2:00PM Water Cooler 9/24/2015

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.



“Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Speaks Out Against Ben Carson’s Anti-Muslim Comments” [HuffPo]. Sensible as usual. I wish he’d run. Arnold did.


U.S. Billionaires Political Power Index [CFR]. 2014, but still useful and with a handy chart to put on your fridge, if you have a fridge.

“Democratic fundraisers are urging Hillary Clinton to make Bill Clinton a bigger part of her presidential campaign, particularly when it comes to fundraising” [The Hill]. “Since the start of the campaign in April, there has been very little, if any, interaction in person with either Clinton, particularly for Obama’s biggest fundraisers, they say.” Odd. Is there a context where Clinton isn’t wrapped in tissue paper?

The Trail

“The thing is, they’re both right: Fiorina and Trump both have incredibly spotty records as business executives” [Quartz].

Sanders at DNC: “‘We are defeating in one-to-one match-ups a number of Republicans, and that’s with a lot of people not knowing who I am,’ said Sanders, as he explained the new math of 2016. ‘If the question is, Can we defeat the Republicans? I think the answer is that, yes, we can'” [The Nation]. Sly reference to Obama!

“Sanders’ rise is also a knock on Obama’s tenure. As Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva noted recently, Sanders has “ignited the base in a way that we haven’t been able to do for six years.” If this is true, then one has to ask, what exactly has Obama been doing all of these years?”[US News].

“The new Quinnipiac poll poll finds Hillary Clinton with 43 percent of Dems and Dem-leaning independents nationally; Bernie Sanders has 25 percent; Joe Biden has 18. Remove Biden and Clinton leads Sanders by 53-30” [WaPo]. But Clinton’s numbers among Americans overall are upside down on favorability (41-55); on honesty and trustworthiness (32-63); and on caring about people like you (43-53). Yet they say by 55-43 that Clinton has strong leadership qualities.” Is it so very odd that, these days, people identify lying, cheating, and — let’s be honest — sociopathy as leadership qualities?

Walker debacle, from campaign manager Rick Wiley: “It takes a lot to build a campaign to run for president, especially around someone who is introduced to a new set of issues. Foreign policy — brand new. And just the dynamics of the federal issues are different, obviously. I mean, my God, this guy is a machine — I mean he really, truly is. But that takes staff, it takes time to do that. And we built the campaign that we needed to get him ready” “Walker had a Walker problem: He just wasn’t ready for the national stage. It was often overlooked that just five years ago, he was the Milwaukee County executive” [Politico]. Summary: “Walker had a Walker problem: He just wasn’t ready for the national stage. It was often overlooked that just five years ago, he was the Milwaukee County executive.”

Stats Watch

Durable Goods Orders, August 2015: “Total shipments were flat in the month but follow solid gains in July and June. Core capital goods shipments, like orders, slipped 0.2 percent but also follow prior gains” [Econoday]. “Weakness in exports is the balancing factor tipping the factory sector away from growth.” And: “This series has been in a general downtrend since seen since November 2014. The three month rolling average improved this month but remains in contraction” [Econoday].

Jobless Claims, week of September 9. 2016: “Initial jobless claims continue to hold at near record lows” [Econoday].

Chicago Fed National Activity Index, August 2015: “August was a weak month for the economy, based on the national activity index which came in at minus 0.41” [Econoday]. “This whole recovery has been softer than usual and indications of any pickup remain elusive.” Crazy talk. This is the best recovery in all recorded history.

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of September 20, 2015: “Confidence came back in the September 20 week with the consumer comfort index rising a very sharp 1.7 points to 41.9. Losses in the stock market had been depressing the index in recent weeks as well as other confidence readings” [Econoday]. “Today’s gain hints at strength for tomorrow’s very closely watched consumer sentiment report.”

New Home Sales, August 2015: “This is the highest rate since February 2008. Adding to the momentum is a 15,000 upward revision to July. In especially welcome news for builders, the sales strength pulled supply relative to sales even lower” [Econoday]. “Because of a small sample, new home sales can be very volatile month-to-month.” And: “The rolling averages smooth out much of the uneven data produced in this series – and this month there was an significant acceleration in the rolling averages” [Econoday].

Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index, September 2015: “At an index of minus 8, contraction continues apace in the Kansas City manufacturing sector which reports export weakness tied to the strong dollar and energy-sector weakness tied to low commodity prices” [Econoday]. “Manufacturing was basically flat in August, as evidenced by this morning’s durable goods report. And the early indications on September, including the Kansas City report, are all pointing to increasing weakness.”

The Fed: “There is, however, a catch-22 with any attempt to use the FCI [Financial Conditions Index] as a guide to setting monetary policy. Eventually, if the Fed really does want to tighten policy, it will have to follow through with its threat, or else the markets will undo the rise in the FCI as they realise that the Fed is bluffing. This is a game of chicken, a game with no unique equilibrium” [Gavyn Davies, Financial Times, “Financial conditions and a catch-22 for the Fed”]. “Until the majority on the FOMC starts paying more attention to the large tightening in the FCI, the economy may weaken further. That is what the markets are worried about.”

“Sales of the big rigs that move the U.S. economy are solidly strong heading into the fall, according to dealers and manufacturers of heavy-duty trucks” [Market News]. ” Most purchases are still replacement vehicles, [Daimler’s Diane] Hames said. Capacity utilization is high, suggesting growing truck demand going forward, she said, but noted the fleet-limiting potential of the deepening truck driver shortage.” If only there were some way to lure more workers into the field!

“The Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB), dropped 0.4 percent in September, following a revised 0.2 percent decline in August. The pattern shows a marked deceleration, even reversal, over second quarter activity. It is unlikely that growth will pick up through early 2016” [Econintersect].

“Caterpillar Inc. said it would slash thousands of jobs and cut manufacturing space by 10%, as it expects weakening demand from resource and construction companies will continue” [Wall Street Journal, “Caterpillar Cuts Jobs, Revenue Outlook”]. “The announcement, which sent Caterpillar shares tumbling, underscores the depth of the downturn in the mining and energy sectors after years of rocketing demand for its excavators, mining trucks, wheel loaders and industrial engines.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“America’s racial divides are so deep, we can’t even agree what the Civil War was about” [WaPo].

The differences in the share of white, black and Latino Americans who said correctly — and yes, we are coming down on the side of the facts here — that the Civil War was fought mainly over slavery were, when compared to other issues in the poll, relatively small. While blacks said 54 to 32 that it was about slavery, whites were about evenly split on whether it was about slavery or states’ rights.

C’mon, let’s be fair. If you define “liberty” as the freedom to buy black people, as many Confederates did, then the Civil War was totally about states’ rights…. (Which gives me a chance to mention the Civil War Podcast; episode #23 (“Secession Fever”) covers this, extensively quoting the case for secession as made to Confederate state legislatures, and accepted by them).

Police State

“Since the peak of Occupy Wall Street in the fall of 2011, New York activists have become familiar with Deputy Inspector Andrew J. Lombardo. He’s referenced in numerous tweets, YouTube videos, and news reports. His tactics of seemingly arbitrary arrests, intense questioning, and what some have described as “mind games” have been documented by activists and First Amendment organizations for years” [Gothamist]. And now the awesome part: “What isn’t known is that before he rose to be one of the NYPD’s most prominent point men on NYC protests, Lombardo, or “The Lombardo” as many activists not-so-lovingly call him, was a prison guard at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq for the 800th MP Battalion during the time of the prisoner torture scandal.” Hardly surprising, when you think about it; we encourage ex-military to join the police; we arm them heavily; and we give them impunity. That cops act like an occupying army is hardly surprising, then, even before you get to law enforcement for profit.

“Delaware Police Shoot and Kill Man in Wheelchair” [Time]. I’m starting to expect we’ll see a story about how some victim of a cop shooting was stuffed and mounted.

“With cops controlling the cameras, and often writing the rules surrounding their use, anti-brutality activists fear that body-worn cameras will distract from meaningful reforms, expand surveillance, and exacerbate mass incarceration” [The Nation].


“In a case the Los Angeles district attorney’s office is calling one of the largest insurance scams in the state, an orthopedic surgeon is accused of deceiving patients into having surgery at the hands of an unqualified assistant and undergoing procedures they didn’t need” [Reveal]. $150 million. Pikers.


