2:00PM Water Cooler 10/9/2015

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


UPDATE “TPP Treaty: Intellectual Property Rights Chapter, Consolidated Text (October 5, 2015)” (PDF) [Wikileaks (Ira)].

Australia: “Under these circumstances, signing up to the TPP is a bit like buying a used car over the phone with no detail as to the state of the vehicle or the clicks on the odometer, but with glowing assurances from the dealer that ‘she’s a beauty'” [Sidney Morning Herald].

Australia: “Trade Minister Andrew Robb has acquiesced to United States demands to accept investor-state dispute settlement” [The Age]. “For public health advocates, the decision of TPP negotiators to allow countries to “carve out” tobacco from the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism will therefore be a welcome one. It remains unclear whether any of the other “carve-outs” proposed by Australia (for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, Medicare Benefits Scheme, Therapeutic Goods Administration and the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator) remain in the final text. It seems unlikely, given that they are not mentioned in Robb’s press release announcing the deal. What is certain is that all other health and environmental policies are not explicitly exempted from the settlement mechanism.”

Australia: “We have been told that ‘TPP will not require any changes to Australia’s patent system and copyright regime'” [Lowy Institute]. However, “before a parliamentary committee the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was not aware of any increase in our IP obligations in the Korean Free Trade Agreement, a position they later had to change.”

Europe: “Over 50,000 demonstrators are expected to gather in front of Berlin’s central train station on 10 October to protest the EU’s planned free trade agreements with the United States and Canada, TTIP and CETA. Special public transit lines and hundreds of buses are planned to meet the extra demand” [Euractiv].

Malaysia: “SUMMARY OF THE TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT” (PDF) [Ministry of International Trade and Industry]. This English text appears to be lifted directly from the USTR press release, at least section 9, “Investment.”



Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz admitted Thursday that there was no indication that Planned Parenthood had misused its federal funding [HuffPo]. Plenty of gold, but no fleece, right, Jasie-boy?

“In Praise of Hillary Clinton’s Shameless Pandering” [David Dayen, Fiscal Times]. “But the bigger issue is this: What’s wrong with pandering? Our system of government, as it has evolved, offers precious few opportunities for ordinary people to get into the national conversation. Big Money has a tight grip on governance through insistent lobbying, and for the most part they fund national elections.”

Sure. I mean, I’d prefer that Clinton pander to the left rather than, as so often, to the right (or to wander off into triangulated trivialities like Clinton I’s school uniforms). The issue will be (a) the wiggle room in the panders, and (b) how to hold Clinton to her words. Will the Democratic regulars, even shorn of the Blue Dogs, be in sufficient fear of their base to accomplish that?

“Why Clinton’s TPP opposition unnerves me” [Ezra Klein, Vox]. “Of late, Clinton is again looking like the kind of candidate who puts polls in front of policy.” Damn! Reach me those pearls!

The Trail

O’Malley hoping for a breakout in Tuesday’s debate, in truly ridiculous beat sweetener from [CNN]. “And yet, despite his record and campaign promises, O’Malley has been drowned out by Clinton’s establishment credibility, Sanders’ appeal to the party’s most hardcore and intrigue around whether Vice President Joe Biden will enter the race.”

“Though the New York real estate developer still leads the Republican field in national polls, Mr. Trump’s ability to command voter and news media attention simply by being his outlandish, bombastic self is starting to wane. The decline in attention for Mr. Trump seems particularly pronounced in the conservative news media that carry influence over many Republican primary voters” [New York Times]. So our famously free press has decided to deprive Trump of oxygen?

The Hill

popcorn Pass the popcorn.

[12:45PM EDT] “The pressure is on Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP vice presidential nominee in 2012, to run for House speaker in the chaotic aftermath of Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s astonishing decision to abandon his campaign for the post” [AP]. Oh, so that’s who ran with the Mittster in 2012. I’ve been trying to remember.

[11:36 AM EDT] “Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) told NBC News through a spokesperson Friday that despite Republicans calling for him to enter the race for Speaker of the House, he’s still not interested” [Talking Points Memo].

* * *

The mysterious letter: “A North Carolina congressman threw confusion over House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s sudden departure from the speaker’s race with a letter he later insisted had nothing to do with McCarthy at all” [McClatchy]. “Jones, who has had troubled relations with House GOP leaders, warned in his letter that House members with “skeletons in their closet” should stay away from leadership races.” And here, The Hill does a hilarious house organ dance around the salient point.

