2:00PM Water Cooler 5/29/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.



DNC helpfully sending out Sanders mail, even though it’s a wholly owned subsidiary of the Clinton campaign [Talking Points Memo]. Note to “sheep dog” theorists: This is the sort of evidence you can sink your teeth into.

Sanders oppo emerges: Tri-partite 1972 essay on male-female relationships [Mother Jones]. I can’t find the full text online, but Mother Jones has an image of the 1972 paste-up. The politics of the piece are callow even for a then-31-year-old male after a break-up — dependent woman, man dragging meat back to cave — but even Political Wire‘s headline “Sanders Wrote About Rape Fantasies” has heavier breathing than warranted. The National Review has a wonderfully pious headline — “Let’s Not Crucify Bernie Sanders for His Sexual-Fantasies Essay”  (except it isn’t) — but when they write: “[I]t wouldn’t just be Ted Cruz or Rick Santorum who would be asked about the essay: [I]t would be every Republican in the race,” they’ve got a point [National Review]. Interestingly, the story took three days to jump from Mother Jones (Tuesday) to the National Review (Friday), which shows you how siloed the press is. (And I didn’t give you a heads-up on Tuesday because that day I caught up on TPP, and there was also a huge stats release. Sigh. Can do better.) And meanwhile, there’s the Denny Hastert thing, for which the Sanders campaign must be thankful. Note to Sanders campaign: The essay wasn’t “dumb.” It was wrong. Not #GamerGate wrong, not nearly, but wrong. Let’s start with “ahistorical” and move on from there.

Right on cue: “Welcome To The Martin O’Malley Moment” [ABC].

The S.S. Clinton

“The Fake Clinton Scandals Are Back” [Joe Conason, Politico]. Benghazi. I can’t even. Did Romanian hacker “Guccifer” really purloin email from Sid Blumenthal’s computer? How am I even to process that? Isn’t it enough that in Libya we failed another Mediterranean state, with nothing to show for it but ka-ching for some insiders? (In all fairness, we also set a few cities on fire and blew a bunch of far away brown people to pink mist. So there’s that?) Why the heck can’t we focus on what’s in plain sight? “Look! Over there! Sidney Blumental!”

“Lifetime Achievement” award for Bill Clinton along $500,000 for the Clinton Foundation from the Happy Hearts Fund (!) at their fundraiser to build schools in Indonesia [New York Times]. The nut graph:

Happy Hearts’ former executive director believes the transaction was a “quid pro quo,” which rerouted donations intended for a small charity with the concrete mission of rebuilding schools after natural disasters to a large foundation with a broader agenda and a budget 100 times bigger.

“The Clinton Foundation had rejected the Happy Hearts Fund invitation more than once, until there was a thinly veiled solicitation and then the offer of an honorarium,” said the former executive director, Sue Veres Royal, who held that position at the time of the gala and was dismissed a few weeks later amid conflicts over the gala and other issues.

First, notice how “quid pro quo” has become the “gotcha” term, which is useful to our famously free press (simple narrative) and to our political class as a whole (effective licensing of more subtle and pervasive corruption). Second, notice that in their haste to get to the magic gotcha phrase, the Times butchers the substance: Quid pro quo is a transaction involving a political favor; but all the Times has really got is that the Clintons laundered what is effectively payment for a speaking engagement (the “honorarium”) through the Clinton Foundation. So who wrote this thing? Jeff Gerth? And the rest of the story is a typical ginormous and ever-evolving hairball of tangled and conflicted personal and institutional relationships.

Iowa straw poll fades into irrelevance [WaPo]. First check for the Christianist right.

Republican Establishment

“As Jeb Bush circa 2015 considers pushing the campaign finance envelope by offloading expenses to an outside group, he has a ready model to emulate: Jeb Bush circa 1998” [National Journal]. In other words, Bush’s outsourced campaign is indeed a model, as I argued; part of the Bush dynasty playbook.

Republican Principled Insurgents

Rand Paul has no squillionaire backing [Politico]. But it’s not clear how a libertarian would run against big money, so he doesn’t get any advantage from it!

Republican Clown Car

Trump schedules “major announcement” June 16, to head for New Hampshire next day [The Hill].

Political annotation at Rap Genius [National Journal].

“The Organizational Question in US Progressive Politics” [Telesur].

The Hill

“Ex-Speaker Hastert charged with lying to FBI about hush money withdrawals” [Chicago Tribune]. For purposes undescribed.

What those purposes might have been [Cannonfire]. What those purposes might have been [Just One Minute]. 

