2:00PM Water Cooler 9/22/2015

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.



Clinton advocates using governments purchasing power to lower the price of pharmaceuticals [Los Angeles Times]. Fine, that’s the principle behind single payer’s cost savings. So why doesn’t putative policy wonk Clinton advocate for the real thing, instead of this pissant tweak?

That loveable goof, Joe Biden “has played a consistent and pivotal role in the financial industry’s four-decade campaign to make it harder for students to shield themselves and their families from creditors, according to an IBT review of bankruptcy legislation going back to the 1970s. [International Business Times]. “Biden’s political fortunes rose in tandem with the financial industry’s.”

“Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush is expected Tuesday to propose a sweeping rollback of federal regulations on the environment, Wall Street and other areas: [Wall Street Journal, “Jeb Bush to Propose Rollback of Regulations”]. Nice to see new ideas from the Republicans.


“A new report from Center for Responsive Politics finds single-candidate groups have spent $16.2 million total so far—- over 55 times levels seen in 2012—- and conservatives disproportionately benefit” [Informed Commment].

The Voters

“The Crisis of the Well-Crafted Candidate” [Stratfor]. “Trump and Sanders share something important. Neither is prepared to compromise who he is for the office he is running for.” Privatizing her email server is who Clinton is, too. The problem is that voters don’t like that, much.

The Trail

UPDATE More on the campaign trail, and sorry for the delay; I’m still fighting to get this fershuggeneh laptop to do what I want to do, rather than what it wants to do.

Sanders: “Last Tuesday, a Liberty alumnus who gave his name only as Jim posted a short sermon on the subReddit /r/SandersForPresident, explaining that as soon as he saw the “crazy, wild-haired Jew,” he thought of John the Baptist” [New York Magazine].

Walker debacle: “Three months ago, he was polling in first place in Iowa and in some na­tion­al polls. In the CNN/ORC na­tion­al poll of Re­pub­lic­ans re­leased Monday, Walk­er didn’t even re­gister at 1 per­cent among Re­pub­lic­an voters” [National Journal]. And here’s a helpful timeline.

Walker debacle, theory #1, Trump did it: “From the day Trump entered the race in mid-June, Walker struggled to find his footing in a race in which the “star” was no longer Jeb Bush — a relatively conventional opponent — but rather an entertainer who would say and do anything to draw attention: [WaPo].

Walker debacle, theory #2, Walker’s campaign did it: ” It was Walker who failed to communicate to the GOP electorate how he would serve as an effective executive in the White House” [Commentary]. FWIW, I think theories #1 and #2 are both/and, not either/or. And apparently, Walker was his own strategist; reasonable for Triple-A ball, perhaps, but not for The Show. What I noticed is that Walker started focusing on winger checklists and litmus tests — he’s a preacher’s kid, why not leave it to dog whistles? — and on media tests for being a “serious candidate.” Why not relentlessly keep stomping Democrats, which was his claim to fame?

“Scott Walker’s Jekyll and Hyde presidential campaign, in 2 videos” [WaPo]. Eesh, who kidnapped him?

“What It’s Like To Close Up Shop” [Independent Journal Review]. Excellent portrait of a failing and flailing campaign from the staffer’s perspective. “[T]he press office will issue a press release announcing a reorganization to improve the candidate’s prospects and bring spending back into line. Then many, many people will get drunk.”

Democratic debates: “The problem is that of the four debates that are actually scheduled, three come on weekends (as opposed to during weeknight prime time), one of them on the weekend between the end of Hanukkah and Christmas. The two remaining (as yet unscheduled) debates are in February or March, one on Univision and the other on PBS. Between those two and the one in January, there will be only three Dem debates in 2016, during the period in which Democrats will be voting in dozens of contests” [WaPo]. It’s almost as if Democrats don’t want to expose their front-runner to the rigors of the campaign trail….

“The emoji feature Mrs. Clinton in three different shades of pantsuit” [Wall Street Journal, “Hillary Clinton Emoji Headed to Cellphones”]. Nobody can say Clinton’s staffers aren’t competent and dedicated, even funny. Their problem is their candidate.

Biden, “America’s Happy Warrior” [Talking Points Memo]. Eeeeeewww!

