2:00PM Water Cooler 11/11/2015

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


Elizabeth Warren on ISDS: “[The tobacco carve-out] is a clear admission by the administration that companies can use and have used the investor-state dispute settlement process to weaken regulations. Tobacco regulations are very important, but so are rules against polluting rivers, rules to stop another financial crisis, rules to make nuclear power safer. The administration needs to explain why every other industry can still use ISDS to challenge public interest rules in this agreement” [Boston Globe]. 

ISDS: “As chairman of the world’s leading legal arbitration firm – Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP – [George Kahale III’s] core business is to defend governments being sued by foreign investors under ISDS. Some of his clients are included in the TPP, and he says the trade minister’s critics are right” [Guardian]. Kahale: “There are significant improvements in this treaty, but they do not immunise Australia from any of these claims. If the trade minister is saying, ‘We’re not at risk for regulating environmental matters’, then the trade minister is wrong.”

ISDS: “The USTR’s office points to statutory language guaranteeing the right to regulate financial institutions in pretty much any way governments like as long as it’s nondiscriminatory, but experts I’ve spoken to allege that ISDS panels routinely ignore this kind of language, and the arbitration process is inherently corrupt due to huge conflicts of interest” [Matt Yglesias, Vox]. “The administration’s general counter to this is that in reality the US government basically never loses ISDS claims. And with regard to financial services, the administration has what it sees as a trump card ISDS critics aren’t really wrestling with: a provision that allows a government to kick a dispute out of the ISDS process entirely and settle it instead on a state-to-state basis between financial regulators… This seems persuasive if you are willing to accept the good faith of the Obama administration…”

“[A]greements such as the TPP are about implementing policies that have nothing to do with comparative advantage, policies that are often designed to lead to higher consumer costs and concentrated corporate power. Treated as marginal issues, these policies are ‘free-trade free-riders,’ coasting along on an unearned legitimacy” [Globe and Mail]. Not a trade deal!

“For at least one major sector – the auto industry – the agreement will make a huge difference, bringing considerable disruption to the industry but offering sizeable gains for car buyers” [VoxEU, “The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a trade agreement, and then some”]. Considered in the aggregate, the World GDP benefits are minuscule, and nobody has shown why bilaterial agreements won’t bring the same benefits. No, the TPP is not a trade deal!



“For years, some academics have argued that far-right parties, however unsavory they may be to the mainstream, can help defuse radical tendencies by giving voters who feel abandoned by the political establishment a voice” [Politico]. Germany, but… 

The Debates

TPP: “Calling it a ‘horrible deal,’ Donald Trump spoke out against the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership during the Fox Business Republican debate, saying it would cause Americans to lose their jobs and was ‘designed for China to come in as they always do through the back door and totally take advantage of everyone’ [The Week]. Vox, HuffPo, and Slate frame this as Paul fact-checking Trump. But they airbrush out what Paul went on to say:

[Paul] said he does agree with Trump in that the U.S. should “negotiate from a position of strength, and we also should negotiate using the full force and the constitutional power given to us.” It’s a mistake, however, to give up “power to the presidency on these trade deals” and “the power to amend.” Over the last century, he said, “so much power has gravitated to the executive branch. Congress is kind of a bystander; we don’t write the rules, we don’t make the laws, the executive branch does. So even in trade, and I am for trade, I think we should be careful about giving so much power to the presidency.”

It sounds like Paul would be amenable to Fast Track’s repeal, at the very least. 

Still on TPP, Los Angeles Times does exactly what Vox, et al. did above, including approving tweets from Joan Walsh through David Frum to Grover Norquist. So the political class takes a unified view on the TPP, eh? It’s worth noting that Trump said “designed for China to come in as they always do,” to which Paul is not responsive: “[W]e might want to point out that China’s not part of this deal,” does not mean, after all, that TPP is not designed for China to come in; in fact, Obama has suggested (even if he’s probably lying) that China should do just that. Oddly, or not, Joan Walsh didn’t mention this.

