2:00PM Water Cooler 11/13/2015

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“Trade Negotiator Michael Froman Insists TPP Will Work” (audio) [NPR]. Steve Inskeep deploying the syrupy, soporific, “We’re all reasonable people here” NPR Voice in service of Froman’s disinformation campaign. Listening to it — Froman’s relaxant-smoothed voice works well with Inskeep’s — while making sure not to allow my hands to form fists; basically, Inskeep quotes Trump, Warren, and a few other critics, and then always gives Froman the last word. Have fun!

Investor Rights: “When State Senator Virginia Lyons thought it would be wise to develop legislation to reduce harmful electronics waste in her state of Vermont, the last complaint she expected to receive was from the People’s Republic of China. The Chinese it seemed, had issue with how new E-Waste reduction measures for Vermont would impact their sales of electronics to the USA” [European Free Alliance]. “‘I was taken aback’ said Senator Lyons at a meeting of the Vermont Commission on International Trade and State Sovereignty. ‘Why was an issue like better recycling causing such a fuss? They pushed hard on us to change our minds. In the end we implemented the changes, and I’m pretty sure the Chinese are still selling electronics.'” And that’s before anybody threatened to sue for billions. Anyhow, I had no idea there was a “Vermont Commission on International Trade and State Sovereignty.” Or a “Maine Citizen Trade Policy Commission.” Readers, anything like this in your home states?

TTIP and ISDS: “The European Commission has formally presented its proposed reforms on the controversial investment protection and dispute resolution for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The ‘more transparent’ investment court system will replace the so-called investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism. It aims to safeguard the right to regulate and create a court-like system with an appeal mechanism based on clearly defined rules, with qualified judges and transparent proceedings” [Parliament Magazine]. Global Justice Now: “This ‘new’ system retains most of the major problems with ISDS. It effectively provides corporations with a taxpayer underwritten risk insurance should governments feel the need to protect labour rights, the environment or vital public services.” Not so sure about “right to regulate,” which seems to be popping up everywhere. Since when was this government function even negotiable, especially in a democracy?

TPP Chapter 7, Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS):  “Under the TPP rules and trade policy more generally, what trade and regulatory officials deem to be ‘appropriate’ levels of protection are judged on whether SPS measures to provide that protection are potential or ‘disguised’ trade barriers. Such judgments require a use and understanding of ‘science’ that is filtered through confidentiality requirements, which are antithetical to the peer review that scientific consensus methodologically requires” [Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy]. Well worth a read, and not just on the SPS vertical.

Inclusion of the tobacco carve-out clause shows that general protection of public health measures is weak (PDF) [Australian Fair Trade & Investment Network].

Canada: “Digital guru Michael Geist says the TransPacific Partnership trade agreement has a “made in America” approach to the technology sector that may well put Canadian companies at a disadvantage” [CBC].

Obama and TPP: “​Outside of his education policies, the headlong rush into the TPP is going to be one of the only acts of his presidency with which the president justifies the criticisms levelled at him from the left. That’s not a bad batting average, but this is an awful exception to the rule.” [Charles Pierce, Esquire]. The Kool-Aid is strong. As also shown in this Alternet interview with Stiglitz, where the good professor characterizes TPP as a “mistake,” claims that Obama doesn’t “understand” that corporations wrote the TPP, not voters, bends over backward to assume good faith (“he wants to chalk up some kind of an achievement”), opines that ObamaCare is the “legacy” that cutting off access to pharma will somehow undermine, and on and on and on. Very sad.



“Students across U.S. march over debt, free public college” [Yahoo].


UPDATE Jennifer Lawrence: “My view on the election is pretty cut-and-dried: If Donald Trump is president of the United States, it will be the end of the world. And he’s also the best thing to happen to the Democrats ever” [Vogue].

“The Economy Is Better — Why Don’t Voters Believe It?” [FiveThirtyEight]. (A classic case: “When you hear ‘the economy,’ ask ‘whose economy?”)

This is one of the central paradoxes of the 2016 presidential campaign. The economy is, by virtually any measure, drastically improved from when President Obama took office nearly seven years ago. And yet poll after poll reveals a national electorate that is deeply skeptical of that progress. In one recent Wall Street Journal poll, more than half of voters said the economic and political system was “stacked against people like me.”

Obviously, none of these propositions are incommensurate. The last line, from a devout Christian: “Nothing has changed since they crashed the economy the last time,’ he said. ‘They’re going to do it again.'” Ding ding ding! We have a winner!


“Almost four out of five of his 2012 donors haven’t given any money to Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders” [Wall Street Journal, “Big Obama Donors Stay on Sidelines in 2016 Race”]. “In interviews ahead of this Saturday’s Democratic debate in Iowa, donors said Mrs. Clinton, the party’s front-runner, hadn’t motivated them to give the way Mr. Obama and previous Democratic candidates had.” Clinton hasn’t moved far enough to the right?

“How to watch the Iowa Democratic debate” [USA Today]. Carefully scheduled by the Democrats for minimum viewership and impact.

The Trail

Trump’s epic rant in Iowa: “Trump to Iowans: Don’t fall for Carson’s ‘crap'” [Des Moines Register]. Since this is Iowa, you have to read to the end and filter for Iowa nice: “[S]ome said they wished he had focused more on his own policies rather than attacking other Republicans.” Can anybody decode that?

UPDATE Headline: “Donald Trump begs Iowans not to believe Ben Carson: ‘Don’t be fools, okay?’” [WaPo]. “as the speech dragged on, the applause came less often and grew softer. As Trump attacked Carson using deeply personal language, the audience grew quiet, a few shaking their heads. A man sitting in the back of the auditorium loudly gasped.” I’d believe this, if it weren’t so obviously a hit piece. Let’s watch what the locals do.

UPDATE Headline: “The Wheels Are (Finally) Coming Off the Trump Campaign” [Fiscal Times]. Well, they wish.