Fiorina: “Mrs. Fiorina, somewhat famously inside of Lucent, literally kissed the feet of [Nina Aversano, a senior executive at Lucent] on stage in front of hundreds of employees after a particularly good quarter” [New York Times]. Aversano was known for “aggressive sales tactics.” For an example of what that bit of corporate-ese translates into, see Dollar Rent-a-Car under Corruption.

Fiorina: “Carly Fiorina’s Defense Of Hewlett-Packard’s Iran Dealings Has Some Big Holes” [Sam Stein, HuffPo]. “As for Fiorina’s assertion that HP only discovered the Iran-related transactions three years after she left the company, that too seems unlikely. The company, after all, was known to use subsidiaries to circumvent sanctions law.” Good detail.

Stats Watch

FHFA House Price Index, July 2015: “Home prices cooled late in the second quarter but began to pick up in July based on FHFA’s house price index which rose a higher-than-expected 0.6 percent with the year-on-year rate at plus 5.8 percent” [Econoday]. “[T]oday’s report should raise expectations for strength.”

Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index, September 2015: “Early indications on the September factory sector are negative and now include a minus 5 headline from the Richmond Fed. New orders, unfortunately, are even more deeply in the negative column at minus 12 which points to even weaker activity in the months ahead” [Econoday].

“US SEC Puts Fund Liquidity Risk Management on Meeting Agenda” [Econoday].

“The Federal Reserve data release (Z.1 Flow of Funds) for 2Q2015 – which provides insight into the finances of the average household – shows a modest improvement in average household net worth. Our modeled “Joe Sixpack” – who owns a house and has a job, and essentially no other asset – is better off than he was last quarter.” [Econintersect].

Revisiting “the scariest chart.” ” And guess what? The chart above clearly shows that the current period of ‘recovery’ is still the worst in terms of employment performance than any previous recovery on record. [Econintersect]. Crazy talk. This is the bestest recovery in the history of the world. Why does this guy hate Obama?

Fear and Greed Index, September 22, 2015: 30 (fear) [CNN]. Last I checked, we were in Extreme Fear territory.


How Volkswagen’s “defeat device” works; handy diagram. [Reuters]. So we have an entire IT department designing, coding, testing, and deploying an instrument of fraud in software. So I wonder which executives signed off on the project, and managed it? Did executives give the orders, and “good engineers” obey? Or were the engineers “working toward the CEO”? My thought on this is best conveyed in the form of an revised version of the Reuters diagram:


I’ve greyed out the auto-related text. You can see at once that a similar algorithm could be implemented in any product where compliance testing depends on software the manufacturer controls, and where the software can detect and game the compliance regimen. So, given the givens, the question isn’t whether GM is doing what VW did, but how pervasive the practice is generally. Speculating freely: Boeing, with aircraft. Johnson & Johnson, with medical devices. And, of course, stress tests. Maybe that’s why the word “Libor” keeps cropping up in coverage?

“VW CEO: ‘Endlessly sorry’ as emissions scandal escalates” [AP]. Any voluntary defenestrations yet? Chopped off little fingers? No? Because the emissions levels VW gamed are set so that people won’t die from breathing VW’s non-compliant diesel fumes (not to mention the effect on Gaia).

“Driven To Deceive: Life Behind The Counter At Dollar Rent A Car” [International Business Times]. Dollar Rent-a-Car’s margins seem to come from upselling insurance, not renting cars; hence the entire operation is optimized for fraud. There’s actually a playbook on how to fold envelopes so that the customer tosses the bill in the glove compartment and doesn’t look at the total.

Trendon Shavers, 33, founder of Bitcoin Savings and Trust “pleaded guilty to defrauding people out of $4.5 million in what the U.S. said was a first-of-its-kind Ponzi scheme involving investments in the virtual currency bitcoin” [AP]. “At the peak of his scheme in 2011 and 2012, Shavers held about 7 percent of all bitcoins in circulation, prosecutors said.”

Dear Old Blighty

“9 questions about David Cameron’s #PigGate you were too embarrassed to ask” [Vox]. OK, OK. I know the story is single-sourced. I know there’s no photograph (yet). And I know I’m allowing my sense of schadenfreude far too much free rein. But the fact that there’s a Vox explainer on David Cameron face-f*cking a dead pig fills me with delight, with malign glee. I mean, Cameron’s the guy that wants to chop up the NHS and feed bits of it to his posh friends. My gosh, what a year we’re having! (Cf. The Onion; marginally NSFW).

