2:00PM Water Cooler 7/16/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


List of traitors in House and Senate, with phone numbers. Hat tip, reader Vatch. Be sure to visit them when they return to the district. If a traitor is mentioned in Water Cooler, their name is in bold. (A reader helpfully sent me an updated version with phone numbers which I will install shortly!)

Vietnam: “Fast track looks like it will take Vietnam’s workers back to a disturbingly familiar pattern: [ Worker Rights Consortium] notes that in 2012 the Labor Department ‘added garments from Vietnam to its official list of products made with forced and child labor, making Vietnam one of only seven countries in the world whose apparel received this designation. ‘And now it joins another distinguished group of nations: our most reliable trading partners'” [The Nation].


The S.S. Clinton

Clinton I “Concedes His Crime Law Jailed Too Many for Too Long” [New York Times]. How about Glass-Steagall, and Warren’s bill to restore it?

“It’s an exaggeration for [Clinton] to say that she had been engaging with reporters at the local level for three months. On balance, we rate her claim Mostly False” [Politifact]. Keeping Clinton wrapped in tissue paper…. 

Republican Establishment

“Donors who gave the legal maximum of $2,700 accounted for more than 80 percent of Bush’s total haul” [National Journal]. “Haul.” Such a crass word.

Republican Principled Insurgents

Scott Walker skates on criminal indictment [WaPo]. “His campaign has been accused of illegally coordinating with conservative outside groups such as the Wisconsin Club for Growth on spending and fundraising.” (This was the long-running “John Doe” case.)

“Nothing about this case has been common: The justices took the unusual step of opting to hear no live arguments, instead requesting only written briefings from both sides because of the complicated secrecy rules [for John Doe cases]. Documents released publicly have come only after tense, time-consuming debate over how much to reveal and what portions to redact” [New York Times].

Walker in New Hampshire: “[WALKER:] In the Republican field there are some who are good fighters. They haven’t won those battles. There are others who have won elections, but haven’t consistently taken on the big fights. We’ve shown you can do both” [Boston Herald]. Walker stomps Democrats! Also too the goddamned unions!

Wisconsin union membership down 15% since Walker became governor [WaPo]. An unmatched track record of success. 

“Walker won 52% of the vote against Democrat Mary Burke last November, and his approval rating just a week before the election was 49%. By April, though, a Marquette University Law School Poll found that Walker’s approval was down to 41%, with 53% of registered voters thinking the state was headed in the wrong direction” [Journal-Sentinel]. Meaning the locals will be only to happy to provide oppo. Unfortunately, most of what Democrats think is oppo — “He’s a union buster!” — is red meat for Republicans, and mostly comes across as whining. “He beat us!”

Republican Clown Car

In the debates: “‘Trump has one target and one target only,’ said an adviser to a rival GOP candidate. “He’s going to bring a lawn mower for Bush” [WaPo]. Pass the popcorn.

Stats Watch

Readers: As you must know by now, I’m a Maine bear. I know that’s not going to help craazy with his ten-bagger, but that’s my temperament! However, my sourcing reflects my priors, and I’d be grateful if anyone could suggest regular reading from any of those glibertarian nutballs on the wrong coast Silicon Valley. Nuanced, data-driven, timely — but with a more technical focus, and from a part of the world where you have to suck up to potential funders by constantly creating new and colorable narratives dynamic innovation is prized. I did follow Andreesen on the twitter, but he bellows his book. Thank you!

UPDATE By “timely,” I have in mind something like Econoday’s Calendar. Is there something like that for the world proving ground for getting fees between you and literally everything you want to do in life, while looting your personal data Silicon Valley?

Yellen speaks: “‘I think we need a systematic policy,’ Yellen said in testimony to the House Financial Services Committee, ‘but I would strongly resist agreeing to follow any rule where the stance of monetary policy depends on only the current readings of two economic variables, which is what your reference rule relies on.'” [Market News]. If there’s no such thing as “equilbrium,” rules won’t “work,” let alone a single rule. But there must be, so it will. Because markets.