The mysterious letter: “It Turns Out We Weren’t Kidding About Kevin McCarthy’s Sex Scandal. Huh!” [Wonkette]. “And we were like, it’s a SCIENCE FACT that every Republican speaker or almost-speaker of the House has had naughty sexxytime skeletons dirty dancing in his closet.” In fact, they’re right. That was one of the more entertaining aspects of the Clinton impeachment saga.

McCarthy’s gaffe: “‘Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?’ McCarthy told Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity, who had challenged him to state a promise that Republicans had delivered on. ‘But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping'” [WaPo]. This is, of course, a “Kinsley gaffe.” Kinsley: “A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth – some obvious truth he isn’t supposed to say.”

Post editorial board clears throat, weighs in: “After McCarthy, the GOP must sideline the Freedom Caucus” [WaPo]. “Everyone on this list may deserve blame, but at this point we hope members of Congress will shift from pointing fingers to thinking seriously about the good of the country and the dangers it faces.” Harrumph.

Meanwhile, we have a debt ceiling fight and a shutdown fight coming up [USA Today]. 

Idea: The Speaker of the House is a Constitutional office, and whoever holds the office doesn’t even have to be elected [New York Times]. So I’m throwing the floor open to nominations for an “outsider.” Not Maggie Thatcher; she’s dead (we think).

Stats Watch

Import and Export Prices, September 2015: “A bounce back for petroleum prices helped to limit import-price contraction in September, coming in at only minus 0.1 percent. But contraction in export prices, where agriculture and not petroleum is the wild card, was very heavy, at minus 0.7 percent in the month” [Econoday].

“A striking detail on the import side is slightly deepening year-on-year contraction in various core readings, still in the low to mid single digits with non-petroleum down 3.3 percent. This is the largest decline since October 2009 and points to fundamental price weakness for imports, in part a function of the strong currency which is giving U.S. buyers more for their dollars.” But: “There is only marginal correlation between economic activity, recessions and export / import prices. Prices can be rising or falling going into a recession or entering a period of expansion” [Econintersect].

Wholesale Trade, August 2015: “Wholesale inventories look to be pulling down on third-quarter GDP, up only 0.1 percent in August following a downwardly revised 0.3 percent decline in July” [Econoday]. “The stock-to-sales ratio rose to 1.31 in September from July’s 1.30.” And, based on three-month rolling averages: ” August 2015 Wholesale Sales Remain In Contraction” [Econintersect].

“As suspected, the drop in gas prices was pretty much a net 0 for GDP” [Mosler Economics]. Consumers spent on other stuff.

In China, manufacturing job postings are crashing [Business Insider]. A clever proxy for the real economy, as opposed to the government’s stats.

VW: “[S]tate police and prosecutors raided Volkswagen facilities and some employees’ homes in Wolfsburg, Germany, where the carmaker is based, taking documents and electronic media” [Bloomberg]. Oh, and 400,000 cars to refit, which will take years (why?).

VW: “Federal and California regulators have begun an investigation into a second computer program in Volkswagen’s diesel cars that also affects the operation of the cars’ emission controls” [New York Times]. Shouldn’t we just assume all software is gamed?

VW: “Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Mazda and Mitsubishi have joined the growing list of manufacturers whose diesel cars are known to emit significantly more pollution on the road than in regulatory tests” [Guardian]. Just because all the other kids are doing it doesn’t make it right.

The Fed: “The minutes said policymakers didn’t expect to reach their 2 percent inflation goal before the end of 2018” [CNBC].

The Fed: “The [minutes] show [Fed] officials were generally upbeat about the the health of the U.S. recovery, which has boasted declining unemployment rate and steady economic growth” [WaPo].

The Fed: “[F]or strong global growth, we would seem to need another credit boom somewhere. But where might that happen? The obvious candidate for another such boom would be the US. If so, weak global demand is likely to keep US interest rates very low. [Martin Wolf, FT, “Reason for low rates is real, monetary and financial”].

Honey for the bears: “[T]he dangers facing the global economy are more severe than at any time since the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in 2008” [Larry Summers, WaPo]. “Policymakers badly underestimate the risks of both a return to recession in the West and of a period where global growth is unacceptably slow, a global growth recession. If a recession were to occur, monetary policymakers would lack the tools to respond. There is essentially no room left for easing in the industrial world.”

Honey for the bears: “‘This is a pretty unforgiving environment,’ and ‘not a type of economy in which one can make mistakes,’ Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said Thursday at annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Lima. ‘Everybody needs to recognize there isn’t going to be a big surge of demand from abroad'” [Bloomberg].

Fear & Greed Index, October 9, 2015: 44 (-3); Fear [CNN]. Last week: 20 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed).