The economy: “Barring disaster, President Obama will finish his term with a growing economy. Republicans need to show Americans that they can do better—that they can deliver growth and resources to the people who need them. Otherwise, little else matters. The Democratic nominee will inherit the Obama economy and prevail” [Jamelle Bouie, Slate].

The Fed: “On Tuesday night, several GOP candidates expressed skepticism of the Fed’s effectiveness and voiced concern over the range of its powers. They blamed the central bank for widening inequality and penalizing savers. Some even called for a return to the gold standard” [WaPo]. Headline: “This is one issue that the Republican presidential candidates agree on.”

Immigration: “The clash over how to deal with immigrants in the country illegally sparked the ugliest exchanges of Tuesday’s debate, as the two sides showed little taste for even a hint of compromise. They may show agreement on the basic outlines of other core conservative issues, notably tax policy, but the schism on immigration shows no signs of fading” [McClatchy]. “Those candidates marshaling voter anger are determined to clamp down on what they see as an uncontrollable flood of undocumented immigrants. Their followers are roughly the same voters who created and energized the tea party movement six years ago. On the other Republican side are the politically practical conservatives. “Philosophy doesn’t work when you run something,” argued John Kasich, the governor of Ohio. The pragmatists appreciate Kasich and Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, who say Trump’s immigration ideas are nuts.”

Health care: “Until Carly Fiorina criticized Obamacare during Tuesday’s prime-time Republican debate, there hadn’t been much attention to health care in the GOP debates. During last week’s Democratic candidate forum in South Carolina, I didn’t detect a single question about health care or the Affordable Care Act” [Wall Street Journal, “Health Care and the 2016 Debates”].

The winnah: “Some 24% of debate-viewers named Mr. Trump and 23% picked Mr. Rubio as the winner of the eight-candidate event, which was sponsored by the Wall Street Journal and Fox Business News. Ted Cruz and Ben Carson followed, with 13% declaring each to have won” [Wall Street Journal, “Donald Trump, Marco Rubio Won GOP Debate, Poll Finds”]. 

The winnah: “[Ted Cruz], considered a mid-tier candidate in terms of his standing in opinion polls, had the highest social media sentiment analysis score of 11 as well as the highest number of mentions on Twitter during the debate, according to Thomson Reuters data” [Reuters]. They turned the knobs up?

The winnah: “Chris Christie de­livered an­oth­er strong de­bate per­form­ance Tues­day, re­kind­ling hope that des­pite a de­mo­tion to the un­der­card event, the New Jer­sey gov­ernor’s nat­ur­al cha­risma and blunt style is giv­ing the long-shot cam­paign a chance to build mo­mentum as the GOP pres­id­en­tial primary heats up” [National Journal]. A chance to shine on the undercard!

The Trail

“Clinton did take a couple of questions from those who lined up to get into Tuesday’s event… She did not answer any questions from the local media. Adam Sullivan has covered her visits several times in New Hampshire, where she has not taken questions from the local media. In contrast, Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie and Bernie Sanders have all been willing to answer questions: [WCAX]. “So while her campaign travels the state holding town halls and forums like this one, it is clear her approach to the nomination is much more controlled than that of other candidates.” Still wrapped in tissue paper. I mean, I can see stiffing the national press — everybody hates them — but the locals?

Trump in New Hampshire: Christie could have “a place” on my ticket [The Hill].

“The Bridgegate corruption trial of a former Port Authority official and a deputy chief of staff to Gov. Chris Christie on charges they conspired to close George Washington Bridge access lanes has been postponed yet again” [Star-Ledger].

“The [Republican] campaign has moved beyond the period of introduction. The next phase will bring more heated engagement and with it, perhaps, greater clarity. To date, the campaign has produced anything but” [WaPo]. Dan Balz channels Elizabeth Drew!

Stats Watch

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of November 6, 2015: “After swinging wildly through October on new lending disclosure rules, mortgage applications settled down for a second straight week” [Econoday].