Yellen: “Prepare for liftoff. Key FOMC members continue to prepare the market for liftoff this year. Today Fed Chair Janet Yellen in her Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to the Congress made it very clear that she expects to start hiking rates this year. Moreover, with the rate hiking cycle data dependent, Chair Yellen appears increasingly balanced by highlighting also the possibility of upside risk to the economy” [Merrill Lynch, Across the Curve]. When did the bizarre “liftoff” metaphor enter the zeitgeist? I mean, what are we,  a decade or two into the Greatest Recovery EVAH and only now we’re “lifting off”? 

On Yellen: “At some point in the not so distant future, Yellen is going to have to walk back her rate hike talk. Expect to hear a lot of finger-pointing at Greece, China, the Eurozone and Canada and none at Wall Street, the casino that broke the banks in 2008” [Wall Street on Parade]. I’ve got to say, I’m dubious there will ever be a rate hike. We’re giving free money to people who already have lots of it and want more. They like that. Why ever would they want it to change? More to the point, why would they allow Yellen to change it? And I’d love to be proved wrong! Readers?

Jobless Claims, week of July 11: “Auto retooling is clouding initial jobless claims data which fell 15,000 in the July 11 week to 281,000. But the 4-week average, inflated by a 14,000 spike in the prior week, rose” [Bloomberg]. “The rise in the average is not a positive indication for the July employment report.”

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of July 12: “[E]ased slightly in the latest week but is still very solid”  [Bloomberg].

Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey, July 2015: “the Philly Fed’s big jump in June was in fact a one-time wonder as the index slowed substantially. Backlog orders fell into contraction” [Bloomberg]. “The June reading for this report stood alone as really the only strong indication this year on the manufacturing sector, but the give back now in July puts the Philly Fed in line with other readings.”a

Housing Market Index, July 2015: “[S]ignaling substantial strength for the new home market. This is the strongest reading since November 2005” [Bloomberg]. “The new home market is accelerating and is in place to be the best surprise of the 2015 economy.”

Wages: “Measuring from the end of the Great Recession, real wages have barely risen—real compensation per hour has risen only by 0.5 percent, much less than at this point in past recoveries” [Big Picture]. Awesome. Cheap servants!

Rail: “Week 27 of 2015 shows same week total rail traffic (from same week one year ago) contracted after expanding last week according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR) traffic data. Intermodal traffic expanded year-over-year, which accounts for approximately half of movements – but weekly railcar counts continued in contraction” [Econintersect].


“[F]rom an observational perspective, the current El Niño event is going full-steam ahead” [California Weather Watch]. Wonky!

“The seismological community is pretty unified in concluding that the big increase in earthquakes in Oklahoma comes from injecting wastewater brought up by oil and gas exploration back into the earth” [Center for Investigative Journalism]. Fun animations….

Everybody talks about the San Andreas Fault, but nobody does anything about it. But nobody even knows about the the Cascadia subduction zone. “FEMA projects that nearly thirteen thousand people will die in the Cascadia earthquake and tsunami. Another twenty-seven thousand will be injured, and the agency expects that it will need to provide shelter for a million displaced people, and food and water for another two and a half million” [New Yorker]. Excellent long read and explainer on how earthquakes work, too; to the standard of the old school, pre-Tina New Yorker.

“The Obama administration is expected to unveil a regulation aimed at protecting streams in Appalachia from the controversial mountaintop removal mining process” [The Hill]. Fracking, landfills, mountain-top removal: All part of the same extractive economy. Reading the story, you’d think this happened from the administration’s good heartedness, when it’s activists who drove opposition and forced new regulations. No mention of such canaille, of course.

“What’s really warming the world?” [Bloomberg]. I’ve linked to this before, but the animated charts are fun.

New Horizons Mission to Pluto

“First Pluto-Charon Color Image from New Horizons” [NASA]. Pretty small! But there are many others. More photos [CNN].

Via [#PlutoFlyby]:

“Little Pluto, smaller than Earth’s moon, has a least one giant mountain range, with water ice the only available building material, scientists with NASA’s New Horizons mission said Wednesday” [Discovery]. That’s wooter ice. What’s happened to copy editing standards?

