2:00PM Water Cooler 10/21/2015

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente


Canada: “While we welcome Prime Minister-elect Justin Trudeau’s election night speech that focused on hope, inclusion and the end of the politics of division and fear evident under the Harper government, we are deeply concerned by his party’s support for ‘free trade’ agreements like the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)” [Council of Canadians].



“Increasingly, location also affects how difficult it is to cast a vote. When it comes to election law, red America and blue America are not at all alike” [Los Angeles Times]. “Since 2000, and especially in the last few years, states dominated by Democrats have tended to pass laws that make it easier to register and vote, while states dominated by Republicans have done the opposite.”


“Apologists claim the student-loan crisis is the result of underfunding of colleges by states. While it’s true that some of the cost burden has been shifted from taxpayers to students, the real problem is soaring costs of the higher education cartel, which fixes prices via the artifical scarcity of accreditation” [Business Insider]. “The extraordinary rise in administrative staffing and costs and the boom in building costly temples of higher education are well-known. This chart depicts the rise of the educrat class, at the expense of teachers/professors.” So why not gut the adminstrative layers, and leave accreditation (consumer protection) in place?

The Trail

“Joe Biden Says He Won’t Run for President in 2016” [Time]. And after all that teasing, too. I guess nobody ever figured out a reason why he should! Watch for the bump Clinton gets in the polls; I doubt if many Biden voters will be Sanders voters.

Pat Buchanan: “Consider the catbird seat in which The Donald sits” [Unz Review]. “An average of national polls puts him around 30 percent, trailed by Dr. Ben Carson with about 20 percent. No other GOP candidate gets double digits. If these polls don’t turn around, big time, Trump is the nominee.”

UPDATE “An interesting data point from a new poll Wednesday suggests that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign arc is now more closely mirroring that of a traditional front-runner, rather than that of an insurgent fad” [Business Insider]. “The ABC/Washington Post poll found that a plurality of likely Republican primary voters now believe Trump will be their party’s nominee.” What the heck ever happened to Fiorina, anyhow? She went up, and then she went down….

The Hill

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


Trey Gowdy: “These have been among the worst weeks of my life” [Politico]. Gowdy can whine with the best of ’em, can’t he?

Democrats release complete testimony of Clinton aide Cheryl Mills [AP]. The day before Clinton is to testify. Odd, that.

“The Benghazi investigation: What you need to know” [USA Today]. This seems reasonably sane.

Leadership Contest

“Paul Ryan tentatively agreed to serve as speaker of the House Tuesday night, a move that likely avoids a protracted and messy fight to be the next face of the Republican Party” [WaPo]. And this is the first time I’ve heard “wants to spend time with his family” as the requirement for a job; apparently Ryan doesn’t want to do fundraising. So where’s his leverage, then?

“House Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday he expects House Republicans to rally behind Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan this week to be the next Speaker” [Market News].

Stats Watch

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of October 16, 2015: “Application volumes are swinging wildly week-to-week as the mortgage industry continues to implement new lending disclosure rules under TILA-RESPA” [Econoday].

Back to the Future: “Today, October 21, 2015, is being heralded by movie fans as the day that fictional character Marty McFly, from the “Back To The Future” movie trilogy, went into the future to try to change the past. After redirecting his children’s lives, McFly returned to 1985″ [Market News]. ” Market oldsters may wax nostalgic about world financial markets in the 1980s, but the reality was not necessarily more rosy.”

“Hedge Funds are Bringing Back Everyone’s Least Favorite Toxic Investment” [Bloomberg]. That’s right: CDOs!

Ag: “What does the Argentine election mean for harvests?” [Agrimoney]. “Look for a rise in corn sowings if there’s a change in government, says one analyst, but other agricultural output could rise as well.”

Energy: Coal terminals in Oakland, CA and Longview, WA become political flashpoints.

“Sprint loses bid to dismiss $300 million N.Y. tax fraud lawsuit” [Reuters].

“BNY Mellon’s cost-cutting drive hit by software outage” [Reuters].

“Amazon plans to hire 100,000 people for the holidays, a 25 percent jump from last year that reveals a shift in the way we shop” [Los Angeles Times].

The Fed: “Mutiny of the doves” [WaPo]. “[I]f you think that inflation won’t go up until wages do, and that won’t happen until unemployment is even lower than it is now, then you want to wait who knows how long. You don’t want to take your inflation on faith. You want to see it. Or, as Tarullo put it, you want to find “some tangible evidence of, for example, hiccups in wages or inflation that allow us to make informed decisions based on the evidence.” This is a direct repudiation of Yellen and Fischer’s logic for preemptive rate hikes.”

Honey for the Bears: “Rail Car Orders Experience Huge Drop” [Across the Curve]. “North American railcar orders plummeted the most in at least 27 years as railroads shipped less oil and sand used for drilling, adding to concern over a U.S. industrial production slowdown.”

