By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Like a bad penny….
“The United States has called ministers from the 12 nations negotiating [the TPP] for a meeting Sept. 30 to Oct. 1 in a bid to finish the pact” [Reuters].
“It had been thought that an agreement would be impossible once the Hawaii talks broke up, because of the start of the US election season and an election in Canada. US President Barack Obama is keen to land the deal before he leaves office in January 2017” [Sidney Morning Herald]. That’s what worries me; obviously the powers-that-be decided to go into stealth mode, and it’s doubtful this hasty meeting would have been called without “good progress.” Whatever that means. Even the fig leaf of an “agreement in principle” is bad news, so far as I’m concerned. Good news would be the whole thing breaking down in acrimony. And I had no idea that the USTR has a Chief Transparency Officer. Given that the text of the deal is secret and kept in a locked and guarded room, “Chief Transparency Officer” breaks the Orwell Barrier, passing through into some sort of trans-Orwellian state hitherto unknown to science.
“Trade agreements—done right—are not a panacea, but a necessary part of a larger economic strategy. TPP will build and improve upon past agreements, based on our experience over the last 30 years” [Michael Froman, Democracy Journal]. Incidentally, if you think about the editorial lead time to prepare an exchange like that between Froman and Bernstein (below), you’ll see at once that Maui was only a battle, and that the elites really do see dismantling American sovereignty as a war to be won, a long one.
“There’s an unfortunate information asymmetry here, as well as a fundamental tension in Froman’s piece: We’ve got the lead negotiator from the major economy in the deal telling readers what’s in it. If he can do that, why can’t we see it then” [Jared Bernstein, Democracy Journal].
“If ministers reach a deal in Atlanta, Congress wouldn’t be able to bring the TPP to an up-or-down vote until at least early 2016, given built-in delays in the “fast track” legislation passed this summer” [Wall Street Journal, “U.S., Pacific Partners Seek to Conclude Trade Pact in Atlanta”].
“Trump signaled that he might be headed in a very different direction on the TPP soon enough. After his terrific and wonderful rally outside the Capitol the other day, Trump met with Senator Jeff Sessions, and both men enthusiastically recounted that they had had a good conversation about immigration and …. trade. Said Trump: “The meeting was great!'” [WaPo]. Since Sessions understands, and has documented, how TPP surrenders our national sovereignty through the “Living Agreement” clause. Like it or not, that issue will resonate with the nativist portion of the Republican base. “I don’t care if a cat is white or black so long as it catches mice” (?).
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: “I hope the next ministerial meeting will be the last one” [Japan Times]. So do I! “Failure to reach agreement at the meeting of ministers would leave little room for negotiations to be concluded anytime soon because of the political schedules in some countries involved, chief negotiator Koji Tsuruoka told reporters Friday before his departure for Atlanta.”
Auto: “Canada’s Trade Minister Ed Fast is heading to Atlanta to join a pivotal round of talks that could yield a massive Pacific Rim trade deal – even though Japan has so far refused to give ground on rules in the proposed accord that could hurt Canada’s auto sector” [Globe and Mail]. “A successful conclusion to the talks, of course, could be a political boon for the Tories.” Of course.
Auto: “Stephen Harper was under fire Friday for a debate remark the previous evening in which he predicted the auto sector may not like the outcome of the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks” [HuffPo].
Auto: “Officials close to the negotiations said on Wednesday that two days of talks on the threshold for local content in auto trade between the United States, Canada, Japan and Mexico had made progress, and they aimed to reach a final deal next week” [ABC Australia].
Dairy: “‘The Canadians are negotiating as if there’s no election,’ [New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser] said in an interview with the New Zealand Herald, published Wednesday. ‘Everyone is really trying'” [iPolitics]. However: “‘Basically, the situation is that I and my negotiators can see a very good deal for New Zealand in everything except dairy and I don’t know to characterize the deal there because it’s not a deal we could accept,’ he told the Herald.”
Dairy: “Japan and other nations need to open their dairy markets further to hammer out a Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal that is acceptable to Congress, Tom Suber, president of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, suggested” [Japan Times].
“The motor industry has been accused of withholding a report that reveals US cars are substantially less safe than European vehicles – for fear that the findings would hamper the drive to harmonise safety standards as part of the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal” [Independent].
“what makes Francis different is really a matter of which Catholic beliefs he has elevated to the level of communal concerns—public policy—and which he has framed as individual choices. To Francis, sharing wealth and fixing global warming are matters that governments should address, while not committing homosexual acts or having abortions are individual choices he endorses. (As he famously put it: “Who am I to judge?”) This is quite different from the American Catholic church, which has poured its political energy into laws banning gay marriage and restricting abortion” [The Atlantic].
Fiorina at H-P: “‘Undoubtedly some shake-up was necessary,’ said Carmel Mayor Jason Burnett, 39, a grandson of Dave Packard and a trustee of the Packard Foundation. ‘But she didn’t take time to understand what was of value to HP and ended up destroying much of what made the company great over many decades'” [Los Angeles Times(DM)]. “Fiorina’s mangled account of a Planned Parenthood sting video during the debate has raised questions about her faithfulness to the truth. The charge is familiar to people who worked with her at HP.” The knives come out in Silicon Valley. This will be the first of many such stories.
The Mittster: “Scott Spradling, a former journalist now with the Spradling Group, says he fielded an automated call that inquired about preference in the Republican primary, then later explores support for Romney, if the former Massachusetts governor were to get into the race. Spradling, an independent, didn’t recall the name of the group behind the call” [Manchester Union-Leader]. “Romney is not running. A former Romney adviser tells us, ‘It’s the dream that never dies.'”
The debates: “Nobody else gained or lost more than 2 percentage points. Debates matter, except when they don’t. And in the case of this debate, most candidates’ polling was unaffected” [FiveThirtyEight].
CNN/WMUR poll, New Hampshire (Trump): Trump leads with 26%, then Fiorina at 16%, Rubio at 9%, Carson at 8% and Jebbie at 7% [WMUR] 40% expect Trump to win New Hamphshire; 27% expect him to win the national race.
“[Megyn] Kelly used a fresh round of polls to make the case that Trump is on the decline, even though the businessman still maintains a significant lead, using language that sounded like it was written expressly to get under his skin” [WaPo]. “Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.”
