2:00PM Water Cooler 10/29/2015

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


TPP: “One thing is clear: China’s interventionism and attachment to state capitalism are difficult to reconcile with the West’s “behind-the-border” liberalization program which includes harmonizing safety and technical standards, currencies, national treatment of foreign investors, and the protection of intellectual property. And having had no say in designing the TPP, China may be reluctant to join later” [Wolf Street].

TTIP: “‘We believe that it is important to try to finish these negotiations during President Obama’s presidency,’ Dan Mullaney, the U.S. chief negotiator, said during a press call marking the end of the 11th round of trade talks this week in Miami. ‘To do that, we’ll need to use our time with maximum efficiency'” [Politico].

TTIP: “Exclusive: U.S. trade czar says Britain would lose on trade outside the EU” [Reuters].

TPP: “Hikmahanto Juwana, an international law professor with the University of Indonesia (UI), said he was surprised by [President Jokowi expressed intention to join the TPP], which contradicted traditional views held by state officials” [Jakarta Post]. ‘I’d say that the President’s statement was just a form of politeness as a guest, because the Obama administration is rather persistent in pushing the TPP agenda. I don’t think it will be easy for Indonesia to join the deal, because we weren’t in the original negotiations,’ [Revrisond Baswir, economist at the University of Gadjah Mada] told the Post.” Hmm.

ISDS: “Joseph Stiglitz: Under TPP, Polluters Could Sue U.S. for Setting Carbon Emissions Limits” [Democracy Now].


Republican Debate (last night)

“[T]he number of flat-out lies in tonight’s debate was pretty stunning” [Kevin Drum, Mother Jones]. “Everyone seems to have internalized the fact that you can say anything you want at a televised debate, and only a tiny fraction of the audience will ever see a fact check. So why not claim the moon is square?” 

Cruz: “This is not a cage match. You look at the questions: ‘Donald Trump, are you a comic-book villain?’ ‘Ben Carson, can you do math?’ ‘John Kasich, will you insult two people over here?’ ‘Marco Rubio, why don’t you resign?’ ‘Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen?’” [WaPo].

Rubio: “Has the Marco Moment arrived?” [Karen Tumulty, WaPo]. Massive takedown of Jebbie (quoted), plus takedown of Trump (not quoted, interestingly).

Jebbie: “Jeb Bush sought to calm anxious donors with a comeback strategy focused on taking down rival Marco Rubio. But Bush’s plan backfired badly on national television in the third GOP presidential debate” [National Journal]. You can read the exchange at the link, but here’s the bottom line: “He almost completely disappeared for long stretches. In fact, Bush had the least speaking time of anyone in the debate, by some counts.” Yikes.

Jebbie: “The most significant story from last night is that Jeb Bush’s campaign now finds itself on life support, especially after Bush swung and missed when trying to hit Rubio over his Senate voting record” [NBC]. But all that money!

UPDATE “For the first hour of the debate, which was staged by CNBC, Trump largely disappeared. His rivals and the moderators demonstrated less interest in him than they had in the past, and a Trump without attention is like a petunia without water and light. It fades. It droops” [New York Times, “Ben Carson and Donald Trump Lack Electricity in a Charged Debate”]. “And while that presented a window of opportunity for Carson, he lacked the pep to get through a window or, for that matter, an extremely wide set of sliding doors. His eyelids sometimes went to half-mast as he swayed through an answer, making a sluggish voyage to an uncertain destination.” Ouch!

“Carson denies involvement with controversial supplement maker” [The Hill]. Not the kind of headline your PR guy wants to see…. 


“‘Too many Americans have seen their lives destroyed because they have criminal records as a result of marijuana use. That’s wrong. That has got to change,” [Sanders] said during a town hall at George Mason University in Virginia that was live streamed and shown at watch parties on more than 250 college campuses” [The Hill]. So far as I know, those watch parties are completely under the radar… 


“Matching Candidates With the Books They Sound Like” [New York Times]. (Truly, we live in a golden age of data visualization). Clinton: Persuasion (Jane Austen); Sanders: The Confessions of Saint Augustine and Around the World in Eighty Days; Trump: The Legend of King Arthur and Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales.


This is from yesterday, but important (and I butchered yesterday’s link): “Those lapses appear set to catch up with the foundation (now formally known as the Bill, Hillary, & Chelsea Clinton Foundation), which has until November 16 to amend more than ten years’ worth of state, federal and foreign filings. According to Charles Ortel, a financial whistleblower, it will be difficult if not impossible for the foundation to amend its financial returns without acknowledging accounting fraud and admitting that it generated substantial private gain for directors, insiders and Clinton cronies, all of which would be against the law under an IRS rule called inurement” [100r.org]. Hmm.

UPDATE “Per Sanders, the wealthy have built and maintained a self-serving system of income inequality at the cost of the 99 percent. As he has put it: ‘This is a rigged economy — heads they win, tails you lose'” [Rich Lowry, Politico]. And: “The Sanders view has all the hallmarks of a good conspiracy theory.” Normally, I can take Politico for what it is — the Daily Shopper for the political class — but this is too much. See the work of Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page on oligarchy here, here, and here:

This is what the data shows: when the economic élites support a given policy change, it has about a one-in-two chance of being enacted. (The exact estimated probability is forty-five per cent.) When the élites oppose a given measure, its chances of becoming law are less than one in five. (The exact estimate is eighteen per cent.) The fact that both figures are both below fifty per cent reflects a status-quo bias: in the divided American system of government, getting anything at all passed is tricky.

