2:00PM Water Cooler 10/5/2015

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


I’ll have a TPP post — the bastards passed it — later today. For now:


The Voters

“Since March, the share of all registered voters who say it is more important for a presidential candidate to have “new ideas and a different approach” has surged – with virtually all of the increase coming among Republican and Republican-leaning voters. Today, by more than two-to-one (65% to 29%), Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters say it is more important that a candidate have new ideas than “experience and a proven record.” Just five months ago, GOP voters valued experience and a proven record over new ideas, 57% to 36%” [Pew].

The Trail

“Video: SNL Turns Into A Hillary Clinton Campaign Advertisement” [The Gothamist]. Clinton said to have stolen the show from Miley Cyrus….

“Gov. John Hickenlooper on Thursday became the latest Hillary Clinton supporter to express doubt about her candidacy for president, telling a Denver audience that the 2016 election is “kind of grim, to be blunt'” [Denver Post].

“A Joe Biden presidential campaign would help Bernie Sanders by hurting Hillary Clinton, according to Democratic Party insiders and other experts” [The Hill]. Those insiders who have done so well for the party over the years.

“Sanders’s camp has to hope that its surprisingly robust fund-raising can be converted into greater name recognition nationwide” [New York Magazine]. Boston is a college town, so one would expect his Boston speech to skew young. But I didn’t like the description of the crowd much… 

Carson  on brain surgery: “I finally found a little spot, and I could open up a very tiny hole under the microscope into the brain stem” [Time]. 

“When asked about Thursday’s shooting at an Oregon community college, [Bush] argued for caution against more gun control as an instant reaction, saying that “stuff happens, there’s always a crisis” you have to respond to when in leadership” [NPR].

” Unlike most other 2016 Republican hopefuls, [Kasich is] not calling for photo ID at the polls” [National Journal]. Sane!

The Hill

Chaffetz announces bid for speaker [The Hill]. “Chaffetz said as Speaker he would also restore regular order and engage in ‘meaningful’ process reform to maximize member input and participation.” Hmm. I wonder how restoring the regular order will jibe with an apppropriations process the avoids a shutdown.

Stats Watch

Labor Market Conditions Index, September 2015: “Weakness in the labor market conditions index should be no surprise given weakness in last week’s employment report. The index came in at zero, ending four months of emerging strength” [Econoday]. “[O]ffers ammunition to the doves as evidence of labor market weakness.”

PMI Services Index, September 2015: “Growth in the service sector is slowing but remains very solid. Growth in new orders and production both slowed slightly but growth in employment, in contrast to last week’s employment report, is still described as ‘robust'” [Econoday]. “This, unlike manufacturing reports, is a domestic-based report and continues to point to fundamental resiliency for the economy.”

ISM Non-Mfg Index, September 2015: “Understandable slowing in new orders and business activity” [Econoday]. “One component, however, that did not slow and which, had it been released last week, would have sent the wrong signal for the employment report is a 2.3 point jump in the employment index to 58.3. This, together with July’s 59.6, are some of the strongest readings in the 18-year history of this series and a puzzle given softness in the government’s payroll data. This report, together with the services PMI released earlier this morning, underscore the fundamental domestic-based strength of the U.S. economy.” And: “There are two sub-indexes in the NMI which have good correlations to the economy – the Business Activity Index and the New Orders Index – both have good track records in spotting an incipient recession – both remaining in territories associated with expansion” [Econintersect].

Gallup US Consumer Spending Measure, September 2015: “Americans’ daily self-reports of spending averaged $88 in September, essentially the same as the $89 found in August” [Econoday]. 

“Europe’s economic recovery is showing dangerous signs of falling flat after another disappointing set of data from the single currency” [Telegraph]. ” The weak numbers all but guarantee the European Central Bank will be pushed into further stimulus measures, ramping up its €1 trillion quantitative easing programme.” Same self-licking ice cream cone as here.

“Singapore is in danger of entering recession in the third quarter, in what could be a sign of a wider, deeper slow down all over Asia” [Business Insider]. “The country usually starts to slow down considerably one to two quarters earlier than its neighbors.”

“The shake-up of America’s strengths” [Economist]. “The United States now accounts for only 23% of world GDP and 12% of world merchandise trade. But America dominates the brainiest and most complex parts of the global economy.” Rather, global elites based in the United States dominates “the brainiest part” — rather like T. Gondii.

More employment graphs [Calculated Risk].

“Hedge funds make positive shift in ag bets, led by sugar” [Agrimoney].

“Annually, America’s toll agencies take in $13 billion in revenue and the New York tri-state area accounts for nearly a third of that” (with map) [Econintersect]. 

“This past Saturday, Adam Posen, the President of a powerful think tank, the Peterson Institute for International Economics, delivered a speech at a conference sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, calling the U.S. Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) ‘a mess.’ That speech has gone missing from online access” [Wall Street on Parade]. Gee, that’s odd.

Fear & Greed Index, October 5, 2015: 31 (-11); Fear [CNN]. Last week: 12 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed).

Health Care

“Hospital Care Unaffected By Quality Payments, GAO Finds” [KHN]. Whoops. Another cornerstore of market-based approaches to health care provisioning crumbles.