Walker debacle: “‘The body wasn’t even cold yet and Rubio’s New Hampshire staff was picking off dazed Walker supporters,’ says one New Hampshire Republican” [Politico]. Thrift, thrift…
Walker debacle: “[Walker] had a genuinely impressive electability record in his favor, having been elected three times in four years (including a recall election) in a blue-leaning swing state, Wisconsin” [FiveThirtyEight].”Walker was caught in something of the same vicious cycle as Hillary Clinton. There were some genuine but not obviously mission-critical problems with his campaign; there were some poor polling numbers; and there was increasingly negative media coverage. All of these tended to feed back upon and accentuate one another, making his situation worse. Unlike Clinton, however, who (probably) has the resources to pull herself out of the spiral — and who benefits from the lack of competition on the Democratic side — Walker won’t get a second chance to make a first impression.”
Clinton mail saga zzzzzz [New York Times, “Hillary Clinton Email Inquiry Weighs if Aides Erred at ‘Send’”]. So far as I can tell, this is another story where the author goes into the woods to find a bird, and after many, many words, does not.
Clinton mail saga, this time with an actual lead: “Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the State Department have provided incomplete and misleading accounts of when and why the department requested copies of work-related emails that she maintained on a private server” [USA Today].
TheDes Moines Register asked Clinton about the Post story and the discrepancy between her account and the revised department version offered by Kirby. “I don’t know that. I can’t answer that,” Clinton told the Register. “All I know is that they sent the same letter to everybody. That’s my understanding.”
We leave it to readers to decide the importance of this discrepancy.
The fact is, though, Clinton and her campaign — with the initial help of the State Department — provided an incomplete and misleading account when asked a fundamental question about the email controversy.
The paper dropped in front of every hotel room in America. That said, although “I don’t know that. I can’t answer that” is obviously a terrible answer, USA Today is unable to explain why the discrepancy is important, which has been the whole problem with this ginormous email/ZOMG Benghazi!!!!! hairball all along. Why can’t people just say its wrong for a public official to privatize their server, because then citizens have no way to hold them to account?
CNN/WMUR poll, New Hampshire (Clinton): “Hillary Clinton trails Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the race for the Democratic nomination for president in New Hampshire, even if Vice President Joe Biden decides not to make a run for the White House” [CNN].
“Speaker John A. Boehner, under intense pressure from conservatives in his party, announced on Friday that he would resign one of the most powerful positions in government and give up his House seat at the end of October, as Congress moved to avert a government shutdown” over Planned Parenthood [New York Times]. “Mr. Boehner’s announcement lessened the chance of a government shutdown next week, because Republican leaders will push for a short-term funding measure to keep the government operating and the speaker will no longer be deterred by those who threatened his job.” Check this article for the Dent quotes, too!
“Now that John Boehner is forfeiting the House speakership, it looks like there won’t be a government shutdown — at least not yet” [WaPo]. “But the temporary stand-down doesn’t mean the larger [government shutdown] crisis is over. The spending bill will likely keep the government funded through Dec. 11, but at that point, the whole battle could replay itself. Conservatives are already pressing for a new speaker who is more responsive to their demands. While the fight over Planned Parenthood is the most public between Boehner and the right-wing of his party, many conservatives are also still angry that Boehner would consider negotiating with Democrats to add spending increases to the budget.” Rule or ruin in all events. But since Democrats have spent most of the last two decades trying to become Republicans, and in any case accept the same neo-liberal tenets — RomneyCare morphing into ObamaCare is the obvious example — they really have nothing to say, and no appeal to make.
GDP, Q2 2015: “Personal spending was stronger than thought in the second quarter, helping to drive real GDP to a very solid 3.9 percent annualized rate. Boosted by the consumer, final sales also rose 3.9 percent for a 4 tenths upward revision” [Econoday].
“But businesses also contributed to the quarter’s growth as nonresidential fixed investment, driven by structures, is revised 9 tenths higher to 4.1 percent. Another plus in the report is a downward revision to inventory growth. The outlook for the third quarter, however, is so far subdued.” But: “The latest number puts us 14.4% below trend, the largest negative spread in the history of this series” [Econintersect]. IOW, the output gap.
Corporate Profits, Q2 2015: “Corporate profits in the second quarter came in at a revised $1.845 trillion, up a year-on-year 8.5 percent” [Econoday].
PMI Services Flash, September 2015: “slowed but only slightly” [Econoday]. “New orders, however, did slow for a second month and are at their lowest growth rate since January. With new orders lacking, service providers worked down backlogs for the third time in the last four months. The report continues to describe hiring as “robust”, at least in comparison to the recovery average.”
Consumer Sentiment, September 2015: “[P]opped up as expected from stock-market depression at mid-month” to 87.2 [Econoday]. “[V]ery soft but still a relief of sorts, suggesting that the worst effects of the recent market turmoil may have passed, at least assuming markets stabilize.” And: “During non-recessionary years the average is 87.5. The average during the five recessions is 69.3. So the latest sentiment number puts us 17.9 points above the average recession mindset and 0.3 points below the non-recession average” [Econintersect].
Rail traffic: “Week 37 of 2015 shows same week total rail traffic (from same week one year ago) declined according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR) traffic data. Intermodal traffic insignificantly expanded year-over-year, which accounts for approximately half of movements. but weekly railcar counts continued in contraction. This cannot be a positive data point for the USA economically” [Econintersect].
“Restaurateurs told MNI that their latest receipts show more consumers are dining away from home, and more frequently, even if their average check size is mostly stable. They anticipate continued sales growth. Indeed, many restaurant operators are now confident enough in their business trajectories to make long-delayed capital investments” [Market News].
The Fed: “Again, we can debate the merits of raising rates vs not raising them. However, the FED is in the business of making sure we don’t have another global crisis. So, if jawboning the market to believe you’re still in control of the situation is necessary, than expect them to do that” [Across the Curve].
“We find that output gaps close importa ntly through downward revisions to potential output rather than through rapi d post-recession growth. The revi sions are made slowly (over years) – a process that leads to an initial underestimati on of the effect of recessions on potential output and a corresponding under-p rediction of inflation (PDF) [Federal Reserve Board]. In other words, they jigger the numbers to make the gap go away?