Fear & Greed Index, October 19, 2015: 52 (+1); Neutral [CNN]. Last week: 35 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed).

Health Care

“Many Low-Income Workers Say ‘No’ to Health Insurance” [New York Times]. NC readers knew this over two weeks ago (reinforced this Monday).

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Documenting the links between Teach for America and #BlackLivesMatter leadership [Orchestrated Pulse]. Essential reading.

Class Warfare

“A technical problem had blocked account access for holders of one of the most popular prepaid cards, RushCard” [New York Times]. Idea: If you want to pay your electrical bill and can’t, tell the nice collection person this: “It’s not a solvency problem. It’s a liquidity problem.”

“Demand response” for power generation case before the Supreme Court [WaPo]. But this paragraph caught my eye: “It all moves us further and further from a world in which there’s one electricity provider, one monthly bill that covers all of our consumption, and relatively little control over how that bill turns out. Suddenly there are tons of options for saving money, and saving electricity or even generating your own, that have been enabled by new technologies, ranging from solar panels to home batteries to demand response software.” “More control over my bill” sounds like a lot of complexity, and “demand response software” sounds like a place where parasites would insert their sucking mandibles.

“Water Wars in Ireland” [New Left Review]. “The [water privatization] project had the disadvantage, however, of striking a broad range of people simultaneously, instead of picking them off one by one: tenants and home-owners, private- and public-sector workers, the unemployed and those still in work. Moreover, there was a history of protest against ‘double taxation’ going back more than two decades. A previous campaign against water charges in the late 80s and early 90s, spearheaded by the radical left, had forced their abolition.”

“Bad events in organisations are generally the product of bad systems rather than bad people” [John Kay]. Kay concludes: “The decline of public trust in corporations today threatens the legitimacy of global corporate activity.” 

News of the Wired

“Light goes infinitely fast with new on-chip material” [Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences].

“The Bad Things That Happen When People Can’t Deal With Ambiguous Situations” [Science of Us].

“The Best Factual Podcasts” [Cool Tools].

“Consumer Reports pulls recommendation of the heavily hyped Tesla Model S” [Consumer Reports]. Turns out that actual users shared their concerns. (NC readers know that CR had an identical issue with ObamaCare; see here and here.)

“Teen Who Hacked CIA Director’s Email Tells How He Did It” [Wired]. I’m still reeling at the idea that John Brennan, the Bush torture advocate now servicing Obama at the CIA, has an AOL account. I can’t even.

“Why are placebos getting more effective?” [BBC]. And why is America exceptional?

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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 (Furzy Mouse):


Bananas from Thailand!

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Vatch

    “The extraordinary rise in administrative staffing and costs and the boom in building costly temples of higher education are well-known. This chart depicts the rise of the educrat class, at the expense of teachers/professors.” So why not gut the adminstrative layers, and leave accreditation (consumer protection) in place?

    That is a very reasonable suggestion. In other words, it will meet mountainous opposition. Michelle Obama was a college administrator, so it’s probably considered a severe violation of protocol to criticize the administrative layers of education at the White House. From her Wikipedia entry:

    In 1996, [Michelle] Obama served as the Associate Dean of Student Services at the University of Chicago, where she developed the University’s Community Service Center. In 2002, she began working for the University of Chicago Hospitals, first as executive director for community affairs and, beginning May 2005, as Vice President for Community and External Affairs.

    1. NOTaREALmerican

      The bucolic limousine-liberal college town I live in is doing fantastic building (aka developing) the University campus of the future: LEED dorms, a new stadium, lots of administrators (aka management), even some new classrooms. They want to increase the number of foreign students by a large percentage too. It’s a University of California campus, so the locals aren’t expected to be able to pay for the bling in the upcoming future, so that loot will have to come from the wealthy Asians.

      Corporate management uses debt to increase their bling, University management uses debt to increase their bling too.

      I can’t complain: housing prices are going up because the campus attracts people from the top 20%. Plus liberals (with or without the neo) love to tax themselves for stuff: the city has great schools which also attracts wealthy people from the Bay Area to buy houses. It’s a win-win for everybody in the top 20% really (aka class-warfare I think this is called).

      Funny how those “neo-liberals” win regardless of what the Progressives try to come-up with: EVERYBODY needs a college education, EVERYBODY!


      1. Merf56

        So what exactly can you do these days without a college education or rich parents who can set you up in some kind of small business? Especially if you are not particularly adroit with the hand eye coordination needed to become a muffler guy or a plumber or a refrigerator repair person?
        We have no manufacturing jobs left. Are you saying we or our kids should forgo a a college education to work in the glorious retail sector wearing a monitor like they do at Amazon warehouses that tell your overlords when you are not running fast enough from one side of the cavernous warehouse to the other? Or do nails at a nail salon or get minimum wage watching other people’s kids? Of course everyone with a functioning brain cell ought to have a better education than one gotten by the time one graduates from an American high school. If it is such a high tech sophisticated world today and tomorrow, should not our levels of educational attainment be keeping up? The point is no ne should have to agree to debt enslavement to get a college education….