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

“The United States Mission to the European Union has responded to the opinion by the Court of Justice of the European Union’s Advocate General Yves Bot that the current Safe Harbour scheme may be illegal because of NSA spying. It claims that the US “does not and has not engaged in indiscriminate surveillance of anyone, including ordinary European citizens” [Ars Technica]. (Here is a history of the Safe Harbour provision.) “Does not and has not engaged in indiscriminate surveillance of anyone.” BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!!!!

“British ‘Karma Police’ program carries out mass surveillance of the web” [The Verge]. “[T]he GCHQ program pulls web data from intercontinental data cables landing at Cornwall, giving it ongoing access to as much as a quarter of global web traffic since 2009.”

“Smartwatch sensors can be used to eavesdrop on the keys you’re typing” [Sophos]. Via motion tracking — just of the arm on which the watch is worn. But still. Maybe they’ll triangulate the clicking sound to track the keystrokes from the other hand or something… 

Police State

Stingray Non-Disclosure Agreements with police departments: “‘These NDAs are the keystone in this very corrosive regime of secrecy that both interferes with the public’s ability to know what their local police departments are doing, but also interferes with defendants’ due process rights in individual cases,’ said Nathan Wessler, an attorney with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy & Technology Project” [Vice].

“Prosecutors who bend or even break the rules to win a conviction almost never face any punishment. But even given lax controls, the blatant and systemic misconduct in the Orange County district attorney’s office in Southern California stands out. In a scheme that may go back as far as 30 years, prosecutors and the county sheriff’s department have elicited illegal jailhouse confessions, failed to turn over evidence that is favorable to defendants and lied repeatedly in court about what they did” [New York Times, “Dishonest Prosecutors, Lots of Them”]. “These unconstitutional abuses are all the more troubling because Orange County is not some corrupt backwater with one rogue prosecutor.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Dunkin’ Donuts employee writes ‘#blacklivesmatter’ on Providence police officer’s cup” [Boston Globe]. So the cops’ union holds an emergency meeting and Dunkin’ Donuts apologizes. Because you know how cops are with their donuts! (Remember when they kept Dunkin’ Donuts open in Central Square, Cambridge, when the whole city was shut down after the Boston Marathon Bombing?) Good thing there weren’t any employees with donut decoration skills there; they could have written #blacklivesmatter in frosting, right on top of a Boston Creme!

“Voter ID and driver’s license office closures black-out Alabama’s Black Belt” [AL.com]. With a hat tip to the Roberts Court for gutting the Voting Rights Act, and a nod of acknowledgement to the Democrats who let it all happen.

“Ferguson activist talks civil rights in America since Michael Brown’s death” [Daily Dot]. “I couldn’t believe something like that could happen… in America.”

“Florida Teen Also Arrested For Science Experiment But Not Invited to the White House” [Complex].

Class Warfare

“Volkswagen didn’t make a faulty car: they programmed it to cheat intelligently. The difference isn’t semantics, it’s game-theoretical (and it borders on applied demonology)” [Institute for Ethics of Emerging Technologies]. “But that was before. Things now have software in them, and software encodes game-theoretical strategies as well as it encodes any other form of applied mathematics, and the temptation to teach products to lie strategically will be as impossible to resist for companies in the near future as it has been to VW, steep as their punishment seems to be. As it has always happened (and always will) in the area of financial fraud, they’ll just find ways to do it better.” This is under Class Warfare because ask yourself: Who owns the software?

“My theory in this essay was that, since all prize programs slowly converge on the same people, what the prize-givers are obviously trying to establish is not the merit of the prize-recipient but their own credentials, their own place in the community of right-thinking people. …. It would be so much easier, I thought, if they just gave the prizes directly to one another [The Baffler (DG)]. “Of course they do this too. … And in 2012 [the Clinton Global Citizen Award for Leadership in Philanthropy] went to billionaire Carlos Slim, who was then the richest man in the world.’ You couldn’t make this sh*t up.

Trickle-down economics in the medieval era [Irina Metzler]. Fascinating. Makes our economists today sound a lot like the Scholastics.

News of the Wired

Jack Dorsey becomes Twitter CEO [New York Times]. “Born in St. Louis, Mr. Dorsey has often said he grew up enamored with the niceties of densely urban areas — mass transit, maps and the nature of dispatch and communication.” Of course, after Ferguson, St. Louis has been in the news for other reasons…..

“Why Cats were hated in Medieval Europe” [Medievalists.net]. N-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o!!!

“[L]ate-model cars are vulnerable to cyberattacks that can range from the annoying – say, an uncontrollably blasting horn – to the potentially lethal: slamming on a Prius’s brakes at high speeds, killing power steering with commands sent from a laptop, spoofing GPS, and tinkering with speedometer and odometer displays” [Sophos (GF)]. And now researchers have discovered that the same can be done with police cars.

* * *

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 (Pat):


Make lemonade!

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. Winter is coming, I need to fix my laptop, and I need to keep my server up, too.


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

About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Ditto

    I also think 2016 looks grim for the Democratic Party. The presidential race includes a person most people don’t likes and another describing himself as a democratic socialist when he’s just an FDR Democrat. The DNC is headed by a sure loser. The base seems mostly on auto pilot and in deep denial. Then again, the GOP looks even worse so who knows.