Headline: “The dangerous anger of Donald Trump” [Chris Cilizza, WaPo]. Because it’s totally not like people have anything to be angry about. And remember: In the Beltway, anger is utterly taboo. Nobody must ever be angry.

UPDATE Carson’s response to Trump: “Pray for him” [Business Insider]. Which I believe decodes to “Bless his heart.”

UPDATE “Is [Rubio] built to win in either Iowa or New Hampshire? Remember, in this modern political era, every GOP nominee has won EITHER Iowa or New Hampshire. Right now, he’s standing in third place in public polling in both states – behind both Trump and Carson” [NBC]. And the press is trying to knock both Trump and Carson out, so you can see who will come up on the outside, as it were.

Sister Souljah: “[Clinton] reminds me too much of the slave plantation white wife of the white ‘master'” [The Hill]. Payback for Bill Clinton’s “Sister Souljah” moment, the archetypical “throwing under the bus” moment Democrats are so well-practiced at.

“Morning Plum: Hillary Clinton appears to have neutralized the Bernie Sanders threat” [Greg Sargent, WaPo]. Quoting a New York Times poll:

And it also finds that Clinton has effectively tied Sanders or leads him among Democratic voters on the issues that were supposed to give him the advantage:

— Among Democratic voters, a total of 84 percent are either very confident (39) or somewhat confident (45) in Clinton to “make the right decisions about the economy.” For Sanders, the total is 68 percent (32 percent very confident and 36 percent somewhat confident).

— Among Democratic voters, a total of 67 percent are either very confident (25) or somewhat confident (42) in Clinton’s ability to “help reduce the gap between the rich and poor.” For Sanders, the total is 64 percent (30 percent very confident and 34 percent somewhat confident).

— Among Democratic voters, a total of 70 percent are either very confident (30) or somewhat confident (40) in Clinton’s “ability to make the right decisions when it comes to regulating large banks and financial institutions.” For Sanders, the total is 65 percent (29 percent very confident and 36 percent somewhat confident).

— Among Democratic voters, 62 percent say Clinton “could bring about real change in the way things are done in Washington,” while 51 percent say that about Sanders.

I dunno. It doesn’t seem clear to me how anybody who looks at both candidates carefully could believe this — and the primaries haven’t even started (though granted, the Democratic nomenklatura has worked successfully to shield Clinton in the debates. And if Sanders has an independent base of small donors, he can do whatever he wants (including kicking the table over by launching a real movement). It’s clear that Sargeant would like this to be true, for exactly the same reason the political class would like to put Trump back in his box.

Stats Watch

Producer Price Index – Final Demand, October 2015: “PPI-FD fell an unexpected 0.4 percent in October vs Econoday expectations for a 0.2 percent gain and vs a low estimate of minus 0.1 percent” [Econoday]. “Year-on-year, prices are down a very sizable 1.6 percent.” Too much money chasing too few Hermés stocking stuffers, I guess. Oh, wait….

Retail Sales, October 2015: “Sales rose only 0.1 percent, 2 tenths under the Econoday consensus” [Econoday]. “But when excluding vehicles, which slipped back after surging in prior months, and when also excluding gasoline stations, where sales once again fell on price weakness, core sales rose a respectable 0.3 percent which hits the consensus…. [T]his report is better than it looks, showing underlying strength that shouldn’t scale down expectations for a December FOMC rate hike.” But: “Retail sales improved insignificantly according to US Census headline data. Our view is that this month’s data was weaker than last month, There was a decline of the rolling averages. Consider that the headline data is not inflation adjusted and prices are currently deflating making the data better than it seems” [Econintersect].

Business Inventories, September 2015: “Business inventories rose a higher-than-expected 0.3 percent in September on a back-up of inventories in the retail sector” [Econoday]. “The build is a plus for third-quarter GDP revisions but may not be a plus for future production and employment. Had this morning’s retail sales report for October proved stronger, the September build for retail inventories would be no concern. But the October sales report proved soft, raising the risk that retailers may be over-estimating holiday demand.”  But: “Even with inflation adjustments, business sales are in contraction. The inventory-to-sales ratios remain at recessionary levels” [Econintersect]. And: “The Producer Price Index year-over-year deflation grew. The intermediate processing continues to show a large deflation in the supply chain” [Econintersect].

Consumer Sentiment, November 2015: “Consumer sentiment is moving sharply higher this month, to 93.1 for the mid-month flash in the highest reading since July. Expectations are especially showing life, up 3.5 points to 85.6 which is the best since June. Strength in expectations points to confidence in the outlook for the jobs market and, to a lesser degree, for the stock market as well” [Econoday]. “Inflation expectations are moving lower, at least for the 1-year outlook which is down a steep 2 tenths to 2.5 percent. This reading is a reminder of how weak inflation reports are coming in, including today’s data on producer prices.” And: “the long-term inflation expectations figure held steady at 2.5% in November.  This marks the second month in a row that the gauge has been slightly below the range that has prevailed for years.  I do not expect Fed officials to flip out over a tenth of a percentage point on this inflation expectations gauge, but the low readings in October and November certainly feed into the narrative that the inflation environment remains squishy” [Across the Curve].

Ag: “Lenders are downbeat on farmland prices in major US agricultural states despite some signs of the retreat in values losing steam, as high yields cushion farmers somewhat from the pain of low prices” [Agrimoney].

Shipping: “Retailers anticipate a jolly November for U.S. ports, with the National Retail Federation predicting that containerized imports will increase 8.3 percent over November 2014. Furthermore, last-minute importers of holiday merchandise should experience little if any port congestion” [Longshore & Shipping News].

Shipping: Tankers anchored of Galveston [Marine Traffic]. The inference was low oil prices, but I’m fascinated to learn there’s a live map of shipping, equivalent to the live maps of aircraft!

