2:00PM Water Cooler 6/16/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“The intention of House Republican leaders to postpone a vote on [TAA] until as late as July 30 dovetails with the end-of-July expiration of the highway trust fund authorization” [Bloomberg]. It will take a lot of sausage to sway 80 votes when the campaign season opens Labor Day. But they will try to sneak it through. Be vigilant!

“Uncertainty over the benefits of free trade and concern about what has happened to U.S. manufacturing in the past two decades is a feeling not only held by the left. It spans party and political ideology as several recent polls have shown. (More on that here and here.) [Wall Street Journal, “What Happened to the Trade Deal?”].

Clinton on TPP, now: “I think that the president’s team could go to every one of these other parties [countries] and say, ‘I know you understand the process of fast track. I want to get it, but I’m going to have to make some adjustments in order to get it. But if I get it, then we have to negotiate on the basis of those adjustments. I think that is really worth trying” [CNN]. Stronger than the quotes I first read, since retrading any side deals with countries could well keep TPP undead until after 2016 (in addition to causing Barack “New Car Smell” Obama great pain). But remember how the Grand Bargain kept coming back? The elites always get do-overs. Nevertheless,she should stop this shilly-shallying that “I haven’t read the deal.” The ISDS provisions — and the even worse “Living Agreement” clause and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Commission — make the TPP unacceptable right now, period. Unless you’re going to sell out the nation’s sovereignty for a new road in the district, or something.

Clinton on TPP, now: “Another reporter asked Clinton if she believes the president should have fast-track authority. And, like any seasoned politician, Clinton successfully answered a yes-or-no question with an extended nonanswer, with some tautological rhetoric mixed in” [National Journal]. One admires the technique (“She has to say that,” as so many Obots said on Obama). But I believe the times call for more than technique.

Clinton on TPP, then: “Here are 45 instances when she approvingly invoked the trade bill about which she is now expressing concerns” [CNN].

Clinton on TPA, New Hampshire: “The TPA is a process issue” [Politico]. Yes, if you call the legislative branch surrenduring its powers to the executive branch a “process issue.” I think James Madison would be rolling in his grave, and it’s not a process issue, but a legitimacy issue.

Clinton campaign manager Mook on TPA, Face the Nation: “[T]he back and forth that’s happening right now is about procedures and parliamentary this and that. You can’t take a position on a trade bill that you can’t see” [CBS]. First, we’ve seen enough. Second, one might well ask who wants the American poeple not to see the bill, and why. 

Ed Schulz: “Now this is not the media manufacturing a Hillary Clinton story that might not be very good. This is a classic example of how Hillary Clinton has not on this issue been crystal clear on where she stands on fast track, and whether she thinks Congress should be reading trade deals before they vote on them” [Mediaite].



Sanders in Iowa: “What is the Secretary’s position?” Not just on TPP, but on Keystone, the Patriot Act, and “what he calls ‘the billionaire class’ and what her policies are to deal with them” [WaPo]. 

“A black male baby born today, if we do not change the system, stands a one-in-three chance (of) ending up in jail. This is (an) unspeakable tragedy” (true) [Politifact, Tampa Bay Times]. Oddly, Clinton addressed no aspect of the black expereince in the criminal justice system (or the school-to-prison pipeline) in her rollout speech.

Sanders on Obama: “[The] biggest mistake [Obama made after running] “one of the great campaigns in American history” [was telling his activists in Obama for America] “Thank you very much for electing me, I’ll take it from here. I will not make that mistake” [Daily Beast]. Like it or not, Sanders is hitting a lot of pain points, not only in the electorate, but in the political class. And for the electorate, he’s proffering solutions. Early days to say he’s going  for the jugular, not the capillaries, but we’ll see.

“The question needs to be asked. What will Bernie Sanders’ supporters do when ‘We need a political revolution’  inevitably turns into ‘We must vote for the lesser evil’?” [Counterpunch].

The S.S. Clinton

“Hillary Clinton’s Fainthearted Populism” [The Atlantic]. Do not accept narratives of Democratic weakness! Exactly as with Obama, Clinton’s policies are not weak, or even the mechanical result of pressure from the oligarchs, but the result of conviction.

“The Clinton Foundation has taken in as much as $11M in payments from non-profit groups” [Politico]. Not that “non-profits” always are. But still.

Clinton, in New Hampshire: As Secretary of State “I had certainly followed closely what was happening in our country because of the Great Recession” [WMUR]. We know what the answer will be (“Bush did it”), but just for grins it would be nice to ask Clinton how much responsibility Clinton I (Glass-Steagall) and Obama (wussy stim pack, no bankster prosecutions, HAMP debacble, etc., etc., etc.) bear for the “Great Recession.”

Republican Establishment

Jebbie throws his exclamation point into the ring. “[A] nearly flawless execution of the indoor-rally form” [Slate].  [The crowd] “carried inflatable thundersticks [block that metaphor!] and red-and-white signs with the candidate’s exclamatory new logo, “Jeb!” (in Spanish: “¡Jeb!”) [The Atlantic]. So that’s why

“Pols And Polls Say The Same Thing: Jeb Bush Is A Weak Front-Runner” [FiveThirtyEight].

“[Jebbie] has been told he needs to make an effort to smile more” [Buzzfeed].

Republican Principled Insurgents

Walker: “If we can do it in a blue state like Wisconsin, we can do it in the Granite State and all across America” [AP]. Granted, Walker may have reached the highwater mark legislatively, given that Republic and Democratic legislators have combined to block some of his initiatives. But he’s still got stuff to brag about.

Republican Clown Car

The Donald throws his comb-over into the ring [WaPo]. I think it’s OK to mention a personal characteristic so clearly part of Trump’s personal branding…

Trump is high enough in the polls to make it into the Republican debates [Wall Street Journal, ”Why Donald Trump Is Important, in One Chart”]. Pass the popcorn.