Speaking against Gilens and Page is the obvious fact that better shills than Lowry have not been found; you’d have expected the free market™ to have provided them, given the obvious demand for their services.

The Trail

Third Way: “Moderate Democrats Confident Clinton Would Govern From the Middle” [National Journal]. What middle?’

“Hillary Clinton has extended her already sizable superdelegate lead by several dozen since August, and is deploying former President Bill Clinton to bring more of the powerful endorsers on board” [Bloomberg].

Will there be a draft Romney movement? [The Hill].

The Hill

Ryan calls for a return to “the regular order” [The Hill]. Ryan: “The committees should retake the lead in drafting all major legislation. Open up the process. Let people participate. And they might change their tune. A neglected minority will gum up the works. A respected minority will work in good faith. Instead of trying to stop the majority, they might try to become the majority.” Fine words butter no parsnips…. 

Stats Watch

GDP, Q4 2015: “Steady domestic spending helped to prop up GDP growth in the third-quarter which came in at an annualized 1.5 percent, just shy of 

Jobless Claims, week of October 24, 2015: “Initial claims rose only 1,000 in the October 24 week to a lower-than-expected 260,000 which is just off a 42-year low” [Econoday]. “There are no special factors in the report, one that continues to point to very low levels of unemployment” (modulo the disemployed). And: “Claim levels are at 40 year lows (with the normal range around 350,000 weekly initial unemployment claims of levels seen historically during times of economic expansion” [Econintersect].

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of October 25, 2015: “Consumer spirits appear to ebbing a bit with the consumer comfort index down for a second week” [Econoday].

Pending Home Sales Index, September 2015: “The outlook for the housing sector has turned lower this week, first on Monday’s very weak new home sales report followed by today’s September index on pending sales of existing homes which is down a very sharp 2.3 percent” [Econoday]. “Uncertainty in the financial markets is also cited, perhaps making buyers take a wait-and-see approach.”

“PotashCorp warned over a “weaker fertilizer environment” as it cut its forecast for earnings and potash sales, and unveiled production cutbacks which will lower volumes by nearly 500,000 tonnes in the current quarter” [Agrimoney].

“Kering, the French conglomerate that owns Gucci, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga and Bottega Veneta, reported third-quarter revenue growth that beat analysts’ estimates” [The Fashion Law]. “Three and a half years after Hedi Slimane took the helm at Saint Laurent, sales are still booming. The house posted a sales increase of 37 percent on a reported basis and 27 percent on a comparable basis.”

“Weather Underground Bought by IBM” [Jeff Masters, Weather Underground]. “There are no changes that have been announced for how Weather Underground will operate, and Bob Henson and I plan to ride the rapids to see where they lead. IBM brings some pretty remarkable technology resources to the table, so I expect that WU’s creative development team will be able to take advantage of that and crank out some ground-breaking weather software.” 

Jargon watch: “In simple terms, maker-taker is another wealth extraction tool used by Wall Street firms to pick the public’s pocket in the name of stock market liquidity” [Wall Street on Parade]. Maker-taker: “Brokers servicing retail clients and institutions (like those managing your pension money) are incentivized to send their customers’ stock limit orders to trading venues that will pay them a rebate (on the premise that they are “making” liquidity) while traders who trade on those limit orders are charged a fee (on the premise they are “taking” liquidity). Thus the maker-taker model.” So that’s not a kickback, then?

The Fed: “…. then you’ll be a Fed Governor, my son? Not sure I can take Kipling to the FOMC but there are so many ‘If’s’ im fed policy I’m stuck with the image. The FOMC left the door ajar [Across the Curve]. “If you can keep your head when all about you / Are losing theirs and blaming it on you….” [Kipling].

Honey for the Bears: “U.S. demand for corrugated packaging is no better than modest as manufacturers place minimal orders and inventories of the material post double-digit gains over a year ago, industry executives said” [Market News]. Amazon may not need bricks and mortar for the holiday season, but it will need packaging… 

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 71 (+5); Greed [CNN]. Last week: 55 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed)

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Second student arrested in Spring Valley, this time for filming assault by cop on student [WLTX].

“I Hope My Son Gets Arrested at School Today” [Patheos]. Patheos is a religious site, so this post has that, but the post also puts the Spring Valley incident in much needed greater context.

“Stop Pretending the ‘Ferguson Effect’ is Real” [Medium]. “The fact that a theory lacking evidentiary support could be so hastily endorsed by some of the nation’s foremost institutions speaks to the enduring power of the belief that aggressive policing is the only way to keep black communities safe. This notion, applied exclusively to black communities, is exactly what needs to change.”


Evidence for human evolution in the present day from an island in the Saint Lawrence [Nautilus].