“Accelerated modern human–induced species losses: Entering the sixth mass extinction” [Science]. “These estimates reveal an exceptionally rapid loss of biodiversity over the last few centuries, indicating that a sixth mass extinction is already under way. Averting a dramatic decay of biodiversity and the subsequent loss of ecosystem services is still possible through intensified conservation efforts, but that window of opportunity is rapidly closing.”

“The UK, France and Germany have been accused of hypocrisy for lobbying behind the scenes to keep outmoded car tests for carbon emissions, but later publicly calling for a European investigation into Volkswagen’s rigging of car air pollution tests” [Guardian]. “Leaked documents seen by the Guardian show the three countries lobbied the European commission to keep loopholes in car tests that would increase real world carbon dioxide emissions by 14% above those claimed.”

“The U.S. Doesn’t Have Enough Of The Vegetables We’re Supposed To Eat” [NPR]. “And while the USDA’s own dietary guidelines recommend that adults consume 2.5 to 3 cups of vegetables a day, the agency’s researchers found that only 1.7 cups per person are available.” There are programs to “nudge” kids into eating more vegetables, and they seem to work, but gee, could we give consideration to the idea that Big Food’s marketing programs could have something to do with this?

Guillotine Watch

“[‘Post-hardcore’ band] Sick Feeling has also shared a comment. ‘We have been dismayed as details continue to trickle in about the business life of Collect Records silent investor Martin Shkreli,’ the band told FADER over email. ‘One thing is clear; as long as he has a part in the label, we, Sick Feeling, cannot. Our experience with Geoff, Norm, and Shaun has been nothing but positive, however, we cannot continue to work with Collect as long as Martin Shkreli has any part in it'” [Fader]. Good for them.

Class Warfare

“On-demand food delivery services GrubHub, DoorDash and Caviar were slapped with lawsuits Wednesday alleging that they misclassified their delivery drivers as independent contractors” [Chicago Tribune]. “Worker classification has been a hot button topic in the on-demand economy, with entire business models and company valuations at risk of being shaken by lawsuits such as the ones filed against GrubHub and Uber.” ☞ Realize what that means: Billions of dollars of stupid money seeking return, encouraged by QE, sloshed into “sharing economy” companies whose business models demand (a) breaking the law and (b) screwing workers. It would be hard to find a clearer example of how both valuations and wages are set in the so-called “free market”: Raw power relations, nothing else.

City of Philadelphia, for the Pope’s visit, shuts out all the local food carts and gives the contract to scandal-plagued prison food vendor Aramark [Eschaton]. And, since Center City is shut down, it’s no revenue at all for the food carts over the weekend at all. Screw you, little guy! (I’d file this under corruption because Philly, since Aramark’s headquarters are in Philly, but I’ve got no evidence. Readers?

News of the Wired

“Apple warning lists top 25 apps infected in massive App Store malware attack” [Apple]. I would have thought, that since all apps go through the (ugly, hard to use) Apple Store, that Apple would be able to exercise quality assurance over all apps. So, caveat emptor after the top 25?

“Yet another pre-installed spyware app discovered on Lenovo computers” [Boing Boing]. “I’m a Lenovo Thinkpad user and none of this affects me because I throw away the hard drives that come with my laptops and install Ubuntu GNU/Linux on new SSD hard-drives.”

“State College of Florida board eliminates tenure for faculty” [Bradenton Herald]. First, they came for the adjuncts…

Happy belated birthday to John Coltrane:

UPDATE: Readers, it occurred to me, as I added material about a possible sixth mass extinction, that grimness may need more relief than humor; too much oscuro, not enough chiar, makes for a poor (though perhaps profitable) worldly representation, unless you’re a Rembrandt. After all, the life of an annual plant could be said to be grim, and yet they still seek the sun, even now.

So I’m wondering — though I loathe happy talk, zombie-like sites like Upworthy with every fibre of my Yankee, “Winter is Coming” being — if readers can suggest some positive sites for me to check regularly?

By “positive” I mean showing people working together, in creative, novel ways, on projects that are actuated by motives other than greed, fear, or waged labor (but nothing electoral, religions, or foundation-driven). Could be artists, could be organizers, could be DIYers, could be horticulturalists, could be open source programmers. You can suggest in comments, or use the contact form below. Thank you!

* * *

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 (Walt):


From West Virginia, Walt sends these ornamental sweet peas his wife grew.