How much is Trump really worth? [WaPo]. Interesting question, but note that the same analysis also applies to every other squillionaire. Valuation isn’t even an art, let alone a science.

Trump has until mid-October (30 days plus two extensions) to file a listing of his assets—and liabilities—with the FEC [Bloomberg].

“Ugly: The aftershocks of a tea-party suicide” [New York Magazine]. Oppo and its conseqences in the McDaniel (Tea Party) vs. Cochran (establishment) race. Ugly and sad.

All you need to know about our political class: “(Full disclosure: My wife is an adviser to Bush, although I still plan to criticize him as necessary.)” [Ramesh Ponnuru, Bloomberg]. Fine, fine.

Stats Watch

Portuguese 10-year bonds: “GSPT10YR:IND Yield 3.213; down 0.040; change: -1.23%  [Bloomberg]. Mr. Market’s feels a little bit better about contagion.

“Spanish Yields Drop From 10-Month High as Greece Roils Markets ” [Bloomberg].

Housing Starts, May 2015: “Permits are the leading indicator in the report and the latest rate is the best since way back in August 2007” [Bloomberg]. “Before we start thinking all is well, the residential home industry is about half of the pre-2005 peak.” And: “Apartment permits (structures with 5 or more units) grew 53.5% year-over-year. Apartments accounted for 42.3% of all building permits, and 37.2% of construction completions” [Econintersect]. I wonder how much of this multi-unit construction is private equity and/or speculative.

Redbook, week of June 12, 2015: “Redbook’s year-on-year same-store sales rate, which typically trends in the 3 percent area, is at a very pathetic plus 1.1 percent in the June 13 wee” [Bloomberg]. “Father’s Day and related disappointment over men’s apparel sales.” 


“BlackRock, Obama Campaign Donors Stand To Benefit From Cuts To Military Pensions” [David Sirota, International Business Times]. “Under the details of the Pentagon plan, the federal government would divert 3 percent of service members’ pay into a 401(k)-style plan that would be managed largely by BlackRock, a financial firm whose executives helped bankroll President Barack Obama’s election campaigns. ” How cozy.

Health Care

“The 29-hour week: It’s not just for nasty Republican restaurant owners anymore” [Corrente].

Class Warfare

“Effective altruism” [The Atlantic].

News of the Wired

The Magna Carta was very, very detail oriented [The Atlantic]. “All evil customs relating to forests and warrens, foresters, warreners, sheriffs and their servants, or river-banks and their wardens, are at once to be investigated….” That sounds like common pool resource management, to me. I should look into this….

Study: “Anti-Semitic propaganda had a lifelong effect on German children schooled during the Nazi period, leaving them far more likely to harbor negative views of Jews than those born earlier and later” [Japan Times].

“Spain’s indignado mayors stay true to their roots in first day on the job” [Guardians]. IIRC, when the movement ended, the indignados melted back into the neighborhoods. Some of them seem to have emerged.

“Carl Jung’s Delightfully Disgruntled Review of Ulysses and His Letter to James Joyce” [Brain Pickings].

“How the Yes Men Found Themselves in a Flourishing Bromance With Julian Assange” [Vogue].

“So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection” [HuffPo]. Important! And now let’s talk about consumerism..

* * *

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:


If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. I need to keep my server up! And pay the plumber….


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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. ambrit

    First, good tomato flower! Keep alert for the dreaded ‘hungry, hungry, caterpillar.’
    Second, the Cochran versus McDaniel race is seen here on the ground in southern Mississippi as a classic case of dirty politics. (All the usual caveats, here.) The Rose Cochran nursing home “stunt”, as far as my admittedly imperfect reading of local sentiment is concerned, was a sleazy but understandable move. The “relationship” between Cochran and his ‘aide’ was a generally known and tolerated thing. Rose was out of it, and known to have been that way for years. Cochran was no saint, h—, he was a politician, which lowered the bar considerably. The underlying point here was Cochrans’ hypocracy. Very much like Gary Hart back in 1987. Add the spectre of Cochrans turning to Democratic politicos to turn out the basically African American vote to cross party lines and vote for Cochran against “that backwards, Jim Crow McDaniel” as one acquaintance remarked, and you have the basic dimensions.
    After the run off, many people around here asked the rhetorical question, “What did Cochran promise to the Baptist Preachers to get their support?” A very large part of the local African American political machinery is run from the Black Churches. The preachers will give outright partisan political sermons on the Sunday before voting day. I’ll not claim that it doesn’t happen in other churches, but it is brazen hereabouts. I’m trying to separate ideological or moral arguments from pure political horse trading. As an example, the leader of the largest African American Baptist church in Hattiesburg is known throughout town as the man who tells the Mayor what to do. True or not, the perception is there, and very strong. Thus, faith in the good intentions of the Mayor is almost non-extant. To say that cynicism is the flavor of the month among the people of Hattiesburg would be an understatement.
    The other point in the “New York” piece, that the institutions conspired to punish those that tried to oppose the ‘official’ candidate is seen very clearly here. The fate of ‘outside the pale’ political candidates is usually one of ridicule or ‘benign neglect.’ I knew one such man who ran for local offices using his pickup truck as a speaking platform at county fairs and coliseum parking lots. This “nut” was actually warning against a plot by the banks to reduce everyone to the status of slaves through debt. “Credit cards will be the new slave chains,” he would exclaim. Whenever his picture would come up on the news or in the newspaper, it was always as “Fringe Candidate.” McDaniel is a very much stronger version of “Fringe Candidate,” as far as the ‘official’ political class is concerned. What should give the Old Guard pause is that the McDaniel wing of conservative politics has learned the lesson and is embarking on a course of ground up political organization. If only the Radical Democrats would learn the same lesson!

  2. todde

    If anyone is planning on reducing workers hours in order to fall beneath the 50 full time employee count may want to look up the “full time equivalent’ provision of Obamacare.

