2:00PM Water Cooler 8/21/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.



Hot take: Demands! Encouraging! I note the call for an end to law enforcement for profit; that’s going to break some rice bowls. Ditto demilitarization. I’ll need to understand more about the program’s provenance to see how it fits into the horse race, but it’s great to have something on the table. UPDATE I forgot to say that I really like the slogan along the bottom: “We can live in a world where systems and structures do good, not harm.” In a way, that’s what today’s post on complex systems is all about, and it ties in to other themes often taken up at NC.

“The manifesto was published by McKesson, Packnett, Johnetta Elzie and Samuel Sinyangwe. The four are co-founders of We The Protesters, a prominent section of a wider protest movement that is frequently referred to, in general terms, as Black Lives Matter” [Guardian].

“#BlackLivesMatter Performs a Self-Humiliation at Hillary Clinton’s Hands” [Black Agenda Report]. “The #BLM set out on a path that leads inevitably to cooptation, and quickly arrived at public humiliation.” Ya know, I’m not the only one, here…


“In the small fraction of emails made public so far, Reuters has found at least 30 email threads from 2009, representing scores of individual emails, that include what the State Department’s own “Classified” stamps now identify as so-called ‘foreign government information.’ The U.S. government defines this as any information, written or spoken, provided in confidence to U.S. officials by their foreign counterparts…. This sort of information, which the department says Clinton both sent and received in her emails, is the only kind that must be “presumed” classified, in part to protect national security and the integrity of diplomatic interactions, according to U.S. regulations examined by Reuters” [Reuters]. In other words, for a decision maker at Clinton’s (former) lever, it’s the content that makes for classification, not the stamp (as a Republican operative correctly (!) pointed out yesterday). Note, however, that if your dynasty is running a ginormous influence peddling racket called a foundation, your foreign counterparties will most definitely wish to write to you “in confidence,” as the 409 scammers say. So it’s all good.

“Douglas Cox, a professor at the City University of New York School of Law who studies records preservation laws [says] we shouldn’t expect to see Clinton charged with violating federal records laws. ‘The problem is that those laws do not have sharp teeth, and it is only in severe cases that relevant criminal provisions are implicated,’ he said” [New York Magazine]. “Severe cases….”

The Voters

“More than 80,000 people have signed an online petition calling for comedian and former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart to moderate one of the 2016 presidential debates” [The Hill].

The Trail

“It’s difficult to know how much risk Trump is taking with his money today, because it’s not clear how much he’s got” [Business Insider]. Doing oppo on Trump is like doing oppo on Caligula or the Marquis de Sade. I mean, what don’t we know? That said, I can see two approaches, one inside, the other outside. Inside: Prove Trump isn’t rich. Outside: Make fun of the guy. He’s got the thinnest skin in the world. Where was the guy with the toy helicopter and the gold wig at the Iowa State Fair? Let’s get serious, here, people!

“Speaking to CNN’s Don Lemon, [Cornel] West endorsed Sanders as the best choice in the interest of minority voters” [Inquistor]. More here. Oddly, or not, there’s no mainstream coverage of this that I can find. Readers?

“Now, the Vermont senator’s first appearance in the Lowcountry as a candidate for president has been moved again — to the Charleston Convention Center in North Charleston, where organizers are hoping for a capacity crowd of 3,000” [Post and Courier].

“Here is a summary of Bernie’s actions to win the Black vote” [Blavity].

Jebbie’s brother and dad pitch in on the fundraising [Wonkette]. Because that’s what dynasties are for.

“Clinton has done one national interview since her shift to national interviews. It was over six weeks ago” [@maggieNYT]. At some point, the campaign has to unwrap the tissue paper… 

The Hill

Nuisance Obama lawsuit might be more than a nuisance [Los Angeles Times]. The House is tetchy about its Constitutional budget prerogatives, and rightly.

Stats Watch

PMI Manufacturing Index Flash, August 2015:  “growth in Markit’s manufacturing PMI sample is at its slowest since October 2013, at a much lower-than-expected 52.9 in the flash for August” [Bloomberg]. “This report follows mixed signals from yesterday’s Philly Fed, which was solid, and Monday’s Empire State which was a disaster.” Next Tuesday: The Richmond Fed. 

“China factory data fuels slowdown fears” [BBC]. “Friday’s factory output reading was the lowest since March 2009, during the depths of the global financial crisis, and the sixth consecutive below the 50-point level” (which signals contraction). “China Manufacturing PMI Plummets to 6-Year Low” [Econintersect].

The Fed: “Stock markets, particularly the U.S. stock market, view deflation as the worst possible of all economic outcomes as it is difficult to create purchasing demand when consumers believe that delaying a purchase will mean they can buy it at a cheaper price in the future because of deflationary forces. The central bank of the U.S., the Federal Reserve, has already been in the zero-bound range of interest rates since December 2008 and has no bullets left in its monetary policy gun to lower rates further should deflation set in” [Wall Street on Parade].

The Fed: “The addition of Federal Reserve Vice Chair Stanley Fischer to the Jackson Hole agenda – next Saturday – spurred some hope there could be some smoke signals above the barbecue pits after all, despite the absence of Chair Janet Yellen” [Market News]. Honestly, it’s just like Kremlinogy, back in the day when ham-faced be-medalled bureaucrats in fur hats reviewed the tanks going by in Red Square. Wait! That guy changed his hat from last year! What does that mean?