The Fed: “San Francisco Federal Reserve President John Williams said Tuesday there’s a ‘very strong case’ for the Fed to raise interest rates next month if the economy continues to improve and policymakers are confident that inflation will pick up” [USA Today]. “Williams’ remarks are significant because he’s a voting member of the Fed’s policymaking committee and considered a centrist whose views generally align with those of Fed Chair Janet Yellen. Williams was Yellen’s research director when she headed the San Francisco Fed.” Kremlinology… 

Shipping: “Maersk will cut a fifth of its workforce and cancel options for huge new ships as it tries to rein in costs. One major culprit was decreasing trade between Asia and Europe, which pushed freight shipping rates to, in the report’s words, “new historic lows'” [Fortune].

Ag: “Farmland Partners revealed it was already in talks over further US farm acquisitions even as it, with a $197m deal, unveiled its biggest purchase yet getting the company close to joining the club of owners of more than 100,000 acres” [Agrimoney]. “The closing of the deal, expected in the January-to-March period of 2016, will though debt secured against the new land ‘provide approximately $100m of capital for additional acquisition’, Farmland Partners said.”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 63 (-3); Greed [CNN]. Last week: 74 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed)

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“A 19-year-old student at a second Missouri university was arrested early Wednesday on charges of making a ‘terrorist threat’ [over Yik Yak] to the campus of the University of Missouri–Columbia, which has been roiled in recent weeks by racial tension, campus police said” [USA Today]. Details, including a screen shot of the Yik Yak [Riverfront Times].

“Melissa Click, an assistant professor at the University of Missouri who was captured on video Monday aggressively confronting a journalism student covering a campus protest, has apologized for her actions and resigned her courtesy appointment with the Missouri School of Journalism” [Chicago Tribune]. Amidst the fog of war, a conflict of rights: Journalists have the right to cover a story, but nobody said that any given citizen has to be covered (modulo a discussion about public figures). I see the issue as tactical, not moral; does barring the press advance the protester’s cause? (And my first reaction to the “safe space” rhetoric is that it’s asinine and juvenile — but then we think of shooting after shooting after shooting, eh?)

“From Washington to Miami, and from Maine to Hawaii, college athletes are watching the Heartland and seeing undeniable proof of the power they hold. A show of unity and strength from Mizzou’s football players essentially forced Pinkel, the $4 million-per-year coach and most influential man on campus, to back their boycott” [Kansas City Star]. I have priors that make me not unqualifiedly enthusiastic about the leading role of the football team, but I do think a union would help them.


“Rangers lose the Big Tax Case – what now?” [The Offshore Game (NS)]. These are the Rangers of Scotland, not New York. Tax law is full of humor; here’s a sample: “The scheme was set up by Rangers’ owners, the Murray Group, on the advice of Paul Baxendale Walker, who since leaving the tax advisory profession has become a pornographer.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

“New York charges 44 with sweeping fraud in heating oil industry” [Reuters]. Small fish, as usual. What about market manipulation?

Health Care

“Dems abandon Obama on ‘Cadillac tax’” [The Hill (RS)]. 

“About 7.5 mil­lion tax­pay­ers paid a total of $1.5 bil­lion for not hav­ing health cov­er­age. This was high­er than the Treas­ury De­part­ment es­tim­ate that 3 to 6 mil­lion tax­pay­ers would pay the fee” [National Journal]. “The fee levied on those who go without in­sur­ance but who can af­ford it sharply in­creases in 2016, a res­ult of a three-year phase-in of the pen­alty. ‘The more money you’re throw­ing away for noth­ing, the more likely you are to change your be­ha­vi­or,’ [Linda Blum­berg, seni­or fel­low at the Urb­an In­sti­tu­te’s Health Policy Cen­ter] said. ‘You’d rather put more money to­ward get­ting something than throw away this amount of money for get­ting noth­ing.'”


“In the past 10 years, the number of frac sand mines in Wisconsin has grown from five to more than 60. The number of dairy CAFOs — concentrated animal feeding operations — ballooned from 50 to 250. There are more than 3,000 high capacity wells — which pull at least 70 gallons of water out of the ground each minute — in one region alone, up from fewer than 100 five decades ago” [Al Jazeera]. “Many say governor Scott Walker’s administration has had an unprecedented impact on the state’s natural resources, and that Wisconsin’s bountiful waters are more imperiled than ever. The most recent state budget written by Walker’s administration and approved by Wisconsin’s GOP-controlled legislature in June cut half of the [Department of Natural Resource’s] senior science staff — 18 positions — as well as 60 percent of the agency’s education staff.”

