2:00PM Water Cooler 10/26/2015

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente



UPDATE “Are you a democratic socialist like Bernie Sanders? Take the quiz” [WaPo].

UPDATE Carson doesn’t support abortion in cases of rape or incest [The Hill].


“Sanders said that “In the last election, last November, 63 percent of the American people didn’t vote, 80 percent of young people didn’t vote, and today, millionaires and billionaires are buying the election. Is that what democracy in this country is supposed to be about? I think not…We need a political revolution” [Wall Street on Parade]. In a speech before the Democratic National Committee’s Women’s Leadership Forum.

Here we go [@adamjohnsonNYC]. From the dank underbelly of the Democratic nomenklatura at Salon:

I’m guessing the Democratic playbook for Clinton in 2016 will be exactly the same as the playbook for 2008, except with “black” scratched out and “women” written in, and “racist” scratched out, and “misogynist” written in. A thick skin, and a sense of irony, will be essential survival tools, so get ready.


Ultras already fundraising off Ryan as House Leader [New York Times].

The Trail

UPDATE “The Most Likely Next President Is Hillary Clinton” [Mark Halperin, Bloomberg]. An access journalist’s access journalist tells other access journalists who to suck up to, and why. In other words, it’s now open season on Sanders. As here.

“Bernie Sanders’s speech [complete version] Saturday was one long subtweet of Hillary Clinton” [WaPo]. Where “subtweet” is alluding to somebody without actually mentioning them. And I guess this Magic Marker thing could be catching on!

UPDATE “Protester Dragged Out of Trump Event by Attendee” [NBC Miami]. This video is ugly, and I’d very much like to know who the shaven-headed guy in the magenta golf shirt is.

“Bush family gathers to rescue Jeb” [Politico]. Let me know how that works out.

Christie kicked off the Amtrak Quiet Car for yammering on his cell phone [Gawker]. Well, at least some rules apply to the powerful!

“Biden explains 2016, through voice of his granddaughter: ‘You’re not going to leave me, are you, Pop?’” [WaPo]. Will the tear-jerking never end?

Larry Lessig on Tavis Smiley [PBS].

The Hill


Clinton is lucky in her enemies [WaPo].

Debt Ceiling/Government Shutdown Cliffs

“I very much agree that the possibility of a [recession-inducing] policy mistake must be taken seriously. The debt ceiling is the biggest potential threat, and while I expect grownups will prevail, it’s a non-trivial economic mistake to even squabble about it (11 hours on Benghazi hearing, check! Raise the debt limit, uncheck…). A premature interest rate hike would also be a policy mistake, though 25 basis points will not tilt the recessionary balance” [Jared Bernstein]. Of course there’s a recession coming. Exactly as Clinton’s surplus sucked money out of the economy, leading to the Bush recession, so will Obama’s deficit reduction.

Stats Watch

New Home Sales, September 2015: “The housing outlook just received a jolt! New home sales fell to an annual rate of 468,000 in September which is 67,000 below Econoday’s low-end estimate and the lowest rate since November last year. Making matters worse is a steep 33,000 downward revision to August. [Econoday]. And: “The rolling averages smooth out much of the uneven data produced in this series – and this month there was a deceleration in the rolling averages” [Econintersect]. “The bottom line is that the new home market is in an extreme depression and the apparent bottoming process has been dragging on for two years, if in fact the bottom has been reached.”

Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey, October 2015: “Contraction for the general activity index deepened” [Econoday]. “This report joins those from Empire State, Philly Fed, and Kansas City which are all pointing to another month of contraction underway for the nation’s factory sector.”

Rail: “U.S. freight railroads reported declining volumes of many categories of freight carried in the third quarter, continuing a year-long pattern, and anticipate more contraction in coming months, executives said” [Market News].

Ag: “Growing strawberries in California is 9796% more profitable than growing corn in the Midwest, Gladstone Land said, in the latest evidence of underperformance in row crop land” [Agrimoney]. Fun fact!

The Fed: “Here are five charts that explain why it’s safe to bet the Fed will pass on raising rates this week” [WaPo]. Taking free money away from people who already have bricks of it stacked up in their panic rooms would be totally contrary to the holiday spirit, and Xmas, as we all know, starts on Halloween, which is days away. More bigger stocking stuffers for everybody!New

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 61 (+3); Greed [CNN]. Last week: 48 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed)

Our Famously Free Press

“How This Reporter Uncovered A Corruption Scandal Everyone Missed” [HuffPo]. I’m quoting this at length because it’s important, and not just because it’s another turd in Rahm’s punchbowl:

Early in the summer of 2013, Sarah Karp was reading through a report on a Board of Education Meeting when she came across something suspicious.