“[S]ugar is like alcohol. It’s got calories, but it’s not nutrition. There’s no biochemical reaction that requires it. And at high doses, alcohol can fry your liver” [Raw Story]. The study: “Isocaloric fructose restriction and metabolic improvement in children with obesity and metabolic syndrome.”

Class Warfare

“The Enlightenment bull market and its decolonial future” [Clio@King’s: The History Department Blog]. “The involvement of John Locke in the Royal African Company, and as a key member of the Board of Trade and Plantations, or the investments held by philosophes in the Compagnie des Indes, are widely known by scholars but not by the public. It is almost never used to make sense of how Locke or Voltaire thought of rights and freedom.  But the constitution of forms of rights which have as their premise categories of rights-bearers who, as Charles Mills has noted, are limited to people of a particular race and gender has some interpretative importance.”

“400 years ago, when her son was at the very height of his scientific career, Katharina Kepler was accused of witchcraft” [The Conversation]. “The Imperial mathematician formally took over his mother’s legal defence. No other public intellectual figure would have ever involved themselves in a similar role, but Kepler put his whole existence on hold, stored up his books, papers and instruments in boxes, moved his family to southern Germany and spent nearly a year trying to get his mother out of prison.” (NC on the history of witch hunts.)

“Farewell to America’s Middle Class: Unions Are Basically Dead” [The Atlantic]. “[T]he International Monetary Fund (!), for instance, recommended reviving unions as a way for democracies to grow their economies and boost productivity.”

“Teamster Officials Announce Support of Port Drivers Amid More Strikes” [Long Beach Post]. “[T]he partnership that was announced Tuesday between the Teamsters and the advocacy group Warehouse Workers Resource Center could bring significant changes to employment dynamics in the staffing agency-reliant warehouse distribution industry” [Longshore & Shipping News].

News of the Wired

“Uber’s surge pricing doesn’t necessarily increase the availability of rides. It just makes them more expensive” [Pro Publica]. And now that we understand the algorithm, we can game it!

“Aussies slur their words and use only two-thirds of their mouth to speak because early settlers spent most of their days DRUNK, academic says” [Daily Mail].

“Google’s Court Victory Is Good for Scholarly Authors. Here’s Why” [Chronicle of Higher Education]. “Google Book Search does precisely what the overwhelming majority of authors of books in research-library collections would want for their books: It rescues them from the obscurity of print collections and makes them more findable online.”

Great moments in infographics [@mims]:

More great moments in infographics [@mc_hankins]:

* * *

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 (Isabel, who’s been so helpful to NC on Portugal, once again):


A gorgeous chestnut tree!

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. Winter is almost here, I need to buy fuel, and I need to keep my server up, too. And thanks so much for the donations during the annual fundraiser. They are much appreciated, both practically, and as signs that you enjoy the work.


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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. grayslady

      I was going to mention that, too. According to the CBC, Canty made a compelling case for himself to the immigration board.

    1. fresno dan

      Trouble in paradise….
      Interesting – apparently the establishment GOP thinks Carson is problematic enough to direct fire at.

      1. RabidGandhi

        At 2 children per couple they are still below population replacement. Sounds a bit premature to start ringing population ponzi alarms.

        1. Vatch

          Despite their one child policy, their population has been growing for the entire period of that policy. Why? Demographic momentum. From Wikipedia:

          Even in the face of extreme measures aimed at lowering reproductive rates, the population will continue to grow due to a large proportion of its population entering its reproductive years.

          For example, when China first introduced its one-child policy, population growth continued regardless. Even though the number of children born reduced dramatically, the sheer number of maturing youth was significant. In 1979 when the one-child policy entered into force, the number of people becoming adults was based on the number of births around the 1950s, not 1979. As a result, the Chinese population maintained the same momentum of increase as for the past 20 years. It is only now that the Chinese population has reached a somewhat stabilized population growth.

          Abandoning the one child policy will increase their rate of growth, which would otherwise be zero within a few years. The increase won’t be permanent, but a desperately overpopulated country like China can’t afford to relax on this issue.

          1. Jim Haygood

            Apparently it’s not total population, but the trend in working age population that motivated the policy change. Charts in this article show that China’s working age pop is peaking now at just over a trillion, before locking onto Japan’s pattern of long-term decline:


            By contrast, US working-age pop is projected to carry on growing. But that’s based on some immigration projections that are much more uncertain than internal demographics.

              1. Jim Haygood

                Sorry … I’m lost in the world of federal budget accounting, where anything without a T-handle is a rounding error.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              If your senior health or pension program is funded by current workers, then, for you, more people, and more workers the better.

              Of course, corporations keenly interested in market shares and market sizes, also welcome more people, that is, more customers.

              Those of us brainwashed, sorry, educated to link the security of our jobs to GDP growth, also root for population growth, because when the population declines, it’s hard for the economy to grow.

          2. RabidGandhi

            The chart on the linked Bloomberg article gives them a birth rate of 1.4. As i understand it, the 1 child policy is only in force in cities (with the rural population being rapidly urbanised). It dropped below the 2.1 replacement rate in the late 80s.

