2:00PM Water Cooler 8/26/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.



“‘No, the evidence is that tax cuts do not pay for themselves,’ [Keith Hall, CBO director and appointed by GOP lawmakers] said. ‘And our models that we’re doing, our macroeconomic effects, show that'” [The Hill]. Oopsie. Time to find a new grift, I guess.

Clinton to pander to ethanol interests in her “Plan for a Vibrant Rural America” [Bloomberg]. Granted, it’s Iowa, but putting oil into the ground in the form of fertilizer and then taking it out of the ground in the form of corn to be processed into fuel is just a smidge meta, amiright?

“Nearly Every Presidential Candidate Is Skipping An Immigration Forum In Iowa This Weekend” [HuffPo]. Including Clinton and Sanders.


” Jim Chanos, the hedge fund manager known for betting against companies, said he would back Vice President Joe Biden, who is considering seeking the Democratic nomination for president” [Bloomberg]. Has anybody sighted a story that gives a reason for Biden to run? Other than “because he can”?

“Eight groups representing the U.S. Democratic Party’s progressive wing planned to call on Hillary Clinton on Wednesday to disavow the controversial practice of Wall Street firms paying bonuses to executives who leave for government jobs” [Reuters].

UPDATE “Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign has received commitments from four Democratic state parties, including in the crucial proving ground of New Hampshire [as well as Mississippi, Virginia and Wisconsin], to enter joint fund-raising agreements with the campaign just as the nomination battle is beginning” [New York Times]. Awesome! Now people can not only buy a piece of Clinton, they can get a deal on the party in “their own” state!

The Voters

“The secret of Trump’s appeal to white lower/middle class is really no secret at all” [@Billmon]. “It seems the 2 realities elite MSM can’t/won’t directly address are sheer scale of white xenophobia & the utter corruption of power at top.” And: “In Empire 2.0, special status of white working class — based on subaltern relationship with imperial elites — is no longer assured.”

More from Luntz focus group: “‘[Trump has] voiced what everyone else is saying,’ one male participant said, ‘America is a brand and the brand has been hurting a very long time, and it takes somebody like Trump to bring that brand back'” [The Atlantic].

The Trail

“Trump is an early season fling for many people, fun while it lasts but doomed to breakup somewhere along the path to the nomination” [Larry Sabato, Center for American Politics]. “If Trump is nominated, then everything we think we know about presidential nominations is wrong.” I think it depends on how ticked-off voters are, and whether that disturbs Sabato’s equilibrium. So far, mighty ticked-off. Enough? We don’t know. Also too, “Events, dear boy, events.” Obama pulled away from McCain only after Lehman, let us remember.

“Trump seemed to go out of his way after the debate to ensure that he’d remain the center of attention…That tended to drown out most of the coverage of whether, say, Fiorina or Kasich had gained momentum after the debate, perhaps preventing them from having the sort of feedback loop of favorable attention that can sometimes trigger surges in the polls” [Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight]. “I don’t know whether this was a deliberate strategy on Trump’s behalf. But if so, it’s pretty brilliant. Trump is perhaps the world’s greatest troll, someone who is amazingly skilled at disrupting the conversation by any means necessary… In the current, “free-for-all” phase of the campaign — when there are 17 candidates and you need only 20 percent or so of the vote to have the plurality in GOP polls — this may be a smart approach…. Is it sustainable? In the long run, probably not.” And in the long run… 

“A chairwoman of Mr. Trump’s Iowa campaign, Tana Goertz, who has no political experience, picks the campaign’s county leaders ‘The Apprentice’-style — in head-to-head tests of public speaking, organizing and salesmanship. A stopwatch is involved” [New York Times].

In Ms. Goertz, a motivational speaker, Mr. Trump has a political newcomer helping to lead his organizing in Iowa, but his state director, Mr. Laudner, is a 30-year veteran of Iowa campaigns. He has built one of the largest field teams of any Republican candidate this year: 10 paid staff members.

“Donald Trump’s Jorge Ramos news conference, annotated” [WaPo]. Kicking the press and a Hispanic: It’s a two-fer! And a dominance display: Trifecta!

The Sanders 404 page [berniesanders.com]. I think it’s cool. More importantly, the kidz at YCombinator think it’s cool.

“[C]urrent polling data show that former Secretary of State Clinton has substantial favorable ratings among Democrats and leads every GOP presidential candidate” [Lanny Davis, The Hill]. Lanny Davis? Say no more! Say no more!

“Had Biden announced his candidacy many months ago and articulated a powerful progressive rationale for his candidacy, I might have supported him. He didn’t, and the sole premise driving talk of a Biden campaign today is a negative premise that is unlikely to happen, i.e. that the campaign of Clinton will implode” [The Hill]. So there are insiders who believe that premise. Why?