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

    What Obama been doing all of these years?

    A quote from the Red Flag (a song from the UK Labor movement):

    “The working class can kiss my arse,
    I’ve got the foreman’s job at last”

    1. Pavel

      Offhand, what Obama has been doing:

      –Playing shitloads of golf
      –Trying his damndest to get TPP passed
      –Droning kids overseas

      What he has notably *not* been doing:

      –prosecuting banksters
      –getting Single Payer health care passed, or even making an effort
      –cutting a bloated “defence” budget

      1. tejanojim

        Also not:

        -passing a tax on carbon, or even trying
        -doing anything to prevent oil drilling in the arctic

  2. Eric Patton

    First, they came for the adjuncts…

    Gonna be hard to feel too sorry for the profs. They never cared when it was everyone else getting hammered. Karma’s a bitch.

  3. Jim Haygood

    “Leaked documents seen by the Guardian show the three countries lobbied the European commission to keep loopholes in car tests that would increase real world carbon dioxide emissions by 14% above those claimed.”

    Is this much different than “teaching to the test” under No Child Left Behind, while students still emerge with deficient reading, writing, math and learning skills?

    Or prosecutors stretching the meaning of criminal laws to charge people with offenses never intended by the drafters of the statute?

    For the most part, people live by the Hillary principle: Get away with whatever you can. Blame others if you get caught.

    1. Carolinian

      When you build your society on “greed and fear” what else can you expect? Perhaps we should stop celebrating these particular emotions and watching so much CNBC. Although I’ll admit that the Nightly Business Report (a CNBC product) seems to have a lot more news content than the PBS Newshour that precedes it.

  4. grayslady

    The photo is a hyacinth bean, Dolichos lablab, not a sweet pea. They are grown ornamentally, for the most part.

  5. diptherio

    Well, since you asked:

    Grassroots Economic Organizing

    “[S]howing people working together, in creative, novel ways, on projects that are actuated by motives other than greed, fear, or waged labor” is pretty much what we do…and have been for decades.

    Here’s a little sample of a recent article on a worker co-op started by prisoners in Puerto Rico:

    At the age of 19, Roberto Luis Rodriguez Rosario was serving a 125-year prison sentence in Puerto Rico. The experience was devastating.

    Roberto Rodriguez Rosario and Lymarie Nieves Plaza answer questions at ECWD 2015.
    After about 15 years, Rodriguez and several fellow inmates used that experience to organize something liberating for themselves and others, something that could potentially and significantly change the way prisoners are incarcerated around the world. Rodriguez helped organize the world’s first worker cooperative composed solely of prisoners in Puerto Rico – Cooperativa de Servicios ARIGOS.

    Now 39, Rodriguez is spreading the word about how cooperatives can rehabilitate prisoners and give them hope.

    “The cooperative model can be used to create spectacular change,” Rodriguez told Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy conference participants…“Co-op theory is magical.”

      1. abynormal

        ok Lambert…please don’t laff (too hard) but i’ve been doing some funky things with my fingers and i’ve found a bit of ease on my life lease http://anmolmehta.com/blog/2010/05/06/hand-yoga-gestures-free-illustrations/ (scroll down for ex./benefits) …now yall can All laff

        next…Fark for a laff

        there’s always ‘that’ productive hobby: http://www.protectivehacks.com/hacking-sites.html
        (id rap with hunkerdown first)

        oh an one of my favs https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/09/21/bertrand-russell-nobel-prize-acceptance-speech/

        this post probably won’t go thru w/too many links…i know a kitten need’n a home ‘)

  6. sleepy

    For anyone uncertain as to the causes of the Civil War, all they have to do is go to the source–the various articles of secession passed by the confederate states which are full of references to the defense of slavery as grounds for secession.

    1. Daryl

      Unfortunately, having grown up in the South, nobody is exposed to this, and of course you can’t expect them to go out and educate themselves. It’s deliberate miseducation.

    2. hunkerdown

      So what? Are you trying to say that political pandering as a pretext for economic advantage didn’t exist in 1860?

      1. kimsarah

        Many in South Carolina will tell you the war of northern aggression was over states’ rights, which when taken to the next level simply means giving states the power to legalize slavery.