Stats Watch

“U.S. Economy Contracted 0.7% in First Quarter” [New York Times]. Wait, what? “First-quarter GDP was revised down about as expected, to minus 0.7 percent vs expectations for minus 0.8 and compared with an initial reading of plus 0.2 percent” [Bloomberg]. “Unusually severe weather.” Mosler: “Revised lower as expected. The question is q2 which so far isn’t looking so good” [Mosler Economics]. Caveat: “GDP does not measure the economic elements that directly impact the quality of life of its citizens. It does not measure wealth, disposable income, or employment.” [Econ Intersect].

If you look at coincident indexes, “The economy is expanding at main street level” [Econ Intersect].

“America, it seems, will avoid recession” [The Economist].

“The Chicago Business Barometer fell sharply back into contraction in May, reversing all of April’s gain and casting doubt on the strength of the widely expected bounceback in the US economy in the second quarter” [Institute of Supply Management]. “[S]urprising and inexplicable contraction” [Bloomberg]. “Volatile,” but a “red flag.”

Consumer Sentiment, May 2015: “[B]ounced back,” but  a “decline in the expectations component …. points to less confidence in the longer-term jobs outlook” [Bloomberg].

Corporate Profits, First Quarter 2015: Up [Bloomberg].

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Supreme Court to review Foster v. Humphrey, where prosecutors won a death sentence for a black man after selecting an all-white jury [Slate]. Coincidence? The Supreme Court will judge.

“Officers in Freddie Gray case taken to jail without handcuffs” [Baltimore Sun]. Classy!


 Christopher Newfield, Unmaking the Public University: “All the states are now trying to educate the students of other states so they can charge them three times more. The American funding model that we’ve had, it’s broken” [The Nation]. “All the private money coming in doesn’t subsidize the public mission of the university. Instead, it undermines it”

“Chile students, police clash at new protest over reforms” [Agence France Presse].

Last week, [President Bachelet] announced a bill to provide free university education to 60 percent of the poorest students starting next year, reaching 70 percent in 2018 and 100 percent in 2020.

Policies we can only dream of.

Class Warfare

“[L]iving longer in our ever-more-unequal society is very much a class thing: life expectancy at age 65 has risen a lot among the affluent, but hardly at all in the bottom half of the wage distribution, that is, among those who need Social Security most” [Paul Krugman, New York Times]. Class warfare is not a metaphor.

“How Wal-Mart Became the Town Square in Rural America” [Talking Points Memo].

“Overdraft fees top $1 billion at the big 3 banks” [CNN].


“Cuomo Redirects $100 Million From Fixing Leaking NYCHA Roofs To Sketchy Pork Peddling Scheme” [Albany Project]. New York, New York….

“BREAKING: Skelos Indicted On 6 Counts, Including Special New Bonus Charge” [Albany Project]. More New York!

“BOOM! Nassau County DA Investigating Carl Marcellino Over $20K In Car Expenses” [Albany Project]. Yet more New York!

“Law enforcement officials search residences of Pigeon, two other key political figures” [Buffalo News]. More Democrats. They’ve got no bench, and the bench they have is rotten to the core.

Chicago’s TIF slush fund [Chicago Reader]. Ka-ching for Blackstone.

Injunction on reporting parliamentary speech prevented cozy relation between Ireland’s leading media owner, Denis O’Brien, and the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), the former Anglo Irish Bank, from being exposed [Guardian]. Ka-ching.

News of the Wired

  • “Merkel eyes a deal on #Greece” [@YanniKouts], sourcing to El Mundo. Can readers confirm? Twitter commenters say this “has the ring of truth,” but that’s not the same as being properly sourced, let alone true. Eh?
  • “Thanassis Cambanis on Egypt’s Unfinished Revolution” [Cicero].
  • “Protesters Storm FIFA Building During Vote” [Bloomberg]. Not the banks, not the legislature, not the TV stations, not the Winter Palace….
  • Fossil find by funder of creationist museum [WaPo]. Doesn’t change his mind, and why would it?
  • “Catastrophic Collapse of Saiga Antelopes in Central Asia” [CMS].
  • “Edith Wharton reviews the Starbucks located at her childhood home” [The Toast].
  • “Lingering snow piles from the historic New England winter continue to plague municipalities in Greater Boston, even as temperatures creep toward the 90s” [Boston Globe]. Yet again, Maine’s lovely temperate climate for the win!
  • “It’s understandable that non-orthodox economists like [MMT proponent Stephanie] Kelton are coming to the fore. With a few notable exceptions, conventional economists failed to anticipate the 2008 financial meltdown and the subsequent Great Recession. New answers are being sought” [Toronto Star].
  • “United Nations says encryption and anonymity online are human rights that must be protected” [International Business Times].
  • “Harvard neuroscientist: Meditation not only reduces stress, here’s how it changes your brain” [WaPo]. Everything changes the brain, you doofus. That’s what the brain is for (absent supernatural explanations).

