2:00PM Water Cooler 10/20/2015

2:00PM Water Cooler 10/21/2015

This is Naked Capitalism fundraising week. 806 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 fourth target, 24/7 coverage, 365 days a year.

* * *

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“Negotiators meeting this week to forge a sweeping trade agreement between the U.S. and the European Union are nearing a deal to eliminate tariffs on at least 97% of goods traded across the Atlantic, officials close to the talks say, building momentum for what would be the most ambitious trade pact in more than 20 years” [Wall Street Journal, “Salty Issue in U.S.-European Trade Talks: Feta Cheese”]. “If successful, the U.S.-EU talks would likely result in each side accepting the other’s auto-safety regulations. Car companies would save millions by no longer having to build different versions to meet two sets of safety rules.”

What data exclusivity for pharmaceuticals means in practice [CBC]. “Dr. Navindra Persaud has been fighting for four years to get access to thousands of pages of drug industry documents being held by Health Canada. He finally received the material a few weeks ago, but now he’s being prevented from revealing what he has discovered” [via an NDA]. “He’s also been instructed to destroy the documents after he’s reviewed them and to notify Health Canada in writing that the documents have been destroyed.” Sheesh. Does he have to buy his own burn bag, or will Health Canada pay?



True, the Presidential candidates are all narcissists — by definition — so let’s make the best of the situation. Some tips [Psychology Today].


“[The Bush administration] were warned of the threat in contract and actionable ways and they ignored it because they didn’t buy that non-state-terrorism could be that big a threat” [Talking Points Memo]. Not a Marshall fan, but he’s got that right and the whole piece is worth a read (especially if you weren’t paying attention at the time, or came in late).

“It’s unnerving to agree with Donald Trump, as I did, for a moment, when Mr. Trump needled Jeb Bush on Sunday about his brother George’s record. “Why did your brother attack and destabalize the Middle East by attacking Iraq when there were no weapons of mass destruction? Bad info?” [Andrew of the Rosenthal family, New York Times].

The Trail

Webb drops out, may run as independent [USA Today]. I don’t get this. Can’t he write off his book tour anyhow?

Biden: “I really respect the members up there and I still have a lot of Republican friends. I don’t think my chief enemy is the Republican Party. This is a matter of making things work” [CNN]. Just what the Democratic Platform said in 2008, after Obama’s faction took control of the party. So why tamper with success?

Biden: “I actually like Dick Cheney for real” [Bloomberg]. Dick “Dark Side” Cheney? “Fourth Branch”? The guy who shot an old man in the face and then didn’t phone the White House for eight hours? 

“Jeb Bush’s allies are starting to sound like Ron Paul’s in 2012. That’s not a good sign” [WaPo]. Fun with early state delegate math.

“Bush plummets to single digits in new Florida poll” [Politico].

The Hill

The House reminds me of an old couch with the stuffing coming out of it. So I’m adding some buckets to handle the mess.


“Hillary Clinton is set to appear before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Thursday for what will be the highest profile moment to date in the GOP-led panel’s 17-month-and-counting investigation into the 2012 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Libya” [Slate]. Committe chair: Trey Gowdy (R-Wingnutz); ranking member: Elijah Cummings (D-Black Misleaderhip Class).

Trey Gowdy’s three dogs are named Judge, Jury and Bailiff [McClathy]. “I’ll be judge, I’ll be jury, said cunning old Fury. / I’ll try the whole cause, and condemn you to death.” –Lewis Carroll, The Mouse’s Tale

“Gowdy’s pleas to keep Benghazi probe above politics have gone unheeded” [WaPo].

“More than half the Republicans serving on the panel have been mentioned as potential candidates to replace Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). And the committee’s chairman, GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy (S.C.), is widely viewed as having a bright political future back home in South Carolina” [The Hill].

“[I]n the three years since the Benghazi attack, we have had seven major investigations into what happened there — the ongoing Gowdy committee probe is the eighth. Most of the previous seven investigations have been led by Republicans” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution].

“It’s time to shut down the Benghazi kangaroo court” [Trudy Rubin, Seattle Times]. 

Leadership Contest

“I have found the only candidate who can lift House Republicans out of this management morass: a large rock with the word ‘NO’ painted on it” [Chicago Tribune]. Weapons-grade snark… 

“John Boehner’s allies publicly and privately are ratcheting up the drumbeat: They want him to stay speaker through at least year’s end if Rep. Paul Ryan passes on the job” [CNN]. “If Ryan passes up the job, there will be an all-out dash, with close to a dozen potential candidates scrambling to win the 218 votes necessary to become speaker. If that occurs, Boehner supporters are worried that it could seriously jeopardize the ability of Congress to reach an accord with the White House on hot-button fiscal issues, potentially prompting the first-ever U.S. default in November and a government shutdown in December.” Sounds like an ideal time for a Grand Bargain!

Default/Shutdown Cliffs

“As U.S. financial system regulators gather in New York to study possible solutions to rare liquidity glitches in the Treasuries market, the Treasury Department’s expert on the issue has warned, the biggest liquidity event of all would be the threatened breach of the nation’s debt limit” [Market News]. #MintTheCoin…

Stats Watch

Housing Starts, October 20, 2015:  “Starts, driven by a spike in multi-family units, came in much stronger than expected in September, news offset however by a significant decline in permits” [Econoday]. “But it’s the permit side of the report that’s weak, down 5.0 percent to only 1.103 million which is well below Econoday’s low estimate. And it’s the multi-family component that’s especially weak, down 12.1 percent to 406,000 which is the lowest reading since March.” I wish I knew if multi-family starts were driven by private equity; it is in my university town. But: “The spike in permits in front of the June 15 expiration of a NY tax break is running it’s course, as permits continue to fall. Starts follow permits and will soon be tapering off as well” [Mosler Economics]. And: “Although the data is noisy – it appears that the trend currently is decelerating growth. [And] Before we start thinking all is well, the residential home industry is about half of the pre-2005 peak” [Econintersect]. And: “In terms of economic growth, housing will be a supportive sector, though it is simply not big enough to carry the economy on its back, as it did in the mid-2000s” [Across the Curve].