    1. different clue

      It just shows how right-bent the American political mind-space is . . . that a New Deal Reactionary would honestly believe himself to be a Democratic Socialist.

      Since I am a New Deal Reactionary myself, I of course support the New Deal Reactionary Senator from Vermont.

      1. jrs

        Democratic socialism is Scandinavian countries usually, New Deal reactionary would want preservation of Social Security (just that alone would make them vastly better than all other candidates!), even Medicare really came latter. Would they want socialized medicine? I have no idea. I just object to the term socialism unless it’s used to describe what it actually is: worker control of the means of production (which is the one thing they do fear, and what they would throw us bones to pacify were it a real threat).

        So it may or may not be good marketing for Bernie to call himself a socialist (it’s kind of marketing on the subversive element – selling revolution – ooohhh Bernie says he’s a socialist how radical – which will go over or not depending how radical versus conservative the electorate sees itself as), But I still maintain he’s not a socialist, not how socialism is historically defined.

        1. Left in Wisconsin

          I am not in agreement with your definition. Besides the fact that Socialist Parties all over the world fail to meet your definition (TSTL), there isn’t even any way to conceptualize what “worker control of the means of production” means today. So that would basically mean abandoning the word, which I think would be a huge mistake.

          I’m for a simple, broad definition of socialism: when the economy operates for the benefit of the society as opposed to the society operating for the benefit of the economy. And I’m all for Sanders calling himself a democratic socialist.

          1. Ditto

            Your definition is like a unicorn. I’m on the left. I certainly think we should strive for that goal, but are we ever going to reach it? It’s like that ending to Angel (yes, I’m a geek). The show ends with the characters fighting impossible odds bc they realize the point is to fight the monsters as long as they could. I think we should fight fight for the society you describe, but I doubt it will ever exist.

            1. Left in Wisconsin

              No, we are never going to reach it.* But I think it’s useful to have a clearly articulable (is that a word?) goal/yard stick that is inclusive rather than exclusive. The only advantage we have is that there is a lot more of us than them, but we need a vocabulary that allows people to clearly identify which side they are on. I think we need to insist that socialism is back on the agenda. But it needs to be a definition/understanding of socialism that ordinary people can get their arms around.

              *Maybe our children. Or theirs.

              1. Ditto

                1. When you put it that way, it seems like a useful definition.

                2. I don’t agree there is more of us than them. My yardstick is non bat shit vs bat shit regardless of class, party, race, sexual orientation, religion etc. I believe, for example, that most poor and middle class folk see themselves as inconvenienced wealthy folk.

                3. A word is anything that two people can understand between each other. I understood what you were saying.

                1. Left in Wisconsin

                  It’s all about coalition building. I think their (potential) coalition is much less coherent than ours.

              2. Lambert Strether Post author

                Tony Wikrent has always insisted that the appropriate concepts are American, rather than European, and to be sought in the heritage of the populists of the Gilded Age (and forward to Veblen and… And… Rather than forward through Marx, Foucault, and the rest of ’em). I’m not sure he’s wrong. I was looking through some Thomas Nast cartoons for my TPP piece later, and is Nast ever on post. Plus ça change

                1. Left in Wisconsin

                  Always willing to accept that I’m wrong, but:
                  1. I don’t really understand what the term “populism” stands for today. Plus, you seem to need to clarify it as left-wing or right-wing anyway. Which contributes to false equivalence of left and right. Also, I think the other side likes “populism” because they can paint it as naive, unthoughtful, etc.
                  2. I (kind of) know what socialism stands for. So does the other side. They will publicly dismiss it as with populism but I think it scares them a lot more.

            2. Joerenter

              There has to be something close to socialism if there is to be any future for humanity. It is about sharing resources and making your brother’s need a measure of your own.
              We are in for nothing short of planetary reset. In the 11th hour to be sure.

        2. neo-realist

          I’d rather Bernie call himself a New Deal Democrat, or something similar: He still has to deal with corporate media and the Democratic Socialist label will potentially get twisted into socialist, then marxist by the elite mouthpieces, which would then cause many intellectually lazy voters to misunderstand what Sanders is really about. Better for him to conflate his candidacy with a period of American Economic Recovery than for him to get twisted by TPTB echo chamber into a second coming of Lenin, or a Jewish Fidel.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Too late, it’s done. I think Sander’s “no bullshit old codger” will carry him through a lot (although, to be fair, I don’t he’s ever been treated to oppo as the vicious sociopaths in the Democratic nomenklatura — sorry for the redundancy — can serve it up.)

          2. Left in Wisconsin

            I don’t think Marx is nearly the boogieman that the right does. Not that Bernie will ever mention him. And I’ve never met a person on the right that could actually explain Marx.

            I think Bernie is trying to thread the needle. In lots of (rural-ish) places like northern Wisconsin, the lefties are proud to be Democrats, and Bernie would be crazy to not appeal to them. (That is one reason he is polling so well with D’s.) Whereas in places where Dems are more corporate, Dem is a bad word and he runs better as a non-Dem, or at least non-traditional Dem.