        1. NOTaREALmerican

          Re: The point is no ne should have to agree to debt enslavement to get a college education

          Well, i’m not saying people should or shouldn’t. I’m saying my bucolic limousine-liberal college-town is doing great spending the loot from the “enslavement debt”. Too bad about those history degrees tho.

        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Um wouldn’t it be a clever idea if America would make something other than job-killing tech advances, Hollywood propaganda rubbish, toxic financial products, useless selfie-society apps, and new ways to kill people across the globe.
          Maybe college for everyone is not such a clever idea. Maybe they should learn how to do things like grow food, build houses, and purify water. Or I have an idea…maybe they should take a raw material and turn it into a finished product.
          Few noticed it but Janet Yellen added a new reason for the Fed never to raise rates: labor force participation. They can self-lick that ice cream cone for a long time to come it seems.

        3. Gaianne

          Education is now a bubble. Remember, its original purpose was the maintenance of our civilization’s culture, and as such was necessarily a more or less elite activity. Talented children were given scholarships with no qualms–it was worth it to the polity to have talented people involved.

          As education became more “practical” it was required to focus on technical progress, and for the student became an “investment”–a very good one, at first. Gradually the cultural side was abandoned: The Modern West no longer has a spiritual center, nor anyone attending to it. This alone guarantees our destruction.

          With time we reached the point we are at now: Our civilization’s culture is no part of college education; as an investment for the student it has gone from a good one to a mediocre one to a batshit crazy one; and for administrators–the increasingly dominant layer in the mix–a means of fast, vast money-making.

          Why is college a crazy investment? Because the job positions it trains for are evaporating day by day and going away, while the competition for the jobs that remain explodes, eliminating any possibility (as pay scales collapse) that the job will pay back the original (borrowed and undischargeable) investment.

          The economy that is coming will depend on real, useful skills–things that contribute directly to food, warmth, and shelter. In spirit, and often in fact, it will be off-the-books, gray-market and black-market.

          It will not involve moving pixels around on a hand-held mobile device.

          On the other hand, the white-market will increasingly become legalized scams. Those who have inside connections will do well in these while they last, which is to say, for some time.


          1. jgordon

            That was quite an amazing comment. I’ll add however that artists will also be incredibly important in the future, along with all the practical stuff. The vapid emptiness of materialism must give way to a new age of mysticism and contentedness if we’re to survive as human beings, and artists will be integral to that process.

            1. Gaianne

              Good point! Artists certainly important.

              Just don’t take out a loan to go to college to become one! ;)


              1. ambrit

                My wife would laugh out loud at the idea of needing college to become an artist. She went to the Louisiana State University Lafayette and studied technique for two years. She paid for it, back in the 1960’s, by working for a year and saving up her money. For a real artistic sensibility, she went to Delgado Junior College in New Orleans two years, while she worked. The head of the Arts Department was a working artist in his own right. Some acquaintances of hers learned their art skills as apprentices to working artists. One or two artists we have known were self taught.
                The good thing about art is that there is no monolithic Official Art. What there is of that beastie is known as Propaganda.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I’m not sure where I picked up ka-ching — I think somewhere here — but this seems to be the canonical usage example:

          And then of course:

          Can you hear it ring
          It makes you want to sing
          It’s such a beautiful thing, ka-ching!
          Lots of diamond rings
          The happiness it brings
          You’ll live like a king
          With lots of money and things

    2. Arizona Slim

      Here in AZ, public university tuition is going sky-high. And, during a recent conversation with a well-connected and now retired politician, I learned that campus construction costs are a big driver of the tuition increases.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Yeah, wow, not like construction lobbies are powerful or anything. And I don’t have stats, but if the rest of the country is like it is here, construction money goes to:

        1) Naming rights buildings of any sort for rich donors;

        2) Marketing-type facilities like gyms and student unions;

        3) Adminisrations buildings.

        Dorms up here have been privatized. No money for classrooms and equipment as such, of course, let alone professors. I think they’d make professors rent the classrooms if they could. Hey, not a bad idea….

      2. ambrit

        We can, with clear conscience, blame it all on the Chicago School. Once Pinochet showed some of the political uses of campus stadiums possible, the rest followed naturally.

    3. armchair

      If Robert Moses were alive today, he would definitely be a university president. Where else in America is there an equivalent bonanza of mindless construction?

  2. Carla

    Re: the LA Times piece on different voting requirements in “red” vs. “blue” states. Why don’t international election monitors declare U.S. elections null and void? They fail to meet MANY of the standards that are applied to elections in other countries.

