2:00PM Water Cooler 8/3/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


List of traitors in House and Senate, with phone numbers. Hat tip, reader Vatch. Be sure to visit them when they return to the district this week. If a traitor is mentioned in Water Cooler, their name is in bold.

The timing: “There was no consensus Monday on how soon talks to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact could be revived” [Voice of America]. Democracy is doing what it should be doing:

“The timing really is a challenge at this point, really driven by electoral politics,” Asia Trade Center executive director Deborah Elms told VOA.

A Canadian general election is scheduled for October 19 and campaigning began Sunday.

For the Canadians “to make a concession on dairy this close to the election I think is going to be even harder,” Elms told VOA.

The U.S. presidential primaries begin in January 2016.

Due to legally binding Congressional rules on trade, even if the negotiators are able to reach agreement late this month, Elms predicts, via Skype, that would leave U.S. lawmakers only a handful of days before they leave for the Christmas recess.

Right as the Iowa caucuses are cranking up. And see here and following for useful nuance on the Canadian elections from NC readers.

New Zealand: “‘I think there is probably a window of two or three weeks,’ said Mike Petersen, New Zealand’s special trade envoy for agriculture. ‘There’s a window where we could get this deal done. It’s going to be really tight. There’s going to have to be a lot of movement in the next two or three weeks.” [CTV News].

New Zealand: “[Prime Minister Key] expects there will be some hard negotiating behind the scenes before the next formal meeting ‘potentially within the next two or three weeks'” [3News]. Abe’s deadline was August 29, the last Saturday. 

Japan: “Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faces re-election as Liberal Democratic Party president on September 30” [The Diplomat].

Japan: “Tokyo on Monday described claims that Washington spied on Japanese politicians and major firms as “deeply regrettable”, in its first official response to revelations from whistleblower group WikiLeaks” [Economic Times of India].

Canada, Stephen Harper, in Laval, Quebec: “So it is important that Canada remain at the table; we will remain at the table during this election campaign, we will be there to advance and protect our interests in every sector, including supply management, dairy, and we will make sure that should there be a deal, we will get the best possible deal for this country.” [HuffPo].

“The TPP, The WTO, The 21st Century Global Trade Mess And The Poverty Of Nations” [Forbes]. TTP, TTiP, and TSA do not “include any African countries. Were they to materialize, Africa’s already meager share of global trade (2 to 3%) will most likely be further diminished as the population soars.” Reading between the lines, Africa is for China. Good read.

  “[TPP has] three major flaws, though, that will likely overwhelm any positives the deal may deliver” [East Asia Forum].

The first is that the core of the new rules involves aspects that further private interests (read: large multinationals) at the expense of general welfare in member countries. The most egregious of these is stronger intellectual property (IP) rights protections, which are anti-development and simply transfer wealth to US pharmaceutical companies and Hollywood. … This means a net reduction in trade and a loss in global welfare.

The second flaw is who the TPP leaves out. China, India and Indonesia, among others, are not party to the TPP nor will they be able to join anytime soon….

The third major flaw is that even in the win-win trade enhancing areas, the TPP will either entrench protection in some areas — chiefly agriculture — or, where it succeeds in liberalising, will do so at the expense of non-members.

Also interesting on what happens to countries that are left out of the deal.

United States: “Democratic Rep. Sandy Levin of Michigan [observing in Maui], meanwhile, said it’s ‘wise’ that the deal wasn’t concluded this week [CNN].

Labor rules with countries like Mexico, Vietnam and Malaysia still need to be better addressed, and the United States shouldn’t curb access to medications, he said.

“We will also need to closely review the still-classified text to assess the extent to which there has been real and sufficient progress on issues such as the environment and investor-state dispute settlement,” he said.

Sovereignty issues at the state level: “[U]nder the 11th Amendment to the Constitution, state governments are given “sovereign immunity” from most legal issues in federal court. … [T]he TPP appears to get rid of that, and would open up states, at the very least, to [ISDS]” [Techdirt].


Readers, I need a really good campaign travel tracker. At the National Journal, nobody told the JavaScript dude to consider UX. Any suggestions?