Buried in the report was a notice that the Board had voted to approve a $20.5 million no-bid contract to a company called SUPES to provide professional development for principals.

Karp, one of just five full-time employees at an education-focused newsmagazine called Catalyst Chicago , routinely looked through these lengthy reports after board meetings. She knew that it was rare for a no-bid contract to be awarded to a company for professional development services that other groups in the area could provide. Karp became even more suspicious when she found that Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the head of Chicago Public Schools, had worked as a consultant for SUPES immediately before she started at CPS as a consultant. After about a month of reporting, Karp published a story drawing attention to the no-bid contract .

Karp didn’t know it at the time, but her story would help jump-start a federal investigation into Byrd-Bennett and SUPES. Earlier this month, that investigation culminated in federal bribery and kickback charges for Byrd-Bennett and two owners of SUPES. Byrd-Bennett, who resigned from her public school post in June, subsequently pled guilty to the charges.

Karp’s scoop, in other words, didn’t even require a whistleblower, and didn’t start with a source. No “access” was required. This is a form of investigative journalism and original reporting that Yves excels at, as you have seen from her work on private equity this year (and the troves of documents that NC maintains). We’d like to do more of that, and that’s what this final phase of the fundraiser is all about. And yet the “Original Reporting” thermometer is oddly low. 200 people donating twenty bucks each — not much for a year’s reading! — would pretty much do the job [and note that the Thermometer for contributors has been adjusted upward]. The Tip Jar is to your right! Thanks in advance!

“10 Technologies You Didn’t Know Could Fit In A Single Aircraft” [Lockheed Martin (Brand Publisher), BuzzFeed]. The F-35. Of course. #11: You can cook marshmallows on it when the engine catches fire. #12: Ejection seat unsuitable for pilots weighing less than 135 pounds (i.e., disproportionately women, though perhaps that’s not a bug, but a feature). Seems to be rather a lot of F-35 propaganda around, lately. Shouldn’t they be investing that money buffing the turd in technical improvements?

On the Intercept’s drone leak scoop: “Since The Times has done so much on this subject, it is understandable that only a brief mention of The Intercept’s scoop has been made so far. Still, given the revelations in the released documents — as well as the mere existence of a major intelligence leaker who is not Edward Snowden — Times journalists might have served readers well to do more on ‘The Drone Papers.’ They also could consider doing so in the future” [Margaret Sullivan, New York Times]. Sullivan has stones, but in a more just world, the underlined sentence would be headline material, and not a delicately put interjection in the final paragraph of a Times Public Editor’s review. Given the Obama’s hatred and fear of leakers — and the unprecedented intensity and viciousness of his whistleblower prosecutions — the administration is surely treating this as a major story. So why isn’t the Times?

“If a Pulitzer-finalist 34-part series of investigative journalism can vanish from the web, anything can” [The Atlantic]. One of the many ways the web makes us stupider, not smarter.


“A review of studies that assess clinical antidepressants shows hidden conflicts of interest and financial ties to corporate drugmakers” [Scientific American].

Dear Old Blighty

“Martin Amis: Jeremy Corbyn is undereducated and slow-minded” [Spectator]. Corbynsteria continues.

“Tony Blair’s apologies over Iraq War are ‘spin operation’ ahead of Chilcot Inquiry report, says Nicola Sturgeon” [Independent]. AFAIK, Blair has merely emitted a “mistakes were made” non-apology apology.

“Seumas Milne and His Swivel-Eyed Detractors” [Counterpunch]. Milne is Corbyn’s press secretary: “What we have seen take place is nothing less than a feral and unhinged scream from the swamp of reaction that resides in our culture.” Good clean fun!


“Global non-linear effect of temperature on economic production” [Nature].

We show that overall economic productivity is non-linear in temperature for all countries, with productivity peaking at an annual average temperature of 13°C and declining strongly at higher temperatures. The relationship is globally generalizable, unchanged since 1960, and apparent for agricultural and non-agricultural activity in both rich and poor countries. These results provide the first evidence that economic activity in all regions is coupled to the global climate and establish a new empirical foundation for modelling economic loss in response to climate change with important implications.

Readers, how’s the study?

“Dead star demolishes planet – offering a glimpse into how the Earth could end its days” [The Conversation]. C’mon. This is too bearish even for me!

“Ten years into the natural gas boom, a PennLive investigation uncovered systemic failures on the part of state regulators to enforce environmental, health and safety standards for the multibillion-dollar industry” [PennLive]. Now that’s a shocker!