“”I like Joe Biden very much, but it’s time to line up for Hillary and we are lining up,” said Karin Birkeland, a top Democratic bundler for President Barack Obama in 2012 who recently committed to Clinton. “She has by far the best resume, she’s ready, she’s younger and she’s a woman” [Reuters].

Rand Paul on #BlackLivesMatter: “You know things cost money, and they need to learn that things cost money [!!], and really all lives matter” [International Business Times].

Stats Watch

The Fed: “[R]eal borrowing costs are up sharply for many private borrowers. This is a significant headwind for the U.S. economy, which was hardly growing like gangbusters in any case” [Paul Krugman, New York Times]. “A Fed hike now looks like an even worse idea than it did a few days ago.” Eventheliberal Krugamn gives cover to J-Yel. But there will never be a good reason to stop giving free money to the 1%.

The Fed: “In travelling around his district, Dudley said he has identified two issues. First, he said, “employers often have difficulty finding potential employees with the specific skills they need, and workers often lack the specific skills employers are looking for” [Market News]. Ah, “skills mismatch.” Idea: Pay workers more money! And support union training programs.

The Fed: “As the Fed considers when to start raising rates, officials are getting pressure from several sides. While many free-market advocates would like the central bank to move, liberal activists plan to press the Fed this week to hold rates near zero to promote economic growth and more hiring.” [Wall Street Journal, “Central Bankers to Confront Stock-Market Turmoil at Fed’s Annual Jackson Hole Retreat”]. So the free-market advocates call for central planning, and the liberal activists push the loanable funds theory [head, desk].

“The Treasury curve is in the midst of a rather dramatic steepening event. When I first marked levels this morning at 630AM ish 5s 10s was 65.4. As I compose this electronic missive that spread rests at 68” [Across the Curve]. “The steepening of the curve has been a multi day phenomenon as turmoil in overseas markets and collapsing commodity prices have challenged the notion of a rate hike.”

Durable Goods Orders, July 2015: “Durable orders, for a second straight month, are strong, and strong nearly across the board” [Bloomberg]. “Capital goods data show special strength with nondefense ex-aircraft orders up 2.2 percent.”

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of August 21: “Purchase applications, which have been flat in recent weeks, rose 2 percent in the latest week and are up a very strong 18 percent year on year” [Bloomberg].

“The number of U.S. building permits issued in July was revised up to a decrease of 15.5% from a decrease of 16.3% [Market News]

“Consumer confidence bounced up with lower gas prices, as it’s one man one vote, not one dollar one vote, and so hasn’t been a reliable indicator of retail sales” [Mosler Economics].

“As earnings and revenues slide, the corporate balance sheets bloated with debt taken on to buy back the company’s own shares will provide an unwelcome headwind to grow earnings” [Wall Street on Parade]. “Further angst on Wall Street stems from worries about just how the U.S. mega banks might fare in a market meltdown.” OK, it’s bearish. But readers know I am a Maine bear!

Mr. Market

“Nor will financial contagion be likely, at least for the U.S. Although U.K. banks are heavily exposed to China, those in the U.S. are relatively safe and there probably is little risk of anything approaching a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis” [Noah Smith, Bloomberg]. If you must worry, worry about the credit markets, not the stock markets.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Katrina Washed Away New Orleans’s Black Middle Class” [FiveThirtyEight]. That’s not a bug… 

“Hurricane Katrina proved that if black lives matter, so must climate justice” [Guardian]. As with, for example, lead. 

“[Pauli Murray]’s argument constituted what legal historian Serena Mayeri termed ‘reasoning from race,’ in which race analogies were used to make clear the subordinate status of women. Though today we speak of these matters in the language of intersections, a term gleaned from legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, it is Pauli Murray’s initial invocation of the race-sex analogy for black women’s positionality within the law that is the most direct precursor to Crenshaw’s theory of intersectionality” [Salon]. I would think that intersectionality, considered as a data structure, would apply to all persons… 

Health Care

“A new study finds that 75% of California’s Obamacare health plans have narrow physician networks — more limited choices than all but three other states” [Los Angeles Times]. As NC readers were warned, in 2013, often.

“One in four companies are likely to be impacted by the ‘Cadillac tax’ on high-cost health plans when it begins in 2018–and that could almost double in ten years, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation” [Wall Street Journal, “More than a Quarter of Employers Expected to Face ‘Cadillac Tax’”].

In order to avoid the tax in the future, companies are taking steps to reduce costs in their plans today, the foundation said. The most common reactions are increasing employee deductibles and cost sharing, eliminating covered services, capping flexible spending accounts, eliminating higher-cost health insurance options, using less expensive provider networks, and offering benefits through a private exchange, the foundation said.

In other words, ObamaCare encourages crapified health insurance policies, by design. I’m shocked.