            This would seem to mean their population growth is not due to holes in the 1 child policy, but rather improvements in lifespan (or immigration? doubt it). Maybe instead of letting couples have 2 children each, we could decrease their rate of growth by allowing mass privatisations and making healthcare more expensive (a la Russia in the 90s)– a win-win! /sarc

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              The population replacement birth rate depends on many factor.

              If no one dies, then just one birth would lead to above replacement birth rate. That is the extreme and not a possible situation, of course. But it shows the impact of increasing longevity.

              As you mentioned, people are living longer in China, like elsewhere.

              People who are in the 70s, 80s and 90s were born in 1920s, 1930s and early 1940s, when there were wars among the warlords and war with the Japanese. And the great famine of 1942 around Henan province.

              People who were born from 1979 onward are in or entering their child-bearing period. Because of the 1 child policy, there are approximately 1/2 as many as there could have been had there been a 2 child policy. This group (born after 1979) are more numerous than their parents’ group (those giving birth from the 1950’s onward – due to the wars in the 1920s and 1930s).

              1. RabidGandhi

                Ah so the “pivot to Asia” is actually a Malthusian plan to start a major war to help the Chinese control their population.

                Add a Monsanto/Exxon-instigated famine, maybe a nuke or two…

                That O’bama, always playing the 11th dimensional chess!

          3. Tertium Squid

            I don’t think the population will go up. Changing policy won’t change culture.

            The article pointed out that 90% of people who were (before today) eligible for a second child weren’t interested in the opportunity.

            1. Vatch

              I hope you’re right. There are probably between 200 million and 250 million Chinese women of childbearing age, so even if only 10% of them want a second child, it could be significant.

              The biggest population hotspots are in Africa and South Asia. That’s where we can expect the biggest stresses from increasing numbers.

            2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Those who were eligible before today – I assume they were not city dwellers (1 child policy was for those in cities).

              With more and more urban Chinese (those not previously eligible), they will determine how impact this change will have.

              And those 90% of the previously eligible, will they change their minds if their first kid is a girl, if they see old age problems with their parents under the present Chinese senior pension/health care for seniors, or if having 2 kids becomes patriotic?

    1. Ron

      The 1-child policy was not national in scope and had a variety of loopholes depending on your social status and location. I know many China families with two and three children.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        If you had a child with each of your 3 ex-wives, does it mean you have 1.5 kids under your account and you’re 0.5 over?

        What happens to your 4th and current wife, who wants to have her first biological kid?

        You’re over your limit (before today’s new policy).

  1. Brindle

    Hillary’s Mid-East foreign policy to be more violent than Obama’s? The liberal /Dem think tank Center For American Progress invites Netanyahu to speak.

     —-Clinton continues, in the 2016 race, to stake out at least moderately hawkish positions on the Middle East, either from a political calculation (to distinguish herself from Obama’s overstated reluctance to conflict), a campaign one (Haim Saban, the hawkish Israeli-American businessman is a longtime Clinton and Democratic donor, though notably cool on Obama), or an ideological one (she’s just a hawk). It makes a lot more sense for Clinton’s think tank to invite Netanyahu than it would for Obama’s.—-


    1. Jim Haygood

      If Hillary were to be elected (a likelihood that I estimate at about 8 percent), millions of disaffected Republicans would sport bumper stickers reading, “Netanyahu is my president.”

      Which he will be, for all practical purposes, if the R party wins.

        1. petal

          This morning I found myself behind a minivan w/VT tags on it. The minivan had 3 separate Hillary for President stickers(all from this campaign). Not my preferred way to start the day. All while sitting at the light I kept thinking of all of the issues I could confront this person with.

      1. fresno dan

        Well, he (Netanyahu) is the Senate majority leader….actually, he’s also the Senate minority leader.
        I don’t think he tried, but I imagine he could be the House of Representatives majority and minority leaders as well….

  2. Steven D.

    Rich Lowry used to be with National Review. Politico hires him as an analyst. Looks like Politico is trying to normalize right wing extremism. He speaks Oligarch.

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      Are you sure he is at Politico now and not just contributing from National Review? That would be a major statement from Politico, and not a good one.

      1. optimader

        I’m sure I’m not the only male in America who, when Palin dropped her first wink, sat up a little straighter on the couch and said, “Hey, I think she just winked at me.” And her smile. By the end, when she clearly knew she was doing well, it was so sparkling it was almost mesmerizing. It sent little starbursts through the screen and ricocheting around the living rooms of America. This is a quality that can’t be learned; it’s either something you have or you don’t, and man, she’s got it.
        ~Rich Lowry
        Ooh, um, yeah.

        1. Massinissa

          So according to Lowry, a female politician is gradable primarily on whether or not she gives him a boner. Good to know.

      2. Massinissa

        Youre right, he only contributes to Politico. Hes just an opinion columnist for it.

        Hes still the chief editor of National Review.

    2. Massinissa

      He still IS with the national review. He is their chief editor.

      He is only an opinion columnist for Politico.

  3. Left in Wisconsin

    Re: Lowry on Sanders in Politico. What is interesting is that Politico is giving space to editor of rightwing National Review to trash Sanders. Outsourcing. Don’t they know it’s always cheaper to do things in-house?