“While all three major parties in the Canadian election race say that they support projects getting landlocked Alberta crude to tidewater, major differences exist in which projects they would support” [Market News].
Black Injustice Tipping Point
“By the turn of the 19th century, the black chef was such a symbol of culinary excellence that a number of food products were sold with the image of a stereotypical black cook or domestic to assure authenticity” [First We Feast]. For example, James Hemings, brother of Sally.
Police State Watch
“The Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination would be breached if two insider trading suspects were forced to turn over the passcodes of their locked mobile phones to the Securities and Exchange Commission, a federal judge ruled Wednesday” [Ars Technica].
“The Life of a Professional Guinea Pig” [The Atlantic]. Nice work if you can get it…
Larger cities tend to have more wage inequality (with handy map) [Conversable Economist].
News of the Wired
“Over the last 15 years Greek wine has seen an enological renaissance that recalls the parallel ones of southern Italy and Spain” [Culinary Backstreets (DG)]. “Dionysus Returns,” and high time, too!
“New Horizons: Pluto displays rippling terrain” [BBC].
“The History of Philosophy, from 600 B.C.E. to 1935, Visualized in Two Massive, 44-Foot High Diagrams” [Open Culture].
“Why the Human Brain Project Went Wrong–and How to Fix It” [Scientific American]. We’ll need to look at the Pleistocene Epoch in its entirety, I would imagine…
“Hong Kong police will be out in force as Occupy Central supporters mark anniversary of protests that rocked city” [South China Morning Post].
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 (Dan):
It’s a pumpkin patch at the Goshen, CT Ag Fair, Labor Day weekend. I’m going to miss Maine’s Common Ground Fair, unfortunately…
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.
Here in the Upper Valley area of NH, I have not been seeing Hillary anything-stickers, signs, etc, while I have been seeing a slow increase since spring/early summer in the number of Sanders car bumper stickers, yard signs, and even t-shirts. No one has been talking about her, either. It’s kind of weird. It’s like she doesn’t even exist anymore. Anyone from other parts of the state want to chime in with their observations?
Here in NW Washington I’ve not seen any Clinton campaign stuff, only Sanders.
Interesting; don’t think I’ve seen Hillary material here in the Willamette Valley, either. Caveat: I live in a VERY liberal town.
No yard-signs, bumper stickers, etc., here in my part of Iowa for any candidates, dem or repub, Hillary or Sanders.
Hilary’s playing the long game, she dropped the email “scandal” to the NYT because she didn’t want to be the anointed front runner, the grouchy old man socialist with the NY accent will fade, then there’s just the Village Idiot to contend with, I’m sure Bill’s people have some luscious oppo intel to help there. Hilary in a walk.
Good data point, thanks. That was a sign, up here, that the Democratic annointed House candidate was going to lose in 2014. Call after call from the Republicans (not that I ever picked up), no calls from the Democrat. And while to keep peace in the town I had allowed the Democrat to put up a yard sign before, no call from them, in 2014. And I knew somebody who tried to volunteer, but who wasn’t in the in-group, so no callback. And they lost.
Clinton 2’s candidacy is the THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE version of political campaign. Pretend there is no opposition, pretend no Serious Person could imagine anything else. We’ll see what happens!
When your only tool is a…
The Baseline Scenario
The Only Two Things That Matter: Why I’m Supporting Larry Lessig
Posted: 25 Sep 2015 09:18 AM PDT
By James Kwak
We have lots of problems: Expensive yet mediocre health care. Lack of retirement security. Out-of-control megabanks. Inequality of opportunity. And, of course, climate change.
At the end of the day, though, there are only two things that matter: early childhood education and electoral reform.
We need smart, motivated, knowledgeable voters. And we need a political system in which all people have an equal say. Without those ingredients, no amount of well-meaning, reasoned, fact-based argument is going to do much good.
Just think about climate change, for example. It’s abundantly clear that the planet is getting warmer because of our greenhouse gas emissions, the process is irreversible at this point, and the downside risks to billions of people are enormous. Yet, in the country that won World War Two, rebuilt Europe and Japan, won the Cold War, and exported most of the technology that makes the modern world modern, we are incapable of doing anything about climate change. Why?
Because our political system is blocked by the fossil fuel industry, politicians dependent on the fossil fuel industry, and ignorant zealots who oppose a carbon tax because it is a “tax” and a cap-and-trade system because it is “regulation.”
That’s why I’m supporting Larry Lessig for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Sure, I’d like to see Bernie Sanders become president — or, more accurately, I’d like to see a lot of the policies that he proposes become law. I’d even be OK with Hillary Clinton — that is, the version of Hillary Clinton who gives speeches to Democrats when she’s campaigning for the nomination. But in the current political system, a smart president with his or her heart more or less in the right place, plus $2.50, will get you a small coffee at Starbucks. Remember, we’ve had one of those for the past six and a half years. Sure, Obamacare is better than nothing. But just twenty-five years ago, it was a conservative think tank’s alternative to real health care reform, before it became Mitt Romney’s health care plan.
By the time Barack Obama leaves office, Democrats will have controlled the White House for sixteen out of the past twenty-four years. Both Bill Clinton and Obama were elected with large majorities in both houses of Congress. And yet, on most social and economic issues (apart from “cultural” issues, most notably marriage equality), we are barely holding the line against a conservative onslaught. Tax rates on investment income — virtually the only thing that matters when it comes to long-term inequality — are higher than under President George W. Bush, but lower than when Clinton took office. The estate tax has been slashed. Federal regulatory agencies have been hamstrung by industry lawsuits. Funding for food stamps has been cut. Privatizing Medicare is the official policy of House Republicans, including Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012. Things are considerably worse on the state level: think about Scott Walker’s Wisconsin, or the fact that twenty states have refused to accept federal money to help poor people by expanding Medicaid. Even the “victories” have been bittersweet: the Dodd-Frank Act did a patchy job partially reversing decades of deregulation that produced the financial crisis, and the Affordable Care Act enshrined into law something that was considered a conservative plan just twenty-five years ago. The most common argument for electing a Democratic president in 2016 is to prevent things from getting worse: to stop Republicans in Congress from gutting the federal government, and to stop the Republican majority on the Supreme Court from getting even stronger.