      1. hunkerdown

        The PATRIOT Act is, at least in part, from Joe Lieberman’s hand. We may have dodged a bullet by not having that hand an arm’s length from the Button when the abuse container smacked the bully with a brick. In retrospect, I don’t think the outcome would have been that much different except in minor details.

        1. Strangely Enough

          Gore would have been impeached if 9/11 attacks had taken place, and Lieberman would have been only too happy to go into Iraq.


    1. AJ

      Carla, do you have any link you could provide? That sounds like something I would like to read more about. I’ve never really thought about how our election standards compare to others around the world.

      1. Vatch

        There’s a link near the top of the page. See this text:

        “Increasingly, location also affects how difficult it is to cast a vote. When it comes to election law, red America and blue America are not at all alike” [Los Angeles Times]. “Since 2000, and especially in the last few years, states dominated by Democrats have tended to pass laws that make it easier to register and vote, while states dominated by Republicans have done the opposite.”

  3. NOTaREALmerican

    Re: And why is America exceptional?

    Is there a more optimistic country than Merica?

    I’d be more surprised if placebos didn’t have more effect here.

    Now, the real interesting study would be: Do political/religious true-believers have a stronger placebo effect. I’d bet they do!

    And then: which of the primary political/religious belief systems, the Mommy Party or Daddy Party, has a stronger placebo effect?

    And where would the libertarians and liberals (no neo’s) fit in here?

    1. Gareth

      Libertarians would exhibit a greater placebo effect if told that the drug was specifically bio-designed for them; liberals, if it was organic.

      1. Massinissa

        Libertarians would probably also be reassured if told the drug had no federal research funding.

  4. allan

    Another victory on the Eastern health insurance front:

    Feds’ failure leaves thousands scrambling for health insurance

    EAGLE COUNTY, CO— More than 7,000 policyholders in the Rocky Mountain resort region will lose their health insurance if a state agency is allowed to force a low-cost co-op out of the state insurance exchange, effectively putting it out of business. …

    Independently certified actuarial projections indicate the company would be profitable by the end of 2016, making it possible to shore up its capital reserves and pay back its federal start-up loans early, said Julia Hutchins, Colorado HealthOP CEO.

    “This lawsuit calls into question the DOI’s decision to release us from Connect for Health Colorado marketplace as both irresponsible and premature,” said Hutchins.

    I don’t know who’s telling the truth but am willing to go out on a limb
    and guess that this is not good news for Democrats in Colorado in 2016.

    1. meeps

      There is nothing irresponsible or premature about removing waste and profiteering from health CARE financing. Perhaps “more than 7,000 policyholders” will lose their insurance. Who decries the 400,000.00 Coloradans without health CARE coverage despite the insurance industry bailout (forgive me, reform)? The truth is that private insurance, with or without subsidy, diverts money away from actual health care. The Connect for Health (snicker) Colorado marketplace peddles high cost garbage and we are mandated to buy it. No crocodile tears shall be shed by anyone paying attention to the maths. Luckily, we in Colorado have an alternative plan we are working feverishly to get on the 2016 ballot. If it passes we’ll have good (really) affordable (really) coverage for every resident and we’ll still save 5 billion dollars. That’s good news for the people, irrespective of politics.

  5. RabidGandhi

    Re: Ag: “What does the Argentine election mean for harvests?” [Agrimoney].
    Traditional Argentine mountain-out-of-molehill hyperventilating, but there’s no story here.

    1. There is very little difference between the three leading candidates, so the election is not that important. All 3 have said they want to move away from currency controls, but none of them will do anything drastic like the article predicts.

    2. There is very little doubt as to who will win the election anyway (Spoiler: Scioli has at least +12% in every poll)

    3. No matter what the “farmers” (in the loosest sense of the term) do, they always squawk about the gov’t and taxes, but their decisions consistently have more to do with the market. The switch to commodities coincided perfectly with the commodity boom propelled by China.

    4. The author confuses the black market peso with the official peso. Exports need to be cleared through the BCRA, so they get sold at the official rate.

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘The author confuses the black market peso with the official peso.’

      There is no confusion. The author cites an [artificially overvalued] official rate of 9.59 pesos per dollar, and a black market rate of 16.4 peso per dollar.

      At the official rate, farmers get only 58% of the pesos they would receive at the unofficial rate (which they are prohibited from accessing). Then they pay a 35% export tax on top of that 42% exchange rate haircut.

      To make an analogy, imagine that instead of receiving US $0.76 for every Canadian dollar of sales in Canada, U.S. exporters received only US $0.45 for every C$ of sales … and then paid a 35% tax on that diminished revenue. U.S./Canada trade would grind to a halt with such a crude spanner thrown in the works.