        1. LifelongLib

          Slavery of course was already legal in South Carolina and a number of other states, and backed by federal law. Lincoln opposed slavery in principle, but the only legal restriction he initially supported was not allowing it in new territories. Emancipation and abolition didn’t become part of his policies until well into the Civil War.

    3. stephen

      I have never understood why the north didn’t allow them to secede. Presumably the northern oligarchs expected to make more money from the war. I just don’t believe the powerful in the north cared that much about slavery.

      1. fritter

        More cheap labor. Same reason we want that southern border tight, but not too tight today. Wage arbitrage trumps all for the wealthy. As manufacturing moves to the South we see a lot of the same ol tropes. The moneyed interests have long used race to divide the only real “parties” in the country: 1% and 99%.

    4. fritter

      Some of them joined after Lincoln told them they would be forced to provide soldiers to invade their neighbors… Even Fredrick Douglas conceded that many slaves would rather work on the plantations rather than in Northern factories because they were treated better. I guess none of that jives with your world view though.

      Its ironic that one group of people think that poor white people hate black people just because they need to have someone to demonize below themselves. This same group demonizes everyone below the mason dixon line… It never occurs to them that there are a fair number of african americans down here too.

    5. curlydan

      Eric Foner gives the smackdown on the “states rights” issue: “Whenever I lecture, someone raises the issue of states’ rights, and the thing I like to say is: “Yes, you’re right, the South believed in states’ rights. And the right they were interested in was the right to own slaves.” And that was a right created by state law, so naturally they wanted to protect states’ rights.

      And then I say, if that was really the issue, then explain the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 to me — which was a federal law, probably the most powerful federal law before the Civil War in terms of overriding local judicial procedures, overriding local law enforcement. Federal troops, federal marshals, going into states, you think that’s a reflection of states’ rights? No.

      When it came to vigorous federal action in defense of slavery, the South was perfectly happy to go that route. So they did not dogmatically believe in states’ rights . . .”

      in Jacobin recently

  7. shinola

    “Is it so very odd that, these days, people identify lying, cheating, and — let’s be honest — sociopathy as leadership qualities?”

    Not if you live in the U.S. or U.K.

    1. PQS

      Indeed. As I pointed out to some friends recently, I appreciate Pope Francis simply because he is publicly expressing humility, compassion, and caring about “the least of us”. And framing his expressions as calls to action, not merely glib words surrounded by sighs of indolence in the face of power.
      I am NOT a Catholic, I am pro-choice, have always been a liberal, and understand that he is not changing any Catholic doctrine.

      But it is still bracing to hear someone say something positive about the poor and how the rest of us have an obligation to alleviate their suffering – up to and including questioning extreme wealth and the systems in place to support it. Versus MPs in the UK talking about how the poor just need to eat more oatmeal, or how Congresscritters blather about “anchor babies” and how we really need to bring back orphanages and indentured servitude to make things better.

      1. Carla

        Yes, it is wonderful to see a world leader who loves, rather than fears, the poor. Pope Francis may be the only one.

  8. different clue

    I have to get to work in a minute here, so I will just briefly say in reply to . . . “igniting the base . . . what has Obama been doing?”

    He has been very deliberately wetblanketing the base and dispiriting the base and de-motivating the base and de-mobilizing the base. He has been leading the base over buffalo jump after buffalo jump after buffalo jump. Deliberately and on purpose. It is part of what he expects to be paid for.

    That is why the Obamacrats have to be purged and burned out of the party right along with the Clintonites.

    1. Carla

      Who needs this so-called party? It is not salvageable. I want to say “Let’s move on,” but somebody has already corrupted that phrase, too.

  9. DJG

    In case anyone requires a definition of class warfare in a country that supposedly has no class warfare: ” It would be hard to find a clearer example of how both valuations and wages are set in the so-called ‘free market’: Raw power relations, nothing else.” “Free market,” raw power relations, impoverishment of working people.

  10. jgordon

    I think everyone in America, especially minorities–but not limited to them, would do well to start wearing body mounted cameras. It seems like the only way anyone can get anything resembling justice in America (that is, when the laws themselves haven’t been perverted) is by recording every encounter with police. It’s pretty sad that every time we watch the news there’s some story about police officers lying through their nose about something or another, yet courts still give them the presumption of honesty. How crazy is that?