            But, as we are finding out, Vermont is not the worst training ground. He’s got a lot of work to do with minorities but he seems to get rural Dems, which is an electorate the D party has abandoned.

      2. Ditto

        Is it to late to start a campaign for “None of the Above” where if no candidate gets above 50 with “none of the above” included we get a redo with new choices?

        I call myself techno socialist bc I want to delusuonally believe tech will one day save us from the current nuthouse politics

      1. jrs

        Well yea the party that brought us the TPP (in the form of Obama the rest of the trade traitors). So the party that sealed all our fates.

  2. Vatch

    I’ll have a TPP post — the bastards passed it

    The delegates agreed to a draft text, but the Congress hasn’t passed it yet. The President hasn’t even signed it. So we still have a good chance to stop this.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I don’t even know there’s agreement on a draft text, or what the status of the agreement is. Are we really to believe that all the [bracketed material] has been resolved? I don’t think so. The press is all “Agreement! Agreement!” because that’s the preferred narrative, but the stories I’ve seen are notably light on detail.

      1. jo6pac

        I’m waiting for Nancy P. to tell me everything is OK for ttp to pass and we can fix it later. That worked so well on obomber care.

      2. Rhondda

        I was with a client in his car this evening and he had NPR on. I hate NPR and don’t listen to it but when they had a piece on TPP I thought, great, I’ll get to hear the stenography, which I normally avoid. But it was, as you say, light on detail and at the very end the ‘reporter’ hastened to say that the agreement was between the US and 4 countries…Mexico, Canada, Japan and I forget who else. It was said like “the fine print” at the end of the piece, very quickly. Made me wonder…I thought there were like 3 dozen countries supposed to all be in one The Fix.

        1. Vatch

          There are currently 12 TPP countries. Perhaps you are thinking of TiSA, the Trade in Services Agreement, which involves 24 parties, one of which is the multi-state European Union. So there are probably more than 50 countries involved in the TiSA negotiations.

    2. Praedor

      The Teatard Republicans are our friend on this. MUST push them to vote no on two principles: 1) TPP is desired very badly by Obama, so must oppose it; 2) TPP virtually eliminates US sovereignty and even strips away your power to legislate. Corporate CEOs, FOREIGN CEOs, get a veto on any laws you pass and you cannot take it to court to contest it.

      1. different clue

        Maybe stop calling them “Teatards” and maybe they will give you a hearing. If we are serious about collaborating with the Tea Party people on preserving national, state, regional and local sovereignty; we may have to get serious about being polite and respectful with them.

    3. allan

      Memo to Congress:

      But the details of the agreement are a complex hodgepodge of new rules, some of them intended to protect the way business is conducted by a number of powerful industries, while others will open the door to new markets.

      =/= Free Trade™

      Not only is the devil in the details, but the details are being written by the devil.
      Who is about to go through the revolving door.

  3. Jess

    Regarding SNL becoming a Hillary campaign ad, happened to watch part of the season premiere of THE GOOD WIFE last night. The governor (Chris Noth) is running for President in hopes of securing a VP slot under…Hillary.

    At that point I switched channels.

    1. Carolinian

      Your entertainment industry love them some Hillary. Even Garrison Keillor was spotted at a HIllary fundraiser a few months ago. Since it’s a field full of socially conscious rich people (and often MIddle East hawks) this isn’t too surprising. The true Commies were purged from H’wood back in the fifties. And btw today’s topic A–the trade deal–is very much pro Hollywood.

      1. different clue

        Terms may be approaching a time of redefinition. I enthusiastically support Russia’s entry into Syria and hope that a coalition of Russia, Hezbollah, Iran, rump-Shia Iraq, and the Assad Regime forces can systematically and comprehensively exterminate every single jihadi in Syria from physical existence. Does that make me a Middle East hawk? If not, then why not?

    2. Code Name D

      Sure, why not, Nearly all of Hillary’s campaign ads comes out looking like SNL skits anyway. It all evens out in the wash.

    3. Sammy Maudlin

      In the CBS hit series Madam Secretary, a make-believe Secretary of State that sort of resembles Hillary Clinton is consistently dealing with fictionalized versions of real-life events that already took place involving a Secretary of State named Hillary Clinton. For example, Season 1, episode 2 “Another Benghazi” (“geez, it’s like Benghazi all over again!”)

      Only in the show, things get done right the first time! I’m certain the arch-nemesis Chief of Staff will present Madam Secretary with a proposition to do some official emailing from home which will be soundly rejected by our heroine (after consulting with her theology-professor husband).

      My guess is the over-arching plot line is going to take us through her ultimately successful run for President and extremely competently-handled first year. Ms. Madam Secretary, in fact, was just sworn in (for a few hours) in the latest episode to plant the plot seed. I’m feeling better about her candidacy already!

  4. different clue

    It seems to me that I remember commenting once or twice in the past that the JapanGov was merely pretending to dislike TPP in order to get TPP opponents to lower their guard. Abe and his team are just as much a part of the TPP conspiracy as all the rest.

    I may well flatter myself with a false memory, but that is what I remember.

    1. Uahsenaa

      Abe may very well be as you say (I happen to think otherwise), but he still has to sell this thing to the Diet, and Japan has become very gungho nationalistic of late (though not without heated opposition). I have a feeling anything that could remotely be characterized as impinging on national sovereignty would be very hard to pass.

