2:00PM Water Cooler 8/19/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.



Clinton meeting with #BlackLivesMatter: “Oliver Willis, an African-American blogger and Media Matters for America fellow: ‘You meet with the Democratic frontrunner for president, right now the person in the field in either party with the highest likelihood of being president, and the best you can do is ask her about her feelings?'” [New York Magazine]. I see I was not alone in my reaction…

“[In the #BlackLivesMatter video:] Mrs. Clinton, after listening and nodding for several minutes, responds calmly that her life’s work has been helping the nation’s poorest children, many of them black — before turning the tables on the much younger man and demanding instead to know how he plans to turn his deeply felt emotions into meaningful, lasting change” [New York Times]. And those tables should never have been turned or turn-able. That was the time for the “much younger man” to pull out the list of demands. Didn’t happen. Missed opportunity. And royal audiences aren’t granted that often. To be fair, we haven’t seen the second video; the demand/policy shoe might yet drop. But still.


“[Climate-change activist Tom] Steyer is part of this small but growing cadre of mega-donors whose influence has grown since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the 2010 Citizens United case lifted limits on independent campaign spending. Now, non-candidates including Steyer, the Koch brothers and George Soros are subjects of attacks, much like politicians” [Bloomberg].

“Election 2016: Jeb Bush Got $1.3M Job At Lehman After Florida Shifted Pension Cash To Bank” [International Business Times]. Ka-ching. 


“Two U.S. government officials reportedly say an ‘attempt’ was made to wipe the hard drive of Hillary Clinton’s email server—or, in other words, remove all data on it” [Daily Beast].

“The FBI has taken possession of thumb drives from Mrs. Clinton’s lawyer and a server from a computer company she used” [Wall Street Journal, “Clinton Is Defiant as Email Cases Loom”]. It boggles my mind that the Secretary of State’s email is on a thumb drive — no security issues there! — controlled by the personal lawyer of the individual holding the office. There is a distinction between offices and persons who hold them, though Clinton appears not to recognize it.

“Asked if the server, which has been turned over to the Department of Justice, had been wiped clean, Clinton initially shrugged and later joked, ‘Like with a cloth or something?'” [The Hill]. Giving zero f*cks.

“Clinton was one of just 20 high-ranking officials whom President Barack Obama named in a December 2009 executive order as having the authority to classify material as ‘top secret.’ … An aide to a Republican member of the Senate Intelligence Committee: ‘[Clinton] was one of a few dozen people in Obama’s administration with the knowledge and experience to decide if something was top secret… The way you decide if something is classified, when you’re the secretary of state, isn’t looking for a stamp. It’s looking at the contents” [Daily Mail]. A Republican aide actually makes a good argument, which just goes to show how nutty things are getting.

“5 mistakes Hillary Clinton made in her latest e-mail press conference” [Chris Cilizza, WaPo]. Inside baseball, to be sure, but you know the old saying: There ain’t no cryin’ in Inside Baseball…

Dean gets sucked in, fact-checked, ground up, and spat out [Politifact]. Embarrassing. And for what?

The Voters

“It’s people from the Northeast Kingdom who’ve overwhelmingly elected Bernie to almost 20 years in Congress” [Alternet]. Clue stick: The Northeast Kingdom is not full of Volvo-driving “progressives.” You won’t spot any Birkenstocks for miles. You will see a lot of rural poverty, plenty of beards, trucks galore, and guns. Rather like other parts of the country, come to think about it. It’s going to be interesting to see how Sanders does at Liberty University, and whether he barnstorms the South afterwards (building a firebreak, one might add, against Joe Biden).

The Trail

“Hillary Clinton’s Inevitable Problems” [Nate Silver] and “No, Hillary Clinton is not spiraling downward” [WaPo]. These pieces are evidenced and reasoned. But I can’t shake the feeling that the political class is more or less in the position of the neo-liberal economists who thought they — and their models — had produced “The Great Moderation.” That was true, until it wasn’t. It takes a Potemkin Village….

James Carville for the defense [Correct the Record]. “In my life, I’ve seen a lot of ‘nervous Democrat’ stories. I have been a Democrat for some time – finding a ‘nervous Democrat’ is about as hard as finding a drunk in the French Quarter.” Fun stuff. “Hillary’s campaign has put forth some superb policy proposals.” Oh yeah. And couldn’t Carville have gotten himself published on a real site, instead of a Clinton campaign site?

“Carson draws thousands to Arizona rally” [The Hill]. As it turns out, one debate winner was the guy who was practically silent. Not my call, and AFAIK not anyone’s call.

Stats Watch

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of August 14, 2015: “A dip in rates gave a boost to refinancing demand, up 7 percent in the latest week, but failed to give much lift to purchase applications which fell 1.0 percent” [Bloomberg]. Year-on-year, howerer, purchase applications are up 19%.

Consumer Price Index, July 2015:  “The consumer price index rose only 0.1 percent in July as did the core, both under expectations” [Bloomberg]. “There may be some upward creep in the headline year-on-year rates but, given the ongoing decline in oil, this report won’t be pushing the Fed for a September rate hike” [wipes brow]. More free money for elites! And: “The year-over-year core inflation (excludes energy and food) rate remained unchanged at 1.8%, and continues to be under the targets set by the Federal Reserve” [Econintersect].