For thirty years, since Ronald Reagan’s first term, Democrats have been playing a short game, focusing on winning the next presidential election (to prevent things from getting worse), and slowly sliding to the right in order to win that election. Republicans have been playing a long game, focusing on base-inspiring ideological issues, state legislatures, and the federal judiciary (although they kind of shot themselves in the foot under George W. by succumbing to garden-variety corruption). And yes, if you look at presidential and congressional elections, we have been winning about half of them. But the outcome has been a slow retreat in which Democrats sign off on one conservative idea that is now considered “moderate” only because an even more conservative idea has outflanked it on the right.
The fundamental issue is the political system itself, not the content of the policies that it produces. It isn’t just Democrats who think that the political system is bought and paid for, either: that’s one of the reasons for Donald Trump’s popularity amid a sea of politicians with Super PACs. If we want real change in the long term, we have to fix the system. That means real equality of political participation, not just the formal equality of one person one vote — if, that is, you can get yourself registered, and avoid having your voting rights stripped by your state, and get out of work in time to make it to the polling station, and live in a place where your vote matters.
One of the most common objections to Larry Lessig’s candidacy is that even if he does become president, he won’t be able to pass his electoral reform bills. But why won’t he? Because Republicans have a solid lock on the House of Representatives — and they have it because of systematic gerrymandering on the state level. Again, the problem is with a political system that allows the majority in the state legislature to use redistricting to entrench itself in power.
If we don’t fix the system — then, well, nothing else really matters. Forget about doing anything about climate change.
At a minimum, Larry Lessig’s campaign will bring attention to the importance of electoral reform and political equality. And if he does win the Democratic nomination? Well, I’d like to see the election that will follow. We know that a large majority of Americans have lost faith in the political system. What will happen when one candidate campaigns solely on a platform of leveling the playing field?
(And, let’s face it, it’s not like we have such great candidates this time. Bernie Sanders is a self-professed socialist, Hillary Clinton is one of the most disliked people in American politics, and … Joe Biden?)
Finally, yes, even a President Lessig, elected in a referendum on political equality, might not be able to pass the reforms we need, at least not in the next term of Congress. But, as Lessig wrote, what is the alternative? Does anyone believe that either President Clinton or President Sanders will be able to do anything about political equality? How could either of them come into office with more of a mandate for change than Barack Obama had six and a half years ago? And what impact has he had on the political system itself? Zero.
Now, it turns out, there is one little problem. Without a huge Super PAC backing him, Lessig needs as much free media as possible to make his case, and there’s no better free media than the televised debates. But he may not be included — because the organizations that run the polls that determine who gets into the debates are not including Lessig’s name, even after he raised $1 million and announced his candidacy. According to some sources, the reason could be that the Democratic National Committee has not “welcomed” Lessig to the race, which it did with the other announced candidates. That, of course, would be only too ironic, in the year that the entire party establishment is rowing hard to lock up the nomination for Hillary Clinton.
If you think that Larry Lessig should at least be included in national polls so he has a chance to qualify for the debates, there is of course a petition you can sign.
And free, universal early childhood education? Well, there’s overwhelming evidence for its benefits. But until we fix the political system, it isn’t going to happen.
Also posted at Medium.
Here in the North Country (I’m in Lancaster, NH) there is a real groundswell for Sanders. I think the enthusiasm for Sanders is due to the fact that he is addressing substantive issues in a substantive manner. Also, his positions are based on views he has espoused for many years, so he’s not just making stuff up as he goes along. I expect that his message emphasizing accountability will resonate with voters in the primary and the general election.
I know many life-long, politically active Democrats here in NH and across the nation. To my surprise, not a single one of them speaks of Hillary Clinton with any enthusiasm.
Based on what I’m seeing, the Sanders candidacy is very real.
Biotech, comrades: there’s some senseless selling going on — enough to drive the index below its Black Monday lows:
Hillary set off this slide on Tuesday with her proposed $250 monthly cap on out-of-pocket prescription drug costs.
As an aside, the Biotech index experienced a huge runup from 1,000 as 2012 began to nearly 4,500 in July 2015. Biotech chart:
Biotech’s chart bears an eerie resemblance to the Nasdaq’s notorious runup during the Internet bubble, from 1,000 in 1996 to 5,000 in early 2000. Nasdaq chart:
Biotechs were a negligible factor in the Nasdaq index in the late 1990s. But four biotech names — Gilead, Amgen, Celgene and Biogen — now head the list of Health Care stocks which constitute 14.5% of the Nasdaq 100 index.
With the biotech index now in bear market, is history repeating? Don’t stare too long at them ‘twin peaks’ on the Nasdaq chart. At least not without a bottle of vodka and some tranks in hand …
My prescription for a dirt cheap, 1930’s generic drug went from $0.37 a pill to $1.79 a pill a couple of years ago, a 483% change! My current prescription, if I could afford it, would be $215 a month so thanks for nothing, Hillary.
She is so clueless…
Even if Obama can’t or is just not willing to use his executive powers to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, he can always throw more federal subsidies at the drug companies. He has already done this for big insurers and big providers, he might as well do it for Big Pharma as well. After all, if big insurers and providers are getting rich off the backs of the taxpayers, it’s only fair that Big Pharma also gets rich off the backs of the taxpayers, too.
That way he can fool the American people into thinking that he has used his executive powers to lower drug prices when all that he actually did was shift these costs onto the taxpayer, thus turning Big Pharma into the mother of all corporate welfare queens housed like whores in the ObamaCare-driven, medical-industrial complex.
Obama can’t single-handedly throw subsidies at the drug companies, but he and the Democrats in Congress certainly did this as part of the ACA when they defeated the Dorgan amendment (drug re-importation) and substituted closing the “donut hole” (subsidizing additional drug purchases for seniors with no price controls exerted on the drug companies). LINK (archive of FDL post at the successor site Shadowproof),
OK, so ObamaCare doesn’t allow government insurers (as well as private insurers) to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies. But that shouldn’t stop Obama from once again modifying his so-called “signature law” so that this can be done as well, and doing so with a unilateral stroke of the pen. He has already unilaterally modified the law on a number of occasions without congressional approval — from canceling Medicare Advantage cuts and reducing cost sharing reductions to exempting unions from reinsurance fee and allowing Congress to opt-out of the law.