James Hansen and Bill McKibben on Clinton’s solar panels plan [Guardian].

“It’s just plain silly,” said James Hansen, a climate change researcher who headed Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies for over 30 years. “No, you cannot solve the problem without a fundamental change, and that means you have to make the price of fossil fuels honest. Subsidizing solar panels is not going to solve the problem.”

Personally, I think taking carbon from the earth should be subject to a religious taboo, and only performed after expensive, elaborate, and time-consuming ceremonies.

“Credit Supply and the Rise in College Tuition: Evidence from the Expansion in Federal Student Aid Programs” (PDF) [New York Fed].

“Top 5 Ways Obama’s ‘All of the Above’ Politics led to Sanders & Trump” [Informed Comment].


“Clinton, Asked What She’ll Do About Money in Politics, Explains ‘Mrrph Blvvvr Lrrrrg'” [The Intercept].

The Voters

Why Latinos don’t caucus in Iowa [Bleeding Heartland]. Nobody asks them.

City Council primary in Seattle Tuesday; Sawant challenged [Seattle Times]. A “progressive,” Pamela Banks, is on the top of Sawant’s ballot; here’s one look at Banks; and another. Ka-ching.

“[L]ocal Republican parties have courted [Trump] and his polarizing brand for years, eagerly slotting him atop prominent party functions and fundraisers — and happily lapping up the dollars he draws” [Politico]. “In past years, Trump has headlined party fundraisers in Oakland County, Michigan; Syracuse and Erie County, NY; and for innumerable candidates seeking his support and largesse. In recent months, he’s appeared at state and county fundraisers in New York, Virginia, Maryland and Arkansas.” In other words, the mystery of Trump’s continued support in the polls may have a completely rational and utterly normal basis previously invisible to Washington.

The Trail

“Jill Stein presidential campaign, 2016” [Ballotpedia].

“Campaign Consultant Presents Scott Walker Several Human Sides To Choose From” [The Onion].

“Close aide to VP’s late son joins Joe Biden 2016 super PAC” [Yahoo]. Clearly, Clinton’s legislative record can’t compare with Biden’s. I mean, look at that loveable goof’s stellar work on student debt!

“Biden is planning to wait until next month to make his decision” [Los Angeles Times]. You never roll out a new product in August.

“Hillary Clinton’s $2million first presidential campaign adverts try to gain voters by talking about her late mother’s troubled childhood as she attempts to show she understands the struggles of Americans” [Daily Mail]. I try not to quote the Mail because of a long history of US oppo planted in the UK, but…. sometimes the headline just tells the story, doesn’t it?

“Hillary Clinton is spending $2 million on a flight of ads in Iowa and New Hampshire that seek to re-introduce her to a public who almost certainly feels like they already know everything about the former First Lady, New York Senator and Secretary of State” [WaPo]. a show of strength in the air war may send a message to Biden.

Capital Hill

“With the dog days of August having descended on Washington, the members of the House have returned home for the rest of the summer while the Senate braces itself for a week of largely symbolic votes and positioning for fall fiscal battles” [Market News]. Now’s your chance to visit their district offices…. 

Stats Watch

“Federal Reserve officials have fuzzy views on how wage growth fits in with their objectives for the economy. They would like to see wages growing faster. It would give them confidence that the economy is closer to their dual goals of producing healthy job growth and modestly rising inflation. But the linkages between wages, jobs and inflation are unclear, and so they’re not banking on faster wage growth materializing. [Wall Street Journal, “Grand Central: Fed Doesn’t Demand Wage Growth Before Increasing Interest Rate]

“Consumer-price growth has been running below the Fed’s 2% target for three years, and June was yet another month of weakness” [Wall Street Journal, ” Inflation Misses Fed’s 2% Target for 38th Straight Month”].  An unbroken track record of success! Just like wages, come to think about it.

Motor Vehicle Sales, July 2015: “Running about as expected” [Bloomberg]. Both June and July are “down from May’s gigantic spike.”

Personal Income and Outlays, June 2015: “The consumer showed less life in June with inflation remaining very quiet.” Bloomberg]. Spending as expected, personal income slightly more than expected.  But: “With significant backward revisions this month, the data looks weaker than at first glance” [Econintersect].

