2:00PM Water Cooler 10/15/2015

This is Naked Capitalism fundraising week. 195 donors have already invested in our efforts to combat corruption and predatory conduct, particularly in financial realm. Please join us and participate via our Tip Jar, which shows how to give via check, credit card, debit card, or PayPal. Read about why we’re doing this fundraiser, what we’ve accomplished in the last year, and our first target, funding for digital infrastructure and user improvements.

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“[T]he Donald has yet to really get going on the TPP. The damage that Ross Perot did to NAFTA will, as with so many things with the Donald, pale in comparison” [HuffPo]. Yes, Trump has been quiet. Too quiet.

“Map of TTIP free communities in Europe” [Attac]. The UK should get going on this. Ditto Spain.



“It’s hard to overstate the degree to which the killing of Osama bin Laden transformed American politics” [New York Times, “What Do We Really Know About Osama bin Laden’s Death?”]. But there’s no real evidence for that claim, not even polling, for that claim. And oddly, there’s no mention of Secretary of State Clinton in the article. I say oddly, because of this famous picture:

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, along with with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House, May 1, 2011. Please note: a classified document seen in this photograph has been obscured. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House. 

We see Clinton, but we don’t see what Clinton sees. Maybe somebody should get her on the record about that. Given this article, and given the givens.

Republicans converge on plan to replace ObamaCare [The Hill]. “The plans all center on a tax credit intended to help people afford health insurance, along with more limited protection for people with preexisting health conditions and a cap on federal payments to states for the low-income Medicaid program.” I hate tax credits. I have to pay the money now, and I get paid back in an unknown amount at some point in the future.

“Far from fringe: A historian explains why the democratic socialism of Bernie Sanders is an American idea” [Raw Story].

“Obama Administration Hits Back at Student Debtors Seeking Relief” [Bloomberg].


“How Bernie Sanders Raised $1.3 Million in Four Hours” [Bloomberg]. From small contributions:

ActBlue was taking donations from about 800 people per hour on Tuesday evening, a fairly standard pace. At one point, though, after Sanders told the media to focus on issues and knock off its fascination with Clinton’s e-mail usage as secretary of state, his campaign blasted out a fundraising appeal quoting the exchange.

“We went from that level to over 10,000 contributions an hour in the space of just a few minutes,” Thames said.
The organization said it wouldn’t speak about specific campaigns and that the 10,000 contributions reflected their overall fundraising efforts Tuesday evening.

Still, Sanders was raising nearly $5,500 a minute and continued getting donations after the initial four-hour spike: He has brought in $1.9 million since the debate, according to CNN.

And I would imagine that very few of those voters hedged their bets with another candidate or party, or were able also to purchase influence at contribute to the Clinton Foundation.

“Republican presidential contender Dr. Ben Carson has put his public campaign events on hold for two more weeks to go on book tour for his new tome “A More Perfect Union” and catch up on fundraising events” [ABC]. And the book tour is, of course, totally separate from the campaign, especially for reporting purposes.

The Debates

A reasonably neutral account of the debates from McClatchy [McClatchy].

Helpfully annotated [@AmandaMarcotte]:

In an awesome display of power tweeting, we get [1] a smear (“truthers”), [2] a straw man (“conspiracy”), and [3] concern trolling (“hurts him”). Who said 140 characters was any kind of limit? (If you want actual analysis of the media’s role in the debates, see Yves here.)

UPDATE “Is the mainstream media in the tank for Clinton?” [The Hill]. I think an editor stuck that headline on the piece (it’s from a Russell Frank, a journalism professor, not an operative) so as to trigger a false-positive invocation of Betteridge’s Law of Headlines. In fact, if the press aren’t actually in the tank, they’ve got far more “skin in the tank” than their toes.

The Trail

UPDATE “Democratic strategists” predict Biden won’t run [The Hill]. And why would he have? For his beaux yeux?

UPDATE “In the United States, liberalism advances only when radicalism is bubbling, which is why Clinton and Sanders need each other, and why the Democrats need them both” [Harold Meyerson, Business Insider]. Sure. Clinton can be Sanders’ Secretary of State. Why not? They pretty much agree, and he can rein in her more aggressive impulses. Meanwhile, Sanders can straighten out domestic policy, instead of tinkering round the edges of it with eleventy-five point plans. I mean, come on. Does anybody want to see Ira Magaziner anywhere near public policy again? Or, more to the point, Robert Rubin?

UPDATE “That Trump’s campaign is finding its Iowa delegates via staged, game-show-style events might seem odd. But it begins to make sense when you consider the extent to which Trump’s appeal as a candidate is built on his starring role on The Apprentice—a prime-time network show that, it must be noted, has aired for 14 seasons with anywhere from about 5 million to 20 million viewers” [Bloomberg].

The Hill

“McConnell, according to a report first published by CNN, plans to make several major demands of the White House, including changes to Medicare, Social Security, and EPA regulations as his price for raising the nation’s debt limit” [The Fiscal Times]. It’s time for a Grand Bargain!