So what’s really stopping Obama from unilaterally modifying the law so that government and private insurers can negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies? Could it have something to do with the fact that the rewards for being a loyal servant of the healthcare plutocracy are just too good for Obama to give up? That’s my guess. If Obama doesn’t give the healthcare plutocracy what it wants — which is a system that’s rigged in its favor, meaning it’s free of competition, full of freebees from Uncle Sam and designed to be too-big-to-fail with plenty of incentives to commit moral hazard — he’ll likely lose his nice cushy seat on the gravy train express waiting and ready for him to aboard when he leaves office.
I’ve never read anything indicating that insurance companies can’t negotiate prices under the ACA, as they do under the Medicare Part D. However, their goal in that negotiation would be to maximize their own profit. The issue is the ability of government to negotiate, as it does for Medicaid and the VA. The statute that prevents that for Medicare Part D is the law that created the program, and no provisions to allow it were included in the ACA.
Obama is relentless, shameless, and soulless. Where does Hillary stand on this? We need answers now. I know Sanders’ strategy is Marquess of Queensberry but he has to take the gloves off now. Right now, since Obama has cleverly sneaked this in with just days notice. I think it will be a political winner for Sanders because it will raise his profile and perhaps finally get Elizabeth Warren to announce her support for his candidacy. And even if it antagonizes the Obots, Sanders owes it to the country to attack TPP and demand Clinton come clean.
These so called trade deals are a murky area because the public in general is hardly aware of them and particularly of their significance. Just about no one knows what the ISDS is, for instance.
Sanders may not see coming out against something that obscure as giving him a boost onto the national radar, and even if he did take it up, just on principal, it’s not sure he would raise awareness of TPP or it’s evil siblings as much as just sound wonky.
I could be missing something (a lot of somethings). And your point about Warren may well be valid. Still, I would be surprised if Sanders invests a lot of time on the TPP other than when he is talking to the choir.
Then what’s the use of the Sanders candidacy? If he’s just going to play it safe, might just as well resign ourselves to Hillary or the Donald.
I did web searches for “TPP” at the campaign websites of Sanders, Clinton, Trump, Carson, Fiorina and Bush. 36 hits at the Sanders site, 11 hits at the Trump site, and 0 hits at the Clinton, Carson, Fiorina, and Bush sites. I don’t know whether Sanders is being safe or not, but he’s doing more to educate people about the TPP than any of the other major candidates.
I’m not suggesting playing it safe, I’m saying that may be what Sanders feels is appropriate and offering a suggestion as to why.
If Sanders HAS been giving front and center time to the trade deals, I haven’t heard about it. That doesn’t mean much. It could easily be explained by the fact that the media seems to deal with Sanders only for his surprise or shock value. They hardly ever talk about his platform.
But the whole subject is complicated. It’s hard to put into a single sound byte so simply mentioning it from time to time (meat to the base notwithstanding) isn’t enough to do him or the public much good.
Defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership
The political calculus is for Sanders to beat Clinton and get the Dem nomination. The policy angle is to generate enough heat and light to overcome the obscurity you correctly note and defeat these monstous efforts to gut democracy and install a global corporatocracy. I think this a golden opportunity for Sanders to pummel Clinton and (hopefully) derail Obama. Come on, Bernie, let’s see some fight!
Bernie taking on Obama is one great way to generate that heat and light. Bernie playing it safe fades into obscurity.
Hope you’re right – no complaints from me if Sanders took up the TPP in a big way so as to introduce it/make it clear/er to many and benefit from the discussion at the same time.
I’ve been talking with a French economist who thinks he knows all about the trade deals and yet doesn’t even know of the existence of the ISDS. Kills me, and he is so typical as to be downright frightening. Also kills me that I can’t speak EconoBamoBabble cause that’s what it takes to get so much as a dial tone with these guys.
Bernie either spreads the fire, blows to pieces, or fades away. It’s a gamble he has to make. There’s no cautious path for him. He’s not running out of a burning ambition for personal advancement. He either pushes his issues to the max or goes home.
I generally agree with you. Sanders has made a lot of progress, frankly more than I expected. He has so far run a pure issues campaign and refused to even criticize Clinton, which has been a successful strategy because he has kept the Clintons from the mud wrestling at which they excel. But there are limits to that approach and Sanders, IMO, remains exceedingly unlikely to secure the nomination. I hope Sanders realizes that, as an insurgent, he must be prepared to seize his opportunties. While TPP is not a major issue with the general public, it is within the Democratic Party. Above you suggested that Sanders challenge Obama on TPP and on a couple of levels that makes sense. Obviously, Obama is the one with the raw power and he could simply decide to abandon TPP. But he won’t do that, absent extraordinary circumstances. Either the other countries balk (last I heard they were being offered an Obama Special — anything for a deal!), and they yet may, or TPP gets done. Also, challenging Obama will, as you say, probably generate more heat and light than going after Clinton, but again, Obama doesn’t really care. On the negative side, attacking or even directly challenging Obama will cause Bernie to play into the he has a black problem trap that the neoliberal Democrats have set for him.
As we just saw with the biotech drop, most of TPTB assume Clinton will be the next Democratic nominees, if not the next president. So she has heft. If Sanders can get her to oppose TPP — extremely doubtful, I know — that could sway some Democrats, and maybe even some Republicans. And if Obama begins to appear foolish he could conceivably back down, though I really doubt that.
In any event, I hope Sanders makes this a big deal and uses it politically as well. And I also wish Elizabeth Warren would step it up. I saw that she took a TPP dig at Obama during Obama’s cynical Labor Day event here in Boston and I’m sure it rankled the narcisist, but pranks are one thing: now the monstrosity is here. Either stop it or go home.
Good inferemce on “the biotech drop.”