  5. Daryl

    > ” Unlike most other 2016 Republican hopefuls, [Kasich is] not calling for photo ID at the polls”

    Who was it on here (I think) that said Kasich would eventually be the party elite’s choice? That’s looking very prescient, but I’m also wondering how exactly they’re going to pull it off. Perhaps at the last minute the Trumpster pulls out to “spend more time with his family” (does Donald Trump have a family?) and endorses Kasich.

    1. different clue

      If Sanders is on the Michigan primary ballot, I will vote for Sanders. If the DemParty only offers such things as Clinton and Biden and so forth, I will vote for Trump in the Republican Primary. A candidate Trump would at least kick some stuff over and stomp on it.

      1. Praedor

        I’m beginning to roll your way on this. I vote Bernie if he’s on the ballot, otherwise I vote Trump because, in such circumstances, I WANT to burn the whole place to the ground and Trump is a good tool to do it.

        1. Left in Wisconsin

          There is an argument to be made that if Hillary or Biden is D candidate in 2016, losing might not be the worst thing. If economy tanks under R’s and much much organizing is done, 2020 would offer another opportunity to achieve what was not achieved in 2008. Whereas another depression on Hillary’s watch could yield another, possibly even worse, rout in 2020.

          On the other hand, I’m old enough to remember this exact argument from 1980 and that didn’t work out too well.

          1. neo-realist

            If there are no more supreme court appointments by the Republican President (replacements of democratic selections) and SS/Medicare remain relatively intact, then it won’t be the worst thing.

            The Dems will also need a progressive running the DNC to enact a 50 state strategy of sorts to find electable progressives around the country to run for office. If the dems continue to promote brought and paid for DINO’s for congress, it won’t matter how progressive the president is that we elect; he or she will be hamstrung by the 1% interests.

            1. hunkerdown

              I dunno, that sounds like Kübler-Ross “bargaining” to me. What you’re proposing is tantamount to a coup against the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. You’re not getting one of those through regular order. The Party is willing to lose races rather than support leftists. What evidence is there that the Party wouldn’t sooner vanish in the night and reconstitute as New Labour than have the center be visible in the Overton Window?

          2. NotTimothyGeithner

            And Hillary and Biden wouldn’t have control of the Dem apparatus. Local control would rise, much like it did during the W years.

          1. jrs

            I’ll never understand this type of “the worse the better” argument. Yea, lets all vote for Trump! But doesn’t everything point to the fact things can just keep getting worse indefinitely rather than getting better? But Trump would burn it all down? Um if Trump actually had any power he’d work with all the other powers that be (MIC, deep state etc.). I assume he’d play by the rules of the game. Now do I think Trump will be the next president? Not a chance. But is voting for him promoting anything good? No. Don’t vote. Vote for Jill Stein. But Trump? Please.

            1. different clue

              Well . . . I said I’d vote for Trump in the primary if Sanders wasn’t on the primary ballot by that time.

              The primary . . . not the general. I’d have to decide about the general when I got there.

          1. different clue

            If DNC were to try that, perhaps a candidate Sanders would be less co-operative with them. Perhaps he and his people would insist on a floor vote of every delegate and keep the campaign active till the very last screech. At least force the DNC to set fire to itself like a Buddhist monk on live TV.

        1. different clue

          As far as I know, they are. Or at least its viable IF Sanders is on it. Otherwise, its just legacy.

    2. Vatch

      does Donald Trump have a family?

      You bet he does! Like Kim Davis, he’s such a strong believer in the sanctity of marriage, he’s done it several times!

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      Trump has a daughter Ivanka and a new wife with a son…are you sitting down…named Baron.

      I don’t think the GOP Is ready to choose are new candidate. First, Jeb is the candidate of the elite/old guard. He would not be running without their loyal support. Trump might have are hick up in his current polling, but the GOP delegate allotment is pretty democratic. The votes are pretty close to equal. Even if Trump holds 15%, Trump Is holding 15%, and with the way Trump and by extension his summer time supporters have been attacked, I don’t see them throwing support elsewhere. Non-affiliated GOP supporters have kicked the tires on Fiorina and Carson. I think the GOP has the potential for a real cluster@*!? Jeb will hold support, but there is a strong anybody but Jeb sentiment. When McCain won the nomination in 2008 (I met Joe Lieberman at a Dunkin Donuts in New Hampshire; yes, all politicians are polite in person) he rolled to victory on the strength his war record and the GOP clown car and anybody but Romney sentiment. I just don’t see anyone in the GOP field with McCain standing.

      1. Daryl

        The GOP nomination is already definitely in cluster@*!$ territory. I will be interested to see how many of them hang on and for how long.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I was thinking structurally. Even if there were just one or two Republicans running, it would still be a mess.

      2. Christopher Fay

        Is Ivanka the one that is besties with the Clinton kid? All the cool billionaire kids know its keyfabe.

    4. Oregoncharles

      He has a daughter he’d really like to go out with.

      Granted, she’s very pretty, despite her father – her mother was a model.