Dear Old Blighty

“Jeremy Corbyn says he doesn’t believe the ‘nonsense’ about Tories infiltrating the voting process. Speaking on Tuesday during Labour party leadership hustings on BBC Radio 5 Live, the frontrunner says the party should be pleased about the increase in supporters, rather than treating them with suspicion or turning them away without giving them a right of appeal” [Guardian]. Yep. Labour set membership fees £3. People joined, just the wrong sort. Hilarity ensues! (I try to avoid videos, but the British press seems to have panicked about Corbyn across the board, and its hard to find links that aren’t just frothing and stamping, or stirring the pot, or outright propaganda. Readers?)


“Canada will not sign a Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that would allow Japanese vehicles into North America with fewer parts manufactured here, says Ed Fast, the federal minister of international trade” [The Record]. Significant, if meant seriously, since it’s a new obstacle, and Mexico is also concerned about auto parts.


“As Cuomo has offered the company subsidies, GE has delivered more than $466,000 in campaign donations to Cuomo-affiliated political groups since the 2010 election cycle when Cuomo mounted his first successful run for governor” [International Business Times]. And Cuomo is subsidizing GE’s return to New York, without pressuring them to finish the Hudson River cleanup; people still can’t eat fish from the Hudson because of the PCBs GE dumped into it.

“The worst corruption in Pennsylvania — the kind of moral rot that wastes or misuses millions or even hundreds of millions of dollars, usually to the benefit of those who finance political campaigns — is the kind that’s perfectly legal” [Will Bunch, Philadelphia Inquirer]. “! Pennsylvania is the only major drilling state in America without a severance tax on energy production…. [T]he legislature is led by people like Sen. Joe Scarnati, [who accepted] more than $500,000 in campaign contributions from oil-and-gas interests between 2007 and 2014 — nearly twice the next highest lawmaker in energy donations — all so [he] could run in his rural district with minimal opposition. Big Gas could give as much as it wanted, legally, since Pennsylvania is one of just a few states in the nation with no contribution limits.” Awesome.


Despite the strong El Niño, “California would need 1½ times its normal rainfall to get out of the extended drought, which is unlikely, according to Mike Halpert” of NOAA [AP].

“A quarter of Delhi’s households live without a piped-water connection; most of the rest receive water for only a few hours each day. So residents have come to rely on private truck owners—the most visible strands of a dispersed web of city councilors, farmers, real estate agents, and fixers who source millions of gallons of water each day from illicit boreholes, as well as the city’s leaky pipe network, and sell the liquid for profit” [Foreign Policy]. It’s a libertarian paradise!

Class Warfare

“Compared with those who had remained in employment, unemployed men and women experienced significant patterns of change in their mean levels of agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness, whereas reemployed individuals experienced limited change. The results indicate that unemployment has wider psychological implications than previously thought. In addition, the results are consistent with the view that personality changes as a function of contextual and environmental factors.” (abstract) [American Psychological Association]. “Results showed that agreeableness, which is similar to friendliness, decreased among both men and women during long-term unemployment (one to four years). But during the first two years of unemployment, men experienced increases in agreeableness” [Business Insider]. Not me. I was disagreeable the whole time!

“H&R Block’s latest lobbying effort is even more loathsome than its opposition to automatic filing. At the company’s instigation, the Senate Appropriations Committee has passed a funding bill covering the IRS whose accompanying report instructs the agency to at least quadruple the length of the form that taxpayers fill out to get the Earned Income Tax Credit” [Vox]. “It is hard to adequately express how despicable this is.” Strong words for Vox… 

“Post Office can’t even meet its own lower standards as late mail soars” [WaPo]. Engineered denial of services so privatizers can plunder the the institution. It would be better to create a Post Office bank. Democrats?

“I Had a Baby and Cancer When I Worked at Amazon. This Is My Story” [Medium]. Be sure to read down to where she returns to work; the Amazon corporate culture is feral even by American standards. 

Sound like “innovation zones” is the new “creative class” [Fast Company]. Whenever you hear the word “innovation,” put your hand on your wallet. Here’s an example of health care innovation in Tony Hsieh’s innovation zone in Vegas [USA Today].

News of the Wired

“Suspected gunman shoots self after journalists killed on air, official says” [CNN]. Ugly.

“Slender Man Is Watching” [New York Magazine]. Well, this is creepy.

Origins of Linux (Linux’s birthday was yesterday) [Ars Technica]. Many of the factors that fell into place were social, not technical, which the article calls “a happy combination of personal circumstances.”

“Origins of ‘Gospel of Jesus’s Wife’ Begin to Emerge” [Live Science]. Biblical scholars don’t mess around!

“Some experts think that the very first cell-like organisms on Earth channeled electricity from the seafloor using bubbling, chimney-shaped structures, also known as chemical gardens. [NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory]. “In a new study, researchers report growing their own tiny chimneys in a laboratory and using them to power a light bulb. The findings demonstrate that the underwater structures may have indeed given an electrical boost to Earth’s very first life forms.” Better cut their funding….

“[T]he three zip codes in America that have zero Ashley Madison users” [Gawker]. Fascinating to watch big data techniques become normalized. Any number can play!