      The article is actually remarkably restrained, considering the grossly confiscatory regime under which Argentine farmers are being milked.

      1. pacman

        Oh – my bad. Not an invalid assumption. Was a city pacman champ in the 80s.

        Trust me, I’m a Sanders guy all the way (which is not to say he’s perfect.) Will switch out that ID, though.

        1. abynormal

          nooooooo Please don’t change it !
          i’m a bit twisted…Never take me too seriously.
          few yrs ago my sister (econ minor) barked about Capitalism being a great tool for ‘starting a country’. i laughed and the conversation/heads turned to me…i reminded them you can’t ‘turn it off’. who shuts off a ‘free market’? its like pacman turning on itself. (i don’t have a minor/major…common sense is dangerous enuff ;)

  6. Eric Patton

    In his article, Kay says, “This starts with the recognition that mistakes happen and that organisations advance by learning from them.”

    What Kay is missing is that any organization — any society — has people who run it. There are people in any organization or society who have objective power. They make the decisions.

    The decisions they make can be predicted. Big people have priorities. Their number one priority is control. End of conversation.

    If you start having a conversation about (for example), what Exxon or VW should have done (you know what I’m talking about), you have to start with the question: What are the big people trying to accomplish? What are their goals?

    Yes, they want to make money. But they must have control. So if Exxon says, Hey folks, global warming is real, then eventually there won’t be an Exxon.

    Any honest conversation would realize capitalism necessarily pollutes. If you want to deal with pollution, you have to deal with capitalism. Which means no more corporations. No more Exxon.

    Well, that’s not an option.

    VW trying to defeat emissions tests. Any auto company would do the same thing if they thought they could away with it. Now, someone will say, we need better regulation, and that’s true.

    But no matter how good the regulation is, market economies generate a race to the bottom. The pressure to undo those regulations will always be present as long as there is capitalism. End of story.

    Put another way: Suppose Bernie wins, and we get a New New Deal. Eventually, Yves, Lambert, and everyone else on this site, and all the readers, will be dead. If the movement goes away (meaning everyone’s great grandkids stop caring), the rolling back of regs will come back. The only way to prevent that is to keep playing offense.

    You have to keep fighting for something. If that something is not the end of capitalism, then everything will just come back. But if you’re going to end capitalism, you have to know what you’re going to replace it with.

    You have to really know. Just saying “socialism” won’t get it done.

    You have to tell people what their daily work lives will be like. Otherwise, they will rightly ignore you.

    But until someone can even utter the word “capitalism”, and really understand what capitalist economies are — what private enterprise market economies are, and what all the historical alternatives that have existed are (have been), it won’t matter.

    1. NOTaREALmerican

      Re: But no matter how good the regulation is, market economies generate a race to the bottom.

      What is the alternative to capitalism assuming that this statement you made is true:

      What Kay is missing is that any organization — any society — has people who run it. There are people in any organization or society who have objective power. They make the decisions.

      The decisions they make can be predicted. Big people have priorities. Their number one priority is control. End of conversation.

      Does the “alternative to capitalism” NOT have any “Big people” with “Their number one priority (being) control”?

      1. JTMcPhee

        Since asymptotic rise and then collapse seems to be a feature of so many living systems, including political economies, there’s be no surprise that corporations and and other large entities are in the upward limb of the curve, overhanging the planetary collapse that us apcalyptacists feel is looming. And humans being what they are, with the “normal distribution” of all the behaviors and powers so very visible, no surprise if Big People end up running and bleeding whatever tribal mud walled compounds are left.

        And of course one set of those behaviors is so nicely captured by that forever favorite phrase, “Apres moi le deluge…” Which is such avrich tradition: http://tradicionclasica.blogspot.com/2006/01/aprs-moi-le-dluge.html

        And current chatter is all about manipulating the human genome, and life extension for the Effing Few, and of course running off to new worlds, having filthed uup this one. Just like the aliens in “Independence Day…”

    2. VietnamVet

      Right after Jeff Skilling was jailed for his Enron crimes, power in the United States shifted from the government to corporations. Fines are the cost of doing business. Wall Street Executives got off scot-free for the fraud that caused the 2008 crash. VW is just the latest case. Will the power to jail the wealthy for their crimes ever be returned to sovereign governments and the people?

  7. Carolinian

    Donald Trump, peacenik? Justin Raimondo picks up The America We Deserve, a Trump book from before 9/11, and pulls this remarkable quote.

    “I may be making waves, but that’s all right. Making waves is usually what you need to do to rock the boat, and our national-security boat definitely needs rocking. Let’s point fingers. The biggest threat to our security is ourselves, because we’ve become arrogant. Dangerously arrogant. It’s time for a realistic view of the world and our place in it. Do we truly understand the threats we face? ,,,

    “Whatever their motives – fanaticism, revenge – suffice it to say that plenty of people would stand in line for a crack at a suicide mission within America. In fact the number of potential attackers grows every day. Our various military adventures – some of which are justified, some not – create new legions of people who would like to avenge the deaths of family members or fellow citizens.”