Honey for the Bears: “The debt that built up in emerging markets after the American bust is still there. It has continued to grow even as the economies have slowed, and now overhangs them ominously. In the past, the rich world had the muscle to shake off such problems elsewhere. But emerging markets now make up most of the world economy (around 58% if exchange rates are measured at purchasing-power parity). They are quite capable of weighing down rich-world recoveries” [The Economist].

Honey for the Bears: “I have published numerous articles here on the evaporation of liquidity in both the corporate bond market and the Treasury market. Add a new giant market to that list as Bloomberg reports this morning on the impairment of liquidity on the Brobdingnagian FX market” [Across the Curve, quoting Bloomberg]. “Currency traders accustomed to shifting billions of dollars around the globe are starting to suffer as dealers retrench.”

Honey for the Bears: “This shows how private sector credit deceleration is associated with recessions” (handy chart) [Mosler Economics].

The Fed: “The FOMC, which kept the funds rate in a zero to 25 basis point target range on Oct. 28, where it’s been for nearly seven years, reiterated that to start raising the key overnight rate it needed to see ‘some further improvement in the labor market’ and be ‘reasonably confident’ inflation will rise to its 2% target ‘over the medium term”” [Market News]. More cowbell inflation!

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 49 (-6); Greed [CNN]. Last week: 72 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). The needle slams back toward Fear. 

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Feedback from Mizzou to Ferguson [Yahoo].

Police State Watch

“Stop-and-Seize Turns Police Into Self-Funding Gangs” [Bloomberg].

Class Warfare

“Take Two: Can Your Second Career Act Be Successful?” [Forbes] Second? What are these people on? How about [counts] sixth, leaving aside the factory jobs?

“[T]he underground drug trade that defines eastern Kentucky today as coal, oil and timber once did…” [Guardian]. “Builders,” in William Gibson’s The Peripheral.

News of the Wired

“Microsoft has launched a new kind of cloud service in Germany where user data is controlled by a ‘data trustee’ operating under German law. Microsoft is unable to access user data without the permission of the data trustee or the customer, even if it is instructed to do so by the US government. If permission is granted by the data trustee, Microsoft will still only do so under its supervision.” [Ars Technica].

“DOJ Tells Archivist Not to Do His Job; Govt Argues OLC Memos both Authoritative and “Pre-Decisional”, and Much More: FRINFORMSUM 11/12/2015” [National Security Archive]. Sounds Orwellian.

“Is This the Worst NYC Apartment Listing You’ve Ever Seen?” [Esquire]. This CraigsList ad went viral, but if I were twenty — well, thirty — years younger… 

“Today, around 100km2 [of French land] (roughly the size of Paris), is still strictly prohibited by law from public entry and agricultural use because of an impossible amount of human remains and unexploded chemical munitions yet to be recovered from the battlefields of both world wars” [Messy Nessy Chic]. Industrial civilization in concentrated form?

* * *

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:


Another inviting walkway at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.

Readers, I’m running a little short on plant images, which is why I’m putting my own up. Anything’s good! Fall color. Fungi Your projects. Greek olives, Portuguese figs. The UK? France? Spain? Asia? You can use the contact form above. Thank you!

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. omg the stupid i just can't anymore

      It really is beautiful, and fun to play with. With the wind mode, I zoom in a certain amount and it’s like a cross between Starry Night and a lava lamp.

    1. Oregoncharles

      It was in Oregon, by initiative. Very popular – conservatives don’t like losing their property, either.

      1. Daryl

        Sounds good to me. Here in Texas, a couple towns have been sued for it and had to stop but presumably the practice continues (I wouldn’t know — I know all the speed traps around here for when I drive out-of-state). Really seems like something the courts should have stepped in and stopped, but here we are. The Sheriff of Dallas-Fort Worth was one of the major opponents of cannabis legalization in the state — coincidentally his department seized a lot of assets during minor cannabis infractions.

  1. Ranger Rick

    Yeah that shipping map is pretty great. It’s how they figured out that submarine was going to launch the Trident missile off the West Coast before it happened — the M/V Independence left port and hung out in the area.

    1. Synapsid

      Ranger Rick and all,

      I found one–count them, one–oil tanker among the vessels at Houston and offshore, and its previous port of call was another US port. We aren’t seeing great volumes of oil waiting to be unloaded at Houston, it seems.

  2. wbgonne

    And it also finds that Clinton has effectively tied Sanders or leads him among Democratic voters on the issues that were supposed to give him the advantage

    I believe it. Democratic partisans are now just as stupid as Republican partisans. After the betrayals and doubletalk of Clinton I, then Obama, now leading to Clinton II, you have to be an idiot to think the Democratic Party stands for anything at all other than enriching the wealthy. There was a brief moment of hope and change (remember that one?) in 2008 but Obama fulfilled his mission and destroyed that hope immediately, aided significantly by corporate media stooges like Greg Sargent. After 7 years of denial, deflection and cognitive dissonance, Democratic partisans have finally joined GOPers in the drooling idiot camp. This poll just demonstrates that. And now the path is clear for them: they are Ready for Hillary. However, the rest of the country, 70% of us, are not.

    1. jrs

      The quote I’ve heard is “Republicans are more stupid, but Democrats are more brainwashed”. I like that quote :).

      But really all that lying to oneself about what Obama is etc. has to affect cognitive processing eventually.

      1. ProNewerDeal

        iirc by ~2006 many former enthusiastic supporters of Bush43/Cheney, had changed to either denounce Bush43, or be publicly silent on Bush43.

        In contrast, although there are some former 0bots, it seems there are still many 0bots who publicly praise 0bama as a Great President.