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old Black woman from the Chicago suburbs, was found dead under mysterious circumstances in her [Waller County] cell Monday morning following a traffic stop. Police claim Ms. Bland assaulted an officer during the stop, and Bland’s family is claiming foul play” [Hip Hop Wired]. To be fair, that seems plausible. After all, black women driving alone at night in Texas are well-known for assaulting officers. More detail here. Oh, there’s video [Salon].

DA to Black minister in Waller County [Houston Chronicle].

“My hounds ain’t even started yet dumb ass,” [District Attorney Elton Mathis] wrote. “Keep talking. When I talk people will listen. Keep talking and I will sue your ass for slander. It works both ways. ‘Dr.’ Take your fake Dr. Ass and jump off a high cliff.”

Stay classy, Elton!

“Waller County, says Frank Jackson, the mayor of the city of Prairie View ‘can best be described as ground zero in the long march for slavery to freedom here in Texas.’ Indeed, the state’s large-scale slave plantations had their origins in Prairie View” [PBS]. The past is not dead.


David Plouffe enlists Al Sharpton to defend Uber [Capital New York]. What an unholy alliance! Filing this under Corruption because Uber’s business model is to enter a market by breaking the law (which is what “disruption” is code for).

Class Warfare

“Using concrete examples from nursing, construction, publishing and cleaning, the [Department of Labor] guidance clarifies that it’s the “economic realities” of one’s work that matter, “not the label an employer gives it” or what’s listed on a 1099 tax form for non-employees” [Al Jazeera]. “It was widely read as addressing the gig-based “sharing economy” and sharp anxieties over labor, income inequality and the changing nature of work.” Or, if not “addressing,” at least mentioning.

“If anything, I think we are vastly underestimating the rise of the class system once again, with the historic gulf in economic equality.  People still tend to remark ‘tribal’ lines more than they do socio-economic differences, but the class lines are clearly there now.  The upper class knows and notes them, and will go to great lengths to get their children in the ‘right schools’ and with the ‘right crowd'” [Jesse’s Café Americaine]. When you’ve lost the precious metals chart-watchers….

“Under cover of darkness, female janitors face rape and assault” [Reveal]. Must read. I’m filing this under “Class Warfare,” but it’s really a study in intersectionality.

News of the Wired

Buy button coming to Google Search [Business Insider]. The final degradation, because that’s what results will be optimized for. Twitter wants to be Facebook, Google wants to be Amazon… 

“Buenos Aires Censors and Raids the Technologists Fixing Its Flawed E-Voting System” [EFF]. “Flawed E-voting” is, of course, redundant.

“Tech’s Hottest Lunch Spot? A Strip Club” [Forbes]. But executives and brogrammers totally go there for the food!

“Most of the concussions sustained by high school soccer players aren’t the result of heading the ball, new research shows. Instead, most head injuries come from athlete-to-athlete contact, the kind of rough play that is against the rules” [Los Angeles].

How often do ethics professors call their mothers? [Aeon]. About as often as the rest of us….

“Shift on vaccines: First very slowly, then all at once” [Reporting on Health].

Jade Helm launch quiet. Too quiet [KXAN]. The tunnels under Walmart must have been insulated for sound [WaPo].

Solar Impulse grounded in Hawaii for nine months, for battery repair [Business Insider].

* * *

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:


Can’t get enough of those poppies!

NOTE: Please free to test the donation dropdown, where the amount you select should finally appear on the PayPal form! Thanks to kind reader DK, who fixed my code. (And if you have problems, please let me know using the contact link, so as not to clutter the thread.)

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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. fledermaus

    I’ve got to say, I’m dubious there will ever be a rate hike. We’re giving free money to people who already have lots of it and want more. They like that. Why ever would they want it to change? More to the point, why would they allow Yellen to change it?

    I’ve been saying this for 7 years now. Gee I’d sure like to borrow millions at 0%. I’d never have to work again.