The Fed: “[T]he Fed may have waited too long to back away from its crisis-era policies, and it now has ceded control to the next default cycle and the whims of other global central banks” [Bloomberg].

The Fed: “5 Reasons the Fed May Not Raise Rates in September” [Fiscal Times].  “1. Low inflation; 2. China; 3. Government shutdown; 4. August employment report; 5. Strong dollar.” 6. The 1% like having lots of capital sloshing about that doesn’t cost them anything. And things are working so well. Why change?

“More existing home are turning over, however look at the downward revisions in the last chart. And while prices may be up, they still haven’t reached replacement value as evidenced by the lack of new construction and most recently the sharp decline in permits after the run up in front of NY’s tax break that expired June 15. It is also likely some buying has been accelerated out of fear of rates going higher” [Mosler].

“Trucking activity rose to its second-highest level on record in July, as a strengthening economy increased the amount of freight on the road”  [Wall Street Journal, “Truck Freight Demand Surges at Fastest Rate Since November 2013”]. “The ATA pointed to improved retail sales, factory output and housing starts, all of which raised demand for freight transportation.”

“Major container-shipping lines are slashing sailings on the world’s busiest shipping route between Asia and Europe as lower growth in China and a sluggish eurozone economy hurt container volumes” [Wall Street Journal, “Shipping Giants Reduce Sailings on World’s Busiest Route”].

“[F]lat stock prices in 2015 mask what came before: a remarkable run-up in stock prices in the preceding half-decade. From mid-2009 to mid-2014, stock prices rose much faster than corporate earnings, or gross domestic product, or pretty much anything else you might think of as fundamentals” [New York Times, “This Week’s Market Sell-Off May Not Be Such a Bad Thing”].

“As one anonymous Twitter wag put it, ‘Unwinding all your [interest rate] swaps right before the Fed starts to raise rates’ is the ‘most State Treasurer trade ever'” [Across the Curve]. And what New Jersey just did.

 “Dominated by Western Union, MoneyGram and Ria, the market for cross-border money transfers is absolutely enormous” [Econintersect]. “$583 billion was remitted globally last year. The United States accounted for the highest portion, approximately $131 billion. Saudi Arabia’s large migrant workforce saw it send $45 billion in remittances in 2014 while the UAE remitted $29 billion.”

“American economy blues: Everything you need to worry about” [Fortune]. This is a fun read. I’d be interested to see what readers think about it.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Stephen King calls him “the 20th century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale,” and yet Lovecraft was also unarguably racist—two distinct labels that those studying and enjoying his works today have had to reconcile” [The Atlantic]. When you think about it, “othering” is what Lovecraft is all about… 

“When Black Lives Matter Met Clinton: Activists Speak Out on Challenging Candidate Over Crime Record ” [Truth-out]. This is a version of the Democracy Now transcript (as opposed to the transscript of the Clinton conversation itself that we quoted from yesterday).

“The Movement is calling for a change of hearts and minds. Its call is rooted in the recognition that we don’t just live within systems; systems live within us, and those systems determine how we make meaning and value out of the world and people around us” [Salon]. Fair enough. I mean, where else would these systems live? That said, I’m a believer in Jeremiah 17:9; concrete material benefits are what I look for. And those change hearts, too.

“An autopsy on Mansur Ball-Bey, whose death from police gunfire this week stirred protests, showed that he died from a single wound in the back, police officials said” [St Louis Today]. Stay classy, SLPD.

“Racial Critiques of Mass Incarceration: Beyond the New Jim Crow” [James Forman, Jr., Yale Law School]. A classic.


“TPP talks to resume in September” [Vietnam.net]. “Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh, chief negotiator of Vietnam, said on Saturday that all the parties concerned wanted to wrap up TPP talks within this year. Otherwise, the TPP accord could not reach U.S. Congress before the presidential election campaign begins in 2016. President Barack Obama wants the deal done before he leaves office. Therefore, Vietnam and 11 other countries expect talks to resume in September, according to Deputy Minister Khanh, who is in America to work with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative over bilateral issues related to the TPP.” Well, it looks like Abe’s August 29 deadline is gonna slip. So that “therefore… expect….” looks a tad squishy, to me. Almost like wishful thinking.

Ag: “Canada isn’t the only thorn in negotiations for [TPP]. Japan’s hesitancy to open its rice market and U.S. reluctance to changes in its sugar program also contributed to talks last month grinding to a halt short of a deal” [Bloomberg]. And then there’s Kentucky’s McConnell and tobacco.

New Zealand: “[D]octors joined trade unionists yesterday to refute PM John Key’s claims that mass opposition to a shady free trade deal was ‘misinformed'” [Morning Star].

ISDS: “The Irish Cancer Society is not surprised, then, that Japan Tobacco International has taken a case to the Commercial Court here challenging the introduction of plain cigarette packs, a measure designed to protect young people from the marketing tactics of the tobacco industry and reduce smoking levels” [Irish Independent].

Police State

“[I]t’s no accident that you haven’t heard more about the Waco biker debacle” [Above The Law]. The judge issued a gag order.