  11. Gareth

    Cops shooting men in wheelchairs is a lot more common than I thought. A quick Giggle search turned up five more shootings over the last four years in Houston, Tucson, San Francisco and of course, L.A.. The surprise was the one in Bristol, England, but the bloke was asking for it, he was armed with an air rifle!

    1. Engelvard Hinglefling

      Photography is Not a Crime had video of the guy in the wheelchair being shot. It’s bad. First a (very chubby) cop hits him with a shotgun, then later some other cops out of frame unload with their pistols. The video has since been removed from YouTube.

  12. John Merryman

    On the happy talk theme, I think rather than just look up sites with happy themes (you can always check out cute cat sites), we could go into the some of the reasons why happiness doesn’t always translate cognitively.

    Basically there are number of issues. For one thing, we tend not to focus on all the things going right, but those going wrong, as they are what cause pain and focus the mind.

    Then there is a much deeper issue, in that while we have this religiously based cultural assumption of good and bad as the forces of righteousness and evil battling it out in a cosmic duel, the fact is that they are the basic biological binary code of attraction to the beneficial and repulsion of the detrimental. Even single celled organisms recognize the difference, all the way up to functioning societies needing a general agreement of good and bad.

    How the organism mechanically acts toward positive and negative elements, is that it expands and opens up to the positive, while closing down and rejecting the negative.

    What is really interesting is when you compare this to how the mind processes information. In that while it expands and absorbs positive input, it then breaks it down and distills out useful models/extracts/concepts/thoughts, etc, from this input. This condensed knowledge then naturally is stored in the memory, as the mind moves on. So effectively it treats information as a form of waste product. Much as it consumes food, extracts some useful energy and moves on.

    Then put this in the dichotomy of conservative and liberal, in that while liberalism is about social expansion, conservatism is about civil consolidation. Thus while liberalism tends to be more about vague hopes and desires, while conservatism is about solid realities, the fact is that liberalism eventually succeeds, because it is focused on the nebulous future, while conservatism is focused on the ordered past. Although it then becomes institutionalized and the shoe is on the other foot, as reactionaries complain about political correctness. The future is thus hard to predict, as it is growing up in the cracks of the current system.

    When pushed to extremes, those vortices that develop in civil ordering occasionally arise in social weather patterns, such as with Nazism and like hurricanes, crash all they can.

    So yes, the current wave of human advancement over the last several centuries does appear to be cresting and the downside is truly horrifying, but I suspect, that when all is said and done, it will prove to be the end of the beginning for humanity, rather than the beginning of the end.

    Especially when you put together such factors as that we are facing Malthusian limits, but are about to suffer a financial heart attack that will bring significant aspects of this ecological juggernaut to a serious crash.

    In geological terms, there is a word for this, catastrophism. In that the greatest flowerings of diversity arise when old systems crash. On social terms, it will open up opportunities to re-evalutate such concepts of a top down theology. Given that a spiritual absolute would be the essence of consciousness from which we rise, not an ideal form from which we fell. Just that such top down models conveniently support top down civil models.

    Also, as addressed on this site many times, there are other ways to formulate the monetary medium. Such as the voucher system it actually functions as , not the commodity of quantified hope that we treat it as, that leads to the manufacture of enormous excess notational value, to the detriment of all else. If excess notes were to be taxed back out of the system and not just borrowed out by the public, then people would have to store value in stronger communities and healthier environments.

    Most people save for very obvious reasons, from raising children, housing, entertainment, retirement, etc. So if savings were invested directly into these needs and only stored in banks as necessary for circulation, it would create a much larger public space and commons.

    So I say, make Naked Capitalism the go to site for happy thoughts!

    1. John Merryman

      “So effectively it treats information as a form of waste product.”

      Ie, a negative or contraction.

      Consider that in Genesis, the foundation myth of western culture, knowledge is viewed as a fall from grace.

      1. John Merryman

        This was ps to a rather long post that apparently didn’t make it past moderation yet.

        It had to do with the nature of knowledge and the fact that we tend to focus on the negative, because it is what requires attention, or else.

        There are always cute cat videos.

  13. Daniel

    “I’m a Lenovo Thinkpad user and none of this affects me because I throw away the hard drives that come with my laptops and install Ubuntu GNU/Linux on new SSD hard-drives.”