* * *

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 Gardens, Week Four (Faith):


Squash in Florida. Just ridiculous. I’m so envious. I’m only planting my squash tomorrow!

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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. grayslady

        I have the greatest respect for Glen Ford, but I think he’s totally wrong on this one. Bernie is not a Democrat. He’s running as a Democrat because he’s interested in ballot access, not a Ralph Nader suicide mission. He caucuses with the Dems, so it’s not surprising that he would be prepared to support a Dem candidate before he’d support a Repub candidate. Bernie said from the outset that if he decided to run, he was going to run to win, not to run a “message” campaign.

        1. hunkerdown

          Are you saying it’s unlikely or even impossible that the Democratic Party has different plans for Bernie’s campaign than Bernie does? Are you saying that the Party is simply a cipher with no emergent interests of its own?

          1. grayslady

            I neither know nor care what the Democrat party thinks or does. What I do think is that Bernie has been around Congress a lot longer than most. I don’t take him for a fool when it comes to assessing the Dem apparatus.

          2. lambert strether

            Regardless, that’s not what the sheepdog thesis says; it demands conscious collaboration between shepherd Dems and sheepdog straw candidate.

          3. Yves Smith

            Bernie is not being run by or seeking to use the Democratic party fundraising apparatus, so It’s hard to fathom the logic of your remarks. The Democratic party also might try to take advantage of the droughts in California for campaign messaging. So what?

            1. hunkerdown

              Assuming that President Sanders would faithfully preside and govern as a leftist, or even a centrist by world terms…

              Whether they use the drought as a campaign hook doesn’t much affect the consequences or direction of a successful campaign for the Party, before or after the general election. Who wins the primary, on the other hand, has the potential to upset the Party’s very way of life and of doing business, and some of its more visible or more influential may resist that change.

              Can he trust Democratic canvassers to canvass or Democratic fixers to fix? Will Greg Sargent keep interviewing Bernie about Hillary through next November? Will his campaign managers blow sunshine up his derriere like they did Eric Cantor’s? Will a well-timed media placement campaign, along the lines of the own-oppo in Mother Jones, intentionally demobilize some or other major identity group in their coalition too late for him to respond? (Caveat imperator!)

              The upshot is, would the Party rather have Paul Ryan or Bernie Sanders holding the football, and have they the power to enforce that outcome against the popular will?

              1. hunkerdown


                …upshot is, ^if Hillary isn’t an option^, would the Party rather have…

        2. Jill


          I wondered how you thought about this. If Sanders is running to win (as you point out above), then why do you think he’s already said he’ll support the Democratic candidate for president? Why wouldn’t he answer by saying: “I’m going to win”? On the off chance I do not, I will support the person whose values most clearly mirror my own-likely a Green party candidate.

          Who can say? How does he know which Republican will be running? Maybe he would support her or him? Maybe the Republican is a little better on wars and blanket surveillance than the Democrat? Maybe better on torture and the rule of law?

          1. grayslady

            Bernie would not be allowed to run as a Dem at all if he didn’t agree to support the ultimate candidate. Those are the rules. I agree that I would prefer Bernie to take advantage of those types of questions by saying, “Just as I expect the party to support me when I receive the nomination.” He’ just not used to running on one of the legacy party tickets is my guess.

            1. Jill


              So I’m confused. Do you think Bernie’s naive or not? Above you write: “What I do think is that Bernie has been around Congress a lot longer than most. I don’t take him for a fool when it comes to assessing the Dem apparatus.” Then you write: “He’ just not used to running on one of the legacy party tickets…”

              Those seem contradictory.

              1. grayslady

                It’s not contradictory at all. Bernie is used to running as an independent. He caucuses with the Dems so he has the “inside baseball” knowledge on what’s important to the party. However, unlike Hillary, he has never run for President before so I expect some of his responses to the media to be more unpolished. I think he knows the shortcomings of running as a Dem, but Bernie has always been a pragmatist. Either you run as a legacy party candidate or you don’t get ballot access in a lot of states, period.

                IMHO, right now the corporate Dems don’t view Bernie as a threat to Hillary. Things could get ugly later on. I don’t know who his advisory team is. Hopefully, they’re savvy enough to guide Bernie through the process of running to represent the Dem party. He’s a seasoned campaigner against Dems and Repubs, but he’s not a seasoned campaigner at running as a Dem against other Dems, that’s all.

                1. Jill

                  Got it! He’s a seasoned campaigner against Democrats when running as an Independent. However, this experience and knowledge cannot be put to use when he runs as a Democrat against another Democrat.

                  grayslady, I think it’s pretty clear that something is fishy here. Honestly, we voters have been jerked around enough by legacy parties (and by those who just decided to run on legacy party tickets.) No Sale for this Green party voter!