    FTEs are used to determine the employers status – if he is a large employer or not. If he is a large employer, he has to provide affordable insurance to his employees, but only the ones who work over 30 hours a week.

  3. hemeantwell

    Clinton successfully answered a yes-or-no question with an extended nonanswer, with some tautological rhetoric mixed in” [National Journal]. One admires the technique (“She has to say that,” as so many Obots said on Obama). But I believe the times call for more than technique.

    Yes. This is the difference between opportunistic electoral maneuvering and emboldening your supporters in the recognition that they are need to feel encouraged in challenging power. Just like Obama, she leaves it up to her supporters to first organize themselves, then bring her their enthusiasm. Cowardly, and another proximate symptom of politics by polling (by a neoliberal Democrat).

    But there’s an obscure virtue: no one can accuse her of vanguardism, she’s humbly following the lead of civil society.

  4. Stephen Douglas

    Two things trouble me about your and Yves’ posts:

    1. The amount of snarky jargon, especially in your Water Cooler entries. Here’s the deal: I don’t get the snark. It’s obtuse. It is actually in essence mornonic, because it implies that the “in” crowd knows what the fuck you are snarking about. I don’t usually belong to that exclusive club that, apparently, you belong to?
    And other people do, too? I’m only guessing because it looks to me that one would have to be like between the ages of, say, 39 to 53, to understand your snark. And then there’s the jargon. You keep putting it out there. I guess you think it is cutesy? I really can not tell. Because it communicates nothing to me, other than, perhaps, arrogance. Or effete intellectualism. Where is your heart, man? Where is the fire in your belly? No one knows, due to the snarky jargon

    2. The amount of typos in both of your posts. Yves? Did you used to work in a place where they had proofreaders for all of your writings? That’s great. You don’t work there no more. Time for you to a read through of each thing you write. It is impossible for me to believe you have done even one read through of your posts, because, in so many, many cases, you have grammatical and verbal typos in the very first few sentences. This is so common as to be remarkable. Meaning I am remarking on it because it is so astoundingly common in your writing. If you don’t feel you could take an extra 3 minutes to re-read your own writings, perhaps you could hire a proofreader. I can recommend several of the top agencies in NYC (that I worked for myself) if you need to find someone on the cheap.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Unfortunately, if you want to read about politics in other sources, you need to master the jargon. Think of this as — well, “Master Class” would show me to be more full of myself than I already am — as an opportunity to master the language of the political class, and especially the “progressive” faction of the political class (under the heading of “Know Your Enemy”). If you don’t think that’s an important thing to do, then don’t read the post.

      As for the typos, we’re sorry. NC, and especially Yves, produces an immense amount of content under onerous production conditions with a tiny crew. Errors happen. On Water Cooler, I sit down, at the very earliest, at 11:30AM and press the Submit button just before 2:00PM. That’s not much time to produce a lot of prose, and proofread it. I prioritize coverage over copy-editing. (And you ask about “fire in the belly….”)

      The best way to master the jargon is to ask. (You will find that most of the jargon has a backstory, sometimes very funny.) The most helpful thing to do with errors is to point them out (not commas, though, please). Other readers will, I am sure, point out that what they catch is rapidly corrected — even stylistic issues, like sexist language.

      1. Vatch

        Regarding jargon: When I first saw “TAA” (Trade Adjustment Assistance), I thought it was a typo for “TPA” (Trade Promotion Authority, or fast track). It wouldn’t surprise me that when some people first saw “TPA”, they thought it was a typo for “TPP” (Trans Pacific Partnership). Lambert’s right: if you don’t know what the jargon means, ask for a clarification.

        1. Chris

          I’ve had to google quite a few things from posts for clarification. And then I understand it going forward. I’m here to learn and many times after finishing the day’s posts I have several extra windows opened up, either links of interest provided by commenters or just trying to satisfy curiosity inspired by the articles.
          Speaking of google- I found something mildly interesting. (?) Google usually knows what I’m searching for, no matter how off the wall, after a key word or two and offers suggestions. But try googling ‘George Bush war crimes’ or ‘Tony Blair war crimes’. Nothing. Bing, on the other hand, will suggest the phrase after typing the “w” in war crimes.

      2. aliteralmind

        I like the snark. Gives the otherwise dry list of links personality.

        As far as typos, of course I notice them, and a simple spellchecker would catch a significant amount of them, but they are far from being more prominent than the incredible content on this blog.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          The problem is that the spellcheckers I have, and in WordPress too, squiggly underline so many false positives that the noise overwhelms the signal.

          Anyhow, my spelling is perfect. It’s my typing that’s the issue.

      3. Oregoncharles

        I like the snark; something of a connoisseur. Not that good at it myself, so I enjoy seeing it.

        And I guess I’ve gotten used to the jargon – though acronyms and some of the financial jargon can be difficult. Acronyms should really be written out in full the first time in any given piece, but some are so standard that it seems superfluous. And I’ve already suggested an NC glossary. Could be done Devil’s Dictionary style. People would come from miles away to read it.

    2. craazyboy

      Dude, I’m very much against effete intellectualism and think we should stomp the hell out of it wherever we see it.

      And if you don’t know what Clown Car is – snark WILL confuse you.

      Commas are a bitch.

        1. IowanX

          We always said to our daughter, “Different people like different things.” Same basic idea.

    3. Paul Tioxon

      I agree, a clown car, what does that mean anyway for The Donald? (That would be Donald Trump for anyone under or over a certain age). As far as he is concerned, it’s a CLOWN LIMO, he’s rich bitch, deal with it!! That’s an allusion to Rick James back stage at an awards loaded with rappers who did not know who he was, being a 1980s star of “Super Freak” fame. Quote: “I’m Rick James, Bitch!”


      Please feel free to use this link, see, I didn’t even say google it, you are on the internet now, aren’t you, because I have people skills. You’re welcome.