  4. rjs

    it looks like you dropped some of your GDP coverage, Lambert…be aware that many, including WSJ economics and Reuters, are suggesting inventories were down…they weren’t; they grew at half the pace they did in the 2nd quarter…so they added to nominal GDP, but subtracted from the GDP growth rate, which measures the change in the change of inventories…

  5. Left in Wisconsin

    Jobless Claims, week of October 24, 2015: “Initial claims rose only 1,000 in the October 24 week to a lower-than-expected 260,000 which is just off a 42-year low” [Econoday]. “There are no special factors in the report, one that continues to point to very low levels of unemployment” (modulo the disemployed). And: “Claim levels are at 40 year lows (with the normal range around 350,000 weekly initial unemployment claims of levels seen historically during times of economic expansion” [Econintersect].

    Anybody know of data re: impact of making it harder to file for UI? My guess is that this data set, like the overall UE rate, is not historically consistent because of increasing difficulty of claiming UI benefits. I think this is one of the hidden sides of the drug-testing of UI recipients. Make applying so degrading that people who are eligible choose not to.

    1. willf

      Not to mention that jobless claims tell only part of the story. Another facet that gets overlooked is the labor participation rate.

      This article in US news gives some unconvincing reasons to explain the situation
      , but at least it is right when it reports on the current LFPR:

      The country’s labor force participation rate – which measures the share of Americans at least 16 years old who are either employed or actively looking for work – dipped last month to a 38-year low, clocking in at an underwhelming 62.6 percent.

    1. Ron

      Rubio next man up for the GOP establishment, watch his poll numbers if he doesn’t move up in the next few weeks it will piss in your pants time for the GOP.

  6. ChuckO

    Selective police violence against African Americans is, to use a cliché, a feature not a bug. The primary function of the police is to maintain the power relationships in society. African Americans have long constituted an underclass, and it is the job of the police to maintain them in that position, particularly in majority white communities. Insofar as the police serve a positive function in a community, it should be looked upon as public relations.

    1. LifelongLib

      It’s a political choice whether police are used to keep people safe, or to keep people in line.

      Paradoxically, over-policing can lead to under-policing. If citizens are afraid to call the police because of what might happen when the police show up, the police won’t be called in situations where they should be…

  7. craazyboy

    “For the first hour of the debate, which was staged by CNBC, Trump largely disappeared. His rivals and the moderators demonstrated less interest in him than they had in the past, and a Trump without attention is like a petunia without water and light. It fades. It droops” [New York Times,

    hahaha. NYT??? Oh, sure.

    Alt explanation:”Never interrupt your enemies when they are in the process of destroying themselves!”

  8. craazyman

    What if you’re in Florida hunting from your car when your dog shoots you?

    Is that 3 checks or just 1?

    The chart isn’t as clear as it could be.

      1. subgenius

        Well, first there is the question of legitimacy under ‘stand your ground’ rules – Florida, and all…

    1. Strangely Enough

      Dec. 2011: hunting, in car, in Florida. Check. Check. Check.

      Now, if they were towing a boat…

    2. weevish

      If it’s 3, that’s like, exponentially larger, right?

      If you wanted to plot incidence of the misuse of the term “exponential” in media over the past few years, you’d probably need something faster growing than exp(t).

  9. craazyman

    Has anybody made any money on Isabel’s Portugal reporting, or is this just a case of news for news sake?

    Is that a Portugese tree? It could almost be a tree in the U.S. It’s an amazing likeness to trees I’ve seen here. Evidently there are animals in Europe that aren’t in the U.S. That’s a bit weird. If that’s the way the universe works, it wouldn’t be surprising if people on other planets don’t look like we do. How many “people” are there in the Andromeda Galaxy. There have to be an almost unbelievable number of “people” there. It would be like if somebody said, “Sure. I know there’s a land called Europe, but it’s not likely they have trees there.” haha

    1. optimader

      Evidently there are animals in Europe that aren’t in the U.S.
      Schrödinger’s Kat begs to differ.

    1. hunkerdown

      The opinions expressed in political communications are fictional and not intended to be taken as declarations of intent to act. Sounds like a trial balloon to me — perhaps the fix is in, or perhaps Markos just wants to see how much truck he still has in throwing elections.

      1. jo6pac

        see how much truck

        I agree and will whom ever brings in the large $$$$ in recycle bags, it is bezurkie after all. I’m the left but not a fan of the region.

    2. cwaltz

      I suspect he’s playing nice because he’s hoping we’ll all hold hands and sing kumbaya when the primaries are over.

      I think roughly half the site left in the midst of the 2008 primaries when the mudslinging got horrendous. It was all going to be worth it though because the “creative class” was so much smarter than the working class hillbillies and we all just didn’t understand how transformational Obama was going to be.