Institute of Supply Management Manufacturing Index,  July 2015: “Weak employment and continued contraction in exports held down the manufacturing index” [Bloomberg]. New orders slightly up, exports down, backlog down.

PMI Manufacturing Index, July 2015: “Slow growth is the signal from this morning’s manufacturing reports” [Bloomberg]. “[Exports orders, unlike the ISM report, are showing a slight bounce back. … Employment in this report is strong for another contrast with the ISM report. Price data in both reports are mute.”

Construction Spending, June 2015:  “Held back by a slight and unexpected decline in single-family homes, construction spending inched only 0.1 percent higher in June” [Bloomberg]. “[S]weeping monthly declines for offices, commercial structures, factories along with power and transportation spending. On the plus side were construction for highways and education.” But: “The headlines say construction spending grew below expectations. The backward revisions make this series very wacky. Our view is that if the data is correct – this was a strong growth month” [Econintersect].

Gallup US Consumer Spending Measure, July 2015: “similar to June and essentially matching readings back to April” [Bloomberg]. “Though gas prices remain lower than they were a year ago, which had boosted Americans’ confidence in the economy, this does not seem to have had much effect on Americans’ overall spending.”

Our Famously Free Press

Omidyar to fund a fact-checking organization at Poynter [Poynter Institute]. Why not theory-checking?

Dear Old Blighty 

Corbyn the only Labour candidate to reject Tory/neo-liberal framing on fiscal issues [Prime Economics].


“[I]nvestigators looking into the fund have traced nearly $700 million of deposits into what they believe are [Prime Minister Najib’s] personal bank accounts” [Wall Street Journal, “Things to Know About Probes of Malaysia’s 1MDB Fund”]. Even today, that’s real money!

The mess in Albany: “[S]ome of the most efficient workers in state government have proven to be the maintenance workers tasked with stripping convicted lawmakers’ names of their office doors” [Capitol Confidential]. ” Senate Deputy Majority Leader Tom Libous, R-Binghamton, and Sen. John Sampson, D-Brooklyn.” This seems to keep happening…

Agnotology Watch

“How conservatives forced changes to AP US history to make it more ‘pro-American'” [Vox].

News of the Wired

“The Real Reason You Can’t Stop Checking Your Phone” [Psychology Today].

“The Unemployable Programmer [Unemployable].

“How to spot whodunnit: academics crack Agatha Christie’s code” [Guardian].

“HitchBOT destroyed in Philadelphia, ending U.S. tour” [CBC]. “Researchers say Canadian-made hitchhiking robot ruined beyond repair.” From the city that threw snowballs at Santa… 

* * *

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 (Kurt):


A nice warm garden wall…

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


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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. Eureka Springs

    It’s not just a plant, I call it the battle of wisteria. Chainsaws, clippers, machetes, black magic with loud expletives, boiling water, heck I even sprayed round up on it one year and it just laughed. Even Monsanto’s web page has no suggestions for killing this beast.

    1. Steve H.

      I was engaged in such a battle one summer, and still remember when, a few weeks into the campaign, I realized it was a solid network of vine/root/tentacles a foot down in the soil. They were taking down the pine trees, so I went at them with an axe before succumbing to a Lovecraftian despair.

    2. Watt4Bob

      An old friend once told me that the secret to getting rid of unwanted plants was to build a pen around them, and add some chickens.

      The chickens will peck anything growing in the ground within the enclosure relentlessly until there is nothing left but bare ground.

      Maybe it would work on your wisteria?

    3. Oregoncharles

      Nonetheless, I’ve managed to kill two of them at my own house (by accident) – well, the second one is now growing back, so I have to decide whether to let it.

      OTOH, I’ve seen wisteria escaped into the woods and pulling down 6″ cedar trees, like kudzu, a relative.

      Gorgeous, though, and the right ones also smell wonderful. You just have to think of it as a very slow elephant. Don’t let it get hold of anything you want to stay attached; it can pull buildings apart.