Stats Watch

Consumer Price Index, September 2015: “[W]hen stripping out food, which moved higher in September, and energy, which moved sharply lower, the core CPI rose 0.2 percent which is the high-end expectation” [Econoday]. “There may be a little bit of inflation centered in housing, otherwise the September consumer price report doesn’t point to any urgency for a rate liftoff.” Nice of Econoday to interpret the data for Yellen…

Jobless Claims, week of October 10, 2015: “Jobless claims are settling in right at historic lows, continuing to point to a significant lack of slack in the labor market” [Econoday]. “[R]ecord lows for this series which, unlike initial claims, only goes only back about 15 years.” Interesting. So “normal” for is series is entirely encompassed in the neoliberal dispensation that began in the mid-70s.

Empire State Manufacturing Survey, October 2015: “Minus signs sweep the Empire State report with the headline at minus 11.36 which is more than 1 point below Econoday’s low end estimate” [Econoday]. “[N]ew orders are in very deep trouble.” However: “As this index is very noisy, it is hard to understand what these massive moves up or down mean – however this regional manufacturing survey is normally one of the more pessimistic” [Econintersect].

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of October 11, 2015: “Job openings are abundant and are giving a lift to the consumer comfort index which continues to accelerate” [Econoday]. “The index is enjoying one of its best runs of the recovery.”

Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey, October 2015: Contraction is seeping into the Mid-Atlantic manufacturing sector [Econoday]. “This report confirms the Empire State report released earlier this morning and points to accelerating declines for manufacturing, a sector that appears to be getting hit harder and harder by weak foreign markets.” The containers are going out to China empty. They are coming back full, but how long does that last?

Shipping: “Containerized import volume was up for a seventh-straight month at the Port of Oakland in September. The Port said this week that it handled 1.6 percent more containerized imports last month than it did a year ago” [Longshore & Shipping News].

Shipping: “Australia’s Fortescue Metals Group said on Thursday seaborne iron ore sales into China were clearly improving, and iron ore prices would increasingly be driven by demand rather than supply” [Hellenic Shipping News]. Hmm.

Ag: “Chinese cotton imports reached an all-time low in September, as thick inventories and an economic slowdown weigh on demand” [Agrimoney]. However: “Website CNCotton reports that China imported just 50,900 tonnes of cotton in September, a decline of 59% year-on-year.” These are government statistics. I wonder if there is other real economy data to back it up.

The Fed: “The overwhelming theme of no imminent Fed lift-off continues to dominate the trading environment [Marc Chandler at Brown Brothers Harriman, Across the Curve]. “Yet on the other side of the coin, ECB’s Nowotny noted that the bank is ‘clearly missing’ its inflation target.” You don’t bat zero for the season without a plan…

The Fed: “Four Words That Have the Federal Reserve in a Panic: ‘Pushing on a String'” [Wall Street on Parade]. Zeitgeist watch….

The Fed: “New York Federal Reserve Bank President Bill Dudley said Thursday he prefers a flexible approach to monetary policy decision-making, but does not favor giving central bank policymakers total discretion” [Market News]. “The world is complex and ever-changing,” Dudley said in remarks prepared for delivery to a Brookings Institution event.” It’s a complex world

Honey for the Bears (?): The Blue Chip Consensus for GDP (down) and the Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow (down more) model converged, then diverged [Mosler Economics].

Fear & Greed Index, October 15, 2015: 35 (-3); Fear [CNN]. Last week: 37 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed).

Imperial Collapse Watch

“The Drone Papers” [The Intercept].

The Intercept has obtained a cache of secret documents detailing the inner workings of the U.S. military’s assassination program in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia. The documents, provided by a whistleblower, offer an unprecedented glimpse into Obama’s drone wars.

Oddly, or not, the whistleblower didn’t approach a media outlet like the Times or the Washington Post. Clearly, although drones are rather good at whacking civilians — perhaps that’s one reason drone operators are so stressed, even if they do work out of trailers in the Arizona desert — they aren’t real good at actually killing enemies of the United States.

Speculating very freely, and leaving the reason-of-state justifications aside, and leaving aside also the self-licking ice cream cone aspect of blowing wedding parties to pink mist in parts of the world where revenge is a family value, peripheral colonies are often used as test beds for military technology later to be used in the metropolis; one thinks of the Brits, who innovated both the Maxim gun and the concentration camp in the Boer War, or the Italians, bombing Ethiopian civilians from the air. I know if I were part of an elite faction possessed by fear, and driven by a guilty conscience, I’d like having a drone command somewhere about, ready to be used for domestic purposes. So much more handy than a Praetorian guard, and of course certain geographic coordinates would be whitelisted in the guidance software. Kidding!


Conservative Muslim-bashing could cost the NDP Quebec [Economist].

“Harper’s greatest success in hampering the state from serving Canadians has been to strip it of its most important resource: taxes. Continuing a Liberal legacy, Harper’s cuts to taxes – GST, corporate and personal – have enriched corporations and denied the state a stunning $45 billion a year in revenue. This has deliberately starved the ability of this government – and of future ones – to pay for public services and address inequality or climate change. Such policies have reduced the country to depression-era divisions: Canada’s wealthiest 86 people now own as much as the 11.4 million poorest” [Guardian]. It’s like there’s a neo-liberal playbook or something…

Dear Old Blighty

Porcine enthusiast David Cameron, lying through his expensively kept teeth:

“Ken Spours, the author [of the The Osborne Supremacy], explores the new Conservatives’ rising audacity and underlines how energised their politics has become now the shackles of coalition are off. Spours cites a passion among clued-up Tories for tech innovation (Uber and Airbnb, for instance) and more importantly a quest to steal political concepts like fairness, social justice and even equality from the left and ‘fill them with Conservative meaning'” [Guardian].