“New data collected by Stericycle, a company that handles recalls for businesses, shows a sharp jump in the number of recalls of organic food products” [New York Times]. Crapfication.

How much worse the climate change make California’s drought? “How much worse? Likely somewhere between 15 and 20 percent” [Salon].

War for Drugs

Oxycontin for pediatric patients [NASDAQ]. What would go wrong?


“Malaysia’s attorney-general has formed a new task force to investigate state fund 1MDB but it excludes the country’s anti-corruption body” [Channel News Asia]. Well, I hope they get the “right” answer this time. Just so long as they don’t have to set the records department in KL’s police headquarters on fire again.

Class Warfare

“Stop calling it the “Sharing Economy.” That isn’t what it is.” [Olivier Blanchard (MR)].

If, like me, you spend quite a bit of time interfacing with tech companies and digital business professionals, you can actually feel the peer pressure pushing you to support companies like Uber, Lyft and AirBnb. … If you really believe that a “ride-sharing” or room-booking service that deliberately attempts to avoid a country, state or city’s laws regarding licensing, insurance, fees and rate limits is somehow “competing” with legitimate taxis, hired cars and hotels, you’ve probably also rationalized that scoring your music and TV shows for free from pirating websites is somehow an example of legitimate market competition too. Well, it isn’t. Two sets of rules for “competitors” usually doesn’t end in fair competition – not in sports, and certainly not in business. Tip: There’s a reason Lance Armstrong was stripped of his 7 Tour de France victories, and it wasn’t because his training model was “disruptive” or “innovative.”

It was because he was a crook. Just like glibertarian squillionaire weenie Travis Kalanick is a crook. And just like the funders who fund this crook are crooks.

“New UN report finds almost no industry profitable if environmental costs were included” [Exposing the Truth]. Not quite current, but not dated.

“Finland considers basic income to reform welfare system” [BBC].

Q&A from Jodi Kantor, author of the Amazon exposé [Parlio]. ” I was very surprised that Amazon public relations– and Bezos personally– circulated a response that was so full of errors.”

News of the Wired

“The Secret of Airbnb’s Pricing Algorithm” [IEEE Spectrum]. “We think our latest tool, Aerosolve, will eventually do a lot more than just price home rentals. That’s why we’re releasing it into the open-source community.”

“STAGEFRIGHT: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED?” [Exodus Intelligence]. 950 million Android users still vulnerable…

“Amazon joins in on killing Flash, stops accepting Flash ads” [Geek].

“Microsoft can killswitch your unauthorized hardware and pirate games” [Boing Boing].

Programming cheerleaders [Trending in China].

“Knuth & Plass line-breaking Revisited” [Folio]. A classic. Geek out, typographers!

“Your Toner Is No Good Here: Region-Coding Ink Cartridges… For The Customers” [Techdirt].

“Small worlds and the clash of civilizations: New data on the dimensions of a globalized world” [Journalist’s Resource]. Another visualization.

“Where the population of Europe is growing – and where it’s declining” [Morgenpost]. Revealing visualization.

“US troops mobilise in South Korea as Kim Jong-un declares ‘quasi-state of war’: live” [Telegraph]. Just what we need!

* * *

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 (Optimader):


Gorgeous! This is very much the theory of a “Grandmother’s garden” (like mine): Masses of color!

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 shirt (or two), food for the relatives, 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. Jim Haygood

    Item 9 (Demilitarization) of Campaign Zero isn’t gonna happen without ending the War on Drugs. Drug prohibition inherently necessitates kicking down doors to seize contraband before suspects can flush it down the toilet, as a hyperalert (thanks to cocaine) Waylon Jennings famously did:

    We were wrapped up in our music, that’s why we never saw
    The car pulls up, the boys get out, and the room fills up with law
    They came boundin’ through the backdoor in the middle of a song
    They got me for possession of something that was gone, long gone

    — Waylon Jennings, Don’t You Think This Outlaw Bit’s Done Got Out Of Hand

    As ol’ Robert Plant used to sing (on Dazed and Confused, live DVD):

    Come here, baby, come here quick
    This old cocaine it makes, makes me sick
    Said here comes a policeman, dressed in blue
    Mama don’t you know he’s been doing things, he’s been doing them too

    1. Vatch

      Speaking of drug abuse, over the past several month, several NC commenters have recommended that any police officer who shoots someone must submit to mandatory steroid testing. An armed police officer in the throes of roid rage is like a werewolf on a rampage. Fortunately, the werewolf is fictional; too bad the steroidal police officers seem to be quite real.

      1. Optimader

        A complete drug panel– including steroids? Fantastic idea.. In fact it should be a random test not just in the case of a shooting.

        1. hunkerdown

          If they don’t test positive for being under the current influence of pot, they’re definitely unsafe to walk the beat and should be required to report to the nearest Dunkin for a doobie and a donut. (No? Oh well, then there is no pleasing you.)

          1. optimader

            I really have no problem w/ random drug testing of people employed in positions of responsibility who’s judgement directly impact the publics life and limb –eg: transportation sector technicians like pilots ATF controllers, LEO that carry guns, petrochem plant operators ect ectect..

            Unfortunately the policy evolved into an BS HR manipulation tool often applied to indiscriminately and inappropriately.