“The powerful Metropolitan Water District of Southern California decided Tuesday to begin negotiations to buy thousands of acres including four islands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, an effort to secure steady flows of water amid the historic drought” [San Francisco Chronicle].

“In a release dated Oct. 29, [Detroit’s] Department of Water and Sewage said that since May, it has warned 49,824 account holders that they face water shutoffs” [Fusion]. “Just over half of those account holders have taken advantage of a donation-backed fund created to help pay their bills.” Donation-based fund?


“Evidence of Polyethylene Biodegradation by Bacterial Strains from the Guts of Plastic-Eating Waxworms” [ACS]. Neato!

“How does a parasite create zombie-like behavior?” [Experiment]. “Our results suggest that the fungus takes over the brain, secreting LSD-like compounds, expressing proteins that change serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain, and altering the ability to communicate with nearby ants. … In the long run this work might even lead to discoveries related to human brain health.” Paging Michael Hudson!

Class Warfare

“Billionaire CEO Marc Benioff on the important topic every business school fails to teach”: equality [Business Insider].

“People in line for organ transplants gain an advantage by getting on the waiting lists at multiple centers. But that privilege appears to favor wealthier patients and may be exacerbating existing inequities in organ transplantation, according to data presented November 9 at the American Heart Association’s scientific sessions” [Science Daily]. They call it class warfare for a reason… 

“This is a talk about what happens when a culture is driven by the need for money to make more money” [Medium]. “We want Kickstarter to be similarly in sync with society. Earlier this year we became a Public Benefit Corporation. This means we are legally obligated to consider the impact of our decisions on society, not just our shareholders” (Yancey Strickler is CEO of Kickstarter…)

News of the Wired

“The counterintuitive, GIF-tastic plan to redeem the modern Internet” [WaPo].

“Why babies should sleep in cardboard boxes, explained in 2 charts” [WaPo].

“Epic slide deck from former Yahoo board member lays out the future of tech and media” [Business Insider]. “The Tech & Media world is evolving into an increasingly unified stack.”

* * *

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:

First Fall Color

Early fall color in the Coastal Botanical Gardens.

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. Winter has come, 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. Anon

    Re: Water

    Not sure how prevalent it is, but where I live at, bill payers have the option to contribute $1 or $2 to their bill to help fund the water bill for someone less fortunate. Here, we call it the SPLASH program, but I have no idea how successful it is.

    1. LeeD.Detroit

      Donation-based fund? We’re used to it. For years, DTE (Detroit Edison + gas) has begged its customers to contribute to THAW, The Heat And Warmth fund, to subsidize “the less fortunate” — who are, I suspect, its investors and executives.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yes, I used to read Elizabeth Drew in the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books. But she sure was the mistress of the “If A, but on the other hand B, and the future lies ahead” conclusion, wasn’t she?

  2. Vatch

    “The administration’s general counter to this is that in reality the US government basically never loses ISDS claims. And with regard to financial services, the administration has what it sees as a trump card ISDS critics aren’t really wrestling with: a provision that allows a government to kick a dispute out of the ISDS process entirely and settle it instead on a state-to-state basis between financial regulators… This seems persuasive if you are willing to accept the good faith of the Obama administration…”

    Well, no. The U.S. recently lost a food Country of Origin Labelling case in the WTO. The House of Representatives has voted to repeal the relevant law, although the Senate hasn’t voted yet. See:


        1. 3.14e-9

          A botanical preserve is not the same thing as a botanical garden. But in any case, “Coastal Botanical Gardens” under the pic is capitalized, suggesting that it’s the official name. Does either Oregon or Washington have a Coastal Botanical Garden?