“July 2015 Sea Container Counts Improved But Still Showing a Weak Economy” [Econintersect].

Fastest 100 growing companies [Fortune]. I filtered on the United States: FIRE sector: 3; pharma: 2; health “care”: 2;  manufacturing (networks, auto): 2; and Facebook. In other words, 80% business, 20% industry. Seems about right.

China’s devaluation: “China’s real motivation seems to be more far-sighted. The devaluation advanced China’s strategic goal of turning the renminbi into an international reserve currency” [Project Syndicate].

The Fed: “[O]nce again the rates world awaits the move off zero by the FOMC.  Much like the parable Before the Law by Kafka it seems the Fed is standing at the door asking if they can ever go through, the doorkeeper says it is possible but ‘not just yet'” [Across the Curve]. “Unfortunately the man in the story waits outside this door his whole life without ever going through.  After 7 years at near zero rates it has felt like a lifetime for most. Since this first move is so critical, the fact that the market is still split on a move (40% priced in Sep) leaves me feeling less optimistic that the time is now.  The Fed is running out of time to make it clear to the market that a first step is imminent and the recent drop in inflation expectations has weakened the urgency to act.”

The Fed: “Stephen D. Williamson, vice president of the St. Louis Fed … believes the zero interest rates in place since 2008 that were designed to spark good inflation actually have resulted in just the opposite” [Mosler Economics]. It’s all good. Elites get free money.  They like that. It will be hard to change.

The Fed,  Narayana Kocherlakota: “If the Fed raises interest rates when inflation is so far below target, market participants and other members of the public could well conclude that the FOMC has implicitly lowered its inflation goal” [Wall Street Journal, “Raising Rates Now Would Be a Mistake”]. “Now, this is not to say that increasing the federal-funds rate by a mere quarter of one percentage point, as many advise, would in and of itself have a huge direct impact on the U.S. economy.” One-and-done, by quarter points, looks pretty good. The Fed needs to figure out how to take the free money bone away from the snarling dogs that have hold of it; and I don’t see how. 

Another cost-of-doing-business fine for JP Morgan from the SEC [Market Watch]. Another day, more conflict-of-interest plunder. Ho hum. Move along people, move along. There’s no story here.

“There are economies of scale in options manufacture. Making artisanal stock options in your Brooklyn loft co-working space is expensive” [Bloomberg].

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“At least 1014 Black Lives Matter demonstrations have been held in the last 396 days” [Elephrame]. Solid work, though the number may be low.

“[The College of William and Mary] would remove the ‘commemorative plaque in the Wren Building (naming soldiers from William & Mary who fought for the Confederacy)’ and also that it would remove from ‘the College Mace (a gift of alumni, students and faculty in 1923, carried in university ceremonies)’ the likeness of the Confederate flag” [The Hill]. Laudable, but I still wish I knew how the discourse, after the Charleston shootings, turned to symbols rather than policy; the shift was remarkably rapid and pervasive. What — by which I mean who — drove it?

Police State

“Documents obtained by The Intercept confirm that undercover police officers attended numerous Black Lives Matter protests in New York City between December 2014 and February 2015” [The Intercept]. “Many of the documents released include live updates on protests from undercover police officers, reporting on group sizes, and the tracking of protesters’ movements around the city, particularly the movements of New York’s ‘People’s Monday’ protests.”

Militia Watch

“OKLAHOMA CITY – [Sam Andrews,] a Missouri Oath Keepers leader and his squad will test state law with a unique experiment by arming 50 blacks with AR-15 rifles while marching through downtown Ferguson, Mo” [Red Dirt Report]. Andrews: “It will be an iconic event.” Cue multiple intra-cranial splatterfests…. 

Dear Old Blightly

“UK wants to create world’s largest honeypot of centralised personal financial data” [Ars Technica]. “[T]o check someone’s identity, a company would then ask potential customers a series of questions and check the answers against the information in the vault.” What could go wrong? I mean, besides the back doors the vendors (Google and Microsoft) will build in.


“Five Reasons Why TPP Countries Should Unite To Oppose The US Pharmaceutical IP Agenda” [IP Watch]. I like this one:

2) Bargaining with the US is risky business. Under pressure from the US, and anxious to secure gains in market access in exchange for apparent concessions on medicines, negotiators seem to be pursuing solutions in creative wording. But they can’t be sure that ‘carve-outs’ buried in footnotes and fine print appearing to preserve existing policy settings will be interpreted in the anticipated way in any disputes that arise. No country can be confident that even the most carefully crafted workaround won’t end in tears in a trade tribunal and a set of cross-retaliatory measures.


“Is nature mostly a tinkerer or an inventor?” [Phys.org]. “‘Our study paints a picture of nature innovating largely through sharing the functional bits of genes—tinkering with molecular genetic material that already exists,’ said William E. Browne, assistant professor of Biology at [University of Miami’s] College of Arts & Sciences and principal investigator of the study.”

“Observational Signatures of Self-Destructive Civilisations” (PDF) [arXiv.org].

The aim of this paper is to use the Earth as a test case in order to categorise the potential scenarios for complete civilisational destruction, quantify the observable signatures that these scenarios might leave behind, and determine whether these would be observable with current or near future technology.