            In the case of pot, during the GWB admin I often reflected that it was a shame he wasn’t smoking reefer instead of whatever the heck scrips he was on. Same goes for Cheney, Von Rumsfeld and much of his admin for that matter- Might have taken the edge off their violent predilections.

    2. washunate

      That is very interesting. It appears the effort actually goes out of its way to avoid calling for an end to the drug war.

      My hunch is that they are too closely aligned with the Administration, but that’s just a guess. For example, on the solutions page they directly reference the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. It appears the point of this is to focus attention on the weeds – the mechanics of policing – instead of the systemic laws and management culture that create bad policing.

      I particularly enjoy this laugher from the task force report:

      The Obama Administration’s drug policy…emphasizes access to treatment over incarceration, pursuing “smart on crime” rather than “tough on crime” approaches to drug-related offenses, and support for early health interventions designed to break the cycle of drug use, crime, incarceration, and re-arrest.

      Uh, the “smart on crime” approach would be to end the drug war. The drug war is what causes the cycle of incarceration and re-arrest, not the drugs.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Well, there’s plenty of cheerleading to be had at Kos; my general practice is to click through to their sources, if any (as a check) and then cite to them. That said, it’s good to have information about what’s happening on the trail.

    2. Brindle

      The Hillary comparisons to Nixon seems to be gaining “noise”. Not a good trend for HRC.

      From the BAR piece, Glen Ford has an accurate description of Hillary:

      “The strategy – if one could dignify it as such – is inherently impotent, which is why corporate lawyer and war criminal Hillary Clinton found it so easy to reduce Jones and his colleagues to school children at an elementary civics class.”

      1. Oregoncharles

        Flamethrowers, AKA flame weeders, are a useful organic gardening tool.

        Admittedly,I don’t use mine much; find it hard to manage. And I wouldn’t use it now unless I’d just watered. Really good on gravel driveways, though.

    1. hunkerdown

      Fouts’ minibio (Wikipedia) is of mild interest. Just another “moderate” bourgeois busybody with an ego to elevate, it seems. Warren citizens need to put him in a home.

  2. abynormal

    re: American Econ Blues: Everything you need to worry about is 7 of the 8 commenters prolly vote.

    Mysteries force a man to think, and so injure his health. Poe

  3. Ditto

    Re West and Sanders

    I doubt you will see much.

    1. I don’tknow how big his name is

    2. Of the black folk that do know him , many are angry with him about his criticizing of President Obama and the President’s more aggressive supporters, especially those elemebts within the Black community that feel they must defend the President. West is like Black Agenda Report bc some believe that they have gone off the rails in recent years. Like how some view Glenn Greenwald, they don’t see the consistency of Wesr’s views in their challenge of him.

  4. Eric Patton

    Jeremiah 17:9 — “The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse — who can understand it?” (NRSV)

    Sorry, but this is bullshit. Human nature does not suck. No, I can’t prove it, but neither can you prove human nature does suck.

    Trying to discuss human nature with anyone is pointless, however. It’s like discussing abortion. Everyone already knows how they think before the discussion even takes place, and no one ever changes their minds. We just have to wait for a generation to die and a new generation to be born, hopefully more open-minded.

    Sorry to be so black, but that’s usually how these things work.

    From Michael Albert’s Parecon: Life After Capitalism (Verso Press, 2003):

    Some critics of parecon base their objection on the grounds of human nature. “A better economy? Don’t be silly. Human nature precludes it. Humans are greedy, avaricious, self-seeking, consumerist, individualist, antisocial, authoritarian, order-givers and takers. You cannot build a house out of sand. Neither can you build a utopia out of humans. We lack the right stuff.”

    The claim that “humans are rotten” may be a rationalization that hypocritically propels self-interest or it may be truly believed. In either event, it operates with great power.

    People are simply convinced that human nature sucks. Well, Anne Frank wasn’t — she thought people were basically good, but what could she possibly have known?

    People never ask: Well, if people genetically suck, and if capitalism and the institutions of society suck, then how can any good people ever possibly exist?

    Yet we see good people all the time. But no, we remain firmly convinced that human nature is inherently evil. This can’t be proven. Nor can the converse. But people nonetheless remain so damn ready to believe it.

    Think about it. You can believe whatever you want when it comes to human nature — you can’t prove anything. So you have the choice to believe what you want. And people always choose to believe the most negative thing possible. Why?

    Why go through life believing crap that’s not (provably) true and only brings you down? Are people afraid to be happy? Are they afraid of what it might mean?

    If human nature is really good — or at least not predetermined to be bad — that’s a good thing, right? That’s a cause for, if not celebration, then at least not being depressed (or whatever), right?

    And you can’t prove anything either way. So fuck, why not believe the happy shit instead of the sad shit?

    Yet we always (generally) gravitate to the bad. But that’s not human nature. That’s social conditioning.

    “You can’t prove that, Eric,” you say. You’re right. I also don’t give a fuck about proving it. Because believing it makes me happy.

    If you want me to be a miserable, depressed, unhappy fuck, then fine. Prove to me why circumstances dictate this. Sure, I’m going to die someday, and my loved ones are going to die someday. This is factually true. So they and I both do, or will, have to deal with this someday. Fine.