    1. dante

      why not? this is how you get rich today..see
      The Disastrous Loan Deal That Shows Wall Street Still Has a Wild West
      JPMorgan Chase & Co. knew federal authorities were investigating the largest drug-testing lab in the U.S.

      But the New York-based bank didn’t share that information about Millennium Health LLC with the people who were about to lend the company $1.8 billion in April 2014 because Millennium said it wasn’t material, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

      In most markets, such an omission would be regarded as unethical or worse. But JPMorgan was playing in the $800 billion market for leveraged loans, where just about anything goes — and often does.

      The borrowing funded a $1.27 billion dividend to Millennium’s management team and TA Associates, which own the company. It also paid off $195 million of debt that TA Associates held.


        1. Pavel

          Whenever I hear the Dems trashing The Donald (and especially now, calling him a racist monster), I think of his donations to The Clinton Slush Fund Foundation and how Bill and Hillary were at his last (4th?) wedding.

          So if you want to see a photo of Trump with some paid actors (that would seem to describe Bill & Hill) check out this article:

          FYI: Hillary Clinton Had a Front-Pew Seat at Donald Trump’s Wedding

          The photo is classic Donald and equally classic Clintons, so do check it out.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Admittedly, I’m shocked Trump has lasted this long, but “not Bush” and “not the establishment” is still the real message of the poll. Trump was trumpeting a boutique hotel opening in the People’s Republic of Charlottesville last week. He’s just enjoying the attention, but much like the crowds for Bernie (I like Bernie, but Bernie’s charisma and ideas isn’t the only thing at play), the outrage at the establishment is real. The lesser of two evils threat has been played too often it has no traction. If O’Malley had started earlier and been vocal in his criticisms of the 2014 strategery of Team Blue, he could have been the anti-establishment instead of Sanders.

      On the eve of a very close election in Virginia in 2014, a Mark Warner and Tim Kaine rally was canceled and turned into a thank the volunteers event with a dozen people. Warner’s popularity was once sky high. Warner drew 70 people to a Saturday rally at UVA the weekend before the election. Just for comparison, there 500 people at a rally on a mid-week afternoon in mid-October at UVA for Kaine in the governor’s race in 2005. Kaine’s opponent in 2005 is one of the most affable people on the planet. Kaine has always polled behind Warner, and long time Democrats tolerated Kaine but never liked him. He still pulled 500 people in an area where Kaine should be disliked (politics is local and personal).

      The rules and organizational capacity make third parties difficult to succeed, but the challenging candidates are Donald Trump and a guy who drove the Democratic Party out of Montpelier, Vermont.

      1. Ed S.


        the outrage at the establishment is real.

        Absolutely. Trump may have started as a vanity candidate — but I can imagine that since he’s started to get some traction, he can see himself in the Oval Office. You may not like what he has to say (I don’t), but it resonates with the R base in a way that JEB on immigration reform and Common Core don’t.

        Language is important and here are a few choice phrases from the Politico article painting JEB as serious and Donald as a clown:

        (Trump)….a bombastic figure who refuses to abide by the usual rules of political decorum (Donald the clown)

        What….was behind Trump’s antics(Donald the clown)

        Bush could end up spending as much as 50 hours in preparation (for the debate) (Serious JEB)

        “I’ve been impressed by how hard Jeb has been and is working. He takes all the aspects of running seriously and has spent considerable time in learning and practicing to make himself a better candidate,” said Ana Navarro, a longtime Bush friend.(Serious JEB)

        The debate will give Bush a national platform to take on Trump in strong terms, presenting himself as a mature, substantive leader who rises above toxic discourse (Donald the Clown AND Serious JEB).

        I wouldn’t be quite so dismissive of Trump — I think he’d be a strong candidate against Hillary.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          If Trump gets there, I still have my doubts. I think he might cream Jeb especially if everyone gangs up on Trump.

          The conservative base voter hated 41 personally (he wasn’t a Demmycrat but still awful to them), but they loved Dubya because he was perceived as a lower and trashed by the same people who call them ignorant rednecks.

