2:00PM Water Cooler 11/19/2015

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“TPP signing likely to be in NZ” [New Zealand Herald]. Because of the hobbits?



“Hillary Clinton calls for U.S. to ‘intensify and broaden’ efforts to fight ISIS” (transcript) [CNN]. I’m such a bad person, the first thing I noticed was lawyerly parsing. Can you spot it?

That’s right. “Directly funding.” Maybe they should launder their money, say through a Foundation?


“Maine Initiative for Instant Runoff Voting Has Enough Valid Signatures” [Ballot Access News].


“The Clintons’ so-called charitable enterprise has served as a vehicle to launder money and to enrich family friends” [Harpers]. This was in Links, but I’m putting that quote out there. 

The Trail

“Bernie Sanders Doesn’t Have the Killer Instinct Needed to Beat Hillary Clinton” [The New Republic]. “It’s admirable that Sander is framing his campaign as being about issues and not personality. This has led to widely admired moments, as when he defended Clinton in both debates on the ginned-up email scandal. The flip side of this high-mindedness, however, is that Sanders has no killer instinct. He raises questions about Clinton but doesn’t push them hard enough to damage her campaign. Lacking the will to win, his campaign increasingly seems like a symbolic crusade.” And see this comment from Michael C:

if [Sanders] is interersted in building a movement and a revolution, then he should be giving shout-outs in each state to the groups that are part of the movement and could use reinforcements (Move-to-Amend, state single payer groups, etc.), Let’s face it. Hilllary will get  [maybe] the nomination, and if Sanders wants a revolution, he better begin building something with some kind of infrastructure utilizing those progressive activists already doing the difficult yeoman work of turning the tide of corporate control. I don’t seen him doing that, and if his campaign is not to be about him, as he says, then he better get smarter about helping develop the groundwork for this revolution after he becomes an also ran.

I’d caution that we aren’t even in the Iowa caucuses! And a caucus or primary is hard enough to organize, let alone a mass movement, let alone a revolution. Nevertheless:

ESTRAGON: I’m going. [He does not move.] –Samuel Becket, Waiting for Godot

Come on!  As I’ve said, my test for the Sanders campaign is whether he moves the Overton Window left toward topics like single payer. This, Sanders is doing. Maybe some single payer advocates should disrupt Sanders’ next speech? That does seem to get results.

I’m on the record (somewhere) to the effect that engagement in, or even knowledge of, golf should be a disqualification for high office. I mean, why are all those movers and shakers out there on the fairways, eh? No mikes.

The Hill

“Senate Democrats on Thursday blocked a push by Sen. Ted Cruz to pass legislation that would block refugees from countries with ‘terrorist-controlled territory’ from entering the United States” [The Hill]. Vitter isn’t the only Congressional fan of diapers, I see.

“Blue Dog Dems to back GOP refugee bill” [The Hill]. Nancy, Steve: Take a bow!

Stats Watch

Jobless Claims, week of November 14, 2015: “The labor market remains solid with employment low but conditions aren’t improving further, based at least on indications from jobless claims data” [Econoday]. “But levels in this report, whether improving or not, remain historically low and point to a definitive lack of slack in the available labor pool.” And: “14 November 2015 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Again Degrades But Remains Very Low Historically” [Econintersect].

Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey, November 2015: “The Philly Fed index ended two months of contraction with a small gain of 1.9 which is near enough to the Econoday consensus for no change” [Econoday]. “But new orders are not in the plus column, at minus 3.7 for a second straight negative score. Shipments are also in the wrong column, at minus 2.5 for what is also a second straight negative month. The average workweek is down very sharply in the Mid-Atlantic factory sector, at minus 16.2 which doesn’t point to strength ahead for employment.” Sadly, it doesn’t take many workers to make an Hermés stocking stuffer. And there aren’t that many Hermés stockings to be stuffed.  But: “This is a very noisy index which readers should be reminded is sentiment based. The Philly Fed historically is one of the more negative of all the Fed manufacturing surveys but has been more positive then the others recently” [Econintersect].