          1. Ivy

            For all, while not a Botanical Garden, nonetheless, see the following Darlingtonia State Natural Site about the State Park dedicated to the preservation of the Darlingtonia Californica plant
            If you haven’t seen one before, visualize a Pitcher Plant as those are somewhat similar.

          2. tegnost

            not certain but I think bloedel reserve is as close as washington gets, not really coastal, more salish sea, lots of rhodys, azaleas etc…go over to moclips and drive north into the reservation. Basically goes up to kalaloch lodge, which is probably more civilized. Wild coast very spectacular but you can get lost on the logging roads. Hoh rainforest is pretty great, too, you can hike in a 100′ or 17 miles as I recall. This is the best time of year to go but seriously watch out for rogue waves nobody to save you, and stay away from the logs in the surf or on the beach, this ain’t cali, beach is very dangerous here. Big storm tomorrow and friday. Lots of huckleberries and lots of black bears.Probably a couple sasquatch….

              1. tegnost

                if you’re crafty you can find your way to the mouth of the raft river. highly recommended,but as I said, way out there

                  1. 3.14e-9

                    Oh my goodness, way up there? We didn’t get farther north than Queets. But in any case, I’m not a hiker. Darlingtonia is about my speed — and I will make sure to visit next time I’m down that way. I think Lambert needs a photo of those plants.

      1. 3.14e-9

        The deciduous tree is a variety of ornamental Japanese maple, but there are dozens, and I’m not familiar with them all. I think that’s a Doug fir behind it.

  3. DanB

    Senator Warren says, “The administration needs to explain why every other industry can still use ISDS to challenge public interest rules in this agreement.” We’re way past asking for “explanations” Senator (she’s my senator BTW).

    1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

      She’s just posturing. I can’t take Warren seriously. She’s been making noise for years and none of it amounts to jack.

      1. different clue

        Getting the question “on the record” to where other people can see it or hear it allows those other people to weaponise the question and disseminate the weaponised question. So even if Warren herself was posturing, other people can weaponise her posture to point and shoot at real targets.
        Or plant many political IEDs on many political roadsides. Etc.

        1. tegnost

          yes, and her question was a good question that doesn’t get asked enough in those circles, at the same time in generalfeldmarschalls defense she does the “if only they would explain it (better) ” like it’s a communication problem. Still I’d rather see it in the discourse than not, but keep your hand on the hilt

  4. Kurt Sperry

    I made it fifteen minutes or so through the GOP headliners last night. I don’t think it was my ideological differences as much as they are just awful. Watching Trump’s incoherent nativist ramblings were the final straw (although I still prefer he gets the nomination).


    If Bernie somehow gets past Clinton, he wins the final via turnout and gets a lot of Democrats–many undeservedly I might add–into Congress. It would be weird, and maybe a little cathartic even, to see a president frequently at profound odds on policy from the majority of his own party within a Congress they potentially control. I think that might put things into higher relief for those watching.

    1. JTMcPhee

      There would be no “relief” I can see for this watcher or the rest of the 99%, from this scenario…

      1. Kurt Sperry

        It, would be educational. It would make clearer which Democrats are on the side of the Republicans/gazillionaires when push comes to shove and confuse the distinction between the duopoly partners. As it should be confused. Fewer and fewer people identify with the political status quo and fewer think the government is managed for their benefit. This will be among the necessary if insufficient prerequisites for change. One step at a time. You can’t do everything at once.

        On issue after issue the battle is downhill for progressives once (and if) the battle is ever actually on.

  5. ekstase

    “A spokesperson for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources told Al Jazeera that the agency would not be available to comment for this series.”

    I believe they have a word for that…

    Ruining land and water – what goes through such a person’s mind?

  6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Over at Marketwatch, they are running a story about a NY panhandler making as much as $200 an hour.

    I don’t know if that is scalable at all.

    Will ‘success’ bring more competition?

      1. different clue

        There are a couple beggars with dogs here in College Townville. “Please help my dog buy some dog food and other dog stuff.”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s like they are trying to condition us with this: ‘It’s not so bad. And no matter how bad, if you work hard, look at what you can achieve.”