                  1. Lambert Strether

                    Got it. Caucusing with the Democrats in (1) the operations of the Senate is the same as being familiar with (2) the Democratic presidential campaign apparatus. This is like saying knowing the Senate rules is the same as knowing how to distribute a palm card. Not buying it.

                    Not to harsh the mellow, but if the Greens want to take power, they’ll have to (a) get those concepts (1) and (2) straight in their minds and (b) make better arguments than this false dichotomy.

                    1. Jill


                      Actually, I am not saying what you think I am. I’m not making a comparison between caucusing with Democrats and running against them.

                      We do agree that policy is the most important point on which to make a judgment about a politician. Here is my experience with Sanders.

                      He has made some of the best arguments going on many issues facing our people, only to fold when it came time to vote for the policies he had thoroughly articulated the necessity for upholding. I have been astounded that he would not hold to his own, truly excellent and important analysis of the situations we face in the US.

                      This is why I don’t trust him. I’m glad he has a platform to bring up important analysis of the crises we face. However, In the end, he has consistently betrayed ordinary people with his actual vote. I only go by what a politician actually does when I vote for him or her. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate a good argument by that person. (Obama made wonderful arguments against mass surveillance and we know how that turned out.) With Obama, I looked at his FISA vote to get the real information about him. It’s one reason I did not vote for him in 08.

                      Likewise Sanders does not live up to what he says. He’s been consistent in folding on really important issues, things that matter for our nation.
                      Because there is a consistent conflict between his analysis and actions, I’m going with his actions to inform me as a voter. Hence, no sale for this Green Party voter.

                      I’m also not arguing Democratic strategy except in so far as I see what I strongly feel is propaganda. That is something I will take onl and that is what I’m doing here.

                    2. jrs

                      Which particular votes Jill? I’m not that familiar with his voting record (it’s a long way from Vermont here. Also probably a long way till we even get a chance to decide on Sanders if he’s even on the primary ballot then).

                    3. Lambert Strether Post author

                      @Jill First, you wrote:

                      So I’m confused. Do you think Bernie’s naive or not? Above you write: “What I do think is that Bernie has been [(1)]around Congress a lot longer than most. I don’t take him for a fool when it comes to assessing the Dem apparatus.” Then you write: “He’ just not used to [(2)]running on one of the legacy party tickets…”

                      Those seem contradictory.

                      As I point out, they aren’t contradictory at all.

                      Second, as to Sanders record, which I would rather talk about — and more to the point, I would have thought would be the first thing on Greens’ collective mind — links would be helpful.

                    4. bob

                      Having the 35’s were a big local identity issue. “green mountain boys”, national guard unit-


                      The way the def cons constructed that jet was literally, more about politics than about the jet. They sourced parts from every single Congressional district. In VT that equals 1.

                      Those two things, flying them, and having parts of it made there make it very difficult to vote against it.

                      With the way that the mil has downsized, in US cold war terms, it’s a much bigger issue than most realize. A lot of time they’re seen to be holding on to whatever they can as they close more and more bases.

                      I believe it’s also in the context of them having their f-16’s taken away. It’s how mil does things, they announce they are “giving” the 16’s away, and offer one alternative. So, it ends up being support the 35’s, or nothing.

                      They used to be massive employers, now not as much, but still a very big constituency, especially in the places that have “survived” cuts.

                      The war nerd made a great observation about that. I can’t remember it exactly, but it was along the lines of “good” militaries are very public, not afraid to be seen. “Bad” ones, or a military without local support has much less that can be seen. The “good” ones are usually for defense, the “bad” ones are usually for repression. Neither is any good at the other. One or the other.

                      With defense spending where it is, and base “closures” all over….where are we moving? And honestly, where the fuck is the money going? I can’t see it anywhere. Less bases, less hardware, more cost.

                      Katrina really brought that point home, in a very bad pun. There was no us navy presence in the gulf of mexico. Zero. Nothing between the US and our arch enemy(at that time) Cuba. What if castro gets a little crazy and sends a few boats at mississippi, or better- texas…nothing in the way but guys hanging from helicopters.*

                      *not to take away from them at all, they do very good work, but it’s not “defense” work.

                    1. Alan Smithee

                      “Sheep dog”, as Ford uses it, is a polite term for “judas goat.” It amounts to the same thing. And, no, I don’t think anyone is seriously alleging collusion in the “smoke filled back room” sense of the phrase.