“Why David Cameron’s ‘Pig-Gate’ Scandal Isn’t Going Away” [Time].

Polls show Britain doesn’t care about #Piggate [Independent].

Lord Ashcroft, whose book broke #PigGate, probably believed British polls that showed the Tories would lose, and hence that he would be kicking Cameron when Cameron was down, rather than chewing the ankles of a sitting Prime Minister [New Statesman].

Health Care

“Funding DC Health Link” [Medium]. Would be a great project for #BlackLivesMatter…

Class Warfare

If you can’t pay the electronic monitoring bill for your ankle bracelet, you get sent back to jail. [International Business Times]. Seems less an aberration, and more the limit case of life under neo-liberalism, to me.

“CEO who raised price of old HIV pill more than $700, calls journalist a ‘moron’ for asking why” [WaPo]. Indeed!

“US pharmaceutical company defends 5,000% price increase” [BBC].”‘We needed to turn a profit on this drug,’ Mr Shkreli told Bloomberg TV. ‘The companies before us were actually giving it away almost.” And there you have it…

News of the Wired

“Google broadens life sciences with mental health hire” [ZDNet]. The thought of Google executives making mental health decisions that affect billions…

“The campaign against sex robots is missing the point” [Daily Dot]. “Far from ‘replacing’ women or encouraging us to see them as objects, sex bots can provide a companion for people who are, for whatever reason, unable to participate in the same relationships as the rest of society.” Us? Like the otaku that hole up in their rooms and never come out…

“The CIA Campaign to Steal Apple’s Secrets” [The Intercept]. Months ago, but the same hack recently revealed (and IIRC, blamed on the ever-convenient Chinese).

“Protesters stormed the prosecutor’s office of the southern Mexico state of Guerrero on Monday to protest the handling of the disappearance of 43 students, days before the case’s first anniversary” [France24]. “A group of protesters entered the offices, breaking computers and surveillance cameras and causing damage to four vehicles.” I should be following this story, which obviously isn’t going away, more than I am.

* * *

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 (Pat):

First Fall Color

“First Fall Color”… I hate even to think that winter’s white crow might be on the wing, but of course it is. So I’m putting up this early fall photo as a reminder to readers to think, when they see an especially beautiful tree…

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. Winter is coming, I need to fix my laptop, and I need to keep my server up, too.


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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. Synoia

    Volkswagen: Did exectives give the orders, and “good engineers” obey?

    Ja, we were just following orders. (Not confined to Germany, see Global War On Terrorism).

    The nature of a feudal system. Do what you are told or else (get fired or executed).

    1. craazyboy

      Nein, Nein, Nein! Ve do zes zings at home, und zen insert zem in ze products ve vork on in our paying day job…zo CEOs don’t haf to spend zo much money on our salaries!

  2. LarryB

    The algorithm that VW used has been around forever. I can recall years ago (~25, IIRC) when Oracle was caught putting code into their programs that would recognize when a benchmarking suite was being run and then disable some of the safety routines. This resulted in them being able to out perform their competition on these benchmarks and probably resulted in increased sales for them.

    1. hunkerdown

      The algorithm is not new, to be sure. What makes this case important is that CPUs or RDBMSes running extra fast on predictable workloads isn’t a massive violation of environmental law. Germany gasses their victims remotely these days like a good transnational corporation.

    2. Jim Haygood

      Some unintentional media humor:

      German auto supplier Bosch said on Tuesday it had delivered components, so-called common jail injection systems, to Volkswagen.


      They meant ‘common rail,’ of course. But Lambert foiled them by graying out the technical bits, leaving the helpless journos to their own feeble best guesses.

      You reckon VW’s clever software was adapted from Stuxnet?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Ah, so they outsourced the fraud. Clever. You could write specifications and requirements to implement that algorithm that didn’t actually mention the purpose once the subsystem was embedded in the larger system.

        I wonder if Bosch then outsourced the coding, in the same way and for the same reason?