“Water from [the High Plains and Central Valley] aquifers in the US contains uranium levels that are significantly higher than [EPA’]s maximum contaminant level (MCL). What’s more, these two aquifers provide drinking water to almost 6 million people, and almost 2 million of them live less than a mile from the contaminated groundwater” [Business Insider].

The study found that 78% of the uranium-contaminated sites are linked to the presence of nitrate, a common groundwater contaminant, that stems from chemical and animal waste fertilizers. Nitrate, through a series of bacterial and chemical reactions, oxidizes uranium which then makes it soluble and capable of leaching into groundwater.

The two aquifers irrigate cropland that accounts for one-sixth of the annual revenue generated by US agriculture.

Of course, the health effects aren’t factored into the “annual revenue.” They’re externalities, or, in the vulgate, “plunder.”

Wretched Excess Watch

Sandy and Joan Weill are ticked off that Paul Smith College won’t rebrand itself with as “Joan Weill-Paul Smith’s College,” even though they gave it a smidgeon of their vast personal hoard [Wall Street on Parade]. So, it’s not just buildings any more, but entire colleges. Wow. Idea: Tattoo “Joan Weill” on every incoming freshman’s arm?

Class Warfare

“White House appoints first openly transgender full-time staff member” [Guardian]. Now if only they’d arrest the first openly transgender bankster….

“Duggars pitch TLC new show where they counsel sex abuse victims: report” [Raw Story]. Turns out they can’t fund that full quiver without a project on the order of a reality TV show.

After working at Amazon, white collar manager can afford therapy [Quartz]. So there’s that.

News of the Wired

“Samsung, MIT find way to make batteries with ‘indefinite’ lifetime” [Korea Times]. Now all we have to do is make them…

“What Makes American Men So Dangerous?” [Pacific Standard].

“Yelp Wants You to Review the Government” [Time]. In basements across the land, libertarians roll up their pajama sleeves…. 

“Professional audience members.” Really [Vice]. Making it perfectly natural for Trump to hire people to attend the announcement of his candidacy.

“The whisper is that Banksy is involved in the staging of some sort of pop-up show/exhibition/thing called Dismaland — apparently a swipe at Disneyland” [Boing Boing]. Not Mauschwitz?

“US scientists have identified the chemicals responsible [coumarin] for the mosquito-repelling activity of sweetgrass, a plant traditionally used by some Native Americans to fend off the bugs” [BBC]. Interestingly, coumarin was an ingredient in Avon’s ‘Skin So Soft,’ which many used as a repellent, back in the day. I think I’d rather grow than buy.

* * *

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 (Alex):


Another plant from Greece!

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. This is turning into a tough month, and I need to buy a new pair of pants and keep my server up!


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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. L.M. Dorsey

    R.L. Stevens has a very (cogent, provocative, incendiary) criticism of #blacklivesmatter as a dubious bid to re-boot and re-brand “black leadership”:

    Says, Stevens:

    The fact that queer Black women started the Black Lives Matter hashtag has been a major point of emphasis. However, making certain Black people, even if they’re queer and/or women, the face of a new Black leadership class will not save Black people. The problem with the Black leadership class of old isn’t that it was male, it’s that it was elite and used to control the masses. The same dynamics are in play today

    Stevens was recently on Doug Henwood’s Behind the News discussing the piece:

  2. abynormal

    IMF delaying China by a year
    The fund’s executive board approved an extension of the current basket of reserve currencies including in its special drawing rights, or SDRs, to September 30, 2016. The board’s action confirms an earlier proposal for a delay in the five-year re-evaluation of the basket, which doesn’t include the yuan, and it said a decision on the future basket is expected by the end of the year.” wsj http://www.wsj.com/articles/imf-signals-yuan-wont-be-considered-a-reserve-unit-for-at-least-a-year-1440000935

    zh “Although Beijing has outlined plans to liberalize its financial markets, the yuan doesn’t meet the IMF’s key criteria for reserve currencies to be “freely usable,” meaning countries could face problems trying to buy and sell the currency in a pinch.
    And while the move supposedly won’t affect the Board’s decision on whether to include the yuan, it’s certainly interesting that the IMF happened to decide that there’s “merit in agreeing on a limited extension of the current valuation basket,” the very day (or, technically the day after) China devalued.”

    …jump on in boyz the water is boiling

  3. Vatch

    “Duggars pitch TLC new show where they counsel sex abuse victims: report” [Raw Story]. Turns out they can’t fund that full quiver without a project on the order of a reality TV show.

    How can this be for real? Why isn’t this an Onion or Daily Mash satirical story?

    This family is the poster “child” for the evils of exponential population growth.

    1. RUKidding

      I read about this new TV reality show pitch from the Duggar dozens. The concept is gross and beyond belief, even for such as this clan of shameless hustlers.

      But hasn’t it always been booted about that big Daddy Duggar was some kind of self-employed, wildly successfully rich guy? I have read/been told that the Duggar clan never “needed” their TV show for the money; that they had made ton$ of money on their own.

      Guess grifters gotta grift.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        There is money and there is being over leveraged. Disaster is always a step away.