    Jeb Bush probably thought the MSM had his back re “he kept us safe,” but all you are hearing are crickets. So what happens when Trump turns his twitter account megaphone in Hillary’s direction? IMO her hawkish pronouncements are remarkably tone deaf unless she’s simply pandering to her rich donors or the WaPo editorial page (quite likely–the Post has been totally in the tank for HRC since the debate). Trump has said some nutty things to get to the top of the GOP heap, so it would be ironic if he turned out to be the sane peace candidate.


    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I think Jeb was built up as the smart brother when he’s just a Republican for so long the media expected Jeb to just wow everyone whereas they protected 43. Jeb just exposed himself as another idiot son of a lousy President with no ready made narrative to protect him. I think the media did have Jeb’s back, but expectations were so high there was no way to salvage Jeb.

      I just checked, but Jeb joins Ollie North as a prominent GOP statewide loser during the 94 Democratic blood bath during the Clinton stewardship of the Democratic Party. The Democratic incumbent had an under 25% approval rating. Yeeesh.

  8. Ranger Rick

    I think it says more about the overall state of the economy if the Fed can’t pump inflation up by giving away free money. Inflation should have skyrocketed back in 2009, much less seven years later!

    Instead we got massive corporate mergers across all sectors of the economy funded by cheap money, huge layoffs as a result due to redundancies, and the VCs on the other end of the corporate life cycle crushed local economies. Funny how skyrocketing rent is not inflation but just a market correction.

  9. New Deal democrat

    Two comments on today’s links, one economic and one political.

    On the Rail car orders, I found an article from one year ago indicating that there was the biggest backlog in decades of rail car orders — a huge amount were ordered. So the decline from a record amount tells me that orders for rail cars probably follow the economy rather than lead it.

    The “tell” in the story is that the decline is the biggest since 1988 — two years before any recession began. What *did* happen in 1988 as a big *deceleration* of growth in industrial production. In other words it was positive, just not so positive as 1987.

    Industrial slowdowns always affect upstream suppliers more than downstream consumers. Imagine I am a railroad, and I need 1 million cars in year 1, 1.1 million in year 2, and 1.15 in year three. There is growth in each year, but my supplier faces a 50% decline in orders from 100k to 50k between year 2 and 3.

    Now the political comment. I don’t see why Democrats don’t loudly proclaim support for a Constitutional Amendment guaranteeing the fundamental right to vote for all citizens 18 years of age and older who are not felons and have not been declared incompetent. We are the only major industrial country without such a right (as of now the Constitution only prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, being 18 years of age or older, and a poll tax.

    Aside from making it a universal right that shall not be abridged, which is right on its own merits, it would make the GOPers squirm as they tried to explain why they were against it. You know, why don’t we actually stand for something that is plainly fair?

    1. Pat

      I hate to say it, but I don’t think the Republicans would be squirming. There would be references to increased voter fraud with big winks to their voters that make it clear that YOU should be able to vote, all those OTHERS should not.

      But yes, it should be clear in the Constitution that nothing should abridge the right to vote in any manner including making it more difficult to get to a voting booth. That along with the idea that Corporations are NOT persons and have no rights but do have responsibilities to their customers, employees and communities not just stockholders. (AS in you pay your employees, do not defraud your customers and do not foul the environment of the communities you do business in as a start.)

    2. Eureka Springs

      It’s not a requirement to be competent to run for office, so why establish such a bar for a voter? And why shouldn’t a felon vote? A felon is a citizen and certainly as aware of the system as anyone.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        The felons being denied the vote thing never made any sense. Most felons I’m sure could not care less about the punishment and the others should have the same rights as anyone else to vote. Felons can run for office can’t they?

        1. hunkerdown

          It’s about keeping the aspidistra flying. Remember, countless millions can die, but the Order must never fall.

      1. New Deal democrat

        The stat Lambert referened was orders for *new* railcars. Your links speak to utilization of *existing* rail cars.

        There is no doubt that the industrial sector of the US economy is experiencing a shallow recession, hence the negative YoY numbers in rail traffic, and the poor numbers for CSX. It’s worth noting that the YoY comparisons turned sharply negative in February, and were at their worst in May and June.

        But new railcar orders are not the same as utilization of existing railcar stock, and the analysis of that stat stands.

        1. cwaltz

          The railroad my husband works at is balking because in Jan 2016 they are supposed to have positive train control technology in place. I wonder if that has any effect on rail car orders? I’m going to guess it might.