“Condominium and housing cooperative (co-op) mortgage originations nationwide rose 31 percent to $39 billion in the second quarter of 2015 compared with $29.7 billion in the same quarter of the previous year (Figure 1). The growth was driven mainly by a 65-percent increase in the dollar volume of refinance loans” [Econintersect].

“The $50 billion [Nicaraguan] project is led by the Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Group (HKND), a privately-held international infrastructure development firm headquartered in Hong Kong and with offices in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua” [Maritime Executive]. “HKND Group’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer is Wang Jing. According to reports, the Chinese stock market crash wiped out almost 90 percent of Wang’s net worth.”

Ag: “Rains ‘to save’ red wheat – but white wheat still under threat” [Agrimoney].

The Fed: “The Fed has been engaged in quantitative tightening (QT) for about a year now. Unless depository institution demand for reserves were to fall, an increase in Fed policy interest rates would require a further contraction in the supply of Fed reserves. Barring a sufficient pick up in commercial bank credit, this would imply a further deceleration in total thin-air credit” [The Big Picture]. Hmm…. 

The Fed: “The entire point of a central bank like the Federal Reserve is to empower one group of people to do something as unpopular as slow the economy down” [New York Times]. Not a democracy but a republic and not a republic but an oligarchy… 

Fear & Greed Index, October 19, 2015: 52 (+4); Neutral [CNN]. Last week: 38 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). I’ve never seen the needle trip over into greed before! MR SUBLIMINAL Wait! It’s a trap!

Canadian Election

“Liberals win symbolic victories in Western Canada” [MacCleans]. Calgary, Winnipeg, Vancouver.

“The Liberal win smashed the record for the number of seats gained from one election to the next. The party had been a distant third place party in Parliament before this election” [CNBC]. Of course, the NDP helped by totally imploding after they moved to the center. “Trudeau, 43, the photogenic son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, has pledged to run a C$10 billion annual budget deficit for three years to invest in infrastructure and help stimulate Canada’s anemic economic growth.”

“Is Justin Trudeau the sexiest politician in the world?” [Daily Mirror]. I’ve gotta say, I’ve got my doubts about anybody from Canada whose first name is Justin….

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“I have covered countless wrongful convictions in nearly two decades of work as a legal analyst but I don’t think that any case, any cause, ever touched me the way the Glenn Ford story did. Here was a man, an uneducated black man in the South, who was railroaded into a murder conviction and death sentence” [Brennan Center]. “He then was left to languish in solitary confinement for decades in one of the most despicable prisons on Earth, and then upon his belated release denied the compensation he was owed by the state of Louisiana, by some of the very officials who allowed his false conviction and sentence to fester for 30 years in the first place.”

“For the second time this year, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce’s office has subpoenaed St. Louis Public Radio and ‘requested’ that we keep silent about it” [St Louis Public Radio]. “For the second time, we’re speaking out because the public — you — has much at stake when a prosecutor goes on a fishing expedition in a news organization’s files.” The Mansur Ball-Bey case….

“Emanuel blames Chicago crime uptick on officers second-guessing themselves” [Chicago Tribune]. How did a nice guy like Obama ever pick a horrible human being like Rahm for his chief of staff?

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Investigators ask for public’s help after 6 fires at St. Louis-area churches [Fox].


Bill and Melinda Gates bafflegab and bullshit on “school reform” [WaPo]. The writer didn’t get out their Magic Markers, but it’s still a nice, detailed takedown of entitled arrogance and pure ignorance. Story idea: “Squillionaires and Those Who Suck Up to Them.” And those who don’t.

“Return of dollar black market shows limits of Myanmar reforms” [Reuters]. This has been the real banking system for a long time, however… 


“One of the Chinese nuclear power firms pushing for a stake in the UK’s energy industry left out hundreds of critical steel rods when building its first reactor near Hong Kong in 1987 because workers misread the blueprint” [Guardian]. Oopsie.

Handy diagram of first robot camera to enter Fukashima Unit 3 [TEPCO].

“Secrets buried beneath Westlake landfill” [KDSK].  Like two semis driven in at night, and then buried (!). You’d think the number of trucks going in would always equal the number of trucks going out, but maybe not…. 

“In Nigeria, Solar-Powered Fridges at Outdoor Markets Save Food From Spoiling” [Gizmodo].

Class Warfare

Abolish restaurants: A worker’s critique of the food service industry [Prole.info].

“In defense of tipping” [Richard Cohen, WaPo]. “I like to reward, but occasionally I like to punish.” Some people find a punishment course the most delicious part of the meal!

“There are 123,800 ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) individuals in the world, according to Credit Suisse’s 2015 Global Wealth Report” [Business Insider]. There are not very many of the Shing… 

News of the Wired

“Teen finds fame with ‘on fleek’ slang term” [NWI Times].

“MIT neuroscientists have discovered a brain circuit that can trigger small regions of the brain to fall asleep or become less alert, while the rest of the brain remains awake” [MIT Technology Review].

“Facebook will now notify you if you’re the target of a state-sponsored attack” [Ars Technica]. Including “my own” state?

“Google’s growing problem: 50% of people do zero searches per day on mobile” [The Overspill]. Too hard to type in a search string with your thumbs on miserable virtual keyboards? You can get anything you want in your walled garden of choice?

“Inside Stanford Business School’s Spiraling Sex Scandal” [Vanity Fair]. Lots of schadenfreude here, plus insight into Silicon Valley networks, plus dominance games and academic politics, played for keeps. And Deans getting caught in the wringer!