“So far this year, Indonesia’s fires [burning off forests for palm oil plantations] have produced more pollution than Germany or Japan does in a year. On 26 days from the period of Sept. 1 to Oct. 14, their daily emissions surpassed those of the entire US (the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China), according to researchers led by Guido van der Werf from VU University Amsterdam” [Quartz].

Class Warfare

“The Denver Police Department arrested 10 people and destroyed ‘tiny homes’ activists set up for the homeless at Sustainability Park Saturday.” [ABC7]. Denver Homeless Out Loud organizers: “The Denver Housing Authority, which owns the property, has torn down hundreds of low-income housing units, and after allowing the Urban Farming Cooperative to use the land for a few years, has agreed this year to sell the land to a private developer.”

“Paternal stress given to offspring via RNA packed into sperm” [Ars Technica] (original). Filing this under “Class Warfare” for reasons I assume are obvious. Readers, comments on the study?

Chrissie Hynde on the Tube, after she had moved to London [CNN]

Public transport! (What genius thought that one up? When the word got out in America, they’d all want it!) I could now go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted. The days of waiting for someone to pick me up in a car were over. For the first time I felt like my own person; I didn’t have to answer to anyone. It felt so right, like something I’d been waiting all my life for.

Turning “Guanxi” into a social credit system (not that kind), and creating an “algorithmic aristocracy” [James Seng]. Good insights for China watchers.

“The 20 percent raises Price implemented in 2012 were supposed to be a one-time deal. Then something strange happened: Profits rose just as much as the previous year, fueled by a surprising productivity jump—of 30 to 40 percent. He figured it was a fluke, but he piled on 20 percent raises again the following year. Again, profits rose by a like amount” [Slate]. But paying workers isn’t nearly as much fun as whipping and degrading them. Hence Price is an outlier.

News of the Wired

“An Interactive Guide to Ambiguous Grammar” [McSweeney’s]. “From time to time, writers may well find illustrative value in the lightest of phrases, sentences so weightless and feathery that they scarcely even seem to exist at all. These can convey details well beyond the crude thrust of the hulking active voice….”

“This 11-year-old is selling cryptographically secure passwords for $2 each” [Ars Technica].

“Two Shot at Wild Party Held in a Queens Mansion Rented Through Airbnb” [New York Magazine]. “The party’s host paid $1,000 to rent out the basement of the four-bedroom Bayside home for the night.” Did AirBnB rent the guns, too? I smell business model!

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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 (Claudia):


Claudia writes: “I’m attaching a photo of what will probably be this year’s last bloom on my passiflora vine — it surprised me this morning!” Readers, have your balcony plants surprised you?

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!


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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. DanB

    “Karp’s scoop, in other words, didn’t even require a whistleblower, and didn’t start with a source. No “access” was required. This is a form of investigative journalism and original reporting that Yves excels at, as you have seen from her work on private equity this year (and the troves of documents that NC maintains). ” Reminiscent of the great I.F. Stone’s methods. He read the Federal Register daily.

  2. timbers

    “Imperial Collapse Watch”

    Syria has asked Russia to help it with airstrikes agianst U.S. funded ISIS. Iraq has asked Russia help it with airstrikes. Afghanistan has asked Russia help it with airstrikes. Reports of Russia working with Isreal, Egypt, Jordan, Iran, Iraq, Syria…even Saudi Arabia (per Zerehedge). That’s quite a diverse mix.

    Don’t know if I can stand actual diplomacy breaking out all over the place and actual terrorists being targeted with bombs instead of doctors, hospitals, weddings, schools, children, woman, civilain power grids. Obama diplomacy consists of telling other nations what to do and if they disagree, it’s regime change and/or bombings.

    Can O’s ego handle it or should we expect a false-flag that’s blamed on Putin?

      1. Massinissa

        What is rational exuberance then? Is it what you say it is, or what?

        Is there some rating system for exuberance I dont know about?

        Can I put it on a graph? Or a spreadsheet?

        1. OIFVet

          All I am saying is that one doesn’t count the chickens until the eggs have hatched. Sure, what we have seen and heard lately is a good start, but all that warrants is cautious optimism. I like what I see happening, but I know that Ivan (or Vladimir as the case may be) is not 10 feet tall. I also know that he is very cautious, as he should be, and won’t overextend himself. Russia will eventually operate over Iraq, but not before Western Syria is secured. Afghanistan? Please… It won’t happen. The Saudis? Yes, it is great that they are talking. But talking is all there is at this point, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The Saudis have their own interests and at this point they are decidedly different from Russia’s and her ME allies. Then there is Turkey that’s still trying to pursue the no-fly zone, and extorting the EU lemmings by unleashing the migrant wave. Last but not least, the US still has a voice and the means to carry out the will of the crazies. So let’s not be triumphalist here, it reminds me too much of the 1990’s and we all know how that turned out.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            It’s a major deal for Iraq. Between not conceding to demands that U.S. soldiers be immune to local laws and coordinating military strikes with a U.S. MIC adversary, Iraq might be a real country.