That said, these guys have been wrong before, and Sanders has “seized his opportunity” at least once. When a gap between a substantial portion of the base and Clinton opened up, Sanders “ran to daylight” and successfully. (I’m convinced, on no authority or evidence, that O’Malley was the sheep dog, not Sanders. And Sanders blew right past O’Malley.)
Interesting. How did Sanders “run to daylight”? My take, also based on nothing but my own assessment, is that Sanders just ran on his own accord for genuine policy reasons. Whether he imagined he could tap into a vein of revulsion powerful enough to seriously threaten Clinton or if he assumed he would be canon fodder I don’t know. Like you say, things are roiled and it’s hard to make predictions. Especially about the future. (See ya, Yogi.)
Both Sanders and O’Malley came out strongly against Fast Track.
Hillary mealy-mouthed about the Trade Adjustment Assistance and dropped mention of the entire business after that was passed.
Regarding the anti-TPP interests in the Republican base, this might be a bit unpopular among the globalist intelligentsia but there is very good rationale for parochialism and insularity. As I discovered in Dmitry Orlov’s Communicates that Abide small communities that adopt these kinds of mental frameworks are often very resilient and can survive easily for many generations, perhaps even indefinitely (discounting things like meteor strikes).
Like it or not it could be that the sudden resurgence of intolerance and prejudice whenever life gets hard is simply a useful survival trait of the human species expressing itself. This sort of backlash against the TPP could be just a primordial survival mechanism kicking in to work against something that is a serious threat to social and cultural cohesion.
While in general I’m in favor of multiculturalism and open-mindedness, I think it’s a mistake to dismiss other views out of hand as unenlightened historical hold-overs. Actually, things often move in the other direction quite rapidly, and there is possibly an inherent survival value in that.
Aside from the survival value of self-organization by conspicuous markers. The bumptious evangelical flavor of bourgeois liberalism rightly offends people who aren’t interested in being exploited under the self-serving pretexts of the current news cycle and wasting life energy on insider patty-cake, authoritarian Simon Says, and disbelieving their “lying” eyes in favor of their “betters” who will not dignify their grievances.
I suspect once you get the oligarchs’ claws off the far right that they’d be a little less adrenal and might be amenable to something more pragmatic. The Archdruid’s ecotopia series in progress may be filling me with rather more hope than is strictly warranted on this point.
That makes a lot of sense. The liberals constituting the middle class and upper middle class strata of society are profoundly out of touch with the awful reality of life in America.
Most people are terrified about how they’re going to pay the rent next month, while socially conscious liberals want us to focus on petty social issues instead. Not to mention discrediting the liberal ideal, this kind of attitude that could convince people that mass lynchings aren’t such a bad idea. I think with the TPP, among other things, the people are starting to get a pretty good idea of who needs to be dispensed with.
Most people are terrified about how they’re going to pay the rent next month, while socially conscious liberals want us to focus on petty social issues instead.
I’d love to hear you opine on what a petty social issue is?
Let me guess you’re a guy who thinks abortion and marriage don’t have financial implications and those constituencies trying to pay the rent next month shouldn’t count.
There are two ways to interpret the use of the word “transparency” here. It could mean that the barriers to something are transparent, so that it is visible to all. But it might instead refer to the object itself, and not to anything that might surround it. If the object, such as the text of the TPP, is transparent, then it is invisible, and we won’t be able to read it. Like using invisible (transparent) ink. That would seem to be the type of transparency that exists at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. In other words, yes, they are really, really Orwellian.
He’s the Officer in Charge of Preventing Transparency.
Ah, that clarified it. Rather like the Secretary of Defense is really the Secretary of War, the Central Intelligence Agency is what it is….
Why not Opacity Officer, then?
“Through A Scanner Darkly.”
The software industry uses transparent/transparency in a branch of the second sense you define; that which is invisible to the user and thus without complexity. Only used as such, where the user is usually another developer, it has a positive connotation. So a gui framework, for instance, makes the underlying details of moving graphical objects around on the screen transparent and therefore easy for the developer who uses that framework.
I’ve noticed there is sometimes a conflict between what different people understand or mean by the term.
1. Transparent, in the positive sense, means it does what is claimed for it, under conditions or constraints that are openly specified, and its requirements are similarly stated–without your having to know how it does what it does.
2. More commonly, transparent is a negative, meaning we don’t know what it does, nor why it does it, nor under what circumstances–and the code is proprietary anyway. The correct word would be opaque–sometimes “black box” is apt–but that would be, well, too transparent!
I have not heard transparent used much if at all in the second sense you talk about. Opaque and Black Box are by far more frequently used IMO, and even they are negative, neutral or positive depending only on context.
In the first sense, while I agree with your more technical description, the term still denotes the invisible quality of transparency. It makes cumbersome detail invisible but functionality available and not secret.
Though nothing is hard and fast, examples might be, encryption is black box (proprietary and purposefully kept secret), screen scraping is opaque (often proprietary, only input and output available, but with specs), and gui is transparent (possibly proprietary but obviously open for use by and interaction with other code).
There’s a fine title for the Emperor’s tailors.
This is all temporary. Once Carly is Prez she’ll be Commander and Chief Trans Lucent.
I’ll go back to watching TV now.
This could probably do with a proper “compare and contrast” detailed write up, but when I check the western (that is to say, largely U.S.) reporting of the Atlanta ministerial meeting to thrash out the TPP, there are some subtle but important differences creeping (intended?) in between the original Japanese language meaning and the translations.
The Mainich http://mainichi.jp/shimen/news/20150926ddm008020086000c.html for example covers Prime Minister Abe’s summary and while the gist of what he was reported to have said in the English language press is okay (-ish) in terms of accuracy, he actually said he wanted the Atlanta round to be the last. There was no use of the word “hope” from Abe. Abe’s utterances in the original Japanese have a definite sense, to me, of “this had jolly well better be the last one”.
I’m glad for that. At the same time as wbgonne mentioned, since Bernie draws a massive crowd, he could begin to explain to those there about how horrible this really is, which I’m naively thinking would lead to a new spark of awareness and then we continue the noble work of putting people who vote for it out of office. Also, based on this article and some others, it seems as if Japan is approaching the whole thing with a huge air of reluctance, but we’ll see.
Alternatively, I do like the suggestion that a poster (maybe Lambert) mentioned here a while back: During a session of Congress, read it aloud so that it becomes public record.