        1. Carolinian

          This is an amazing story. It will only increase the pressure on automakers to make their car firmware open source. The previous hoohah about the hacked Jeep had already raised questions about putting your safety in the hands of secret computer code.

          1. Carolinian

            More on this:


            All the while, the EPA apparently trusts automakers over the public. The EPA doesn’t want you tinkering with vehicle software because, of all things, you might increase the vehicle’s performance and cause it to pollute more. Or, in the EPA’s own words, an exemption would “enable actions that could slow or reverse gains made under the Clean Air Act.”

            Yes we can’t have those shade tree mechanics tinkering with their rides. Meanwhile one can doubtless look forward to Volkswagen’s deferred prosecution agreement. To paraphrase Leona Helmsley: only the little people obey environmental laws….

            1. cwaltz

              You can’t expect the special snowflake peop-er corporations to have to follow the rules the rest of us do. The way it works is they get all the privileges of personhood with none of the actual accountability the rest of us actually have when we break rules.

    3. guest

      You can assume that if core functionality is implemented in software, and if benchmarking that functionality is customary, then the software will be fine-tuned to produce outstanding results specifically when benchmarks are being exercised.

      It affects smartphones, graphics processors, personal computers, programming languages… Basically all core components of IT systems are involved.

      Given that everyday devices controlled by embedded computers are so widespread, benchmark cheating is not unexpected. I presume VW is not an exception in the automobile industry — just that it was a bit too reckless.

  3. curlydan

    Going to the car rental counter–at Dollar or ANY rental company–on a non-business trip is akin to the sales room at a car dealership. Insulting, untruthful, demeaning, and needlessly stressful at every level.

    Things to do when I get really rich #3:
    Start a car rental company with a no upsell policy. Socialist car rental ROCKs!

    1. Ed S.

      Quick anecdote:

      Rented a truck (small, 10 foot box truck — basically a van) from a large national chain. Very good price ($18/day?). Do I want insurance. Say no, my insurance company covers it. Agent says better double check – call insurance company. Covered any vehicle up to 10k gross weight. Ask agent — what does it weigh? He “doesn’t know”. Check the truck — sticker in it sez 10,400 lbs. End up taking the insurance (discounted $40/day — full price was $65/day. On an $18 rental).

      Lo and behold, go to a dump and have the truck weighted. 6,500lbs. Fully loaded.

      Return the truck and tell them – expecting a fight. Nope — here’s a full refund on the insurance, sorry about the “error”, no issue at all.

      Nothing short of fraud.

      1. bob

        Net vs gross.

        The rental agent probably gave you the weight of the truck, plus the max weight of the cargo capacity. Max Gross.

        Net would be the weight of the truck alone. Dry. No cargo.

        Ask your agent how to find out the gross weight of a truck. Will he bring the scales? What about the trip to the scales? Am I covered or not?

        I also wouldn’t put it past an insurance company to try and duck a claim with that truck, at 6,500lbs, because the max gross was over 10k. Are you going to pick up every piece of detritus after a wreck and weight it? Can you be sure you got it all?

        So sorry. Denied.

  4. ChrisFromGeorgia

    Any thoughts from our resident TPP experts on whether the upcoming ministers meeting down here in Atlanta is a last ditch effort or has a real chance of going anywhere?

    Seems to be a bit of a media blackout here in the US, which makes me nervous.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks for the heads up. Globe and Mail:

      The United States and Japan, the two most influential players in the 12-country negotiations, are behind this effort to conclude a deal….

      An agreement in principle, if reached in Atlanta, would need to be fleshed out and ratified by all countries, including whichever party forms the government in Canada after the Oct. 19 federal election.

      U.S. President Barack Obama said on Wednesday he was confident the Trans-Pacific Partnership accord could be wrapped up this year. He noted, however, that approval by the U.S. Congress could be challenging.


      “I’m confident that we can get it done, and I believe we can get it done this year,” Obama told the Business Roundtable.

      He added, however, that U.S. lawmakers might not sign off on the pact even though they have given him authority to speed trade deals through Congress.


      [Negotiators are preparing] to re-convene in Atlanta, Georgia to finalize the terms of the TPP. According to reports on the current status of negotiations, officials are still quarreling over major sticking points involving auto trade and tariffs on commodities like rice and dairy. The negotiations next week however, are set up as possibly being the last round of talks where the TPP could be concluded. But of course we have heard this many times before so it’s hard to know if this is simply more bluffing.