    4. Llewelyn Moss

      [Face Palm]
      Dude, with a system as pervasively corrupt as the US Govt (both parties), snark is the only way to deal with it. Being serious would be giving the bast@rds undeserved credit.

      1. abynormal

        Bingo! Ex: “Love him or hate him, Trump is a man who is certain about what he wants and sets out to get it, no holds barred. Women find his power almost as much of a turn-on as his money.” Donald 3rd person Trump

        Exit, pursued by a bear.

    5. Kim Kaufman

      You can also google things you might not know. Or you can read the New York Times. I believe they still have proofreaders over there. Or you can contribute to pay for a proofreader and that would be appreciated.

    6. Nimby

      Make friends with your mouse, touchpad, or touchscreen: highlight, click (right click on MS desktop) then select “search”.

    7. HotFlash

      I’m 66 and I not only get the snark, I relish it. And Lambert is a master of snark-jitsu.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        This is good feedback, so thank you (and others who expressed the same view). I like to think I’m in control of my registers enough to change my style if need be, but I like writing this way. It’s fun to read and, I think, to write (even if some of the jokes don’t work, or only work the following day). Also, this campaign, as the cliche goes, is “not a sprint but a marathon.” I can’t be going for the knockout every time, although it is to be hoped that the opportunity will come. In the meantime, I’m going to keep jabbing and open some cuts.

        1. Demeter

          Ungrateful “critics” can get their own blog. Sheesh!

          Don’t feed the trolls, guys, they are overweight as it is.

    8. micky9finger

      While we’re on the subject: twitter/text acronyms. Also, so many acronyms associated with economic writing. They need to be spelled out.
      Unlike Stephen Douglas I am in my 70th year and I think I get most of the snark although I just thought it was left wing bias and hence true.
      Punctuation? Fill in the blanks and correct it your self.
      These writers crank out volumes quickly everyday.
      Check out the mass of daily writing over at Billy Mitchell’s.
      There is always USA Today.

    9. tegnost

      listen buddy, you;re reading the wrong part of the post if you’re worried about spelling

    10. Yves Smith

      Clean copy would mean 15% to 20% fewer posts. I can tell you with confidence that is not a tradeoff the overwhelming majority of readers would have us make. I am already chronically sleep deprived, turn down ALL media requests (as in TV and radio) and have no personal life because I have no time.

      Yes, I don’t like typos, but I am a terribly inaccurate and slow typist, and many typos (like trail versus trial) will never be caught by spell check. And Lambert is right, spell check in WP is horrible, far more false positives than actual catches.

      And hire a proofreader? Please write us a big fat check. It needs to be for someone at above standard rates, since we have to work nights to get this done, and on a remarkably fast turnaround. We put on this site with all of 1.3 people doing the work, INCLUDING moderating comments. Do you have the foggiest idea how hard that is? And insinuating I’ve been too privileged is out of line. I’ve been self employed since 1989, doing work for very high level clients before this incarnation (meaning client reports that went to top people at large companies you’ve heard of).

      This site is free to you. No one is making you read it. We expect those who encounter our product and find that it does not suit their taste to read other sites rather than hector us.

    11. peter

      I find discussions about grammar and the proper use of language distracting. As long as I get the jest of it, it’s all good. I’m amazed by Lambert’s and Yve’s productivity. I wouldn’t want that to go to waste by spurious matters such as extensive proof reading.
      I often find that those who criticise someone else’s writing haven’t done their own due diligence. Example in your own post: “Did you used to work in a place…”. Now, English isn’t my native language, but that one wasn’t so hard to spot.

      1. abynormal

        my fav: “I guess you think it is cutesy? I really can not tell. Because it communicates nothing to me, other than, perhaps, arrogance. Or effete intellectualism.”

        “If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.”
        Dorothy Parker

  5. cwaltz

    I can only answer for myself but I won’t be voting lesser evil ever again. Either you are a candidate I believe will make the country better or I will not vote for you.

    1. Winston Smith

      If Uncle Bernie doesn’t make the democratic nomination then I’m voting Green!

  6. ProNewerDeal

    As far as I can tell, the BigMedia makes a big deal about a candidate’s policy promises during the Pres campaign season. But then the following January after inauguration, the BigMedia, and most voters, forget about the winning President’s campaign promises. It seems that there is a minority of us, such as this NC community, that vote based on policy, with a focus on ACTION on implementing policy.

    The example of Obama makes me wonder about the usefulness of current US democracy & voting. I would be curious if an academic like political scientist Thomas Ferguson has done a historical comparison study of winning Presidents’ campaign promises vs actual actions as President. I would not be surprised if Obama had the worst or least worst quintile record of campaign lies vs. actual record as President. Proposing the “Public Option” then killing it alongside killing free trade in pharma from Canada, promising Most Transparent Admin ever than prosecuting the most courageous whistleblowers ever, etc.

    This makes me skeptical of Sanders claiming unconditional support to the Dem primary winner, and Sanders “pushing Hillary to the left”. What difference does any 2016 Hellary campaign promise make, if she feels there is no penalty in doing many Obamaesque mass-betrayal of these promises in Jan 2017? AFAICT, Bernie needs to extract at least some of his 12 proposals, do a BigMedia joint press conference where Hellary mouths the specific promises “I, Hillary, support Medicare For All, …”, and establish a methodology by which Hillary will be measured, and if Hillary betrays the promise, Bernie or another candidate from his “campaign movement” will primary-challenge Hillary in 2020, and if said primary-challenge fails, support the Green Party candidate.

    Beyond some formal process like this to hold a candidate accountable, a politician’s campaign promises seems worthless.

    What do yall think?

    1. Jess

      All Bernie has to do to render the question of supporting the Dem nominee moot is to win the nomination.

      1. Jess

        The way I see it, there are only three outcomes here: Bernie is going to blow Hellary away, win the Dem nomination (and then quite likely the White House). Bernie will be the frontrunner when he is assassinated. Bernie will be the frontrunner when he has a sudden fatal heart attack, dies in a plane crash, etc. I think either of the last two lead to revolt in the streets.