    4. different clue

      It seems as though wisteria is a Plant of Power. One wonders how its survival talents could be put to humanly beneficial use. I had never heard of wisteria being a control-problem until this very moment. If we could hybridize wisteria and kudzu together, I wonder what we might come up with.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Wisteria is poisonous; kudzu is edible. I suspect the Japanese are amused by out problems with it; they feed the tops to livestock and make starch from the roots.

  2. C

    The second flaw is who the TPP leaves out. China, India and Indonesia, among others, are not party to the TPP nor will they be able to join anytime soon….

    The third major flaw is that even in the win-win trade enhancing areas, the TPP will either entrench protection in some areas — chiefly agriculture — or, where it succeeds in liberalising, will do so at the expense of non-members.

    I suspect that both of these are not bugs but features.

  3. Brindle

    2016: Trump Increases Lead in Latest Poll (Monmouth)

    Mainly this shows how pathetic the GOP field is.

    —His favorability rating has improved dramatically with 52 percent saying they have a positive view of Trump, against 35 percent who view him negatively. Before Trump launched his presidential bid in June, only 20 percent had a positive view of him, compared to 55 percent who viewed him negatively.

    “Republican support for Donald Trump just continues to grow with no clear sense of who his constituency really is,” said Patrick Murray, the director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “This makes it very difficult for his opponents to figure out how to take him on in the upcoming debate.”—-


    1. optimader

      Mainly this shows how pathetic the GOP field is
      Mainly this shows how pathetic both fields are

      1. Brindle

        True. Not a single candidate in either party has serious questions about the U.S./ Israel relationship—that is not allowed.

    2. ChuckO

      They keep trying to dig up dirt on Trump, like the fact that his sons are big game trophy hunters. When it comes to traditional politicians, that might work, but not with Trump. He’s in a no-lose situation. If he gets the Republican nomination, he wins, if he doesn’t, which is more likely, he still wins. The reason is that he’s mainly in this for the attention it brings him, and the more outrageous his opinions, the more attention he tends to get. That’s why he doesn’t have positions that have been tailored for him by campaign professionals.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Its less about Trump than the Tea Party element.

        Obviously, the branded Tea Party was a plot to grease the wheels for Mittens, but the supporters were real. There is a divide between the GOP country club/blue blood types and the duck dynasty viewers. In the 2012 primary misadventure, a good portion of GOP voters were desperate for a “real” candidate, not an anointed blue blood. The divide was ignored because Dubya brought both groups together because he had the right Nazi pedigree and was a black sheep, drunk and Mittens did so well in Western states among Mormon voters and early states when a single challenger hadn’t been picked. Newt was still running after all.

        Trump by being attacked by both Team Blue elite and the GOP elite is being seen as a fellow traveler to the average Tea Party sympathizer. Even McCain’s early victory in 2008 was a rejection of Mittens who ran then as the chosen of the blue bloods when everyone else running was a clear misfit (Hucklebee cough).

        Im not sure any attack or negative story about Trump’s past will be believed by his supporters and even an element of Republicans who just want to beat the “Dimmiecrats.” If Trump’s numbers hold, he’ll win even more support.

        He can’t win. Or at least I don’t think he can, but hey, its August and Trump is still being discussed along with Tom Brady’s balls.

        1. alex morfesis

          biff rules the world

          by now trump has probably added at least a billion to his long term net worth…soon trump steaks and trump water will be available again for three easy payments on a pay per sale commercial near you…..

          phineas taylor must be smiling…

          steve allen, when bumping up against ed sullivan, had booked ingred bergman and was chastised for it. many forget, ingred left the country for having fallen out of love with her husband and being attacked by the us congress for it (how times have changed)…mike wallace did an interview with steve allen where allen basically said the country needs people we don’t agree with to step into the public arena and jar us out of our stupor on a regular basis…

          the donald is doing the country a service by showing how weak the incumbent system is…fear is an illusion…concern is ok…but fear is a useless waste of energy…may he make the scoundrels quiver and the fearful stand tall…

  4. Jim Haygood

    ‘…members of the House have returned home for the rest of the summer.’

    Plausible. But mistaken:

    The American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), the educational wing of hardline right-wing pro-Israel lobbying organization the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), is taking all but three freshmen US lawmakers on a tour of Israel, in hopes of turning them against the Iran nuclear deal.