    I seem to remember that Lenovo installed chips that reinsert the spyware into the operating system on the hard drives even if the OS is reinstalled or the drive is wiped. And since Ubuntu is the OS of choice with the PRC (and this whole thing is probably aimed at the home market, not the US), you may want to check on whether your strategy is working.

  14. allan

    Sanders, Brown and Senate Democrats Introduce Bill to Stop Cadillac Tax

    WASHINGTON, Sept. 24 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and seven of their colleagues introduced legislation today to repeal a tax on certain health plans. Sanders opposed the provision when it was included in the Affordable Care Act, which was passed in 2010.

    “What was true then is true now,” Sanders said. “Imposing an excise tax on health insurance plans would be a disaster for millions of middle class Americans. Some have said that this tax only falls on ‘Cadillac’ health care plans, but the reality is that the plans this bill will tax are more like Chevrolets. Workers have fought hard to negotiate decent healthcare benefits, often in exchange for lower pay. This excise tax unfairly punishes them.”

    Brilliant. How can Mitch and OrangeMan’s possibly object?
    And good policy makes good politics. Who knew?

    1. Vatch

      Interesting. Two of the co-sponsors are the trade traitors Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.). Maybe they’re worried about what voters think of them.

      1. Carla

        Shaheen and Bennet just want (need) the labor vote. Organized labor is a whore. It does not tell (nor care about) the true story on so-called “trade.”

        1. Pat

          This is one where Labor gets hit first, but I wouldn’t necessarily think that is what is driving this. Smaller and middle sized businesses who have health insurance plans are also going to get hit with this tax. Some with older workers or a community that has gotten hit by a worker or two with cancer may already be seeing that specter. I’m betting they are getting an ear full from some of their more dependable donors who might actually have a conscience. As Lambert has laid out, employers are faced with seeing already expensive health insurance benefits becoming prohibitively expensive OR crapifying their coverage so it provides little actual health care.
          And right now there is a law in place where the fine for just sending your employees to the exchanges is even more onerous. Employers who actually care about their employees are between a rock and a hard place.

          I’m pretty sure the hidden point of the ‘Cadillac Tax” is that eventually EVERY employer health care plan will be hit by this. And as that point gets closer what will disappear won’t be the cadillac tax, but the fine on subsidizing your employee purchases on the exchange. With the exception of top managerial positions this will end ’employer based insurance’. The subsidies or health insurance purchase accounts will be the norm and will not begin to keep up with the cost of insurance and those will be able to be phased out over time.

          At which point we will may finally see the demand for single payer become a roar – unless they have fully destroyed Medicare by that time. Which I do not put past the people in the only really growing financial sector in America today…

  15. craazyboy

    What to do after you realize the world is coming to an end.

    I find doing youtube searches on any animal I can think of helps a lot. Just did one on Gray African Parrots yesterday and laughed my #### off for an hour. The one by the name of “Einstein” is the bestest.

  16. Vatch

    U.S. Billionaires Political Power Index [CFR]. 2014, but still useful and with a handy chart to put on your fridge, if you have a fridge.

    Maybe we should just decide which ones get to be Dukes or Duchesses, and which ones will be slightly lesser Counts or Countesses, and which ones will be shamed by being mere Barons or Baronesses. That will remind the rest of us of our place, and let us know who is able to issue a lettre de cachet against us.

  17. abynormal

    “This is the best recovery in all recorded history.” Lambert

    Is GS preparing to Sacrifice the next Lehman (at zh find it yourselves’)
    short list:
    It goes without saying that courtesy of HFTs and China’s hard landing, a 5% drop in commodities could happen overnight.