    But walking about and believing people suck just because everyone else believes it? What nonsense it that? If everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you have me do that to?

    Anyway, believe what you want. It’s not true, but if people would rather wallow in misery than try to see honest (happy) truths because of some Puritanical bullshit or something, I can’t help that. I’m not going along either.

    I’m happier not.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      This comment isn’t coherent. You want to take a Pascal’s wager on human nature, and take one side of the bet. The guy who bets differently isn’t a bullshit artist; just a guy who bets differently.

      That’s why I prefer to focus on concrete material benefits. We had a ton of “progressives” wondering what was in Obama’s heart between Election Day and Inaugural Day, 2009. That didn’t do anybody a lick of good. It’s “impotent” as BAR says.

          1. Oregoncharles

            I think he called Jeremiah a BS artist.

            Granted, in the face of your endorsement.

            He’s right about human nature, though: ineluctable, to say nothing of unspeakable.

            1. RWood

              This isn’t more than sandstone on sandstone on sand:
              ” And people always choose to believe the most negative thing possible. ”
              As you, Eric, can fall off your own straight-up pretty quickly. But you do have straight-up.
              So, I won’t believe your incoherence is usual. And reading here shows the moderator isn’t a cynic.

              “This dewdrop world
              is but a dewdrop world
              and yet–”

              Issa, quoted by Gary Snyder

    2. cripes

      @Eric Patton at 2:44:

      Actually, I’m with Eric on this. I have many times observed and sometimes debated people who insist that “Human nature” is essentially ‘bad” and use that as justification to oppose egalitarianism, justice, income equality and socialism.

      It’s pernicious.

      It may also be a remnant of catholic original sin merged with a sick Randian Glibertarianism.

      It should be opposed no, ridiculed, at every opportunity.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Both good and evil are adaptive behaviors, or they would never have arisen in nature. It is not surprising that humans have a mixed record in this regard. Practicing slavery; then abolishing it.

        1. Disturbed Voter

          Abolishing slavery? What about the sex trade in little girls? … chattel slavery. What about all the workers? … wage slavery. What about all the consumers? … debt slavery. Nothing has been abolished, just more Jedi mind tricks. Humans might not be evil, but they are delusional ;-) Oh, and the wheel of fortune continues to turn … with reestablishment of Jim Crow and outright enslavement of colored folks on the agenda.

      2. Rostale

        I’ve come across some glibertarians referring to democracy as “Catholicism minus Christianity” which I think is actually somewhat true, but it much more clearly the case that
        randian libertarianism is “Calvinism minus christianity”

        1. Disturbed Voter

          Ayn Rand wasn’t Calvinist. Randian libertarianism is Russian Imperialism minus monarchism and the Orthodox Church.

  5. Roquentin

    That piece on HP Lovecraft was way better than I expected it to be. I too have the same ambivalence towards his work. The thing is lots of great writers have had awful politics. Your bookshelf would be pretty sparse if you started trying to clear it out based on political correctness. That’s never been my project. As the author hints at, we’re probably better off to remember him…racism, xenophobia, and all, because this is also the history of the US in the 1920s. You have to include the ugly portions to get an accurate picture.

    I’ve had a lot of discussions like this revolving around Martin Heidegger, the extent to which his National Socialist politics and philosophy overlap. It’s a complex question. You can’t talk about philosophy in the 20th century without talking about Heidegger. You’d be negligent in your explanation otherwise, regardless of his membership in the Nazi party.

    1. LifelongLib

      I’ve found that many people whose ideas are pedestrian (or worse) nevertheless have wonderful stories to tell. Maybe the same is true of the people who become authors?

      1. Roquentin

        For sure. Another one of my favorite authors is Louis-Ferdinand Celine, and the Anti-Semetic pamphlets he wrote during the 30s are atrocious. There’s no getting around how viciously racist he was.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Some ideas are good, then bad, and good again…good as in politically correct.

      For example, the idea of private property was good in Tsarist Russia, then bad under the USSR and now good again.

      Maybe one day, it will be bad again.

      Other ideas seem bad, always…like racism. Except, unfortunately, maybe one day, it may be good or politically correct.

      It all depends on who has the barrel of the gun, as Mao said, and you can get children to denounce their parents.

      So, some guy confesses he would kill his Stalin-era father for the evil things done. And you wonder, in another time, if he would say something different. But that makes some people happy, because it’s hard to get your adversary to apologize. Just ask the Japanese about WWII.

      1. ambrit

        Yep. As an example of that, the new photoplay of P. K. Dicks’ “The Man in the High Castle” helmed by Ridley Scott. I remember the feeling of ‘rightness’ I experienced when I viewed the scene in “Kiss of the Spider Woman” where the protagonist tells of his cell mates fascination with Nazi propaganda films from the WW2 era.
        To play Devils’ Advocate here; if History is written by the victors, then, Philosophy is written by whom?