“The UK Trade Union Bill, currently working its way through parliament, is almost a caricature of repressive anti-worker legislation” [Jacobin].

“The Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), the UK body that hears complaints about intelligence agencies, has ruled that the communications of MPs and peers are not protected by the Wilson Doctrine, which was thought to exempt them from surveillance by GCHQ and other intelligence agencies. Back” [Ars Technica].


“A growing body of data, mostly from animals raised in sterile, germ-free conditions, shows that microbes in the gut influence behaviour and can alter brain physiology and neurochemistry.” [Nature].

CIA study: “‘Prospects are poor for countries grappling with food insecurity,’ the report declares. ‘The intersection of food insecurity with governance gaps will probably result in social disruption, political turmoil, or conflict” [The Hill]. What the hell is a “governance gap”? Like at the SEC?

“Survival Horror” [Campo Santo Quarterly Review]. Long-form article on Centralia, PA; this is “bitter/cling to” territory; the people Obama and the Democrats threw under the bus in 2008.


UPDATE “Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt: Alphabet is about to get ‘a lot’ bigger” [Business Insider]. And I’m sure Schmidt backstopping the Clinton campaign’s technical needs with his Groundworks operation (see here for bizarre and creepy logo) will never be used to smooth away tiresome bureaucratic and regulatory obstacles.

Class Warfare

“In spite of a well-financed scare campaign, and a not very subtle effort by the European Union to load the dice in the October 4 Portuguese elections, the ruling right-wing Forward Portugal coalition lost its majority in Parliament, left parties garnered more than 50 percent of the vote, and the austerity policies that have paralyzed the country for four years took a major hit” [The Nation]. When last I checked, that wasn’t what I was hearing from Portugal. Readers?

News of the Wired

“If our hypothesis is correct, the agency has been vigorously exploiting weak Diffie-Hellman, while taking only small steps to help fix the problem” [Freedom to Tinker]. “For more details, see our research paper: Imperfect Forward Secrecy: How Diffie-Hellman Fails in Practice. (Update: We just received the Best Paper Award at CCS 2015!)” This sounds important. Readers?

“Mathematicians find ‘magic key’ to drive Ramanujan’s taxi-cab number” [Escience Commons]. This sounds important too.

“Right now, assembly lines require expensive human or robot operators to assemble a product. Something like Kinetic Blocks could transform the conveyor belt of an assembly line into a robot operator. Imagine automobiles or iPhones that seemingly assemble themselves as they move down the factory line” [MIT Technology Review].

* * *

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 (OregonCharles):


I believe this is a Camellia sinensis? One can make tea from it.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post on by .

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. ambrit

    “So much more handy than a Praetorian Guard.”
    Well, traditionally, the Praetorian Guard of whomever is in charge gets all the best of everything. Not just wine, women, and song, but also weaponry. Thus, the Drone Corps are part of the Praetorian Guards now. Whitelisted coordinates? Do not be silly. The traditional course of oppressive regimes is to constantly expand the scope of the terror. That’s the self licking ice cone in action.
    Riffing off of the Praetorian Guard theme a little; if Dubya was our Claudius, and O-man is our Nero, will we have a Year of Four Presidents? Then, who will be our Vespasian? (Oh, the troubles that arise when the Army goes in for politics!)

      1. ambrit

        Alas, I did not do my due diligence.
        First, whitelisting is a redundancy. Many of the ‘neighbourhoods’ of the 158 Families are probably de-facto segregated. Secondly, as the history of Imperial Rome attests, and we should agree that an oligarchy is an oligarchy, is an oligarchy, ancient or modern, the rich and powerful are not immune to the ‘tender mercies’ of the Praetorian Guard of the day. In vulgar terms, a shake out of the wealthy is inevitable. Thirdly, once power is exercised by it, the Praetorian Guard seldom ‘stays bought.’
        I have done plumbing work on Indian Creek Island. Admittedly, this was back in the 1970’s, but it was always a haven for the wealthy. One of the families living there at the time was the Firestones. I remember Joyce Firestone from Junior High School and High School. One weekend evening I was sent to a house on Indian Creek Island Road. There was a cocktail party in progress, and the sink drain for the wet bar was stopped up. I had to crawl under the house and fix this problem. Alas for the mighty, whoever had installed this sink had run the drain straight through the floor and dead ended it in a pile of sand. Some of the sand had accreted and caused the blockage. A hammer fixed that problem. To test the sink, I had to wend my way through the throng of people in uniforms of various nationalities, suits and ties, and silk dresses. This was a ‘learning experience’ for me. No one gave me a first look, much less a second. I was part of the scenery, an animated accoutrement. I made the drinks flow on time. Lucky me.
        The article you linked to makes a point of saying that a large majority of the 158 Families are ‘self made.’ No one ever mentions all of those people who have to fail and suffer for the fortunate few to enjoy their ‘self made’ fortunes. Heaven forbid that sharing ever gets mentioned. That would be, horrors, socialist!
        Keep the Red Drones flying! (Hmmm… Redlist?)