        1. James Levy

          I think that is because Bush delivered neither prosperity nor victory (over the Axis of Evil) nor any knockout punches in the Culture War. he could be denounced by his ultracompetitive voting base as a loser, a man who had everything in his hands after 9/11 (including an astonishingly compliant Congress) and fumbled the ball. Obama stinks but his opponents are so deranged and the opposition from Congress to everything he does has been so intense that his partisans can blame his failures on others and his betrayals as unavoidable “compromises”. We may see that he has often done exactly what he wants to do (think dumping the public option and bailing out the financial sector instead of debtors) but all that nastiness is magically transformed into “tragedy”, as in “isn’t it too bad” or “he didn’t get the right advice’ or “he couldn’t do it all himself’ or “we expected too much of him” by the Obamabots.

          1. sleepy

            I would also add that many of the policies and statements of Bush were perceived at the time as far out of the mainstream–mass surveillance, patriot act/police state, preemptive wars of choice, etc.–so he was denounced more thoroughly and completely.

            Obama espouses those same policies, but they have become normalized and bipartisan. Hence, the lack of shock and the durability of his support among the fans.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              All entirely predictable after Obama promised to filibuster retroactive immunity for the telcos with FISA “reform” in January 2008, and then voted for the bill in July 2008, after the nomination was in his pocket. After that, we had Obama whipping the Congressional Black Caucus for TARP, with no concessions from the bailed out banks at all. Then we had the inaugural, which forecast austerity, and Timmy Geithner. Meanwhile, the career “progressives” were puzzling over whether Obama’s heart was in the right place. Some of them are still doing it.

    2. 3.14e-9

      Many commenting on NC have noted that they don’t know anyone who’s for Hillary, that they see Bernie bumper stickers everywhere and nothing for her. It’s possible that this is just a Bernie kind of readership, but comments on other sites also seem to run largely in his favor — either that, or there’s an argument between the Sanderistas and the Steiners. So the results of these polls are puzzling. Is it something to do with the sample they’re selecting? Maybe many of the people we know who are for Bernie aren’t registered Democrats? I suppose it’s possible that Bernie supporters are more likely to take the time to comment, but even that says something, i.e., that he has a lot more enthusiasm and energy behind his campaign.

      1. fresno dan

        It may very well be that more informed and more outspoken people will favor Sanders…
        I wish it was a majority, but alas, I fear that is not so…

        1. hunkerdown

          It’s getting to the point of yellow journalism. “You supply the pictures, I’ll supply the war.”

          1. 3.14e-9

            It’s not just New Hampshire. And then, there are the congressional endorsements. So the Democratic Party is putting pressure on its members to toe the line. What will happen if Sanders wins the popular vote — especially if it’s by a wide margin — and the super delegates keep their pledge to Clinton?

            I also think there is going to be hell to pay if he loses the primary and supports Clinton. It’s hard to say, but judging from comments on news sites, FB, etc., a good number of his supporters would never vote for her. I don’t think he knew when he chose to run as a Democrat that he would possibly get this far — who did? — and so it was easy to say he would give her the few votes he thought he would get. I have to think that this staff are now aware of the implications. They’ve also had a taste of the party dictatorship doing everything possible to smother his chances of winning. He’s not going to owe them a thing.

      2. Carolinian

        No head scratching is needed. HRC was always going to win the nomination barring some medical or legal disaster. The truth is that she and the Democratic Party are made for each other plus–need one point out?–Sanders isn’t even a Democrat. The notion that he would prevail out of sheer reasonableness was always a fantasy.

        Of course there is a vast body of disaffected people wanting change but they don’t have a place at the table under the current system. If Sanders isn’t going to attack Hillary, or the Democratic party, then how exactly is he going to succeed? They are the ones standing in the way.

        Hate to be the doom and gloomer but that’s how it’s looking.

        1. Carla

          …vast body of people wanting change but they don’t have a place at the table…

          that’s not a bug, it’s a baked-in feature of the two-party system and American politics.

      3. Daryl

        A lot of people viscerally dislike Clinton, but Democratic partisans are still stuck in “we have to keep Republicans out of office at all costs” mode.

        Even if that means electing a Republican with a D next to their name.

    3. Jeff W

      Honestly, I’m not sure the poll is measuring what Sargent says it’s measuring. I could be 90% confident in Clinton’s “ability to make the right decisions when it comes to regulating large banks and financial institutions” and still think that Sanders is making better decisions. Clinton’s able to—she just isn’t. I could be far more confident that Clinton “could bring about real change in the way things are done in Washington” than Sanders could—she’s the establishment candidate, with all the connections that entails—and still think she won’t. I might think Clinton is a far more able candidate but prefer Sanders’ positions (and that doesn’t mean I think Sanders is an incapable candidate, either). There’s an ever-present conflation with the abilities of candidate and his or her positions. I think the polls are constructed in just that way—to avoid showing how much people might actually favor Sanders’s positions. In fact, I have yet to hear—anywhere—that those favoring Clinton favor her policies over those of Sanders—it’s always some argument which boils down to a calculation that she can win the nomination or the election and Sanders can’t, which becomes its own self-fulfilling prophecy.

      1. 3.14e-9

        Yes, how they ask the questions is important, and it’s also important to note which subgroups were asked the questions. Some questions were limited to respondents who had voted in a previous Democratic primary. That means the results don’t include Independents and Republicans who might cross party lines. Also, those who voted in a past primary are far more likely to be familiar with HRC than Sanders. Lastly, confidence in Bernie rose for some questions. Interestingly enough, there was an increase in the number of people who thought he could competently handle a foreign crisis. Sargent’s bias is pretty clear. Entire poll here:

        1. JTMcPhee

          Why do people skate past all this reality stuff you highlight so adroitly? And when did representative government become the Rule of the Pollsters?

          Is that the road to direct participatory democracy?…….Haw haw I choke myself with my sardonic wit sometimes…

        1. MRW

          RealClearPoliics has the best updated record of polls, IMO: http://www.realclearpolitics.com.

          By using the site in recent elections, I could track, and determine, polls that were consistently off the mark (Rasmussen, Gallup) and discover a couple of unknown ones that were doing an excellent job over the primary and general election timespace tracking what was really going on.