          I can see Trump tapping into what Dubya, Palin, and Santorum tapped into, but unlike Santorum, he has a start and won’t face the Mormon loyalty vote which delivered the Western primaries with barely a wimper to Mittens.

        2. MikeNY

          You gotta give The Donald this: he’s not parsing every friggin’ opinion poll before shooting off his mouth. That really is refreshing. I also strongly agree w/ NTG above about the anti-establishment energy. I do think it’s only a matter of time before he says something truly loony and blows himself up. But I hope he lasts for a least a couple of debates.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            The more I think about the GOP over the years, I think Trump can reach a leadership position where as long as he kneels at before Reagan icons, laments the absence of John Wayne movies, and doesn’t go against the GOP commandments in his rhetoric (lower taxes, more military, not speaking well of a liberal actress, and luving Jesus) they might not care what he says. They will see it as a sign he means what he says.

            I still think he’s flippant and will move on to his next flight of fancy. Running for President requires an enormous amount of discipline and working when you would rather golf. I know it’s from “Game Changer,” but Palin had to fight to get her jogging in her routine. I don’t see Trump doing that.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          Yep. I think Trump is a ginormous upraised middle finger from the base to the establishment.

          The Clown Car is for losers. I’m really hoping I didn’t misjudge matters by placing Trump there.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            I don’t think he is definitely not a clown just yet. With the gaggle of elected Republicans and the Bush behemoth, there isn’t much oxygen for any of the Republicans just yet.

            -Trump is a businessman; although we can debate the merits and quality of his experience, I think the GOP complaint “he’s never run anything” or “worked in the private sector” has become internalized.

            -The Southern Strategy worked for a long time because the GOP elite offered at least promises and pork to the backbone of the GOP electorate. Dubya was seen as one of them because of his past as a second son and drunkenness, and I think collectively we as a society ignored GOP voters are mercenaries, not loyalists to the GOP elite who are indistinguishable from the latte Volvo drivers (whatever annoys “libruls” this week) among the Democrats.

            I think Trump hit the jackpot, but he won’t run and I doubt he has a clue how to move forward.

      2. craazyman

        what about a Sanders/Trump ticket.

        Their theme song could be the old Odd Couple jingle — da na da na da na / dun da dun dun ta daa daa

        they could debate each other! Just like Felix and Oscar.

        and then leave together in the same limo

        It could be a landslide victory

    2. Gareth

      Meanwhile Scott Walker is treading water in the polls mainly due to an inability to state clear positions on issues of interest to bible-thumpers. Walker cultivates an image of decisiveness and ruthlessness but Trump makes him look like a wimp.

      Walker explains his reaction to lifting of ban on gay Boy Scout leaders – Adam B. Lerner – POLITICO

      “Scott Walker stumbled over his own prior comments Wednesday, saying that when he called on the Boy Scouts to reinstate a ban on gay leaders because it “protected children,” he meant the ban protected them from media scrutiny.”

      During his tenure as Milwaukee County Executive Walker surrounded himself with Republican gay men and lesbians, good for him. They proved very loyal to him, even willing to serve jail time to protect the fearless leader. I expect this will make it’s way into a telephone whisper campaign if he starts showing any strength, maybe in the notoriously dirty South Carolina primary?

      1. jrs

        Walker would be a more effective evil. Trump is a self-parody. His very ridiculousness would work against him, Walker could be dangerous.

      2. neo-realist

        Jeb will thug and hustle his way to the nomination, by hook and…..by a few tabulators.

  2. Juan

    The Neoliberal (Obama, Clinton) Creed: “The illusion of change is a good thing. Gives the people a jolt of hope. Makes people believe in the possibility of things . . . What we need is the illusion of change on the surface, continuity underneath.”

      1. hunkerdown

        Identity politics is right-wing consumerism dressed up in social justice. What does that have to do with leftism as defined by a pietous, right-leaning culture?

      2. Jagger

        Paul Craig Roberts nailed it. Well worth the read. Interesting comments on Russia and Cambodia’s elimination of the 1% but Cambodia, I believe, went well beyond the 1%. IIRC, they eliminated the entire human infrastructure supporting capitalism. Also interesting comments on the divisiveness of the lefts reliance on identity politics which fractured mainstream middle America support for the working man party.