* * *

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 (Marisse):

Very much of two minds about Fall Foliage, but on the other hand, it’s always best to live in the present, not the future….

Readers, Water Cooler is funded solely by you, through the Tip Jar below; that is, the Naked Capitalism fundraiser going on now covers my regular posts, Links, and everything else Yves kindly mentions here, but not Water Cooler. And so far, your contributions have been generous enough to allow me to keep Water Cooler going. (I’m pretty fast, as readers see when I correct things on the fly, but it does take several hours of foraging and writing!)

If you can, and without detracting from Naked Capitalism fundraising week as a whole, what would remove a lot of stress from me and really take the edge off would be more subscriptions from you, in any amount, over the course of the year. 30 subscriptions and I’d be happy; 40, and I’d be ecstatic. Just click the hat below. Thank you!


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Water Cooler 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. allan

    “Webb drops out, may run as independent”

    He will fill a much-needed gap on the ballot. There are narcissists, and then there are narcissists.

  2. New Deal democrat

    Your sources are correct that the expiration of the NYC program has played havoc with the multi-unit housing permit averages, including the YoY averages, because we don’t know how much demand they pulled forward. That being said, single family permits weren’t affected, and this month’s report shows them at the highest level since early 2008.

    With mortgage rates having fallen back below 4% in the last couple of months, history shows that housing should improve.

    Right now housing and cars are carrying the economy, as industrial production has faltered (partly OIl patch, partly strong dollar killing exports). I think the slowdown continues through winter, but I don’t see the economy rolling over into recession — which would be good news only for the GOP’s election chances in 2016.

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘I don’t see the economy rolling over into recession.’

      Same result from my recession model: it shows some weakening, but not to the threshold of indicating an incipient recession.

      Like the Fed, I’m data dependent.

      1. abynormal

        UNlike the fed, I’m data dependent too.
        *according to today’s BLS breakdown of jobs by state, not only did more than half, or 28, states lose jobs in September, but the total number of jobs losses, at 120,000, was about 20% more than the cumulative job gains of 99,000.
        *Illinois Delay’s Pension Payments
        *Wisconsin retirees receive letter on how much their pensions will be cut
        * Central States Pension Fund is pursuing a plan that would slash pension checks in half for some former union truck drivers. The fund is on the brink of insolvency and says it needs to cut benefits for 273,000 current and future retirees in order to stay afloat
        *30% of McDonald franchises are insolvent
        *suppliers won’t survive the Walmart squeeze
        *IT industry is being shift to sharecropping
        *Two of the largest global Bond Funds liquidized last week
        *The Empire State Manufacturing Survey from the New York Fed, which covers New York and northern New Jersey, saw their headline general business conditions index rise from -14.7 to -11.4, the third month in a row below minus ten
        *The seasonally adjusted food index rose by 0.4% in September
        *Producer prices are now down 1.1% over the past 12 months, as the PPI has fallen 6 times over that span, with the index for final demand for goods down 9 of the 12 months and the index for final demand for services down 4 times
        *September Industrial Production Down 0.2% After August Revised Up 0.2%
        *The International Monetary Fund concluded its annual meeting in Lima with a warning to central bankers that the world economy risks another crash unless they continue to support growth with low interest rates
        *Payday Lenders Pay Off the System So They Can Keep Ripping Off Borrowers – The industry spent more than $13 million on lobbying and campaign contributions in the 2014 election cycle (setting up for another scalping of the poor)
        *US Housing Rolling Over Wells Fargo Confirms, As Mortgage Applications Plunge
        *Producer Price Index: Ninth Consecutive Month of YoY Decline
        *US Freight Shipments Morose, Worst September since 2010
        *Are We Having Fun Yet

      2. jgordon

        A quick look at the various models the Fed, World Bank and IMF have been turning out over the past few decades vs. the reality that actually happened should give some indication of just what a model is worth.

  3. Brindle

    re: $50 Billion Nicaragua Canal

    This could have just as easily been placed under the Gaia heading, What could possibly go wrong?

    —-In order for the Nicaragua Canal to connect to the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, it must intersect Lake Cocibolca, which is the main freshwater reservoir of Central America and the ninth-largest tropical freshwater lake of the Americas. The lake is also home to some of the region’s most fragile ecosystems.—

  4. Ron

    Trump vs Republican establishment/media

    Plenty of media discussion over what Bush knew and did not act after 9/11 but the lead up to the War along with its flag waving created a post 9/11 narrative that focused on Iraq. American media and the NY Times has never met a war they didn’t like.

  5. jo6pac

    “Secrets buried beneath Westlake landfill” [KDSK]. Like two semis driven in at night, and then buried (!). You’d think the number of trucks going in would always equal the number of trucks going out, but maybe not….

    Like something from X-Files.

  6. Christian B

    On “Abolish Restaurants”, glad you guys are finally starting to get with the times. That zine was published five years ago, but glad to see it in the less than mainstream press. If you want more from them look at the main site that link is on. All good reading, and maybe it will help you will drop your silly notion that there is a capitalism that can work and be fair.

    1. Vatch

      Sanders fans might want to skip.

      No, I read it, and other Sanders supporters should also read it. In case Sanders does eventually drop out, we need to be aware of what will happen if we vote for Hillary Clinton. If Sanders drops out, unless there’s a surprise high quality new Democratic candidate, I fully expect to vote for the Green Party candidate for President. For now, I do not believe that Sanders is a sheep dog.

      1. NOTaREALmerican

        Don’t forget the supreme court tho.

        OMG, if Trump gets to pick the next 3 supreme’s it’s gonna be the END OF THE WORLD!!! THE END!!!!

        Look, Hilary isn’t perfect, but TRUMP and the SUPREME’S, OMG OMG!!!!

        (It’s really too easy for the Red and Blue Team. The “children” don’t stand a chance.)