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I was unclear on “whitelisting.” I didn’t mean redlining. I meant whitelist as opposed to blacklist. That is, the GIS coordinates of the 158 families would be incorporated into the drone navigation software such that they could never be targeted, avoiding the pesky little problem with Praetorian Guards: They turn on the emperor.

          * * *

          Telling anecdote about the wet bar. Of course, one pays attention to people, eh?

          1. ambrit

            Yes, the people are the real point of any culture. Behaviour is an endlessly fascinating field of study. It is a shame that most of us are not taught to view ourselves objectively when we are young. Shaws’ famous quip is all too true; “Youth is wasted on the young.”

    1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

      Sadly, the whole rotten Roman system continued rolling along even after the Praetorians auctioned off the office of Princeps. I’m wondering who gets to be America’s Eligabalus.

      1. ambrit

        Yikes, stripes! Didn’t he come from Syria? Everything goes so much faster now then back then. I can see a Presidential candidate arising from Syracistan. (One of the Administrations has to extend the franchise to those who serve the Empire from the great outer darkness.)

  2. allan

    ” … microbes in the gut influence behaviour …”

    And you know what else can influence behavior?

    This Magnet Can Change Your Faith in God

    When researchers used magnetic energy to shut down the brain’s threat perception, nearly a third of patients were more tolerant to immigrants. More said they didn’t believe in God.

    In Gauss We Trust.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Hmm. I prefer Nature to the Daily Beast, but whatever. That said, it’s so clear that the science is telling us that the relations between the organism and the environment — supposing those two categories to be usefully separable — are so much more complex than we know (and have been taught). That is my point.

  3. Brindle

    Amanda Marcotte doesn’t stop at “truthers” and “conspiracy”—she goes PUMA (Party Unity My Ass) and plays sexism card.
    From her twitter:

    —There’s a weird irony to this, but I’m beginning to fear that some Sanders supporters are turning into the white male version of PUMAs.—

    Get the impression there were some Dem media types just waiting to hurl insults at Sanders and those who support him.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      PUMAs are to Obots as Muslims are to gun nuts. The identity politics are equally sophisticated in each case. Really, a PUMA is just a Democrat that Obama’s faction threw out of the party when they seized control of the party machinery. Nothing more, nothing less. Hence the cries of “Other!!! Other!!!!!”

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Yeah, RD went through the thick of it, with a lot of grace, too. Unbelievable pressure. We actually met, finally, down at the Occupy in DC. It was really great.

    2. Synoia

      I personally do not dislike Hillary because she is a woman (and I actually do not know Hillary personally, so I’m really in no position to have personal opinions).

      What I dislike about Hillary is Hillary – her perceived ability to triangulate in real time to what appears to be her electoral, or financial, advantage. Over ambitions opportunism perhaps?

      Something about a perceived or apparent lack of integrity, I believe.

    3. cwaltz

      I’m neither white nor male but she definitely has a point. Some of potential Sanders supporters will not vote for Hillary if she is the nominee. They will go PUMA.

      1. OIFVet

        I wouldn’t, but it has nothing to do with her gender. She is a known quantity and I don’t like what we know about her. It’s that simple. I am so fed up with these attempts to use the -isms to force people to shut up and fall in line. Before sexism there was racism (as in leftists hate Obama because he is black). Well, I don’t like Obama, and I didn’t like Dubya before him. So I guess those of us who don’t like them are just all around haters.

        1. cwaltz

          Most of those that wouldn’t vote for Obama in PUMA weren’t racist or bitter females(hence her comment about irony). That was the narrative that was put out though. I have little to no doubt that people like Marcotte will holler sexist at the top of their lungs in the same way uneducated racist was spewed in 2008.

          That being said, my vote is mine. The Democratic party can either give me a candidate I can believe in or I’ll move along.

          The funny thing for me is 2008 made me a PUMA. It wasn’t about identity politics for me though. It was about fairness. It was about the elite picking their candidate and telling the rest of us to bugger off. Clinton might have had a chance in 2008 to win me in 2016 if she had that floor fight. Instead she was too worried about offending Pelosi and getting her job within the administration and that told me all I needed to know about her ability to fight for the average person. And that was BEFORE I saw her disastrous contribution to foreign policy in action.

          Marcotte, can be assured that it won’t just be white males that go PUMA(and I’m just as prepared to be tarred and feathered as an angry white sexist as I was to be tarred and feathered as an uneducated female hillbilly.)

          I suspect Marcotte is trying to figure out how bad the defection will be.

          1. Carolinian

            If memory serves Hillary was snookered out of the nomination in 2008, not only getting more votes but there was also some funny business down in Texas. Obama’s hardball handlers were playing for keeps. Afterwards she supposedly made a Nixon like statement that she was done running for President. The fact that she is doing so now is kind of surprising. I suspect some of the Clintons’ Wall Street pals may have convinced her to do so in order to block potential candidates they truly fear–most especially Warren. In any event her disastrous turn at State is reason enough to go PUMA although in my case I dropped out of the Dems long ago. The country needs not just a third party but perhaps a fourth or fifth. The current system is hopelessly schlerotic.