                    2. Lambert Strether Post author

                      @Alan Smithee I think Ford is a good enough writer to write what he means in his own words. You disagree. Anyhow, just to wrap this up, I invested some time in — hold onto your hats here, folks — the original post. Allow me to quote:

                      Bernie Sanders is this election’s Democratic sheepdog. The sheepdog is a card the Democratic party plays every presidential primary season when there’s no White House Democrat running for re-election. The sheepdog is a presidential candidate running ostensibly to the left of the establishment Democrat to whom the billionaires will award the nomination. Sheepdogs are herders, and the sheepdog candidate is charged with herding activists and voters back into the Democratic fold who might otherwise drift leftward and outside of the Democratic party, either staying home or trying to build something outside the two party box.

                      So, you may not think that “anybody is seriously alleging collusion” but you’re wrong: The originator of the phrase is doing just that; I’ve helpfully underlined the verbiage, and there’s plenty more. Please do consider not distorting his work, would you?

                      Note that I don’t have a dog in this fight. I care about policy, and I’m sort of amazed that the Greens aren’t seizing the opportunity to show how Sanders is the weaker candidate from a policy perspective — and if that’s not true, why vote Green? — but heck, why not argue about Democratic tactics instead? It’s all good fun, except I’m starting to get the impression that the Greens think they own any votes Sanders may get, instead of having to earn them.

                      UPDATE Gee, that’s odd. No response. No good deed goes unpunished, I suppose.

                    3. Lambert Strether Post author

                      @Carolinian On collusion, that’s exactly what BAR was alleging. See here for the quote. “Useful idiot” is a very well-known trope; if Ford had meant that, he would have written that. (And it’s very hard for me to see Jesse Jackson, v 1.0 as it were, as a sheepdog. I still remember his “they work every day” speech, in the year the Democrats went down with Dukakis running on “competence.” Jackson brought tears to me eyes then, and it still does, that speech.)

                    4. Lambert Strether Post author

                      @Carolinian No reply button if the nesting is too great (ten levels, IIRC).

                      Adding, that’s why I’m using the “@” convention to show who I am replying to.

          2. Lambert Strether

            Because you can’t run as a Democrat and not support the Democratic candidate.

            And if you want ballot access in all 50 states, you can’t run as a Green.

            So, assuming Sanders wants to win — and if I were his age, I can think of things that would be much more fun to do than hitting the campaign trail in an effort to lose — then it doesn’t make sense for him to do anything other than run as a Democrat.

            IMNSHO, the opportunity cost of kvetching about Democratic tactics is engaging Sanders on policy. But apparently, the Greens have decided that kvetching is their royal road to power. Good luck with that.

            1. Oregoncharles

              I was busy with political tabling today, so I’m late to this argument. As I’ve said before, I’m grateful that Sanders is running for the Democratic nomination, because it means he won’t be running against us in November, when it counts.

              On policy: there’s the support of Israel, and of the F-35s in Vermont. Both would be deal killers. Like Kucinich, he caved and voted for Obamacare – I assume that’s one of the votes Jill is complaining about.

              And because I don’t believe he’ll be running against us in November, I don’t need to go much further with studying him, thank goodness. If he gets the nomination, then we’ll look into his positions and votes in detail (I’d guess somebody is, just in case).

              And about 1972, which i remember vividly: that was before Women’s Liberation really got started. (I was an instant convert, though not politically active then.). I haven’t read his essay and probably won’t, as explained above, but it sounds dumb but far from criminal.

              “If we all got what we deserved, who would ‘scape whipping?'”

      2. Oregoncharles

        Better late than never: Bruce Dixon, not Glen Ford (who is the editor of BAR).

    1. AlanSmithee

      Sheep Dog Theorist – an entirely fabricated term used to denigrate a species of political Cassandra.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Er, it’s partially constructed; Ford invented the term “sheep dog,” I combined it with “theorist.” I don’t see what’s wrong with that, given that theories are susceptible to proof or disproof in the fullness of time.

        Your second distortion is implicit in “Cassandra”: Many on this thread conflate conscious collaboration — i.e., Sanders is a straw — with Democratic opportunism. So Ford could be right on the outcome for the wrong reasons. I don’t know what the word for that is, but it isn’t Cassandra.

        So, cute, but no sale.

        1. Stevie

          The DNC may want to use Sanders as a sheep dog, but I doubt Sanders met with Debbie Wasserman Schultz and told her, “Hey. I want to run for president to be a sheep dog for Hillary.” One reason for the DNC to tout Sanders is to not alienate those in the party inclined to support him. Another reason is to blur the distinctions in the public’s mind between him and Hillary.

          Lambert’s right that Sanders has to repudiate and not make excuses for the 1972 essay. But nobody’s going to be the perfect candidate. Sanders has the potential at least to play a useful role in 2016. As for winning, stranger things have happened.