          You have to drill down the Polls tab to find the interesting stuff.

    4. Ulysses

      “the rest of the country, 70% of us”

      Yes! I do think the number of people completely fed up with both parties is enormous, and that gives me hope for the future.

  3. Uahsenaa

    re: Iowa nice – it’s hard to find a normal people equivalent to “he should stop talking about other people’s affairs and focus on his own,” but it’s bad. Worst faux pas would be talking about your own dirty laundry, followed shortly thereafter by talking about someone else’s. Doing so publicly, even worse. Minding your own !@#$ing business is the supreme rural Midwestern virtue; going out of your way not to keep things to yourself is, therefore, a cardinal sin.

    Also, if the other article is correct about people being silent. That too is very bad.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Check. We’ll see how this plays out among the locals, then. (It’s interesting that the “The Economy Is Better — Why Don’t Voters Believe It” also focuses on Iowa.)

      As so much else this year, it depends on how angry people really are. We’ll see if that over-rides Iowa nice. (And it’s worth noting that Trump, so far as I can tell — didn’t read the transcript, if any — is only regurgitating all the anti-Carson oppo so carefully planted in the press over the last week or so. Says the press, “Let’s you and him fight?” and if Carson and Trump go down together, so much the better. Order and the mandate of heaven are restored.)

      1. Uahsenaa

        The 538 article is actually quite good, though the assumption that Davenport=Iowa is absurd (both politically and economically speaking), and the line about hipster breweries and coffee shops is just repeating truisms. Sure, there’s an amazing Cuban restaurant in downtown Cedar Rapids (this is true, btw, AMAZING), but that doesn’t tell you how when my spouse and I were in downtown CR last weekend, it was a bloody ghost town. Plus, Casselman has the money quote in his article and doesn’t even realize it:

        “This is a county that 40 years ago, you could go to college and you’d be set for life, or you could come out of high school and get a job at Deere or Case or wherever and also be set for life with a solid, middle-class lifestyle,” he said. “That doesn’t exist here anymore, and I don’t think it exists anywhere anymore.”

        Midwesterners, and Iowans in particular, value stability over almost everything. The dream, such as it is, is to get a steady, good paying job, so you can raise a brood who go to church every Sunday, play football (boys) or volleyball (girls), get a decent education, and who grow up to mostly be just like you. My earlier comment plays to this: you don’t go dredging through the unsavory aspects of other people’s lives, because you just don’t challenge their right to live a stable life.

        It doesn’t matter that the economic numbers are better. The Way Things Are and Should Be (TM) has been fundamentally altered. I could drive you around IC or any city in Iowa and show you the numbers of help wanted signs all over the place, but it would never reveal to you that the people who live in those communities know full well the jobs on offer won’t provide the stable life noted above. They know that $8-10/hr. isn’t going to cut it. They know that the people who own the landscaping services have made their casual “multi-millions” by paying their labor well below the median wage. They know that the old social compact has eroded, and it doesn’t matter how much you spin it with [largely fictive] unemployment numbers. No on feels like his/her life is all that great, and the article makes clear that they know it can get worse again.

        tl;dr – What happened in the rust belt never quite happened here, but now people are starting to get a similar sense of things being gutted for someone else’s gain.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I didn’t dislike the FiveThirtyEight article, but I had the feeling the author was seeing without seeing, which is the feeling I think you are describing. (Nice use of anaphora with “They know….” :-)

        2. jrs

          I don’t know though, that quote about 40 years ago is that even factually correct or are we just repeating endless myths? Was there poverty in the U.S. 40 years ago? Of course 40 years ago wasn’t the worst time, as LBJ’s Great Society had been implemented by then, but before even the Great Society there was massive poverty in this country, precisely what such things were designed to partly address.

          Is certain people (some subsection of white people and not all of them ever did, not Appalachia etc.) no longer having such a sure ride really such an increase in poverty? Or are we going to finally admit the American economic system has always produced quite a bit of poverty.

          1. Uahsenaa

            He says “county” not “country.” The thinking is parochial, not oriented toward larger national or global concerns, which is part of the problem with “Iowa nice.”

  4. curlydan

    Decoding “[S]ome said they wished he had focused more on his own policies rather than attacking other Republicans.”

    I can give you a Kansas/Missouri de-code: “damn he was a mean SOB tonight. I’m starting to have my doubts about him. Maybe he is as weird as my goofball liberal sister says”

    1. hunkerdown

      But who were the “some” that said? Usually that means Roger Ailes. Here we have “random” homeschooling grandparents and Democratic traitors.

  5. wbgonne

    Inclusion of the tobacco carve-out clause shows that general protection of public health measures is weak (PDF) [Australian Fair Trade & Investment Network].

    Indeed. The exception proves the rule. That link provides a pithy summary. Here’s the basic thing: only corporations have standing to bring ISDS suits and no one can sue for anything other than lost profits. This means that the TPP system is not designed to protect anything other than corporate profits. That’s it. It is a one-way ratchet. We’re not at the table and we aren’t allowed to get to the table. To add another bit of pith: if you’re not at the table you’re on the menu.

    1. ProNewerDeal

      I say that workers if layoff/firing, or reduction in hours, can sue the corporation for wages + 2% over CPI (to account for future “expected” promotions) because the layoff or work hour reduction is affecting “employee expected future profits”, until 67 or whatever higher Medicare/Soc Security eligibility age gets crapified to.

      1. JTMcPhee

        No standing, none of the necessary diversity if you are talking about ISDS “remedies.” Only parties that can present a claim are “investors,” against a foreign national government.

  6. fresno dan


    Who knew Michelle Malkin was such a math wiz??? Actually debunking economists is like shooting fish in a barrel….