          2. Katiebird

            When she gave up on the floor fight, I was blindsided. It was as big a sucker punch as the rules committee giving Obama 4 of her Michigan delegates. Those aren’t the only odd events of the 2008 election but between them, they showed me that the Democratic Primaries don’t have any more meaning to the nomination process than the Backroom Operators want to give them.

            As a lifelong Democrat who worked at some level in every Presidential election (seeing some pretty gritty floor fights along the way) since 1960, it was deeply depressing.

            But now, I’m very relaxed. I get to vote however I want to vote. And just like most people, I don’t have to make up my mind for a year or so.

      2. Massinissa

        Im not voting for Clinton because shes a crook.

        Quite frankly, im not entirely sure Sanders isnt some kind of secret crook, but I guess ill give him the benefit of the doubt.

        Clinton is a known quantity. And please dont give me any of that “lesser of two evils” hogwash. If you do I will direct you to the More Effective Evil essay on Black Agenda Report by Glen Ford about Obama.

        If Hillary wins the nomination im voting Green again like in 2012.

      3. Oregoncharles

        Most of them, I hope.

        The chief effect, so far, seems to be staying home on election day (or in Oregon, not mailing in that ballot.)

      4. Higgs Boson

        Many Sanders supporters are independents and a few disenfranchised republicans (like me) who would NEVER vote for Clinton, period.

        Another block of Sanders supporters are also first-time voters who’ve taken interest in elections only because of Sanders’ message. If Clinton gets the party nomination, these people are going to have their cynicism about the elections confirmed, and likely will not vote in the general election at all.

        That’s what I get from people I’ve talked with at several Sanders events I’ve been to.

  4. jo6pac

    Oddly, or not, the whistleblower didn’t approach a media outlet like the Times or the Washington Post

    It could be most lame stream press would have turned in the person trying to do the right thing. If they do they get brownie points from govt.

  5. Jim Haygood

    Amazing how the windowless command room for the Osama assassination resembles the windowless cell in those Hitler Downfall parodies.

    If only we possessed Germans’ rich sense of humor and joie de vivre!

    1. fresno dan

      “It’s hard to overstate the degree to which the killing of Osama bin Laden transformed American politics” [New York Times, “What Do We Really Know About Osama bin Laden’s Death?”].

      That is a statement so divorced from reality that it makes the people who believe aliens kidnapped Elvis Presley after being ordered to do so by JFK’s head, where where JFK and Elvis now reside on the fake moon landing stage, seem like objective empiricists.

      Indeed, the illustrative point is that what the propaganda/security state deemed all important could later be changed to “never mind” so easily…

    2. GroundZeroAndLovinIt

      What always strikes me about that photo is how much physically smaller (head size, shoulder width, etc.) Obama looks compared to the people sitting right next to him. It may be a trick of perspective, or camera angle, but it makes me wonder if he was Photoshopped into the room. There’s just something a little off about the whole photo but maybe “war rooms” don’t look anything like the Kubrick version and are more informal than the ones in my imagination.

      1. Pavel

        Good point re Obama. I’ve always found that photo very suspicious, especially since they claimed subsequently (how convenient!) there were no live head-cams on the troops carrying out the assassination (oops, capture) of Osama.

        If there were no live videos, what on earth are Obama, Clinton, Biden etc reacting to? This is not snark, an honest question. If there are live videos, shouldn’t they be available?

        So strange that the mastermind™ of 9/11 was captured but killed in the middle of the night, then his body dumped at sea with very little evidence of any of the operation. And think how useful it would have been to be able to interrogate said mastermind.

        But no… Obama, Clinton et al just dumped the body at sea. How convenient. And we have the photo posted above. Will no one ask any questions?????

    1. allan

      And then there’s this:

      Incoming New York Times editorial boss once spiked NSA spying story

      Dean Baquet, who became executive editor of the New York Times [last year], oversaw editorial operations at the Los Angeles Times in 2007 when a former AT&T employee brought information to one of his reporters that purported to expose the telephone company’s secret cooperation with the National Security Agency on a dragnet spy program that collected the phone calls of millions of American citizens.

      The whistleblower, Mark Klein, is said to have worked with reporter Joseph Menn for two months on the report before the decision was made that the paper would not run the story. Klein told ABC News he was informed the decision not to pursue the story was made after Los Angeles Times editors met with government officials, including then-NSA head Gen. Michael Hayden.

      1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

        And lately, they’re running Gordon’s gruelpropaganda about Putin and Syria. Next will they bring back Gina Kolata to tell us about Assad’s WMD tubes or some Saudi shill telling us how Assad personally sacrifices babies to Baal?

        1. ambrit

          That’s Putin who makes offerings to the Baals. Haven’t you seen Foxs’ docudrama about Putin; “Aleksandr Nevsky?” Hint: Putin, contrary to popular misconception, actually heads the Teutonic Knights.

        2. ewmayer

          Nitpick: It’s Greuelpropaganda (from the German for horror or atrocity … pronounced roughly “groi’-ell”), nothing to do with oatmeal, though it indeed can be ‘grueling’ to wade through. ;)

  6. Ron

    The media loves the tensions generated by party faithful in either party transforming the event into a he said she said and lots finger pointing led by the not so subtle media. Very little substance is gained with media coverage as every outlet has its favorite and constantly points out the flaws of either the left right or center that they oppose. Nothing new here except the overall media space has gotten larger and more fragmented for better or worse generating more so called news regarding the coming election which is many months away.