    Over 50 US congresspeople will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Israel in August.

    Two separate trips are being organized along partisan lines—one for Democrats, and another for Republicans. The Democrat trip begins on August 3, and will be led by House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland). The Republican trip begins on August 8, and will be led by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California).


    Who’s our daddy?

    1. Strangely Enough

      When dealing with new pets, it’s best to establish dominance as early as possible…

    2. Kurt Sperry

      I remember some years back at The Orange Satan before I was banned there citing a really good piece mondoweiss had published and getting huge pushback, not because of any of the content cited but because mondoweiss was categorically “antisemitic”. I went back to the site to see if that accusation held any truth as I knew nothing about the site other than the piece I’d read, and concluded it did not. My next conclusion was that engaging with strongly pro Israel people on the subject was an exercise in futility. There wasn’t even any attempt at intellectual honesty in their putative reasoning, it was tribalism as deeply considered as an amputated frog leg twitching when current is applied. The higher reasoning centers of the brain play no role at all.

    3. steelhead23

      Dear Lord – some of us tend to prefer to vote for folks who haven’t been in Washington long enough to be corrupted by K Street, and particularly by AIPAC. Now, instead of coming home to hear their constituents’ concerns during recess, they’re on their way to Israel to hear Netanyahu’s concerns. I hope the Tea Partiers are at least as concerned as we are.

      Baby please don’t go
      Baby please don’t go
      Baby please don’t go
      Down to Tel Aviv,
      You know we need you so.

  5. Bill Smith

    “Sovereignty issues at the state level: “[U]nder the 11th Amendment to the Constitution, state governments are given “sovereign immunity” from most legal issues in federal court. … [T]he TPP appears to get rid of that, and would open up states, at the very least, to [ISDS]””

    A treaty can’t supersede the constitution. Neither can enabling legislation.

    1. Vatch

      You are correct, of course. One not-so-little problem is the need to get 5 of the Supreme Court justices to agree with us. These are the geniuses who selected George W. Bush to be President, decided that money is speech, and that corporations are people.

      But don’t plaintiffs already often get around the sovereign immunity barrier by naming as the defendant a government official? They aren’t suing the state — they’re suing a figurehead.

  6. DJG

    ““Hillary Clinton’s $2million first presidential campaign adverts try to gain voters by talking about her late mother’s troubled childhood as she attempts to show she understands the struggles of Americans”

    So Hillary is attempting to humanize herself by running on her dysfunctional family, much as Bill had to tell us all about defending his mother against his stepfather in his dysfunctional family, and Obama has had to make the best of his excessively ambitious father and his chances with his grandparents in Hawaii in his dysfunctional family. Why does this strike me as inventing the wheel? Why should I care? Why are we being dragged into the bubbling swamp of their personalities?

    It isn’t as if the Bush family is a group that I’d seek to have dinner with, but at least George H.W. didn’t go on and on about the depredations of Prescott. In the next generation, Jeb! and W! have mainly come across as maladjusted twerps with their public display of dysfunction and various religious conversions.

    I can’t imagine Charles de Gaulle campaigning on the dysfunctions of his maman. Nor can I imagine Sandro Pertini of Italy even mentioning his private sufferings (which were much beyond those of the Bush clan) in public. But then they both learned well how to govern.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      No voter cares about a candidate’s family. Its just something partisans bring up because its easier to discuss than policies r current events. One of the former Democratic Delegate in the Virginia House of Delegates ran an ad with pictures/video of her white, blond family. They are a nice family, but the delegate represented a large African-American and relatively poor population who’s votes she needed. Voters don’t care. They want to hear what are you going to do or what you have done. Lots of people have nice families or have horrible secrets behind a nice façade. Hillary’s ad is a sign of desperation. She needs to say something, but I think she and her supporters feel the White House is owed to them. They don’t know why they should be there.

      Obama did get away with not having a point beyond, “I agree with everything my opponent says except she shouldn’t be President”, but he was relatively new to DC and came on the heels of Dean’s reinvigoration of the Democratic Party which had passed a pretty decent legislative package including a minimum wage hike (not for waiters) and forced a date for Iraq withdrawal after the non-sense of the surge.