  6. Lil'D

    On stats
    got my monthly Silicon Valley Real Estate Report and for the first time in maybe three or four years we see price/sq foot declining in Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Los Altos (albeit from massive levels, still around $1500/ft in Palo Alto nice neighborhoods). Sales “slowing” but still hardly any inventory. Avg time on market is 19 days, up from 12. I sold in April :-)

  7. Clive

    Re: TPP

    Saying that Japan is “reluctant” to “open” its rice “market” (was the Bloomberg reporter entering in to some sort of internal competition to sneak the most oxymorons into a single sentence ?) is like saying “Clive is reluctant to leave a piece of fruitcake (or any cake of any variety now we’re on that subject) to get lonely” — “reluctant” barely even gets you started…

    1. Clive

      Oh, actually, my boob (I was distracted with thoughts of forbidden cakes), Japan is apparently “hesitant” to butcher its farming communities; it’s the U.S. which is “reluctant” to stop dumping subsidised refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup on an unsuspecting Asia Pacific region.

    2. Disturbed Voter

      Rice is an essential ingredient in Shinto. And Shinto is an essential ingredient in being Japanese. They should close their border, throw out all the gaijin, and resume sword-play. A resource poor country has no place in the modern world, unless they can conquer China.

  8. hemeantwell

    economists view deflation as the worst possible of all economic outcomes as it is difficult to create purchasing demand when consumers believe that delaying a purchase will mean they can buy it at a cheaper price in the future because of deflationary forces.

    Is this a neoclassical epitome? I recall first seeing Krugman trot this out. I get the idea, but it’s certainly a marvey way to take a complexly determined but summarily crappy economic situation and tie it to the engine of consumer psychology. When you lose your job and can’t buy much of anything, you’re not delaying a purchase because you think you can get it cheaper later on.

  9. BondsOfSteel

    RE: Trump

    Oppo on Trump is probably as simple as finding out how much taxes he pays. If he’s really worth 10 billion, he should be paying tons of taxes. As cheap as he is, he’s probably paying more to avoid taxes than actual taxes.

    1. Oregoncharles

      That would be so if the tax code made any sense, but it doesn’t.

      Avoiding taxes may be the main reason he’s in real estate. Endless manipulations available – includingthose bankruptcies.

      1. Christipher Fay

        GE, my man, GE, now there’s a company with entire bureaucratic halls filled with accountants, lawyers, good white collar jobs, working on evading taxes.

  10. Jim Haygood

    S&P 500 stock index cracks convincingly through the 2000 round number to close at 1971, as the heavily energy-weighted GSCI commodity index plunges toward its Dec 2008 panic low. GSCI chart:


    A Fed rate hike in September is now off the table, unless they are much crazier than we thought and looking to replicate their brilliantly-timed rate hike of October 1931 (how did that work out for them?).

    Over to you, Mr Yellen.

  11. Oregoncharles

    ” Jon Stewart to moderate one of the 2016 presidential debates”

    Bad idea; he’s openly partisan.

    Not that I care too much about a “debate” limited to the duopoly.

    1. Kurt Sperry

      I assume they’ll find a somewhat analogous (I wouldn’t know who) red partisan as a moderator for another debate as a counterbalance. If the moderator does a good job, it shouldn’t really matter but having celebrities should land more watchers. A Sanders-Trump debate will be must watch, whereas a Jeb!-Hillary debate will be a nothingburger that no amount of moderator supplied ham and cheese can make palatable. OK I ‘fess up, I dream about a Sanders-Trump final. It would represent a dam break of the TINA logjam going downhill fast. When the levee breaks, mama you got to move.

      1. Christipher Fay

        I’m starting a petition to call Jesus back to moderate the red state debate. I’d like all the candidates, Hillary Jeb, her twin Jeb Jeb, Sanders, Trump, the clowns on one stage debating pre-January/Bebruary.

  12. Oregoncharles

    “The House is tetchy about its Constitutional budget prerogatives,”

    Andrew Jackson: “And how many divisions does the Supreme Court have?” – or something to that effect.

  13. curlydan

    Can the country afford another 4-8 years with an aloof President? HRC seems more aloof than even Obama. Usually a marriage can only handle one extroverted, Energizer bunny. Bill could (and wanted to) talk all day.

    “Clinton has done one national interview since her shift to national interviews. It was over six weeks ago” [@maggieNYT]. At some point, the campaign has to unwrap the tissue paper…

  14. shinola

    I would flag Blanchard’s article “Stop calling it the sharing economy” as a MUST READ.

    The tech hucksters claiming the gig economy to be evolutionary or innovative are full of sh*t. Uber, Airbnb, et al are devolutionary; a return to 19th century hyper-capitalistic ideals. Blanchard is spot on when he refers to these business models as “Dickensian”.

    1. jrs

      “also rationalized that scoring your music and TV shows for free from pirating websites is somehow an example of legitimate market competition too”

      Well I mostly avoid Hollywood’s endless crapola. But if I wanted to rationalize it I would rationalize it as I.P. companies push the trade agreements. Nuff said. War is war. And I.P. has declared war on us by backing those trade agreements (though really not the first time, given their love of police state measures like SOPA. This I.P. insanity is now leading to patenting medical procedures). That companies that push trade agreements should get a dime from me sounds rather immoral if you ask me.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      He doesn’t have to apologize for being a caveman, in my opinion.

      As for the word, disruptive, there is something ego-stroking about being a disrupter…kind of like, I am studying you, my little brother, my little lab subjects, etc. I know everything about you…your bank account numbers…I STUDY you.