        Look at former NFL QB Mark Brunell. The guy burned through $60 million on bad investments that would turn around because he has faith, including $10 million on a single fast food franchise. Imagine if you don’t have $60 million in cash but gumption. I remember an article from ages ago now about one of the major tech ceos having a $20 million safety net if everything went South. He thought that would cover a comfortable retirement and any liabilities he might incur, and he said his peers called him crazy for that. Kids are expensive, and I think it’s safe to say social services monitored the material condition of those kids. They couldn’t live like those Mormon families on compounds.

        1. RUKidding

          So IOW the Duggars were reliant on the money from the TV show. Having all those kids was really irresponsible IMO, especially given how they portrayed themselves as financially secure enough to support their several litters without the TV money.

          Why say that since it’s clearly not true??

          It’s one thing for some NFL guy make bad investments. It’s another for parents to choose to have an unhealthy number of kids that they may not have the means to support. Pretty irresponsible & now reduced to shilling an even more ridiculous “reality ” show to support a giant dysfunctional brood. Yuck.

  4. Sam Adams

    Really, someone asking why the Weills want a spigot into the student loan tub of federal money or why an 80 year old non profit educational corporation at bargain prices would be needed to rinse the stink?

  5. DJG

    “Asked if the server, which has been turned over to the Department of Justice, had been wiped clean, Clinton initially shrugged and later joked, ‘Like with a cloth or something?’”

    I am reminded again that much of U.S. “liberalism” and “liberals” tied themselves to the Clintons–who are also verrrry cool. Yet liberals are losing influence as collateral damage of propping up the Clinton fraudulence for so long. The Clintons are a symptom of the crisis, not a possible way out. I’m reminded of HRC’s famous investment in commondities futures that went from 1,000 dollars to some outlandish figure in a matter of months. So either she is an economic and foreign-policy genius, or else she is just a flimflam lady, spouse of Bill, who has a touch of larceny about him.

    And the solution, as she proposed for Edward Snowden: The wonderful U.S. justice system.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yep, big time. This is a finance blog and, although I forget the details, I’ve been told on reliable authority there’s no way the commodities futures deal passes any kind of smell test.

      1. Jim Haygood

        It’s easy. Well, it used to be:

        A futures account would be opened with a broker named Red Bone (no joke) in HILLARY’S NAME. Red Bone cleared through a company called Refco, which would later become MF Global. Hillary made an opening deposit of $1000.

        Every day at the opening bell Red Bone, per Old Man Tyson’s instructions, would put in two orders: Buy 50 contracts of live cattle futures AND sell 50 contracts of live cattle futures. At the close the same thing would be done – buy 50 and sell 50.

        On days when the market moved lower from the open to the close, Hillary was given the sell from the open and the buy from the close. Sell high, buy back low. Tyson got the opposite side.

        Do that every day for a month or so and you can move $100k from Tyson to the Clintons very quickly. This is called “money laundering”.

        This case was actually the reason why the law was changed and brokers HAD to attach an account number to every order UPON ENTERING THE ORDER.


        The Hillary Rule, comrades: it made commodity trading squeaky clean … until Jon Corzine came along.

  6. TarheelDem

    It’s going to be interesting to see how Sanders does at Liberty University, and whether he barnstorms the South afterwards (building a firebreak, one might add, against Joe Biden).

    Bernie in South Carolina – Greenville, Columbia, Sumter (Clyburn’s territory), Charleston – Aug 21 and 22. Some of the venues will draw from adjacent states. This is the first test of whether these folks respond like those in the Northeast Kingdom you describe in Vermont. And how he does in “hostile” territory at Liberty University on Sep 14 is going to be a big test of his strength in the geography that pundits think that Hillary owns in a Democratic primary. It will also be a first indication of whether Sanders can broaden the electoral map for Democrats — a completely ironic twist on ideology.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      A pal of mine who writes for a subscription poly Sci rag always said Lynchburg proper was a larger microcosm of the U.S. electorate, Democrats should win the city when they run proud and respectful campaigns but will lose when they run centrist, cynical campaigns (no policy, safe campaigns avoiding poor people, and platitudes about bipartisanship). The local results inside Lynchburg city limits matched the national trend or preceded the trend because Virginia always has an election for some office on the horizon.

      I know Vermont and New Hampshire are geographically near to each other and rural and white, they are radically different places. The people are not the same. Interestingly enough, my mom’s youngest sister thought the New Hampshire border was Russia when she was a small child. Winning in both is a much larger deal than is commonly understood.

    2. Brindle

      Greenville, SC is just over 60 miles from Asheville, NC—so a good bet quite a few from liberal, artsy town will make the drive.

  7. jgordon

    Of men and mass shootings:

    Men have historically benefited from a great deal of privilege—white, educated, middle and upper class, able-bodied, heterosexual men in particular. Social movements of all kinds have slowly chipped away at some of these privileges. So, while inequality is alive and well, men have also seen a gradual erosion of privileges that flowed more seamlessly to previous generations of men (white, heterosexual, class-privileged men in particular). Michael Kimmel suggests that these changes have produced a uniquely American gendered sentiment that he calls “aggrieved entitlement.”

    As an aside, I found it interesting how Tara and Tristan alluded to gun control being a contributor to mass shootings. From the the tone of the article otherwise, I would have thought that they’d by more supportive of gun control. That seems an uncharacteristically open-minded and insightful position, but then I realized it made sense in the context of their theory that the erosion of white male privilege has a lot more to do with mass shootings than the availability of guns per se.