      Robert Kuttner:

      Japanese automakers are in the process of massively shifting production to China. Under the provision demanded by the Japanese and accepted by the Americans, as much as 86 percent of a vehicle could be sourced in China and the vehicle still labeled “Made in Japan” (or elsewhere).

      Presumably, American automakers are outraged by this sellout. But no, GM likes it fine — because GM also wants to increasingly produce in China. So much for containing China. Ford doesn’t like the deal because Ford is still committed to manufacturing in North America. The governments of Canada and Mexico, rivals for Chinese production, hate it.

      Here’s the point: With so many governments already in bed with Beijing, the TPP, even if enacted, will not slow China’s economic dominance. But there are so many provisions opposed by so many countries that the deal is unlikely to be sealed at all. And even if the deal should be negotiated, Congress could well balk at the screwball special interest provisions that add up to strategic mush.

      Another indicator of the lack of Washington’s strategic seriousness: there is no chapter on currency manipulation — one of the profound sources of the US trade deficit with Asia. But that would be another deal-breaker for Japan, a recidivist currency-manipulator.

      So now it’s autoparts, which doesn’t even address the dairy and pharma, and that’s if we believe Japan wants a deal, now that it’s already got the green light for remilititarizing, and how does Malaysia’s Najib government sign anything? (OTOH, maybe Harper wants a deal he can brandish in the current elections. Canadian readers?)

      So I’d say it looks lousy. What gives me pause is that idea of “agreement in principle.” Now that sounds like something all parties can agree on, even if it means nothing operationally. But I don’t like the idea of TPP moving forward at all.

      Sorry I’m not more on top of this; my bookmarks are on my Mac, and my Mac is in the shop. And Eyes on Trade, which was the goto source on TPP for a long time, seems to have gone dark since Lori Wallach left. So it’s quiet. Too quiet.

      1. Chauncey Gardiner

        Re: … “So it’s quiet. Too quiet.”

        I agree, Lambert. Like so many of this administration’s actions (…“Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage”), We the People have been intentionally denied material facts about substantive aspects of these secret agreements while they jammed “Fast Track” through Congress under the misleading “trade” banner. Hopefully the Atlanta meeting will be this administration’s last gasp, failed Hail Mary on this debacle. But somehow, I expect not.


      2. abynormal

        reconvening negotiations in Atlanta…wanna bet the mtg will take place down the road from me… at ICE

        prevailing GST as may be determined by the Government of Malaysia. GST is enforced starting from 1 April 2015.

        Architects of the World’s Markets

        me thinks i’ll need some help making bond

  5. Oregoncharles

    ” I’m still fighting to get this fershuggeneh laptop to do what I want to do, rather than what it wants to do.”

    Skynet, again?

    Seriously: this sort of thing is creepy. What have we done?

  6. 3.17e-9

    Any voluntary defenestrations yet?

    I don’t think I’ve ever read this word in a blog or news article. It’s a brilliant replacement for four or five words and thus gold to a wordsmith. I first encountered it a couple of years ago while doing some research about the 17th century, an interesting period that is parallel in many ways to our era, but that’s another whole story.

    Among the events that changed the course of European history was the Thirty Years’ War. Religion had a lot to do with it (although I maintain that all wars are about resources and territory, not idealogy), but the incident that precipitated the fighting was the Defenestration of Prague. In other words, a war that devastated the Holy Roman Empire and reduced the population by about a third was started by a delegation from one side throwing high-level officials out the window!

    That would be like John Kerry, Victoria Nuland, and Catherine Ashton taking a list of sanctions against Russia to a meeting with Sergey Lavrov and being thrown out a third-story window by his deputies.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      30 Years War also made the Pope clamp down on Galileo and others noticing the obvious fact that the Church perhaps was not the font of all truth…so a nice parallel with Kerry as the standard bearer of American Exceptionalist Truthiness. The Earth (America) is not the immovable center of the universe.

    2. Jagger

      Yes, defrenestration is an interesting word. Unfortunately most people aren’t familiar with the Thirty Years War in the US. Some people will look up the word and some will have a sense of the meaning from the context. But many will never look it up. Great word but I wonder if it is so rare that it isn’t good as a word of communication for the majority.