  6. different clue

    About Mr. Dorsey, I myself have only seen a few densely urban areas in passing. I note their total dependence on matter and energy resources reaching them from beyond their borders. A suburbanite may at least harvest roofwater, install a compostoilet, grow some food. A dense-area urbanite can do none of that.

    I am very glad I don’t live in one of the Great Urban Shitholes . . . such as Manhattan.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Well, I think that cities are one of the great achievements of civilization and homo sapiens generally. So we’ll have to agree to differ on that one (and have the “Is civilization a mistake?” convo some other time).

      1. jrs

        Also in a truly densely populated city like NYC of which the U.S. doesn’t’ have many, the amount of resources used is much less than pretty much anywhere else in the country. So they are both dependent on the world at large and not pushing near so many of their externalities on to the world at large. But to be embedded in a social world of trust this way is something individualism has a hard time reckoning with, even if such individualism produces as it’s grand result several times the carbon and other impact.

        1. cyclist

          E.F. Schumacher used to argue that the optimum size for a city is about 500,000. There seems to be some virtue to that idea. Unfortunately, many of our US cities of that size lack density, and are nothing more than overgrown suburbs.

      2. Oregoncharles

        Cities are the very definition of civilization, which is the habit of living in cities.

        Consider the condition of th eplaces that have been civilized longest. Look like an unmitigated disaster?

        1. Dr. Robert

          Well, Iraq, Syria, Eastern Turkey, Israel/Palestine, Egypt, Pakistan, and Northern China aren’t the best places to live, but it seems some level of civilization is sustainable in the long term.

          1. Synoia

            Iraq, Syria, Eastern Turkey, Israel/Palestine, Egypt, Pakistan to name bu a few have had a little outside help.

            Not always with the welfare of the locals uppermost.

            I’m shocked and awed by your comment.

      3. different clue

        I think you are probably right as far as smaller cities of the traditional past go. I was thinking of the multi-mega-million super-cities of today.

  7. shinola

    Irina Metzler’s article on “trickle-down economics in the medieval era” is interesting. Particularly after reading the Michael Hudson interview posted earlier today (a MUST READ).
    If, as Mr. Hudson asserts, History of Economic Thought, is no longer part of the econ. curriculum, it is no wonder we get shamanism passed off as “sound economics” these days.

    1. Ulysses

      On a lighter note, the Onion seems unfazed by TPP’s progress:

      “Come, ye gentles, ye merchants, ye noble tradesmen of America—witness the riches of the East and rejoice!” said the president from the quarterdeck of his flagship, the Laissez-Faire, as he cracked open a chest of cherrywood to display to his cheering welcomers dazzling jade and delicate urns of porcelain retrieved from the very rim of the world.”


      1. Steven D.

        All you people can do is criticize. Let us now rejoice and praise Obama. We will never again be short of cardamom.

  8. Ulysses

    Thanks for the link to the Irina Metzler piece! One little known factoid is that the trust-fund, as a vehicle for conveying wealth to future generations, was invented in the Middle Ages.

    The Spiritual Franciscans were adamantly opposed to any sort of property ownership, embracing a radically poor life that relied on daily alms to meet the basic requirements of food, clothing and shelter. Guilt-ridden merchants in the medieval cities and towns often tried to make amends, for their sharp business practices, by leaving generous bequests to these same Franciscans– who refused to accept them! The solution? The clever papal bankers in Siena and Rome devised a way to hold these funds “in trust” for the followers of that hippy radical St. Francis of Assisi. Art historians are thankful for this innovation, as it has provided the funds necessary to maintain thousands of beautiful buildings and works of art over the centuries– from Giotto until today.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The shouts of socialist have been so frequent, they are on part with asking about Obama’s birth certificate.

      2. Ulysses

        I met two wonderful Franciscans, back during Occupy days in Zuccotti– they were far more radically anti-capitalist than any of the hipster NYU kids!!

        This is how St. Francis explained why he eschewed material possessions:

        “Let us desire nothing else
        let us wish for nothing else
        let nothing else please us and cause us delight
        except our Creator and Redeemer and Saviour,
        the One True God, Who is the Fullness of Good,
        all good, every good, the true and supreme Good;
        Let nothing hinder us,
        nothing separate us or nothing come between us.”

        Material wealth, for the Franciscans, is a hindrance to fully appreciating what is truly good.

    1. allan

      Also too:

      The think tanks have been a critical part of the repeal effort, with prominent centers like the Brookings Institution and the American Enterprise Institute issuing reports or sending scholars to Capitol Hill endorsing the move. These same organizations have taken large donations — in some instances exceeding $1 million a year, as was the case for Brookings — in combined contributions from industry donors.

      Oh those crazy liberals at Brookings.

    2. Praedor

      And how does that help them? The price of oil is the price of oil and it is in the toilet. They can’t sell on the world market for better prices than the price that has tanked their business as it is.

      Just don’t get it.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Lose a little on each transaction, make it up on volume…
        The velocity of money…
        The oil must flow!…

      2. James Levy

        You are correct. Oil prices are fixed on a global market. Sending it to Italy or India doesn’t make it any better a deal than selling it in Peoria or Plattsburg. The difference at the pump is all local taxes.