      Instead of how many licks does it take to get to the middle of a tootsie pop the Democratic party leadership should ask itself exactly how many times does it think it can coronate a candidate who proceeds to screw over the majority of the electorate before bunches of people fling their hands in the air and say there HAS to be a better way to get some sort of representation. There’s a reason the majority of people now identify as independent and it’s only a matter of time before one side of the aisle figures their way around the bought out party that represents them and blows their existence up.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Here’s a reprise of my sig at Kos in 2008 before they banned me:

        [Obama Fan Base] PROPHYLACTIC Yes, I am paid by the Hillary campaign. Yes, I hope to get a job in Hillary’s administration. Yes, I am a shill. Yes, I am a hack. Yes, I am a liar. Yes, I am a racist. Yes, I am a purist. Yes, I am a troll. Yes, I am ignorant. Yes, I hate Obama. Yes, I ignore all facts that don’t square with my [lying|racist|purist|shilling|hackish|trollish] preconceptions of Obama. Yes, my reading comprehension is poor. Yes, I have a hidden agenda: I hope that the Democrats lose, and to that end I support [not Obama]. Yes, I could be older than you. Yes, I think all young people are stupid. Did I mention I’m a shill and a hack? Good. Anything else?

        I figured I’d get all the talking points in one place. The amazing thing is that most of it was one-liners: “You’re a ____,” and away. None of it was original at all. Of course, 2008 was a long time ago….

        1. cwaltz

          AdamB(frontpager) and I went around a few times. I didn’t get it as badly as some(I probably still have an account since I was technically never banned) but I was disgusted that it was insinuated that if you were female and supported Clinton that it had to be because you shared the same anatomical parts as her. It couldn’t possibly be because you believed she was the better candidate with the better platform.

          I finally left though when kos was at least honest enough to admit that he was not going to allow any strategy to fix the Democratic party other than the primary method(which we all saw with Ned Lamont was really not effective because the party apparatus is perfectly willing to use third parties to do an end run around activists.)

          I then proceeded to leave the Democratic party when it was clear they were anything but. They did any and everything they could to drag Obama across the line including handing him not only delegates he didn’t earn in a place he didn’t campaign but taking delegates from someone who actually DID campaign and earn them. In order to avoid a floor fight Nancy Pelosi and her cabal forced Clinton delegates to submit and swear their fealty. 2008 was a real eye opener for me. I guess everyone has their line and what occurred in 2008 was mine.

          Can’t say I’m sad that it ended that way. It’s incredibly freeing to not find myself defending the indefensible and worrying about the prospects of people who consistently “keep their powder dry” when it comes to protecting the interests of ordinary citizens.

          1. JTMcPhee

            2008 – 1968 = 0.

            Are those rooms where the real “voting” is done now filled with vape fumes instead of Marlboro and Cohiba smoke?

            “We,” or so many of us, seem to be so touchingly faithful to the Dream of Democracy. So the Obama strategist could say of people who read the platforms and positions of the Obamanites and dared to point out that the man’s hat was holey yet still full of sh-t, could say that the 47 or 51% would have to just be satisfied with Hope’n’Change ™ because like health care and financial “reform” and Imperial wars, etc. that was all they were gonna get…

            TINA is a persistent bitch: once you get blind, staggering drunk on hope, or resignation, and get the hots for her at closing time and give her your number or take her home and get in bed with her, there’s no getting rid of her or the social diseases she infects you with…

  10. rich

    Philidor Said to Modify Prescriptions to Boost Valeant Sales

    Document shows instructions for changes upon insurer rejection
    Pharmacy says it asked doctors, patients to confirm preference

    A specialty pharmacy that fills prescriptions for Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. has altered doctors’ orders to wring more reimbursements out of insurers, according to former employees and an internal document.

    Workers at the mail-order pharmacy, Philidor RX Services LLC, were given written instructions to change codes on prescriptions in some cases so it would appear that physicians required or patients desired Valeant’s brand-name drugs — not less expensive generic versions — be dispensed, the former employees said. Typically, pharmacists will sell a generic version if not precisely told to do otherwise by a “dispense as written” indication on a script. The more “dispense as written” orders, the more sales for the brand-name drugmaker.

    An undated Philidor document obtained by Bloomberg provides a step-by-step guide on how to proceed when a prescription for Valeant dermatological creams and gels including Retin-A Micro and Vanos is rejected. Similar instructions for changing the DAW indication are supplied for patients who are paying in cash.

    Ex-employees who worked at Philidor in the last two years, and who asked that their names not be used discussing their former employer, confirmed that prescriptions were altered as the document details. They said the intent was to fill more prescriptions with Valeant products instead of generics.


    nail meet cross?

  11. DJG

    Unlike craazyman, I suspect that Portugal truly does exist, and three days of beautiful photos seems a bit unfair as the Midwest squelches into winter. So can there be an NC (deductible) confab about the future of the Partido Comunista Português if we all show up with a case of red Dão or two and plenty of bacalhau to cook?