          1. nippersdad

            I caught that too. I think it was all about conflating the message; Hillary has NEVER called herself a Progressive, and I imagine that it gave DWS a stomach ache to write the word. If they can render the word meaningless it will help their game immensely. I can see their not wanting to alienate the troops, but it is not as though they are unaware of the political value of punching hippies…that will come later, I guess.

  1. Brindle

    FIFA & Hastert— there is no connection other than the Obama DOJ going after low hanging fruit. They won’t touch the Banksters—but the universally despised FIFA and a former politician/crook are easy marks.
    These prosecutions make big headlines but are mostly irrelevant.

    1. hunkerdown

      You can certainly assert a Churchillian “one damn thing after another” but it is far from characteristic of the institutions involved to do anything without an angle, and it doesn’t explain why the preponderance of other pre-loaded high-end prosecutions that don’t fit into the master narrative of selling soft corruption as BAU just happen to not be happening.

      1. Jill

        I’ve wondered if the elites are fighting amongst themselves. They all engage in various types of illegal conduct but only certain ones get picked off for it. Each thinks it will never be them who gets in trouble. Mostly, that’s correct. But they always fail to understand that courtiers can be in the out-group if they anger someone in the in-group. Maybe that is what is happening with these high profile indictments?

        1. Lambert Strether

          Factional infighting among the elite is a constant, historically. (However, even their infighting has a way of screwing the rest of us systemically; see the ObamaCare debacle for one example.)

        2. hunkerdown

          Anyone correct me if I’m wrong, but elites, at least of the Old Guard, are not so atomized as the other classes are. They compete but I don’t often see anyone lose, even less so to the point of ruin. When all else fails, major self-sacrifice to protect the institution of elitism is a hazard that comes with the territory, even when it’s not just kayfabe, though they generally prefer to delegate the work of sacrifice to their inferiors in that case.

          So if everyone’s naughty, and everyone could be indicted at any time but usually isn’t, why not? If a prosecutor doesn’t move at the earliest sign of an established case of wrongdoing, why not? I suggest that those unindicted but guilty aren’t (for the moment) harming the actual interests of those with the wherewithal to indict, and are therefore (for the moment) left alone.

          In Hastert’s case, it might just have been his turn to take the heel for a minute. Conveniently, his settlement happens to reinforce the false tropes of retail politics — the heuristic of Protestant conformity as a measure of fitness for political service (Republican, right? oh, hi Tipper) and the “bourgeoisie = society’s rightful managers” trope which is decidedly Democratic — without effectively hurting his future earning prospects all that much. His score among the 99% doesn’t much affect his ability to perform for the 1%. Well-paid rocks to crawl under and farm money and influence are almost always available for experienced operators, most of whom can afford to live off their savings or take a few $740/hr temp gigs while they wait for an opening.

          The FIFA affair, on the other hand, seems to benefit its prosecutors’ very particular interests on other axes of timely international import, such as who, if anyone, has a right to shun or boycott states for sociopathic behavior today, or whether the US is a corrupt nation, or what even constitutes actionable corruption. FIFA is certainly not unfamiliar with sweeping up political dissidents ahead of their events to keep their image clean. While there is a playful nose of Schädenfreude to be found in the turnabout, by no means is this an example of kicking upward.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Yes, on elites being less atomized. The big exception in the U.S. (although I can think of parallels in other countries) would be the Civil War, where as Lincoln put it at Cooper Union: “You will rule or ruin in all events,” but that was a genuine crisis of the Constitutional order; it’s hard to compromise on whether people should be owned, or not.

  2. OIFVet

    Not the banks, not the legislature, not the TV stations, not the Winter Palace

    We ain’t Romans, you know. We don’t care about the bread as long as the circuses keep going.

    1. hunkerdown

      Maybe it’s more that 1000% Americans would actually rather eat bought Twinkies than free bread?

    1. abynormal

      annnnnnd it looks like its a maybe-baby
      seems i know as much as her:
      FRANKFURT–The managing director of the International Monetary Fund considers a Greek exit from the eurozone a possibility, but such a step probably wouldn’t mean the end of the euro, she told German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

      A Greek exit wouldn’t be “a walk in the park,” but probably doesn’t spell the end of the eurozone, the paper quoted Christine Lagarde as saying ahead of an interview to be published Friday.

      Ms. Lagarde also contradicted recent statements out of Greece indicating the country and its creditors are close to an agreement on funding.

      1. Yves Smith

        This was reported yesterday….and the fact that Lagarde is talking about this (as opposed to “no way a Grexit” or not answering the question by hitting talking points) is presumably meant to condition Mr. Market not to worry if a Grexit looks more likely (ie, Greece gets closer to defaulting or actually does default).