Dear Old Blighty

“Salami-slicing the state won’t be enough to reboot UK Plc” [Telegraph]. Tory triumphalism seems pretty intense, given the voter (as opposed to seat) margin in the last election. Speculating freely: A Scotland exit and resulting Tory dominance is “priced in” already. UK readers?

Our Famously Free Press

“This story was generated by Automated Insights” [The Verge]. AP’s earnings stories. Then, they came for political reporting… 

Rumor: McClatchy to close DC and foreign bureaus [@DionNissenbaum]. For those who came in late, McClatchy, then Knight-Ridder, was the only news-gathering organization to make the right call on Bush’s Iraq invasion and the disinformation campaign that preceded it. So this is their reward, while the Washington Post and the New York Times — Hi, Judy Miller! [waves] — carry on. Disgusting.

Mother Jones wins lawsuit against major Republican donor, squillionaire Frank VanderSloot [Mother Jones].

Imperial Collapse Watch

“The Landscape of Dreams” [The Archdruid Report].

ll this poses an immense embarrassment to the United States and its allies, which have loudly and repeatedly proclaimed the Islamic State the worst threat to world peace since the end of the Third Reich but somehow, despite a seemingly overwhelming preponderance of military force, haven’t been able to do much of anything about it. Though it’s hard to say for sure, given the fog of conflicting propaganda, it certainly looks as though the Russians have done considerably more damage to the Islamic State in a week than the US and its allies have accomplished in thirteen months of bombing. If that’s the case, some extremely awkward questions are going to be asked. Is the US military so badly led, so heavily burdened with overpriced weapons systems that don’t happen to work, or both, that it’s lost the ability to inflict serious harm on an opponent? Or—let’s murmur this one quietly—does the United States have some reason not to want to inflict serious harm on the Islamic State?…

What troubles me most about all this is what it says about the potential for really serious disruptions here in the US in the near future. I’m sure my readers can think of other regimes that reached the stage where moving imaginary armies across a landscape of dreams took precedence over grappling with awkward facts, and once that happened, none of those regimes were long for this world. The current US political system is so deeply entrenched in its own fantasies that a complete breakdown of that system, and its replacement by something entirely different—not necessarily better, mind you, but different—is a possibility that has to be kept in mind even in the near term.

Guillotine Watch

“Driven by a lust for power, greed, and a desire to improve their own financial position and reputation at the expense of investors and decency, a cabal of Pacific Investment Management Company LLC (“PIMCO”) managing directors plotted to drive founder Bill Gross out of PIMCO in order to take, without compensation, Gross’s percentage ownership in the profitability of PIMCO. Their improper, dishonest, and unethical behavior must now be exposed” [Bloomberg]. You know… I think I’m going to just leave this here.

Class Warfare

“If a proposal for a massive expansion of charter schools in Los Angeles moves forward, the casualties probably would include thousands of teachers who currently work in the city’s traditional public schools” [Los Angeles Times]. Spurred by squillionaire Eli Broad, it’s the “Great Public [snort] Schools” program. Ka-ching.

“Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy’s administration has dropped a stunningly anti-union, anti-faculty, anti-Connecticut State University proposal on the table as it begins its contract negotiations with the CSU Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the union that represents faculty and a variety of education professionals at the four universities of CSU” [Jonathan Pelto].

This development comes on top of the news that Malloy’s political appointees on the University of Connecticut’s Board of Trustees have authorized a contract with an extremely controversial, high profile, anti-union, Governor Chris Christie affiliated New Jersey law firm to lead the negotiations against the UConn Chapter of the AAUP. That contract could cost taxpayers and students as much as $500,000 or more.

What’s “stunning” about a Democrat hating unions?

News of the Wired

“Gene patents probably dead worldwide following Australian court decision” [Ars Technica]. Information stored in DNA is a product of nature, hence not patentable.

“Epigenetic ‘tags’ linked to homosexuality in men” [Nature]. “Linked to” is vague, and no doubt the story is more studiously qualified than interpretations of it will be. Still, from the 30,000 foot level, searching for “factors that could mediate a link between environment and genes” is an important research area. Especially for Rawlsians.

“Keyboard Smörgåsbord” [Eli Schiff]. For UI/UX and keyboard geeks. TLDR: Apple’s ideological commitment to design minimalism makes their screen keyboards hard to use.

“A Japanese mathematician claims to have solved one of the most important problems in his field. The trouble is, hardly anyone can work out whether he’s right” [Nature]. A proof in four papers, each 500 pages long.