IIRC, one reason Abe set the August 29 deadline was to avoid interfering with his own elections. So Froman slipped the date by a month or so, but what’s an election between friends?
“this had jolly well better be the last one”.
1) I want acceptable (save my ass) protection of farmers in Japan to be accepted this time or else
2) I have better things to do, let’s wait till next year
3) I want this to be the last time we send Obama the message that we’re soooo past TPP
If the Cold War were still going, there would be a simple exchange in operation: the US would receive continued continued military bases in Japan in return for keeping US markets open and turning a blind eye toward the currency manipulation that is part of the Bretton Woods II dollar recycling. As Chalmers Johnson put it, the two policies were never considered together because if they were, then they would be understood!
You have to wonder if now, during Cold War Junior, there is a similar exchange at work: in return for the passage of the recent defense bill in Japan (a de facto amendment of the pacifist constitution), Abe may receive a TPP with a favorable auto parts provision and no currency manipulation prohibition. We will see if the Canadians get thrown under the globally produced car.
How much do the seemingly unprecendented (at least that’s how it’s been portrayed in the West) protests against Japan’s re-militarization, weaken Abe’s ability to push the TPP through the Diet ?
Excellent question, and I wonder if the elections Abe was worried about connect to this.
Oh, ira, that is such a good question but there is so much kayfabe* going on I scarcely know where to begin !
The whole “Japan participating in the TPP” is in large part kayfabe because, outside a narrow section of big corporation Japan, there is no support for it in any other sector of industry, let alone popular clamour for it. Within Japan’s political embedded power structures, rural votes while few in number have a disproportionate influence on the makeup of national lawmakers and so regions outside the mega-population centres like Tokyo and Osaka (for example) get porkbarelled by the central government. TPP would throw a huge spanner in this cosy arrangement through outright removal (worse-case) or major restrictions (best case) on the agricultural subsidies. Abe’s LDP party knows this all too well so broadly speaking, LDP backing for the TPP is kayfabe.
Abe’s and Abe’s faction within the LDP do support the TPP because it gives the appearance of keeping in nicely with the U.S. so there’s mini-kayfabe there but there is also some genuine belief that Japan would benefit from the TPP being signed because some big corporations want it but also because it, in Abe’s mind, makes Japan look good to the U.S. But the real reason Abe wanted to be seen to be strongly supporting the TPP is to gain U.S. support for loosening the restrictions on Japan’s military’s ability to take unilateral non-defence actions. You could call it permission from the U.S. for a resumption of (the potential for) Japanese aggression. More kayfabe then, because while the TPP is supposed to be all about trade, the reasons Japan is pursuing it is because of security.
But — oh no, my poor head is hurting now, sorry if yours is too but I’d better set all this out for completeness — there’s kayfabe upon kayfabe because the vast majority of Japanese are strongly (and by strongly I mean deeply, right to the core of their beings, heartfelt and implacably) pacifist. The whole attempted resurrection of militarism thing not only lacks popular support, it is vehemently opposed by most Japanese. While Prime Minister Abe and a cohort of his cabinet think it is A Good Thing, it lacks broad support in the LDP so while the party is going along with it in small doses, it will have very finite limits in terms of anything apart from a few wording tweaks in memorandums of understanding and “reinterpretations” of Japan’s constitution.
Then we’ve got the whole U.S. TPP kayfabe. The TPP was a cornerstone of Obama’s (please, no laughing at the back here) “pivot to Asia” so was more of a geopolitical pet than anything seriously to do with trade. In short, the TPP is “anything, anyone, anywhere — but not China”. But in a bizarre, scarcely believable masterpiece of failure, the neoliberal crazy pants economic free market fundamentalists were allowed to take over the USTR’s office and are now following a hard-line take-no-prisoners approach to the TPP negotiations. It’s like it’s become the illegitimate love-child of Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman. No subsidies on anything ev-ah ! No restrictions on any corporate activity whatsoever ! No government “interference” in “markets” no matter what !
So we’ve go this astonishingly rancorous bickering (with more to follow in Atlanta, that’s for sure) over how many tonnes of rice Japan will take before it can impose a tariff, whether New Zealand milk is competing with the same implied subsidies as U.S. milk or not, can the corruption conduit Malaysian state-owned-enterprises be called anti competitive local market restrictions (ha ! they’re nothing but a means of channelling payments to crony politicians and would die of fright in the face of serious commercial competition, but that has absolutely nothing to do with why they are there) and so on. But this means the whole negotiation sticking points are largely kayfabe too — Japan is hardly likely to come out and say “oh, those agricultural subsidies ? Yes, of course, they are just a method of buying rural votes”.
Frankly, I’m surprised it’s all lasted as long as it has. But perhaps it is all drowning in so much kayfabe, no-one in the TPP negotiations is really sure any more what kind of play acting they are supposed to be doing and the reasons for doing it.
* Lambert, I hope I’ve used “kayfabe” correctly and in the right context here, as the expert in the perm, please do correct me if I’m wrong.
Thanks Clive, excellent insight!
I wonder what B0ner’s resignation changes the status quo on potential legislation, especially 0bama’s Grand Ripoff & TPP?
I’m sure the Repubs will find up with an equally, morally bankrupt theif to take B0ner’s place.
I had to laught at his goodbye quote.
“Last night I started thinking about this,” he said. “I woke up, I said my prayers, and decided today was the day I’ll do that. Simple as that.”
Said his ‘prayers’!? To who? Lucifer? That is hilarious. hahaha.
. . . “I woke up, I said my prayers, and decided today was the day I’ll do that. Simple as that.”
Who is out and about this weekend in the Washington – New York corridor? Draws big crowds? Oh, the Pope. It’s a narcissist trick that B0ner chose this weekend, to sort of bask in a notorious limelight for getting out the same weekend the Pope is in town. You know, he was just a want to be liked politician, and the mean Republican undertakers were making life unpleasant.
The key thing is Fast Track was passed.
That means all the deals, TPP, TTIP, and TISA need a simple majority to get approval.
Given how corrupt our Congress is, it makes it much tougher to stop.