        1. Procopius

          I hadn’t thought about that. I suspect Trump hasn’t, either. But I’ve thought about what kind of judge Ted Cruz would pick, and they make Vlad the Impaler look like a pussycat. Clarence Thomas and Robert Bork would be flaming liberals in comparison.

      2. Massinissa

        I already voted Green in 2012, im ready to do it again if I have to.

        The only Democrat worth voting for is Sanders (although I like Chafee on a personal level, but probably not enough to vote for him). If Clinton or OMalley win, im just going to vote Green again.

        Its not like I havnt done it before.

        Anyway, im not even in a swing state, not that I would change my vote if I was. I always find it duplicitous that folks like Noam Chomsky are like, “Vote Green, unless youre in a swing state, in which case hold your nose and vote for the Democrat!”

        1. athena1

          Saying Sanders “is a sheepdog” is silly, but I seriously suspect a lot of “establishment” Dems were hoping he’d be able to be used as one when Clinton “inevitably” won. I’d be surprised if they weren’t having to seriously re-think their assumptions in light of the post-debate focus group polls.

      3. HopeLB

        I read it also and still believe in Sanders but if he loses you can always vote Jill Stein who is possibly a bit better than Bernie on foreign policy.

      4. Vatch

        I’m not necessarily attached to the Democrats, although I am attached to Sanders. I’m represented at other levels of government by both Republicans and Democrats, and I already intend to vote Green against one of those Democrats (assuming there’s a Green candidate available).

        1. Daryl

          I often vote Green, partly because there are elections in Texas that Democrats don’t bother to stand for, which is pretty shameful.

          edit: Intended to reply to Vatch

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          Every so often I have to deprecate the “how I’m going to vote” discussions; I’ve seen them tear blogs apart.

          NOTE Oops, looks like comment nesting has gone pear-shaped.

          1. optimader

            “how I’m going to vote” discussions; I’ve seen them tear blogs apart.
            Could be a new killer Match Making App. Find your polar opposite voter and go out to drinks and dinner instead of voting.
            Maybe some supplemental liability waivers apply in concealed carry States?

      5. Christopher Fay

        If no Sanders and Hillary jeb is the mainstream Washington candidate, I’ll vote for Trump in protest

        1. jgordon

          Same here. I’d vote for a dog turd over Hillary. And Trump is at least more entertaining than a dog turd. So Trump it is.

          I say that as someone who voted straight Democratic tickets right up until 2008. These candidates are completely worthless. Even Bernie isn’t all that great; he just seems ok because the alternatives are so much more awful.

          1. Procopius

            I remember reading that FDR explained why he wasn’t disappointed to lose in the 1920 election (he was the vice presidential nominee). He said that Republican economic policies would lead the nation to ruin and the time would be ripe for a Democrat to take over. He said, at the time, that he thought 1932 would be about right.

    2. ASDA

      I do not know if Sanders is a sheepdog — I take him at face value that he is genuinely trying to win the election. However, supposing he is, then I do not think he will be effective in that role. I feel there is a lot of dissatisfaction with the status quo outside of folks in the top 10% of income/wealth in the US, and HRC as the nominee will translate into folks just not going to the polls even if Sanders campaigns for her.

      What is puzzling is that polls are showing that among Democratic Party primary voters, HRC’s perceived strengths include foreign policy and electability. Outside of this group of voters, those that identify themselves as Independents and Republicans are not quite as enamored with HRC, and electability is far from certain based on current polling.

      1. athena1

        I agree. Sometimes I wish Sanders wasn’t such a completely nice person, because the case can be made that Hillary totally destroyed the ME and created the conditions that led to ISIS and the Syrian refugee crisis in Europe. But I doubt Sanders will “go there” even if it is the truth and he knows it.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Hillary’s thugs are desperate for an opportunity to paint Bernie as a mean, old, white man. Sanders isn’t giving them the opportunity. Hillary can self destruct on her own.

          1. athena1

            Ha, yeah, good point.
            I was feeling nervous earlier today about how Hillary + Biden might be able to paint Bernie as a fringe extremist, until I remembered that he’s unbeatable in debates because he’s that odd, unheard of combination of incredibly moral and “one in 10,000” type intelligent. Bernie will be fine. lol :)

    1. Massinissa

      Eh, I thought that was what Webb was going for with his Independent campaign.

      Maybe Biden will get one, Webb will get the other, and Biden headbutts Webb to get the third one.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Didn’t you hear Webb killed a guy? Biden was on life support in 2008. He might make Bernie and Hillary look spry on the campaign trail. I kid, but he was a vocal opponent of Clinton and Biden’s war in Iraq.

    2. athena1

      Honestly, I think Biden might only be running because Wall Street/Big Money is freaking out over the real possibility of a Sanders vs Trump race next year, and he’s going to make Hillary look like a “pragmatic progressive” compared to him, in the hopes that it’ll make Sanders seem more like a fringe candidate than he is.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        In 2014, Team Blue realized Obama was a net loser who wasted his Presidency and destroyed the historic Democratic majorities during the midst of a non-white population boom. They threw their lot with Hillary under a bizarre belief that Bill was popular and a brilliant political mastermind, completely ignoring three way Presidential races, his opponent, and losing Congress to a troll like Newt while producing no legislation Clintonites are proud to run on today. They aren’t getting the reception they expected or seeing the crowds Sanders, treated as a fringe candidate by the elites, is drawing with no money (until recently), no congressional support, no celebrity endorsements, and just a small state behind Sanders. Team Blue is worried. The Yglesias article from yesterday might have seemed off, but he’s repeating what is being discussed by Democrats which is the extinction of Team Blue and virtually dead local committees. I think they thought Hillary would save them, but they aren’t seeing results. Now they are grasping at straws.