    1. micky9finger

      Governance gap: a neo-liberal government which does not govern for the social welfare
      of the people.

  7. grayslady

    From Rob Garver’s article in the Fiscal Times about McConnell:

    The changes McConnell is reportedly demanding are not minor tweaks to government programs. According to CNN, he wants to reduce the annual cost of living adjustment to the Social Security payments that millions of Americans rely on each month.

    Am not sure what planet Garver is living on, but SS recipients do not receive annual cost of living adjustments–only if the govt. decides there is inflation. For 2016, the financial wizards have decided that due to the lower cost of gasoline in 2015 (and we know how important gas for a car is to seniors, compared with, say, the cost of food, shelter, medicines and other basics) there will be no increase in SS payments for 2016. Furthermore, whenever there is an annual increase for SS, there is also an increase in the premium for Medicare Part B, so the SS recipient never receives the full amount promised. Furthermore, if you are one of the one-third of all SS recipients who only have SS benefits to live on, you automatically qualify for food stamps–that’s how pathetic SS is today, because it has most definitely not kept up with the cost of living. Additionally, a modest increase in SS payments equals a major loss in food stamp benefits: a $40 per month increase in SS results in a $20 per month decrease in food stamp funds–just to make sure that no food stamp beneficiary exceeds the $4.50 allowance per day for food.

    McConnell and the whole Repub tribe are one sick lot.

    1. ChrisFromGeorgia

      McConnell is quite possibly making a fatal mistake.

      Part of the reason that the GOP is a raging dumpster fire is that the non-Chamber of Commerce tribes (tea party, religious conservatives, fiscal conservatives) have gotten hip to the fact that they’re getting played.

      No doubt the reason McConnell wants to revive the “Grand Betrayal” is to take some pressure off non-mandatory spending, like all that juicy defense spending that benefits his patrons in the MIC. Likewise Obama wants to throw seniors under the bus so that he can burnish his legacy with some grand “infrastructure” plan.

      Many on the right have gotten the message that this is a “machine gun the lifeboats” move and won’t take it so easily anymore. Too much bad blood.

      The other fly in the ointment here is the rudderless House … it’s looking more and more like Ryan won’t take the speaker job, and that would throw quite the spanner into the works of McConnell and his elitist pals.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I’m surprised. I thought the GOP always saw Obama’s efforts on Social Security as a Trojan Horse given their 2005 experience with privatization. The GOP was in a nose dive with older voters until they cooked up Schaevo, and everyone 50 and up realized their kids might get to pull the plug.

  8. Eric Patton

    A reasonably neutral account of the debates from McClatchy

    Shit, there goes McClatchy. Neutrality in the media never works.

    liberalism advances only when radicalism is bubbling

    Liberalism never advances. It never wins anything. Radicals win things, then liberals spend the next several decades managing them away, until a new crop of radicals coalesces.

    1. Ulysses

      “Liberalism never advances. It never wins anything. Radicals win things, then liberals spend the next several decades managing them away, until a new crop of radicals coalesces.”

      Very well said! I believe that neoliberal and neoconservative U.S. elites have been so successful, in managing away anything that made this country a decent place to live, that we are all forced into becoming “radicals” just to preserve our humanity.

  9. Just Ice

    “Four Words That Have the Federal Reserve in a Panic: ‘Pushing on a String’”

    Yes, because there is little blood left in the host to squeeze out and potential borrowers know it. Hence the need for fiscal stimulus, preferably at the lowest level since they have the highest propensity to consume, to allow borrowers to pay off their loans and make a profit.

    The implicit social contract is this and it is broken:

    The rich and other so-called credit worthy shall be allowed to steal the purchasing power of others via government subsidized private credit creation in exchange for more and better goods and services and more and better jobs.

    Well, we have more goods and services but can’t afford them because the jobs have been automated and outsourced away. So much for the implicit social contract.

    1. NOTaREALmerican

      There was an idea yesterday for a 4-6 Trillion Buck Climate Change program.

      I’m thinking this might be a good idea. They can call it (hhmmm), the War on Climate ! (That’s gotta worth another 2 T Buck right there). We can Nitrogen Bomb this climate back the Ice Age (so to speak).

      We’ll need a Department of Climate too (That’s gotta be worth a few more T Buck too).

      Who needs infrastructure when we’ve got a Climate to change.

      1. Just Ice

        Military Keynesianism requires a war on something!

        I guess we’ll have to pay (unnecessary, of course) interest to the rich as usual in order to issue new fiat for the new “war.”

        And Progressives will demure since it’s a war they approve of?

        Saved in the nick of time by a new Crusade?

        Oh well, muddle on seems to be the order of the day.

        Ethics will have to wait till the Second Coming it seems.

    2. Massinissa

      Revolutionaries create change an inch at a time by fighting for it, but because its slow, gradualists claim all the credit, and lie that change will come if we just wait for it, telling people noone fought for it in the first place.

      1. Just Ice

        Thanks though fighting for the truth* is its own reward, of course.

        Still, thanks.

        *The truth will set one free, Someone said long ago.