    Be that as it may, I still think they’ve got some ideological blinders on. The living conditions of nearly everyone in the United States are rapidly going down the drain. Of course, most people just quietly endure it–but those who have been traditionally used to privileges will tend to react very badly. Most will (perhaps usefully) commit suicide or become homeless or whatever, but a few will undoubtedly turn to mass shootings as a method of self-affirmation. I think Tara and Tristan are on to something, but they are still missing something from their analysis.

    1. Lexington

      Some ideological blinders? The whole argument that mass shootings occur because of resentment at the withdrawal of “male privilege” is ideology, and moreover it’s incoherent in that it can’t explain why mass shootings occur much more frequently in the US than in other countries. Have foreign males not yet had their privileges withdrawn, or is it maybe that unlike their American brothers they just haven’t realized it yet? And why is it that violent objection to the withdrawal of male privilege doesn’t appear to effect all males equally but generally those who are poorly educated and economically and socially marginalized? That would suggest that the causes of mass shootings are largely attributable to the circumstances of the shooters and not simply to the fact that they are Y chromosome burdened.

      1. vidimi

        And why is it that violent objection to the withdrawal of male privilege doesn’t appear to effect all males equally but generally those who are poorly educated and economically and socially marginalized? That would suggest that the causes of mass shootings are largely attributable to the circumstances of the shooters and not simply to the fact that they are Y chromosome burdened.

        so it’s a coincidence, then, that the overwhelming majority of mass shooters are male and white? there are too few poorly educated and economically and socially marginalized females or minorities?

        1. Lexington

          I’m sure I never said it was a coincidence. I said the feminist construction of “male privilege” is self evidently inadequate to explain the phenomenon.

          Since you bring it up however let’s take it to the next level and deconstruct the concept of “male privilege”. I find it interesting that while you appear to be trying to defend the legitimacy of the “male privilege” argument you simultaneously feel the need to qualify not only the gender but the RACE of the shooters. This is reflective of a certain intellectual dishonesty in feminist theory: the essential claim of the male privilege argument is that men have historically enjoyed an absolute advantage over women merely by virtue of being male. Unfortunately considered on its own terms it is a trivial task to demonstrate that this assertion is indefensible: it implies for example that a Welsh coal miner in 19th century Britain enjoyed more privilege than Queen Victoria. To try to get around this objection without having to surrender the centrality of gender politics feminists engage in a bait and switch: they first assert “male privilege” as an independent explanatory variable but then qualify the assertion with so many caveats that they vitiate it of any real explanatory power.

          The authors of the article Lambert cites actually accomplish this neat trick in a single sentence, first making the very general, unqualified claim (something which feminists btw claim to abhor in every other context, and most especially when generalizations are made about women) “Men have historically benefited from a great deal of privilege” and then immediately walking the assertion back by adding that when they say “men” what they should actually be understood to mean is specifically “white, educated, middle and upper class, able-bodied, heterosexual men “. It turns out “male privilege” by itself doesn’t explain anything. It needs to be married to some other source of privilege –education, socio economic status, sexual orientation, ablebodiedness or, most relevantly to the current discussion, race in order to have salience. Hence while you seem to want to defend the legitimacy of the concept of male privilege even you feel the need to point out that the perpetrators aren’t just male but white.

          These intellectual contortions are necessary because feminists want to privilege gender over every other kind of advantage in order to advance their political agenda but don’t want to be called out for the obvious hypocrisy implied in that position. Women are no less culpable then men of exploiting privileges derived from things like race, class or education, but feminists assert that the privilege of being male – the one advantage women are unable to assert regardless of circumstances – trumps all other privileges. They can hardly do otherwise without completely undermining the centrality of gender in their analysis of power relationships.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            I think the word “hypocrisy” is a conversation stopper. If you want to discuss these issues, which are not easy, then best avoid it. I mean, I haven’t sold all my possessions and given them to the poor, right? Nor, I think, have you.

    2. PQS

      And many, many people will self-destruct with drugs and alcohol. Witness the explosion of opioid dependency. Add in “pill mills” and doctors with Rx pads, and here we are. Hopelessness breeds despair and self loathing.

      Why, even the SS Clinton was recently at a forum on drug use in New Hampshire. Yet she was strangely surprised at this turn of events.

      1. hunkerdown

        So where’s all the shrapnel from those self-destructing fin de siecle housewives?

        Don’t make a society people don’t want to live in, and people won’t try to escape it by any means necessary. Sounds like a fair deal.

    3. jgordon

      Ok, I spent some more time thinking about it and come up with a better theory:

      As living standards decline across the board in America, people who were more used to power and influence will tend to become psychotic in various unpleasant ways. Mass shootings being one of them. Since middle-class or above white males tended to have the best living standards, those are mostly likely to go off the deep-end. On the other hand, poor minorities will hardly notice any change at all.

      In other orders, the chaos in our society has much less to do with progressiveness and social movements puncturing the inflated egos of white men than the general malaise caused by dwindling access to resources, increasing corruption, etc. The ideological blindness comes in when trying to pigeon-hole everything into terms of a conflict between privileged white men and everyone else. Actually, anyone regardless of race or gender who suddenly had the toys they felt entitled to taken away would wig out.