        1. abynormal

          Hey Yves, thanks for responding…this time i’ll freak.
          and while your here…i tried posting on the derivative blind spot piece but i couldn’t get it in and i think its the route i took to the pdf file.
          it does seem pertinent here:

          Amounts outstanding of over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives
          By risk category and instrument (at bis dot org stats)
          2014 Interest Rate Contracts are at 505,454 Trillion
          (knocked my knees out at 5am)

  3. craazyboy

    Earth to Toronto Star:

    Check out the Toronto real estate bubble. I know y’all are a big metrocomplex nowadays, being a stones throw from Detroit and all. But even so….

    1. abynormal

      yep, where have we heard this cb: As long as Toronto continues to grow and remains the financial center of Canada, it’s hard to imagine prices going down much on these single family detached houses. You really can’t lose.

      Curiously (heheheee) the hottest property segment this year are 905 area detached homes at an astounding 13.1%. In real terms, this means that a house which cost $710,000 in April 2014 would cost you over $800,000 in April 2015. The average price is still much higher in 416 than 905, with an average price of over one million in 416 ($1,056,114 vs $729,961).

      Happy endings are for suckers. Even Old Yeller had to die :-/

    1. optimader

      My HS educated ~80yo mother surely did when she bailed out of rental properties in Tucson, AZ a couple months before the cliffdiving began

      1. craazyboy

        Caution: This story has gender issues.

        I was laying out by the community pool in Orange Country back in 2004. I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop, but I couldn’t help overhearing a couple of 10 year olds talking about a housing bubble. I tried hard to hide the emotions of surprise, then shock, then emerging greed from playing across my face. I knew I needed to get a grip and think about this rationally.

        My conscience asserted itself into my mental debate, and lo and behold, a little angel popped up on my right shoulder. She said, “You must tell someone of this event. A policeman, a reporter, or maybe even an economist, if you can get one to answer your call. You cannot just keep this information to yourself. People need to know this, and it’s your duty to get the word out.”

        Sure as heck, a little red devil dude popped up on my left shoulder. He said, “This is your chance to make some big bucks for a change. Don’t be stupid and blow it. Don’t tell anyone, especially an economist. They’ll just blab it around everywhere, then the jig will up and you’ve missed your chance to sell at the top!”

        I’m sure I’m going to Hell for this, but I told the little angel chick to piss off and resolved to closely watch the market and time my sale as close to the peak as I could determine.

        Got out 6% before the peak. Happy with that. Hell can wait.

  4. DJG

    Edith Wharton lives!

    The House of Mirth is a great classic, a not-so-delicate novel of a human sacrifice including a portrait of the feckless Selden written in venom.

    And Wharton undoubtedly would have known how to pronounce and procure a caffelatte.

    1. MikeNY


      Edith Wharton knew how to write beautiful sentences. She is up there with Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf, IMO.

  5. abynormal

    wsj: the Dread Pirate was sentenced to life in prison: a heavy sentence which according to the WSJ signals “the government’s seriousness in combating Internet crime.”

    The Silk Road founder faced a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison, but federal prosecutors asked the judge to give him “substantially” more than that, arguing that a harsh sentence is necessary to deter others from following in Mr. Ulbricht’s footsteps.

    The sentence handed down by U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest followed an emotional three-hour hearing. Judge Forrest said she spent more than 100 hours grappling with the appropriate sentence, calling the decision “very, very difficult.”

    But ultimately, she gave Mr. Ulbricht the harshest sentence allowed under the law, saying Silk Road was “an assault on the public health of our communities” by making it easy for people around the world to buy illegal drugs.

    “What you did with Silk Road was terribly destructive to our social fabric,” Judge Forrest said.

    Judge Forrest said Mr. Ulbricht was “no better a person than any other drug dealer” and that his high education and privileged upbringing didn’t put him above the law.

    as usual im confused…is it the net or the drugs, your honor

    1. RUKidding

      I am confused as well. Was it the drugs or selling them on the Internet that pissed the PTB off so much?

      I’m a bit on the fence re Ulbricht and the sentence handed down. The severity of the sentence makes me a bit uneasy.

      And once again, we see the PTB managing to figure out how to capture and bring down Ulbricht, but IMO, those who have been much more damaging to the ‘fabric’ of our society – the criminal Banksters, Wall St, Hedge Funders, etc – continue to walk around scott free.

      The Rule of Law is applied very unevenly. Guess someone decided Ulbricht had to be made an example of, whilst our Alphabet Spooks routinely run drugs, arms and humans for profit. Cha Ching!

      1. Lambert Strether

        I would bet the same people who applaud this sentence would also prefer to criminalize cash.