          2. timbers

            “the US still has a voice and the means to carry out the will of the crazies.” I’m reading that the Pentagon realizes Russia’s cruise missiles are superior to what they have and can wipe out U.S. bases in the Middle East at will if U.S. tries to interfere with Russian actions directly. Russian cruise missiles can also render useless the missile shield NATO/U.S. are spending a lot to build against Iran err Russia.

  3. Jim Haygood

    A couple of excerpts from the Nature article:

    ‘There are few hot, rich countries in the sample’
    ‘Europe could benefit from increased average temperatures’

    This is the old conundrum of tropical underdevelopment. It appears within countries as well: Italy’s Mezzogiorno compared to its north; southeastern U.S. compared to northeastern U.S.; etc.

    Millennia ago, advanced civilizations arose in Egypt, Peru, Mexico, and present-day Cambodia. Now the most advanced economies are found in the 35 to 55 degree range of latitude.

    Go north, young man!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      You’re familiar with Stephen Potter’s work on “Lifemanship”?

      The Canterbury Block

      … We always encourage youngsters to practise as they learn. … [N]o matter how wild a Lifeman’s quiet insertion may be, it is enough to create a pause, even a tiny sensation.

      Nor is the typical Block necessarily complex. The beauty of the best Canterbury is its deadly simplicity, in the hands of an expert. Six words will suffice.

      EXPERT (Who has just come back from a fortnight in Florence): And I was glad to see with my own eyes that this Left-wing Catholicism is definitely on the increase in Tuscany.

      THE CANTERBURY: Yes, but not in the South.

      ‘Yes, but not in the South,’ with slight adjustments, will do for any argument about any place, if not about any person. It is an impossible comment to answer. And for maximum irritation remember, the tone of voice must be ‘plonking.’

      I have never been able to decide whether Potter’s work is British humor at its best and driest, or deeply insightful, or perhaps both.

      1. Jeff W

        I have never been able to decide whether Potter’s work is British humor at its best and driest, or deeply insightful, or perhaps both.

        Both, indubitably, but not in this century.

        1. low_integer

          Yes, however the temporal relevance of this work shows a strong correlation with its geographic orthodoxy, or lack thereof, as may be the case.

      2. Ulysses

        Stephen Potter’s works on Lifemanship and Gamemanship fell into my hands at the tender age of thirteen. I found them hilarious then, but now, as I approach decrepitude, I also find them strangely wise.

        He gave the best advice ever given in the history of the world, on how to intimidate your guests into not complaining– that you are serving them very cheap wine. As their noses begin to wrinkle while tasting the dreadful stuff, simply say in a confident tone: “Do you notice the after-sharpness, the point of asperity, in the farewell, the hint of malevolence, even in the au revoir?”

  4. Nick

    The Nature letter “Global non-linear effect of temperature on economic production” isn’t worth the pixels it’s printed with.

    Using a relationship derived from the spatial variability of temperature by country to predict any result of temporal change of temperature is not reliable.

    1. dk

      They’re not saying it’s “reliable” (a range projections from 50%-200% can hardly be considered accurate enough for reliable prediction), they’re saying the impacts of temperature increases are a) non-linear, and b) large, larger than many other variances, although not large enough to make the impacts uniformly unidirectional or even convergent. It’s nice that they show projections without warming compared to with warming (figure 3), this lets one see that their assumptions, absent temperature increases, are overall optimistic; again, not intended for accuracy but to indicate that they have deliberately avoided over-weighting of other possible negatives. In other words, even the most negative conclusions may be significantly optimistic in comparison to actual consequences.

      Also, you mixed your metaphor: pixels are rendered, not printed, with.

  5. Ranger Rick

    The genetic impact of stress has been documented for quite some time now. It was first discovered in plant and animal populations being monitored for their reactions to starvation and later discovered to have dramatic impacts in other species suffering from population problems or environmental changes like heat or drought. The ability of some frogs to change sex in reaction to a lack of potential mates is even a plot point of Jurassic Park!

    The most depressing branch of psychology, biological psychology, is doing these studies on humans, with none too encouraging results, like how a predisposition to alcoholism is hereditary.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      So the effects of class are a process of “kicking down” intergenerationally (or, for the aristocracy, not). Rawls would not approve.

      Adding, if you or other readers could post links to those studies, that would be great.

      (It’s almost like in systems that include biological systems, everything is a side effect.)