* * *

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 (Howard):

Amaranth October 2015
Wow! It’s a Red Garnet variety Amaranth. Howard comments:

I saw a comment you made recently that people’s gardens are winding down this time of year — though you should know that here in the Austin TX area, early to mid Fall is high planting season. Summer is the lean time here, because of the heat and dryness.

Fifty slaps with a wet noodle for Lambert! As it gets colder and darker up here, I’m about to go into the mode of photographing decaying plants, and it’s hard to imagine things are different elsewhere. So whoever else is in the midst of the high planting season, please send in what you’ve got!

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


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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. Eric Patton

    Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy’s administration has dropped a stunningly anti-union, anti-faculty, anti-Connecticut State University proposal on the table as it begins its contract negotiations with the CSU Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the union that represents faculty and a variety of education professionals at the four universities of CSU

    Guess the profs should have thought of that before they were so cool with all the grad assistants and adjunct faculty. Karma’s a bitch.

    1. allan

      You would be amazed at how little say faculty have over the makeup of the instructional staff at a university.

      1. Eric Patton

        Save it. You’d be amazed at how much experience I have in higher ed. Frankly, it would serve the faculty right if they got crushed. They deserve it.

        1. jgordon

          I agree. Life is inherently chaotic and uncertain. These people that have ensconced themselves in protected little fiefdoms, who imagine that they’ve insulated themselves the death spiral the wider culture is in, absolutely deserve to get put on the chopping block first. Government employees, university professors, Wall Street execs–when all of these people have the exact same job security and benefits as a Taco Bell worker, only then where there be a broader movement to guarantee basic level of life (not income) and dignity for everyone.

          1. JTMcPhee

            “… only then where there be a broader movement to guarantee basic level of life (not income) and dignity for everyone.”

            …don’t forget K-12 teachers, nurses, home health aides, firemen, Children and Family Service caseworkers, all those myriads of other “Cruisers” and useless eaters that need to be broke down to the level of the Taco Bell/McDonalds/Home Depot/Amazon/Uber mopes — creative destruction, right? “…

            1. jrs

              As long as the 1% meet the same fate, I could live with it. Otherwise: they rule.

              It’s some kind of folly of the left to fantasize movements into existence. I mean we need them *badly*, but I don’t have any idea what it would take to get enough, I certainly don’t assume mass poverty would automagically produce it – it can just as likely produce 100 other trends, the worst F-ism at the very worst, but also and probably much more often than that: quietism.

              Does mass poverty (that still allows survival – otherwise it’s just mass graves) always produce it’s own solution and quickly? I don’t think so. Many countries have been somewhat poor for ages, and even completely failed states are more likely to produce refugees and emigrants than revolution.

              1. Vatch

                Does mass poverty … always produce it’s own solution and quickly? I don’t think so.

                Unfortunately, you are correct. Slavery and serfdom persisted for centuries, and seem to be enjoying a twisted rebirth in many places.

          2. reslez

            Fear doesn’t motivate people to stand up for change. What is needed in addition to fear is meaningful hope that things can change for the better. Without that people simply cling to what they have.

            Simply crushing everyone, and cheering along while it happens, is going to accomplish absolutely nothing — assuming one aims for something more substantial than schadenfreude.

            1. different clue

              When someone wishes for the general encrushment of “government workers” such as scientists, park rangers, etc. . . . bad faith and schadenfreude are the only motives they have, ever had, ever will have. Don’t even bother looking for any other motive.

              Even those LeftRight fantasists who think they will emerge to rule the resulting social superfund site are only adding that as an add-on motive to their basic bad faith and schadenfreude.

              1. jgordon

                I don’t think you get it, but that’s fine too.

                Our way of life is completely at odds with reality. It’s unsustainable. Therefore it will end. Those who currently benefit and feel that they have security under our current system are the ones who most need to be dispensed with. Yes, that includes park rangers, teachers, and scientists. Because these people all exist in a framework that’s already past it’s sell-by date.

            2. Procopius

              I think your point is well taken. During the Great Depression there were many alternative political/economic systems discussed. Technocracy. Every Man a King. Socialism. Communism. Even Fascism. The 1% were concerned that people might choose one of them in preference to starving. They have no such fear today because the alternative ideas haven’t emerged yet. Wonder if any will?