Leading Indicators, October 2015: “The rise underway in long-term interest rates, as an indication of strength in borrowing demand, gave a big boost to the index of leading economic indicators which rose a very strong 0.6 percent in the October report. The rebound in the stock market and yesterday’s gain for housing permits were also positives and point to rising strength for the economy” [Econoday]. “This report had been dead flat since July and October’s gain is a sudden indication of acceleration ahead. And though the gain is centered in interest rates where a counter-intuitive strain runs, that is high rates will tend to limit economic growth, most components are solid.” However: “The data does not exist to establish what The Conference Board’s LEI values would have been in real time – at this point only the final numbers are known. Unfortunately, knowing the current values is no assurance that a recession is or is not imminent as there is no track record of real time performance” [Econintersect].

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of November 11, 2015: “The consumer comfort index is down for the third time in four weeks, 4 tenths lower at 41.2 for the November 15 week. Readings on consumer confidence peaked at mid year and have since moderated but they remain solid”  [Econoday].

The Fed: “US Speaker Ryan Applauds House Passage of Fed Overhaul Bill” [Market News]. Newly minted speaker Paul Ryan: “If the Federal Reserve explained to the public how it made its decisions, the American people would have greater confidence in them.” I hadn’t thought of Ryan as a brilliant dead-pan comedian; I guess I’m going to have to put him in another box.

The Fed: “Will the Fed raise interest rates at its December monetary policy meeting? Probably. … I believe the Fed should hold off a bit longer” [Mark Thoma, CBS]. Since Thoma is one of the saner mainstream economists, this is an interesting straw in the wind.

Ag: “World potash demand to drop at least 10% this year, says SQM” [Agrimoney].

Honey for the Bears: “Corporate America has a profit problem. U.S company earnings are falling for the first time since 2009, when the economy was still reeling from the Great Recession” [AP]. “The main culprit is the plunging price of oil, which has decimated earnings at big energy companies like Exxon Mobil and Chevron. Mining companies have also taken a beating because of tumbling prices for gold, silver and copper. And energy companies aren’t the only ones having trouble earning money, as several thorny problems continue to nettle Corporate America.”

Honey for the Bears: “Sotheby’s Offers Employees Voluntary Buyouts to Cut Costs” [Bloomberg].

Honey for the Bears: “San Francisco in housing ‘correction’” [CNBC].

Honey for the Bears:  “London Mansion Prices Fall 11.5% as Home `Bubble’ May Have Burst” [Bloomberg].

Honey for the Bears: “Luxury-Jet Market Value Seen Slipping for First Time Since 2009” [Bloomberg]. Of course, it’s possible the 1% have all the London mansions and luxury jets they need? BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!! I crack myself up, sometimes.

“Silicon Valley-Bay Area’s strong post-recession economic growth is the reason California has had a recovery; hence, the recovery shouldn’t be cause for celebration among the state’s leaders. California’s economic recovery is occurring on the shoulders of just one region. This lack of economic diversification puts the Golden State in a precarious position” [Real Clear Markets].

“The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged by 1,089 points in the opening minutes of trading on August 24. Finger-pointing and hostility have grown among competing factions since that day” [Wall Street on Parade]. Phishers settling round a new strange attractor?

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 52 (-1); Neutral [CNN]. Last week: 55 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed).

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Protesters blocking access to former president Bill Clinton’s speech at MSU” [Free Press].

Health Care

“The disclosure by the biggest U.S. health insurer, which had just last month sounded optimistic notes about the segment’s prospects, will sharply boost worries about the sustainability of the law’s signature marketplaces, amid signs that many insurers’ losses on the business continue to mount” [Across the Curve]. More signs of an actuarial death spiral.

Our Famously Free Press

“Thomas Friedman’s “Cabs, Camels or ISIS” column this week is either a brilliant self-parody, or a plant in the Times by the Pentagon to confuse the Islamic State”  [Matt Taibi, Rolling Stone].


“2015 shatters the temperature record as global warming speeds back up” [Guardian].