      1. meeps

        Another effect is that some twenty-somethings are self-identifying as asexual. Is there an increased prevalence of asexuality and, if so, what factors contribute most? Has the “process of kicking down intergenerationally” become a biological stressor so powerful that nature is kicking down desire for future generations?

        1. Massinissa

          It might just be that finding sexual partners in modern society who are trustworthy is just too stressful/hard, so people just opt out, a la Japans ‘Herbivore Men’ which are occasionally talked about in media.

        2. Oregoncharles

          Sexuality, like most characteristics, varies widely. Any scale starts with zero, so it’s hardly surprising there are a few people who just aren’t interested. If they actually want children, a separate issue, they might not even be selected out, especially women. Remember, many civilizations have asked large populations to be asexual, mostly in convents and monasteries, a wide-spread phenomenon.

          That said, like you, I’m suspicious of the whole concept. And I’d like to know if it’s increasing – but that’s almost impossible.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            I’m not sure whether there’s real data on this, or whether this is just another media-fuelled moral panic. Unsurprisingly, the urge to reproduce is adaptive.

          2. Jagger

            —–Remember, many civilizations have asked large populations to be asexual, mostly in convents and monasteries, a wide-spread phenomenon.—-

            IIRC, much of that was driven by inheritance rules…particularly medieval time frame.

  6. Pat

    I hope Sanders is prepared. I realize that I shouldn’t find the mud and nasty tactics to be a good sign, but frankly I do. Despite everyone saying he doesn’t have a chance and Hillary’s lock down of the super delegates, they just thought to pull out the dirty trick playbook for shits and giggles – both the Clintons and the media. Nah, you don’t get down in that mud until you have to do it.
    He hasn’t disappeared, his supporters still think that they can get the turnout they need to stop the coronation, and he is making smart moves.
    So I’ll hope the public on the Democratic side is just as resistant to the media and screw the meme. They are just as angry and over it as the right and smart enough to recognize at least some of the enemy. With luck they not be stupid enough to miss that the accepted candidate is a Trojan Horse. Again.

    1. giantsquid

      The Clinton coronation orchestrated by the MSM appears to have become nothing more than a grand delusion. Polls released Sunday put Clinton well down in New Hampshire and Sanders within the margin of error in Iowa. Not even a dead cat bounce after what has been the best two weeks Hillary has had during this campaign.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      If the Super delegates select a nominee short of a sudden death in this age, the Democratic Party will cease to exist. Hillary couldn’t pull it off when she had more votes in 2008.

  7. giantsquid

    Re: “Global non-linear effect of temperature on economic production”

    “Second, the slope of the damage function is large even for slight warming, generating expected costs of climate change 2.5–100 times larger than prior estimates for 2 C warming”.

    Well, that narrows it down.

  8. Clive

    Re: Chrissie Hynde’s public transport discovery.

    Yes, this was a bug I caught too while in Japan. And while I reverted to car ownership when back in Blighty, eventually for various reasons I chose car-less-ness. It is indeed like having a burden lifted from your shoulders. When I tell people that I can quite happily get from anywhere to anywhere without an awful lot of aggravation (not having to worry about traffic, confused sat-nav, parking, other drivers, taking breaks) and would never now dream of running a car, they look at me like I was dropped on the head as a child. Their loss.

    As you might expect, England is a pale imitation compared to Japan’s railways and city subways. But it is vaguely functional and does 90% of what you need without too much ado. The remaining 10% can be variable — but still less annoying than driving.

    In the U.S. of course you can hardly get anywhere without a car. And I vividly remember trying to walk around Pheonix AZ one time. You didn’t even get pavements after a (very short) while. I don’t think there was a passenger rail service in the entire state.

    1. Brindle

      A side-note about Chrissie Hynde, she was a freshman at Kent State Univ. on May 4, 1970. She was in class and heard the shots that killed four students that tragic day.

    2. Paul Tioxon

      Public transit in the Philadelphia region just received dedicated funding from the state gasoline tax at the pump. In the next 60 days, all buses will be hybrid electric/diesel with over 2 million less gallons of fossil fuel used in the past few years. It is an extremely extensive system from the center of the city to the far flung suburbs. What I found amazing was to discover that I could walk 2 blocks from my house, get a regional train to West Trenton and then walk across the platform there to catch the NJ Transit line to Grand Central Station which connects to Madison Square Garden. I did that on one occasion to catch a concert with Keith Richards and Stanley Clarke, THE NEW BARBARIANS. Took the same trains home, all at a 1/10th the cost of Amtrak. Public transit used to be so extensive you could from Boston to Baltimore by trolley lines. Maybe again someday.