            3. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              “Hope that things can change for the better”. Yes. This ties into my current theme that Obomba is the Worst_President_Ever. Not because he is doing things worse than Bush et al, but because he has done exactly the same things as Bush, only he delivered them as a smooth-talking, young, black Democratic outsider. At least when Bush and Darth Cheney were in power we could imagine opposition to Permanent War, unlimited spying, destruction of the middle class, free pass for banking criminals etc. Now that people have seen that even someone who looked like a “change we can believe in” was just more of the same old corporo-billionaire fascism and war: hope has died.
              Worst_President_Ever and yes I’m counting Millard Fillmore and Andrew Johnson.
              (I defy any Obot to produce one single solitary thing they think our Basketballer-in-Chief has accomplished. And don’t say “gay marriage” because we was shamed into that by Biden only after it had already reached a tipping point. Ask yourself the Reagan question: are you better off?”)

        2. OIFVet

          surely not all faculty deserve to be crushed? A friend fought tooth and nail with the UChicago admin to be able to set the salaries of assistants as she saw fit. Since the funds were from a grant and not from the UChicago, she didn’t saw fit to comply with UChicago admin. The admin though was concerned that setting higher salaries would create too much upward pressure on assistant salaries in other departments. In the end, my friend won her argument, but it was a bloody affair. So to say faculty deserve to be crushed is to advocate collateral damage. I don’t see how this helps anyone.

          1. cwaltz

            Of course not, However, not every lower paid worker who watched their benefits erode deserved to be crushed either. Unfortunately, what people deserve doesn’t always match what they receive. The bottom end of the economic ladder have known this for awhile.

        3. DanB

          I’m familiar with academic politics and they are, as many have noted, viciousness in the service of pettiness. However, as a class the professoriat should not be crushed. That’s what Scott Walker and the Koch Bros. want to do.

        4. Hobbs

          Ok, I’ve got 42 years in higher Ed — both R1 and R2 universities — and I disagree. Faculty generally want more hiring lines for tenured faculty. Administrators don’t because those lines aren’t as cheap as adjuncts.

        5. craazyman

          ouch! sounds like my office at the day job

          that’s why i’m a professer at the University of Magonia where we’re honest all the time and never BS anybody. I am professer emeritus in the Department of Contemporary Analysis and direct the Institute for Contemporary Analysis at the University of Magonia. We don’t have a faculty problem because there isnt any but me. If somebody wants to donate money, I’ll take it: Proffessser D. Tremens, NFL, GED, PO Box 8, U of M, Magonia 9989

    2. m

      Malloy is a corporate democrat.
      Look at what he did to the mom & pop business’ in Stamford so he could get those big banks in there. Didn’t he give them tax breaks to come and aren’t they presently threatening to leave, Royal Bank of Scotland?
      A friend is a long time CT Demo worker, we argue about the lack of jobs and he states it is due to the robots & technology. What planet are these people from? When can we give H1 visas for new state government I ask?

      1. m

        Wow, just Finished CT/Malloy post. This argument is the same being used to beat up the hospitals. Funny thing, many so called retired government legislative workers are getting great retirement benefits and at the same time huge pay as contractors for the state government. Why is that OK?

        1. JTMcPhee

          And let us not forget all the “retired” military officers and senior NCOs who slither into nice niches in the part of the MIC where the uniform of the day is a $10,000 suit…



          …gee, who does more damage to the social fabric, the few obnoxious tenured professors (and of course there are some) or post-Congressional “lobbyists” and those f___ing Generals and Colonels scamming the trillions out of the Pentagram’s unauditable Dark Pool?

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Also interesting that Japan said TPP would not really be useful until China was a part of it. LOL that would not make American corporo-fascist billionaires very happy LOL
        (or should I say copro-phagic billionaires?)

  2. cwaltz

    Darn! I really was cheering on zombie Reagan. After all, he’s a candidate the GOP can and does coalesce around routinely. Stupid, has to be a living person, rule!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Article I, Section 2, Clause 5:

      The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers

      Putting on my strict constructionist hat, I’m willing to concede that the Speaker must be a person, but I don’t see a requirement that they be a living person; so if they want to dig Reagan’s body up, and put it on a catafalque in the well of the House, I think that would be fine, though I’d hope they would drape it tastefully.

      Speculating more freely, the “person” that could become a Speaker could also be a corporation; I’d suggest we nominate whichever corporation contributed the most to all House members. (This will actually help bipartisanship and comity, since it rewards corporations who contribute the maximum to both sides of the aisle, so I’m surprised the Post editorial board didn’t consider it.)

      1. Vatch

        Interesting. It appears that there is no requirement that the Speaker be a member of the House of Representatives.

        1. cwaltz

          Google is just a little to “liberal elite” for the GOP. It needs to be a corporation that embodies the GOP. I think Hobby Lobby would be a stronger fit and allow them to continue with their war on women/health care. I mean health care is pretty important to them they must have voted on repealing Obamacare at least 50 times.