At the start of the year there were some 30 people working at the [SolarCity] warehouse [in Las Vegas]; now there are about 200. The jobs are a welcome boost for a city that was hit hard by the property crash and the financial crisis of 2007-09. Experienced crews have been brought in from neighbouring California and Arizona, and some of the new hires are former oilfield workers from Texas and Oklahoma, laid off following the collapse in oil prices” [FT, “Sunshine revolution: the age of solar power” (PT)].

“Oklahoma Now No. 1 in Earthquakes” [New York Magazine]. “Such a shame we’re on loam here.”


“The Committee to Protect Journalists, an international press freedom organization, has written to the Bulgarian Prime Minister, and top EU leaders, expressing concern that Bulgarian journalists investigating a huge corruption case have been harassed, warning they are at risk of retaliation for their reporting” [Euractive]. “[independent news website Bivol editor Atanas] Chobanov told EurActiv that his team is in the process of investigating ‘probably the largest single theft of EU funds’, specifically, of a transfer of €18.9 million of EU money via a shell company from Romania to Cyprus, where this money has disappeared.” Million? That doesn’t seem like very much.

“After an investigation showed that thousands of mistakes have been made in mailing out tickets from speed cameras, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has responded, insisting that the cameras are doing what they are supposed to do and slowing down speeders” [NBC Chicago]. Filed under corruption, because Rahm. Nevertheless, this is a clear case of law enforcement for profit. I wonder if the vendor shows the how to jigger the settings for revenue enhancements, or whether that’s done by bent consultants, for deniability? Not that I’m foily… 

“New York gets D- grade in 2015 State Integrity Investigation” [Center for Public Integrity]. The subhead: “Unending string of scandals fails to spur meaningful reform.” Say, can’t you guys pump that subhead up a little? Add some news value?

Imperial Collapse Watch

“US Not Sure Who It’s Fighting In Middle East, Bombs Israel ‘Just To Be Sure'” [Duffel Blog].

“If a nuke lands near your house, rather than on top of it, we figured you’d like some tips on how to survive to apocalypse” [Ars Technica]. “Step one: find a bunker.”

News of the Wired 

“Walmart’s $10 Smartphone Has Better Specs Than the Original iPhone” [Motherboard] Moar stupid, faster?

“The fourth edition of Electronic Beowulf 4.0 is a free, online version of Electronic Beowulf that supersedes all previous editions” [The Electronic Beowulf]. In honor of commenter beowulf, if he’s out there anywhere.

* * *

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 (Kokuanani):


Monet’s garden at Giverny; another inviting path! Over time, I’ve discovered that what I want from my garden is not “yield,” in the classic permacultural sense, but a place to sit, and above all, a place to photograph. Go figure…

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. different clue

      What if the charity decided to have a battle of wills and settle them anyway and see what the Indiana governator does about it?

  1. Vatch

    “TPP signing likely to be in NZ” [New Zealand Herald]. Because of the hobbits?

    I think Sauron and the creepy Ring Wraiths (Nazgûls) are more relevant to the TPP than are the Hobbits.

    1. Daryl

      Twelve for mortal countries, doomed to die
      One for the corporations on their dark throne,
      In the Land of the Pacific Ocean where Shadows lie,
      One agreement to rule them all, one agreement to find them,
      One agreement to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

      1. Massinissa

        I would compare Obama to the Dark Lord Sauron, but then the Democrats would accuse me of being a racist.

        1. Daryl

          How about Saruman, the wizard sent to fight Sauron who thought he could control Sauron’s power for his own ends.

    2. Chauncey Gardiner

      Funny that… “TPP signing likely to be in NZ.”

      Must have been asleep, as I don’t recall this legislation ever being considered and approved by a majority of members of the U.S. Congress.

      Another round of fait accompli?… kind of like Hillary’s presumed nomination as the Democratic candidate three months before the first state primary election?

      Reminds me of similar tripe in the media in August-September before Jeremy Corbyn was elected in a landslide as leader of the Labour Party and the Opposition in the UK, back when the Blairites thought they were still running the show.