      1. Mark P.

        This, from the LARB, is not bad.

        Peter Gratton reviews Governing by Debt and Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution

        “The neoliberal pathology has been the same in both European and American countries: governments cannibalize their political spaces, advance privatized markets in all aspects of society (see the Affordable Care Act), and export their manufacturing base to the developing world….”

        “…At some point, we think, this system can’t go on. And yet, with the crash of 2007–’08, we learned that governments step in not on the side of the “forgiveness” of debts, but to bolster those institutions (and therefore their investors) to which the debts are owed. Nothing scared the world more in those days than that the capital markets would seize up, which is another way of saying that our economies rely on extending further indebtedness and would collapse without it. Of course, we are each “free” to enter into these credit relations, even if the only entry into the “job market” is through a university education that requires one to take on “freely” this debt…

        ‘… this debt takes out an advance on our future: who can afford to take a few years off to volunteer when one immediately graduates into dunning notices for student loans? Who can decide to be a doctor in poorer communities when only a more remunerative post will allow one to pay down one’s monthly student loan payments? … Gone are the days where our best and brightest go on to serve in the Peace Corps or help NASA send human beings to the moon, since there are ever more apps to be made and financial products to be invented. In this way, our possibilities close before us.”

        Longish piece, but worthwhile.

  3. mn

    Vaccines. So, reporter patting himself on the back about manipulating public over the vaccine issue. Funny, over the winter a study came out based on data from Canadian citizens (computer charts) that showed that people that get a yearly flu shot are at increased risk of getting the flu, whereas those that get the vaccine once or every few years showed greater benefit. That story came out, then disappeared overnight.

    1. Yves Smith


      This still proves that flus shots are useful, but are overdone, as opposed to what you insinuate, that they are useless.

      And I don’t get them, BTW, because they are hit or miss in actually guessing correctly as to what the current winter flu will be about, so the efficacy rate is only 60-70% and I’m healthy enough that getting a flus is a nuisance, not a serious threat. I’m not being a flu shot fan out of well-known issues with it that most people don’t bother informing themselves about. But you try to misleadingly generalize from a known-to-be-all-that-good vaccine to vaccines in general. Sloppy.

  4. grayslady

    Lambert, I do like your description of Clinton being wrapped in tissue paper. Unfortunately for her, many of us have seen this movie before and it didn’t end well. In 2008, it wasn’t until she fired Penn and Doyle, and started going off script, that she began outperforming Obama in state contests.

    I think her campaign managers have to realize how out-of-touch she is after 8 years away from the Senate. I noticed in the La Raza speeches that Sanders referred to his vote for immigration reform and “dreamers”, while Clinton’s speech contained nothing more current than railing at Donald Trump. She’s an outsider now in terms of domestic policy, other than knowing what her major donors want. She can no longer point to legislation she championed in Congress, and both she and her handlers know it. That’s why she’s so dependent on congressional surrogates to plead her case, IMO.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Paragraph one is spot on, IMSNHO. (People forget that in 2008 Clinton won all the big states and the popular vote, if all the votes are counted, albeit by a small margin.) Unfortunately, the post-caucus debacle campaign was run almost totally under the radar, since the press had in essence declared the contest over. It would be interesting to know if Clinton is doing the same thing again, but there are only tiny clues to that effect (like those Clinton quilt-makers in Iowa).

      I think Clinton’s failures — putting aside corruption, where only the style is unique to the Clintons, as opposed to the scale — are those of imagination. She is a “first-class intellect, a second-class temperament” — the opposite of FDR.