  12. Biologist

    That sugar study by Robert Lustig et al. had only 43 participating children, no control group, and the pre-study caloric intake of those kids was self-reported. By those kids. So go figure how reliable the study is. But of course that doesn’t stop journalists from making a nice headline.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Here’s the methodologyin English:

      Participants were identified through the Weight Assessment for Teen and Child Health Clinic (WATCH) at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco, an interdisciplinary obesity clinic dedicated to targeting metabolic dysfunction rather than weight loss. Recruitment was limited to Latino and African-American youth because of their higher risk for certain conditions associated with metabolic syndrome, such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

      In the study, 43 children between the ages of 9 and 18 who were obese and had at least one other chronic metabolic disorder, such as hypertension, high triglyceride levels or a marker of fatty liver, were given nine days of food, including all snacks and beverages, that restricted sugar but substituted starch to maintain the same fat, protein, carbohydrate, and calorie levels as their previously reported home diets. Baseline fasting blood levels, blood pressure, and glucose tolerance were assessed before the new menu plan was adopted. The study menu restricted added sugar (while allowing fruit), but substituted it by adding other carbohydrates such as bagels, cereal and pasta so that the children still consumed the same number of calories from carbohydrate as before, but total dietary sugar was reduced from 28 to 10 percent, and fructose from 12 to 4 percent of total calories, respectively. The food choices were designed to be “kid food” — turkey hot dogs, potato chips, and pizza all purchased at local supermarkets, instead of high sugar cereals, pastries, and sweetened yogurt.

      Children were given a scale and told to weigh themselves everyday, with the goal of weight stability, not weight loss. When weight loss did occur (a decrease of an average of 1 percent over the 10-day period but without change in body fat), they were given more of the low-sugar foods.

      “When we took the sugar out, the kids started responding to their satiety cues,” said Schwarz. “They told us it felt like so much more food, even though they were consuming the same number of calories as before, just with significantly less sugar. Some said we were overwhelming them with food.”

      And about the author. It’s true the study is not a randomized trial with a control group; I believe (readers will correct me) that it’s a “case control study.”

      For nutrionists, the key point seems to be that “a calorie is not a calorie” (fructose vs. carbohydrates).

      1. subgenius

        Well, given that calories give a measure of the heat produced by burning the food under investigation, and that there is a lack of fire in a GI tract….

          1. craazyboy

            I think it’s “sugar crash”‘. Sugar gets metabolized in under an hour, then your blood sugar goes down and you either want to eat or sleep. High quality carbs take longer to digest and metabolize. Weightlifters eat oatmeal a half hour before workouts because the carb energy is long lasting. But not all carbs are created equal. Processed flour, white rice and potatoes are not much better than sugar.

            1. low_integer

              As far as I know, the nutritional value of potatoes is highly dependent on how they are prepared. They are not an inherently unhealthy food by any means.

        1. Lee

          Other nutritional concerns aside, some calories take more calories to digest, do they not? Someone once told me, perhaps jokingly, that you could quickly starve on a celery diet because it provides fewer calories than are burned by chewing and digesting it.

          Science Based Medicine has a good article on fructose and other sweeteners. The whole thing is worth reading but here’s an excerpt.

          “Still, none of this alters the fact that a diet high in fructose has been shown to cause — or at least contribute to — hyperlipidemia, obesity, insulin resistance and cardiac disease. However, those who have been paying attention will have noticed that HFCS is not the ONLY sweetener that contains significant amounts of fructose.

          In fact, sucrose — even “natural” cane sugar — is 50% fructose once it is digested and absorbed. While this is 20% less than the fructose content of HFCS 55, food manufacturers need to use less (about 20% less) HFCS 55 to get the same sweetness, so it’s a wash as far as fructose content.

          Honey, long touted as a “healthy” and “natural” alternative to evil HFCS, is also 50% fructose. Agave syrup (also called agave nectar), often promoted as a healthy alternative to HFCS (especially in diabetics), is very high in fructose, although there is some disagreement over how much fructose it contains. According to the USDA, the sugar in cooked agave is 87% fructose (due to breakdown of fructans — a starch-like polymer of fructose — in the plant when it is cooked) [6]. A wholesale supplier of agave syrup, however, lists the fructose as 70 — 75% of the total sugar in their syrup [13]. Either way, agave syrup is higher in fructose than any other natural sweetener (and any form of HFCS except HFCS 90). “

      2. Jeff W

        “a calorie is not a calorie”

        Robert Lustig’s “viral” video “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” from 2009 is here. It’s an hour and a half long and fairly technical but I think it’s pretty fascinating.

        From what I vaguely recall (having watched the video about the time it came out), the “calorie is not a calorie” discussion refers to these ideas:

        A calorie from fat or one from carbohydrates (specifically, sugar) or one from protein will not make you equally fat because they are metabolized differently in terms of fat creation.

        Exercise works in reducing fat but not because of the (small) amount of calories it burns—you have to walk for over an hour to burn the calories (260 calories) in just one glazed doughnut—but because it halts the de novo lipogenesis (new fat creation) process. (It breaks down the biochemical substrate that forms the basis for fat, something like that.)

        It’s all discussed (pretty convincingly, I think) in a lot more detail in the video.

      3. Biologist

        It would’ve been a “case control study” if half of the kids had been switched to low fructose diet, and the other half given the original diet. In this case however there was no such control group.

        It’s a nice idea, but really, this is a poorly designed study, providing no evidence whatsoever to support that idea. The decrease in weight can plausibly be explained by the fact that prior to the study, the kids were eating more calories than they self-reported. Which doesn’t seem unlikely, given that they’re obese kids who’ve probably been told how bad it is that they eat so much. (“How many cookies do you normally eat daily?” -“Three… I mean, two!”).