  10. Wayne Harris

    We may not know what Hillary saw in that windowless room, but we do know how she reacted to the murder that paved the way for the rise of ISIS in Libya:

    Daily Mail
    We came, we saw, he died: What Hillary Cinton told news reporter moments after hearing of Gaddafi’s death bitsy.in/6157

    Video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fgcd1ghag5Y

  11. Jim Haygood

    When good news is bad news:

    The U.S. budget deficit narrowed to $439 billion in fiscal 2015, the Treasury Department said Thursday.

    The deficit is the smallest of Barack Obama’s presidency and the lowest since 2007 in both dollar terms and as a percentage of gross domestic product. The deficit fell to 2.5% of GDP.


    Problem is, even with monetary policy still pedal-to-the-metal stimulative, the Atlanta Fed’s 3rd quarter GDP nowcast has sunk to 0.9% as fiscal stimulus is withdrawn.

    To avoid having a rate hike precipitate a recession, Congress would have to mail checks to every household to boost consumption. But that’s not in the cards.

    Only option left is mailing out Federal Reserve gift cards with a thousand-dollar credit line.

    1. ambrit

      Remember when that Trotskyite Dick Nixon sent out the ‘rebateable’ tax credit checks’ in ’75 or ’76? It was also the birth of the Earned Income Tax Credit. Now the Stalinist Republicans are in charge. All guns now, no butter comrades.

      1. Vatch

        Nixon resigned in 1974, and the Earned Income Tax Credit was enacted in 1975, when Ford was President.

    2. cwaltz

      Only I don’t think the reserve can actually do this.

      There was a discussion back when QE was going on about whether the Fed had the authority to buy municipals(to give localities a chance to jumpstart their local economies) instead of MBS or treasury notes and there seemed to even be some question about that.

      It sure would be nice though if the Fed did a people’s QE.

      1. Watt4Bob

        It sure would be nice though if the Fed did a people’s QE

        At this point I’d settle for them paying back the $1.7 TRILLION they borrowed from Social Security to finance tax-cuts for rich folks back in 1983.

        1. cwaltz

          No kidding. I saw red the other day when there was a blithe discussion about negative interest rates. I’m so darn sick of the investment class being given priority over the rest of us. Just once I’d like the average American who works for a living to be given some sort of acknowledgement in policy.

          1. jo6pac

            The reeducation team is coming by your house soon to fix that bad attitude you have toward your masters;)

            What you say is very true but will never happen I’m afraid.

            1. ambrit

              The reeducation teams are now part of the Public Mental Health Initiative. Being part of the ACA, we will have to pay up, to the deductible limit of course, for our “adjustment.”

          2. ambrit

            It’ll have to get down to “Bonus Marchers versus Tanks” again before the elites take notice.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Money to the burghers.

        They can decide what to do with the money.

        Maybe they want fewer cops and more gardeners working for the city hall.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It should not be a bug but a feature.

      Instead of People’s QEs when they are needed, make People’s Money a regular feature – money creation through the people spending it into existence.

  12. DJG

    And a reminder:

    “peripheral colonies are often used as test beds for military technology later to be used in the metropolis; one thinks of the Brits, who innovated both the Maxim gun and the concentration camp in the Boer War, or the Italians, bombing Ethiopian civilians from the air.”

    The subject of the painting Guernica by Picasso is the bombing by the German Luftwaffe of a town with historical significance to the Basques. It was one of the first uses of an air force against a city. And it was win-win-win: Dead Basques. Francoist terror. Practice for German pilots.

    And a further reminder that the remote-control killing of Osama bin Laden isn’t exactly morally superior.

    1. OIFVet

      Not just test beds for military technologies, they are used to test and fine-tune economic policies as well. Eastern Europe was one large economic experiment; the results were studied and the methods fine-tuned and implemented in the metropolies. And we wonder why the Russians like Putin so much.

      1. Massinissa

        Even before eastern europe, there was Pinochet’s Chile.

        The neoliberal Chicago Boys were called in a few days before Pinochet actually took over the government. They were promptly given free reign over the countries economy after Pinochet finished killing Allende and a few thousand of his supporters.

        We could probably find even earlier neoliberal testbeds if we look hard enough.

        1. OIFVet

          Indonesia came before Chile. There it was the Berkeley Mafia that done it. In Russia it was the Harvard Gang, in Poland it was Columbia (though in all honesty Poland got off far easier due to strategic considerations). Every prominent “liberal” institution of higher malfeasance had its shot.

  13. OIFVet

    US analysts knew Afghan site was hospital.

    American special operations analysts were gathering intelligence on an Afghan hospital days before it was destroyed by a U.S. military attack because they believed it was being used by a Pakistani operative to coordinate Taliban activity, The Associated Press has learned.

    Well, that sounds intentional to me, and that makes the bombing a war crime. And this also debunks the Pentagon’s version that Afghans requested the strike.

    1. cwaltz

      Silly! It’s only a war crime if it’s the RUSSIANS that bomb things they aren’t supposed to. When we do it, it doesn’t count. Besides it’s not like we didn’t announce to the world back when we decided “enhanced interrogation” wasn’t torture that we thought the Geneva conventions were quaint. I sure do hope all our apologists saying the hospital should have known because they were in a war zone though are prepared when someone else takes out a fleet hospital because after all they were in a war zone too. There was a reason for that quaint treaty.