    Bill Gates, citing the National Foundation for American Policy, which is run by one-man Beltway-advocacy research-shop operative Stuart Anderson, testified before Congress that “a recent study shows for every H-1B holder that technology companies hire, five additional jobs are created around that person.” Citing another NFAP study by economics professor Madeline Zavodny of Agnes Scott College, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s FWD.us and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce asserted: “2.62 MORE JOBS are created for U.S.-born workers for each foreign-born worker in the U.S. with a U.S. STEM graduate degree.”

    But even the reliably pro-immigration expansionist Wall Street Journal had to call out Bill Gates on his misleading testimony to Congress regarding oft-cited NFAP job-creation figures. First off, the data set was confined to S&P 500 technology companies, which “excludes the leading users” of H-1B visas — offshore outsourcing companies from India, such as Infosys, Wipro, and Tata.

    Moreover, Carl Bialik, the newspaper’s “Numbers Guy,” reported that the study Gates cited to claim amazing H-1B job generation “shows nothing of the kind. Instead, it finds a positive correlation between these visas and job growth. These visas could be an indicator of broader hiring at the company, rather than the cause.”

    Hmmmph. All tech titans will do anything to get more money.

    They want foreign workers cause they get to PAY THEM LESS….

    Everything Bill Gates says is a lie, including “and” and “the” … and “a”

    1. tegnost

      Ok bill but being from seattle you know the old saw that 1 boeing job equals 30 jobs in the community so those numbers don’t look so good

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Let’s exchange H1B visas for refugee visas.

      The world shouldn’t dump all of them in Sweden.

      Who cares how many additional jobs one refugee will create. We do it because it’s right.

      BTW, each billionaire we mint, 100 additional serfs are needed to serve him/her, or it.

    3. jrs

      5 additional people created around one H1B, now that one doesn’t pass the laugh test, how exactly is that supposed to be happening? Some H1Bs are good, some not so good, but I’ve never encountered one so spectacular that there mere presence magically created 5 other jobs, unless they were hired to be the in house contact for the outsource, and well those aren’t American jobs.

      I suppose there could be some correlation confused with causation here, times when more H1Bs are hired may be better economic times of more hiring in general.

      1. tegnost

        I believe it’s one of those “economist” things where 1 individuals income, when spread around the community supports local jobs like groceries, etc but if you go to a western union tonight you will see people sending money out of the country, which a globalist has no problem with…

  7. Ditto

    Democratic views of Clinton v Sanders

    You say anyone who looks carefully would not believe Clinton is better on the issues you list.

    You are right.

    They believe something false. I can’t decide whether it is bc Dems are just ignorant or completely delusional. What’s scary is that it maybe the later.

    1. OIFVet

      Both possibilities are scary, each in its own way. Frankly I don’t care to pick one, it’s a bit like the whole lesser evilism thing.

    2. hunkerdown

      What is an in-group? It’s a collection of people who accept one another as distinguished from the out-group. Every in-group is based on a lie, if only that particular one. The Democratic Party’s belief system is basically Roman Catholicism with the serial numbers filed off, right down to a privileged Magisterium of archbishops in think tanks stage-managing miracles, selecting new pontiffs, and demanding obedience to the institutions (e.g. the Other Party) that co-rule with them.

      So, freedom of religion, I suppose.

      1. Optimader

        The Democratic Party’s belief system is basically Roman Catholicism with the serial numbers filed off,

        I like that analogy

        1. hunkerdown

          Thank you. By extension, you can impute the other branch of Western Christianity to the other branch of the War Party, and celebrate over 155 years of Troubles by Design.

      1. polecat

        And I gotta say, if Clinton wins the nomination,and Sanders supports it, well….we’re screwwwwwwed!

    3. Kokuanani

      “How to watch the Iowa Democratic debate” [USA Today]. Carefully scheduled by the Democrats for minimum viewership and impact.

      I received an e-mail today from the Bernie camp to a “watching party” on Sat. night. I was in the middle of writing a nasty reply about “who schedules a political get-together on one of the prime football-watching nights of the fall” when I realized that they referring to a party to watch the stupid Dem. debate, and OF COURSE the Dems had scheduled the debate for then.

      Thanks so much, Debbie.

    4. Pat

      It is hard to accept that you have been played for a fool.

      That said, the real delusions I’m seeing among Democratic voters are that they believe what they’ve been told about Sanders – he cannot win the primary or the general (wrong), and that Clinton is a better choice then the Republican. Okay the second might actually be true now that the regulars aren’t picking the nominee and the crazies own enough of the party to be taking out the usual corporate whores that are Clinton’s partners in crime. But that isn’t saying much for another more effective evil.

      Still most of the Dems I’m talking to are outright saying they are with Sanders until he loses. NO ONE wants Clinton as a first choice, most not even as a second. We may all know the real battle is going to be whether the Super Delegates really want all but the most dense in the party to understand that the candidates do not represent them and their party has been co-opted.

      I’m also pretty damn sure that every poll we will hear about will have a devil in the details or be outliers. Because most of the people either writing on this beat or deciding what gets written on this beat are NOT liberal, and know how their bread is buttered.

  8. Tertium Squid

    Drugs and Poverty in Eastern Kentucky

    Whenever I see a photo essay on rural Kentucky I am amazed at how beautiful it is. My ancestors spent some decades in Kentucky 200+ years ago. Eventually they continued west, everywhere shedding some relatives who tired of the migration and thought the local prospects were promising. I’ve often wondered what made some people put down roots and others tumble away.

  9. Oregoncharles

    “It doesn’t seem clear to me how anybody who looks at both candidates carefully could believe this — and the primaries haven’t even started”

    Consider, the theme is “among Democrats.” But as Jill Stein pointed out in her interview, “Democrats” are now down around 25% of the voters. Many more “lean” that way, of course, but they aren’t voting in the primaries. So the polling is of a small, select population, selected by DP parties to be quite conservative. And unless Sanders can get millions of people to register Democrat, which I imagine is his central goal, that’s the reason his potential vote IN THE PRIMARIES is limited – even though polls show him whipping Republicans like Bush (how does he do against Trump?) in the general election.