      2. Massinissa

        Lets make BOTH Koch Brothers speaker of the house!

        Or better yet, we could have all the squillionaires take turns being Speaker for a month each.

    2. Paul Tioxon

      The speaker could be a OUIJA board channeling the original intent of the founding fathers, as long as the government shuts down, who cares?

  3. MRLost

    Ref “The Landscape of Dreams”

    Though often forgotten (or ignored) in the West, it was actually the Russians who defeated the Nazis. That the world waits for the Russians to defeat the Islamic State comes as no surprise to Putin.

    1. Vatch

      The Americans and British who fought at Anzio, Normandy, and in the skies over Britain might not be pleased with what you are saying. The Soviets were a huge part of the victory over the Nazis, but they weren’t alone. They also contributed nothing to the Allied victory against the Japanese.

      1. Jess

        It pretty much comes down to Russia and the western allies needing each other. Stalin pushed hard for a Western Front because he knew it would drain Nazi forces from the battle on the Eastern Front. Hard to admit, but if Hitler never invades Russia, we probably never push him out of western Europe without using the bomb on much of Germany, with the (literal) fallout effects on the rest of Europe.

      2. nigelk


        7 million Russian military casualities
        20 million Russian civilian casualties

        1 million> = American military casualties
        Negligible = American civilian casualties.

        Yeah, we “won” the war. Thanks to a bunch of guys named Ivan and Sergei.

          1. sleepy

            Yes, Putin took personal offense at Hillary calling the Russian government Nazi-like when his own brother died during the siege of Leningrad.

            For a multitude of reasons her statement was breathtakingly ignorant.

        1. Vatch

          Dictators can be a lot more wasteful with their people’s lives than other leaders can be. You’re right; a bunch of guys named Ivan and Sergei were the main victors against the Nazis, in spite of some guys named Stalin, Molotov, and Beria.

          1. OIFVet

            Simplistic view. Yes, incompetence explains some of the casualties. The fact that the best German units were thrown at the SU explains another part. The racial theories of Hitler account for many millions killed. As a Slav, I find such cavalier attitude appalling. The fact is the best and largest part of German military might was thrown at Russia, with racial cleansing mixed in. The Anglo-Saxons did not face the same kind of fighting, and as POWs were treated with kid gloves compared to the Russian POWs. That tells a lot.

      3. ira

        ‘In 1993 a study by the Russian Academy of Sciences estimated total Soviet population losses due to the war at 26.6 million,including military dead of 8.7 million calculated by the Russian Ministry of Defense.These figures have been accepted by most historians outside of Russia. However the figure of 8.7 million military dead has been disputed by some historians in Russia because it is in conflict with the official database of the Central Defense Ministry Archive (CDMA) which lists the names of roughly 14 million dead and missing servicemen.Some independent researchers in Russia have put total losses in the war, both civilians and military, at over 40 million.’ (Wikipedia)

        As the great communist Winston Churchill said, ‘the Red Army tore the guts out of the Werhmacht.’ In simple language, if not for the Red Army, Hitler, would have almost certainly controlled the whole world, save the Americas. One needn’t be a Stalinist apologist to state this; facts are facts.

    2. Paul Tioxon

      Russia was always the policeman of Europe, slaughtering whoever challenged the monarchy system of Europe in uprisings, rebellions or wrong headed commoners with Napoleonic complexes. Of course Putin knows the world is holding its breath waiting for Russia to invade more countries, steal more land, because you know, they just don’t have enough territory under their control and with over a dozen nations on their borders, well you know, the chances are covetous neighbors will always cause unwarranted military conflicts. Russia just needs some more land, some access to all of the world’s oceans and if that pesky little Europe would just dry up and blow away, they could rightfully, well easily without firing a shot, claim a continental Atlantic to Pacific national territory and the security it brings, just like the USofA. On the other hand, continental envy is so unbecoming a nation state. You don’t see China acting out like this!

        1. Jess

          You mean the Christian jihadis who insist — despite numerous quote from the Founding Fathers to the contrary — that America was founded on being, and should become again, a Christian theocracy? Those jihadis? Or the ones from the new (formerly old) South who want to secede?

          1. ambrit

            In the interest of equal opportunity, don’t rule out the Black jihadis, nor La Raza, not the Catholic League of Decency, nor the Mormon ‘Bitter Enders,’ nor the JDL, nor, but, you get the idea.
            The point could be argued that, with our shiny new police state, the ‘jihadis’ are in the door, and stealing any and every thing not nailed down.