  2. Daryl

    > That’s right. “Directly funding.” Maybe they should launder their money, say through a Foundation?

    Citigroup and Bank of America stand ready to assist anyone who wants to launder money to criminal associations.

    1. Daryl

      A more serious response: I don’t expect Clinton to be the one to do it, but our foreign policy will not even begin to make sense until we stop treating the world’s largest sponsors of state terror as our “allies.”

  3. allan

    “2015 shatters the temperature record as global warming speeds back up”

    Friday’s forecast high in (late Spring) Sydney is 41 C = 105 F.

    1. different clue

      And all the while Australia keeps shoveling coal for Satan . . . err . . . selling coal to China.

  4. Jim Haygood

    Ken Silverstein in the Harper’s article on the Clinton Foundation:

    The new audit that was released yesterday was prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a major accounting firm. Charles Ortel, an independent financial expert, told me … “If they certify that the Clinton Foundation is clean, when it is apparent it is not, PwC is done.”

    Obviously, Ortel was speaking before the audit was released yesterday. In fact, he said it back in June. Then Ortel’s sensational claims were shredded by blogger Caleb Newquest on June 16th:


    Sloppy. As much as the Clinton influence peddling machine needs to be taken down, an article relying on an anonymous source claiming to have made the transition from a middle east spook to reviewing the foundation’s confidential banking information isn’t going to do it.

    1. wbgonne

      Reasonable qualms, which echo those expressed by commenter CodeD in the prior thread. To me, the article in question, however sloppy, raises the questions that need to be publicly raised. It doesn’t answer those questions adequately, maybe it doesn’t even pose the questions correctly, but that really isn’t the job of one article. And even more to the point, the significance of all this at the moment is political, it is within the context of the Democratic nomination contest. IMNSHO, Sanders must take on Clinton for her corruption or he has no chance of beating her.

      Sanders already flubbed his opportunities regarding Clinton’s email shenanigans (though I’ve seen recently that he is moderating his dismissal of the issue) and that was a huge mistake. Let these things play out. Same for the Clinton Griftopia Machine. Find some factual anchor, one clear example, to raise the questions. It isn’t difficult since the Clinton Foundation scheme is rife with corruption and conflicts of interests. Pick a solid point of fact and then pose the question based upon that fact, either in a debate or in some notable speech. Let Clinton respond, ham-handedly presumably, and then hope the corporate media rouses itself to do its job.

      To me, this demonstrates the essence of the problem with Hillary and the Clintons: they care about themselves first and only. The greed and corruption charge that Sanders correctly attributes to Wall Street applies at least equally to the Clintons. If Sanders is going to take Clinton down, it will be because the Democratic Establishment becomes too fearful that she will lose the general election or that the braindead Democratic partisans receive a jolt of shock therapy to wake them up, or a combination of the two. But Bernie has to attack and this is the Clinton Achilles heel. There is no path to victory for Sanders other than to attack, if that’s what he is truly aiming for.

      Of course, I could be wrong.

      1. different clue

        Bernie is too nice a guy to attack. He doesn’t believe in attack and he won’t do it. That is his near-fatal flaw.

        Millions of “little people” will have to self-appoint themselves to be sort-of Bernie surrogates . . . and do this attacking themselves in every opportunity they have to do it. Because Bernie won’t do it.
        Ever. Ever. Ever.

  5. Jim Haygood

    UnitedHealth Group confirms Lambert’s warnings about adverse selection:

    In a profit warning that sent its stock down as much as 7% Thursday, UnitedHealth Group Inc. said that not enough people are signing up under the exchanges set up by Obamacare and that it was considering withdrawing from them.

    But there was another factor behind the lowered outlook from the nation’s biggest health insurer: people signing up after the open-enrollment period that have higher claims. Or, less charitably—people are gaming Obamacare.

    This isn’t supposed to happen. There are so-called special enrollment periods, meant to be 60 days following certain life events—marriage, birth of a child, or a loss of health coverage. Other special periods include moving, gaining citizenship, gaining or losing a dependent, having a change in income or household status that impacts eligibility for tax credits or cost-sharing reductions, and leaving jail.