    4. vidimi

      i have been thinking for a while that one of the main factors leading to mass shootings in america is the intersection of expectations of white male privilege with an inability to capitalise on them. this article somewhat affirms that view though it doesn’t ever quite get there.

  8. john

    I find myself watching star trek (ok, star trek voyager), and am realizing the doctors are basically omnipotent.

    I wonder if that’s an accident. In real life, I crushed my finger digging a building foundation and medical science (at least at my pay-scale) has nothing it can do for me.

    It should grow back in 6 months.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I think McCoy and all the Trek doctors were based on the doctor on board Roddenberry’s navy assignment. The doctor worked miracles with the injured but tended to berate the guys with the clap or hang nails. Trek came in an age where the had just wiped out polio which could crippled even the President.

      1. john

        Interesting. Also, an era when the media was able to conceal the president’s polio from the public based on a ‘gentleman’s agreement.’

        Elitist, yes, but probably just. Things are much more interesting when you can consider both sides.

        I am strangely ambivalent about this presidential race, just saw my first Bernie bumper-sticker today, despite many friends being supporeters. Blame the internet? Also, same friends in the office cubicles report some gut-driven Trump supporters.

        I hear a Clinton appointed judge just dismissed a RICO suit against the Clinton foundation. Also, Al Gore has expressed an interest in running as Clinton’s past/personality catch up to her.

        “People of ability find their way, and make progress even in difficult circumstances. Consider your steps carefully when you are surrounded by powerful forces. Weak and strong forces (or people) can coexist when the weaker element does not impose upon the stronger, when the weaker maintains good humor and avoids taking bold action. When treading among sleeping tigers — or slippery stones — step gingerly, and don’t stumble.

        At this time the weak are in a position of influence over the strong, and for this reason, one must be particularly careful of one’s conduct. In the company of brash people, rushing wildly ahead brings misfortune. Now is not a good time for taking the initiative; rather, try getting by with a little grace and good humor. In the court of a powerful king, the jester often has more power than the prince.”
        I Ching, hexagram 10 (not thrown, just considered)

    2. Oregoncharles

      Not much use on osteo-arthritis of the hands in age, either. The response: ” yeah, I have it too.” I take aspirin and acetaminophen in alternation and live with it.

      1. john

        I’ve long since given up on a cure for my allergies too, now that you mention it.

        I just got used to it, oddly enough my biggest problem now is people looking at me wierd when I cough. Infirmity makes people uncomfortable, so others feel the need to try and give me advice. It always blows their mind that I sought treatment years ago, and it’s just not worth the resources to take a marginal cure, especially with the side effects out there.

        Good luck to you.

  9. Fred

    “And how he does in “hostile” territory at Liberty University on Sep 14 is going to be a big test of his strength in the geography that pundits think that Hillary owns in a Democratic primary.”

    Liberty University has been caricatured and mocked for the past 20 years as a bunch of bible-thumping Neanderthals. While the student body certainly has a few, the vast majority aren’t. A person can be pious without being a Neanderthal. Moreover the student body is primarily middle-class with very few from places similar to the Northeast Kingdom. On the other hand, the faculty, administration and surrounding communities are as hard-core right wing as you will find anywhere.

    Sanders may do very well here. In his announcement, he has already acknowledged that there is much that he and the audience would disagree about, but has framed his presentation to be about issues he and the audience could possibly agree upon. In effect, it appears he intends to talk past the faculty and the administration and directly to the student body.

    What is interesting to me is how wonky he might be in explaining how medicare for all, expanded social security, free public college education, for instance, can be funded. There will be extensive push-back by the faculty and the local media about how it would be impossible for the USG to fund these programs without going bankrupt or engaging in confiscatory taxation. If he is going to promote these policies (and he will), he needs to explain why they would work. There is the potential to win a non-trivial number of votes here.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      You do realize you mean Liberty, not Sweet Briar, Lynchburg College, or Randolph Macon Woman’s college? Your description could be applied to those schools. Liberty put a giant “LU” on their mountain. Being a polysci nerd, I keep track of voting results. Liberty is flaming spot of red next to blue (Lynchburg city) and reddish purple (the counties).

      1. hunkerdown

        I apologize to the PEOPLE of Liberty U on your behalf for doing violence against them by decontextualization and reductionism.

          1. hunkerdown

            Yes, I’d absolutely agree that destroying nature for self-aggrandizement is even more tacky than self-aggrandizement itself. Doesn’t mean that young idealists can’t have some doubts planted in their minds while Mammon hasn’t taken solid root yet, and certainly doesn’t mean that poli-sci has any insight to offer into people who don’t subscribe to its narratives.

  10. Kurt Sperry

    “China’s real motivation seems to be more far-sighted. The devaluation advanced China’s strategic goal of turning the renminbi into an international reserve currency”

    Now I’ll admit up front I know frightening little about macroeconomics, but is it really possible to at the same time run the world’s largest trade surplus and to have an international reserve currency? How do you get your currency out into circulation?

    1. hunkerdown

      One can invest in building up other nations (e.g. AIIB) or breaking them down (e.g. PLA).

      I wish Wikileaks had gotten hold of that OMB list rather than shadowy hackers in whichever Asian country the State Department is trying to make excuses to destroy and plunder. I have a few names in my personal circle I’d like to check.