Re Walker jumping from speeding Clown Car: I know we aren’t supposed to say this sort of thing but, to coin a phrase, “just look at that face.” If you are going to make a superficial appeal to the voters you at least need some superficial assets. Rick Perry for example had great hair. Molly Ivins used to call him Governor Goodhair.
I forget which NC poster used the phrase “coffee table charisma,” but that sums it up.
Nevertheless, you’d expect a preacher’s kid like Walker to be able to work the marks.
Different sized stages, perhaps.
Walker’s eyelids always look half closed, making his face look devious and untrustworthy. He has a cartoon villain look. So my hat is off to him for getting this far, at least in that respect.
One of his eyelids looks half closed. The other seems ok. I don’t know what you do about one droopy eye if you want to look like you are on top of your game. Plus, unless Trump sets a new comb over trend for dealing with bald spots, Walker will have to to get transplants like Joe Biden or just shave the whole thing.
He’s got 4 years to work on it. Maybe get his degree too.
Eyelid plastic surgery. He could ask Hillary for a doc recommendation.
What may seem charismatic in WI may come off drab in the other 40 or so states.
Weinstein’s Saba Capital Fund Accused of Mismarking Assets
An investor in a Saba Capital Management LP hedge fund accused the $1.6 billion firm founded by Boaz Weinstein of manipulating the value of assets to protect its own interests.
The board said it asked for a full redemption of the shares after Saba couldn’t explain why the fund suffered such a steep decline, and rejected a request to redeem the shares in three installments to keep other investors from finding out.
The board said Saba then marked down the bonds to deprive the board of the amount it was entitled to receive as of March 31, and increased their values a month later to what they were immediately before the redemption.
he doesn’t want any one to know, so be discreet about this.
“For example, James Hemings, sister of Sally.”
Did you mean James, brother of Sally?
Yikes! I’ll fix when I can get to a machine.
I’m in favor of anyone who goes to the UN and implores those idiots to do something about global poverty and the economic system that perpetuates it; be it Pope “I sat on my hands when they were torturing my priests in Buenos Aires” Bergoglio or Hugo Chavez.
But once we’re done with all the incredible, unforgettable, simpering “moments” on 5th avenue and East Harlem, does anyone know what the vast and wealthy Roman Catholic church is doing to improve things? That is, after they pay off all the billions in child molestation claims?
I understand when people, I don’t know, as impoverished as I am, implore others to fix these systemic and political problems that drive mass violence and poverty, but WTF is the church gonna do?
So far, it doesn’t include women joining the priesthood, expanding access to contraception or abortion choice, expanding divorce options or same sex marriage–you know, stuff the church can do.
Well, he’s “streamlining” the finances and bureaucracy of the church, but, to what end?
I’ve had it with touching the hem of holy fathers and hanging pictures of Obama in the kitchens of the unemployed, and respecting the office and all that authoritarian Bullsh*t.
Just show me the beef.
The Pope doesn’t listen to Mammon-worshipping cultural imperalists with nothing more than a bag of excuses and deflections for your inhospitality to the poor, and neither should he. Can’t you keep your bumptious Ferengi market-evangelism on your side of the line instead of pretending that power and class don’t exist because vampires don’t show in mirrors? Go see the Democratic Party Inc. for your beef. Neither I nor anyone else is obligated to polish your charm bracelet.
Brave to imagine there is no link between Mammon and the Church…perhaps a re-read of their long history coupled with a think about what the Vatican Bank has been up to. Popey said some cool stuff, agreed, especially when he suggested people “avoid the temptations of narcissism”. Hope he takes his own advice when his first album hits the charts:
Uber uber alles: Sao Paulo Mayor Seeks Middle Ground on Uber, Eyes Regulations
Where `middle ground’ = thwarting the will of a majority of a democratically elected city council.
Funny how light regulation is the fallback position for glibertarians who are about to lose.
Given the endemic corruption in Brazil, I’m betting there is a hefty bribe to the mayor involved.
“Fiorina at H-P:”
I live in an HP town and have many friends who are former HP employees. I can tell you that there is a deep well of bitterness that goes far beyond normal political considerations.
This isn’t your normal oppo; this is thousands of angry volunteers, many of them very smart and techncally sophisticated.
Does that matter? We shall see; but it’s not a plus.
Ideally, a Chief Transparency Officer would be physically transparent.
Your reading comprehension needs work. Seems to me that fawning democrats like yerself are all swollen with pride that the great man deigns to pat the head of little chillens and talk big about equality. Did you not get the Obama memo? Populist talk is a staple of the power holders. give me deeds.
I note you haven’t bothered to tell us anything concrete his holiness or his vast and wealthy church have yet done to alleviate the scourge of poverty. This isn’t snark, we really wanna know. Personally, I’m angling for a job at Interfaith’s worker centers. You’re too busy fingering his garments like the authoritan follower you really are.
OK, kids, stop it. Right now.
If you read the exchange, that is, hunkerdown’s delusional reply to my perfectly clear post pointing out that populist talk is fine, but I’d like to see it backed up with actual policy, then you wouldn’t make foolish remarks about kids, plural.
Until someone enlightens me with facts demonstrating something more in the current pope’s policy than exhortations for someone else to fix poverty, I’ll take it there are none. It’s not like the church doesn’t have massive money and resources. As the law-yers say, uncontroverted allegations are deemed to be true. Ad hominums notwithstanding. My statement stands.
Maybe he’s just humming the right notes to promote the dwindling population of catholics in the first world to attract the third world (global south, whatever) that is the only hope of catholic growth in the 21st century.
Honestly, does no one find the fawning adulation a little bit nauseating? I blame the media for that, but consider their record. Anyone they promote is suspect.
I’m a first-time commenter, and my first comment made about an hour ago has not yet appeared, so I’ll try again.
My first comment was a response to those above that stated uncertainty about Bernie Sanders’ position on TPP and whether he was speaking publicly in opposition. My first comment stated that in the stump speeches I have heard him give, he is emphatically opposed to TPP and he opposed fast-track authorization. He also states that he voted against NAFTA, CAFTA, and normal trade relations with China. The audience response to Bernie is fully-supportive and reflects an awareness of the TPP agreement.
Thanks. Anything else you want to share about his stump speeches?