      I suspect we are seeing a replay of the Thirty Years War in the Middle East today except it has been going on for a lot longer than 30 years. A lot of similiarities. Neither would have gone on as long as they did if it hadn’t been for outside players playing their games in Germany or today, in the ME.

      1. Synoia

        Defenestration, also practiced on blacks in apartheid South Africa, from the sixth windows of John Vorster Square.

        “Ja Mynheer, they jumped”

        With boot prints on their backs, generated in the hard landing no doubt.

  7. Paul Tioxon

    Black Mirror, Episode 1, British PM becomes a pig fucker on live TV in order to save the life of the kidnapped princess. Nice work if you can get it. This was broadcast on US TV as part of new edgy SciFi from the UK. Who knew it was not fiction? Not Pink Floyd!

    Pigs on the Wing (Part One) (Waters) 1:24

    If you didn’t care what happened to me,
    And I didn’t care for you,
    We would zig zag our way through the boredom and pain
    Occasionally glancing up through the rain.
    Wondering which of the buggars to blame
    And watching for pigs on the wing.

    ¨I am not fucking a pig, page 1, that´s not happening.¨ HAH!


    Submitted for yr approval, ENJOY!!

    1. craazyboy

      Yeah! Pink Floyd already has the inflatable pig balloon. Just need the mating Cameron balloon and we’re all set for the Reunion Tour! Maybe Waters and Gilmour will even make up and bury the hatchet for it.

  8. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    Tin foil: I read a guy who says Hilary launched the email scandal herself, she didn’t want to be “the anointed front-runner” like she was in 2008, she wanted to be the “scrappy underdog making a comeback”, she calculated that the scandal would take her down many notches but it wouldn’t be fatal (because the rich are above the law and because the collective memory is +/- 5 seconds). So she arranged for the Grey Lady to get the goods (another tell, why would Fox not be the ones to out this), dropped it early enough to run its course and recover. Extremely unlikely for her to end up with an ankle bracelet, and people will just hold their noses and pull the lever for “anybody but that guy on the other side”. Then WW III for fun and profit.

  9. ewmayer

    o “Lord Ashcroft, whose book broke #PigGate, probably believed British polls that showed the Tories would lose, and hence that he would be kicking Cameron when Cameron was down, rather than chewing the ankles of a sitting Prime Minister”

    Speculating freely, maybe His Lordship was secretly aspiring to taking over the pig’s job. Readers?

    o Re. the hedge-fund douche [redundant, I know], as I noted in Links, Two words: Canadian Pharmacy.

    o Re. VW fraudware – let’s not forget that virtually every major manufacturer of PC printers does or has done similarly with the software detection of ink levels in printer cartridges. It’s not enough to charge you outrageous prices for replacement cartridges – no, they have to lie to you about how long those last, too.

  10. Left in Wisconsin

    Re: Walker. I think he can blame Trump for dropping him to 5-8% in the polls but only himself for slipping all the way to 0%.

  11. Anon

    I must say that I’m kinda surprised that Walker dropped out – reading the articles here from Lambert and what gets curated daily, I expected him to get the pick, given his pretty neat track record of “beating Democrats”. I wonder who will drop next…

    1. MikeNY

      Jindal or Santorum, one hopes. They make Lindsey look like Lincoln by comparison.

      (At least Santorum has found fame with his name.)

  12. abynormal

    Germany’s ZDF public television network headlines on Tuesday September 22nd, “New U.S. Atomic Weapons to Be Stationed in Germany,” and reports that the U.S. will bring into Germany 20 new nuclear bombs, each being four times the destructive power of the one that was used on Hiroshima. Hans Kristensen, the Director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, says, “With the new bombs the boundaries blur between tactical and strategic nuclear weapons.”

    “So, who’ll save us then, Walt?” Barley asked. “You and Nedsky?”

    “Vanity, if anything will, which I doubt,” Walter retorted. “No leader wants to go down in history as the ass who destroyed his country in an afternoon. And funk, I suppose. Most of our gallant politicians do have a narcissistic objection to suicide, thank God.”
    le Carré, The Russia House

    1. craazyboy

      There is the Dr. Strangelove version. Our leaders decide to “rescue” the Victoria’s Secret girls and head deep down into a coal mine for the next 100 years – diligently working on re-populating the future world.