“La Tomatina, the world’s largest tomato-throwing festival, begins Wednesday as up to 22,000 revelers are expected to meet up in the tiny Valencian town of Buñol on the east coast of Spain” [International Business Times]. Will Trump attend? In his white shoes?

* * *

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 (Mike):

Sedum flower

Mike writes from about 100 miles north of Rome (Italy): Possibly of the Sedum family?

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. This is turning into a tough month, and I need to 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

    As Fedsters jet into Jackson Hole this afternoon for summer camp [2015 theme: “Inflation Dynamics and Monetary Policy” — I am not making this up!], take a look at 5-year breakeven inflation. It’s the annual rate of CPI increase needed to make the return on an inflation-indexed 5-year TIP note match the known, certain return on a 5-year nominal Treasury note (1.49%).

    According to FRED, 5-year breakeven inflation dropped from 1.7% this spring to a feeble 1.11% yesterday.


    To paraphrase an old Thirties pop song, Yes, We Have No Inflation. And as ol’ Herbert Hoover observed, the Federal Reserve is a ‘weak reed to rely on’ for creating any.

  2. curlydan

    As one who works in the tax preparation industry (so yes, I’m biased), I can say that H&R Block and many other “paid preparer” tax companies lobbied to make Pen and Paper and Online/Software filers fill out the same Earned Income Credit forms that the paid prep companies are required to fill out. In other words, make everyone fill out the same forms and answer the same questions.

    Vox’s article is, much like its name, good for noise but short on analysis.

    Congress could do the country a favor, though, by making the credit easier to claim and less liable for fraud on both paid prep and do-it-yourself filers.

    1. hunkerdown

      Why not just go to automatic filing and cut out a cancerous industry that doesn’t need to exist?

      1. curlydan

        Does the government know your business expenses? Does the government know if a child lived in your house for more than 6 months, or if your health expenses exceeded a certain % of your income, or if you supported your little brother with a disability?

        For many filers, automatic filing could be a very good option. I have no objections to it, especially for certain types of filers. For other filers, it might be near impossible since the govt is not all knowing.

        1. hunkerdown

          If you don’t want to pay the convenient pro forma invoice the IRS helpfully sent without you having to pay Intuit one cent for the privilege, then file an amended return, under roughly the same protocol as today. I understand that’s how it works with most other developed economies’ taxing authorities.

    2. todde

      I work in the tax prep industry also.

      I would say about 1% of my clients use the earned income credit.

      But I don’t really compete with h and r block for clients.

      Oddly enough, when I do I am generally cheaper than they are and I bill out at high hourly rates.

  3. diptherio

    At the doc’s office this morning discussing different kinds of antibiotic options for a family member’s staph infection. The nurse said, “actually we don’t have much choice, the insurance companies make all those decisions now.” Then she added, “and it’s gotten a lot worse in the last few years.” Whodathunkit?

    1. JTMcPhee

      The receptionist in my doctors’ office got a nice poke in the eye from the Florida branch of the ObamaACA bush today. Medical insurance for her twin sons jumped, leapt and soared from $40 a month to over $600 a month. That’s about a quarter of her pay. They have been pretty healthy, so far, but with a huge deductible and copays on the “offered policy,” and zilch in subsidy in her situation, I guess any tomfoolery-induced or accidental injury will go un-covered since she can’t “afford” the effing ripoff Affordable Care Act. How much is the penalty, again?

      F___ you, Obama, and the pre-purchased NeoLibConJob horse you rode in on and will be galloping away on, though of course you are just a dangerous, damaging, disingenuous front man…

        1. OIFVet

          The liebarry that will destroy an Olmsted park and push out poor blacks out of their neighborhood in order to celebrate the first half-black president? I would love to take a dump on it, much like Barry took a dump on us. Except I doubt I could get away with it like he did. My only faint hope is that he moves the hell away from Hyde Park to NYC, to be closer to his Wall Street sponsors and Bubba.

  4. alex morfesis

    8 groups representing…letter to clint hill/bill Ltd. …groups representing the “authorized” opposition…


    would it not be more useful to move to repeal the multi billion dollar free ride that is stuck in Section 1043 of the IRS code…where basically someone going into the executive branch can get a “certificate of divestiture” from the “office of government ethics” and then just convert the lost (lost to US taxpayers) capital gains revenue into us treasuries or some mutual fund…tax free….60 days later…tax free…

    did I mention tax free…

      1. alex morfesis

        a link ? you can’t do the math for yourself…need a gurrggle link to help…???

        well…start with former treasury Secty Paulson…how much did he save when he became Treasury Secretary ? I don’t think you will have a hard time doing the math after that…just multiply all the wall street folks who left “high paying” positions with equity and do the math…this rule has been around for one or two years…maybe even a little longer…I can’t imagine you really need me to have some one hold your hand on the simple multiplication required…sorry for sark…but just because someone burned a few electrons for some blurb on the net does not make it a fact…find something on Fannie Mae Watch and the legal adjustment that was made a few weeks before the destruction of the enterpises…google can’t find it for you…such a saddy…must not be true then…must just be a fragment of my infatuation…a figment of my…whatever…cause google doesn’t censor…nah…

        1. todde

          So that’s a no then?