        1. MikeNY

          Silicon Valley is launching a new panhandling app. You can beg from the comfort of your own car or hovel or bridge, and people can donate with Apple Pay or Square.

          Very disruptive.

        2. Pat

          Late to the party, but it was first reported by the NY Post and is being used to increase demand to rescind new laws, such as those that allow the homeless to sleep on the street. They are putting a huge push behind Bratton’s desire to treat the homeless as criminals first and down on their luck after every other option has been exhausted.

  7. Vatch

    It sounds like Paul would be amenable to Fast Track’s repeal, at the very least.

    Seems likely. He was one of the 5 Republican Senators who voted against Fast Track back in June, 2015.

  8. Nigelk

    “‘The more money you’re throw­ing away for noth­ing, the more likely you are to change your be­ha­vi­or,’ [Linda Blum­berg, seni­or fel­low at the Urb­an In­sti­tu­te’s Health Policy Cen­ter] said. ‘You’d rather put more money to­ward get­ting something than throw away this amount of money for get­ting noth­ing.’”

    Have they seen the deductibles vs. Americans’ annual incomes? You get nothing even if you DID sign up for this farce.

    Heads they win, tails you lose. Welcome to America.

      1. different clue

        Do you mean simple “math”? Or basic “arithmetic”? Its been decades since I was a schoolboy but I learned basic real-world useful arithmetic in school. I have heard that schools teach some kind of “new math” nowadays designed to prevent students from learning arithmetic or being able to learn arithmetic later. The purpose of this is to grow those students into the kind of immunised-against-arithmetic adults who will not be able to do the sort of calculations which would allow them to draw these conclusions about the positive or negative value of Obamacare among other things.

        Would I be right or wrong about “anti-rithmetic” being taught to schoolkids today? Is there a War On Arithmetic to go along with America’s War On Reading?

        1. hunkerdown

          New Math (from the 1960s) made perfect sense and prepared students for critical thinking. What Pearson is vending is screen training.

          1. tegnost

            ‘You’d rather put more money to­ward get­ting something than throw away this amount of money for get­ting noth­ing.’” I’m afraid I’m going to have to correct that work…You’d rather put more money towards getting nothing than continue getting nothing. Just as a sort of logical construct…

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              Or I’ll pay to avoid getting sucked into a bad system, rather than get sucked into it and then ripped off.

              Again, let’s remember that 50% of the unenrolled, according to the NBER, have concluded — as rational actors — that ObamaCare will not increase their welfare.

            2. different clue

              That statement was unintended satire. Buying mid-level Obamacare is throwing money away for not getting stuff. Paying the penaltax is throwing a lot less money away. In fact, it is spending “some” money in order to legally avoid being forced to throw away “much more” money.

              If that analysis is correct, then the number of people gnawing their own paws off to get out of the leg-hold Obamatrap will just keep rising and rising.

  9. Brooklin Bridge

    I’ve never seen a more spledifferous Fall for colors than this year in Massachusetts ( and I’m sure in other New England states as well). Something to do with the dryness and warm weather perhaps?

    1. Gaianne

      The improved colors may be related to our collapsing global economy. A collapsing economy produces less ground-level ozone (pollution) resulting in healthier trees, resulting in better fall colors.

      Despite the summer drought, the trees in my part of New England have looked happier than they have in half a decade.

      That is, a half-decade trend of the trees declining toward extinction has just halted. Maybe the trees will survive after all.

      (They still won’t like the global warming, but that’s a smaller problem.)


  10. abynormal

    Fog of TPP…did someone lose a memo?:
    Updated 1:29PM ET

    Relations between the European Union and Israel took a dive on Wednesday after Israel derided a decision by the 28-nation bloc to label products made in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

    The Israeli Foreign Ministry said the EU has taken an “exceptional and discriminatory step” for “political reasons,” while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the EU should be “ashamed,” and accused the bloc of punishing “the side that is being attacked by terrorism.” He said “this will not advance peace; it will certainly not advance truth and justice.”

    1. Massinissa

      You know, its funny. The EU barely opposes Bibi, and when they do, its on half measures like this.