    So, it’s just like skipping a utility bill to get a disconnect notice that excuses you from IRS penalties. Move (or just rent a box to change your address), and sign up anytime you like. Or get drunk, get arrested, and then “leave jail,” flashing the V sign with both hands.

    UNH is Big Health — a $130 billion annual sales company that’s in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Evidently the Obamacare situation has developed not necessarily to UNH’s advantage.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Another way to adversely select, courtesy of UNH:

      UnitedHealth also said today that some people are signing up for coverage, getting care and then dropping their policies.


      Sign up, get that operation you needed, then shed the premium drag.

      “The company is evaluating the viability of the insurance exchange product segment and will determine during the first half of 2016 to what extent it can continue to serve the public exchange markets in 2017,” UnitedHealth said in a statement Thursday announcing the changes.

      Obamacare — stick a trident in it!

      1. hunkerdown

        What other segment is there, again? I suppose they could sell concierge policies, but would the courtiers find it cheaper to self-insure and hire their own personal concierge case manager from some pre-med school?

        1. John Zelnicker

          Other segments include SME’s (50+ employees), large corps that self-insure but need an administrator, Medicare supplements and Medicare Advantage, and small group policies (50 or fewer employees). UnitedHealth may have also picked up some of the privatized Medicaid contracts.

        1. Paul Tioxon

          “SPD” bound for lexicon glory. Finally, consumers are learning the beauty of revenue enhancement by adopting strategic planned obsolescence. Hit it and quit it.

      2. different clue

        That could work if those people get all the possible care they can possibly get . . . every elective “should do eventually” surgery, etc. And then begin personally lifestyling to protect their own health as best as they can after that. And THEN dropping Obamacare and paying the tax-fines.

        Hopefully an embittered rebellious public can death-spiral exterminate Obamacare faster than the Class Enemy Occupation Congress and .Class Enemy Occupation President can save it with emergency legal alterations. If the Obamacare Insurance Industry all goes roach-motel bankrupt before Congress can pass long prison terms for not buying Obamacare, then it will go bankrupt. But if people cannot exterminate Obamacare fast enough, Congress will pass and the President will sign legislation mandating long hard-time prison terms for not buying Obamacare.

    2. Massinissa

      If people are gaming Big Med, GOOD. Maybe that will convince them that the only way theyre going to get paid any money is if we have Single Payer like most other first world countries do.

    3. curlydan

      Awww, to the extortionists: cry me a f-ing river! Besides pulling in $130B a year, their net income for each year from 2012-2014 was $5.5B to $5.6B.

      Here’s their outlook for FY15 and FY16:
      “UnitedHealth said it was revising its 2015 earnings projection to $6 a share, from a previous range of $6.25 to $6.35. The move reflected “pressure” of $425 million, or 26 cents a share, tied to individual plans sold under the health law, it said. The $425 million includes $275 million related to the “advance recognition” of losses it expects to incur in 2016. UnitedHealth also said it expects its 2016 earnings to be between $7.10 and $7.30 per share in 2016; previously, the company said it thought next year’s earnings would be within the range of analysts’ projections, then around $7.09 to $7.55″

      $7.20 a share. Love the pricing power. Jack up premiums 20%, YOY earnings per share increase 17%. Nice model you’ve got there, United!

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        If you can mandate that citizens BUY a product from a private company at significant increased personal expense, why can’t you mandate that those same companies SELL the same product at a loss?

        Mandates for thee but not for me?

      2. MikeNY

        I’m trying to resist the conclusion that anything that is bad for UNH is good for America. But it’s very hard.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      I would imagine a privatized jail could arrange for a one-day sentence in a business-class cell, for a fee much less than X% of your income. I smell business model!

      Ya know, I actually had legitimate utility cut-offs. I think half of Maine does after the heating season. But when it came time for the nice H&R Block tax person to handle that, they just rolled their eyes, pointed at a big stack of paper, and said “They never trained us to do that.” So all things work together for good.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Don’t you SEE? This whole thing is a perfect example of Obama playing the real actual progressive 11th Dimensional Chess! His intention all along was to trash the insurance barstids, suck them in and bankrupt them! Hope and Change, bubbies!