          And it is not tax free, but tax deffered.

          Paulson was an outlier, which is why you heard of it. He got a tax deferral of $48 million, so we have $1,952,000,000 more to go.

          Paulson getting a tax break is the least of the problems with him as treasurer.

          1. todde

            And it’s been around for a few decades.

            If you mean since it’s inception, then you are more than likely correct.

            If you are talking about annually, then you won’t get there.

  5. DJG

    This is a quote? More from Luntz focus group: “‘[Trump has] voiced what everyone else is saying,’ one male participant said, ‘America is a brand and the brand has been hurting a very long time, and it takes somebody like Trump to bring that brand back’”

    Brand? Focus group? Why have I been thinking lately that the U.S. is peopled by incompetents who showed up at a large land mass with outrageous amounts of coal and oil and a population of Native Americans who, all too conveniently, had not been exposed to smallpox?


    1. JTMcPhee

      “Brands” are like “markets:” whatever idiot sh_t a P.T. Barnum “impresario” can get a set of idiots with money, whatever that turns out to be, and/or “assets,” in their sweaty hands, to believe.

  6. Tom Denman

    I wonder who these “progressives” think they’re kidding when they press Hillary Clinton to makes promises they know she’s not going to keep (as in barring companies from paying bonuses to executives leaving Wall Street to enter “public service.”).

    How long after his election did it take Mr. Obama to break about 90% of his promises to liberals? But she’s so much more trustworthy than the President. Right?

    1. RUKidding

      But the reality is that a large majority of “Democratic” party voters are quite satisfied, if not deliriously joyful, with Mr. Obama and what his Admin has done. This is not snark. And they’re all champing at the bit to pull the lever for HRC for the same reasons that they love Obama. Well, my “intel” is strictly anecdotal, but nonetheless, I have a broad swath of D-voter pals, acquaintances, co-workers, etc, and they’re all delighted with Obama and eagerly awaiting the ballot booth to vote for HRC.

      I don’t get it, myself.

      For the very few who might, with severe arm-twisting, admit that all that’s happened under ObamaCo is not great, they will still emphatically stress that HRC is ‘much better’ that anyone else out there, plus the assorted memes of “lesser of two evils,” “Supreme Court,” etc.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        People hate being conned more than conmen. I’m sure your acquaintances consider themselves to be bright, pragmatic, and super serious voters when in reality they are just a quirk of fate from being delirious with anticipation of the premiere of the next reality show on TLC. If Obama is a failure or what their crank friends pointed out he was during the delirium of 2008, what does that say about them? Did they dismiss complaints about Obama as the rambling of racists while they made up promises about ACA? The answer is yes, and morally, they don’t want to deal with this and to just go back to a simple bumper sticker world view of politics.

        Politics is also team sports for people who don’t like team sports. For an older generation, press them on what they liked about JFK. Despite the myriad of books and documentaries available, it just comes back to JFK being a cool guy. You can really pick anyone. Most people will just a confess to loving style.

        1. open

          I remember my Mom telling me about campaigning for Adlai Stevenson, she had carefully considered his issues and policies beforehand. On the bus home from work on election night she overheard the woman behind her say “I voted for Ike, he’s got such a nice smile”

      2. OIFVet

        The “Supreme Court” justification is so loathsome. I want to put a sledge hammer to my radio every time I hear it on “progressive” talk radio”. Or the “first woman president” justification. That one grates too. I may sound like a crazy person, but I definitely yell at my radio a lot…

    2. Vatch

      You are completely correct. Obama betrayed his rank and file supporters, and if Clinton becomes President, she’ll do the same. As the article points out, two of the other Democratic candidates have committed to supporting the Financial Services Conflict of Interest Act, and one of them co-sponsored it in the Senate. But the Presidential campaign isn’t the totality of U.S. politics — the Congress has to take action for this bill to become law. Here are links to the House and Senate bills, so we can prod our congresscritters to do the right thing:



  7. Clive

    Re: Corbyn (“Dear Old Blighty”)

    Yes, they’re all at it. No one would be stunned to learn that the usual suspects like the Daily Mail are trotting out “reds under the bed” tropes. That falls into man bites dog predictability. Corbyn was hardly going after the Daily Mail vote anyway (no party, like, ev-a-ah, should go after the Daily Mail vote, but hey-ho, they all do to some degree (pre-Corbyn that is)).

    But even Auntie Beeb (the BBC, whose motto is “nation shall speak peace unto nation”; what a load of bollocks that is) was in snidey snidey nudge-nudge wink-wink mode this evening. Despite Corbyn obviously saying to the interviewer he was there to talk policy and issues and didn’t like answering personal questions (I’ll give him this, he’s certainly got novelty value, refusing to stoop to identity politicking) she proceeded to ask him anyway. He answered politely and tried not to show how silly and trite it all was.