        1. jrs

          Attempts at media propaganda for Hillary fail. Dems super delegate for Hillary. Or not wanting to seem so bold, but being bolder, Dems hack the voting machines in the primary for Hillary. Dems hacking against their own Dem candidate, just because they are snakes doesn’t mean they’d be that low right?

          1. Jess

            Small planes? This may sound extreme but if Bernie’s campaign takes off like a rocket and he is perceived as the inevitable nominee, I wouldn’t put it past certain elements among the oligarchy (and/or the Clinton campaign) to bring down a full jetliner just to get him. Pablo Escobar did it to take out a government official. An anti-Castro zealot brought down a Cuban commercial airliner and we let reside in Florida.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              Well, all we can do is wait to see about that. Seems like an edge-case to me, especially if Sanders doesn’t do anything silly like fly near the Indian Ocean or over Ukraine. Kidding!

              1. Linda Filkins

                “Republican Principled Insurgents

                Walker: “If we can do it in a blue state like Wisconsin, we can do it in the Granite State and all across America” [AP]. Granted, Walker may have reached the highwater mark legislatively, given that Republic and Democratic legislators have combined to block some of his initiatives. But he’s still got stuff to brag about.”

                It must be your wry sense of humor going right over my head …

                As for this :

                “BlackRock, Obama Campaign Donors Stand To Benefit From Cuts To Military Pensions”

                I’ve finally figured out Obama completely. Sad I wasn’t able to see it long ago. There’s no there . He’s Harold Ford Jr. With an Ivy League buff-job and a voice coach. That’s all it is. Nothing more complex than that. The man is pure slime.

        2. Adam Eran

          Best strategy for Hillary to insure she stays alive: Nominate Bernie for V.P.

          On the other hand, if Bernie wins the nomination (or if Kucinich would’ve), I’d give him six months before an “accident” happened.

          1. vidimi

            and all bernie needs to do to make sure he dies within a couple of months of winning the presidency is to nominaty hillary as vp

          2. JTMcPhee

            There was a bitter jpoke back in the days of Bush I and his feckless VP: “Standing orders for Secret Service presidential detail — if someone puts a bullet in the Bush, wheel around and shoot some Quayle.” The guy, 6one recalls, who went to was it Howard to give a speech to The Blacks, and offered this version of a well- known motto: “A mind is a terrible thing to waste, if you don’t have one…”

  7. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

    as so many Obots said on Obama

    I remember when they explained away his failure to even attempt a public healthcare option with, “He didn’t have the votes!”

    And here he is, still fighting to get his shitty trade deals passed before he goes to collect his due from the big corporations.

    1. Pat

      AFAIK, Obama has worked harder to pass things I would not touch with a ten foot pole then he ever worked for any thing that was good for Middle class/working class/poor. I cannot think of one thing, including his craptastic Insurance mandated for all plan, he has worked harder for then Fast Track Authority, and I’m not forgetting his multiple attempts to pass a grand bargain. (Truth be told he has done a good job of slicing and dicing Medicare and privatizing Medicaid without his bargain.)

      That line was bull shit the first time it was said, and it just continues to stink to high heaven even more the everytime it is repeated.

      1. curlydan

        I’d say the Prez hasn’t worked hard for any bill. One defining characteristic of our Prez is that he’s aloof. He’s admitted he likes to go home (so to speak) after a day’s work and spend time with his family. In terms of politicians, he’s actually one of the least social guys around. He’s no energizer bunny like Bill. O really doesn’t want to spend time with you, especially if you’re part of “the base” because the base doesn’t need to find out what a cool guy he is. The Prez mainly works those he hopes to convert.

        I always think LBJ must be turning over in his grave seeing a Senator turned President hardly work any bill through Congress. As we’ve heard in the tapes, LBJ was on the phone constantly begging, prodding, cajoling, and crying his way to get things passed. O comes through on the TAA/TPA final day to talk to the Reps, and as one Rep wisely noted, “He only talks to us when he needs something.” Sometimes I feel sorry for O…poor man in trapped in a job that desperately needs an extrovert. But his ego pushed him to where he is, and you get what you get.

    2. ProNewerDeal

      Take your example of 0bama killing the public option, and the 0bot apologist saying “we don’t have the votes”. Have you ever experienced said 0bot, even years later, admit to you, “you know what, you were correct, 0bama is a right-winger, he killed the public option”?

      Personally I never have witnessed an 0bot admit they were incorrect about 0bama in real life.

      It appears that 0bots exhibit the same or worse high level of authoritarianism, and same low level of critical thinking, as Bush43 supporters did. Probably worse, since IIRC around 2006 and later, many Repubs seemed to claim they no longer supported Bush43, or were silent about the Bush43 topic.

      1. Pat

        I have had people who have tried to mitigate the health care sell out with me finally admit that Obama is a bloody disaster.
        Obot, maybe not. But they lived in the land of denial far longer then I did. Unfortunately, I think Obama is proving that a good 25% of Democrats are just as stupid and clueless and tribal as the Republicans who refused to accept that W was really really not good, okay hideously bad as President.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        Time for this classic…

        It could be that if we don’t end up with Sandersbots a lot of the “lesser evil” problem will go away. Has anybody seen any signs of Sandersbots?

        1. Kim Kaufman

          Ahhh…. that was fun. I needed a little humor right about now. How come no one’s still doing these? We need them more than ever.

        2. Nimby

          That you have to ask that question says something about the difference in the campaigns.

          I don’t think Bernie is going to fly off to Hawaii for a top-less photo op. His message that it’s going to be a hard row and I’m going to need your support even after the election is not going to appeal to anyone who just wants to pull a lever, collect their peanuts and go back to their cage feeling content.

      3. timbers

        “Personally I never have witnessed an 0bot admit they were incorrect about 0bama in real life.”