    2. micky9finger

      Nothing new. We had nuclear artillery rounds there from the 60’s on at least through the 80’s, probably still sitting there.
      Of course these were tactical. And missiles.
      And there was always suggestions of suitcase nucs for “stay behind” action.

  13. Jim Haygood

    Comrades, the economic situation has developed not necessarily to China’s advantage:

    The preliminary Caixin China manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) fell to a six-and-a-half-year low of 47.0 in September, below the 47.5 forecast in a Reuters poll.

    This compares with a final reading of 47.3 in August, the lowest since March 2009.


    It’s lookin’ like a red sunrise over Wall Street tomorrow:


    Dr. Hussman: ‘I warned y’all, but you morans wouldn’t listen!’

  14. gerry

    Can someone explain how Mr. Shkreli can charge so much for a 60+ yo drug? Can it be a patent? That seem unlikely. Entry cost? This seems like something econ texts should cover.

    Thanks for all your good work.

  15. Ian

    The MSM news in Canada is reporting TPP quite a bit now. Seen multiple articles from Huff, globe and mail and such and am wondering if this is a feint of some sort as I have read nothing from you guys or the much in the way of what is considered alternative news.

  16. Bridget

    Regarding fershuggeneh laptops…..it has been my experience that a wipe in time saves nine. As long as you are not Hillary Clinton.

  17. ewmayer

    More perspective on hedge-fund DoucheMan Shkreli’s price gouging (“now reduced to a mere 1000%!” or some such nonsense):

    Multibillion-dollar lobbying caused Daraprim price hike: analysis | Sydney Morning Herald

    Despite [CEO of the pompously-named Turing Pharmaceuticals Martin] Shkreli agreeing to lower the price of the drug after the backlash, the New York Times’ revelation of his behaviour this week focused attention on what is arguably a larger scandal – the success pharmaceutical companies have had in boosting the price of drugs in the United States.

    Big Pharma’s most extraordinary win came in 2003, when Congress passed a law that at once expanded government health insurance for the elderly, known as Medicare, to include prescription drugs.

    The law also – and this is not a joke – banned the government from negotiating the prices they would pay the drug companies.

    That is, once a drug had been approved for coverage, the government was forced to pay whatever the companies demanded.

    This bewildering concession – normally referred to as simply “Medicare Part D” – was made after a colossal lobbying effort under the Bush administration in 2003.

    The pharmaceutical industry spent a staggering $US2.6 billion on lobbying activities between 1998 and 2012, according to OpenSecrets.org.

    That is four times as much as the defence and aerospace industries spend and almost twice the lobbying outlay of oil and gas companies.

    According to the Centre for Public Integrity, the pharmaceutical industry employs two lobbyists for each member of Congress and spends $US100 million a year to keep many of those members of Congress on its side.

    Medicare Part D was eventually passed after an ugly late-night battle on Capitol Hill.

    The vote was held at 3am, but after 15 minutes normally allowed for ballots to be cast, the legislation had failed, so Republican leadership kept the ballot open almost three hours while they twisted arms and offered inducements.

    “The pharmaceutical lobbyists wrote the bill,” one disgusted Republican congressman, Walter Jones, told CBS in 2007.

    “The bill was over 1000 pages. And it got to the members of the House that morning, and we voted for it at about 3 in the morning.”

    The then House Majority Leader, Tom Delay, would later be reprimanded by the House Ethics Committee, which was dominated by his Republican colleagues.

    As a result drug prices in the United States are the most expensive in the world.

    Article also notes this is not the first time Shkreli has pulled such a stunt. And it’s perfectly legal, whereas the right of the people to shop abroad for better prices on medicines is severely circumscribed. No army of lobbyists pushing reimportation easing, you see.

  18. Lerato

    The song is GREAT! I’m hooked after the first 30 seocnds. THIS is what he should have released for the first song to advertise the new album.They’re right, he needs to get someone fresh to do his album covers.Those complaing about the download need to LEAVE. We’ve enjoyed this blog for years and don’t need any complainers. Some of us DO support the artist.

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