    When he said he enjoyed nothing more than making jam (you guys call that “jelly” for some reason, do you not?) from fruit grown on his own “allotment” (a small scrap of land rented out by the city government at a peppercorn rent to local residents for the sole purpose of horticultural use) the interviewer left a momentary but noticeable awkward silence in the edited report. This conveyed an air of “that’s so odd and strange I simply don’t know how to respond”. This was the followed up with images of Corbyn cycling, yes, cycling, on a bike. In a voice over, we were informed Corbyn does not drive a car on environment grounds.

    Clearly, the guy is suffering from some sort of mental impairment…

  8. Carolinian

    Thanks for the great (as always) BIllmon.

    Imperial elites have demoted American white working/middle class to a less privileged status – spouting nationalist bullshit all the way

    Yes those “bitter clingers” with their guns and religion (BHO)….shorter Trump: flyover losers of the World unite! It’s gonna be interesting.

    And for those horrified by the Donald, it’s hard to see Trump as a more clownish figure than George W. Bush and yet the DC elites all took him very seriously. Trump, whatever else you may think of him, is treating the press with the contempt they deserve.

    Also, since you asked, re Biden (repeated from Links)


    1. RUKidding

      I am assuming that W was “accepted” by the DC elites bc he came from what is perceived as an elite USA family, plus W more or less played by the “rules” of the elites.

      Trump may come from a wealthy background (not sure), but his family is not part of the establishment elites. Plus he does often – in an obnoxious way – tell the truth about what’s going on.

      W appealed to a lot of lower/working class whites bc W was sold to them as a hayseed who’d be fun to have a beer with. Those lower class white voters may have finally figured out that it was all show but no going to the bar with W. Trump appears to be more honest, at least to that part of the constituency who resonates with that type of bombastic persona.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Dubya was also a religious drunk and black sheep of his family. Beer swilling aside, this was a bigger deal than outsiders grasp. The conservatives liked Dubya because he was one of them, as the target of the jokes Democrats make about poor whites when suburban whites are the reddest of the red but we’re very cool towards the old man who inspired a Perot candidacy. On the other hand, Jeb was always hailed as the anointed son of a President they didn’t like. In ’88, Bush ran the “don’t change horses midstream” campaign because he knew he was never going to be in the tribe. Jeb is less about discovering anything about Dubya as seeing Jeb as a Romney-type. You are dead on about DC’s views on Shrub.

        1. RUKidding

          The tiny little bit I’ve seen of JEB makes me shudder to think that his drunken sniggering frat rat bro is actually the one with a “personality” that can be kinda sorta be “related to.” Ugh. What a family! A blight.

          Anecdotal fact: a relative by marriage was actually Fresh. year suite mate with W. Could never pry out of this relative what W was REALLY like at Yale. Like: how drunk ‘n stuff (really important, I know!). Seems to indicate that W was a dumbo legacy silver spoon, but said relative appeared to have no problem voting for W. Go figure.

          That relative and my family all have deep working class roots, but our post WWII Dads clawed their way into the middle class. Why my family so looks up to this crime family is way beyond my comprehension, but I gave up trying to figure that out.

          The Bushes are part of the insiders club. Skull ‘n Bones and all that clobber.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            41 was tolerated as the VP by the rank and file. There was never an admiration for the family. Dubya may have been a silver spoon dolt, but he overcame alcohol and drug use to become governor in an election where he destroyed the Ann Richards machine (she wasn’t a sweet old lady; if there was an Ann Richards around today, she’d be crushing Hillary) and did it with snickers and lack of institutional GOP support. He pulled himself together to run for President and present a vision of sorts which stood out next to AL DLC Gore. People may not say it, but the story about 41 and 43 going fisticuffs was a selling point.

            Dubya was very much a separate entity from 41 and Jeb in the eyes of voters.

      2. barutanseijin

        Trump Papa made the family fortune building and selling houses in Brooklyn. The Donald took that money and went bankrupt several times. But no matter, if you’re part of the ruling class you don’t get fired, you get a do-over and a pile of cash.

      3. Jagger

        ——W appealed to a lot of lower/working class whites bc W was sold to them as a hayseed who’d be fun to have a beer with.—–

        Perfect example of the contempt of the left for lower/working class whites. I strongly suspect lower/working class whites aren’t really that stupid and simple.

    2. Jagger

      I agree Billmon hit it on the nail. Today’s identity politics Democratic party appears to have a contempt and hostility towards lower/working class white concerns and values. The Republican party is not much better for them in the big picture but at least pretends to listen and isn’t actively hostile. Lower class/working class white voters may not have any more real choices than anyone else but voting for the neoliberal and balkenized identity politics of the Democratic party makes absolutely no sense. So no matter how ugly, tea party and Trump is all that remains for them.