      And I can disrupt you.

    3. flora

      Yes. An excellent rebuttal to Paul Mason’s ill-informed Guardian article “The End of Capitalism Has Begun.”

    1. Skippy

      The Chinese got in first. As the yanks had been trying to massage the market into a rate rise, the Chinese dropped their currency and destroyed that.

      Old Yella’s year of careful planning was destroyed in 3 days. – H/T Bubbley

    2. ambrit

      The WSJ calls this a ‘selloff?’ This is more of a ‘one third’ of a correction.
      It happened on a Friday, of course. Also of note, the Precious Metals haven’t soared. They are still somewhat within their trading range. Time to sit back and watch the panic selling of commodities out of Asia next week.

  15. alex morfesis

    hillary doing her best adlai ewing stevenson

    well…that is not fair to adlai…he fumbled but was not evil…

    I am beginning to wonder why the story on the emails is not about her incompetence…and how was the company that handled her systems vetted…they had ties to the Pearlman/boys to men half a Billion dollar scam…how did that company get to handle classified data ?

    hillary is evil it would appear…but not exactly smart…

    could we not have a more proper coronation of a first female president

    why not CBK for 2016…or Eleanors progeny…

    we can do better america


    the only reason Hillary is even being considered is now that we had
    the black (but not really historically black “american”) president…

    time for the fem…

    this is for the presidency…not sainthood…

    look at who is getting all the media attention…

    New York City “Biff” with the bad comb over…

    where is doc ?

    where is the DeLorean ?

    there are many fembotz who are much more qualified to
    “not” run the country into the ground out there…somewhere…somebody please…

    why the hillster…

    is it a yale thing…

    did yale and harvard buy the white house and no one bothered to tell us…

  16. Kurt Sperry

    If I’m Bernie Sanders’ campaign manager (whomever he or she is) right now now I’m licking my chops. Here’s why: The multinational corporatist center-right that has assumed control of the Democratic Party has put all of their chips on Hillary. All of them. It appears there is no Plan B, and were there it is now too late to implement one. They cannot switch horses now and they can’t play Machiavellian tricks by running a third challenger to split the Sanders vote. Wouldn’t any late primary challenge from usual suspects list of the old school DNC right like Gore or Biden just siphon votes off Hillary? How does the Party get Sanders out of the way by putting forward another center-right, status quo party dinosaur challenger? It seems to me that the only tactical space open to the old guard is limited to crossing their fingers and marketing Hillary as a staunch progressive, then have her do an Obamian hard right turn the moment the primaries are over. And who will buy Hillary as a change agent or progressive? That’s gonna be a tough sell, especially with Sanders in the picture.

    If it ever looks like Sanders has a real chance, look for the Dem old guard to go batshit exactly like Blair went off on Corbyn yesterday. I’m talking full panic, fainting couch mode. A Sanders primary victory would put everything and everyone in the party invested in the neoliberal status quo into real jeopardy, and would directly threaten the control of the party. Sanders being elected president would likely be exponentially worse for party insiders than a loss to either Jebbie or even Trump in the General, that’s not a real problem. Sanders in the Oval Office could easily threaten the end of everything, existential threat, gravy train derailment, privileges at stake, power–income streams. Everything. The Republicans cannot really do any of that. Sanders as a viable candidate in this particular situation he finds himself in wields enormous power over the party that probably wishes they had never invited him in. It’s called scoreboard pressure in sports and can and does force errors.

    Hillary, given her donor list and priors will either have to–inevitably unconvincingly–sidle up to Sanders populist positions in typical Clintonian triangulatory fashion, go negative, or paint Sanders action list as too radical or unachievable and repudiate it. I’m not feeling any of those as a winning plan. I’m guessing number one, but being non-committal or outright opposing (as her donors will insist) those populist policies will cost significant political capital in a way that they haven’t in recent US history where all parties in the game were well paid to stymie those policies. The dynamic completely changes if a significant political force refuses to play along because they haven’t been greased. Those pressing for popular change risk almost nothing in political capital terms, whereas those set in opposition are continually being attritted and drained of their own fighting it. The higher the level and longer the duration of the struggle, the more it benefits those pressing for popular change. It’s not a fair fight, even in a system with the field tilted against the political insurgency.

    A very similar dynamic plays out against any of the likely Republican challengers with the possible exception of Trump. Sanders vs. Republican candidate X is completely winnable, whoever makes it through the GOP nominating process will be out there in the weeds on a lot of policy and no Republican alive has ever had to face an opponent who wasn’t bought off and hamstrung by an elite donor list for truly high stakes. How does someone trained only in kayfabe (e.g. the entire political class) fight when the punches suddenly become real?

    The same dynamic is still in play if he wins, he aggressively presses for his populist policy action list and uses those issues as wedges to split a presumably fully obstructionist opposition. Which issues? Off the top of my head: the Tea Party Republicans hate Wall St. and can be surprisingly anti-corporate, they are largely opposed to these multilateral trade deals being flogged, they tend to be strongly against the state spying on its own citizens, they are against tax loopholes and offshore tax havens, they oppose offshoring jobs, they are skeptical of unbridled police power, there’s a significant minority who favor universal health care, his positions on gun control are in line with NRA members–although not with the NRA brass’, many share Bernie’s view that undisciplined immigration policies drive down wages and jobs for citizens. Hunters and fishermen tend to be environmentally conscious. I’m sure there’s more I’m not thinking of as well. The current GOP is an uneasy and largely incoherent alliance between the authoritarian social conservatives and those with libertarian leanings, a natural cleavage plane you can see light through. Split the right and many things become politically possible. There’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and lip but the pieces are all kind of falling into place if you ask me.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Maybe Sanders will have to get used to dealing from a position of strength — crazy but true!