        1. athena1

          They are definitely not just worried, but totally freaking out, as far as I can tell. I’ve been told by Team Bluers “JUST GO CAMPAIGN FOR STEIN AND LEAVE OUR PARTY ALONE!” (wow!) and had them call me part of a “left-wing mob infiltrating the democratic party”. Among other things. LOL. This is new. Being called an emoprog ideological purist who wants sparkle ponies, so support Our President is old hat, but this? This is just weird. But it’s not so strange when you think “Oh! They’re actually scared now. Huh.”

      2. Kurt Sperry

        The only way I see Biden as useful to the masters of the party is either as an emergency plan B to have in place for the next year and/or as a candidate to build as much of a following as he possibly can, but who will then withdraw dramatically at some point and strongly endorse Clinton. If he can pick up even 10 or 15% and deliver a good chunk of it, maybe that’s enough to bump Clinton over the top in a close contest. If he stays in too long it could end up helping Sanders.

        1. athena1

          I’ve had the same thought. I really think someone’s going to talk him into withdrawing at the last minute if it’s apparent that he’s just splitting the Clinton vote to favor Sanders overall. If he does a good job (even unintentionally; I don’t think there’s some massive plot) of hurting Sanders, he’ll be strongly encouraged to keep at it till the bitter end.

          1. Kurt Sperry

            The other use Joe might have is to sling mud at Sanders as Clinton’s deniable proxy, which Clinton has been constrained from doing overtly by Sanders’ refusal to go negative. Joe can go get the message that Sanders is a tax and spend commie, plus wheelbarrows of money to buy bread and the smoking gun a mushroom cloud and Zimbabwe plus Stalin and famines ‘n’ stuff. He can trash Sanders unmercifully and none of the mud splatter will soil Hill’s lime green pants suit. Worst case they can test various attack vectors for traction that the GOP can use in the general if Sanders somehow wins the nomination.

            It feels to me like the Democratic insiders would probably rather a Republican won than Sanders, and similarly that the same insiders for the red team would prefer Hillary over Trump. Gut feeling, but if it were somehow discoverable I’d bet on it.

            I still want Sanders vs. Trump; insiders’ nightmare. I don’t think either one is on the requisite short leash.

            1. hidflect

              Yes, that’s it. But I’d say that’s a “Break Glass” kind of plan. Only to be deployed if all the less unseemly alternatives have failed to pan out.

            2. athena1

              It feels to me like the Democratic insiders would probably rather a Republican won than Sanders, and similarly that the same insiders for the red team would prefer Hillary over Trump. Gut feeling, but if it were somehow discoverable I’d bet on it.

              If you substitute the words “Democratic insiders” and “insiders” as “Wall Street/Big Money people”…you can’t help but go “Duh! Of course!”

              The Team Blue insiders, I sense, are experiencing a lot of cognitive dissonance over the fact that they do often hold quasi-progressive values, but know their livelihoods depend on corporate donations, in the end. So, the “We don’t like Sanders because he’s not a Real Democrat and has made a career out of criticizing us, so screw him, and screw you, too, you dirty hippie!” idea has an intuitive appeal for them. One insider flat-out told me earlier today that Biden’s staff almost certainly has internal polls showing that he’ll lose to Hillary massively with his strategy, but they’re hiding it from him, because being a member of his campaign staff is a lucrative gig.

            3. Ulysses

              “It feels to me like the Democratic insiders would probably rather a Republican won than Sanders, and similarly that the same insiders for the red team would prefer Hillary over Trump.”

              This is very true! Have you noticed how many in the punditocracy have taken to smearing both Sanders and Trump in the same hit pieces? They ignore the fact that Sanders isn’t really very left of Hubert Humphrey– to advance the false narrative that both Trump and Sanders are “extreme.”

  7. Vatch

    It’s unnerving to agree with Donald Trump

    Yes, it is! It’s happened to me several times over the past few weeks. Fortunately, there have also been times when I’ve been able to cry out “he said WHAT!?” Those events help to restore my sense of reality.

    1. jgordon

      Well at least when Trump opens his mouth he actually says stuff he believes. He just doesn’t give enough of a crap to lie. Unlike just about every other candidate. It used to be that being a hypocritical liar was a big plus in a politician, but it seems like voters are kinda getting tired of that lately.

      1. cwaltz

        I doubt he believes nearly as much as those that support him seem to think he does. The guy smacks of being a carnival barker. All that’s missing is the entreaties to come one, came all and see the world’s smallest sparkle pony.

        1. athena1

          Remember Herman Cain’s suspiciously hoax-like run, where he quit when he was in the lead and actually had Secret Service protection?

          If it was some sort of hoax, who would have paid for it, and what were they trying to figure out? I honestly am wondering if it was Trump. I know that’s crazy sounding, but politics is some crazy stuff.

  8. neo-realist

    Re getting notified of a state sponsored attack on your person, I suspect that you may have to rely on external and physical signs instead of a message: Your car runs off a highway or a street into a large object and explodes? The malignant tumor growth on your neck? You think Chavez suspected anything?

  9. DJG

    Agreeing with Trump: “It’s unnerving to agree with Donald Trump, as I did, for a moment, when Mr. Trump needled Jeb Bush on Sunday about his brother George’s record. “Why did your brother attack and destabalize the Middle East by attacking Iraq when there were no weapons of mass destruction? Bad info?”

    Sorry, but I’m seeing liberals engaged in snobbery and neo-cons scared that he is disrupting the Republican Party and its idées fixes. As a reminder, Trump is one of the few Republican candidates who hasn’t hinted that the Divinity announced his vocation to him in a vision. He has told the Republicans not to mess with Social Security and Medicare, some advice the Obama (who is certainly to the right of Nixon on econonics and national security) might take. And I will posit that Trump is not quite as vulgar as Sarah Palin and certainly smarter than she is. Unlike Paul Ryan, endless government employee, Trump has run an organization or two. And he is certainly not as blithely malign as Rand Paul, who renamed himself after a hack writer. Would I vote for Trump? No. Has he taken the wrong path on immigration? Yes–and his own immigrant employees can’t figure out what he’s doing. Do the Republicans deserve what is now happening to their Party and their partying and profiteering? Yes.