      1. James Levy

        I don’t see the first-class intellect. I see an upper class white woman who had all the advantages and excelled in doing and saying what everyone wanted her to do–her parents, her teachers, her husband. Sure, at some point her own mendacity and ambition kicked in, but those aren’t signs of a first-rate intellect either. I see no sign of creativity, imagination, insight–anything that would indicate a first-rate intellect. And no, I don’t see any indication of those things in Bill either (other than a ruthless insight into where the power is an how to kiss up to it). Ironically, the last two men who were President and demonstrably highly intelligent were Carter and Hoover. I don’t know what that says, but as a member of MENSA and a Ph.D. it does worry me.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I put creativity and imagination into the temperament bucket, not the intellect bucket. I think we’re quibbling over terms. Intellects do very well in the meritocracy, where Clinton has done well.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Oliver Wendell Holmes called FDR a second rate intellect. You can guess who was first rate. I believe Holmes was responding to questions about his own ambitions given his standing.

  5. Ed S.


    My two cents on Yellen and interest rates:

    One and done.

    Fed Funds rate increased 1/4 percent either in September or December. The Fed makes the move to 1) Prove that they can and will and 2) know that it will have little or no impact. After the first, the Fed can go back to its data driven talk and that “monetary policy operates with a lag”, “need to monitor changes in economy” yada yada, yada. They can forego another increase for 12 to 18 months.

    No game theory, not econometrics. Just simple logic and common sense.

  6. steelhead23

    “Tech’s Hottest Lunch Spot? A Strip Club” [Forbes]. But executives and brogrammers totally go there for the food!

    Went to the article (hey, I’m a guy) and noted that once you pay your $5 cover, lunch is free. So, yes Virginia, there is a free lunch – with perks. It would seem that just like Wall Street traders, Silicone Valley gamers love a free lunch. Probably owned by Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

    1. optimader

      Silicone Valley
      nicely played.
      Is the fat guy eating the fried chicken or the rice pilaf?

      Catfish in a clay pot and I’m in for $5.00

    1. jrs

      The conspiracy about Jade Helm is indeed silly. Only Republican states are somehow considered hostile by Obama (never mind the Occupy crackdown largely in democratic cities). Nah, I’m going to go with that one doesn’t pass believability, though declaring them hostile may very well be some kind of inside joke (like the NSA powerpoint slides, it’s a laugh a minute in the militarized state).

      But the exercises are probably as much of for a situation of internal dissent as well as foreign wars (not that any revolution seems imminent, but they prepare for improbable scenarios). So I don’t buy the explanation that it’s purely for foreign wars. But contextualization, I wondered how common it was to have countries doing internal military exercises. I can’t say I know that. But apparently NATO does the same thing in Europe.

      1. Ulysses

        I picked up a friend at the PABT not too long ago, and she and I both remarked that the distance between where we are, and open imposition of martial law, is narrowing very quickly every day. We counted more than two dozen soldiers (not blending in so well with their surplus OIF camo gear) staring down commuters, and tourists, with very high-powered assault weapons in their hands. I guess the notoriously homicidal gang of thugs known as the NYPD is not intimidating enough anymore?

        Operation Jade Helm is undoubtedly not a conspiracy to take over a red state, by a crypto-Muslim CIC who wishes to impose sharia law and communism at the same time. Yet the paranoid rightists are correct to feel uneasy, in a general way. We have a turn-key totalitarian police state that has been fired up, and ready to go, ever since 9/11. Our kleptocratic overlords want us to know this, so that we will think twice before crashing their gates.

  7. ewmayer

    Re. the excellent Weatherwest piece on the updated El Niño predictions: The downside of a really wet coming winter would be that many of the long-term water-conservation initiatives which have sprung up as a result of the drought would like be kiboshed. I fear the lesson still has not gone on long enough to really sink in.

  8. Jeremy Grimm

    The New Yorker piece about the Cascadia subduction zone, subtitled “An earthquake will destroy a sizable portion of the coastal Northwest. The question is when.” is wonderfully well written. It is also a sobering read. After suggesting the pending threat to and vulnerability of the North West “is a parable for this age of ecological reckoning,” the article begins its close with two questions:

    “How should a society respond to a looming crisis of uncertain timing but of catastrophic proportions?”
    “How can it begin to right itself when its entire infrastructure and culture developed in a way that leaves it profoundly vulnerable to natural disaster?”