  6. alex morfesis

    10-15% of ‘SYRIAN” refugees are christians…hmmm…that is not in the script…and the part of the play where the muslims pray 5 times a day for the return of jesus (isa son of mary) so that he can lead the world in peace and harmony at the end of times…that is not in the script either…hmmm…details details…we can’t sell ads if we include too many details…(dont change too much in my database profile oh ye of little programming capacity…I am still a neo-pythagorian)

      1. alex morfesis

        Its plucked from the sky…most databases have syrian christians at 10-12% of population…without throwing in the iraqi christians who had run from “that” mess…and my feeble mental infographic with some of the major christian communities being a bit too close to sisi action…i mean isis action…or maybe I mean al queda…or al bundy…

    1. LifelongLib

      Visiting the Holy Land, my sister-in-law was surprised how many Palestinians are Christians. Another fact you don’t hear much about…

  7. dcblogger

    Maybe some single payer advocates should disrupt Sanders’ next speech?

    nope, disrupt share holder meetings. or Hillary’s speeches.

    1. Massinissa

      Some BLM protesters interrupted one of Hillarys speeches in late October in Atlanta where I live, but it didn’t make it into national news.

      I guess its only newsworthy when it happens to Hillary’s opponents?

  8. optimader

    …funding extremist organizations as well as schools and mosques that have set too many young people on a path to radicalization

    how many are just enough to maintain a status quo level of chaos?

    1. Emma

      On the whole, Clinton has a good point to make about the kids. But just like Amritsar (the Jallianwala Bagh massacre), anything involving the Middle East isn’t easily solved. Winston Churchill in 1920 succinctly described the scale of policy implications of the Amritsar situation which are relevant today:
      “There has not been, I suppose, for many years a case of this kind, which has raised so many grave and wide issues, or in regard to which a right and wise decision is so necessary in the general interest. There is the intensity of racial feeling which has been aroused on both sides in India. Every word we speak ought to have regard to that. There are the difficulties of military officers who, in these turbulent times, have been or are likely to be called upon to handle their troops in the suppression of civil disturbance. There are the requirements of justice, and fair play towards an individual. There are the moral and humanitarian conceptions which are involved. All these, combined, make the task of the Government and of the Committee one of exceptional seriousness, delicacy, and responsibility.”
      Unfortunately, any responsible and informed decision-making is squashed beneath a ‘run-of-the-gun’ gatecrash party when mediocrity meets leadership. Panic modus operandi is the well-beaten path. Think Bush…….and even Clinton if it involves Iraq. Think Hollande now. With the consistent denial of such an unsavory fact, along with a lack of propensity towards the transformation of political thought and practice, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
      When so many nations are involved as they are now too, the more the merrily systemic the ‘bombagement’ course is…… There’s righteousness to be had in numbers and leaders are better able to protect both themselves and their ilk from charges of incompetence. The net effect of this unified militancy seldom removes the genuinely suspect and simply puts innocent civilians at yet more mortal risk, fuels further conflict, and as is all too apparent by now, counterproductive to security. The other day, Nassim Taleb made some sound suggestions in Politico (http://www.politico.eu/article/the-saudi-wahhabis-are-the-real-foe-islamic-terrorists-salafi-violence/) about what we could do differently. He, like Clinton today, mentions the educational aspects of radicalization.
      In reality though, I’m sadly unsure how practical some of Talebs’ suggestions are. It’s doubtful too whether even a meagre number of poorly under-represented individuals with Muslim roots in our own security apparatus could and should be relied upon to lead the way……… ‘Suicide-assassinating’ aside, another unpleasant truth rears its ugly head without any aspirations. There’s little zest in ‘Judeo-Christian’ melting-pots but much jest in ‘Judeo-Christian’ governing bodies. Any Mohamed is pure evil. This suits the ‘Pulpithill’ Trumps, Cruz and Netanyahus with their flocks of sheep. Not the Churchills and other wise men. You see, getting hot and bothered about Mohameds is as easy as One,Two,Three – Just look at the ‘growth indecencies’ of Mohamed El-Erian and Ahmed Mohamed! Perfectly frightful examples, aren’t they?!
      Soooo……we’re simply witnessing the escalation of a violent backlash which is not only destroying lives closer to home, but alienating particular communities within the US & Europe, creating alarming and rapidly-growing discord among the ignorant, and providing fresh impetus for the poor stewardship of Western nations’ affairs. Perhaps it was no disgraceful transgression against alleged democratic values when the UN ticked the ‘treasure chest’ of diversity that is Saudi Arabia to oversee a Human Rights panel. What did any of the potential future POTUS have to say on that?! It’s as if abuse really is de rigeur in a reign of falsity beneath the guise of democracy today. It’s not global climate change we must wake up to, but rather, global climate morosité.