        1. athena1

          Me, too. Trump might be a real jerk deep down inside, but at least some of the most extreme stuff is him just being an actor. He didn’t just once advocate single payer, but he displayed a pretty sophisticated understanding of why it’s best. He also used to say stuff like this:


          Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Friday, host Joe Scarborough asked Trump what he would do about the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the country once America secured its southern border. After arguing the real number of illegal immigrants is much higher and saying the first thing America needs to do is “take the bad” illegal immigrants and “get them the hell out,” Trump sounded like he was open to providing some type of pathway to legalization for the remainder. “And then the other ones — and I’m a very big believer in merit system, I have to tell you,” Trump said. “Because some of these people have been here, they’ve done a good job, you know, in some cases sadly they’ve been living under the shadows.” “We have to do something,” he continued. “So whether it’s merit or whether it’s whatever, but I’m a believer in the merit system. If somebody’s been outstanding, we try and work something out.”Of course, Trump again emphasized that before moving forward with his “merit system” America needed to “secure the border.” This is in line with what CNN’s Chris Moody reported Trump saying during a press conference in Chicago at the end of June. When asked what he would do about the illegal immigrants already residing in the country once the border was secured, Trump replied, “give them a path,” according to Moody. When The Daily Caller sought clarification at the time from the Trump campaign, a senior adviser replied with a circuitous answer that emphasized that Trump wanted to secure the border and didn’t believe in “amnesty,” but wouldn’t explicitly reject a pathway to legalization.


          The now-infamous ‘self-deportation’ policy proposal from Mitt Romney was “crazy” and “maniacal,” real estate magnate Donald Trump said in an interview published online Tuesday. The former Romney backer said the suggestion, made during a GOP primary debate in January, made it seem like the Republican Party was hostile and anti-immigrant. “He had a crazy policy of self deportation which was maniacal,” Trump said in the interview with the conservative website NewsMax. “It sounded as bad as it was, and he lost all of the Latino vote.” Romney’s suggestion involved making economic conditions so difficult for undocumented workers that they choose to leave the country to find better opportunities…

          In the interview Tuesday, Trump said Obama and Democrats were still without a clear immigration policy, but had adopted a friendlier tone in discussing immigration issues. “The Democrats didn’t have a policy for dealing with illegal immigrants, but what they did have going for them is they weren’t mean-spirited about it,” Trump said. “They didn’t know what the policy was, but what they were is they were kind.” He also said Republicans had yet to develop clear proposals that “take care of this incredible problem that we have with respect to immigration, with respect to people wanting to be wonderful productive citizens of this country.”

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          The establishment candidate is a nothing, and everyone else is just a cookie cutter Republican 50 years after the Civil Rights Act. I just don’t see anyone becoming a compromise “let’s defeat Hillary and Trump” candidate. The GOP is in a place where Paul Ryan is being discussed as the responsible choice for Speaker.

          And Team Blue loses to these clowns.

    1. cwaltz

      Yes how dare us elite liberal snobs expect a presidential candidate to have comprehensive policy plans on problems like immigration! It’s totally within the realm of reason that the president of Mexico will foot the bill for a wall to keep illegal immigrants from Mexico out of the US. (rolls eyes)

      If he wants to be taken seriously then he should have serious proposals.

      For the record, based on his above policy program I find him in the realm of Sarah Palin in terms of intelligence. It sounds like something a person in primary school would come up with.

      As for Trump running an organization or two, if I remember correctly he ran a few into the ground too. while it is certainly awesome that his consequences for running them into the ground were practically nil I’m betting that was not the case for those he employed. And let’s not even get into his illegal “university.”
      I would argue that based on his own profiteering he’s a pretty darn good fit for the Profiteer party.

      1. jgordon

        Having a policy position is one thing. Having a policy position while being a complete mendacious liar is something else entirely. I’ll take an honest, if somewhat ill-informed, candidate over a well-informed lying schemer any day of the week.

        1. cwaltz

          Good luck with that.

          For the record, I watched Democrats who thought the same thing fool themselves over Obama and his position on Guantanamo Bay because they really, really wanted to believe he was on their side. You sound exactly like them when you call a guy who scammed people with his universities “honest.”

  10. Anon

    Re: Boehner

    Who would’ve thought that one man leaving would’ve made a Grand Bargain something we’d have to dread? I still don’t get the appeal of Biden running, especially once word gets out that a large part of college students suffering under what has now become a multi-generational thing. I mean, other than that brilliant put down of Paul Ryan last election cycle, I can’t think of what makes him appealing.

    1. NOTaREALmerican

      I wonder what the bargain would be?

      In exchange for the Blue Team supporting an infinite debt ceiling the Red Team would be forced to support TPP? Oh wait, no, wait… In exchange for the Red Team supporting an infinite debt ceiling the Blue Team would be forced to support TPP?

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Versailles is baffled by the youth/any support for Sanders, and Team Blue elites believe they are extraordinary minds. Compared to the average GOP voter, yes, they are, but it’s not a hurdle. The Team Blue elites believe anyone who disagrees with them is stupid and motivated by flippant reasons, and they have no concept of the anger outside the bubble of their status.

      They see a crippled Clinton for a variety of reasons, and they’ve seen the Internet meme about Biden and think Joe can save the day by uniting the party as Clinton ultimately flounders because the idiot Sanders supporters will be amazed by this goofy old guy instead of Bernie.

      Biden like anyone who runs for President is just arrogant. You would think he would take the hint by now.