      But when he is opposed, no matter how little, by the EU, he immediately resorts to histrionics.

  11. abynormal

    Iraq – the fastest-growing member of OPEC – has unleashed a two-mile long, 3 million metric ton barrage of 19 million barrel excess supply directly to US ports in November.
    Q. where will they ‘fit’ before sailing for China :/

  12. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    About zombie producing bacteria: Well, hell’s bells! I’ll bet anything there’s a weaponization programme ongoing for this.

    1. Massinissa

      Im afraid the fungus only effects ants at the moment, so making a human variant is probably far enough away that we dont need to worry about it.

      At least, I like to think human brains are more complicated than ants.

  13. ewmayer

    o Re. Melissa Click: In this era of the MSM having abandoned their key historical function, I suppose we should not be surprised to see a mass media professor who is either unfamiliar with the 1st amendment or thinks she gets to suspend it at her whim.

    o “Trump in New Hampshire: Christie could have “a place” on my ticket” — As with airline coach seats (purely hypothetically, to be sure) Christie would need at least 2 places, so the real question is, is there room for him on the ticket?

    (I know, uncool to invoke a person’s physical ‘issues’ but with CC I feel that the food gluttony is perhaps a corollary to the man’s greed for money and power and lack of restraint in more meaningful areas, hence fair game.)

  14. Tertium Squid

    “This is a talk about what happens when a culture is driven by the need for money to make more money”

    In Hollywood, it’s sequels, prequels, and risk-averse exploitations of existing IP — now in IMAX and 3D!

    This is important – there’s nothing wrong with sequels (unless there’s something wrong with Shakespeare). It’s the ownership of culture.

    1. Banana Breakfast

      Yeah, there’s no reason to be particularly concerned about sequels, remakes, and adaptations – many, perhaps most, “golden age” classics were adaptations or remakes – arguably, remakes began almost immediately after the advent of feature film, since The Great Train Robbery was remade the year after it was released. The Huston/Bogart Maltese Falcon was the third adaptation of the novel in 10 years, etc. It’s that last bit – risk-averse exploitation of existing IP – that’s troubling. Whether they’re good or not, subversive or not – and there are many good blockbusters, and many that are amenable to subversive reading – they’re owned and exploited in a way that’s designed to create infantalized super-consumers, i.e. “geeks”, “nerds”, “fans”.

      JJ Abrams may be making a new Star Wars because he loves movies and loves Star Wars, but whatever art he produces will be used, chiefly, as a big old commercial to sell crappy toys, crappy food, and other miscellaneous crap at a much better profit margin. This concept of art as advertisement is radically different than the traditional film studio model of art as product, and it suggests very different consequences and compromises.

  15. Jim Haygood

    War on Cash recruits a new foot soldier:

    Tim Cook, the chief executive of technology giant, forecast the death of cash by the time current university students have a family.

    Answering questions from students at Trinity College Dublin, Mr Cook said: “Your kids will not know what money is.”

    In an outspoken address, he also vowed to deepen his fight against the so-called snooper’s charter.


    E-payment systems such as Apple Pay are the very definition of snooping. They know where you are and what you buy. Apple not only makes a cut on every transaction, but more importantly it psychographically profiles its customers for targeted marketing.

    Nice for Apple. Not so nice for superannuated curmudgeons who retain an anachronistic notion of ‘personal privacy.’

    It’s one of many reasons that Tim Crook’s iCrap don’t harvest a penny of revenue from me.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We think we control money, but really, this is just another manifestation of money controlling us…in this case, monitoring us.

    2. Ulysses

      “Not so nice for superannuated curmudgeons who retain an anachronistic notion of ‘personal privacy.”

      Yep! Count me among those old curmudgeons. I’m heartened to see some of my less superannuated friends also pushing back against the erosion of privacy. They never really had personal privacy, but they feel like it might be a good thing to have in the future.