  9. optimader

    A trip down memory lane w/ Project Iceworm

    Project Iceworm was a secret Cold War operation to create subterranean nuclear missile launch sites under the Greenland ice sheet – within close striking distance of the USSR. It was all done under the cover of Camp Century, a pretend US Government operation used as a cover story for the Danish government – who were none the wiser until decades later.

    So far as the Danes knew, Camp Century was an experimental outpost developed to test quickly deployable communities under the ice cap and to experiment with the practical issues likely to be encountered when using a portable nuclear reactor.

    The truth of the matter was that the portable nuclear reactor was being used as a way to explain the easily detectable radiation spikes in the location of the camp that would be caused by the addition of several hundred nuclear missiles.

    The film above is the original cover story from the early 1960s, it’s a fascinating film and it’s well worth a watch. If you’d like to read more about Camp Century and Project Iceworm

    1. Anon

      Beautifully written. If he goes on the offensive as some of our commenters suggest, then maybe 2016 will be a very interesting year. Also, I like how in the 2nd half how each paragraph starts with “democratic socialism”. I think that he should make this a speech at his next gathering, which will let people see that yes, that is what it is and they’ll rally behind it.

    2. wbgonne

      Great speech. And I hope this signals a more aggressive turn:

      I’m not running for president because it’s my turn

    3. hunkerdown

      “is prepared to take on and defeat a ruling class” Emphasis mine. Now he’s talking. Defeat today, alright. Let us conquer tomorrow.

      And “democratic socialism for working families, not just Wall Street, billionaires and large corporations.” Sold. *plink*

  10. Jim Haygood

    Straight outta the neocon playbook:

    Hillary Rodham Clinton called for accelerating the American-led operation to defeat the Islamic State on Thursday, going well beyond what President Obama has proposed by urging a no-fly zone with coalition forces to protect Syrians, expanding the deployment of Special Operations troops to assist local ground forces, and significantly stepping up airstrikes.


    Shake it, shake it, Hilaree
    Just don’t tell them that you know me

    1. Paul Tioxon

      If we are stepping up airstrikes, Russia, France, US and UK along with Iran and who knows else, who are telling to not fly through the no fly zone? The Daesh Air Force? They don’t have an air force. They may have had 2 or 3 jets, but how to maintain and how long can they have lasted in the face of Russian Surface to Air defenses and the much better pilots of the US?

      Why is there a no fly zone? This is a meaningless get tough stance with no there there.

      1. Jagger

        No fly zone against an enemy without an air force. Might have meant something if they wanted to keep the Reds out but too late now. Today, it is just Orwellian speak.

    2. Jim Haygood

      Trucker alert:

      Militants increasingly sell raw crude to truckers and middlemen, rather than refining it themselves.

      Pentagon officials acknowledge that for more than a year they avoided striking tanker trucks to limit civilian casualties. “None of these guys are ISIS. We don’t feel right vaporizing them, so we have been watching ISIS oil flowing around for a year,” says Knights.

      That changed on Nov. 16, when four U.S. attack planes and two gunships destroyed 116 oil trucks. A Pentagon spokesman says the U.S. first dropped leaflets warning drivers to scatter.