      Although to be successful in today’s America, economic populism has to be colorblind. No more teacher’s pets on the left or the right. Trump’s big mistake.

    3. different clue

      Am I to understand that Billmon considers “job security” to be a privilege that white workers never deserved to have? Am I to understand that Billmon is perfectly satisfied that millions of white workers never deserved in the first place to have the jobs they lost to Free Trade? And if Billmon feels differently about the deservingness of black workers to the jobs they had before losing them to Free Trade, then why does Billmon feel differently about that? And what does Billmon think about Illegal Immigration whether by border crashers or by visa overstayers?

  9. Fool

    “Granted, it’s Iowa, but putting oil into the ground in the form of fertilizer and then taking it out of the ground in the form of corn to be processed into fuel is just a smidge meta, amiright?”

    -Couldn’t be said any better.

    1. Gaianne

      The main advantage of biofuel is that, even though you used one barrel of oil to create one barrel (equivalent) biofuel, your books now show a production of two barrels of fuel.

      No one is meant to notice that you used up one barrel to create the other.


  10. RUKidding

    I assume everyone else, like me, is being showered with emails from the likes of Schwab and Vanguard (where I do have investments) resoundingly adjuring me to HOLD HOLD HOLD and DON’T SELL!!!! fer the dog’s sake, DO. NOT. SELL!!!111!!!

    I didn’t know whether to laugh or pound my head into a brick wall (which would feel better, methinks) when NPR swanned out Austin Goolsbe from the Chicago School to adjur the rubes, er, citizens to: Don’t PANIC!!!111!!! Don’t SELL!!! aieeeee!


    1. trinity river

      In the old days under John Bogle, they did not “advise” anyone on anything. Whole new world out there. Are we safer?

    2. different clue

      I may be using these terms wrongly in my ignorance but . . . when “insiders” begin selling off multi-million blocks of stockshares, is that a signal that the “insider class” is planning a bear raid against the “few-shares-apiece” class and also the retirement fund class? Scare the “few-shares-apiece” class into selling their collective millions of shares into a falling market and then re-buy those millions of shares at very lowest prices after the millions of “few-shares-apiece” shareholders have sold all the shares they have?

      If so, then how SHOULD the “few-shares-apiece” shareholders respond to one of these social class bear raids?

  11. gonzomarx

    What the Corbyn moment means for the left
    At long last, the left is asking itself whether power without principle is worth having.

    across the board the UK media is having a fit over Corbyn and none more so than the Guardian. The Torygraph and the Daily Fail have behaved as usual but the Guardian has really shit the bed at the thought of Corbyn leading the labour party.
    I see that this has been most illuminating for many.

  12. Kurt Sperry

    “Origins of ‘Gospel of Jesus’s Wife’ Begin to Emerge”- That papyrus totally looks faked. I can’t explain it, but it does.

  13. Pat

    The so-called Cadillac Tax will also hit a lot of businesses with older workers and workers that utilize their plans more harder then many of the ones that supposedly offer luxury level health care. All because it is based on ‘premiums’ NOT on benefits. And as anyone who knows anything about trying to arrange the best coverage possible for their employees, your community rating is shot by an aging work force and say a couple of bouts of breast cancer.

    This is like No Child Left Behind where eventually every school failed. Every employer based plan will eventually be hit with the Cadillac Tax. And everyone of them will crapify and crapify and crapify until everyone in America has health insurance where they cannot get into a doctor in order to use it, and then cannot afford anything beyond the free physical because the deductibles and co-insurance/co-pays are so high they cannot afford it. Well everyone except the wealthiest Americans and CEOs who will be allowed to have plans where there is a Cadillac Tax.

    I never got why people didn’t see this was the plan. I personally believe that one of the few ‘improvements that will be allowed will be that eventually all the rules regarding fines for not supplying your own plan but handing your employees a pittance towards their exchange plans will disappear in the next two years, and eventually this will be everyone’s employee health care except for top management. What won’t happen in that improvement is that the pittance won’t be required by law to cover the actual cost of the premiums AND any taxes incurred from this compensation so that the employee is not getting a massive pay cut. But then I’m pretty damn cynical in regards to what politicians get away with doing to working Americans and this piece of crap legislation in particular.

    1. different clue

      Well . . . how many people were ever informed in detail about all these aspects and outcomes of the plan in the MSM they read or listen to? ( That would include Public MSM like NPR and most of national PBS).

      1. Pat

        True enough. I actually had to explain to someone I work with (small operation no benefits and none required) what this fine was that was reducing his refund. So yes that was beyond hyperbole.

        But I never did get the people who were defending ACA who didn’t see beyond the sales pitch, even when it was pointed out to them that 1.) this was based on premiums which rose based on community ratings, 2.) what a community rating was, and 3.) the method of inflation for the determination of that premium level was not based on the average amount that premiums increased but on inflation despite the fact that there was no evidence that ACA would bring the skyrocketing premium increases down to that level.