        2. abynormal

          i replied w/a link (Amtrak layoffs and cutbacks) but its in moderationville.
          now, i’d like to address this part of your comment:
          industrial sector of the US economy is experiencing a shallow recession

          just released by the Social Security Administration, 51 percent of all workers in the United States make less than $30,000 a year. http://www.ssa.gov/cgi-bin/netcomp.cgi

          a shallow recession?

          …Employment in mining continued to decline in September (-10,000), with losses concentrated in support activities for mining (-7,000). Mining employment has declined by 102,000 since reaching a peak in December 2014. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

          another tell: PEORIA, Ill., Sept. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) today announced significant restructuring and cost reduction actions that are expected to lower operating costs by about $1.5 billion annually once fully implemented. The cost reduction steps will begin in late 2015 and reflect recent, current and expected market conditions. (layoffs starting at 10,000)

          1. New Deal democrat

            Here’s what David Cay Johnston had to say about that SSA Report:

            “The annual wage report provides the best quality and most detailed data on jobs and compensation because it adds up, to the penny, every W-2 wage report issued by employers.

            “The median wage rose $366 in real terms last year, to $28,851. That is a 1.3 percent increase on top of inflation compared with 2013. Still, the median wage remains stuck at about the level of 1999, when it was $28,565.

            “However, even that less than 1 percent real gross pay increase shows that six years after the Wall Street meltdown and bailout by the federal government, workers on average are finally ahead of 2007, the year before the Great Recession.

            “The latest data show a worsening situation for the 31 percent of workers making less than $15,000 per year, nearly all of whom work part time or seasonally. Their numbers shrank by more than 613,000, to 48.8 million people.”


            I agree with Johnston’s assessment, and I do not believe he qualifies as a Pom-Pom waving cheerleader.

            There are layoffs in the sectors most exposed to the Oil patch and to the global weakness, but jobless claims are still at record lows, employment as a whole is still growing, and real retail sales made another record last month, as did real personal income. While the industrial sector is hurting, manufacturing production is only down a fraction of a percent from its high two months ago, and consumer spending – 70% of the economy – continues to grow.

            I’d like stronger wage growth as much as you would, but there is simply no evidence that the large majority of the economy is in any imminent danger of rolling over.

            1. abynormal

              i’ll pit my ‘smartest guy in the room’ against yours ANY DAY

              “i’ve been looking for a shallow regional recession for about a year….the energy producing states get hit, then everything they use, from railroads to pumps and steel tubing..then with fear of layoffs, consumers pull back…latest reports, EVERY regional Fed manufacturing survey is negative (means most executives report a slowdown)

              i think we come out of it with a cyclical recovery, almost a boom…it’ll almost be like the 60s again..

              i disagree with about half of what New Deal Democrat posts on his own blog (bonddaddotcom) but he doesn’t allow comments so he remains in the dark…”

              1. New Deal democrat

                For the record, Hale Stewart, not me, is in control of comments at his blog. He shut them down because he found that he was spending too much time deleting spam.

                Since you are citing someone anonymous, I have no way of checking their historical record. Guess we’ll see.

                Best regards.

  10. Synoia

    Light goes infinitely fast with new on-chip material

    No, this article is bullshit. There is something here, but infinite phase velocity it is not.

    Electromagnetic waves have a Group and Phase Velocity, and the velocity of the electromagnetic was is:

    Velocity = sqrt( Group velocity x Phase Velocity )

    Information travels a Group Velocity. If phase velocity is close to infinite, group velocity is close to zer, or the information travels slowly. Phase Velocity cannot be infinite because the math on infinity does not work.

    Here’s a link explaining group and phase velocity.

    Disclaimer: EE, with much Microwave work,

    1. optimader

      Light goes infinitely fast with new on-chip material
      Would be a good physics trick for it to go any faster through a form of matter than through a vacuum, no? The new chip material would not refract light, the ultimate fiberoptic cable material for a new frontier in high frequency trading, zero signal latency! . https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latency_(engineering)

      “Infinite” belongs in the same word bucket as “always” and “never”.

      disclaimer, ME, Mat’lE

  11. NotTimothyGeithner

    Wiki leaks has released parts of Brendan’s AOL account, and surprisingly, he thinks the CIA director should have a 10 year term free of reporting to Congress.

    I imagine Brennan doesn’t have much of a classical education.

  12. Daryl

    > “Teen Who Hacked CIA Director’s Email Tells How He Did It” [Wired]. I’m still reeling at the idea that John Brennan, the Bush torture advocate now servicing Obama at the CIA, has an AOL account. I can’t even.

    Apparently WikiLeaks has the content and is going to publish it.


  13. Ed S.

    RE: Consumer Reports and Tesla Model S

    I see LOTS of Teslas and casually know a couple people who own them (including one who bought in the first year). Generally, they LOVE them but accept that there may be problems. As one said, “It’s a Beta.”