      1. different clue

        No, you see China quietly patiently planning and building for its Greater Afro-EurAsia Co-Prosperity Sphere. That’s what you see China doing.

    3. scott

      I wonder if it as simple as this: The Russians take out ISIS and the rest of the radicals and start to rebuild Syria into something liveable. Then the EU starts sending the refugees back. It’s a better investment for the EU to help rebuild Syria than to pay for a million refugees that will never really be part of their society yet still need assistance. In return, all EU sanctions against Russia go away.

      A win-win. Better EU ties for Russia, and the EU gets rid of the refugees.

      1. OIFVet

        I don’t think that Russia is in any way interested in spending its own money to rebuild Syria. Prop up Assad for as long as it takes to stabilize the country, definitely. But rebuilding? Fat chance. Don’t count on the Euro lemmings to spring for it either. First, it makes too much sense. Second, they are too busy dismantling themselves (think Greece), so why would they spend money on Syria?

  4. willf

    I read the Dayen article on Clinton’s pandering just to be certain that the excerpt had it right.

    “But the bigger issue is this: What’s wrong with pandering? Our system of government, as it has evolved, offers precious few opportunities for ordinary people to get into the national conversation. Big Money has a tight grip on governance through insistent lobbying, and for the most part they fund national elections.”

    Pandering is not evidence that “ordinary people are getting into the national conversation”. If anything, pandering is how candidates get votes for nothing more than a few words. What’s wrong with pandering? In effect, it’s lying. A candidate says what she needs to say to get elected. At that point, all the pandering in the world becomes moot.

    Also, saying that this is how “our system of government has evolved” is passive language at its worst.

    What the heck has happened to David Dayen? his writing used to be a lot more pointed and incisive, and still is, in matters not pertaining to Hillary Clinton.

    1. cwaltz

      I kind of get his point.

      Yes, the veracity of statements should be tested at some point however, some of the political is about moving the debate in the direction you want to move it. Pandering is evidence that you(the left side of the aisle) are moving the debate in the right direction IMO.

      I’m content to watch and see what Clinton has to say about her evolution on TPP at this point(and note which companies are filling her coffers.) Then again, I’m not overly concerned about picking a team D candidate. I’m content to watch the candidates the left has “duke it out” because I think how a candidate and its supporters behave during the ups and downs of a campaign provide some insight into the candidate.

    2. Left in Wisconsin

      All of us here in Wisco remember Obama on the campaign trail vowing to buy a new pair of shoes and join us on the picket line if anyone challenged union rights. But somehow when the time came, he was a no show.

      1. OIFVet

        You are paraphrasing Barry wrong. He said comfortable pair of shoes. And as The Archdruid makes clear, no such are available in the Atlantic Republic.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      There are a lot of “ordinary people” donating small amounts (in case, not promises) to Sanders. That’s how they got in the conversation and IMNSHO is one clear reason for Clinton to pander to them.

      1. cwaltz

        The more “very serious people” support Sanders positions the less able they’ll be able to paint it as some extreme communist viewpoint.

        I’m also good with anything that gets TPP conversation in the public, even Clinton.

        1. sleepy

          My concern is she removes TPP from the conversation in the primaries by getting the dem electorate to think she will actually do something about it.

          1. cwaltz

            Sanders donation numbers tell me there’s enough skepticism out there that she’ll have to do a lot to convince folks that she’s genuine.

    4. Oregoncharles

      Hypocrisy is at least an acknowledgement of the underlying morality.

      Maybe not effective, but it doesn’t claim legitimacy. This is why Obama is worse than Bush: where Bush basically snuck around, Obama claims legitimacy and makes the abuses legal – along with a Democrat-controlled congress, of course (2009-10).

  5. willf

    I read the Dayen article on Clinton’s pandering just to be certain that the excerpt had it right.

    “But the bigger issue is this: What’s wrong with pandering? Our system of government, as it has evolved, offers precious few opportunities for ordinary people to get into the national conversation. Big Money has a tight grip on governance through insistent lobbying, and for the most part they fund national elections.”

    Pandering is not evidence that “ordinary people are getting into the national conversation”. If anything, pandering is how candidates get votes for nothing more than a few words. What’s wrong with pandering? In effect, it’s lying. A candidate says what she needs to say to get elected. At that point, all the pandering in the world becomes moot.

    Also, saying that this is how “our system of government has evolved” is passive language at its worst.

    What the heck has happened to David Dayen? his writing used to be a lot more pointed and incisive, and still is, in matters not pertaining to Hillary Clinton.