      One of the stories during the last election was Pelosi explaining that the minimum wage had not been raised during the Obama Administration. Think about that. These people have been allowed to be so ignorant in public for so long, they’ve largely become stupid and are surrounded by stupid people. It d lest take much to see that Hillary would be a demoralizing candidate, threatening down ticket races, but the Team Blue elite have admitted to being shocked by her poor showing to date. I’m beginning to think they actually expected a debate disaster, partially because they are still so stupid they think American political debates are more sophisticated than reunion episodes of reality shows.

      The appeal of Biden doesn’t resonate with people outside Versailles. The CIA director in the midst of cyber security, the Hillary e-mails, and Snowden still hasn’t cleaned up his AOL account. The people of Versailles are just different.

  11. Pavel

    re Rahm Q & A


    How did a nice guy like Obama ever pick a horrible human being like Rahm for his chief of staff?

    1) Obama is not “nice”, he is a sociopath — cf drones, and droning “joke” at the start of his presidency (re sending drones after guys who go after his daughters)
    2) He is spineless, and capitulated to the Clinton Regime
    3) He is clueless

    Take your pick of 1, 2, 3 but ensure your response includes (1) and (2)

    1. Michael

      The question was meant as snark. No one who reads NC is still falling for the “Obama is a nice guy” routine.

        1. athena1

          Maybe his heart really is in the right place, and his whole presidency was the ultimate ploy to make the population pissed off enough to get a socialist in the White House in 2016. :) Talk about 11 dimensional chess!

    2. Massinissa

      What Michael said. Im afraid your sarcasm detector malfunctioned.

      Granted, detecting sarcasm on the internet is very difficult sometimes.

    1. abynormal

      i remember Surviving my daughters teen yrs, and its the Only angle i can view this scenario. Life can change in a breath is nothing compared to your last breath, where your life flashes before you. knowing how this steaming one will roll down hill…lives will be ruined, foeva

  12. Chauncey Gardiner

    Lambert, appreciate your references to the Shing, a term from Ursula Le Guin’s novels and short stories. The numbers in the linked article from Business Insider are particularly remarkable at the most extreme end of the spectrum… only 4,500: So on average, only one in over 1.5 million people on the planet fall into this last category. How are they achieving span of control?

  13. ewmayer

    Re: upcoming kangaroo court: If one gives credence to Sy Hersh’s take on this (cf. his LRB piece The Red Line and the Rat Line) the consulate was being used by the CIA as a key waystation in a ‘rat line’ to smuggle arms from Ghaddafi’s former arsenal to those ‘moderate’ Syrian rebels, and top-ranking members of *both* parties were briefed on this before the attack took place. (And of course State would have to have been in on the scheme, or at least aware of it.) In that light, the following two statements are not in the least contradictory:

    [1] There was an Iran-Contra-level illegal scheme approved by US elites to funnel weapons to Syrian rebels via the consulate;

    [2] The GOP blame-kabuki theater is a partisan witch hunt.

    1. Christopher Fay

      There are no Syrian rebels. During the Iraq spending spree those guys were called attracting all the trouble makers to their doom. Luckily Russia is now filling the roll of killing the fanatics.

    2. Rhondda

      “and top-ranking members of *both* parties were briefed on this before the attack took place”

      I’d be genuinely interested in the evidence you have for this assertion. John McCain and Lindsay Graham’s initial outraged responses were so quickly dialed back…so I assumed that they weren’t in on the Benghazi rat line moving secret weapons to “Syrian moderates” (arming ISIS) until after the attack on the consulate.

      1. ewmayer

        From the Hersh piece I mentioned (bold highlighting is mine):

        The full extent of US co-operation with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in assisting the rebel opposition in Syria has yet to come to light. The Obama administration has never publicly admitted to its role in creating what the CIA calls a ‘rat line’, a back channel highway into Syria. The rat line, authorised in early 2012, was used to funnel weapons and ammunition from Libya via southern Turkey and across the Syrian border to the opposition. Many of those in Syria who ultimately received the weapons were jihadists, some of them affiliated with al-Qaida. (The DNI spokesperson said: ‘The idea that the United States was providing weapons from Libya to anyone is false.’)

        In January, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report on the assault by a local militia in September 2012 on the American consulate and a nearby undercover CIA facility in Benghazi, which resulted in the death of the US ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and three others. The report’s criticism of the State Department for not providing adequate security at the consulate, and of the intelligence community for not alerting the US military to the presence of a CIA outpost in the area, received front-page coverage and revived animosities in Washington, with Republicans accusing Obama and Hillary Clinton of a cover-up. A highly classified annex to the report, not made public, described a secret agreement reached in early 2012 between the Obama and Erdoğan administrations. It pertained to the rat line. By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi’s arsenals into Syria. A number of front companies were set up in Libya, some under the cover of Australian entities. Retired American soldiers, who didn’t always know who was really employing them, were hired to manage procurement and shipping. The operation was run by David Petraeus, the CIA director who would soon resign when it became known he was having an affair with his biographer. (A spokesperson for Petraeus denied the operation ever took place.)

        The operation had not been disclosed at the time it was set up to the congressional intelligence committees and the congressional leadership, as required by law since the 1970s. The involvement of MI6 enabled the CIA to evade the law by classifying the mission as a liaison operation. The former intelligence official explained that for years there has been a recognised exception in the law that permits the CIA not to report liaison activity to Congress, which would otherwise be owed a finding. (All proposed CIA covert operations must be described in a written document, known as a ‘finding’, submitted to the senior leadership of Congress for approval.) Distribution of the annex was limited to the staff aides who wrote the report and to the eight ranking members of Congress – the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate, and the Democratic and Republicans leaders on the House and Senate intelligence committees. This hardly constituted a genuine attempt at oversight: the eight leaders are not known to gather together to raise questions or discuss the secret information they receive.

        The annex didn’t tell the whole story of what happened in Benghazi before the attack, nor did it explain why the American consulate was attacked. ‘The consulate’s only mission was to provide cover for the moving of arms,’ the former intelligence official, who has read the annex, said. ‘It had no real political role.’