      Nothin’ bothers me tonight
      I can dodge all them scales all right
      Six days on the road and now I’m gonna make it home tonight

      A laminated photo of Blessed Hillary hung from the rearview mirror will protect you.

      1. different clue

        Wait . . . I thought it was the Russian air force which recently destroyed some ISIS oil trucks. Because Russia is seriously against ISIS whereas America seriously isn’t against ISIS.

    3. VietnamVet

      Am I the only one to notice that Hillary Clinton is saying exactly the same thing about Syria that she said about Libya? That did not turn out well. The only combat aircraft flying over Syria are Russian or NATO’s. Establishing a no fly zone is the same as declaring war on Russia. Pope Francis said the Middle East is in a piecemeal World War III. With the first Russian fighter shot down it becomes a hot World War. The White House has no intention of defeating the Islamic State. Military Contractors, Israel supporters, and Russophobes want the Long War. Western civilians will keep being killed until either the end times ignite or the people are mobilized to secure their borders, ally with Russia to eliminate the Islamic State, and rebuild Syria and Iraq to return the refugees home.

      1. different clue

        This also requires allying with Russia to eliminate all the other jihadis and rebels, including America’s own pet jihadis and rebels. And so far, the evil overlords who control the DC FedRegime are not ready to do that.

  11. Plenue

    Can someone explain Thomas Friedman to me? What is his purpose? His function? I mean other than being a punchline. Everyone understands he’s an idiot, right? Or am I being too optimistic? Apparently lots of people own a copy of The World Is Flat, I once saw it on some list of books ‘every man must own’ (I don’t own most of them).

    1. Pavel

      Whenever I think of Tom Friedman — apart from the infamous “Friedman Unit” of Iraq-Let’s-Give-It-Another-6-Months-War — I wonder how Mr Know-It-All and expert analyst could have allowed his wife’s multimillion dollar shopping mall empire go down the tubes.

      I guess he didn’t know it all after all or was too busy talking to taxi drivers in foreign cities to notice that the US economy was tanking.

      From Mother Jones, 2009:

      New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman is one of free market capitalism’s loudest cheerleaders. The premise goes like this: Developing countries make consumer goods so inexpensively that people in rich countries can afford to buy them and have money left over. Because of all the extra dough, demand for consumer products shoots up and makes third world countries rich. What’s good for China is good for America and everyone wins, right? Not quite.

      Yesterday morning, another crack appeared in Friedman’s the-consumer-always-wins model when one of America’s largest shopping mall companies, Chicago-based General Growth Properties, filed for bankruptcy. Friedman’s pretty close to GGP’s malls; the Bucksbaum family owns them, and Ann Bucksbaum is Tom Friedman’s wife.

      But despite his connection to one of America’s richest families, Friedman has always portrayed himself as a champion for the common man. Yes, high-paying manufacturing jobs were gone from the American Midwest, but look at all the things average Americans can afford with their newfound buying power, he would explain.

      Recession Hits Home for Tom Friedman

      As for Friedman’s endless opining and advising on the Middle East: recall his famous words at the start of the Iraq Clusterfuck: “Suck on this, Iraq”. Charming fellow.

      1. different clue

        Did it go all the way down the tubes? So far down the tubes that it will never come back up again?

    2. sd

      He has a big moustache and likes to wear turtlenecks. I think that just about covers everything you need to know about Thomas Friedman.

  12. Joe Renter

    Reading the news (links) makes me feel like I might live to see the end of the world. I going to start stocking up on popcorn and smack.

  13. C

    From the NZ Herald article on the TPP:

    One of the debates inside the closed meetings was when to allow new countries to join.

    So this thing has not even been approved by the legislative bodies of any nation. It exists only in general discussion form and they are saying that the real question is when other people will come in.

    Clearly democracy is not much of a concern for these people.

      1. SomeOne

        dennis kucinich is on tape saying that Gadhafi Son approach him with peace proposal favorable to Washington. I don’t have a link at the moment and kind of busy to search. Will get back on this.

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