      That will be hard for the left, because they’re not used to it.

      On the other hand, people get very twitchy at the prospect of gravy train derailment. There are plenty of scenarios — say, war — where Clinton’s perceived strengths could do well for her. Not that I’m foily.

    2. Oregoncharles

      I hope Sanders gets better security.

      The last time an insurgent candidate overthrew the Old Guard one, it was Bobby Kennedy in 1968 – literally minutes before he was murdered. That precipitated the violence at the convention in 1968 and Humphrey’s loss to Nixon.

      I think electoral cheating is a more likely option, in fact I think it’s all but certain, but I’m deadly serious here. This has happened before. Sanders is a brave man. because he remembers that year, too.

      1. Ulysses

        A couple of my older friends (I was only a child in 1968) also brought up the Bobby Kennedy precedent. I think Kurt’s analysis above is spot on, and I am sure that as the election draws closer the attempts to derail the Bernie train will become quite frantic.

        A Scotty Walker/Bernie Sanders general election fight would essentially be a pure class war brought openly into the political arena!

  17. Lambert Strether Post author

    A friend of mine has a rugged old HP laptop with an years-old version of Ubuntu on it. It’s OK to blow away everything on the disk.

    Would it make more sense to go with Ubuntu, solid and known? Or how about Mint, which I seem to remember some good things said about in Links?

    I know this is a quasi-religious issue, so please keep it pragmatic. Key requirement:

    No linux-y config stuff. The install needs to work out of the box, or rather CD, especially with WiFI.

    1. mookie

      In my experience mint is the most user friendly distro, especially for people comfortable with Windows. For older hardware I would grab the xfce flavor.

      1. mookie

        I would dl .isos of mint xfce, lubuntu, and xubuntu (plus any non-lightweight variants you might wish to try), and test them each in turn on the specific hardware by booting from imaged flash drive. Then install your favorite.

  18. BobW

    Any of the three would be just fine – if Ubuntu’s Unity UI is okay with your friend stick with that. I don’t like it, but it’s strictly a matter of taste. De gustibus non est disputandum. Mint in either Cinnamon or Mate are good and have easily understood User Interfaces. My own choice was Mate, but I’m taking another look at Cinnamon.

  19. David Mills

    On interest rate increases, I have a couple points I would like to make. 1) what are the DV01’s of the bank created money supply and the fed’s balance sheet? 2) what happens to bank capital viz tier 1&2 assets? 3) what happens to the interest rate derivative complex? Quite the conundrum something that can’t happen and must happen.

  20. Jim Haygood

    ‘Tin Ear’ Hillary doubles down:

    Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign is trying to turn the tables in the controversy over her handling of classified information on her chief Republican investigator.

    The Democratic presidential candidate’s top spokespeople took the unusual move of calling a Friday afternoon press call to roll out their latest defense of Clinton’s decision to use private e-mail servers while she was secretary of state. Their point: South Carolina Representative Trey Gowdy and the panel he chairs that is investigating Clinton have dealt similarly with information that was later found to be classified.

    “Trey Gowdy treated e-mails in this case the same way Hillary Clinton did, considering them unclassified and storing them on unclassified systems,” Clinton press secretary Brian Fallon said. “We don’t see what legs Trey Gowdy has to stand on in his criticisms of Secretary Clinton.”


    Classic Clinton maneuver: instead of offering full disclosure, circle the wagons and slime the critics.

    How did that work out for Dick Nixon?

    1. Pat

      Dear god, it is like grade school all over again. Between the Condi Rice/George Bush did it excuse, and now the Trey Gowdy thing, I feel like suddenly doing my nun imitation and slap Clinton across the knuckles with a ruler while saying just because someone else got away with it does not make your doing it right.
      (And then repeating that while wielding the ruler on the knuckles of most her supporters in this as well.)

      I fully admit it is not fair that Rice or Bush or Gowdy may have gotten away with screwing up or trying to avoid the public’s right to know. But as I have recently replied to someone, the fact that you KNOW you are going to be investigated is every reason to do everything not just to the letter of the law but beyond. It makes no sense to do something guaranteed to make your record questionable unless you want to be considered a corrupt asshole getting away with something and not a victim of misogyny and irrational hatred.

      Hence my belief that the office of the Secretary of State was most certainly used to raise millions for the Clinton coffers, all of them, and that even though they would like her to be President, the money is the most important thing of all because being a great SoS and dotting every i and crossing every t was the best and only choice for the unavoidable inquiries if you really really wanted to be President.

  21. Keneth Doliveira

    I will repack the GPU back to the box , remove the Battery from Motherboard and ship it. The cpu cooler is a intel stock one its light and small i dont think its necessary to remove it. Everything.

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