        This is my experience as well. One personal example comes to mind…when Congress passed indefinite detention of U.S. citizens. When I pointed on a friends related post on FB the fact Obama lobbied and supported Indefinite Detention, they insisted Obama opposed it but “didn’t have the votes” to stop it. Even when I linked the video of Carl Levin in the Senate reminding he colleagues that OBAMA PERSONALLY INSISTED INDEFINITE DETENTION BE INCLUDED in pending legislation, they refused to admit reality. Usually the response was “crickets”…silence.

      4. timbers

        “Personally I never have witnessed an 0bot admit they were incorrect about 0bama in real life.”

        BTW – the tact I have taken with my Obot friends is to say how sad so many don’t care about XYZ tragedy if they can’t blame it on GWB.

        For example when Jan Egeland – head of U.N. agency – said the world now has the worst refugee crisis since WWII (due to all the nations O-bomb-er is bombing and fomenting wars in like Ukraine), saying things like “this is third year in a row we’ve a hit record numbers of refugees being displaced” …. I would share these reports with my Obot friends with the comment how sad it was that Democrats didn’t care about this because they couldn’t blame it on GWB.

  8. Pat

    For the record, barring the sudden appearance of an actual progressive angel I will vote for Bernie in the primaries. IF he does not get the nomination, the likelihood of my voting for the Democratic nominee is somewhere between nil and none. Never say never, but I think there is a better chance of my becoming the next super model, then of my pulling the lever for Clinton, or any other DLC and 0.01% approved fully purchased corporate whore.

  9. Anon

    Re: 29 Hour Work Week

    After hanging out with friends the other day, neither one of them realized that Obamacare doesn’t cover part-time workers at all. They have to shop on the Exchanges. Needless to say, they didn’t take the news very well. A project that I can hopefully find the time to complete would be to ask questions to one of the brokers for my state-run exchange to get voices on the ground, as it were, but December is so close and so far at the same time…

  10. Jerry Denim

    The Green Party’s Scott McLarty makes some great points in his Counter Punch piece and I agree I would much rather vote for Sanders or another candidate on a third party ticket than Sanders as the Democratic nominee. BUT its wayyyyy too early in the campaign process to write off a under-funded dark horse who’s currently surging in the polls. While I believe McLarty is ideologically and factually correct in critique of the Democratic party, he relies on wishful thinking and ignores any and all inconvenient truths in order to make his argument for voting Green Party or third party in 2016. It’s also very far from a foregone conclusion that a candidate Sanders would attempt to marshall his supporters towards Clinton instead of a genuinely progressive third party candidate in the event of a failed run.


    “But voting for the Democratic nominee will ultimately rubber-stamp the two-party status quo and toss the prospect of political revolution into the Dem quicksand into which all progressive ideals disappear….

    ….The real political insurgence will continue elsewhere, in movements like 15 Now, Black Lives Matter, new incarnations of Occupy Wall Street, 350.org, anti-pipeline and anti-war protests, single-payer advocacy groups, and those who fight for the rights of the poor, and electorally in alternatives like the Green Party.”

    Ok, sure. Sounds great, right? Yeah! Green party man!!! Woo-hoo! Except McLarty fails to explain how the Green Party is going to “fight for the rights of the poor electorally” when the Greens couldn’t even get on the ballot in 14 states in 2012. It’s not fair, I don’t like it, and I really wish Jill Stein could have been in the sleazy ‘Commission on Presidential Debates’ press conferences with Obama and Romney in 2012 but the fact is she wasn’t. Looking forward to 2016 there isn’t a damn thing to indicate the Greens are any closer to figuring out how to break through the electoral barriers erected by the corrupt two-party monopoly and there aren’t any messianic figures on the horizon that could electrify the Green Party and expand their appeal to my knowledge. I sympathize with McLarty’s frustration with the left’s continued inability to level the electoral field for third party candidates, but attacking Sanders at this precise moment seems completely wrong to me if you care about a progressive agenda. McLarty may be proven correct in the end, but at the moment Sanders looks to the best shot progressives have at hijacking the business party’s charade and putting a Socialist in charge of the Executive branch. If McLarty actually has a plan TO WIN and a candidate for 2016 I would love to hear it and I will get behind it/him/her. If not leave Bernie alone. I may get suspicious McLarty is on the Clinton payroll.

    If McLarty is so convinced Sanders is a loser he should be busy right now, courting a Sanders endorsement, lining up ballot access and preparing a Green Party candidate with similar messaging so they can benefit from Sander’s publicity and his supporters when he drops out. Vote for “xxxxxx”, vote Green Party 2016, I’m the non-sellout Bernie Sanders with the REAL progressive agenda. Sounds like a much better game plan than Jill Stein’s 2012 campaign.

    1. grayslady

      Agree. Am finding the Greens’ holier-than-thou attitude tedious. I’m also tired of seeing similar articles again and again in Counterpunch. They should be better than that.

      1. Jerry Denim

        Yup, I’ve noticed the same thing about Counter Punch lately. I wonder if they are being feed these anti-Bernie stories by an operative with an agenda. Then again it could be principles over merit. I swore to myself never vote for another Democrat ever again after Barack Obama’s total and complete sellout in 2008.

    2. Ed S.

      With all due respect to the Green Party, Jill Stein’s only elective success is a town councilmember in Lexington MA (population 31,000). In her 2008 election, she won and received 194 votes. Not won by 194 votes — that’s won with 194 votes.

      And she’s a candidate for President of the United States?

      If the Green party is serious, it’s a generational effort starting with candidates like Dr. Stein at the local level. But even she hasn’t translated her electoral “success” into any higher office (despite repeated attempts).