    The enormous, rapid shrinkage in the legacy parties is starting to have consequences – but so far, not in the general election. Yet.

    1. different clue

      Is the Republican party shrinking? Does anyone have any evidence that it is? Given all the stuff I see happening in the Republican party, I don’t think it is a legacy party. It still looks like a live vibrant party to me. The Democratic Party seems like a legacy party running on fumes.

  10. Oregoncharles

    “DOJ Tells Archivist Not to Do His Job;”

    What on earth are they hiding? This is well into a constitutional crisis, a breakdown in Congress’s Constitutional powers. This is the kind of thing executives get impeached for – but even with the “opposing” party in charge of Congress, not a sign.

    Not only Orwellian, but yet another sign of deep collusion.

    1. optimader

      Carson’s comeback to Trump’s insults: ‘Pray for him’

      Didn’t read the remarks yet but i’ll keep in mind the difference between “insult” (synonym of slander read: inaccurate) and NYCeeze harsh but accurate assessment coming from a stopped clock which has an opportunity for two gimmies/day..

  11. Bill Frank

    How are Bernie supporters going to feel at the end of the process when he concedes to Clinton and endorses her?

    1. Pat

      This one, will say “That’s nice, not going to happen, it was never going to happen.”

      But then I’m someone who thinks you either fight the crazies or let them destroy everything without help from so-called Democrats being ‘bipartisan”.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      As long as single payer and free college get on the national agenda — which they already have — I’ll feel like a winner. Because I will be.

      And while we’re at it, please name another political figure or party who would be able to achieve that. (Still waiting for the Post Office bank to become more mainstream for the trifecta, but maybe the union endorsement will help with that.)

    3. Ulysses

      Pretty darn angry!! However, as Lambert notes, looking for consolation in the fact that everyone “feeling the Bern” may help to shift the Overton window a bit.

    4. cwaltz

      I won’t care. Clinton can have a list of endorsements as long as her arm I won’t vote FOR her. As far as Bernie goes this has never been about him, it’s about getting better policy.

    5. JaaaaayCeeeee

      I can’t remember where I saw it, but there was a poll that showed it’s HRC fans who are more likely to take their ball and go home, instead of vote for Bernie Sanders in the general election, if he is the nominee (if not a woman now when and all that). It made sense to me, since it’s reasoning that gets you to Sanders.

  12. Jessica

    “And remember: In the Beltway, anger is utterly taboo. Nobody must ever be angry.”
    Exactly. And the inverse is often true: Much of the conservative movement is about defending anger itself. In many cases, even if conservatives got changed everything that they think they are angry about, that would not mollify them at. Because they want to be angry.
    But there is some truth in that position because making things into a civility and mellowness contest always gives a huge advantage to those being paid high salaries as minions to moneyed interested versus those whose backs are against the wall. And it gives a (class-based) advantage to those who have the training to feign calmness (when having the entire system at your back) and disadvantages those who have the system in their face.
    The left needs to find a way to combine both its understanding of the dangers of anger on an individual level with an understanding of how powerful a weapon anti-anger is for the elites. The left also needs to understand that when dealing people defending their anger itself, rational discussion just feels like more of the same classism.

  13. spooz

    Terrorist attack in Paris leave at least 158 dead (according to FOX) as France closes its borders.

    “Unlike the attacks against Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in January, terrorism experts said the targets of the Friday attacks had no apparent rationale. Instead, assailants appeared to strike at random in hip neighborhoods on a Friday night when many people would be starting to enjoy the weekend.”


    1. optimader

      Spooz, pleaase switch to france24.
      terrorism experts said the targets of the Friday attacks had no apparent rationale.
      that’s pretty much why it’ called terrorism

      1. spooz

        Not a FOX watcher, as a general rule, or any mainstream media for that matter, was just flipping around the news channels and caught Geraldo Rivera interviewing his daughter, who was in a Paris stadium during the attacks, on the phone. She was pretty hysterical, but he managed to get her on the phone so the world could hear him comfort her and tell her to stay in her apartment and did she want to come home? After that, he went on a tirade about terrorists, saying that Trump was absolutely “correct” by flatly stating “bomb the hell out of Isis”, which Shepard Smith seemed to take issue with…at which point I changed channels.

      1. kj1313

        As distasteful as Saddam was he did keep a lid on the region. Now we have the Wild Wild West except everyone has access to explosives and machine guns instead of a 6 shooter.

      2. optimader

        But the French are getting the blowback, so what’s not to like?
        Particularly the staff and patrons of a Cambodian restaurant? It’s utterly fuckedup and nothing to like about it.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Go look up anomie, folks, and Ragnarok. And State Security is not going to protect you or me or those I love.

          I thought “we” were still in the middle of the Two Minute Hate against the French Vichy Quisling goose liver eaters and their hairy women. Wrong? No more Freedom Fries ™?

          Way past time for the Golden Rule to generate gentleness — like everything else it has been inverted and crapified, reverts to the formulation I heard a lot in Vietnam: “Do unto others, then skedaddle!”

          1. JTMcPhee

            And I bet Lambert was being a bit ironic there.

            Hey, love it, folks! It’s what we humans are, what we can and do do, over and over or actually in one elongated pulsing stream… We should be /s/PROUD of ourselves!

              1. Optimader

                Reread as snark
                The french urban muslim casestudy is very different than the US urban muslim from my vantage point

                1. Lambert Strether Post author

                  I’m sure it is, just as the Detroit Muslim experience is different from the Somali experience in Lewiston, ME. I remember reading about the protests in the bainlieu during the European protests that followed Tahrir Square. Didn’t seem good. But I have no detailed knowledge of it; perhaps readers will chime in.