      Needless to say, we elected the wrong Carter.

    2. jrs

      Because their dysfunctional families explain their sociopathy! This might be relevant someday when they need to beg for mercy in sentencing for their crimes against humanity.

      1. LifelongLib

        Unlike a prime minister but somewhat like royalty, a U.S. president is a symbol of the country as well as its chief politician. Thus we have to listen to stories about alleged lesbian wives and drunken brothers etc. In sensibly organized nations the personal scandals are handled by people more distant from the centers of power.

  7. ekstase

    Re: destruction of Hitchbot.

    “How dare someone know how to make something cool, when I can’t? Smash his/her work, now!”

      1. edmondo

        He may have disappeared but he is now registered to vote in 1200 of the city’s 1400 voting precincts.

        1. Paul Tioxon

          And the best part is when he gets indicted for voter fraud we just wipe his memory. By the way, the bot can actually cover all 1200 precincts, so much more productive! And he needs no WAM!!!!!

  8. edmondo

    “Jill Stein presidential campaign, 2016″ [Ballotpedia].

    Seriously? In a year when crazy “outsider” Donald Trump and a 70 year-old socialist are leading in the polls and crowd funding their campaigns, I have to vote for a nobody again? Are there no ambitious politicians out there anymore. Can they not see that Hillary is ripe for a fall and the GOP is disintegrating? Jill Stein is going to capitalize on that? Seriously?

  9. Vince in MN

    “Personally, I think taking carbon from the earth should be subject to a religious taboo, and only performed after expensive, elaborate, and time-consuming ceremonies.”

    Human sacrifice of invested corporate CEOs should be required, perhaps elaborately.

  10. McDee

    I’ve been banned from the Green Party FB page for commenting that in my state, New Mexico, in 2012 Stein got 2641 votes out of over 772,000 cast. That’s 3/10 of 1 percent. I said that a Stein campaign “…hardly seems worth the effort.” Nobody indeed.

    1. different clue

      Sounds like New Mexico’s Green Party runs their Facebook Page by Digby (Hullabaloo) rules.

    2. LifelongLib

      The Greens did a little better here in Hawaii (“home” of Obama) with 0.73%. The Libertarians topped that though with 0.88%.

  11. Disturbed Voter

    Programmers – Back in the day, weren’t the watchmakers of Geneva a hot-bed of socialism? Until the programmers in the West or India, drop their hopeless bourgeois fantasies … and find a Computer Lenin to lead them, they may as well work for free anyway. If one has a big enough horizon of geography and history … American exceptionalism seems pretty psychopathic and sociopathic.

    1. jrs

      I think the belief is they are all libertarians. There is a strain of that, especially somewhere like silicon valley. But a lot of programming is routine business stuff, and while a libertarian strain may exist, what is far stronger is probably how incredibly *conventional* people doing those kind of business programming jobs can be (not all people, but many). Conventional isn’t really very concerned with ideology left or right. And since leftist thought doesn’t really exist in mainstream U.S. society, it’s nowhere on anyone’s radar.

    2. jrs

      He blames himself for making bad choices. They might be bad choices, but that presumes better choices exist. What are the good choices? Are there any career paths that won’t end in possibly being unemployable if one’s luck was bad? Maybe a few, not many. Maybe almost all the decks are potentially losing but it’s only information asymmetry that makes people think, if only they had chosen another path …

      It doesn’t help that media brainwashes people into thinking there are sure things: get that computer science degree, it’s a sure thing! Or that STEM is necessarily better in terms of job security than one of the careers that is currently out of favor, when that seems doubtful. But actual sure things, are few and far between.

      1. ProNewerDeal

        “What are the good choices? Are there any career paths that won’t end in possibly being unemployable if one’s luck was bad?”

        A great question, jrs.

        1. health professionals, including physicians, pharmacists, dentists. Outside of blatant documented malpractice or substance abuse addiction, afaict such health pros, if unemployed, in the “worst case scenario” could make at least $100K self-employed, by open their own practice in 1 of the “underserved” local areas, such as poor urban or rural areas. IIRC the US physicians per capita is already significantly lower than most OECD nations, obviously this metric is worse in these underserved areas.