        It is true that sugar has physiological effects beyond its caloric value, for example activating the insulin pathway which brings high blood sugar levels down by stimulating the uptake of sugar form the blood into fat cells (among others). But for that it doesn’t matter where the sugar comes from, i.e. it could also come from digested potatoes or bread, although in that case it takes longer for the sugar peak to build up. Chronically high blood sugar levels can lead to diabetes (the insulin response becomes less effective), but again that can also be caused by non-sugar carbs such as those in oats or pasta.

        But this particular study is crap, and contributes nothing to support or refute any claims about sugar. It does however contribute to nice headlines, and to getting the lead author’s book on the NYT bestseller’s list.

  13. JTMcPhee

    Re Trade Traitoring, Lambert, you probably seen this already: http://www.ers.usda.gov/amber-waves/2003-november/food-safety-and-trade-regulations,-risks,-and-reconciliation.aspx#.VjKbNM8pAXB. Maybe frequent reminders the the ISDS Troika are not the only, and maybe not the worst, little shards of glass being fed to us by our Trade Rulers? Unlike the kitchens in those idiot Chef Wars TV shows, or even Carrabba’s the food prep is all being done by Corporate Non-tritionists, behind very closed doors… And the rest of us, having been stupiified by the toxins in the appetizers, seem mostly to be indifferent to the substance in the Legitimized By Obamanauts plating up the Mystery Meat in the Trade Sausage main course… Can’t hardly wait for dessert…

    1. Lee

      Another reason to hate Putin gratuitously inserted into that piece of bureaucratic double-speak that should be read by all. How dare those Russians have zero tolerance for Salmonella? Bunch of wimps!

      “Some disagreements will take considerable time and continued efforts to overcome. One example concerns poultry exports from the United States to Russia. Russia periodically has raised concerns that U.S. poultry exports do not meet Russia’s stringent zero-tolerance for Salmonella. Russia also claims that some antibiotics are used which are not approved for use in Russia. In 2002, Russia briefly banned imports of U.S. poultry, disrupting U.S. poultry exports to Russia for several months and reducing prices for some U.S. poultry products.”

      1. JTMcPhee

        The Rooskie health apparatus is apparently concerned about other stuff, like general population exposure to gigahertz radio frequency (WiFi, cell and cordless phone emissions, cell towers etc.) Their standars for exposure are a fraction of what our Captured Regulators say is just fine. Not that the concern, apparently with some science behind it, translates to less ” consumption ” by the Kulaks, if the anecdotal evidence derivable from all the “We Love Russia” videos on YouTube is any proof…

        During the hotter Cold War, the Rooskie spy apparat beamed high frequency microwave energy through the US Imperial ambassadorial offices (in addition to filling the place with every description of bug)– as I recall, several ambassadors and staff developed unexpected cancers… Who would thought? Of course the Spy-Vs-Spy books are full of that multiparty proof of what a rotten debased species we humans are. All around.

  14. Irene Rogers

    Re market makers. For sure if you have entered a limit order you are providing liquidity. You are offering someone else the ability to transact at a given price, thereby enabling them to get in or get out of the security. The real issue here is that many retail brokers sell their customers’ order flow to market makers. If this happens you are more likely to end up paying the full ask price or selling at the bid; the market maker will likely eat up the whole spread between the bid price and the ask. So you should ask your broker if they sell order flow, and be leery of brokers who do. And you should keep records to see how often you end up with good executions or poor ones. A broker doesn’t owe you a better price than the limit you put out there but if you rarely do better that’s good reason to shop around and ask about “price improvement.”

    If you are a retail trader/ investor and you don’t need hand holding, you can get around the worst of this by using Interactive Brokers or Lightspeed Trading. IB seems to have a good price improvement record. Lightspeed seems to do almost as well, and they are the only broker I know of, which gives a liquidity rebate back to the customer when the customer adds liquidity.

    These brokers are not for everyone –cheap commissions, bare bones service, good execution, oriented to experienced individuals and small institutions– they are written up in Barron’s annual review of online brokers.

    I don’t get any compensation for mentioning either of these outfits.

  15. barrisj

    Oi, Lambert. me lad…want to make a wager on who exactly wins Repub nomination for Prez next year? I’ll double my contribution to NC if this POS Boosh doesn’t get the brass ring…you game, mate?

  16. low_integer

    “Aussies slur their words and use only two-thirds of their mouth to speak because early settlers spent most of their days DRUNK, academic says”

    Ha! Can’t say I disagree with this, I have heard some serious butchering of the English language in my time. Although I’ve lived here my whole life, I have been told more than a few times by foreign visitors that I don’t talk like an Australian. I never knew quite how to take this observation, though I now see it was probably a compliment!

    1. low_integer

      Expanding on the above, I expect that speech patterns are correlated with educational background, along with the amount of exposure one has had to different social settings with their accompanying accepted norms. I know and am friends with quite a few Aussies who I consider as speaking good English, and quite a few at that are closer to the other end of the spectrum, and in general the correlation mentioned above holds true. As far as I can see though, ‘quality’ of speech is not an indicator of ‘quality’ of person.

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