    3. different clue

      Mass-transit fans could begin by working on mass transit extension and increase in and between heavily populated parts of the country. They might have to begin in states or regions not dominated by fossil fuel industries. “Blue zones run better without red zone energy” might be the inspirational watchword.

  9. Jim Haygood

    Journalist Eric Margolis, who knows Canada well, celebrates Harper’s defenestration:

    Harper and his men sought to whip up nationalism and militarism in the public, focusing on “Islamic terrorism” and fear of Mideasterners. Harper had advocated sending Canadian troops to the 2003 Iraq War. He sent a large troops contingent to Afghanistan, where 158 Canadian soldiers died for nothing and C$18 billion were wasted so, as one senior official boasted, “Canada can stand tall at NATO meetings.”

    A pall of fear has been lifted. The media can return to its key role of questioning government even though the biggest-circulation newspapers, the National-Post/Sun chain, is a house organ for the Conservatives. The Sun carried this writer’s column in Canada for 27 years until ordered to shut it down by the prime minister’s office after I wrote that Canada’s little war in Afghanistan was a total failure and waste of lives.

    Harper’s fear-mongering even extended to charitable groups trying to spare animals suffering and abuse. Most were restricted by threats of income tax audits and loss of charity licenses. Why? Because Harper kept courting the farm vote which hates animal-rights groups.


    Likewise, Obama’s little war in Afghanistan was is a total failure and waste of lives. But unlike in Canada, in America there is only one War Party.

    1. andyb

      Don’t be so sure that there is only the Republican War Party. If Hillary gets elected by Dems who think she is a neoliberal, rather than just another neocon puppet of the Zionist Rothschild cabal, it will be further proof that there really is only one party intent on totalitarian debt enslavement through “humanitarian” regime change.

    1. jo6pac

      Thanks for the link and the comments are just wonderful;-)

      Yes, neither side is behind the curtain anymore.

  10. alex morfesis

    DEAD STAR DEMOLISHES PLANET: which is why i find science the best comedy…as a species we have only had electricity in common use for less than a century, but somehow, to fill the hours in a day, one has to listen to the tripe that passes for scientific knowledge on this planet…we know NOTHING about what makes up a star, including our sun…nothing…it is all bar stool nonsense…which is why I could never pay attention in any science class…although if I had wanted to be a comedian, it would be of great value…Ike warned us about this on the way out the door, but did we listen ??? Noooooooooo…

    1. optimader

      we know NOTHING about what makes up a star
      Umm…Stage presence and nice teeth? Well ok, Steve Buscemi gets one out of two

    2. Joe Renter

      You nailed it. Yes, really it is science fiction at its best when to it comes to the reality of stars and our Sun.
      If you want to fast forward your evolutionary consciousness I suggest you read “A treatise on Cosmic Fire” by Alice A. Bailey. It can be read online if you search. Stars are embodied with an incredible intelligence that is astronomical. Chew on that.

  11. J Bookly

    Started to take the “Are you a democratic socialist” quiz but they only wanted to know if I was still beating my wife.

      1. participant-observer-observed

        Yes, the tone of the questions and mathematical confounds “billionaires and maybe the middle class” make for a ridiculous chart that I hope MAD magazine re-works!

        But as a subliminal “poll” it is fun to register; perhaps the author will sell the results to some PAC lobby!

  12. ewmayer

    Re. “An Interactive Guide to Ambiguous Grammar” — Shouldn’t that headline read “An Interactive Ambiguous Grammar Guide”?

      1. ewmayer

        Perhaps I was too clear – in which I apologise unreservedly (as in, ‘mistakes were made, such regrettable things sometimes happen in the fog of war, regrettably, &c.’), as that was not my intention.

  13. Cat Burglar

    Sanders has advanced to “then they fight you” territory. We are going to find out just how many people are resistant, angry, and over it there are — I’m talking to everyone I can.

    Clinton’s people have to be aware that should they overshoot the mudslinging, but she wins the nomination, they could risk losing Sanders voters for her in close swing states during the presidential election. To keep left voters from deserting her, she’ll have to deploy plenty of identity politics, but after Obama, that glue doesn’t hold too well any more. Otherwise, she’ll just have to use the Republican bogeyman to keep the cows in the corral. I bet they are focus grouping it right now.