      1. tegnost

        That hypersyllabic quote overlooks our legal right to personal privacy, regardless of what self described god steve jobs (where is he now telling us all how it is) says in opposition. Apple needs to be turned into a utility, someone needs to write that app that accesses all apple products in perpetuity for $1.00 because we don’t need this tax. I really got a kick out of that iphone thing where you go into the coffee shop and bleep your phone by the register, makes it easy to not leave a tip for that person who got up at 3:30 am to to make your stupid coffee. Can’t collapse (Apple) soon enough for me… thats right I’m no longer looking for corrupt regimes to fail, now I want the uncivil corporations to need to claim bankruptcy, but have that option unavailable to them.

    1. tegnost

      you betcha, corporate masters and all, good catch, and as I suspected… the old i’m against some of the weasel wording but we have some ferrets and minks trying to make it… seem… better… If you’re for all the things the president has done register as a republican and stop living a lie, you’ll be happier for it…and we won’t hold it against you, it’s the new era of be yourself

  16. Darthbobber

    Rangers and the big tax case.
    No, I doubt if Rangers appeal this. Mainly because it directly has nothing to do financially with the existing Rangers. The company that held the club was sold by Murray-I believe it was in 2010. And then in an amazingly convoluted series of events that are testimony to, among other things, the weakness of professional sports governance in Britain, it went into administration during the 2011-12 season, failed to exit administration, and the club was organized under a new financial entity. (and the events surrounding this have led to police investigations and arrests of the man who bought the club and members of the firm he selected as administrators. If anybody is fond of murky stories, it makes a good one.)The former company (usually referred to as Oldco among those who’ve been following this), has had no reason to continue to exist for the last year or so except to be a party to this case.

    The main relevance of the tax case among the Glaswegians would be that the fact that it was still looming when the club hit administration, making HMRC a party that had to sign off on any reorganization involving a partial payment scheme, guaranteed that no buyers could be found before liquidation. And if Rangers were finally held to have committed no infraction, the easily aggrieved Rangers supporters would have felt their grievances even more justified.

    It is amusing, though, the way the authors come on about the sporting fairness in their writeup about the titles won between ’01 and ’09. This would be more persuasive if the “normal” playing field were at all level. But in fact the Glasgow duopoly(Rangers and Celtic) both habitually pay as much for a single star as most of their competition pays for the whole team. Which has led to the list of Scottish champions for the last 30 years looking like this:
    1986 Celtic,1987 Rangers,1988 Celtic,1989 Rangers,1990 Rangers,1991 Rangers,1992 Rangers,
    1993 Rangers,1994 Rangers,1995 Rangers,1996 Rangers,1997 Rangers,1998 Celtic,1999 Rangers,
    2000 Rangers,2001 Celtic,2002 Celtic,2003 Rangers,2004 Celtic,2005 Rangers,2006 Celtic,
    2007 Celtic,2008 Celtic,2009 Rangers,2010 Rangers,2011 -Rangers,2012 Celtic,2013 Celtic
    2014 Celtic,2015 -Celtic

  17. Darthbobber

    The Politico piece on Germany’s “need” for far-right parties is a little strange. There’s the smug assumption that “far right” and “far left” parties are all about the need for the hoi polloi to “vent their frustrations”, which assumes that of course the ostensibly responsible folks will always keep the system stabilized so that these folks can never accomplish the real objective of political action. Which is not to vent one’s frustrations but to seek to obtain power and use it for one’s preferred ends.

    They don’t provide any details of the 2! academics who argue this, but if they’re showing an inverse relationship between violence and the rise of far right parties I can only assume that they’re confining their studies to situations in which the mainstream parties remained the mainstream and continued to govern while the venting happened. Which means excluding the Nazis, the Italian fascists, the Falangists, a host of Latin American rightist parties equipped with their own death squads, or the role of Svoboda and Pravy Sektor in the Ukraine.

    Of course, if they mean simply that its unrealistic to brand all forms of opposition to massive influxes of immigration as ipso facto fascist and exclude it from the political discourse altogether, they have a point. But they seem to mean more than that.

  18. Danny

    Never, ever trust a former Yahoo board member on the future of tech. They’ve already proved that they don’t know anything and are not reliable.

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