  11. curlydan

    “[T]o check someone’s identity, a company would then ask potential customers a series of questions and check the answers against the information in the vault.” What could go wrong?

    Just ask the IRS. Their online tax return transcript request system used Equifax to ask 4 Knowledge Based Authentication questions for people to verify their identities…fraudsters successfully downloaded 330K transcripts that can be used to file and receive fraudulent refunds.

  12. Oregoncharles

    BLM & Hillary: apparently she’s scary, Bernie isn’t. Which says something for Bernie.

    Inexperience counts, in both episodes.

  13. Oregoncharles

    ” the zero interest rates in place since 2008 that were designed to spark good inflation actually have resulted in just the opposite””

    Much forgotten: like oil, interest rates are both a price and a cost of business. A very important one. Hence, low interest rates amount to low inflation, at least unless the economy is riding high, in which case you get inflation regardless.

  14. curlydan

    Love the fact that AcrossTheCurve has found the Fed’s decision to raise rates as Kafka-esque.

    The mere fact that we are held hostage by a small shift in interest rates shows how driven we are by finance at this juncture. There is real money to be made and real things that could be produced, but it sure doesn’t seem like we’re interested in any of those things. We (ok, not we…the rich people that probably includes me) would rather skim our wealth from interest rate differentials and boost our equity markets with help from those low rates and stock buybacks.

  15. Oregoncharles

    ” arming 50 blacks with AR-15 rifles ”

    Did it happen? Are there 50 Ferguson blacks willing to do it?

    But it’s good news: Oathkeepers trying to live up to their PR.

  16. Oregoncharles

    “Observational Signatures of Self-Destructive Civilisations” –

    PDF link works, “arxiv” link doesn’t.

    A hair-on-end concept. They’ve been reading the Archdruid.

    Basic concept: there SHOULD be other civilizations out there; we SHOULD be getting their radio signals. But we aren’t, so it looks very much like civilizations that reach this technological point don’t make it – ever.

    1. ambrit

      A friend of mine says that the basic account of “close encounters” sounds suspiciously like grad students showing off in front of the natives during an anthropology field trip.
      Quibble 1: Attenuation of radio waves. (The inverse square rule.)
      Quibble 2: Non radio band communication systems. (Tuned gravity waves? Sub atomic ‘entanglement’ communication?)
      Quibble 3: Hyperspatial communications systems. (Send it Fed Ex Dimension. Get it there yesterday!)
      Quibble 4: The Prime Directive at work. (Never interfere with a ‘primitive’ culture.)
      Quibble 5: The Creator Being has a sense of humour. (Wait till they find out what whales and dolphins are really there for!)
      Quibble 6: We are a civilization??? (See Quibbles 4 and 5.)
      Quibble 7: Everything we know is wrong. (See all of the above.)

      1. optimader

        Quibble 3: Hyperspatial communications systems. (Send it Fed Ex Dimension. Get it there yesterday
        If such particles did exist, they could be used to build a tachyonic antitelephone and send signals faster than light, which (according to special relativity) would lead to violations of causality.[4] Potentially consistent theories that allow faster-than-light particles include those that break Lorentz invariance, the symmetry underlying special relativity, so that the speed of light is not a barrier.

      2. LifelongLib

        Quibble 8: Human-like intelligence (i.e. the sort that can eventually do things detectable at interstellar distances) is an evolutionary fluke that hasn’t occurred elsewhere?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          One problem is the universe may not be old enough for the metals civilization relies to be produced in sufficient quantities by the stars to remain on the surface of planets or to crash onto planets in sufficient qualities to be more than a curiosity. It’s not the intelligence but whether there is enough tin, copper, iron, platinum, etc. available.

          One of the theories on the new world/old world civilization differences despite the new worlders being clever was the absence of heavy duty live stock and wheat or rice. Maize wasn’t the crop it is today.

          In that sense, we might be interesting to a space faring civilization.

  17. bluefoot

    Re the Weills, there is already the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. IIRC, it was renamed back in 2002(?) after Geffen donated $200M to the school.

  18. bwilli123

    Undelivered Goods
    How $1.8 billion in aid to Ukraine was funneled to the outposts of the international finance galaxy
    …”The scheme, as revealed in a series of court judgments of the Economic Court of the Dnipropetrovsk region monitored and reported by Nashi Groshi, worked like this: Forty-two Ukrainian firms owned by fifty-four offshore entities registered in Caribbean, American, and Cypriot jurisdictions and linked to or affiliated with the Privat group of companies, took out loans from PrivatBank in Ukraine to the value of $1.8 billion. The firms then ordered goods from six foreign “supplier” companies, three of which were incorporated in the United Kingdom, two in the British Virgin Islands, one in the Caribbean statelet of St. Kitts & Nevis. Payment for the orders—$1.8 billion—was shortly afterwards prepaid into the vendors’ accounts, which were, coincidentally, in the Cyprus branch of PrivatBank. Once the money was sent, the Ukrainian importing companies arranged with PrivatBank Ukraine that their loans be guaranteed by the goods on order.

    But the foreign suppliers invariably reported that they could not fulfill the order after all, thus breaking the contracts, but without any effort to return the money. Finally, the Ukrainian companies filed suit, always in the Dnipropetrovsk Economic Court, demanding that that foreign supplier return the prepayment and also that the guarantee to PrivatBank be cancelled. In forty-two out of forty-two such cases the court issued the identical judgment: the advance payment should be returned to the Ukrainian company, but the loan agreement should remain in force.