      1. Jerry Denim

        I didn’t want to do too much hippie-bashing, but yes, exactly. If the Greens want to be taken seriously they have to field serious candidates with full ballot access. They have to play to win and not just give pie-in-the-sky stump speeches at a few organic CSAs in Vermont and Oregon. I desperately want a viable progressive third party in this country but tarring and feathering the only viable progressive with credentials I have seen in a very long time is not going to make it happen. McLarty’s cynicism may be proven correct but he’s not offering any real alternatives. It would be a great thing if a progressive could co-opt the Democratic party for once instead of the other way around. There is a real hunger for socialist-inspired populist change in the country at the moment. A lot of people, myself and this site included if I remember correctly, thought Liz Warren would compromise herself and have her populist, consumer protection message watered down and drowned out by the Democratic Party apparatus if she ran and won as a Democrat. So far she has been very effective as a thorn in the side of big banks and the President’s TPP agenda so I am willing to admit I was wrong. Who knows what may or may not come of Sander’s candidacy but the cynics aren’t always right.

    3. wbgonne

      If Sanders loses to Clinton he should run as a Green. I don’t think it will happen but I think it would be great.

    4. Eureka Springs

      One of many things worse than Greens who don’t have their sh** together – at least to your Prog/Dem standards… is yet another Progressive/Dem darling O or Sanders to name two in the D party playing Lucy with Charlie Brown’s football again. Nothing more despicable to me than self described progs turning around and kicking the littlest of their left flank. After all it’s Democrats who wont allow Green competition as much if not more so than Republicans. My State (Arkansas) up until last year has been totally controlled by Dems since FDR and yet I cannot so much as register to vote as a Green. We the American people need every critical voice from the left of Sanders Dems this country can possibly muster.

      There is far more worrisome danger of Dems prevailing with or without Sanders than anything a Green could do.

      Guess I need to get over to counterpunch more often.

    5. JerseyJeffersonian

      Way back there in my college days, my black friend exposed me to a pithy aphorism widely appreciated in that community:

      “You don’t have to put a lid on a basket of crabs”.

      Which had this meaning: it is very common in a community in which success is rare, whenever an individual seems to be making their way out of the pool of common suffering, that those left in the roiling mass in the bottom of the basket will reach up and pull that individual right back down. Blind and blinkered envy; because who’s to say that the escaping crab would not help others to escape, eh?

      Bernie? Not perfect in various views or past voting. And yet, he is getting a message articulated, and at least to a certain degree, heard. I voted Green the last several elections because I knew that my country did not have a friend on the ballot from either the Republicans or the Democrats. I am at least hopeful that I will have a chance to cast a vote in the primary election for Senator Sanders in recognition of the message that he is articulating. That he might win the nomination, I frankly am skeptical. But that those for whom he is speaking begin to feel empowered cannot but be a good thing. Numbers, people, numbers. When you can’t be shut down, you become a force with which to reckon. A new kind of values voter…human-scale values meant to dignify human beings. Citizens and not consumers. Don’t let the Billionaire’s Club define you in ways that play to their advantage.

  11. Katniss Everdeen

    Correct link for “Why Donald Trump is Important, in One Chart:


    I watched part of his announcement speech, and here’s the thing. He actually said a few other things that weren’t included in the “make Trump look like a fool” video/tweets on the WaPo link. From memory:

    He talked about Ford building a $2.5 billion auto plant in Mexico to produce cars for the US market. He said he’d call up the head of Ford (whom he “knows”) and tell him that he’d put a 35% surcharge on any car built in that plant, to be paid in full when the car was sold here. Trump figured that Ford would decide to put the plant in the US and use US workers instead.

    He said that Medicare and Social Security were good and necessary programs and he wouldn’t consider weakening them–he’d cut out the fraud and strengthen them by “getting our money back from China.”

    He’d reform the VA and take proper care of the veterans.

    He believes in national educational standards, but common core is junk.

    “Healthcare” insurance under obamacare (The Big Lie) is virtually unusable because of big and getting bigger deductiblles. He’d “repeal and replace.”

    He’d rework/get rid of the “trade” agreements and bring american jobs back from China, Mexico etc.

    He did dwell on how rich he is. But he claimed it would free him from the influence of lobbyists and special interests.

    Now these are all issues that have been discussed continuously here on NC and are rarely if ever mentioned by the “mainstream” candidates. And I don’t know about ya’ll, but I think this approach may just appeal to a fed-up “electorate” that demands that the government “keep its hands off my medicare.”

    I swear, I’d consider voting for him just to see if he could pull any of this off. I don’t really think it could get much worse.

    1. craazyboy

      ‘Tis amazing. A platform constructed of something besides fuzzy feel good images, hopey changy things and dead president visions. But then we would have to believe in The Donald?

      ‘Course he could take Arnold’s Terminator campaign approach. “Washington,DC…. You’re Fired!”‘

      Too cutsey maybe.

    2. Jess

      As President Trump couldn’t unilaterally impose an import tariff on those Ford cars built in Mexico. He’d need Congressional approval. (Unless there is some obscure provision for the executive branch designating a firm or country some kind of economic predator.)

      That said, he could order his customs folks to use the Japanese method — let those cars hibernate for months during the “inspection and certification” process. Probably result in lawsuits but not sure they’d win.

      1. craazyboy

        A little anecdote about Ford. Their new CEO, whom took over around 2006 I think it was, found that Ford was in the best financial shape of any US auto mfgs. So he took on a huge amount of debt using US plants as collateral. He said the money would be used to re-vitalize the product lines – which appears to be case because Fords look much more attractive today than then, but he put all the new plants in Mexico.

        But to fix anything that ails us, any Prez will have to get Congress to work with him, somehow. Also fight new bad stuff that comes bubbling up from the lobby system. Nothing new there.

    3. MikeNY

      The problem is, he’s running for president in a democracy, not Pharaoh.

      He won’t have a scribe to intone So let it be written; so let it be done.

  12. wbgonne

    “Carl Jung’s Delightfully Disgruntled Review of Ulysses and His Letter to James Joyce” [Brain Pickings].