  14. Gabriel


    [I]t was an advertising agency, Wall Inc., that provided the sharpest analysis of what was happening. The company was a long-standing presence in Berlin, having established its foothold in 1984 after it won a contract to build and maintain a thousand bus shelters in exchange for the right to sell advertising on the shelters’ walls. The year after the fall of the (other) wall, Wall Inc. built eight hundred more bus shelters in the East and brought the West’s ads to the once-Communist streets. Then, in the nineties, Wall Inc. took over the provision of public toilets for the city, securing the rights to eleven advertising surfaces for every toilet they built and maintained for twenty-five years. While the old toilets had been free, these new ones cost fifty pfennig. So, for every service the company sold—services that the city used to offer for free—Wall also received a concession of public space, an exchange that has led to a virtual monopoly on outdoor advertising and an informal title, the “Toilet King,” for company owner Hans Wall. Playing on the German word for toilet (Klo), Wall has referred slyly to his model as Klo-balization, an apt term for his alchemy of public good into ad-revenue-producing private service.
    Last November, the Toilet Kings rolled out a campaign proudly naming the company’s “new target demographic”: the Yummie. This personage was Young, was Urban, and was Mobile.
    But how was an advertiser supposed to access a target demo that avoids the usual conduits of print, television, and radio advertising? Wall tried one strategy by offering free wireless access in twenty of its Berlin bus shelters along with outdoor outlets for charging electronic devices. Of course, it wasn’t really free: people had to download Wall Inc.’s app in order to access the internet, and forty thousand of them did, capturing the eyes of Yummies as they moved through the city. The longer-term solution that Wall unveiled late last year was the “Yummie Net”: a network of “points of interest” across the city that positions ads where Wall’s research showed that Yummies “gather spontaneously.” Ads are to be installed on Wall’s “street furniture”—bus shelters, benches, and so on—near cinemas, bars, cafés, and museums. While Yummies drink beer and smoke hand-rolled cigarettes at the folding wooden tables that ring every bar and café in Berlin, the Yummie Net will close in, stalking its tasty prey.
    This is because the new, creative Berlin is also a privatized Berlin, where companies like Wall Inc. provide the necessary infrastructure in exchange for a chance to win the euros and brand loyalty of the Yummies. The Yummie Net also circles a fact even more unsettling: the public places where Berliners hang out are not really spaces for leisure or culture, but lucrative targets on a map. The sense of liberation that draws so many to Berlin only comes in the shadow of a new Wall.

    The natives are so cute when they imitate their colonial masters.

  15. Jim Haygood

    More zeroes for the Bolivarian Workers Paradise!

    Venezuela is preparing to issue bank notes in higher denominations next year as rampant inflation reduces the value of a 100-bolivar bill to just 14 cents on the black market.

    The new notes — of 500 and possibly 1,000 bolivars — are expected to be released sometime after congressional elections are held on Dec. 6.

    A customer would need at least 1,280 bank notes to purchase a 24-inch Samsung television on sale at a mall in eastern Caracas for 128,000 bolivars.


    As Forbes pointed out a couple of months ago, “the value of one tonne of bolivar coins as money is 125,000 x 0.25 US cents or $312. The scrap value of those same coins is some $7,700.”

    Doesn’t anybody want to make a guaranteed 20-bagger by exploiting government folly?

    1. Leo

      Well done, Jim. You’ve found your red scare story for the day. You can go to bed satisfied tonight. Seriously, what is your point?

  16. jjmacjohnson

    You are wrong! People can and do eat and fish the Hudson, When I was at Bear mountain Hudson River Park the sign said the limit on crab was a mere 200!

  17. JTMcPhee

    Mr. Market is calm?

    I’m looking at the Bloomberg headlines at this late hour, for me (after 9:00 EDST) and it would appear to me, re the Bolivar tale and all the rest of what’s shakin’ in the Casino, and those things we call Banks and Nations, and in “commodities” etc., that nobody has any effing idea about what “money” might be or how it “operates” or its relationship to the Real Economy where all of Maslow’s basic needs are provided for until the gonifs of Trade and Commerce and Business and Ruleoflaw get their talons and proboscises into it. Too Big To Avoid Inevitable Failure… Too bad they drag the rest of us down into the pit.

  18. Oregoncharles

    “Has anybody sighted a story that gives a reason for Biden to run? Other than “because he can”?”

    Yes, of course: stories right here about the email server. Biden is in a position to know how bad it really is. I assume he’s getting into position as a backup.

  19. craazyboy

    “Clinton to pander to ethanol interests in her “Plan for a Vibrant Rural America” [Bloomberg]. Granted, it’s Iowa, but putting oil into the ground in the form of fertilizer and then taking it out of the ground in the form of corn to be processed into fuel is just a smidge meta, amiright?”

    I think you’re on to something there, Lambert.

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