    The domestic policy differences between Sanders and Clinton remind me of the 1934 California gubernatorial race, the “Contest of the Century”, when Upton Sinclair nearly won on the “Production For Use” platform. His account, I, Candidate for Governor, and How I Got Licked is worth reading if you’re considering the limitations and advantages of elections in bringing about structural change: Sinclair lost, but the size of his turnout helped convince FDR that New Deal policies could pay off for him politically.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      The other side of the coin: If Sanders is serious about this “movement” thing, he’d better get cracking. So far, he’s got a funding base that is independent of the political class — long may that continue — but that’s not going to be enough. It’s been awhile since I was in Philly, and if the repellent Wasserman Schultz and the rest of the Democratic nomenklatura try the same shenanigans with Sanders that Obama worked with Clinton in 2008, it might be worth a visit. It may be that the DNC has anticipated this, since they’ve chosen the Wells-Fargo Center — what is it with Democrats and banks — for the site, which is strategically located in a wilderness of parking lots, hence easily fenced-off and defended. I have no doubt that the “free speech zones” will be located miles away. And I wouldn’t recommend giant puppets.

      1. JTMcPhee

        “The gubmint” activated the “Garden Plot” plan for the ’68 Dem convo in Chicago. I was one of the many Vietnam returnees serving out their days with the 2nd Armored Division (“Hell On Wheels”) at Ft. Hood, TX then. We were to train up on “riot control” and urban combat, and arm up with live ammo to keep Democracy from getting out of hand. “Garden Plot” (who comes up with these bushit names, anyway) is still in the repertoire of our Fearful Leaders. Glad to report that a few citizen-soldiers were not about to go trample the Constitution and kill fellow citizens — that work was left to the Chicago cops, who did it before, and do it still… “They are not here to CREATE disorder– they are here to PRESERVE DISORDER!” One if the great FreuDaleian slips of our times…

        Wiki smooth-music version: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Garden_Plot

        CT connection: http://www.uhuh.com/control/garden.htm

        A movie version: http://documentarystorm.com/sir-no-sir/

        For the International Socialist: http://www.workers.org/2009/us/jcat_1210/

        Do not fear the gubmint, my people — it is there to serve and protect. Serve your masters, and protect their property…

    2. Massinissa

      “Identity politics”


      Ive actually seen arguments to all three by clintonistas, but theyre only going to increase from here on out

    1. bob

      The NPR interview made my day in the car with access to nothing but NPR a whole lot better.

      At the same time, it’s pretty funny how NPR can pretend to discuss this so clinically. The NPR certainty principle- NPR can remove itself from the media to measure both the speed and direction of spin.

      1. 3.14e-9

        Yep. Same goes for the Nieman Foundation at Harvard, which presented the award. Tell me they really want more Bob Parrys. But no matter. It was an amazing interview (loved the story about secret documents in an abandoned ladies room in the garage under a congressional office building!) and hopefully one or even two budding journalists in the audience will be inspired to follow in his footsteps.

        P.S. I worked very briefly in the Washington bureau of the AP and knew Bob.

  14. Oregoncharles

    The Salon article: I thought Amanda Marcotte was smarter and more reasonable than that. She seems to have replaced Walsh as one of their resident DP apparatchiks – they seem to need 4 or 5.

      1. Oregoncharles

        I’ve mostly seen Marcotte writing on more or less feminist issues. As I said, mostly smart and reasonable.

        I didn’t realize she was such a Hillary fan – no, I don’t remember her from 2008. But pulling out the “misogyny” card is neither smart nor reasonable; it’s unintentionally revealing. Maybe it’s the setting – she’s new on Salon.

  15. Erratum

    “It’s a question that’ll answer itself,” said Arthur Bremer, a longtime Bush bundler of chewing tobacco, canned mackerel, and postage stamps, based in the MCI-H intensive probation department. “Either the numbers keep going down and you’ve got to figure out what you’re going to do; or the numbers will eventually improve, which is what we’re all counting on. I’m back in shape and my hotel on wheels is ready to roll.”

  16. JTMcPhee

    I’m sure this will pop up tomorrow, you probably have it in your sight picture already, but our Scammer in Chief is about to “cut” a “budget deal:”

    Republicans have wanted to halt cuts to the Pentagon, while Democrats have sought to ease reductions to domestic programs.

    Talks had dragged, though, as the two sides had tried to figure out how to pay for the increased spending.

    Under the contours of the current talks, the deal probably would be paid for with a combination of budget cuts elsewhere, new fees and relying partly on an overseas contingency fund set aside for military operations.

    The deal would adjust spending caps for two years by a total of $80 billion — $50 billion the first year and $30 billion in the second — equally divided between defense and non-defense spending, according to a source familiar with the negotiations. Another

    Another $32 billion will come from the overseas contingency account. Republicans had suggested tapping that account before to boost military funding, but Democrats and even some Republicans argued it was an accounting gimmick because the emergency war fund was not intended to be used for such a purpose.

    The bulk of the costs would be paid for by clipping government programs and raising fees on others in ways that will cause political discomfort on both sides of the partisan line.