        Washington abruptly ended the CIA’s role in the transfer of arms from Libya after the attack on the consulate, but the rat line kept going. ‘The United States was no longer in control of what the Turks were relaying to the jihadists,’ the former intelligence official said. Within weeks, as many as forty portable surface-to-air missile launchers, commonly known as manpads, were in the hands of Syrian rebels. On 28 November 2012, Joby Warrick of the Washington Post reported that the previous day rebels near Aleppo had used what was almost certainly a manpad to shoot down a Syrian transport helicopter. ‘The Obama administration,’ Warrick wrote, ‘has steadfastly opposed arming Syrian opposition forces with such missiles, warning that the weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists and be used to shoot down commercial aircraft.’ Two Middle Eastern intelligence officials fingered Qatar as the source, and a former US intelligence analyst speculated that the manpads could have been obtained from Syrian military outposts overrun by the rebels. There was no indication that the rebels’ possession of manpads was likely the unintended consequence of a covert US programme that was no longer under US control.

        As to where Hersh got his info, there is some discussion of sources in the piece, but with no way to independently verify, in the end my ‘if one gives credence to…’ applies, along with ‘does it fit the generally-agreed-upon facts?’

        1. ewmayer

          Also, a small correction: The Hersh piece only mentions that the rat line details were provided to the ranking members as part of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the assault the following January, i.e. after, not before. There is no mention as to whether the same congresspeople had any knowledge of the rat line and the role of the consulate therein before the attack. But bottom line, ranking members of both parties have known these details for a long time.

          1. Rhondda

            Well, seems I am always stirring up trouble. Nonetheless, I thank you for that info ewmayer. Like you, I must not have received the psychic priming. Note to Cass Sunstein: Work harder. Do over. Ptui. I have a friend who is terribly smart and pretty Left (as that goes these days) and you mention Benghazi to him and he will not even give it one second before he rolls his eyes in a way that seems like it must actually hurt. Pshaw, he says, “I can’t believe you’d pay attention to that Republickkan clown car sh!t!” It amazes me that one would not care about this. Raygun and his cohort were grilled over hot coals for Iran/Contra. And I will point out that the carnival barker Repubs who are shilling this right now aren’t talking about what ewmayer and I are talking about. Moving weapons, CIA/JSOC, etc. Yes, those wascally wepubwicans are indeed grandstanding and looking to gain political points. “Oh, the heroes…”

            But that doesn’t change the underlying facts! Look beyond the messenger. It’s a very common propaganda ploy to send/use a bad/untrustworthy messenger. Criminey. I think there’s even a Greek word for it in Rhetoric. I shall have to look that up… Anyway.

            I want to see a real investigation, real consequences. I know that as screwed up as things are it’ll be a cold day…but for God’s sake, isn’t it still OK to want the truth and demand justice?

          1. ewmayer

            Your level of (dis)interest appears to mismatch that of much of your readership on this story, Lambert.

            If you prefer to spend your time parsing various inane Hillary-speeches six ways to Sunday, that is of course your prerogative. But coming from someone who frequently chides readers for ‘contributing noise rather than signal’, I find your gratuitous ‘hairball’ claims and attempts to belittle without giving any actual argumentation, well, underwhelming.

            Should we not discuss possible high crimes by our elected officials because the particular topic bugs you for some weird reason? If so, I suggest you make it official and publish lists of ‘approved’ and ‘disapproved’ discussion topics on the NC front page for the benefit of your readership.

            For example:

            Approved: Trillion-dollar Platinum coin boosterism. (Bonus points for Twitter hashtags conveying the excitement of this wonderful scheme, and links to Joe Firestone manifestos on the topic.)

            Disapproved: Benghazi-consulate weapons smuggling to Syrian Sunni rebel factions, orchestrated by CIA and top US military brass. Boring!

            1. abynormal

              little e, since your a$$igning homework (li$ts$), PAY-UP.
              …boring the readers by zinging the host, DOUBLE DONATION.

              Sport should be in your Blood/Veins, Not in the Joints or Bones”
              Binoy Boban

  14. trish

    re Bill and Melinda Gates bafflegab and bullshit on “school reform”

    “Parents get what he does not—the inclusion of test scores in evaluations results in hyper-focus on the tests.”

    Actually, I wonder if he doesn’t get it perfectly well. Hyper-focus on testing…more and more often computer testing…Microsoft computers…Ka-ching?

    follow the money…

    1. abynormal

      i did NOT know this: http://money.cnn.com/2015/01/22/investing/bill-gates-mobile-banking/index.html
      In its annual letter published on Thursday, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation identified mobile banking as one of four exciting breakthroughs that will help improve the lives of people in poor countries faster in the next 15 years than at any other time in history.

      “Mobile banking will help the poor transform their lives,” the billionaire couple wrote in the letter.

      At first glance, mobile banking is a surprising choice for the Gates Foundation to throw its incredible heft behind. In the past, the philanthropy, which controls over $42 billion in assets, has focused challenges like access to condoms and turning human waste into drinking water. :–/

      But now the power couple is thinking about the 2.5 billion adults the World Bank estimates are without a bank account. (now that is a huge KA-CHING)

      Bill Gates currently has a net worth of an estimated: $75,190,437,904
      …net worth increased by $47,698,675 on 10/20/2015

  15. Jim Haygood

    Canada bails from a combat role in the Peace Putz’s Syrian adventure:

    “About an hour ago I spoke with President Obama,” Mr Trudeau told a press conference.

    While Canada remains “a strong member of the coalition against ISIL,” Mr Trudeau said he made clear to the US leader “the commitments I have made around ending the combat mission.”


    Let’s hope Trudeau checks out of Vietghanistan too, where many Canadian soldiers died in the Graveyard of Empires.

Comments are closed.