          2. kj1313

            The perpetual War Machine won’t allow that. It takes a while for crumbling Empires to let go of their MIC.

          3. optimader

            I think anomie is closer to the mark than some higher level blowback abstraction
            Unfortunately for urban French society their unintegrated ethnic population is largely ME muslims.
            The contrast I see here the US, is that same 1st gen demographic has substantially more opportunity to participate in the economy. Work in then buy the dunkin donuts, Subway franchise, liquor store, Squishy Mart, work their collective asses off, provide a future for their children etc etc..
            Something to loose– participation

              1. Optimader

                Yes dimestic disenfrachisement in suburban gettos is at the root cause for the french to deal with Similar phenom as the palestinians, just different details

                1. Optimader

                  Where are the muslim terrorist in the US ?? Crickets.

                  Too busy working a great ethnic food truck on Wacker Drive in Chicago

                    1. optimader

                      Where on Wacker? Try as I might, decent shawerma and falafel are impossible to find downtown.
                      Post was whacked so I wont bother repeating, but two good restaurants and a good kabab food truck I am aware of. Also look up the Somali joint that goes by the Capital name..

          4. optimader

            that “we” I trust is a vocal minority of mouth breathers like Newt G. who (didnt take long for this shoe to fall) is reflecting that this is an object lesson for ubiquitous concealed carry.

    1. OIFVet

      Just a wild guess, but these are the deeds of well-integrated, European values-loving muslims. Let’s bring a few million more, and demonize Eastern Europe for refusing to go along with the program. That will stop the terrorists in their tracks.

        1. OIFVet

          Touché. I am sick and tired of hearing about “values,” it’s almost a perfect predictor for the lack of such in relation to humanity. I still think that flooding Europe with millions of muslims will only lead to more violence. In France, I am willing to bet that the perps were homegrown, from the Paris suburb. Now millions more will become marginalized Euros, because for all the touchy-feely talk about the supposed integration of the migrants, Europe is xenophobic and minorities as a whole do not get integrated. The Western Euros had their fun hypocritically pointing finger at the East and shouting “J’accuse.” Now they will have to face themselves. Or not. I get the nasty foreboding that we will hear a variation of “They hate us for our freedumbs.”

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Iraq War -> Saddam generals lose power -> ISIS …

            Syrian War -> migration to Europe -> Le Pen elected …

            The powers that be in the Beltway are perfectly happy with both outcomes. And plenty of ka-ching along both paths. It will be very unfortunate if all the participants in the Democratic debate buy into the clash of civilizations crap.

            We have a double inter-locking self-licking ice cream cone. Quite elegant, really.

            1. OIFVet

              Well, I think that secularism and salafist islam sponsored by the House of Saud are not compatible, so clash of civilizations might be apt. Fundamentalist christianity and fundamentalist islam are peas in a pod, but they are not compatible either (clash of monetheistic interpretations rather than clash of civilizations IMO). The problem with the huge migrant wave is, how do you screen the tiny fraction of bad guys from the sea of humanity that is simply seeking the possibility of a better life? I don’t see that happening, the wave is too big and the Euros too unprepared and disorganized, to deal with it properly and screen every individual properly. Then again there is the ingrained xenophobia in Europe that would never allow for the integration of newcomers, and radicalize a fraction of them in the bargain. Frankly, things are looking bleak for Europe, and drive it further into dependency upon the US. Marine Le Pen is rather harmless compared to the Euro lemmings and their Beltway puppet masters. She didn’t itch to bomb Libya and Syria, Sarkozy and Hollande did.

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                Yeah. I’m not sure our alliance with the Saudis will net out positive for the United States in the long run, although the usual suspects will do quite well out of it.

                And I don’t think we’re doing real well by our European military protectorate. I wonder if this is the flip side of the pivot to Asia; set the whole continent on fire on the way out, and if they’re occupied putting out the flames, they can’t challenge us (and we’ll also sell them some lucrative firefighting equipment). And of course the whole Ukraine bit means they can’t tilt toward Russia either.

                I love Paris, don’t get me wrong. I hate it that this came to be.

                1. LifelongLib

                  Several years ago I worked with a Turkish consultant who said that when he was growing up fundamentalist Islam was almost unknown in Turkey, but that now it’s about 20% of the population. And the money for the schools teaching it was coming from Saudi Arabia. Anecdotal, but…

              2. optimader

                Fundamentalist christianity and fundamentalist islam are peas in a pod
                And Judaism
                Interestingly, Ive never heard of Hindu fundamentalist?

  14. JerryDenim

    And then there’s this, already:


    Christ, its like you can hear the champagne bottles popping from HRC HQ in Pierrepont Plaza to the newsrooms of midtown, all the way down the mid-Atlantic seaboard to the Dept of Homeland Security and K Street. “Wooohoo!! Islamic terrorism! Damn! That was a close one! I thought that crazy Sanders was actually going to make us talk about inequality, class issues and stuff like the TPP. You know, the really important stuff we normally keep people too scared and confused to focus on. This is great, people are scared and distracted again! That commie-dove-populist Sanders is finished I tell ya! ”

    So which is it Lambert? “Any stick to beat a dog’ (softy-dove Sanders) or ‘never let a good crisis go to waste?’

    1. MikeNY

      From a CBS exec:

      “American leadership is put to the test,” Mr. Capus said. “The entire world is looking to the White House.”

      I must have misread: I thought the attacks happened in Paris.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Mutual vulnerability. That is, or ought to be, the $4 quadrillion realization. Cue the next one, that ought to be how strength and survival come from binding together ( and not letting the parasites and tumors among us awaken and exploit those “negative engrams…”)

        1. JTMcPhee

          Thanks for that. Still good people among us.

          Too present in my mind is “We have met the enemy and they is us,” and put that on a Tshirt and bumper sticker with “We Are All Us,,,”

Comments are closed.