  9. Timo

    Re VW and their “intelligent cheating”, I’ve read some reports out of Germany this morning that some engineers “confessed” to introducing the software cheat/fix because they couldn’t meet the engine emissions targets any other way and stay within the engine engineering budget.

    It also appears that Winterkorn (who graciously fell onto his sword, err, pension) is allegedly one of the biggest pro-TTIP lobbyists in Germany. One could almost put together a sentence using TTIP, EPA, VW and investor state dispute resolution, couldn’t one? The sources I read this in were rather second hand so I’m currently trying to find some better sources/links for this.

      1. Vatch

        Here ya go!


        Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn called TTIP a “historic opportunity” that would allow Europe and the US to set joint standards, “which will shape our world in the coming decades.”

        Another article, with more details about the same events, but no quotes from Winterkorn:


        Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche, Volkswagen boss Martin Winterkorn and other captains of Germany’s automotive industry will gather in Berlin Wednesday to try to rally support for a transatlantic free trade deal that faces potential collapse.

        Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic are pushing for an accord known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) to eliminate all major trade and non-tariff barriers between the U.S. and European Union.

        Auto bosses have endorsed the deal but Germany’s powerful labor leaders are skeptical.

        It’s quite possible that Winterkorn’s successor will be equally enthusiastic for the TTiP.

      2. Timo

        Looks like Vatch already found a couple of good ones. I’m still digging around to find something a little more substantive on TTiP and Winterkorn from a German source.

        1. Timo

          After digging a bit more, it appears that most of the comments linking Winterkorn, TTiP *and* the EPA/emissions issues seem to be concentrated in letter to the editor in various German newspapers and the odd interview with environmental groups. Especially the letters to the editor and comments to online newspaper articles seem to be heavy on the tinfoil headwear. So far, nothing more concrete than that.

          The German newspaper Handelsblatt – the German equivalent of the Financial Times – did a similar writeup to Vatch’s second link here (text in German): http://www.handelsblatt.com/unternehmen/industrie/zetsche-winterkorn-und-co-chefs-der-autobauer-werben-gemeinsam-fuer-ttip/11279774.html

  10. Pavel

    Regarding VW, cars, and cyberattacks on their software (increasingly complex, error-prone, and completely insecure), I recommend the latest episode of Ralph Nader’s excellent podcast series, where he talks to a leading expert on automobiles and their cyber (in)security. Scary stuff, hackers taking over cars on a freeway and shutting down the brakes or engine. (A separate topic is the tracking devices which means that vehicular privacy is now dead.)

    The podcast is here:

    Ralph Nader Radio Hour, 4 Oct 2015

    Ralph talks to Columbia Law Professor and software expert, Eben Moglen, about the recent VW scandal and how computer software in cars and voting machines is ripe for mischief and accidents.

    Eben Moglen is a professor of law and legal history at Columbia University and is the founder, Director-Counsel and Chairman of the Software Freedom Law Center, whose client list includes numerous pro bono clients, such as the Free Software Foundation.

    Interesting factoid via Ralph: The budget for the Nat’l Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is $400 million.

    The budget for *guarding* the US Embassy in Baghdad? $650 million.

    Nader proves himself to be witty, bright, and eminently sensible in his podcast series — no political rhetoric, just seeking out the facts and focussing on real world solutions to problems. Rather a contrast with some of the 2016 candidates.

    (And speaking of 2016 and elections, the discussion also covers voting machine fraud.)

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’m more and more loving podcasts. Another one to listen to! (Rather like the Ayatollah Khomeini taking over Iran via, IIRC, CDs. Not that Nader is like an Ayatollah, simply referring to the power of a humble medium.)

        1. alex morfesis

          the ayatollah won iran with the help of the french & saddam…cassettes were window dressing

      1. ira

        One of the great ironies of history is that Khomeini was kicked out of Iraq (where he was in exile in the holy Shia city of Najaf) by Saddam in 1978. He went to a suburb of Paris, whose telephone connections to Iran were much better than those from Iraq. He would dictate sermons over the phone, that were directly recorded on to cassettes, and that subsequently would appear the next day in large quantities all over Iran. Friends of mine have told me this played a very important part in the overthrow of the Shah in 1979.

        Fast forward to 2003, when the U.S. overthrows Saddam, and in due course, faciitates Iran basically controlling Iraq (except for Iraqi Kurdistan, which has been de-facto independent since 1991, after the first U.S.- Iraq war).

    1. Ulysses

      This continued after the Middle Ages:

      “The torture of animals, especially cats, was a popular amusement throughout early modern Europe. You have only to look at Hogarth’s Stages of Cruelty to see its importance, and once you start looking you see people torturing animals everywhere. Cat killings provided a common theme in literature, from Don Quixote in early seventeenth-century Spain to Germinal in late nineteenth-century France. Far from being a sadistic fantasy on the part of a few half-crazed authors, the literary versions of cruelty to animals expressed a deep current of popular culture, as Mikhail Bakhtin has shown in his study of Rabelais. All sorts of ethnographic reports confirm that view.”


  11. fresno dan

    “Dunkin’ Donuts employee writes ‘#blacklivesmatter’ on Providence police officer’s cup” [Boston Globe]

    Really?!? – the police feel threatened?
    The police feel insulted? Since when in the land of the free and the home of the brave are citizens suppose to kowtow to the police?

