator who stood in the way of removing the Mendendez amendment, when both the adminstration and Menendez thought they had done so.

      1. Doug

        TPP, the sinister, malicious gift from hell that keeps on giving. “Living Agreement”? Unbelievable! ISDS on steroids! No wonder they want this thing to stay secret. Good on Senator Sessions for showing some integrity and getting into the weeds to expose the depths of this monster.

    1. JCC

      You did nothing wrong, it is explosive. But, somehow(?), everyone seemed to get sidetracked by articles and thoughts on religion, a classic troll bait. Go figure.

      Admittedly the side-tracking was a little more sophisticated than the usual baiting and re-baiting you see all the time on ZeroHedge, but readers here seem more sophisticated (and educated) in general, so the sidetracking was slightly more subtle.

      I hope it was not intentional – but as I read through the comments, as I usually do here at NakedCap’s Water Cooler after I get home from work, I was hoping for more insight on this issue. My first thought after I started reading through the multiple comments on various aspects of religion in amerika, however, was, “Damn, trolled!”

      Lambert, if you could see your way to follow up on this aspect of a “Living Agreement”, that would be great!

    2. Brindle

      Please post more on the “Living Agreement”.
      From the American Thinker link was this:

      “When Sessions read the TPP treaty, he discovered that some countries have exempted themselves from treaty regulations, so he proposed an amendment that would exempt the United States.”
      Orin Hatch killed this, but it make one wonder WTF is going on. It seems a major purpose of TPP is to neuter democracy in the U.S. —that’s treason to me.

      1. jrs

        What does that even mean exempted themselves from treaty regulations? Just from the modifications to the TPP proposed by the commissions or even to the first draft that passes? How can you sign a treaty and exempt yourself from the treaty?

        I mean I realize we’re already deep into absurdity passing top secret treaties noone can see, that supposedly make corporations all powerful over all national laws. But a treaty you can sign and not obey depending on whether you agree to obey it when you sign it. It’s beyond all parody.

        Why don’t we just shorten that many chapter TPP to: the law is whatever we want it to be, depending on our mood and what drugs we’re on at the moment – signed your loving corporate overlords.

    3. JCC

      Here’s is a Forbes editorial/blog posting on the subject:


      I like am intrigued by Mark Hendrickson’s comment, “I get the feeling that there is some history to the friction between the Journal and Sen. Sessions, but rather than speculate on possible subtexts, let me just say that if the senator is concocting far-fetched pretexts to help sabotage a trade agreement, then I stand with the WSJ, but if the senator is right about one particular point, then I think the Journal deserves rebuke for being so gung-ho for trade that it blinds them to a threat to our system of government.”

      “Far-fetched pretexts” like the ISDS, for example?

  12. Oregoncharles

    “When Congress approves these treaties, it will be delegating its right to amend these treaties to the Commissions created by these treaties.”

    That’s treason. Now I take the accusation seriously. The ISDS are bad enough, but those are just financial penalties. This is a back-door world government.

    And damnit, they aren’t treaties. They’re legislation.

    I assume Sessions is being ironic about being arrested. That would be grossly un-constitutional. Of course, so would the “living agreement.”

    1. JCC

      @OIFVet – I worked for the MI BN (Military Intel Battalion) that came across some of the very first “mobile weapons labs” when they were found. It was common knowledge within the BN that these were mobile water well testing labs, even though we all got to watch FOX News in the Dining Facilities during meal times every day for weeks spout on and on about the “mobile plutonium labs” that were found, providing “proof” of WMDs.

      Most of us understood at the time that this was all a big joke, but there were a few, even there, that chose to not believe their own eyes, but cite FOX instead.

      Unwelcome Flashback, in more ways than one, is right!

      1. OIFVet

        we all got to watch FOX News in the Dining Facilities

        Another unwelcome flashback for sure. Fox News in the DFAC, Fox News in the Rec Tent (and the complete Tom Clancy collection…), Fox News in the internet trailer. 24/7/365. Lee Greenwood and Peter, Paul, and Mary before we boarded the plane.The dim wits blasting Toby Keith during patrols. The Iraqis had a sense of humor about it: some began to mark IED locations with red, white, and blue ribbons. Kid you not. ‘Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue’ indeed… Thank goodness for books in care packages and for Calvin & Hobbes in the Stars and Stripes.

        There are always those who believe what they are told. Those of us who didn’t had to suspend their disbelief. That was probably the biggest mindf@ck of them all. You know how it is, we are trained to follow orders and discouraged from thinking too much or asking too many questions.

    2. subgenius

      Well, given that the population keeps voting them in and accepting all the bullshit they perpetrate to feather their personal nests at thr expense of EVERYBODY ELSE IN THE WORLD…how about they realize EXACTLY how fucking dumbshit the populace is???

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