  14. McKillop

    Considering the various advances being made in manufacturing – both methodology and use of commodities- we are becoming more and more able of controlling want and hardship. Is this why the big push is on to write laws and contracts that will better control the infamous ‘means of production’?
    “Yes, we know that water purification and waste disposal is easily accomplished -but- we own the water and the technology and you don’t. Cough up”

  15. Plenue

    “Far from fringe: A historian explains why the democratic socialism of Bernie Sanders is an American idea”

    Sanders isn’t a democratic socialist. He’s a social democrat. There’s a difference. Democratic Socialism is anti-capitalist, while Social Democracy believes in welfare systems to alleviate capitalism’s worst effects. New Deal Reactionary is the best term I’ve heard for what Sanders is.

  16. abynormal

    Argentina’s Ruling Party Eyes Bigger Banknotes amid Soaring Prices

    Lawmakers from Argentina’s ruling Front for Victory coalition have proposed upping the size of the country’s largest denomination banknote to AR$200.

    Waittttt for itttttt ….Waitttttttttt “Congressman Carlos Kunkel, author of the current bill initiative, claims the measure has nothing to do with inflation, but would “reduce the cost of printing and circulating money.”

    for the first time I’M QUOTELESS

    1. Jim Haygood

      At the ‘informal’ rate (the one you get from black market dealers who hang out on Calle Florida) of 15.70 pesos per dollar, a 100-peso bill is worth $6.37. A new 200-peso bill would up the ante to $12.74.


      One weeps for how badly Argentina’s politicians are inconvenienced, collecting their bribes in bills of such puny purchasing power.

      Something must be done!

  17. Oregoncharles

    Ooops – that’s Viburnum prunifolium in fall color.

    Camellia sinensis is the two white flowers among greenery. It IS tea, Chinese tea.

    My labelling wasn’t clear.

  18. Oregoncharles

    ““Map of TTIP free communities in Europe””

    How is it possible for the EU to even consider the agreement (or whatever it is) with that much of France opposed? France is indispensable.

  19. Code Name D

    Heads up. There are strong roomers that CNN is trying to cook the results in favor of Clinton. They buried polls that Sanders smoked Clinton. (There appear to be screen shots of the live poll.) Put up fabricated polls that showed Clinton won, and have been accused of censoring pro Sanders comments on their message boards.

    1. Yves Smith

      I also notice anchoring during the debate (which is a doubly significant as a way of misrepresenting; see here for details, it’s a major cognitive bias). They showed PROMINENTLY on the webcast that only 16% of Democratic party voters thought Sanders would be the nominee. Hun? Polls of late have consistently been showing him at well over 25% poll ratings, and as high as 35%.

  20. hunkerdown

    re: Diffie-Hellman. The paper is a bit above my pay grade, and there’s a lot going on in there (and cheers to the team). My takeaways:

    1) after a lot of precomputation for each prime g, 512-bit “export-grade” prime field DH crypto is more or less promptly breakable by serious corporate-level actors or very well-resourced individuals, given a full transcript of both sides of the handshake;
    2) after a hell of a lot of precomputation for each prime g, 1024-bit prime field DH crypto is generally breakable in near-real to real time by the NSA/GCHQ, given a full transcript of both sides of the handshake;
    3) corporate-level actors with a privileged network position can downgrade 1024-bit TLS connections to export-grade; and
    4) many popular implementations and applications of DH key exchange use public, well-studied parameters, which unfortunately did not harden them against an army with a giant budget.

    It follows that any TLS or similar conversations from the past using weak DH key exchange, “lawfully” collected for no other reason than that they were encrypted, could now be handily compromised. Those using password authentication with e.g. SSH might want to reconsider.


  21. dk

    The article on “state-level” compromise of reused Diffie-Hellman 1024-bit keys is indeed important, and a good read to boot. The authors examine DH and its common usage (to establish initial keys and the actual ciphers for the subsequent encrypted exchange) in typical implementations (SSL, IpSec, and flavors of TLS), and identify cases where the use of inappropriate values (e.g., weak primes, short keys), reuse of keys and ciphersets, and/or misconfigured initial group sets, compromises the DH exchange stage, and thus renders the subsequent conversation effectively transparent. Yes, people actually use hard-coded keys in their implementations! The range of cases the authors found is rather depressing. Reusing keys means that a third party actor can concentrate resources to compute products of a small number of initial values, and then read the data streams of all users of those particular values. Although circumstantial, the authors present compelling evidence that the NSA has in fact achieved this, and used such pre-computed sets to read encrypted streams (that (re)used these keys) for keys of the 1024-bit length.

    Along the way the authors revisit some known attacks (some of which circumvent DH, some which weaken it), to put their newer findings in perspective. The discussion is technical but the conclusive points don’t depend on an intimate understanding of the math.

    I would note that the tech sector is not at all complacent at the leading edges; preference to 2048-bit keys and refusal of weak or overused keys was begun well before this paper appeared, and continues to propagate, the authors give examples. The main concern remains with legacy systems of large institutions and vendors, and frankly one should be cautious in general when dealing with such systems and organizations.

Comments are closed.