    Essentially, the police are saying that “blackslivesmatter” is a commie agitator group and they should not have to deign to see such a radical idea that a black life matters (of course, people who use dog whistles all the time probably have finely, finely attuned antennae to see dog whistles themselves). So basically, Rhode Island circa 2015 is the same as Mississippi 1963.

    In today’s posts, one sees any number of criminal and illegal acts performed by the police and prosecutors – and nary a peep from the citizens or their representatives…

    1. grayslady

      Pales in comparison to his war on women. Kasich is just a gussied-up Rick Santorum or Mike Huckabee.

      1. Vatch

        Yikes. Here’s an article about just what you are saying:


        “Gov. John Kasich of Ohio took it a step further Sunday night and signed a bill that merges his party’s anti-contraception and anti-abortion agendas into one. The budget bill (of course!) packs a one-two-three punch of making it harder for women to prevent pregnancies, harder for women to terminate pregnancies, and harder for low-income women to keep their babies.”

  12. ProNewerDeal

    flipped to C”N”N to hear more about the TPP. C”N”N is covering other stories, like a flood in SC that killed 9 people. I put the TV on mute, & glanced at it every 5-10 minutes. It seems C”N”N is ignoring the TPP.

    Thank g0d & the flying spaghetti monster for NC, for covering the TPP story.

    1. jrs

      C.N.N. is the worst. It’s really the worst propaganda outlet out there. Always the same few issues all the time, and the endless warmongering. You’d have better luck finding T.P.P. coverage on Fox and I’m quite serious about that, it’s a better station. Some coverage may leak through to MSNBC as well.

      1. barrisj

        How ironic that an “agreement” that most clued-in peeps thought was…you know – DEAD! – is now in the hands of a far-right, No-Nothing Congressional majority…who the EFF knew??? Right? Can I invoke karma here? What a better issue for right-wing populism than…YES, sink the effing T-bloody-PP…and, why not? Where are the fecking Demos on this? Did they even read the IP stuff…you know, “stuff happens”…more “patent protection” for old-line drugs that robber capitalists scoop up and raise prices 10X, or 50X…wait, it’s the “free market” doin’ it’s thang…or, is it? A turning point? So, who amongst the egregiously wankerish “candidates” will actually say…”This won’t fly, I pledge to roll back…yadda-yadda, whatever” .
        Hello, I can’t hear you…

          1. jrs

            Then Sanders needs to raise the alarm on this. I know he has a statement against it. I mean regularly raise the alarm. Maybe we need TPP protesters like BLM protesters to continually bring it up otherwise, to at least get attention. Yes I know why an issue like BLM is much more immediate. But it’s also why we are bound to be ever more tightly wearing the corporate yoke if noone brings up the TPP and then our problems with it will be immediate as well.

        1. different clue

          If the number of Tea Party Republicans against TPP can be driven high enough, it becomes harder for the Democrats to find “just enough” Democrats to help “the Republicans” get it passed.

          And if the Tea Party base can terrorise enough mainstream Republicans into dropping TPP support in exchange for primary survival, then the Democratic Party’s task gets even harder.

        2. jrs

          If it’s more than a rhetorical question the Dems (Obama flying in to Hollywood) were collecting Hollywood (and probably pharma too) money for IP protection. They are aware of the IP stuff.

          Is a rollback even POSSIBLE? Does it have to be agreed upon by all countries? Can one country, even if that country is the U.S., rollback just by it’s own decision? Do we know that before we believe when some politician starts campaigning on a rollback? I mean we’re not going to be complete rubes right and start believing nice sounding promises? Isn’t it a bit more important to not pass the thing than pass it with some doubtful promise of a rollback? It hasn’t been passed yet. Granted the hour is late.

    2. ProNewerDeal

      France24 News in English, has a free youtube live stream. It appears to be like 1990s-era CNN Headline News; every 30 minutes they do a global news show (although some half-hours apparently they focus on a particular topic, like the Greek election results a few Sundays ago).

      They covered the TPP for maybe 2 minutes. In fairness, France is not among the 12 TPP nations, so perhaps the audience interest wouldn’t be the same.

      By chance, do you know of & recommend any other such decent-or-better quality youtube livestream news channels?

  13. allan

    Stay klassy, Walkerbots:

    Wisconsin civil service bill critics cry foul over lengthy lunch break during Senate hearing

    The public hearing for a proposal to overhaul Wisconsin’s civil service system will take a two-hour break — during the hours most state workers in the Madison area would be able to testify during their lunch breaks. …

    Republican lawmakers have said they’re not attacking the system, they’re just aiming to align it more closely with modern practices in the private sector.

    Democrats have said the bill opens the door for cronyism to run rampant in Wisconsin. They’ve pointed to the troubled Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation as an example of what happens when civil service protections are removed.

    1. Daryl

      > they’re not attacking the system, they’re just aiming to align it more closely with modern practices in the private sector.

      Same thing.

  14. Furzy Mouse

    If anyone hungers for more proof of extreme gov corruption, watch “Whitey” (on NetFlix, for one) about the FBI’s total collusion, corruption and cooperation for 30 some years with James Whitey Bulger…

Comments are closed.