        1. abynormal

          criminalizing cash…you got that skeerie right. guess it really is different this time.
          strange they didn’t try him for murder(s)
          party at pfizerglaxoj&jmerck

  6. optimader

    aaaaand the verdict is in!. Judge Forrest is an idiot. Her sentence, in addition to being a sanction, is also a “future crimes remedy??? Fk her.

  7. Lambert Strether Post author

    Presumably the Greens have a comparison somewhere between the policies they advocate and the policies the GP advocates; maybe Jill Stein; maybe the Green Shadow Cabinet; or maybe a state party, like New York.

    Anybody got a link?

    1. Tom Allen

      I’m not sure quite what you’re asking for. (GP=Green Party?) Here’s a comparison they put out about policy differences between the Green Party, the Republicans, and the Democrats: “The Real Difference”

        1. Oregoncharles

          We aren’t running against him and almost certainly won’t be.

          Hence the talk of “strategy.”

  8. optimader

    news flash..
    the cocktailparty closer joke has been updated: So you like boys? Now is that in the Sandusky and Hastert way or in the Dahmer way?

  9. Carolinian

    Great story on Walmart–thanks for the link. I’ve driven through Fort Stockton and a fair chunk of the other great empty spaces and can say that this article nails it. Small town America is Walmart (not my town so much–we have lots of other grocery stores). Those looking to take the company on are going to be rolling a rock up a pretty big hill. Many places like the one in the story had nothing before Walmart, and in those that don’t have a Walmart the stores are often a lot worse. Yes the Walton heirs are horrible but Sam Walton knew his peeps. Walmart may be a crappy employer and socially destructive (debatable how much) but the customers, particularly in small towns, actually like the place.

    1. Scotland

      State highway 412 snakes across northern Arkansas from Springdale ( just south of Bentonville) to Jonesborough near Memphis. Every rural hub of note along that stretch is home to a super center with smaller stores scattered in between. My home on the edge of the Buffalo Nat. River puts me 18 miles away from the #2 Walmart store in Harrison. As I remember growing up (KC area) Walmart was boring and couldn’t hold a candle to even K-mart with its appeal, something changed. Where once there were shelves that maybe had 3 or 4 tiers and mundane items, as lack luster as Dixie-cups and Mr. Planters roasted nuts. Shelves as empty or full as 60s-70s economy dictated, now a whole world of 5 and 6 tiers always full, prosperously maintained. I’m thinking of a formula “If it’s not on the shelves,it can’t be sold, fix that!” applies. Thrift stores, dollar stores, pawnshops, rent to buy, fast food restaurants,a god awful number of banks, insurance agencies ,closed malls and now liquor stores (much of AR remaining dry till quite recently) paint a strange picture on this rural highway of commerce; something not as evident in larger towns and cities because of their proximity. Among all these reminders of a bleak reality, something about Wal-Mart seems like a rock in a storm that you can hang on to 24/7. An illusion yes, but hey, as the TPM story suggests it’s todays marketplace and people gravitate there. I posit Walmart will thrive util we overcome gravity :)

  10. rjs

    i think the GDP revisions fell through the looking glass of an automated computation & hence doesn’t give us a true picture of Q1 growth…

    recall that our imports jumped in March when the West coast dock strike ended and the ships were unloaded, and as a result the March trade deficit increased 43%…however, those imports did not show up in March business sales, business inventories, or even in investment…so while BEA applied their GDP formula to subtract imports from 1st quarter GDP, the reason imports are subtracted from GDP is because they normally represent consumption, inventories or investment that was previously added to GDP that was not produced here…considering that what was imported doesnt seem to have been added to any of the other national accounts, it shouldn’t subtract from GDP…where the March imports went is still a mystery, perhaps they’ll show up in consumption or inventories in the 2nd quarter, but from here it appears that the subtraction of the March jump in imports was misallocated by the GDP model…

  11. LifelongLib

    Re overdraft fees, yesterday a friend’s son was out shopping. Unbeknownst to him his checking account was $3 overdrawn. Rather than declining the debit transactions the bank allowed them all to go through, tacking a $30 fee onto each one. The son ended up owing the bank $600.

    1. jrs

      It really is better to use credit if it’s not too tempting to you (it has a lot more protections and won’t overdraft). Also of course often better to use cash. Even prepaid, it has it’s annoying charges, but not $600.

  12. Oregoncharles

    And about Benghazi, once again: Republican shenanigans have served to CONCEAL the real scandal (maybe not by accident), which was that it was an extraordinary failure of intelligence and security that lands right on Hillary’s desk.

    According to Ray McGovern, who should know, the “consulate” was being used as a black site and for sending Libyan weapons to the rebels in Syria – so in effect, to IS. That enough of a scandal for ya? That’s what the Republicans are covering up.

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