    Past responses to much smaller disasters — after they occurred — give unhappy answers to how “society” will respond when disaster on the scale described in the article strikes. How society should respond to known future disasters is less important than how we might build a society which — will respond — to minimize the impacts of known future disasters — even at the cost of present profits and advantages. As the author suggests, predicting future disasters holds little value if no actions are taken to mitigate the threats.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Speaking from western Cascadia: in reality a great deal has been done to prepare for the known threat. You see it at the coast: signs reading “Tsunami evacuation route” everywhere. Can’t be good for business. Seaside, Oregon, in particular, is a death trap.

      In the valley, vast sums have been spent retrofitting or replacing fragile buildings. An old building at OSU was completely disassembled and rebuilt with steel frame, using the old facing. A middle school in my town was torn down and replaced altogether, and several school buildings are now used only for offices.

      And earthquake insurance is not cheap.

      Oregon Public Broadcasting made a film about the subduction quakes, based on Japan’s recent experience, and reshows it regularly. Cannon Beach built a new city hall designed to function as a refuge in a tsunami (there would be 20-30 minutes of warning, depending on just where the quake occurred.) If you’re at the coast and the ground shakes, you head for high ground, no questions asked.

      What concerns me the most is that a Magnitude 9 at the coast would be a Mag 8 in the Valley, where help would have to come from. All the bridges would be down, and whole chunks of highway. I think help would have to come from the ocean; maybe the marines in landing vessels? The docks would be smashed, too.

      But believe me: we’re aware, and we’re as ready as we can be. I assume the numbers in that disaster report reflect those preparations – it could be worse.

      All that is nothing to the Yellowstone supervolcano, of course, but apparently the danger period for that one has been put off quite a bit.

  9. VietnamVet

    “The Really Big One” puts together the bits and dribbles I’ve read earlier. Remembering the videos from the tsunamis in Indonesia and Japan; the New Yorker article makes the looming disaster to the Pacific Northwest very real. This now joins the bucket list of bad things that can happen. Also, it’s a reminder that I won’t be walking again on sand beaches of the Oregon Coast.

    The risk of the big one appears to be greater than that of an asteroid hit but the effects are more limited. It is hard to comprehend infrequent natural disasters. They are one of the items not to be included in market pricing but a cause of the fluctuations. The one sure thing is that the flushing the government down the drain to make more money for oneself is sure to make these disasters worse. Even riskier and more devastating is a possible nuclear war caused by Western rulers baiting the Russian bear.

  10. JTMcPhee

    Ethics, anyone? Where would you file this peephole into one dark corner of the MIC thingie?

    “Killer Robots: The Soldiers That Never Sleep,”http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20150715-killer-robots-the-soldiers-that-never-sleep?ocid=global_future_rss

    For the S. Korean builder, just another way to make a profit… And our home boys are at it too. “A fig for your Four Laws of Robotics, Asimov.”

  11. RanDomino

    “He beat us!”
    As a Wisconsin resident who long ago abandoned the Democratic Party, this accurately summarizes the Party’s entire playbook.

    That and “nothing can ever change”- the relationships between the government, unions, businesses, the university system, farmers, etc, are all perfect as of 2009 and don’t even talk about power structures or racism or poverty or ressentiment (not a typo) anything really because everything is fine! What problems? There’s nothing wrong, how could you suggest such a thing? Look, some union members have good pensions! This will never change and nothing bad will ever happen!


  12. Peter Pan

    Regarding the cascadia subduction zone, the local news interviewed a seismologist from UW about the “big one” occurring in the greater Northwest. He claimed that it would only feel similar to the Nisqually quake since it would be so deep.

    But if FEMA wanted to get us really excited, why did they fail to mention detonating the eruption of a chain of volcanoes with pyroclastic flows, mud flows and megatons of ash? Any flows to the East will converge with the tsunami coming from the West and our infrastructure will have essentially been destroyed just by the earthquake. A tsunami and volcanic flows will just add more destruction, death and injury. Where oh where is the Hollywood disaster film on this?

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