    As a result, the loan of the Ukrainian company remained guaranteed by the undelivered goods, while the chances of returning the advance payments from foreign companies remain remote. “Basically this transaction of $1.8 bill[ion] abroad with the help of fake contracts was simply an asset siphoning [operation] and a violation of currency legislation in general,” explained Lesya Ivanovna, an investigator with Nashi Groshi in an email to me. “The whole lawsuit story was only needed to make it look like the bank itself is not involved in the scheme . . . officially it looks like PrivatBank now owns the products, though in reality [they] will never be delivered.”

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      I recall a NYC taxi ride with a Russian cabbie, he laughed and told me his wife had 23 Social Security cards and spent her day driving her late-model BMW from one agency to another picking up checks. “We move from Russia because here is like taking candy from babies”.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Probably so. Have heard many such stories myself.

        But it’s risky. If the feds ever get a clue, they’ll add up the totals she received, consult the sentencing guidelines, and determine how many years she’s in for.

        A doctor I know just got sentenced to 39 months at Lewisburg FCI for a $2,000/month exclusive contract with a lab that was defrauding Medicare. He made $79,000 from the deal. It cost him 39 months in prison, plus refunding the cash.

        Ugly if you get caught.

        1. ambrit

          The Russian cabbies wife would be spot on if she parked enough of the loot offshore and had a ‘bug out’ plan in place. Who says we can’t learn from our “betters?”

  19. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    Kocherlokota and the religion of “inflation targeting”, let’s recall where the “inflation targeting” came from, when rates were 18%+ they decided CBs should set a (much lower) target to set policy by. Now they are stuck in the paradigm, trying to get “up” to that number…as if confiscating 25% of someone’s purchasing power over 10 years is somehow a good thing to do.
    Reminds me of Stockman’s description of currency devaluations: “trying to make your nation richer by making your people poorer”.

    1. Kurt Sperry

      Reminds me of Stockman’s description of currency devaluations: “trying to make your nation richer by making your people poorer”.

      Wait. I thought that was austerity!

    2. abynormal

      cheap financing makes overdoing it irresistible
      “Putting the price of money below what 19th-century Swedish economist Knut Wicksell called the “natural rate” – the rate of return on capital – turns every number in capitalism into a lie.”

      market volatility is all on the fed, you can’t tell me they aren’t shaking in the night
      “There’s a reason why ‘breakneck speed’ is described as such.”

  20. abynormal

    @Lambert, Aug. 19 Bangkok bomb
    Authorities released a sketch of the man who left behind the backpack and offered a 1 million baht ($28,000) reward for information leading to his arrest. But apart from the rough portrait, they had few solid leads in Monday’s bombing at the Erawan Shrine that killed 20 people and wounded 120 others.

    The grainy security video shows the man, wearing a yellow T-shirt and shorts, sitting down on a bench at the shrine, taking off a black backpack and leaving it behind as he stands up and walks away. Time stamps show he left the shrine 15 minutes before the explosion, which struck just before 7 p.m.

    The two possible accomplices are seen standing in front of the man, said police spokesman Lt. Gen. Prawut Thavornsiri. One of the men was wearing a red shirt and the other was in white, and they were seen leaving the area shortly before the man in yellow also leaves.

    No one has claimed responsibility for the blast at one of the capital’s busiest intersections during evening rush hour.

    (hands in air)

  21. Jim Haygood

    AIPAC heads for an epic thrashing:

    WASHINGTON (AP) — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says that House Democrats have the votes, if necessary, to sustain President Barack Obama’s veto of a resolution against his Iran nuclear deal.

    Pelosi says that if such a vote were held today there would be enough support among House Democrats for Obama to prevail.

    That would take 146 House Democrats, and just over 50 have publicly announced their support so far.
    In an interview with The Associated Press Pelosi declined to disclose her private vote count but expressed confidence in the outcome.


    This despite Lobby-pwned Democrats like Senators Schumer (NY) and Menendez (NJ), who receive their marching orders from Jerusalem.

  22. ewmayer

    Family Values Activist Josh Duggar Had a Paid Ashley Madison Account | Gawker:


    This is way too much fun. :) Lambert is probably searching for all the Prez Candidates’s names in the data dump as I write this. Lambert, an insights on how to ferret out prominent hypocrites who at least took the not-completely-brain-dead precaution of registering under an alias? My guess would be using the registration e-mail addresses, assuming those are in the data, and can be validated as previously-used-by-so-and-so in public (whether intended as such or not) correspondence.

      1. ambrit

        Rove has been spoofing the lot of us all along. I’m waiting for someone to run a completely non existent candidate, and win.
        The saga of Mr Grey, the Mississippi truck driver who won the Democratic Party primary for Governor, proceeds apace. The gentleman has picked up some support and seems to be taking the process much more seriously. He doesn’t have much money, and the Republican Governor, Bryant, has over a million in the kitty. There’s a campaign point all it’s own, eh? I’m hoping that this becomes an extreme version of an The Insider versus A Regular Citizen race. Populism can be a powerful tool if framed properly.

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