    And the TTPea Party rolls on, “behind closed doors…”

  17. habenicht

    From the opening of the Atlantic article on how stuff disappears from the web:

    “The web, as it appears at any one moment, is a phantasmagoria. It’s not a place in any reliable sense of the word. It is not a repository. It is not a library. It is a constantly changing patchwork of perpetual nowness.

    You can’t count on the web, okay? It’s unstable. You have to know this.

    Digital information itself has all kinds of advantages. It can be read by machines, sorted and analyzed in massive quantities, and disseminated instantaneously. “Except when it goes, it really goes,” said Jason Scott, an archivist and historian for the Internet Archive. “It’s gone gone. A piece of paper can burn and you can still kind of get something from it. With a hard drive or a URL, when it’s gone, there is just zero recourse.”

    ==> This article articulates a lot of angst I have with relying on the internet solely for electronic transactions, statements (and if the day comes where we have a cashless society, digital currency). I know I am a little overboard with my luddite ways sometimes and am extrapolating somewhat from the point of this article, but I see real risk in having all of one’s key financial data kept solely in a cloud somewhere without any kind of actual paper trail or other backups.

    1. Oregoncharles

      A story, from an old book about Wall St. called “Fleecing the Lambs” – bit of a forerunner to this site. It said that when computers were first being introduced, a brokerage (don’t remember the name) was convinced to put everything in electrons and scrap the paper.

      You can guess: the computer crashed, of course, and the brokerage went broke as a result. I wouldn’t have wanted to be one of their clients.

      Not the only alarming story in that book.

    2. different clue

      Unless the Internet Archive has changed since the last time I tried finding things on it, putting something on the Internet Archive is only one short step from Gone itself. Why would I say that? Because the Internet Archive does not have any list of the titles or names of blogs, sites, or anything else it stores. The only thing it lets you hunt by is URLs. And if you don’t remember the URL of a site you remember the name of, you will never know whether it exists in the Internet Archive.

      Perhaps the Internet Archive could hold a fund drive to raise the millions of dollars it would take to pay enough people to brute-force look up every single URL on the Internet Archive, one by one by one, and find out what each URL-site is NAMED. And make an index or listing of all those NAMES and make it possible to find an archived website or blog or whatever by its NAME.

  18. Steve H.

    Seamus Milne is for real:

    “This was a crisis made in America and deepened by the vast cost of its multiple wars. And its most devastating impact was on those economies whose elites had bought most enthusiastically into the neoliberal orthodoxy of deregulated financial markets and unfettered corporate power.

    A voracious model of capitalism forced down the throats of the world as the only way to run a modern economy, at a cost of ballooning inequality and environmental degradation, had been discredited – and only rescued from collapse by the greatest state intervention in history. The baleful twins of neoconservatism and neoliberalism had been tried and tested to destruction.”


  19. marym

    “About a third, or eight, alternative health insurers created under President Obama’s health care law to spur competition that might have made coverage less expensive for consumers are shutting down. The three largest are among that number. Only 14 of the so-called cooperatives are still standing, some precariously.

    At a time when the industry is experiencing a wave of consolidation, with giants like Anthem and Aetna planning to buy their smaller rivals, the vanishing co-ops will leave some consumers with fewer choices — and potentially higher prices.

    This month, all insurance companies that incurred unexpected losses selling plans through the new exchanges learned that they would get less than 13 cents of every dollar the federal government owes them for 2014. Many of the failed co-ops described that turn of events as their undoing. While most private insurers have enough reserves or access to funds to continue to operate, state regulators shut down some of the co-ops because of solvency concerns. Federal officials say the insurers will eventually receive more of what they were owed.”


    1. tongorad

      …and potentially higher prices.

      Potential is an actuality in my experience. My shitty school-district insurance has gone through the roof.

    2. Bubba Gump

      My Carefirst BlueChoice plan (which turned out to be a crappy HMO) has jumped a little over 25% from 2015 to 2016. Those kinds of increases were suprising but tolerable when I was a little younger (and pre-ACA) and the montly was in the $150 range for a catastrophic plan. But now that I need a more substantial plan we are in the $500 range and 25% is huge. It’s not affordable, especially since these plans don’t pay much of anything until the deductible is met. It’s just a very expensive discount plan for the first couple thousand bucks.

  20. optimader

    Biden explains 2016, through voice of his granddaughter: ‘You’re not going to leave me, are you, Pop?
    No appropriate, Biden never knew when to STFU

  21. prostratedragon

    Joe Romm at Thinkprogress reports on new studies that show negative effects on brain functioning from high CO2 levels, such as in most of our interiors. As indoor levels generally mark up from outdoors, this could be yet another aspect of fossil fuel burning and climate change to consider.

    Looks like the first of several articles.


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