    Tesla also seems to be really good about doing right by customers. Now whether this will hurt Tesla financially, time will tell. But Musk and Tesla are (to use an overused word) disruptive in the truest sense of the word.

    Remember GM’s competition to the Model S — a rebadged and re-bodied Chevy Volt called the Cadillac ELR.

    1. Kurt Sperry

      The new Mk. II Chevy Volt actually looks to me like a rational Tesla alternative in the current automotive ecosystem.

      1. Jess

        Guy I know at the local Chevy dealer told me yesterday that the new Volt’s are flying out the dealership faster than they can get them. Told me they’re “selling off the truck”…being backed off the truck and taken directly to new car prep for customers who have already filled out the sales paperwork, credit check, etc. From deliver hauler to your driveway in two hours.

  14. allan

    Files for lawsuit against CIA stolen in break-in at the University of Washington

    University of Washington police are investigating a break-in at the offices of the director of the school’s Center for Human Rights after a computer and hard drive containing sensitive information about a recent lawsuit against the Central Intelligence Agency were stolen.

    Nothing to see here, please move on. The Church Committee made sure that
    things like what you might be thinking could never happen again.

    1. Will

      Jesus. I think I’m honestly a lot more surprised that it’s being mentioned in a mainstream news outlet — mentioned in a “this sure looks suspicious” way — than I am that it happened.

  15. optimader

    RE: Brennan..
    So what exactly is included in the Vetting process for these sorts of positions, a list of luncheon catering preferences, color choices for office carpeting, I really don’t get it??? This is Onion material.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      On one hand, what would be the prerequisites for CIA director? The Dulles brothers rescued Nazis. Even if one promoted for within, the CIA and any intelligence agency hides behind “classified” and Hollywood, and reforms aren’t ultimately made and oversight is neglected. Take Pelosi and ACA. Do you think she a day the rest of Team Blue are doing a better job when it comes to an intelligence agency than they did on Obama care? It’s why citizens need to be ever vigilant or at demand government by lottery. Who is qualified to run the CIA is very much like who can be President. The only answer is transparency and citizen participation.

      The other issue is more temporal. Obama picked “team players” to avoid making difficult decision. Who was a rock the boat choice in the world of Obama appointees? Everyone was picked so the GOP would be nice. What was Shinseki’s qualification to run a clean up operation at the VA? The scuttlebutt was that he was a “team player” and he introduced the black berets. Was Shinseki a reformer or a guy who would challenge a system? The answer is no. I think that was an Obama goal. He didn’t want to open himself up to attacks by the GOP. We shouldn’t be surprised to find out a high level appointee is just kind of a bland nothing.

      There is nothing interesting in Brennan’s e-mails released to date except that he doesn’t believe bureaucracy should answer to elected governments. His brief on Iran could have been written by thousands of poly sci majors in a 101 class. It’s not even that. Except for a few specifics, it’s stuff Obama should know just read in the newspaper.

  16. Chris in Paris

    I hope Marty Mcfly and Doc Brown manage to fix the future today because it is really a mess.

  17. Oregoncharles

    “If these polls don’t turn around, big time, Trump is the nominee.””

    That would be entertaining – though Pres. Trump would be considerably less so. Do remember, though that he’s to the left of Hillary or the Dems on crucial issues, mostly single-payer and the “trade” agreements. (Had to go back and put the quote marks on “trade.”)

    However, once again, there’s a big caveat on that conclusion: the crowded field. Bernie’s numbers are very similar, but they put him solidly in 2nd place. As the field clears out, the same thing may happen to Trump, though it’s hard tosee who could get past him. Carson? Really – though together,they have awinning 50%.

    If the field doesn’t clear out much, the plurality effect would indeed make Trump the nominee.

    1. optimader

      Bibi is nothing if not consistent. Fruit of the poison tree, he is a Zionist. They wrote much of the scripting for the Nazi propaganda in the 1930s

      truetorahjews dot org/naziismzionism
      There is a huge amount of literature describing how the Zionists made it very difficult to save Jews during and after World War II. As various individuals and organizations were trying to arrange departures of Jews to western countries, the Zionists worked overtime to prevent this from happening. They expressed the opinion that building up the Jewish population of Palestine was more important than enabling Jews to go to third countries, and they insisted to western powers that Jews should not be accepted anywhere other than Palestine. Indeed, Yitzhak Gruenbaum, a famous Zionist, proclaimed that “one cow in Palestine was worth more than all the Jews in Poland.” The infamous David Ben-Gurion said in 1938:

      “If I knew it was possible to save all the children in Germany by taking them to England, and only half of the children by taking them to Eretz Israel, I would choose the second solution. For we must take into account not only the lives of these children but also the history of the people of Israel.”

  18. ambrit

    The link to the WaPo “Demand Response story is broken. Here it is:
    Some more on this from the WaPo:

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