      1. willf

        I apologize. The double post was unintentional. I swear I only clicked Post Comment once. Please feel free to delete it. It’s odd but I didn’t see an option to request deletion as I would have done so.

      2. Oregoncharles

        How is this even possible? I’ve tried, when I got confused (because it posted very slowly, so I wasn’t sure I’d done it), and the system always caught me.

        Maybe he double-clicked. Might be nice to know what causes this problem – though it hasn’t happened much lately.

  6. Synoia

    The current US political system is so deeply entrenched in its own fantasies that a complete breakdown of that system, and its replacement by something entirely different—not necessarily better, mind you, but different—is a possibility that has to be kept in mind even in the near term.

    One should not assume the Unites States, the last remaining 19th Century Empire, would remain United.

    1. NOTaREALmerican

      Most people need fantasies. Fantasy is just another name for bullshit.

      Politics provides the bullshit the morality OCD people need. The “new system”, in order to exist, would need to create the same bullshit. So, there’s no need to worry (unless there’s some new form of bullshit lurking about that hasn’t been revealed to that masses yet. That’s what I’d be worried about).

  7. ProNewerDeal

    any of this Next House Leader Candidate talk, seems to ignore what is relevant, at least relevant to me.

    What is each of say the 3 “most likely” House Leader Candidates willingness to work with 0bama to pass bad-for-Actual-Muricans legislation by Jan 2017, specifically the 1 TPP, & 2 The Grand Ripoff of Social Insurance.

    The fact that McCarthy B0ner Jr was b0nin a fellow congresslady that was a distinct woman than his wife, is not relevant to my life, other than showing the massive Family Values Hypocrisy. Although 0bama is a Family Values Hypocrite is his own distinct style, by talking bogus pro-family, pro-Murican happy talk in his speech, than attempting to slash social insurance with his Grand Ripoff, and not addressing the horrible job market for his entire term with massive unemployment & Type 2 Underemployment with crazy examples of PhD biologist working as taxi drivers, etc.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Actually, what that shows is that, once again, the right wing is willing to do what they think it takes to win. Unlike, one might add, Congressional Democrats. The time to lance this boil was in 2009, but of course the Democrats didn’t do that. And here we are.

  8. NeqNeq

    re: ”a global growth recession”

    That is such a delicious phrase. I am saving that quote for the next time I teach a Critical Thinking or Rhetoric course.

  9. Oregoncharles

    “Or—let’s murmur this one quietly—does the United States have some reason not to want to inflict serious harm on the Islamic State?… ”

    I’ve been wondering about that. IS is SO bad, and so very publicly bad, that it’s extremely convenient for American interventionists – an answer to their prayers, or did they…..? At the same time, it’s so bad, such a threat to what moral progress we’ve made (specifically because it’s so public about it), that a suppression campaign is more than called for – and that’s something I’m extremely reluctant to say. If the Russians are really going to do that, while making the US military look as pathetic as they are, more power to them.

    And there’s a larger theme here: Hugely impressive but hollow militaries. Both the US and Israel have been unable to win any wars lately, even when they cherry-pick their enemies. (Exceptions would be Iraq, both wars against Saddam Hussein. It was the “peace” they threw away. And those wins were because Hussein’s military was a weak parody of the kind the US had prepared for.)

    1. Oregoncharles

      And a further thought inspired by the Archdruid’s alarums:

      In “Ecotopia Emerging,” by Ernest Callenbach, one of the prerequisites to the Northwest’s successful secession was that the US military was so deeply engaged in the Middle East’s oil wars that that was more important than the PNW.

      Sound at all familiar?

      1. jrs

        The Oregon’s shooters FB logo was the Cascadia flag. Don’t know what to make of that. gun-cascadian-successionist-culture?

        1. Oregoncharles

          I don’t know what to make of it, either. In my experience, Cascadia is a lefty-enviro thing.

          On the other hand, he was clearly not well.

    2. 3.17e-9

      Incompetence is a good cover, and as far as I know, no budget ever was cut because of it. If anything, a claim can be made that the budget needs to be increased in order to find competent people and “better” equipment.

  10. Carolinian

    “A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth – some obvious truth he isn’t supposed to say.”

    You jog the memory cells for this corollary from Claud Cockburn (father of the writer brothers).

    “believe nothing until it has been officially denied”.

    He was quite the wit.


      1. optimader

        Having the resourcefulness to scale down to that level of simplicity is elegant. But,, I’ll bet he wasnt using a mud and stone gopro camera! HAHA

  11. BBraun

    Oct 10 Berlin seems agreement has been reached by several sources that 150,000 people demonstrated against TTIP and CETA

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