    So if one is so inclined, and puts on the conspiracy theory hat mentioned at the beginning of this post, Goldman may have just laid out the strawman for the next mega bailout which goes roughly as follows:

    ** Commodity prices drop another 5%
    ** The rating agencies get a tap on their shoulder and downgrade Glencore to Junk.
    ** Waterfall cascade of margin and collateral calls promptly liquidates Glencore’s trading desk and depletes the company’s cash, leaving trillions of derivative contracts in limbo. Always remember: the strongest collateral chain is only as strong as its weakest conterparty. If a counterparty liquidates, net exposure becomes gross, and suddenly everyone starts wondering where all those “physical” commodities are.
    ** Contagion spreads as self-reinforcing commodities collapse launches deflationary shock wave around the globe.
    ** Fed and global central banks are called in to come up with a “more powerful” form of stimulus
    ** The money paradrop scenario proposed by Citigroup yesterday, becomes reality

    Too far-fetched? Perhaps. But keep an eye out for a Glencore downgrade from Investment Grade. If that happens, it may be a good time to quietly get out of Dodge for the time being. Just in case.
    i did a 4th course on Hunger http://marketwatch666.blogspot.com/2012/11/hunger-4th-course.html (scroll down to bold red, can’t miss the Glen history that we WILL NOW BE BACKSTOPPING)
    A Glencore spokesperson said: “Regardless of the business environment, Glencore is helping fulfil global demand by getting the commodities that are needed to the places that need them most.”

    1. craazyboy

      ” If a counterparty liquidates, net exposure becomes gross,”

      This is the really, really important concept. Whenever someone mentions our $600 Trillion in global derivatives, Wall Street pipes up and says that is NOMINAL. It NETS out to ZERO (minus fees).

      But yeah if the chain breaks, it is really two halves, $300 Trillion a piece. Which I think someone recently estimated is 1.5 times the dollar value of the planet. (just the $300T half) Which has me wondering where the regulators went to accounting school. But I never took accounting, so maybe it’s me that’s mixed up.

      1. abynormal

        i forgot most of my Glencore 411 is in the comments following the post…i don’t think the swiss are prepared for this ‘issue’

        1. craazyboy

          Yeah, I see you’ve been following this fine company for some time now. Sure, they are bigger than Swissistan. What’s to worry?

    2. craazyboy

      Just read the full ZH article.

      The only thing I’d point out is our sophisticated financiers always say don’t wait for the rating agency downgrade – because they are always last to make a move.

      Other than that, sounds about right.

      Other thing I remember in 2008 was Goldman increased broker margin requirements maybe a month or two before Lehman.

      1. abynormal

        ck back i got a post waiting with a link that’s unfriendly…don’t know why IT’S THE BIS DOT ORG…my netbk should blow up any sec

  18. JTMcPhee

    We so muçh long for “good news,” in the news-cycle as well as the Evangelical sense. Rousing welcome for il Papa in cynical hypocritical juvenile murderous hysterical hate- full old USA. BUT:

    Not much good news here… http://www.softpanorama.org/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Corruption/Corporatist_corruption/systemic_fraud_under_clinton_and_bush_regime.shtml

    As to the fears of the fat cats, might I point to a long bit I wrote earlier this year, fleshed out by good comments, on the very topic? http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/05/links-5415.html#comment-2439369. Good reasons to be afraid of “losing one’s place” ( or life) but of course there’s people right to hand, offering the full range of “security services…”

    Greed and Fear: the essences of that all-driving limbic system. Along with the other prime markers, fornication and murder, fu__ing and killing, of what draws us like ants and blowflies to the honeyed corpses of mythologies like “Game of Thrones,” etc.

    1. abynormal

      i’m waiting replies to ‘private’ calls & emails, regarding exact location…i suspect ICE (about 6mi from me) Whether these negotiators’ meetings in Atlanta will be followed by a ministerial has yet to be confirmed publicly, though many reports suggest that it is likely to occur. If so, that would fit a timeline hinted at by officials throughout the past month.
      i read NAFTA contributed to Mexican Drug Wars…will we create a Canadian Prescription War?

  19. shinola

    Way down here at the bottom, but:
    Thanks for the Coltrane cut. Haven’t heard that for a long time.
    Now I’m gonna have to dig out my Weather Report vinyl & see if my turntable still works;)

    1. Laughingsong

      “Damn the rules, it’s the Feeling that Counts. You play all twelve notes in your solo anyway.”
      In the 80’s my boyfriend of the time had a great T-shirt with this quote that he bought from the Church of Coltrane in S.F. (Yup, that was a thing, maybe still is afaik). We went to a laundromat, and ONLY that shirt was stolen out of the dryer.
      Funny you mention Weather Report, I was just listening to Teen Town! Poor Jaco, what a bad end.

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