        2. a grad, BA or higher, of ANY major, from ~10-20 of the most elite US Univs with the the biggest brand-name, such as the Ivy League, Stanford, MIT, etc, while ALSO continuously working to maintaining alumni connections for life. It seems that these grads could be assured of A white-collar job of at least $50K for life, but perhaps that is not necessarily true. IIRC an anecdote from the documentary Sicko, there was a couple living with their adult children, 1 of the adults being a U of Chicago grad, experienced journalist at a big-city newspaper, that had became unemployed, and could not find a new white-collar job.

        3. A lawyer, in the worst case scenario could find self-employed work as a public defender or some such ($40K?) in an “underlawyered” geographic &/or legal specialty area (if that exists).

        4. Similarly, a CPA accountant could self-employed sell tax preparing services.

        Am I missing any occupations? I don’t think small business entrepreneur is necessarily immune to unemployability or bad luck. It is possible that a monopolistic, government-connected company can eliminate a small company, even if it has a satisfied repeat customer base. Similarly a nasty recession/depression, which are seemingly more random in this Reaganesque financialized capitalism era (~1980-now), can bankrupt a company, after which an entrepreneur may need to work as an employee, as during a recession it may not be feasible to start another company given the weak customer demand.

        The media & poli-trick-ian hyped STEM occupations also do not seem resistant to unemployment. IIRC the Bureau of Labour Stats itself noted iirc 25% of STEM graduates are currently working in a FT STEM job.

        Government jobs historically have been relatively secure, but now they also seem risky, given WI Gov Walker’s union busting, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel firing 25-yrs experienced teacher rigging a bogus bad review with his true goal of eliminating her $70K salary, NASA having done mass layoffs, etc.

  12. Wayne Harris

    “Gallup US Consumer Spending Measure, July 2015: ‘similar to June and essentially matching readings back to April’ [Bloomberg]. ‘Though gas prices remain lower than they were a year ago, which had boosted Americans’ confidence in the economy, this does not seem to have had much effect on Americans’ overall spending.'”

    What part of “tapped out” does Bloomberg not understand?

    From Black Knight Financial Services via HousingWire:

    * U.S. mortgage holders are carrying the most non-mortgage debt they have in 10 years – an average $25,000 each.
    * Student loan debt among mortgage holders is at an all time high.
    * Mortgage holders with student loan debt is up 56% since 2006; average balance $35,000.
    * 48% of mortgage holders have automobile debt as well.
    * Auto debt accounted for 81% of the rise in non-mortgage debt over the past 4 years.

  13. ewmayer

    Re. Hitchbot: Rumor has it that none other than Bill Clinton may be involved, having been spotted on a foundational-fundraising junket in Philly around the same time the vandalism occurred. Got head?

    (Cue Frank Zappa’s human/robot love anthem, Sy Borg: “This is the central scrutinizer… you have just destroyed one model xqj-37 nuclear powered pan-sexual roto-plooker and you’re gonna have to pay for it! so give up, you haven’t got a chance.”)

  14. Sam Kanu

    Do not fall into the trap of segmenting trade pact “traitors” in the democratic party.

    Why? The whole thing was careful choreographed to pass with the bare minimum, with votes from some of those that the party considered to be the least vulnerable. But in fact they all collaborated. Including Obama and Hillary, who they are trying to protect from backlash.

    If you a democrat voter and are not happy about this, what you need to to is vote the charlatans i.e. all of them out of office. Or just sit on your hands and let them lose to republicans. Then at least the charade will be over.

    1. different clue

      I will respectfully disagree for the moment. Since the DemParty has segmented itself into visible traitors and visible patriots, deleting the visible traitors will show the invisible traitors that they lose their Senate seats by moving to visible treason. As the last currently visible traitors get de-elected, the DemParty lords have to start pressuring “visible good guys” into becoming visible traitors. At some point the DemParty will run out of self-sacrificial “good guys” who will vote for Trade Treason to ” take one for the team”.

      That is when the Core DemParty reveals itself as being patriots or traitors. If traitors, vote them all out till their party is extinct.

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