  13. Grizziz

    Re: Effective Altruism
    Per the author, ” I wanted to prevent premature deaths”. So the author sends money to a charity involved in artificial selection, aka; saving certain kids from malaria. Africa is more cost effective and therefore ‘better’ viz. his dollar donation. His agency has been diffused by substituting his labor by earning money and transferring through banks and the charity to another person who labors to earn a portion of the authors donation. The African’s labor is assumed to have a causal and predictive effect on the life span of children-only in the short term-of the charity’s selected population. Is this really a good moral calculation or only offshoring the author’s guilt?

  14. Adam Eran

    “but just for grins it would be nice to ask Clinton how much responsibility Clinton I (Glass-Steagall) and Obama (wussy stim pack, no bankster prosecutions, HAMP debacble, etc., etc., etc.) bear for the ‘Great Recession.'”

    Repealing Glass-Steagall was important, but not so much as the “surplus”… Seriously, Clinton is to blame for the Great Recession because he favored a bubble and “fiscal responsibility” over government “debt.”

    Federal “debt” is obviously not debt like a household has since government makes the money. In fact government is not provisioned by taxes. Where would taxpayers get the dollars to pay taxes with if government didn’t spend them out into the economy first? The “debt” is just the dollar financial assets government has left in the economy. Reduce the dollars and you’ll crush the debtors, whose obligations remain payable in scarcer dollars (debt deflation).

    Taxes make the money valuable; they do not provision government.

    Following each of the the seven historical, significant federal “debt” reductions since 1776, a Great Depression-sized hole has appeared in the economy. The last such fit of “fiscal responsibility” was the Clinton surplus. The one before that was in 1929. Andy Jackson even paid the entire “debt” in 1835, and got the largest depression in U.S. history (the “Panic of 1837) for his trouble.

    Federal “debt” is *not* like household debt. Really, really not.

    See Randall Wray’s The Federal Budget is NOT like a Household Budget: Here’s Why

    Incidentally, there’s a theoretical possibility that government, with its limitless dollars could bid up prices competing for limited goods and services with the private sector. But who else is bidding for the unemployed? (Hint: No one.) So government could literally offer everyone who wants one a job without raising taxes or causing inflation.

    (Thanks to Modern Money Theorists for the above… One of them–Stephanie Kelton–is advising Bernie Sanders)

    1. craazyboy

      It really has to do with the link between money and time travel, made worse by Schrodinger’s Cat being in charge of wormholes to a different dimension.

  15. IowanX

    Thanks for putting up the link from Huffpost at the end, from January, and calling it important. it IS important, and it speaks to stuff often mentioned on NC. Community is critical for democracy, and for families, and for people–and capitalism is basically now designed to ignore communities or blow them up if need be. I am deeply familiar with the community implications–including the frauds–that occurred when Maytag blew out of Newton, IA. People find medicine where they can.

    I write as a high-functioning alcoholic–“reformed” for 12 years–and now back to high-functioning. Maybe not on NC, but at least at my day job. I don’t think I’m alone.

  16. Vikas Saini

    Re: Magna Carta, look up Charter of the Forests. Chomsky pointed that out last year..

  17. Vikas Saini

    Wikipedia on Charter of the Forest: In contrast to Magna Carta, which dealt with the rights of barons, it provided some real rights, privileges and protections for the common man against the abuses of the encroaching aristocracy.[6]

  18. MikeNY

    Y’all gotta go to the WaPo article above on Trump just to read the tweets. Best laugh I’ve had in weeks!

  19. zapster

    “Granted, Walker may have reached the highwater mark legislatively, given that Republic and Democratic legislators have combined to block some of his initiatives. But he’s still got stuff to brag about.”

    Like mysterious magical ballots appearing at the final hour to get him re-elected?

  20. cripes

    I see there is still some discussion above on the issue of candidates promises, or “positions” being divergent, irrelevant or betrayed by the candidate once they assume office.


    But the idea they are running to advance positions they peddle to the voters during the endless American campaign cycle, which really never ends is, of course, completely wrong. If ever it was true, it is certainly not today.

    Candidates only take popular positions, ala Hillary bashing billionaires and prattling on about the middle class, in order to obtain enough votes to capture the job of representing their true constituents, the looter FIRE class that funds them.

    The rest if nothing more than a cynical show to maintain the illusion of democratic elections and the legitimacy of the oligarchic state. Then the voters will be blamed for not voting enough, or correctly, or some other such nonsense that assumes they have any influence in the policy choices that are made a a wholly undemocratic and unaccountable shadow government. They don’t.

    A separate and oligarchic institutional system makes all the decisions now, and only the dominance of competing elites are being played on on the screen.

    The rest is a sideshow for the gullible rubes.

  21. micky9finger

    I too decided I didn’t want to vote for the lesser of two evils.
    I told some friends I would vote for Sanders and not Hillary. They looked at me then informed me both were Democrats and only one would be on the ballot. I can vote for Sanders in the primary.
    In the general election, not voting is not an option. At that point it is the lesser evil to be chosen.
    Remember how close the stolen election in Florida was. Who was better, Bush or Kerry?
    Obama wasn’t such a hot choice but Romney? See there is a lesser evil.

  22. Oregoncharles

    ““The question needs to be asked.”

    As I said. This is shaping up to be the official response of the Green Party.

    It’s significant that this appeared on Counterpunch. They kept the party at arms length for years, but this is from the national party’s publicist. Jeffrey St. Clair lives in Oregon – I’ll have to invite him to the state convention again,

  23. Demeter

    There are people trying to grow Berniebots on DemocraticUnderground. I’m not sure if it is serious or humorous (yet). But it is creepy.

    There is a sense of desperation on DU at the thought of Hillary, however. The Hillarybots are out in force, but they are not as adept as the Obots. Of course, Hillary makes it so much harder for her supporters. As a candidate, she would make a good PTA president.

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